Jackie Wills, author of A Friable Earth, has shared her poem Considering I’ll Become Mud which provided the title for her book. Her poem came out of thinking about the no-dig system of growing, as well as some old Sussex words for mud and a recognition of ageing.

Arc Publications state that “Jackie Wills brings a multitude of characters to her poems including a young man sleeping in his car, an amateur entomologist, bird catchers, her jilted aunt, Ray Dorset, the three Robins, the office cleaner, family, friends and several gardeners. Her poems move from the GP surgery to eye clinic, dance studio to allotment, back and forward in time and from Brighton’s streets to the landscapes of South Africa”. The book has received five-star reviews on Amazon and her work has been described as irreverent, bewitching, compassionate and surreal.



by Jackie Wills from A Friable Earth (Arc Publications, 2019)

It’s time to pay attention to microbes

colonising the dark matter of humus and loam,

to the impossibility of knowing who was here before.

I’ve howked soil like Sussex cattle at a gate,

I’ve beasted it, breaking it up for years,

standing on the spade, raising broken bones,

disrupting the useful work of dandelions – so for the sake

of snegs, ammots, tap roots and Vasily Dokuchaev,

classifier of gubber and gawm, who mapped soils

in river beds and steppes, I’m done with digging.

I’ll treat my beds as beds, soft enough to lie in,

for the sake of women, men and all our children.

and in time, my two will mix me with this wormy,

friable earth, conducted by the cutty’s goistering.


Note: gubber and gawm are Sussex dialect words for mud. Howk means to dig, beasted means tired out, a sneg is a snail, ammot an ant, a cutty is a wren and goistering is loud feminine laughter. Vasily Dokuchaev was one of the first soil scientists.