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The cover of Magpie's Nest showing a magpie perched on a hand against a bright background


Magpie's Nest won the Frosted Fire First Pamphlet Award 2023.

A tender portrait of family life with a child with autism, it speaks to anyone who has ever wondered whether they are ‘normal’ or struggled to comply with society’s expectations.

More about Magpie's Nest

In midwinter, deep in the pandemic, my wild, imaginative, extraordinary child began to fall to pieces. It was the start of a new understanding that changed everything I thought I knew about my family. 


Magpie's Nest is about how everyday moments become a territory of love and suffering for the family of a child with Autistm, and how a diagnosis can open up new perceptions of what is inherited and what needs to be relearned.

Clare Starling, Summer 2023


Praise for Magpie's Nest

'What a great collection. These poems are a love song from a mother to a son. Unique verses written with great perception and sensitivity. Visceral poetry, conjuring a world particular and familiar to anyone in the neurodiverse community.'
Henry Normal

'A profoundly beautiful collection – original, full of love, warmth, wisdom and understanding of difference.'

Chrys Salt


'Tender, poignant, beautiful.'

Mandy Pannett - praise for award-winning poem Autistic Weather

£1 from the sale of each copy is donated to the Centre for ADHD and Autism Support (CAAS)

More information about autism can be found at

poems from magpie's nest

Autistic Weather

A storm bursts in

it rolls you on the sofa


spraying rain

your hair thrashed into tangles


you shudder under

terrors of endless sleet


I coax you with cold chicken

like a half-drowned feral cat


Once on dry ground, you sniff at

a boiled egg, accept


a packet of Wotsits

and a passion fruit


warm and fed

you start singing


something cloudless

of your own creation


your weather is devastating

all I can do is forecast


put up storm boards for you

sweep up your broken glass

The Bee Saver


You always spot tired bees

and then we can’t move on

until I’ve got out my card holder


they clamber on, waving their feelers

we scout for flowers between

brick walls and spiny city planting


into this untended patch

of mallow and borage

crawls the bee


early spring, you saw one

on the way to school

I could not rush you past


I offered it my card. It roused itself

climbed on and rode with me

I made up sugar water


tipped the damp bee until it rested

one weightless leg upon my finger

leaned in, unrolled its tongue


drank its miniscule fill

I left it in a patch of sun

in an hour the bee had gone


perhaps a queen waking

from her winter sleep

to begin a new nest


you were so proud of me

you called me The Bee Saver

I think it was the honour of my life

Proximity Sensors


You linger, interleaved in complicated worries

in the secret fogged-up space

of our family car


I always say how beautiful the park trees look

so when your mind lets up its fierce grip

you might see them too


You say you won’t get out. I wonder

if the two of us will be here until dawn

if I can’t find the words


Suddenly you shoulder your impossible bag

struggle the door open, set off

the car’s proximity sensors


as you slide past the nearside

too close, take on the dangerous

crossing - and you’re gone


the car feels your absence, a hurt space

the rest of my life I will be learning

to let you go

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