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The Flapper Press Poetry Café: Emerging Poets Series—Meet John Swainston!

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

By Elizabeth Gracen:

The Flapper Press Poetry Café Emerging Poets Series features the work of newbie poets from around the world, celebrating creative expression through poetry. This week, we share the work of John Swainston.

John Swainston

John Swainston's professional life has been spent in financial management for businesses involved in the performing arts, health care, health insurance, and the service industry. For twenty years, he served as Adjunct Professor of Finance and retired as a CFO for a railroad subcontractor.

We reached out to the poet to ask him about his influences and inspirations.

EG: How did you come to poetry? Why do you write?

JS: In April 2020, the Pandemic arrived. Looking for support for health issues and isolation, I enrolled in a writing workshop with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (a Kansas Poet Laureate), at Turning Point, a support center for people living with illness. It was here that I learned that I could write poetry and found a new love. I have taken extensive writing workshops and sought out various poetry groups, learning all I could along the way.

EG: What do you hope that people come away with from reading your work?

JS: I never imagined I would embrace the title of "poet," but writing and reading poetry as well as studying the craft of poetry and connecting with other poets and writers has become the mainstay of my life. My hope is that my poetry will get a smile, or a nod of the head, and some even a laugh. With Caryn as my mentor, I am currently putting a book together for publication late this year.


I collect random photos to use as prompts. This one I received during a poetry workshop.


Walking up the long stone path, I heard it.

Stopped, listened, a chill ran thru my body.

There it was again a long slow moan.


Do I turn and run? No, my feet have been

rooted to the cold stone ground.

Starring at the Castle I wondered,

who it was that still lived there.

But it was just the Wind.


This poem is inspired by a photo that I took when on a bush trip in Australia. It is the only tree to be seen for miles and is in the center of Australia, close to Alice Springs.

No Where

You stand there alone

in the dark

in the light

You have no real heart, not like mine.

But you do have heart.

Stubborn, not wanting to give up life.

You reach deep, then deeper, to find

what gives you life.

Skin discolored, almost black, scaled

like a fish. Old, no ancient.

Looking around, you are the only one.

No others, not for miles and miles in all directions.

Your home is north of Alice.

There you are in the center of the Australian bush -

A tree


This is a photo I discovered in an album passed on by my grandmother, but there is no history or even names. A mystery.

The Five Swainston’s

As I gaze upon your faces

not a smile do I see.

It makes me wonder,

what is it you are thinking?

Not a smile do I see.

Did you have to wait,

what is it that you are thinking?

The photographer took too long.

Did you have to wait,

what was your reaction when

the photographer took too long.

Did your smile become a frown?

What was your reaction when

you just sat and stared.

Did your smile become a frown?

All but one with jewelry around their neck.

You just sat and stared.

What was your world like?

All but one with jewelry around their neck.

I gaze upon your faces.


Flapper Press Poetry Café.

Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.

Submission Guidelines:

1. Share at least three (3) poems

2. Include a short bio of 50–100 words, written in the third person.

(Plus any website and links.)

3. Share a brief backstory on each submitted poem

4. Submit an Author's photo and any images you want to include with the poems

5. Send all submissions and questions to:

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