Sophie Agrell: a bright new talent

One of the pleasures and privileges of being an older person is that of having the time to notice talent in younger people and the patience to foster it. Sophie Agrell and I have had a running joke for a couple of years that she is Mouse, hiding away in her writer’s mousehole, and I am Cheese, enticing her out.

When she first very tentatively showed me one of her poems in 2010 I recognised her talent, thereafter nudging her, gently but persistently, into sending her work out into the wider world, first of all in the form of allowing me to publish her on my blogs.

She was successful in her first submission, to a UK national poetry competition. “Touching Ephemera: Rome, April 2009″ made the “Highly Commended” slot in the Poetry Anthology 2011 published by United Press Ltd. This was soon followed by United Press Ltd including that same poem in their “Uplifting Moments” anthology, published early in 2012.

Not long after that, the Editors at United Press Ltd asked her to submit a number of her poems for an anthology called Ten of the Best. As a result, twelve of Sophie’s poems now feature in this ‘Showcase of Poetry’, published in May 2012, offering through the work of ten new poets “….certain proof that poetry has the potential to cut straight to the heart of life.

Do check out the book.

In the meantime, here are two of her poems from that anthology,  very contrasting in theme, mood and tone, showing Sophie’s range as a poet. Enjoy!

In Sri Lankan national dress
In Sri Lankan national dress

Sophie, photo by Anne Whitaker


My paradise island

Let me tell you about my country,

My paradise island, my Serendip,

Where every memory is filled with laughter,

With spices and sunlight, the mango sweetness of happiness,

Where tropical beauty splashes in technicolour

In every hedge, on every street,

Where elephants stroll through chaos –

Traffic, trishaws, wandering bullocks

And traffic policemen despairingly waving their pristine gloves –

Where gentle, ever-smiling people offer lotus flowers

To serene, impassive Buddhas.


Let me tell you about my country,

My paradise island, my Serendip,

Where thousands live bewildered behind wire

With loss beyond losing everything.

Where white vans steal young men at night,

Where in dusty streets war-maimed beggars sit,

Where questions are answered with bullets, with threats,

Where no one knows whom to trust,

What is safe to say and where,

And smiling murderers offer lotus flowers

To serene, impassive Buddhas.


O let me tell you about my country,

My paradise island, my Serendip.

SIA 16 iii 2010


How do I explain it?

How do I explain it,

This peace that lures me

Into sleep

To dream of gentle dragons,

That fills my heart with stillness

So words vanish,

And I lie, tranquil,

Listening to your breath

Beneath my ear,

The clattering rustle of turning pages,

In entire contentment?

How do I account

For this absence of all restlessness,

All considering,

All planning,

All looking beyond this moment?


I only know

There is only now,

This breath,

This breadth of time,

And you and I and love

Within it.

SIA 14 xi 2011


photo by Anne Whitaker


Sophie grew up in Kent, UK,  in a family whose connections spread from Sri Lanka, Sweden and Scotland throughout the world. She read Ancient and Modern History at Oxford, eventually settling in Scotland where she works as a proof reader. She lives with her two dogs in a North Lanarkshire village. Sophie describes herself as “…. an escaped medievalist who watches the world, delights in its beauty, and grows roses…..”


600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Sophie Agrell 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page