Sally Flint

Sally Flint

Sally Flint lectures in creative writing and co-edits Riptide Journal at the University of Exeter, and is a tutor with The Poetry School.

In solidarity with the people: The Truth About Nurses
Thursday, 15 December 2022 09:25

In solidarity with the people: The Truth About Nurses

Published in Poetry

The Truth About Nurses

by Sally Flint

It's true – when someone dies
on the ward a nurse lays

the body out, straightens the fingers,
removes the saline drip and wipes away

the spurt of blood. She repacks wounds,
replaces teeth, and sets the jaw.

After washing the waxen skin,
if there's no next of kin, that nurse

may place on the forehead a kiss.
It's sometimes true, if time allows,

the nurse is sent to observe
a child being born, and she will find

some comfort in seeing oxygen deliver
colour into the veins of tiny arms, flailing,

like wings. It's true, some nurses finish
their shift, crouch silent in a corner

of the changing room, then rush
home to hug their own children.

It's also true nurses hold
babies who never draw breath.

He's Behind You
Saturday, 20 March 2021 21:01

He's Behind You

Published in Poetry

He's Behind You

by Sally Flint, with image by Martin Gollan

My shoes aren't suited for walking fast,
home's only minutes away ̶ I'm gripping
a door-key in my hand when, out of a gateway,
a shifting shadow, taller than me. Is it the man
from the bar who lined up shots, a random stranger
a rebuffed colleague ̶ maybe the ally of an ex
who's picking up pace? What if he demands a light
for a cigarette, asks directions. Now he's closing in
calculations thud about my body. I've taken self-defence
classes, my hair isn't long, blonde and in a ponytail.
My throat tightens. I've no choice; I stop:
face all the men who've ever thrown a woman to the ground.

Climate Matters
Friday, 06 November 2020 15:47

Climate Matters

Published in Life Writing

Sally Flint, Virginia Baily and Mike Quille have edited a new anthology of various kinds of writing on the subject of the climate crisis and capitalism. It is free and downloadable below

In 2019 we challenged writers and artists to address the burning topic of the climate crisis and question its relationship with capitalism. In 2020 Covid–19 erupted and spread across the world.

The whole of this anthology has been assembled under the ongoing but ever-changing restrictions imposed by this pandemic, which has necessarily coloured the content in ways that we could not have foreseen when we put out the call for submissions.

Amongst other effects, the Covid lockdown made our world pause; it let the Earth breathe – albeit for a short time. It made us search for words that imagined a brighter, cleaner, greener future.  At the same time it let climate concerns slip down the agenda, and in our sudden need for PPEs and facemasks made us forget our unkept promises about single use plastic. Ultimately though, its advent and its non-respect for borders, remind us of how we are all interconnected. The Coronavirus also inspired writers to show how health and wellbeing relate to eco-systems and the climate crisis. It was a logical step to link Climate Matters with the ‘Waking up to the plantetary health emergency’ conference at the University of Exeter and to have the publication of the anthology coincide with the start of this.

If the descent to extinction is ‘not a slippery slope, but a series of cliff edges, hitting different places at different times,’ as Alex Pigot of University College London, said in his study into the loss of biodiversity, (Nature, April 2020), then the pieces in this rich and varied collection can be said to fall into four main categories: the edge of the cliff; over the edge; the ledge on the cliff-face; stepping back from the edge.

The majority of the pieces fit into the first category. They constitute an attempt to articulate the status quo, to do that difficult thing of lifting the blinkers from our eyes and staring clear-sightedly at what is revealed about the state of our planet and its causes. They seek to counter the massive, wilful blind spot so arrestingly conjured in Bob Beagrie’s ‘Last Supper’ where the demented god in whose image we constantly re-fashion ourselves has ‘plucked out his own eyes so he shall not see our plight.’

This is the first hurdle, and it is difficult to surmount both because what clear vision affords us is terrifying and because we are in and of the system, the children of global capitalism, and not geared to view dispassionately the thing to which we belong.

Some writers shared a vision of going over the edge and explored various dystopian and / or post-apocalyptic futures in the brief last outbreath of humanity but, along the way there, breaking the fall, we came across a sort of ledge – the third category – where a seeming solution to some aspect of the crisis might give temporary respite and a sense that things might not really be as bad as we thought.  For example, that technology will step in and save the day. 

Few of the contributions in the collection come into the ‘stepping back from the edge’ category and no author claims to have the solution (unfortunately). Instead they offer a tentative hope that humankind will dare to change. As poet and Met Office scientist Natalie Garrett puts it: ‘We have got/ just one shot / Together we raise the bow /And hold our breath.’

The collection makes for sobering reading, but it is also beautiful, insightful, occasionally uplifting and leavened with humour, mainly of the gallows kind. And it is also necessary, because the first step to action is to seek the truth, not to flinch or seek token responses, not to close our eyes and turn away, not to shrug or be side-lined by despair or eco-terror, or the magnitude of the vested interests, including our own, at stake.

Greta Thunberg was right to excoriate the rich and powerful gathered at Davos earlier this year, for having done ‘basically nothing’ about the issue. But as we have seen throughout the pandemic, an economy geared to the maximisation of profits, and a state shaped to facilitate that goal, means that our society is poorly equipped to plan for an emergency at all, whether that be a health emergency or a climate emergency. Climate change and the coronavirus are hitting the poorest hardest, and capitalism is making things worse.

Climate Matters is a powerful expression of the inextricable connections between capitalism, Covid–19 and the climate crisis, and the need for a new, democratic and socialist vision of how we see our world and our place in it – a new definition of what constitutes a good life.

Through words, metaphors, images and scientific argument, this collection brings to life the nature of the cliff edge on which we teeter. It is the clamour of clear, resounding voices calling from that cliff top, saying that we need to act now and act fast, because our survival depends on it.

Let's pretend it's butter
Tuesday, 27 October 2020 08:32

Let's pretend it's butter

Published in Poetry

Let's pretend it's butter

by Sally Flint

'It all starts with stability around access to food.' - Marcus Rashford

After the adrenaline rush of not knowing
if her card might be declined, a test for economy
beans on a week of no 'free school meals'.

In her career as a carer she's never going to earn
enough to keep a fridge full, buy sea bass,
best butter, prime mince. On the news,

parliament's subsidised menus.
Her imagination fine-dines on honey
beetroot tartare, cocotte potatoes, poached

prime salmon in a black olive crumb.
If only her children could become politicians.
They'd discover and gladly share the food that they like.

Questioning Capitalism: The Climate Matters Anthology 2020
Monday, 24 February 2020 13:20

Questioning Capitalism: The Climate Matters Anthology 2020

Published in Poetry

Sally Flint calls for submissions to this new anthology of poems, stories, science writing and images, a collaboration between Culture Matters and Riptide Journal (University of Exeter) 

We are only the trustees for those who come after us.’ - William Morris

In 2020 we want to publish a collection of new writing by established and emerging writers that asks questions and offers insights into links between the climate crisis and capitalism. When readers finish the book – or even when they’re half-way through – we want them to move towards action! Now, before it’s too late.

This callout challenges writers and artists everywhere to address this burning topic, turn their attention and creativity to it and make their voices heard. Our aim is to bring together provocative poems, surprising stories, startling science writing and impactful images, which cross boundaries and help us step confidently and creatively into this next decade.

Topics might include: capitalism as a driving force behind climate change; the need to protect the poor; survival/extinction challenges; the role of women as eco-socialists; children’s fears for the future; and floods, metaphorical or actual. From dystopia to utopia, through linking art and science, we aim to capture some of the ways, big and small, in which the human race will need to unite politically and practically to transform our world, and move towards a better, safer future. Pieces may have been previously published, as long as they will contribute something fresh and intriguing to the anthology.

Submission Guidelines

Poems – send up to three poems (Max 40 lines per poem)

Stories‒ send up to three stories of up to 3000 words each

Science writing – send up to three articles up to 3000 words each

Life Writing – up to 3000 words each

Images – send up to three images as jpegs

Email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Deadline: 30 May 2020

Riptide Journal was co-founded in 2007 by Dr. Sally Flint and Dr. Virginia Baily, and originally published short stories as a way to champion the form. Over the years they have published stories, poems, life writing – and have worked with community projects on socially committed initiatives too. The journal is supported by the University of Exeter.

Because There Is No Planet B
Thursday, 10 October 2019 10:23

Because There Is No Planet B

Published in Poetry

Because There Is No Planet B

by Sally Flint


to the square, as if we might clear

the atmosphere's carbon overload

by shouting:  It's not too late.


past banks, Costas, the plastic filled

pound shop, and a new vegan restaurant

where waiters call out: Our boss says go join!


to the homeless guys' slow hand claps.

Another sign: I'm a teacher missing

my maths class. A boy blows a trumpet,

a wide-eyed toddler on her father's shoulders

points to the press cameras and police.


in a quaking snake ‒ flank motorists,

some beep in support, others stay grim-faced.

Never did the sky seem so clear to this sea of people

behind a grey-haired woman's banner: Fuck Capitalist

*Heroes*: We're in this Together. A small city of thousands,

uniting with millions who know it's through human pollution


Wednesday, 04 September 2019 10:05


Published in Poetry


by Sally Flint

Top of Google it's a wine bar, a game,
a make-up range. I recall science lessons ‒
to rotate, twirl, circuit, cycle, orbit.
It's the Earth spinning around the sun.
On the screen the little circle rolls
over the Thatcher era and a miners' revolt.

It's an instance of sudden change
industrial, technological. Political theorists
say in terms of evolution a 'revolution'
can only happen when a government is weak.
It's a rebellion that forces change ‒ as the little circle
I have no name for rolls around again.