Poems and Stories

Hulked soundwalk

The hulked soundwalk can be followed at Lower Halstow, near Sittingbourne, Kent, using the Echoes app. Hulked has contributions by members of the Oast House Community Choir, of which I am a member. The soundwalk, commemorating Thames Barges and the brickfields they served, was developed by composer Anna Braithwaite and writer Jeremy Scott. I wrote a chant, Glassbottle Beach, and words to a song by Bob Carling, Sail Before the Dawn. Both can be listened to on the soundwalk. More details at the Hulked website.

Posted 5 June 2024


My poems in response to photographs of Berengrave Nature Reserve by Robin Halls appear in this edition of Local Authority

Posted 3 April 2024

A Commonwealth of Wings

My poem ‘Here is a Bee’ appears in a pocket-sized anthology, A Commonwealth of Wings, published by Wordsmithery to raise funds for The Bumblebee Conservation Trust. You can order it from Wordsmithery 

Posted 5 December 2022

Two new poems

Two poems inspired by a trip to County Clare in May 2022. The caramel cows of County Clare and The Wild Atlantic Way.

Read them on London Grip.

Posted 20 September 2022

I whipped the clothes off her

My poem on Ink, Sweat and Tears

posted 1 June 2022

A Tale of a Few Cities

My poem, ‘There are things that you would have again’ is part of an online exhibition, A Taste of a Few Cities, the latest of Wordsmithery’s annual callout to be part of ‘An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics’.

Writers were asked to respond to the prompt, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’, and their poetry or prose was passed on to artists, anonymously, for their response.

I was thinking of my dear friend Karan when I wrote the poem, in the months after her death. We had the best of times.

You can read the poem here, with artist Juli Watson’s response. Please take some time to browse the gallery.

Posted 8 July 2021

Dickens’ Empty Chair

In 2020, I was one of ten poets commissioned by Wordsmithery to write a poem to mark 150 years since the death of Charles Dickens. The poems are now displayed in locations around the Medway Towns (from July 2021).

Click on the image for a taster of the poems

I chose the graveyard of St James Church, Cooling, the setting for the opening of Great Expectations. It was the first day of February 2020 when I visited. The wind was howling across the marshes, around the corners of the church. It was easy to imagine Magwitch appearing behind a gravestone, Pip standing by the graves of his five brothers.

Graveyards fascinate me; the stories behind the names on the lichened stone. And the thirteen tiny, lozenge-shaped graves in the churchyard of St James at Cooling fascinated Dickens, too. He reduced their number to five to fit his story. I included every one of them in my poem, ‘Great Expectations’; they deserve to be remembered. I imagined the anticipation of their arrival, the preparation of their clothes and bedding: “bed gowns, shirts and swaddling / drool cloths, petticoats, stockings.” All thirteen children were from the same extended family, who lived at Cooling Court and Cooling Castle. Not one survived beyond 17 months.

Thirteen sets of bones

lie beneath these lozenges,

clothed in shades of stone

and lichen, green, white and acid yellow.


For more information, and to download a printable map of the locations of all 10 commissioned poems, visit The Empty Chair Poetry Trail

Posted 8 July 2021

Ivy Lodge

A strange house, a creepy landlord, and a pair of white cats: new short story on East of the Web‘Ivy Lodge’.

posted 27 June 2019

Poem Posters

Two poem posters, ‘Winter Dance’ and ‘Match of the Day’, are available to purchase from Cultured Llama Publishing. The posters were designed for the exhibition Orchard: Art inspired by Rainham Community Orchard. Poems by Maria C. McCarthy, artwork and design by Sara E.Fletcher and Mark Holihan. View low res versions of the posters and order copies here: Poem Posters.

‘Match of the Day’ and another poem, ‘Mulch’, appear in Confluence 9.

posted 1 May 2019

‘Caged’ on East of the Web

My story ‘Caged’ appears on East of the Web. When Ellen moves to a village, all is not as quiet as she hoped. There is a dog kept in a cage in the neighbours’ garden. It barks day and night.  But who is really caged?

posted 28 December 2017

Two poems from There are Boats on the Orchard on Abegail Morley’s Poetry Shed

The title poem of There are Boats on the Orchard, and another poem, ‘Boy on a Ladder’, feature on Abegail Morley’s Poetry Shed, alongside illustrations by Sara Fletcher.

posted 30 October 2017

‘Cold Salt Water’ on East of the Web

‘Cold Salt Water’ a story from the collection As Long as it Takes, features on East of the Web. On the night of the Guildford pub bombings, Kieran comes home with his shirt splattered in blood. The bucket of cold salt water into which his mother drops the shirt, will not erase the prejudice towards an Irish family living in England in the 1970s. Read it here: East of the Web

posted 30 October 2017

Another Woman’s Kitchen

A new story, published exclusively on The Short Story: ‘Another Woman’s Kitchen’. This began after a comment by Medway poet Barry Fentiman Hall, saying he wouldn’t be interested in reading a story about having tea on the lawn in Surrey. So I wrote a story that included tea on the lawn, in an ex-council house in Surrey, and named one of the characters Barry.

Brenda is delighted to have her son and daughter-in-law living in the newly built extension. Teena, the daughter-in-law, doesn’t live up to Brenda’s hopes and dreams, so Brenda reckons she’ll give the couple a helping hand. But Brenda’s plans don’t turn out as she hopes. Read it here:‘Another Woman’s Kitchen’

posted 9 August 2017

England’s Future History

England’s Future History: Volume 1 is now published as an ebook, featuring my story, ‘How Beautiful’.

The 13 winning short stories from the online competition England’s Future History are featured here along with illustrations never seen before. The concept was to create a future timeline of this country through short stories. Every 3 months, a new selection of stories was chosen from the dozens of entries. Once they were published, their events were added to the timeline. No future entries could contract these events. The winners come from established, award-winning writers to new writers just starting out – our youngest winner is aged just 16 years old. The stories mix sci-fi, politics and great characters to create a future that is both hopeful and bleak.

Buy it here, and please take the time to review it: England’s Future History: Volume 1

posted 9 May 2017

A Piercing

My first publication of 2015 is ‘A Piercing’ – a poem on The Open Mouse. Read it here

posted 10 January 2015

‘Travellers Welcome’ and an interview with Maria C. McCarthy

The poem ‘Travellers Welcome’ and the interview with Maria C. McCarthy by John Mackay appear in Issue 14, the final issue of the magazine. This is reproduced with the kind permission of 14 Magazine. Read it by clicking Here.
posted 28 January 2013

Poetry, music and gumboot dancing on You Tube

There are some clips from the ‘From Page to Stage’ event held at the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne on the new Cultured Llama You Tube channel. These feature poetry readings, music and gumboot dancing. The evening was to launch my poetry collection ‘strange fruits’ and to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. £225 was raised that evening alone, and the fundraising total now stands at £603. Thanks to everyone who took part in the evening, giving their time and talents for free. More videos from the evening will go up in the next week, so do go back and look again. You can link to the clips here. posted 17 November 2011

Poems from ‘strange fruits’ – read by Maria C. McCarthy

The first video from the launch of ‘strange fruits’ – From Page to Stage at the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne – is now on You Tube. This clip is my first reading on the evening, with three poems: “Strange Fruits”; “The Brickbat Wall” and “Missed you on the Day it Rained”. Watch it here.
posted 14 November 2011

At the Shrine of St Jude, Faversham

This poem was highly commended in the Save As Poetry Awards 2010. My visit to the shrine was inspired by it featuring in The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. It brought up all sorts of heebygeebies about my Catholic upbringing, and was originally a longer, more personal poem. posted 10 January 2011


My poem ‘Story’ gained second place in Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2010. Read it here.

Hear Maria as a columnist on Radio 4’s Home Truths