Donald Trump has read Magma 67

Magma 67In a parallel universe, Donald Trump has read Magma’s Bones & Breath issue and is discovering that poetry can bite back!

In their introduction to the issue, co-editors Rob A Mackenzie and A.B. Jackson ask “how can poetry bring fresh perspective in the face of socio-political crisis?” Five poets attempt an answer in a though-provoking feature that’s a must-read in the aftermath of Brexit and Trump.

Making something happen within its ice-cool pages are voices from across the globe including Caroline Bird, Claire Booker, Alison Brackenbury, Vahni Capildeo, Martyn Crucefix, Isobel Dixon, John Greening, Anja Konig, Stav Poleg, Richard Price and David Wheatley.

Ilya Kaminsky’s searing poems ‘The Map of Bone and Opened Valves’ and ‘Our Boys Drag a Soldier into a Sunlit Piazza’ bring the banal horror of contemporary war into subtle and devastating perspective. Asif Khan, Dzifa Benson, Alistair Noon, Theodoros Chiotis, Eleanor Livingstone and Juana Adcock share their thoughts on Brexit and Poetry and there is explosive wordplay from selected poet Holly Corfield Carr including her ‘Z’ – a highly inventive riff on letters of the alphabet.

Magma 67 launchA Magma launch is always a gold star event in the calendar, so I was thrilled to be one of the contributors invited to read in front of a buzzing audience packing the L -shaped London Review Bookshop in central London.

Performing page poetry can be something of a challenge, but we were lucky to enjoy a range of voices, including the poised and incisive Martin Crucefix, a delightfully bubbly Alison Brackenbury and bucket loads of wit from Nicki Heinen and  Holly Corfield Carr.

Issue 67 continues Magma’s series of inviting poets to create a new poem in response to work by their favourite poet. In this issue, it’s Guggenheim Award winner Cate Marvin who was inspired by Charlotte Mew’s ‘The Quiet House’ to create her own homage in the shape of ‘My Father’s Liquor Cabinet’.

Magma 67 launch“The Quiet House contains one of my all-time favorite poetic statements: ‘A rose can stab you from across the street/ deeper than any knife’.” says Cate Marvin. “I wanted to chose a poet that not everyone might be familiar with because this is one of the pleasures we can provide for one another as readers.

“It’s times like these [Trump’s election] that we truly need poetry. Not just to read it, but to write it, and write a lot of it. . . . My sense of the impact of the election is that Americans (half of us anyway) now know what it feels like to be an exile in one’s own country.”

Claire Crowther, Katy Evans Bush, Lisa Kelly and Jon Sayers review some of the latest poetry fare, including ‘Float’ by Anne Carson, ‘Sunshine’ by Melissa Lee-Houghton, ‘The Further Adventures of the Lives of the Saints’ by Patrick Mackie, and ‘Noir’ by Charlotte Gann.

To buy a one off copy of Magma 67, order a subscription to the magazine, or check on submission windows, please visit: www.magmapoetry.com

Cover : Bahar Yurukoglu.

Frogmore Papers issue 89

The Wax Paper with seal close up_0001Folkestone is fast becoming a hotbed of artistic innovation to rival Hastings and Brighton. But the seeds were already sown in 1983 when Andre Evans and Jeremy Page launched The Frogmore Press from the town’s Frogmore tea-rooms.

The magazine has since moved left a bit and up a bit. It’s now published bi-annually from the East Sussex county town of Lewes.  The latest issue lives up to its reputation for engaging cover designs with an arresting rendition of ‘twae corbies’ by Eva Bodinet.

Poets published in issue 89 include Claire Booker, Maggie Butt, Julia Deakin, James Flynn, Desmond Graham, Chris Hardy, D A Prince, John Short, Pam Zinneman-Hope and John Whitehouse.  There are short stories by Caroline Price, Mary O’Donnell, Simon Howells, Kevin Tosca and Rachael McGill, plus a generous number of reviews including Peter Ebsworth’s Krapp’s Last Tape:The Musical which I for one have thoroughly enjoyed reading.

The Wax Paper with seal close up_0002Copies of issue 89 are available for sale at £5, or you can take out a one year subscription (£10) or two year subscription (£15).  The Frogmore Papers now operates submissions windows in April and October. For more details on how to submit or take out a subscription, please visit: www.frogmorepress.co.uk

The Wax Paper – an American Arts broadsheet

The internet occasionally throws up gems and The Wax Paper is one of them. I stumbled on its call for submissions through the highly useful (and free) online resource The Review Review  (99review@gmail.com)

Published as a quarterly broadsheet in Brooklyn and distributed in New York, Chicago and Mankato, The Wax Paper has all the bluff of newspapers before they shrank into tabloids. Eight arm-stretching pages is enough to keep you reading happily for more than an hour. The Wax Paper

So I’m delighted, they accepted two of my short plays for publication in Volume Two (Issue One) alongside some powerful short stories, arresting photography and excellent poems. Wax Paper Vol 2 Issue 1 (2 plays)

Poets may have a hard time getting published, but playwrights are competing for even fewer print opportunities.

Double bravo therefore to The Wax Paper for giving over an entire page to my two dramas. Lost Property has been performed a number of times, most recently at The Lost Theatre’s Five Minute Play Festival (see photo to the right with actors David Bevan and Maria Askew). 011_14

Bathroom Secrets is a 10 minute play, most recently performed at Unheard, a Festival run by Goblin Baby Theatre Co. at The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham. Bathroom Secrets(Photographer Kenneth Jay)

On the left you can see actors Susan Hodgetts and Mark Lisseman in full flow as a married couple who can’t communicate.

Both plays are available to read on my website: www.bookerplays.co.uk

This issue of The Wax Paper contains poetry by the flamboyantly named Richard King Perkins II, Holly Wren Spaulding, Charles Rafferty, Robbie Gamble, Talal Alyan, Jennie Greensfelder and George Eklund.

Two of the short stories are absolutely knock out: The Gods by Melissa Knox is a fascinating critique of a life under Freudian analysis. The Second to Last Supper by Sabrina Harris, is a brilliantly satirical attack on capital punishment using the absurd (and I believe legally correct) premise that a United States prisoner cannot be executed unless they have been given their last meal request in full.

“The first priority of The Wax Paper is to expand our understanding of the people we share the world with,” says Editor Hans Hetrick. “Pieces will be selected on their ability to illuminate the humanity and significance of the subjects that inhabit the work – work that required patient observation, remained steadfast in its empathy and displayed genuine vitality.”

The Wax Paper with sealIf you have poems, short stories, drama, collected conversations, photographs or artwork you think might belong within these lovely pages, please visit:  www.thewaxpaper.com/submissions or email Hans Hetrick at waxsubmissions@gmail.com

The Interpreter’s House unleashes flying furniture!

interpreters-house-64Chairs and sofas are blooming on the spring issue of The Interpreter’s House. No need for daffs and crocuses when you can enjoy poetry and short stories, curled up somewhere warm until the clocks change.

Poets in issue 64 include Miranda Barnes, Claire Booker, Ingrid Casey, Gram Joel Davies, Pamela Job, Wendy Klein, Julie Mellor, Katrina Naomi, Stuart Pickford, James Sutherland Smith and Samuel Tongue.

And if that’s not enough to rev up your day, there’s fiction by Anna Lewis, Eleanor Fordyce and Nicola Ratnett, plus Dawn Gorman reviews Much Possessed (John Foggin, smith/doorstop) and Martin Malone reviews Scarlet Tiger (Ruth Sharman, Templar Poetry).

The Interpreter’s House is edited by Martin Malone from his eerie in Aberdeen and comes out three times a year. If you want your work to appear in the summer issue, hurry, hurry as the submissions window closes on Feb 28th.

To buy a copy of issue 64 or find out more about the magazine, go to: theinterpretershouse.com

Meat /A Dog’s Life – 5 minute plays by Claire Booker

lost-festival-nov-2016Struck down with flu in November, I failed to see either of my two plays performed at the Lost Theatre Company’s 5 Minute Play Festival 2016. If I’d had any body fluids left, I’d have wept into my duvet.

But hey, U-tube came to the rescue and Meat and A Dog’s Life, together with the other plays selected for the festival, are available to view.

Meat is directed with verve by Jo Grieve. Rhiannon Story and Francesca Burgoyne offer spirited performances in their roles as animal activists who have a nasty secret in the boot of their car. (see link below)

A Dog’s Life is directed by myself. (Fess up time – I was too ill to get to the dress rehearsal, so an especially big thank you to Stephanie James and Jake Rowley for acting their socks off without me). When Baz runs over his wife’s pet pooch, he learns what a dog’s life is really worth. (see link below)

Finally, thank you to The Lost Theatre Company for organising the seventh 5-Minute Festival at their Stockwell-based theatre. I’ve had plays accepted there for six consecutive years and it’s always been a real pleasure working with such an enthusiastic and helpful team.

For information about The Lost Theatre’s current shows and future festivals please click on: www.losttheatre.co.uk

Review of Rosie Garland’s ‘As in Judy’

rosie-garland_0001What makes a good review? Is it readability? Accuracy? An instinct for the telling quote? Having grappled with writing my first poetry review, all I know is that, like any other art-form, it will take years of practice to hone the skill.

But not withstanding, it was a gripping experience to read the newest poetry collection from the multi-talented and heart-warmingly modest Rose Garland.  I can only urge you to get down to your local book store and order a copy of As in Judy. It’s full of verbal spark and hard-won humanity. Or you can go direct to Manchester-based publisher Flapjack Press (www.flapjackpress.co.uk) and buy it on-line.

If you’d like a taste of ‘As in Judy, here’s the link to my write-up on Write Out Loud (another gem of the poetry world):  www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=63176

It’s Blue Friday for The Emma Press Anthology of The Sea

emma-press-the-sea_0001Who needs Black Friday? Let’s turn it into Blue Friday and fill our friends’ and family’s Christmas stockings with The Emma Press’s gloriously azure Anthology of the Sea?

The charmingly designed, pocket-sized book includes poems by Natalya Anderson, Claire Booker, Geraldine Clarkson, Katherine Gallagher, Rebecca Goss, Sarah Howe, Amy McCauley, Jacqueline Saphra, Claire Trevien and Sophie S. Wright. There’s also the first published poem by Brian Grant – a young Irish writer who is definitely one to watch.

From its elegant deep blue end-pages, to Emma Wright’s atmospheric pen and wash illustrations, The Anthology of the Sea has been beautifully gathered in by editor, Eve Lacey. She divides the book into four sections – Ashore, Adrift, Awash and Avast – and offers readers a rich diversity of subjects, from poems about sea creatures, loved ones lost at sea, the power of weather and waves, and the industrial flotsam of jetties, fish canning and lifeboats.emma-press-the-sea_0002

The anthology made quite a splash when it was launched last month in central London. The evening buzzed with some fantastic readings and a lively and appreciative audience. Readers included Jacqueline Saphra, Brian Grant, Geraldine Clarkson and myself. emma-press-sea-jacqueline-saphra

emma-press-sea-brian-grant    emma-press-sea-geraldine-clarkson                                               emma-sea-anth-launch

To find out more about the book and its poets please visit https://theemmapress.com/anthology-of-the-sea/

Ready to buy? Here’s a link to the webshop: https://theemmapress.com/shop/anthology-of-the-sea-paperback/