The Lake webzine and Ink, Sweat & Tears

Life under Covid-19 has forced me to become more digitally aware. As a result, I’ve found myself reading more poetry webzines. It’s been fun. So many out there, something for every poetic taste.

The Lake is edited by John Murphy, a successful poet in his own right, who’s taught creative writing at Brunel, Essex and The Open universities. The webzine carries about a dozen poets each month, and in May published one of my poems, alongside a diverse set of poets, including Johanna Boal, Jenny Hockey, Beth McDonough, Kunle Okesipe and Tineke van der Eeken. Their archive of poems goes back to 2013.

John responds to submissions within two to three weeks, and he’ll accept previously published work, so long as a year or more has passed since its initial publication. You can read my poem at: http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry/claire-booker/

The Lake has a new review feature, in addition to their regular review section. One Poem Reviews takes a single poem featured from a new book/pamphlet along with a cover JPG and a link to the publisher’s website. Here is the first one, with a poem each from Claire Booker, John Gerard Fagan, JCM Hepple, Tom Rudd and Phil Vernon.

http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/reviews/oprjune21/

While on the subject of reviews, I must give a shout out to Ink, Sweat & Tears, edited by Helen Ivory. It’s a great read, with cutting edge poetry and prose, and well-written reviews. A big thank you from me to Jane Maker and the webzine for a splendid review of my latest pamphlet The Bone That Sang. You can read it here: https://inksweatandtears.co.uk/28380-2/

If you’ve recently read something that made your thoughts bubble, why not consider a review? Ink, Sweat & Tears have no resident reviewers but are pleased to accept unsolicited reviews for poetry and short story collections. The guideline word-count for a full collection is 700 words, for a pamphlet, 500 words. They have a good archive of previous reviews to inspire you. So pick up that pen!

Latest from Fenland Poetry Journal & Words For The Wild

If you write about nature, here are two great places to submit. I’m happy to have poems in Words for the Wild (surely one of the most visually delightful webzines going), and also in Fenland Poetry Journal, an elegant printed magazine edited by Elizabeth Sennitt Clough.

“The poems contained in this issue are textured with the ‘tremor of leaf play’ and ‘plosive bubble-threads – they are alive. They are creaturely.” says Sennitt Clough in her editorial for issue 4.

Poets in the spring issue include: Briony Bax, Kathryn Bevis, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Dagne Forrest, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Sarah Mnatzaganian, DA Prince, Hannah Stone, Charles Ulyatt, Louise Warren and Gareth Writer-Davies.

Fittingly, the Fenland Poetry Journal (like its previous incarnation, The Fenland Reed) comes to you from wind-swept, sky-rich Cambridgeshire. The magazine is published twice a year. For information about submissions windows, or to buy a copy, please visit: www.fenlandpoetryjournal.co.uk

Words for the Wild has built up a treasure trove of beautifully illustrated poems and short stories on a wide range of subjects that hold at their centre, the natural world. It’s edited by Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor, who both actively campaign to protect the countryside.

You can submit previously published work to their quarterly themed pages, or brand new work to their general pages.

The current theme (still open for submissions) is Gerald Durrell and his work as a conservationist. To read my poem ‘At the Bear Sanctuary’, please click on the following link: https://wordsforthewild.co.uk/?page_id=13306 This also allows you to scroll to other work within the site, including cracking poems by Kevin Cahill, Rebecca Gethin, Lisa Kelly and SA Leavesley, to name just a few.

Spelt Magazine – new kid on the block

It’s a thrill when your work makes it onto the pages of a brand new magazine. How will it look? Who’ll be in it? Will it last? So hurrah for Spelt, edited by Wendy Pratt. I can answer the first two questions – it looks great, it has some excellent work inside. Whether it will last is in the lap of the gods – ie the reader!

Spelt celebrates the rural experience through poetry and creative non fiction,” says Wendy in her first editorial.

“We want to see Spelt sitting not just in bookshops, but pubs and cafes, in gardens and tractor cabs, at poetry readings, festivals and spread out on a table at your local library. We also want to create something colourful, because nature doesn’t happen in black and white, and nature is at the heart of this magazine.”

Poets in this issue include Bob Beagrie, Claire Booker, Carole Bromley, Stephen Boyce, Pat Edwards, John Foggin, Mary Gilonne, Janet Hatherley, Oz Hardwick, Jenna Plewes, Gareth Writer-Davis and Lynne Wycherley.

Foolscap size and glossy, it’s the sort of magazine you might expect to see in a doctor’s waiting room (wouldn’t that be nice?). Each poem is given a full page with its own illustrative image and a picture of the poet with their bio and contact details. Generous, or what?

And true to its coffee table spirit, Spelt has four regular columnists. Its creative non-fiction writers take on such diverse subjects as Mary Earnshaw on wolves in Yellow Stone Park; a wacky piece by self-confessed vampire and Saboteur Award winning, Steve Nash; insights into archaeology by Electra Rhodes; living with M.E. in the village of Coalbrookdale by Kathryn Anna Marshall; and the ins and outs of eking a living as a trawler fisherman. There is also an in-depth interview with Irish poet Aoife Lyall whose first collection ‘Mother, Nature’ is published by Bloodaxe. I was incredibly impressed by her work when she read at the Spelt zoom launch earlier this month. There’s something about the emotional depth of her work, combined with that Irish lilt, that I found irresistible.

Co-editor, Steve Nash, has created films of many of the poems in the first issue, including my own ‘The Lightness of Words’ which can be viewed on Spelt’s YouTube channel at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s92NA-n2l6g

Spelt could not have got off the ground without its crowd-funding backers. So, over to the reader, now! Do please buy a copy if you can (£7.00 including p&p) and you’ll help the green shoots to grow and thrive (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

And there’s still time to submit your work to Issue 2 (closing date April 30th). To submit poetry and creative non-fiction, buy a copy of the magazine, or donate please visit: https://speltmagazine.com/

Poetry Salzburg Review – eclectic as ever

In its latest editorial, Poetry Salzburg Review makes no bones about its mission: “We need to get back to a time where the ‘general public’ see poetry as an essential literary engagement.” Here you’ll find poetry for just about everyone, from narratives, translations and humour, to experimental lay-outs, ekphrasis and sonnets. As a reader, I really love the mix I find here. As a poet, I’m grateful for a place which will consider every kind of poem I write.

Poets in issue 36 include William Bedford, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Brecht (transl.), Joe Caldwell, David J. Costello, Natalie Crick, Horace (transl.), L. Kiew, Tom Paine, Matthew Paul, Penelope Shuttle, Marjorie Sweetko, Grant Tabard, Marina Tsvetaeva (transl.) and Margaret Wilmot.

There’s the usual strong selection of book reviews, plus an essay on the late Chris Bendon by Glyn Pursglove, and one on Edward Lowbury (1913-2007) by Roland John.

And let’s celebrate another wonderful cover image – ‘The Waterfall’, by Steven Kenny. The front of every issue is a glorious invocation of the surreal; perhaps only to be expected from a magazine produced in the country where Sigmund Freud first tussled with the unconscious mind.

To order a copy of issue 36 or submit your own poems please check the following link: http://www.poetrysalzburg.com/psr.htm

Poetry Salzburg Review is issued twice a year, and I for one have been subscribing to it for some time. It’s printed with the support of the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Salzburg, with an editorial board that spans the Atlantic (Robert Dassanowsky and Keith Hutson) under the expert eye of editor Wolfgang Gortschacher.

Channel Magazine and Fragmented Voices

It’s great to see how young editors are moulding the poetry world. As something of an oldie, I’m especially happy to be part of the new wave of literary magazines, such as the Dublin-based Channel, which are redefining what really matters.

Channel editors Cassia Gaden Gilmartin and Elizabeth Murtough believe the creative arts have a role to play in the challenges we now face as a planet. “Environmentalists know that the biosphere is built on an infinitely complex series of interconnected networks, and that the suppression or destruction of one damages the whole. Social issues are not separate from this connectedness, neither in the immediate effect . . . nor in the cascading consequences of oppression.”

In issue 3, you’ll find poems, essays and short stories by writers selected from a field of over 1,300 submissions. These include Bebe Ashley, Cliodhna Bhreathnach, Claire Booker, Dylan Brennan, David Butler, Julian Brasington, Nancy Cook, Karen Luke Jackson, Uma Menon, Joel Scarfe, Kerry Trautman, Ann V. DeVilbiss, Marcy Rae Henry, Dorsia Smith Silva, Ian Twiddy and Pip Osmond-Williams.

The lively cover for issue 3 is from a Cork-based project funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, which works with young refugees, migrants and youth activists to find imaginative ways to represent their ideas and experiences. You can read about My Generation in the magazine, and also enjoy a ‘guided tour’ of the project on Channel‘s issue 3 zoom launch. Also on the link, is a cornucopia of writers reading their work, including myself (at 1h 38 minutes into the video): http://channelmag.org/issue-3-launch/

Copies are available to buy from the website, or at Dublin, Dingle and Ennistymon book shops.

Natalie Crick, and her co-editors Natalie Nera and Rue Collinge at Fragmented Voices are another set of young women, taking the world of poetry to an interesting place. The language of salt is their first anthology of verse, which is inspired by love and loss.

“This collection is a little soul-machine. It hums,” writes Natalie Crick. “We wanted our final selection of fifty poems to experiment with language and form, to push boundaries. This is not a traditional collection. Our poems confront erotic love, parental love, and the bleaker, darker realities of human affection.”

Poets in the anthology include Derek Adams, Jackie Biggs, Claire Booker, Graham Burchell, Seth Crook, Mike Farren, Kirsty Hollings, Rob A. Mackenzie, Gill McEvoy, Abigail Morley, Cheryl Pearson, Finola Scott, Rob Walton and Simon Williams.

The anthology is selling fast, but there are plans for a re-print, and there’ll be a digital copy of the book available via their on-line shop soon. For more information about Fragmented Voices please visit: https://fragmentedvoices.com/about/

My poem about childhood in The Spectator

I’m a huge fan of John Mole’s work, so it was a real thrill to find myself published alongside him in the same issue of The Spectator last month. His satiric, but deeply moving, ‘Keeping in Step’ contemplates the graveyard, via the carnival of jazz and brass bands. My ‘Museum of Childhood’ tackles the other end of life.

You can read our poems via the following links, or look out for them in the 12th December issue at your library when it reopens: https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/keeping-in-step https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/museum-of-childhood

As well as its excellent Books & Arts section, I particularly enjoy the little column on the back page of The Spectator, entitled ‘Mind Your Language’, where Dot Wordsworth examines the common misuses of words and grammar. In this issue, ‘fortuitous’ came under the scalpel, via the Daily Mail, the Roman Empire, the OED and Geoffrey Chaucer. If you’re a stickler for exactitude, this is the column for you.

Whilst on the subject of childhood, a friend tipped me off about The Poet Magazine, which has free call-outs several times a year for its international anthologies. As a result, I have two poems in the Childhood Anthology (Vol 2), edited by Robin Barratt and published this month (available from Amazon price £9.95 inc. p&p). Other UK poets include Neil Leadbeater, Emma Lee, Strider Marcus Jones, Maxine Rose Munro, Chrys Salt, Annie Wright and Mantz Yorke.

The Poet has a very cosmopolitan feel, with poets across the globe contributing their work. Whilst it’s commonplace to read work from North America or the Antipodes in many British literary journals, it’s lovely to be introduced to poets from Thailand, Romania, Armenia, Ethiopia, India, Poland, Malawi, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, Ecuador and others.

‘Uniting the world through poetry’ is the bimonthly magazine’s mission statement. Their website includes book reviews, interviews, poet of the week, and a section for young poets. To buy a copy, or submit to the magazine or one of its up-coming anthologies, check out: https://www.thepoetmagazine.org/the-magazine

Here Comes the Sun!

The days are growing longer already. It’s as if they’ve just picked up a copy of the Arachne Press Tymes Goe By Turnes anthology of writing inspired by Robert Southall’s poem, and decided to embrace the spirit of change.

On December 21st, The Solstice Shorts Festival, usually spread across several venues in various countries, was forced to go online. Contributors whose work was performed to camera include Jane Aldous, AJ Bermudez, Julian Bishop, Claire Booker, Elinor Brooks, Sean Carney, Kelly Davis, Neil Lawrence, Ness Owen, Brooke Stanicki and Laila Sumpton. The event was hosted by editor, Cherry Potts.

Why not treat yourself to a copy of this paeon to optimism? Let stories and poems whisk you away on a railway journey across America, to Turner’s World Of Twirls or piano lessons for the reluctant child. Let them introduce you to wolf-dogs, to memories of salty bodies and strawberries, cats that love fish skins and poems that ask intriguing questions of the soil, such as: “when did you forget you were a flower?” Everyone could do with Pippa Gladhill’s Twelve Point Plan – a perfect list of do’s and don’ts for lockdown – or a dip into spring bulbs, plum trees, rewilding.

You can watch the whole two hour show in segments by visiting the Arachne Press website, and selecting ‘Solstice Shorts’. Or click on the link below to watch actress Annalie Wilson read my poem Piano Lessons (11 minutes into the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN86K-qS-vM

If you’d like to buy a copy of the anthology (£8.99) go direct to Arachne Press at: http://www.arachnepress.com

Arachne Press has a number of projects brewing and are currently interested in hearing from writers who come from Wales, those who are D/deaf, and UK writers of BAME origin.

The Wax Paper + Lighten Up Online

I love submitting my work to new or unusual literary publications. Here are two I tried earlier.

The Wax Paper is an American broadsheet distributed in Chicago, Brooklyn, Mankato (I had to look that one up – it’s in Minnesota) and Los Angeles. I had two short dramas published there a few years ago, but would they take my poetry? The answer can be found in issue 11. Editor Hans Hetrick is hugely welcoming to all in ‘The Wax Paper family’ (it’s a forever family once your piece has appeared). And there’s a mouth-watering variety of work on show: flash, short stories, dramas, poetry, photography, artwork, essays, interviews, and hybrids (I love Ryan Drendel’s ‘Long Distance Relationship as Unsolved Sudoku’). The broadsheet is delivered to you wrapped and sealed with red wax – how neat is that?

As to be expected from an American lit mag, the writing is punchy, unpretentious and pulsing with life. The Wax Paper accepts simultaneous submissions and previously published items (but requests First North American Serial Rights for 30 days, after which all rights are returned). To submit, subscribe or find out more, visit: www.thewaxpaper.com

For sheer, unadulterated fun, Lighten Up On line (or LUPO to the cognoscenti) takes some beating.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, however. Be prepared for wit, satire, limericks, verbal prat-falls and in-your-face puns. If it rhymes, all the better. Editor Jerome Betts makes no bones about it:

We believe that light verse is very far from being the poor relation of “proper” poetry. On this site you will find work by light verse specialists as well as by some of the many “proper” poets who enjoy it and write it and agree that light verse deserves a wider audience than it is normally given.

In this post-Christmas no-man’s land, why not indulge your funny-bone with work from Claire Booker, Orla Fay, DA Prince, Shikhandin, Tom Vaughan and many others. Perhaps even pick up your pen and craft some rib-ticklers yourself. Check it out at: https://www.lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/issue-51-september-2020

Artemis – In Praise of Older Women

Artemis Poetry has a seductive power which draws you through its spacious pages, its poems, the interviews, the delightful artwork, and leaves you pleasantly sated at the end.

Issue 25 is no exception, with feature poet Margaret Wilmot’s six fine poems, a tantalising three from Alison Brackenbury on the back cover, an illuminating interview with Penelope Shuttle (with 4 poems to go) and work in the main body of the magazine from Claire Booker, Katherine Gallagher, Gill Learner, Kathy Miles, Jennifer Nadel, Ilse Pedler, Kate Scott, Sue Spiers, Myra Schneider, Marion Tracy and Merryn Williams among many others.

by Caro Reeves

Caroline Carver and Dilys Wood’s editorial is a paean to the creative potential of middle age and beyond. Here is an extract:

“‘Older’ is of course always a relative term. New generations may appear to tread us down even when we feel our bones are still green. There are real problems around ‘the cult of youth’ however natural it is for event organisers and editors to look out for new talent. Sometimes there is a quite wrong-headed disassociation between ‘freshness’ and innovation and a writer’s count of years. Among creative people across the arts, there are so many examples of older people either producing their best work at the end of their lives, or striking out in entirely unforeseen directions which may involve high levels of innovation.”

There’s a graceful elegance about this magazine, but it’s piping hot with ideas under the surface.

Penelope Shuttle gives a fascinating interview about the life of a writer: “. . . the main thing about poetry is to find your own voice, and develop it, stay true to you. You can’t trim it to the fashion of the moment.” You can read the winning and commended poems in this year’s Second Light Poetry Competition; learn more about the late, great Anne Stevenson and Elaine Feinstein, and consider Jacqueline Saphra’s perspective on older poets, with her suggestion that older women writers might exhibit “. . . divine rage, the kind of rage that ricochets down the centuries, takes the male canon to task and hammers on the doors of patriarchy.”

There’s a generous supply of book reviews, including the latest from Clare Best, Naomi Foyle and Fiona Sampson, plus interviews with RV Bailey, Nadine Brummer, Katherine Gallagher, MR Peacocke and Myra Schneider about what makes older women writers tick. Rather like Magma Poetry, Artemis uses a different poetry editor for each issue (Helen Ivory edited this one). As a result, you can never second guess an Artemis poem. It’s a fresh every time.

I enjoyed the magazine so much, I’ve decided to buy a subscription and become a member of Second Light, which offers a whole package of goodies, including workshops, online publication, member reviews and publicity. All for £28 a year (if you’re 40+) or £16 associate membership for women aged 30-40. For more information please visit: www.secondlightlive.co.uk

My poem ‘Drone-Boys’ in The Spectator

I’m delighted to be in The Spectator again. A big thank you to Hugo Williams for choosing my poem about lambs, drones and lads on the South Downs.

Since moving to Brighton three years ago, sheep have begun to loom large in my life. They can be very addictive creatures – drones, less so!

You can read the poem in the November 7th issue (or on the image below).

This issue includes an intriguing poem about a fly by Kate Bingham, plus a villanelle in praise of Wendy Cope by Jane Blanchard.

The Spectator is England’s oldest continuously published Magazine (dating back to 1828), so it’s seen a lot of history come and go. It usually carries between two and four poems per week, plus a weekly competition for themed or form poems. Check each week for the required topic.

You can submit poems for the body of the magazine to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.