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.

Structo 20 – the lit mag with attitude

You may have seen Structo editor Euan Monaghan’s recent series of YouTube interviews with writers from issue 20. Relaxed and incisive don’t always go together, but Structo is all about surprising juxtapositions, be it poetry, short fiction, photography, translation or feature interview. As one of those interviewed, I can vouch that the experience was a cross between cosy, fireside chat and University entrance interview (I hadn’t read one of the writers mentioned, but I think I got away with it!)

You can watch how I fared (and contrast and compare with other writers interviewed!) by clicking on this link https://youtu.be/HI3zLgfCInQ

There’s plenty of poetry in issue 20 to enjoy from Luigi Coppola, Marie-Andree Auclair, Georgi Gill, Petra Hilgers, Joseph Hardy, Michael Bazzett, Stephanie Limb, Daisy G. Bassen, Daniel Bennett and Claire Booker, and you can also read the winning poem by Jen Stuart Fueston from Structo’s 2019 Lenten Psalm Contest. Psalms as theme? What a brilliant idea!

Plus, there’s a feature interview with Catalan poet, Joan Margarit, who is the first Catalan ever to receive the prestigious Miguel de Cervantes prize. “The safety of home is not so different from the safety of the spirit” he tells Anna Crowe, and discusses the difficulties still faced by Catalan culture. His advice to young poets? “Making a poem means looking inside yourself. Inside you there are millions of things. You have to find among them one thing that may interested someone whom you don’t know at all. You have to make it in such a way that he or she will be astonished, as though they looked into a mirror, and will say in a low voice: This is me . . .

Also in issue 20, there’s a fascinating ‘workshop’ on the art of translation, where Faroe Island poet Kim Simonsen discusses the strength and weaknesses of Matthew Landrum’s translation of one of his poem. The interviewer? Matthew Landrum! No rights of wrongs, of course; just shades of opinion.

And don’t miss some truly strong short stories from writers including LP Lee, Tom Benn, Joe Bedford and Kate Feld, plus an impressionistic set of black and white landscape photos by Annie Spratt.

You can read back-copies of Structo on the link below, or order a copy of issue 20, https://structomagazine.co.uk/structo/current-issue/

My new pamphlet is born!

The Bone That Sang has been safely delivered by Indigo Dreams Publishing and is now available to dandle on laps and laptops. It follows my debut poetry pamphlet Later There Will Be Postcards, now a feisty toddler at Green Bottle Press.

You can read five of the poems from The Bone That Sang at your leisure at the link below, and press the ‘BUY’ button if you’re feeling flush!

https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/claire-booker/4595059690

The new pamphlet is packed with 29 pages of poetry. Some of the poems first appeared in The Spectator, Poetry News, Structo, The New Welsh Reader, The Interpreter’s House, Stand, Prole, Poetry Salzburg Review, The High Window, The Frogmore Papers, Ambit, South Bank Poetry and Magma.

The Bone That Sang explores what it means to be human in an imperfect world. A refugee sprints for his life; an at-risk child craves a baby; a one-night stand goes hilariously wrong; a beloved mother-in-law makes a final spiritual journey. Narrative often drives my inspiration, but you’ll also find poems here that stand outside the moment.

“Claire Booker’s second collection of poems has an indefatigable spirit. Even as they explore man’s incredible capacity for cruelty, they reveal a tender humanity and have an unflagging energy. The political nature of many of these poems refuses to let the reader off the hook, but Booker’s fine sense of tone and craft means we’re happy to be left wriggling.” Lisa Kelly.

Stand Magazine pays tribute to Eavan Boland

It’s great to be in another issue of Stand, which offers the perfect place for poems that play with horizontal layouts.   

Stand (issue Vol 18, 2) 

Poets in this issue include Richard Aronowitz, Grace Atkinson, Kate Behrens, Claire Booker, Maia Elsner, John Glover, Robin Houghton,  Laura Potts, Jessica Sneddon, Nic Stringer, plus a series of five extraordinary poems from Robert Hamberger.

There’s also a short story by Ted Slaughter and reviews by Jennifer Wong, Stella Pye and John Gallas.

In his foreword, managing editor, John Whale, references Coleridge’s 1797 poem ‘This Lime-tree Bower My Prison’ as his lockdown poem of choice. In the poem, Coleridge provides intense, detailed observations of nature, which enable him to bear the isolation of his illness with fortitude and even appreciation. IMG_0049[1]

Says John Whale: “At this moment of of our current pandemic it is worth celebrating this historical example of the appreciation of particularity arising from a thorough-going meditative attention to nature. It shows us what compensations can emerge from privation.” 

The first six pages of Stand 226 contain tributes to the Irish poet, feminist and editor, Eavan Boland, who died in April. A great loss to the world of poetry.

Boland famously said it was ‘easier to have a political murder in an Irish poem than a washing machine.” So-called ‘domestic poetry’ still has to contend with prejudice from some editors (often, but not always, male), who would airbrush it from their pages. Apparently, they fail to see that all experience contains the potential for poetry, including such deeply personal relationships such as motherhood. 

In one of the tributes carried in Stand, Shirley Chew quotes from Boland’s poem sequence, Anna Liffey. It’s a beautiful statement of the right to be subjective in a poem, to bring yourself right into its core, and not simply be a commentator on the ‘big subjects’: 

Make of a nation what you will
Make of the past
What you can -

There is now
A woman in the doorway.

It has taken me
All my strength to do this.

Becoming a figure in a poem.

Usurping a name and a theme.

To buy a copy of Stand, Volume 18 (2), or take out an online or paper subscription, or to submit your work to the magazine, please visit: http://www.standmagazine.org

Prole Magazine is 10 years old!

Prole x6Prole‘s 10th birthday is a cause for celebration among all who prefer their poetry and short stories lively and accessible. So here’s a glass (or two!) raised with a hurrah for editors Brett Evans and Phil Robertson, who have steered this Sabateur award-winning magazine from the word go.

I’ve been chuffed to have poems in seven of those issues, including the current one (Prole 30), which contains short stories by Dan Burns, S. Dean, Sue Pace, and poetry by Sharon Black, Michael Carrino, Kitty Coles, Kevin Hanson, Deborah Harvey, Jennifer A McGowan, Matt Pitt, Emma Purshouse and Rowena Warwick among others. Prole cartoon

Until recently, the magazine has come out three times a year, but now it’s going to be biannual. This will take some pressure off the editors but will very likely disappoint readers and submitters alike.  C’est la vie. We’ll appreciate it all the more. I love the look of the magazine, with its trade-mark black and white covers, witty cartoons, and clear demarcation between prose and poetry. Great that contributors are offered a profit-share too.  Prole issue 30

Prole is not just a magazine, however. Every year, it holds a Prole Laureate Competition (plus similar for short stories). You can read the 2020 winning poems by Paul Stephenson, Jinny Fisher and Angela Platt in this current issue.

Is your finished pamphlet looking for a home? If so, there’s still time to enter this year’s Prole Pamphlet Competition, being judged by John McCullough. Your pamphlet needs to be between 20 and 40 pages. Closing date is September 16th. More details at: Prole

Black Lives Matter poem in Morning Star

Morning Star Aug 20Some poems arrive unexpectedly. My poem ‘The Chair’ in Wednesday’s Morning Star caught me blind-side while scrolling through my Facebook feed. There was an image. One I couldn’t get out of my head. The only solution. Write a poem.

Black Lives Matter has arisen spontaneously, through the power of social media. It’s a movement for desperately needed justice. Anger can be turned into action. Laws changed. Attitudes altered. We all have our part to play. Things are changing – but slowly.

Morning Star (12.8.20)

It seems deeply shocking that a so-called civilised society like America still executes people. The constitution allows each State to decide for itself, and tragically 25 States still have capital punishment on their statute books.

If that’s not horrendous enough, the colour of your skin has a lot to do with whether you receive a death sentence. The ethnicity of the murder victim is statistically the deal breaker – a white victim more often results in Death Row than if the victim were black. Old prejudices die hard.  Some lives are still deemed more equal than others, yet the US Supreme Court does not acknowledge statistical bias as a reason to overturn an individual sentence.

I’ve been a member of Amnesty International for much of my adult life. It campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty world-wide. Do please consider joining if you aren’t already a member.  Here is a link to their work on capital punishment: Amnesty International

imagesMy thanks to Andy Croft, who chose ‘The Chair’ as Poem of the Week in the printed newspaper. The Morning Star costs £1.20 and is available at a number of outlets, including The Coop, Budgens and McColls. You can also read its mix of News, Politics, Culture and Sport online, where my poem is also available to view at:  The Chair by Claire Booker

Finished Creatures is one year old

Finished Creatures (issue 3)_0001The biannual literary journal Finished Creatures has just celebrated its third issue with almost 70 pages of poetry on the theme of Balance.

Its luxurious crisp, white pages hold poems by Jill Abram, Isabelle Baafi, Claire Booker, Rachel Bower, Claire Collison, Martin Crucefix, Claire Dyer, Josh Ekroy, Susannah Hart, Hilaire, Matt Howard, Jenny Mitchell, Jessica Mookherjee, Matt Riches and Penelope Shuttle among a host of other poets.

It’s the brainchild of editor, Jan Heritage. And as so often is the case, she’s a gifted poet herself:

Finished Creatures is a new platform for emerging and experienced poets: an independent, no profit, printed magazine, carefully produced with an eye for detail and originality.

Here you will find poets engaging with the realities of the Anthropocene. You’ll find work that considers human and non-human beings with equal interest and affinity, and which sometimes explores the territory in between.  

Alongside environmental concerns and ecopoetry are poems that draw on personal experience, politics, myth and science to express something new and restless. Finished Creatures (issue 3)_0002

The theme of Balance was chosen before the virus took hold. But there are poems here that seem to foretell: chaos and apocalypse feature, as do gods – of mischief or of no use. Time takes on new meaning. Things disappear from view, perspectives change. But there is also the celebration of small triumphs, the ordinary and the near at hand.

The next issue is being guest-edited by Corrupted Poetry – a collective comprising Nic Stringer, Fiona Larkin and also Michelle Penn, whose poem, portrait of you as time, is featured on the inside cover of the Balance issue.

Issue One FCIf you’d like to submit your work, you have until July 31st to send up to four of your unpublished poems on the theme of Stranger.

Copies of the magazine cost £7.00 +1.50 p&p. ORDER DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER: poetry@finishedcreatures.co.uk    Or via: http://www.paypal.me/creaturespoetrymag

For more information, or to buy a copy of any of the first three issues: Airbourne, Risk or Balance, please follow this link: Finished Creatures

Words for the Wild – the magic of nature

 

Visually sumptuous, verbally lively – the webzine Words For The Wild is a joyful way of spending time with words and images that relate to Nature.

So a big thank you to poet Hilaire for introducing me to the webzine, and to editors Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor for posting my poem ‘New Arrival’.

To read it, please click here: New Arrival The same link will lead you through to stories and poems by a raft of gifted writers, including Shanta Acharya, Kathryn Bevis, Stephen Bone, Alison Brackenbury, Maggie Butt, Caroline Davies, Kate Firth, Hugh Greasley, Chris Hardy, Hilaire and S.A. Leavesley.

Submissions of prose and poetry are welcome year round, with changing themes. Your work can already have been published elsewhere (subject to copywrite). So far, they’ve covered the themes of Jungle, Fruit, Gift, and New Build.

The Ellen TreeThe ethos of Words for the Wild is one of celebration and action. “We are writers who love the countryside, and we want to stop the kind of development that will destroy our gorgeous green land; we want to conserve it for future generations. Of course we need houses but we also need to protect wildlife and retain these pockets of peacefulness where we can walk our dogs or jog or cycle or build dens, play or paint, or simply wander and think.”

Words for the Wild has published a paperback anthology of poems and stories (£6.40 from Words For The Wild) profits of which go to support the community campaign, AADD, which has just succeeded in preventing a housing development being built that would have threatened ancient woodland. More information at: Action Against Destructive Development