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/

Dreamcatcher 33 – for a ride on the wild side

The latest issue of Dreamcatcher travels down baking highways into  small town America with its drive-in diners, car lots and lonely motels. Thumb a lift in this shining Cadillac of a literary mag and discover poetry and short stories that sit on the edge of dangerous. dreamcatcher-33

Poets in issue 33 include Claire Booker, Carol Coiffait, Mark Connors, Simon French, Alice Harrison, Becci Louise, Eva Strittmatter (in translation and original German), Marc Swan, Tom Vaughan and Susan Wallace.

There’s a nice range of short stories too. I particularly enjoyed Roger Harveys’ tale of trespassing lovers, Forbidden Fruit, and the excellent Merryn Williams’ chilling  Next of Kin about a woman on a life support machine.

There are reviews of books by Thelma Laycock, Graham High, Tanya Nightingale, Jackie Biggs, Bill Dodd, Mark Mansfield and TF Griffin.

dreamcatcher-33Featured artist Horace Panter’s brilliantly brash work blows right through the issue and is described by Art Editor Greg McGee as: “a pop art homage to what is a Kerouacian yearning to travel to altered states, to adventure, to expand horizons: to remaster, in a sense, the myth of The American Dream.”

To buy a copy of Dreamcatcher 33, or submit to the next issue, please visit: www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk

Prole issue 20 is out and proud!

Winner of Best Magazine at The Saboteur Awards in the year that Wales magicked itself into footballing history, Prole has a lot to be proud about.  Prole issue 20

Issue 20 of the Welsh-based lit mag is packed to the rafters with short stories and poetry from the Anglophone world. Poets published in time for autumn include Claire Booker, Matt Duggan, Mab Jones, Joanne Key,  Lisa Kelly, Tess Kincaid, Sue Pace and Jonny Rodgers.

To lift a quote from one of the many Saboteur Award voters: “Prole takes risks, is innovative and don’t take no bullshit from no-one.”  Yes indeed, Prole editors Brett Evans and Phil Robertson accept only clear-sighted work that isn’t dressed up in literary pretention.

Prole issue 20 Sparx' cartoon_0001One of the highlights for me in this issue is Bill Schillaci’s story The Artist Between Lives which had me hooked from the beginning with its ironic take on sessions with a psychotherapist. Also, Maureen Cullen’s Ring of Fire with its great observations and Glaswegian verbal dexterity. Poems that stand out for me include Tess Kincaid’s surreal poem Totem and Lisa Kelly’s Angelica’s Apology. There’s a guilt-inducing little gem from Robert de Born about slug extermination too. And a cartoon by Sparx rounds off the issue

If you’re a prose writer, there’s still time to enter the 2016 Prolitzer Prize which closes for entries on October 1st. Word limit is 2,500. For more details of the competition, or to submit poetry and/or prose to Prole, or buy a copy of issue 20, please click on: www.prolebooks.co.uk

Six reasons to join The Poetry Society

If you’re still not a member of The Poetry Society, here are a few good reasons why you (and your bank account!) might decide to join in the party. It costs as little as £20 a year.

In no particular order – the infamous Stanza Bonanza! StanzaBon (Reading v Clapham)

All over Britain, groups of poets get together at Poetry Society Stanza groups to share work, inspire each other, produce anthologies or perform together in friendly internecine shoot-outs.  Here is last month’s Stanza Bonanza between Clapham – aka Original Poets – (front from left: Tom Vaughan, Nicole Carrell, Tessa Lang, Mark Fiddes, Claire Booker; back far left: Hilaire) and Reading (back from 2nd left: Susan Utting, Louise Ordish, Shelley Connor, Gill Learner, Alan Hester, Ted Millichap).

Poetry CafeOur Bonanza frolics took place in The Poetry Place – another great reason to support the Poetry Society. This bijou building (ok it’s cramped and steamy in summer but a refurb is on the way) is bang smack in the cultural heartland of London’s Covent Garden. Virtually every night there’s an event to enjoy or an exhibition to ponder. The Café provides tasty vegetarian food and a place to write or hang out in. Upstairs there’s a venue for workshops, parties and hard-working Poetry Society staff (also boxes and boxes of poetry books – the nicest possible kind of tripping hazard).

Every member receives a copy of Poetry News, packed with news and views. As a member, you can enter the Member’s Poems competition four times a year. Winners are published in Poetry News and receive a juicy parcel of poetry books. My poem ‘Deadline’ is twinkling away happily in this summer issue. If you’d like to read it, along with the five other winning poems on the theme of Smell, please click: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/membership/members-poems-2/

Poetry News Summer 2016More than £16,000 is give out each year in prize money by the Poetry Society, which runs The National Poetry Competition, The Ted Hughes Award, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year, Slambassadors and numerous others.

Members also have the option of receiving Poetry Review – one the most respected poetry magazines in the English speaking world.  If you hope to be published in its august pages, perhaps take advantage of the Poetry Prescription service available to Poetry Society members at a very reasonable fee. Poets with great track records are available in the four corners of Britain (or by Skype) to read and report back on examples of your poetry. I can highly recommend it from personal experience (thank you Katy Evans Bush!).

Joining the Poetry Society gives a nice warm feeling too, as you’re directly supporting its original, eclectic projects. From canal-sides, supermarkets, football pitches and former battlefields, to schools and arts venues, projects range from ongoing programmes to one-off commissions of new work. The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, The Canal Laureateship, Poems on the Underground, National Poetry Day – all wonderful examples of how the Poetry Society is raising poetry’s profile with people of all ages.

Convinced? Still not sure?  For the full deal, click on: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/ and give some serious thought to joining, supporting, engaging with and using the opportunities that the Poetry Society has been providing to poets and poetry lovers since 1909.  You know it makes sense!