Category Archives: Literary publications

Alchemy Spoon and Orbis #202

A first time for me in The Alchemy Spoon, and a welcome return to Orbis – one a relative newcomer on the poetry scene, the other with more than 200 issues to its name. I love them both.

If you’d like to get into the next issue of The Alchemy Spoon, the submissions window closes on Feb 28th, with a theme of Grafitti. So get scribbling!

Editors Roger Blore, Vanessa Lampart and Mary Mulholland choose themes for each issue, creating a unified feel but with plenty of air to breathe. Their online launch was lively, enjoyable and free; a great way to get a taste of the magazine. Or better still, buy a copy at: www.alchemyspoon.org

Poets in the Gift issue, include Barbara Barnes, Heidi Beck, Claire Booker, Pratibha Castle, Rachel Clyne, Luciana Francis, Rachael Goodman, Emma Gray, Hannah Linden, John Martin, Emeline O’Dowd, Gillie Robic, Paul Stepehnson, Rob Walton and Kate Young.

There’s also a perceptive interview with Forward Award-winning Liz Berry, who says “good poems constantly reveal new things” and gives the advice: “don’t feel you should write poems that are fashionable. Write for pleasure, be fearless, but also kind to yourself.” You can also read an honest and deeply revealing feature article by Jane Burn on notions of courage, permission, poetry and the search for the writing self.

Carole Baldock is the tireless editor of Orbis which brings together a community of poets and readers, each impacting on the other. Readers get the chance to vote for their favourite poems, and poets thus chosen can win £50. Short stories and poetry makes up the bulk of writing, but you also get book reviews, readers’ letters and feedback, plus details of submission and competition opportunities. Even adverts!

Poets in Orbis #202 include Claire Booker, Alexander Corrin-Tachibana, Tina Cole, Mark Czanik, Cathy Grindrod, Marie Lecrivain, Judith Pollinger, Katherine Swett, Anne Symons, Isobel Williams and Jackie Wills. I also really enjoyed reading Mary Earnshaw’s fascinating feature article on that “prolific shape-shifter and most widely travelled, longest-lived Past Master – Anon.” Yes, Anon would be a multi-billionaire by now, if they’d been able to draw royalties. To buy a copy of Orbis, take our a subscription, or submit your work or details of your competition, please visit: www.orbisjournal.com

Voices for the Silent – Broken Sleep Books, Channel Magazine, Indigo Dreams

The natural world has found champions in three recent publications. I’m proud to have poems in each of them.

Now on its 7th issue, Dublin-based Channel offers short fiction, poems, translations and essays which encourage reflection on human interaction with plant and animal life, landscape and the self. To buy, submit or watch the launch video, visit: www.channelmag.org

Broken Sleep Books produced Footprints last year containing ecopoetry from more than 90 poets, including Carrie Etter, Kathryn Bevis, Lisa Kelly, Martyn Crucefix, Michelle Penn, Penelope Shuttle and Suzannah Evans. Anthology co-editor, Charlie Baylis, has also launched Anthropocene as an on-line journal for environmental poetry. In the foreword, Aaron Kent reminds us that it’s “time to act, time to stand up.” A tree will be planted for each copy bought: www.brokensleepbooks.com

Any publication with a fox on its cover, gets my vote! Indigo Dreams has a close association with the League Against Cruel Sports, which will benefit from profits from the sale of this anthology. To buy a copy visit: www.indigodreamspublishing.com To find out more about the League, go to: www.league.org.uk

Inside the covers you’ll find work by Margaret Atwood, John Clare, Thomas Hardy, Philip Larkin, Pablo Neruda and William Blake, as well as many contemporary poets.

Magma 84 and The Morning Star

Physics and poetry are uncommon bedfellows, but Susannah Hart and Stav Poleg’s call-out earlier this year has created a Magma pulsing with philosophical vigour (and a few laughs too!) Poets include Vasiliko Albado, Claire Booker, Mark Fiddes, Martin Figura, Philip Gross, Ramona Herdman, Jan Heritage, Tania Hershman, NJ Hynes, Isabella Mead, Hilary Menos, Meredi Ortega, Paul Stephenson, Claudine Toutoungi and Rebecca Watts.

Many of the poets in this issue are scientist or mathematicians, including Ilse Pedler (veterinary surgeon), Ian Buchanan (X-ray imaging scientist), Lucy Calder (astrophysicist), Pippa Goldschmidt (astronomer), Kinneson Lalor and Chris Athorne (mathematicians). A reminder that poetry is not just the reserve of the literary set. Perhaps the arts would do well to become more literate in things scientific.

“As a temporal art that is often concise enough to be held on a single page and form its own unique visual structure, poetry is a perfect vehicle for the concepts of time and space,” write the editors in their intro. “The poem happens in time, as we read it; it keeps changing as we go along with it, and yet, at any time during the process, we can take a glimpse of its entirety. Moreover, in evoking memories, visual images and sounds, the poem may offer us a glimpse to the fact that time is, in fact, not linear.”

Alongside the poems, you can read thought-provoking features, including Lucy Sheerman on how her long-held desire to become an astronaut fed into the libretto she wrote for Peterborough Cathedral. Also, a fascinating exposition by Tania Hershman on the relationship between parts and wholes, in which she literally took literary works apart in her PHD thesis on ‘particle fiction’. Plus, of course, the usual reviews. To buy a copy of Magma (issue 84), take out a subscription, or check the next submissions window, click on the following link: www.magmapoetry.com

And here’s a chance to read my poem, Woman, life, freedom, which was published in The Morning Star on 24th November as their 21st Century Poetry poem of the week. It’s a response to the death of Mahsa Amini (seen right) in suspicious circumstances, following her arrest by the Iranian morality police for improper wearing of her hijab. Mass protests continue, despite harsh penalties.

Click here for the poem: https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/c/21st-century-poetry-woman-life-freedom

Under The Radar – guest edited by Tom Sastry

Perhaps it was in the stars, perhaps it was the guest editor, but after a five year gap, I have a poem in Under The Radar again. It’s a lovely magazine, beautifully spacious, with creamy white pages of up to 35 lines, offering cutting edge poetry and fiction three times a year. It’s published by Nine Arches Press and edited by Jane Commane and Matt Merritt.

Guest editor, Tom Sastry, refreshingly admits to having been “continually disappointed by the lack of mediocrity in the submissions.” What a tormenting joy an editor’s life is! Poets in this issue include Claire Booker, Josephine Corcoran, Louise Crosby, Abigail Flint, Caroline Hammond, Penny Hope, Ed Limb, Bryony Littlefair, Ewan Mackinnon, Elizabeth McGeown, Sophie Meehan, Alexandra Melville, Hilary Menos, Peter Sansom, Kate Scott, Hilary Watson, Julia Webb and Cathy Whittaker.

As well as a rich haul of poems, there are also two strong pieces of fiction by Cheryl Moskowitz and Jane Pearn, plus reviews of collections by, among others, Naush Sabah, Hannah Lowe, Raymond Antrobus, John McCullough and Jane Wong.

There’s also a mini showcase for the up-coming Nine Arches Press anthology, After Sylvia. The book celebrates Plath’s 90th anniversary with new poems and essays inspired by her life, work and legacy. If the three poems (by Rosie Garland, Caleb Parkin, and Merrie Joy Williams) are anything to go by, this anthology will be high on my to-buy list.

If you’d like to buy a copy of issue 29 or take out a subscription to Under The Radar, please click on the following link: Poems, reviews, short fiction in Under the Radar Their current submissions window for poetry is open until December 7th, and for short fiction until January 7th. The theme is ‘journeys’.

And for my final word, I’ll take a mathematical turn with a short Fibonacci poem I had published recently on The Fib Review (issue 43): You can read it here: https://www.musepiepress.com/fibreview/claire_booker1.html

The Fibonacci poem is a poetry form based on the structure of the Fibonacci number sequence; a mathematical sequence in which every figure is the sum of the two preceding it. Thus, you begin with 1 and the sequence follows as such: 1+1=2; then in turn 1+2=3; then 2+3=5; then 3+5=8 and so on. The poetry sequence therefore consists of lines of 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and so on with each number representing the number of syllables or words that a writer places in each line of the poem. Tempted to write one? Go on, you know you want to!

Prole and Caduceus – offering accessible poetry

When it comes to clear, compelling, enjoyable poetry, Prole is up there with the best. They’ve been kind enough to take another of my poems for issue 33, alongside succulent work by Bob Beagrie, Sharon Black, Matt Broomfield, Pat Edwards, Matthew Friday, John Grice, Kevin Hanson, Robin Houghton, Sue Kindon, Wendy Klein, Richie McCaffery, Emma Pursehouse, Nikki Robson, Joel Scarfe, Sue Spiers, and Gareth Writer-Davies.

With its trade-mark black and white covers and familiar layout (short stories first, followed by all the poems), Prole is a trusted companion, still able to surprise (in a nice way!). So thank you to co-editors Brett Evans and Phil Robertson who have been ploughing this happy furrow since 2010. As well as the magazine, they also manage to squeeze in several writing competitions each year, and publish pamphlets too.

I enjoy the World by Sparx which always livens the final pages of Prole. But who is Sparx? I wish I knew. Answers on a postcard please.

If you’d like to submit a poem or short story to the next issue of Prole, find out about future competitions, subscribe or buy a copy of issue 33, please click on the following link: www.prolebooks.co.uk

“Our anatomy is a common trope for poets, as is the deep connection between people and plants,” writes Dawn Gorman in the latest issue of Caduceus. As a medical herbalist, I’ve always been interested in different ways of looking at health, so it’s a pleasure to have a poem selected for publication by Dawn, alongside some lovely work by Anne Adriaens, Claire Coleman, Maggie Harris, Rosie Jackson and Susan Utting.

Dawn is a creative writing tutor and mentor, broadcaster and prize-winning poet. Follow her on Facebook to find out when her next call for poems will be (and to check out her radio programme on West Wilts Radio).

Poems in Mslexia and Stand

If at first you don’t succeed. At last, I have a poem in Mslexia magazine in their showcase section, themed: Eyes. The poem came out of a Poetry Kit prompt using a Jackson Pollock painting. Yes, poetry lurks in the strangest of places.

Mslexia has been a godsend to women writers since it hit the news stands in 1999. With 11,000 subscribers, the quarterly magazine is a financial success and can pay its contributors. It’s packed with short fiction, poetry, advice columns, literary news, photographic work and thought-provoking articles, with regular slots, as well as some left-field surprises (a piece on Jungian Archetypes!). Mslexia‘s competitions can be the stepping stone to an agent or publisher.

This summer’s Eyes showcase is spread across 16 pages and was judged by Helen McClory. Alongside my poem ‘The Colour Police’, she chose stories by Kirsty Cowan, Clare Shaw, Lauren du Plessis, Jenny Tunstall and Asia Haut, and poems by Siobhan Harvey, Katrina Dybzynska, Heleana Bakopoulos and Sophia Rubina Charalambous.

To buy a copy of Mslexia (issue 94), or take out a subscription for four copies a year, click here https://mslexia.co.uk/magazine/ You can also register for their free e-newsletter which sends out writing prompts, literary ‘gossip’ and info on a wide range of events and opportunities.

A lit mag to nurture and love, Stand has been bringing quality poetry and prose to our attention since 1952. I was delighted to have four poems in the Spring issue this year, alongside some wonderful work by Sharon Black, Jo Burns, Graham Clifford, Sally Festing, Chris Hardy, Patricia McCarthy, Sian Thomas and John Vickers, among others.

Stand‘s signature wide & narrow shape, allows for breathing space and all sorts of lineation. Three of my poems really tested the type-setter’s patience! I salute John Whale and his team for giving our words such a fine white paddock to gallop in.

As well as poetry and short stories, Stand also has a short Review section, plus at least one feature article. Elizabeth Cook’s in-depth article on the poet and painter Isaac Rosenberg really hit the spot for me. At Sussex University I studied a course entitled ‘Art and Letters in England (1900-30) and fell in love with Rosenberg’s extraordinary work – another from that gifted generation lost to war.

To buy a copy of Stand (Vol 20, no 1), take out a subscription, or submit your work, please click on: https://www.standmagazine.org/welcome

The Dark Horse and Poetry Salzburg Review

I’m thrilled to have poems in the latest Dark Horse and Poetry Salzburg Review. Both are magazines I subscribe to because they’re such deliciously chewy reads.

The Dark Horse is edited by Gerry Cambridge, with support from Jennifer Goodrich and Marcia Menter in America. There’s no pussy-footing with opinion here. Gerry’s issue 45 editorial bewails the paucity of honest, incisive literary criticism, and there’s more thoughtful analysis in an article by Maitreyabandhu entitled “Paid Patter: Is Poetry Worth Criticising?” This issue also contains an in-depth feature on the work of Derek Mahon; a fascinating conversation between Gerry Cambridge and Naush Sabah, Poetry Birmingham’s editor, on how community and sub culture can effect poetry criticism; and Teow Lim Goh writes on ideas of nature in Wallace Stevens.

Plus poems, of course! With its generous, almost coffee table size, The Dark Horse shows a poem beautifully. Poets in issue 45 include Suna Afshan, Juliet Antill, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Suzanne Conway, Chris Hardy, Ailsa Holland, Karl Knights, Angela Leighton, Rob A Mackenzie, Michael Pederson, Niklas Salmi, GC Waldrep, James Warner, Rory Waterman and Ross Wilson. You can buy a copy, take out a subscription, or find out how to submit your own work at www.thedarkhorsemagazine.com

For sheer breadth of poetic approaches, Poetry Salzburg Review takes some beating. You simply can’t second guess what will appear in its densely packed pages. Over 70 poets feature in issue 38, with titles as varying as ‘Painting the Bathroom’, ‘The Seven Acts of Mercy’, ‘A Q’ran of Ruzbihan’, ‘A Young Man Dreams of Dying’, ‘Ukiyo-e’, ‘My Mother Ironing’, ‘Black Eels in Black Water’, ‘Sand Sans Sandcastles’ and ‘Swallowing the Wind’.

Poets in issue 38 include Julian Aiken, Helen Ashley, Deborah Jessica Bicking, Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Elaine Briggs, Derek Coyle, Seth Crook, Steve Denehan, Cliff Forshaw, Marilyn Francis, Philip Gross, Robert Hamberger, Harriet Jae, Fred Johnston, Denise McSheehy, Fred Melnyczuk, Paul Mills, Sean O’Brien, Terence Quinn and Marc Woodward. There are also reviews by Hilary Davies, Lisa Fishman, David Malcolm, John Greening and Alec Taylor.

To order a copy of issue 45, take out a subscription, or submit your own work, check out www.poetrysalzburg.com There are also opportunities to submit you pamphlet or collection for consideration.

Bangladesh, Margate, where next?

Last Tuesday I performed a set of poems in Dhaka, Bangladesh and 3 days later read more poems at The Turner Contemporary Gallery as part of the Margate Bookie Festival. A tiny glimpse of the jet-setting life!

My grateful thanks goes to Bengali poet Aminur Rahman, who rustled up a venue, audience and the kindest of welcomes for me and my husband. We were in Dhaka for the funeral of my father-in-law, Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, who is hugely respected in Bangladesh as a poet, journalist, and hero of the 1971 war of liberation. It was lovely to catch up with some of the poets I met in 2019 when we performed at venues across the city. These included Shakhib Lohani, Ayesha S Chowdhury, Jahidul Huq, and Mohammad Nurul Huda.

The latest issue of The Dhaka Review, edited by Aminur Rahman, was also launched, with articles or poems by a host of respected Bengali poets, plus international writers including Fiona Sampson, Agnes Meadows, Isabel White, Ali al-Shalha, Annabel Villar, Julio Pavanetti, Claire Booker and Tobias Burghardt.

Tributes to Abdul Gaffar Choudhury included a beautiful rendition of his song of liberation, and poems specially written to commemorate him.

Touching down at Heathrow after a 14 hour flight (including breath-taking vistas of Sylhet’s endless horizons of water) I had only one day to recover, before heading off for Margate. What a joy when I arrived to find poetry friends, old and new, in the magnificent modernism of the Turner Gallery.

Here we are, ready to perform our poem +1 from the latest issue of 14 magazine, edited by Richard Skinner, curtesy of Margate Bookie’s creator and man about the pumps, Andreas Loizou.

Poets included Jill Abram, Clare Best, Claire Booker, Angus Carlyle, James Coghill, Kaylen Forsyth, Christopher Hamilton-Emery, Caroline Maldonado, Jess Mookherjee, Kathy Pimlott, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Emma Simon, Tamar Yoseloff, plus four women poets supported by Community Action Sutton (Fay Chung, Beverley Dixon, Elizabeth Mudyiwa, and Nali Patel).

Copies of series Two, issue 2 of 14 magazine are available from https://richardskinner.weebly.com/14-magazine.html

Spelt magazine – for the rural experience

Guess what’s turned up in my local library? A copy of Spelt (issue 4) happily ensconced in the community section. Spoiler alert: I donated the copy to Rottingdean’s small but perfectly formed lending library. Like many others in rural areas, it’s only staffed a few days per week, but we have key cards to let ourselves in if the urge for a book becomes all consuming!

Inside this issue are poems by Claire Booker, Lia Brooks, Yvie Holder, Rosie Jackson, Jackie Wills, John Lanyon, Millie Light, Matt Nicholson and many others.

Issue 4 also contains fascinating articles and prose pieces from a number of Spelt columnists, including Suzanne Iuppa (on Welsh sustainable development), Sierra Kaag (on growing up in rural Idaho), and Sara Stegen (on the mega-thunderstorms of the Hondsrug area of Holland). Spelt editor Wendy Pratt gets to interview Polly Atkins, whose collection Much with Body is out with Seren, and is based on her fascination with Dorothy Wordsworth.

Plus, there’s a poetry prompt from James McDermott on how to include facts in your poems, a verbal walk through the Galloway Forest Park, and some truly evocative images to accompany each of the poems. If you’ve never seen a mole above ground, now’s your chance!

Poems or pieces of creative non-fiction inspired by the rural experience can be submitted until May 1st for the next issue of Spelt. Check the details (and of course buy a copy if you can) at http://www.speltmagazine.com

Butcher’s Dog and Pennine Platform

Good things continue to come out of the North and can be enjoyed here on the southernmost edge of England (Brighton) and way beyond, of course! I’m delighted to be in the latest issues of Newcastle-based Butcher’s Dog and Yorkshire’s very own Pennine Platform – the former a relative newcomer to the poetry scene, the latter an established part of the scenery since 1973.

Issue 16 of Butcher’s Dog contains poems by Cat Turham, Tania Hershman, Fahad Al-Amoudi, Rachel Burns, Peter Raynard, Rosamund Taylor, Helen Bowell, Claire Booker, Michelle Penn, Julia Webb, Holly Moberley, Anna Milan, and Sean O’Brien.

Co-editors Jo Clement, Emily Brenchi and Hannah Hodgson organised two cracking zoom launches for the issue. “We’re an independent press without funding making good on the promise to publish the best poems emerging from the UK and ROI.”

The cover image is by Sarah V Battle, and for the sheer joy of it, wraps right round to the back of the magazine as a removable cover. Woof, woof and thrice woof to that! If you’d like to buy a copy of issue 16, take out a subscription or find out about submission windows, please check: http://www.butchersdogmagazine.co.uk

Julia Deakin’s selection of poems for issue 91 of Pennine Platform coincided with the Ukrainian crisis. In her forward, she brings to our attention the humbling question: “In full democracies (6.4% of the world’s population in 2021, according to The Economist) to respond in words isn’t risking one’s life. If it were, which of us would do it?”

She reminds us how Stalin persecuted dissident writers to their deaths, that regimes are still doing so, and that poets always feature on Amnesty’s Write for Rights list.

Poets in issue 91 of Pennine Platform include Elizabeth Barrett, Claire Booker, Alison Campbell, Seth Crook, Kevin Hanson, Rosie Jackson, Fred Johnston, Char March, Stuart Pickford, D A Prince, Belinda Rimmer, John Short, Paul Stephenson and the late Carole Satyamurti (with a thoughtful analysis of her poem by K E Smith). To order a copy of the issue, or submit your work (next window is September) please check http://www.pennineplatform.com Their website is also a great place to drop in and explore, with its pleasing to the eye images, and a selection of poems read by contributors from previous issues.