Category Archives: Literary publications

Orbis #187 – ooh, la, la, it’s Sylvia Plath!

Orbis (issue 187)It’s a real treat to be in Orbis again. I love how editor Carole Baldock creates a sense of community through opportunities for feedback (a Readers’ Award – with cash prizes and a Reader’s Response on a topic of choice). Whether you’re a poet or a subscriber (or both) you’re instantly part of the conversation.

This latest issue contains poetry by Faye Boland, Claire Booker, Patricia Brody, Laura Chalar, Philip Dunkerley, Victoria Gatehouse, David Lukens, Jenna Plewes, Sue Spiers, Paul Stephenson, Jules Whiting and Rodney Wood among many others, together with a generous feature spot of work by Denise McSheeny.

There’s also a fascinating article by Paul Stephenson on comedic effect in the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Mission impossible, surely? Yet he offers a robust set of arguments, starting with a quote from South African poet Finuala Dowling: “It’s not a fashionable thing to say in an age of gravitas, but I believe that wit is the quintessential poetic craft. The truly witty poet . . . feels life’s pain, but anaesthetises it temporarily with irony, absurdity or sheer bravado.”

Paul highlights specific poems to show that “Plath’s humour comes precisely from the tragi-comic. That is to say, the tragi-comedy of the individual in her self-absorbed and confessional plight – for love and life.

“Plath is a satirical chronicler of her adopted country. We watch [her] deal the blows, the sharp-tongued wit in the verbal bullying and lexical assaults on those who inflict pain on her: father; husband; community; society at large. Comedy lies in the futility of her painful posturing.”

This issue also contains book reviews, competition alerts, prose by Charlotte Gringrass, Denise McSheehy and Jenna Plewes, and a Reader’s Response on gender equality in literature.

To buy a copy of Oribis (issue 187) or to submit your own work, check out the website at this link: Orbis

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400 years of women’s lives in poetry thanks to London Undercurrents

DwjEU33XcAALU3F[1]My review of Hilaire and Joolz Sparkes’ fascinating debut collection ‘London Undercurrents’ is now live on Ink, Sweat and Tears‘ review pages.

Congratulations to both poets for their lively handling of the subject and to Holland Park Press for creating such a lovely looking book.

It delves with great energy and dexterity into the lives of London’s unsung heroines of the past four hundred years. Quite unputtable down!

If you’d like to read my review then please visit the following link: Ink Sweat and Tears

Go buy the book at: Holland Park Press

Stand – Indonesia: Special Edition

Stand Vol 17 (1)Poetry is a powerful way to connect with another culture. Succinct, deeply felt, immediate – poems reveal new ways of looking, the heart of a people.

Following my experiences in Bangladesh (see previous post), I’m now delighting in Stand’s  snapshot of poets from the world’s fourth most populous nation, Indonesia.

According to a fascinating article by John H. McGlynn, “poetry is arguably the most essential of all the Indonesian literary genres, enjoying as it does a status far above that of even the novel.”

Stand Vol 17 (1)_0003The literary traditions of the Malay language (mother of Indonesian) go back to at least 400 AD, and there are exquisite palm-leaf manuscripts in the shape of fans to prove this. The transformation of Malay into ‘Indonesian’, first  proposed in 1928 by members of the Youth Congress, accomplished linguistic unity in a country where more than 600 languages are still spoken today. Stand Vol 17 (1)_0004

So, it’s a great honour to have two of my own poems published in this issue, alongside other anglophone poets, including Shanta Acharya, Richard Aronowitz, Claire Crowther, Ian Harker, Keith J. Hutson, Sonia Jarema, John McCullogh, Jo-ann Mort and Pat Winslow.

The contributions from Indonesia in this issue are a hard act to follow – bold and daring, and particularly engaging in their commitment to powerful emotion and a strong sense of the absurd. The Indonesian poets include Mario Lawi (tans. John H McGlynn), Warih Wisatsana (trans. C W Watson), M. Aan Mansur (trans. John H McGlynn), and Avianti Armand (trans. John H McGlynn). 

And Stand also includes short pieces of prose from both UK/USA based writers and Indonesian writers, together with reviews of Donald Levering’s ‘Previous Lives’ by David Latane, and Ken Smith’s Collected Poems by  N.S. Thompson.

To buy a copy of Stand Volume 17(1) or to submit work to the magazine, visit: www.standmagazine.org

It’s Cricket! Paper Swan’s Latest Pocket Book is Out

Paper Swans - CricketIf the hallowed sound of leather against willow seems like a distant dream, why not buy yourself a copy of Paper Swans’ CRICKET Pocket Book of Poetry, where twelve poets will knock you for six with their spin on the noble game?images51VWJZ8U

Look out for stories of love among the wickets, batting triumphs and bowling disasters from Penny Blackburn, Claire Booker, Catherine Edmunds, Steve Harrison, Neil Leadbetter, Roy Marshall, Jill Munro, Brenda Read-Brown, Sue Spiers, Rob Walton, Joe Williams and Lawrence Wilson.

The Pocket Book of Poetry – CRICKET is one of a series of themed poetry pamphlets edited by Sarah Miles and designed to pop into a pocket, a bag or send with a greetings card to make it extra special. They’re available from Paper Swans Press for £3.50 (ex p&p) and include the topics of LOVE, WEDDINGS, ANGER and WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE.

To buy a copy or learn more about the Tunbridge Wells based publisher, click on: Paper Swans Press

Elbow Room has Sublimed

Elbow Room Issue 20As we go forward into the new year, ElbowRoom waves its beautiful pages in a gesture of farewell.

This lovingly hand-crafted gem has given the literary scene 20 issues of poetry, short prose and artwork, plus some fantastically enjoyable launch parties. It has earned the right to rest on its laurels. ElbowRoom Live

The brainchild of artist/writer, Rosie Sherwood, (ably assisted by poet Zelda Chappel), Elbowroom launched in April 2012 and became something of a trend-setter in the world of hand-made art journals.

More than 100 writers have graced its pages. Poets published in this final volume (issue 20) are James Bell, Claire Booker, Christy Hall, Roger Hare, Oz Hardwick and Stella Wulf. The photographic artworks are by Bethany Murray and Rosie Sherwood. Elbow Room Issue 20 by Rosie Sherwood

“In the introduction to the first volume of Elbow Room, I wrote about coming across a hand-painted sign for a bookshop so tiny it only had space for a desk and one over-flowing bookcase,” says Rosie Sherwood.

“Despite the size of the shop, they had divided the shelves into fiction, poetry, illustration, photography etc. I found myself frustrated that art, visual and written, is not allowed to sit together more regularly. This was the birth of Elbow Room.”

You can still buy some Elbow Room back-numbers by visiting the As Yet Untitled website. Although its flagship publication, Elbow Room, has now sublimed, As Yet Untitled will continue to specialise in limited edition, handmade works that embrace the breadth of possibility in book form, from traditional binding techniques to sculptural works.

Good luck Rosie, and all who sail with you!

Check out the latest developments at As Yet Untitled

South Bank Poetry is 10 Years Old

South Bank Poetry (issue 30)_0002Poetry magazines aren’t notable for their longevity. It takes dedication and sheer bloody mindedness (I suspect) to keep jumping those hurdles, year after year.

So a massive thumbs-up to Peter Ebsworth and Katherine Lockton for steering their ever-popular magazine into its second decade. By sheer fluke, I have two poems in the 10th anniversary issue, which in a lovely way, gives me a direct connection with that celebration.

Due to prior commitments, I wasn’t able to attend the launch of South Bank Poetry (issue 30) at the Poetry Place, but by all accounts it was an evening to remember. Many contributors attended and read their poems. For those of us who weren’t able, there was a special treat in store. The actress Annette Badland (Hazel of Archer’s fame), kindly agreed to perform our work. SBP Annette Badland reads At Risk Child 18

Having heard her read another of my poems last year in the Actor’s Church, Covent Garden, as part of the Out of Place music project, I know just how well she uses that intelligent voice of hers to bring out every nuance in a piece of poetry.

Contributors to the 10th anniversary issue include Jim Alderson, Tessa Berring, Leonardo Boix, Claire Booker, Oliver Comins, Daniel Loudon, Joel Scarfe, Paul Stephenson, Joe Wedgbury and Heidi Williamson.

“We would like to thank all our contributors to this issue, as well as all the poets who have sent us their work over the last ten years,” writes Katherine Lockton in the intro. We would be nothing without you. Over the years we have seen poets published in our magazine go on to become poetry superstars. We are so proud of what you have all achieved and continue to accomplish.”

South Bank Poetry (issue 30)_0001I can think of no better encomium for the magazine, than that written by the poet, journalist and travel writer, Hugo Williams: “I have always enjoyed South Bank Poetry for its unexpected mix of strange and traditional, lyrical and political, young, old and odd, so I don’t hesitate in recommending it to anyone remotely interested in the art. It is just a very good money’s worth and will last.”

How prescient he turns out to be. A hearty thanks to Peter and Katherine for giving us a decade of happy reading. Here’s to the next ten years (and more)!

To buy a copy of the magazine, or submit your own work, please check: www.southbankpoetry.co.uk

The Spectator and I

Spectator (Dec 1st 2018)_0001Thank you to Hugo Williams for including one of my poems in this week’s Spectator magazine (Dec 1st issue).

The Spectator may not be everyone’s cup of tea politically, but it gets serious marks for including not one, but two (and sometimes even three), contemporary poems EVERY WEEK in its pages.  How many newspapers or main stream magazines can say as much?

And what’s heartening, is those poems are not always by the literary glitterati. Which means that anyone can have a chance to be enjoyed by 80,000 plus readers – so long as the poem is interesting enough to be selected.

In this issue, you can read loads on the arts, including poems by John Mole, Nicola Healey and Claire Booker, an interview with best-selling author Sam Leith, advice on buying modern art (out of my price range, alas!), book, TV, theatre and dance reviews, including Michele Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and a feature on the history of Art Deco. You also get Spectator Life magazine thrown in for good measure, which includes a highly entertaining interview with comedienne and former advisor to a number of Labour leaders, Ayesha Hazarika. Spectator (Dec 1st 2018)_0002

If you’d like your work to be considered, send a small selection of poems (on paper only) to Hugo Williams, c/o The Spectator, Arts and Books, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.