Category Archives: Poems

Agenda turns a new page

I’m thrilled have two poems in the final issue of Agenda edited by the legendary Patricia McCarthy. Stepping Stones (or Volume 55, Nos 3-4 to those of a bibliographic mind!) is a beauty in both form and content, and a fine finish after two decades of Patricia’s curatorship.

“Agenda is being taken over by the University of St Andrews, with the illustrious poet and Professor John Burnside as the new editor,” writes Patricia McCarthy. “Agenda will be in excellent, creative, energetic and safe hands . . . Magic comings-together have often happened and this crossover also seems to have that magical ingredient. John intends to keep intact the ethos of the journal which, it has been said, ‘does what no other poetry journal does’.”

New work published in this issue includes poems by Shanta Acharya, Josephine Balmer, William Bedford, Claire Booker, John Burnside, David Cooke, John F. Deane, Philip Gross, David Harsent, John Kinsella, Michael Longley, Jane Lovell, Patricia McCarthy, Jessica Mookherjee, Mary Noonan, David Pollard, Stephen Romer, Carol Rumens and Rory Waterman.

Also in this issue are translations/versions of foreign language poetry including Rainer Maria Rilke (by Martyn Crucefix), the Moravian poet Maria Sergeyevna Petrovykh (by Belinda Cooke), and translations of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach and Valentine Penrose (by Timothy Ades), plus three poems by the chosen broadsheet poet Daniel Johnson, and a conversation between him and James Harpur about how they are trying to “redeem the language of faith.”

With a wealth of Irish poets represented in this issue, it’s lovely to see that most Celtic of images, the horse, manifesting in exquisite paintings by writer and artist James Roberts (@nightriverwood).

If you’ve ever wondered how to approach reading poetry for review, look no further. George Szirtes shares some handy thoughts on the process. He writes: “The ‘how’ of the poem is the vital thing. The ‘how’ of the poem’s voice, its pace, its music, its mind, its sensitive registration of detail and effect, its capability to touch lightly and let go, its mastery of when to press and when to stand aside.” Nothing too tricky then!

To buy a copy of Agenda: Stepping Stones, take out a subscription to the magazine, or submit work, visit http://www.agendapoetry.co.uk

Agenda being generous hearted, they also publish additional poems, essays and reviews for free on their website.

If you’d like to read my eco poem ‘Sketching the Deluge’ there, please go to P.16 at https://www.agendapoetry.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/S-Stones-web-supplement-poems-2.pdf.

Dreamcatcher and Artemis Poetry

The latest issues of Dreamcatcher and Artemis Poetry remind me how symbiotic art and poetry can be.

As well as poems by Claire Booker, Mark Czanik, Alwyn Gornall, Geoffrey Loe, Marie Papier, Penny Sharman and Phil Vernon among others, Dreamcatcher #46 features a striking cover and five arresting images by David Finnigan.

Colourful and precisionistic, Finnigan’s work breaks up the surface of two superimposed compositions to reprocess the order and create something new with a different rhythm. “These represent a change in the direction of my working practice,” says Finnigan. “They embrace some of the techniques I have learned and developed in my other non-visual creative outlets, particularly from the world of sound.”

The images are spread across the issue, offering a kind of firebreak between words – a pause to let you absorb the resonances of shared meaning.

Dreamcatcher 46 is edited by Hannah Stone and published by Stairwell Books twice a year. If you’d like to buy a copy of the magazine, or submit your poems, short fiction or book reviews, please visit http://www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk

Artemis Poetry offers generous space to a a wide range of artwork, together with poetry, articles, and reviews by women writers. In issue 29, there are black & white photos by Anna Dear, Reyna Berry and Patricia Brody; delicate line drawings by Andria J Cooke and Gabrielle O’Donovan; and humorous Beryl Cooke style work from the indefatigable Caro Reeves. There’s also news from Second Light, book reviews, and interviews with poets Sarah Corbett, Rebecca Goss, Angela Leighton, Lorraine Mariner and Kay Syrad on how they are moving forward with their work.

Poets in this issue include Annie Wright (featured), prize winners from the Second Light Poetry Competition (Kathryn Bevis, Jane Routh) as well as poetry selected by Lyn Moir, which includes the work of Isabel Bermudez, Claire Booker, Marian de Vooght, Mary Robinson, Marjorie Sweetko and Judith Wozniak.

To subscribe to Artemis Poetry (all welcome), or to submit (women only), check out their website at http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk

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).

I do love to be beside the seaside! (Part 2)

My next seaside adventure involves Worthing Pier, where the community arts group Creative Waves has set up a fabulous exhibition on all things coastal. My poem ‘Morning After’ joins a host of other maritime poems, flash, photos and drawings exhibited along the pier’s walkway.

Tens of thousands visit Worthing Pier each year, and the exhibition is scheduled to remain on the pier until the end of 2023, bringing local voices and visitors together in a delightful blend of image and word.

A big shout out for Jessica Gill, who took the beautiful sunset photo of a murmuration over Worthing Pier which sits alongside my poem.

The brains and brawn behind ‘Creative Waves’ are co-founders and directors Nadia Chalk (left) and Vanessa Breen (right). They set up ‘Art on the Pier’ back in 2012, and with their team of volunteers, aim to transform places, and connect communities through arts and culture, heritage and natural environments.

If you’d like to know more about Creative Waves‘ many projects and free workshops, including their beautiful community garden, then please click on the following link: https://www.creativewaves.co.uk/

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.