Category Archives: Poems

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.

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.

My Part in the Revolution

My poem about raising the red flag in my Tory home town of Farnham in Surrey, made it to last week’s Spectator (Feb 26th). I still have the photograph of the flag hanging in the bookshop I worked in as a student, and the memory of feeling that I’d pulled off something quite significant. Oh to be so young.

If you don’t get The Spectator, you can also read the poem here: https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/my-part-in-the-revolution

Other poets in recent issues of The Spectator include Stephen Bone, Diana Hendry, Claudine Toutoungi, Hugo Williams and William Wootten.

If you’d like to submit your poetry for consideration, send hard copies plus an SAE to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.

Poetry Birmingham pulls no punches

It’s a first for me, having a poem published in Poetry Birmingham’s visually elegant and thought-provoking pages. With Naush Sabah and Suna Afshan as editors, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Asian perspective is vibrantly present. I, for one, found myself both challenged and fascinated by some of the essays written here from a post-colonial perspective.

Naush Sabah’s editorial in issue seven uses her mother’s recipe for karriy/kadhi/curry as an illustration of how immigrants must navigate the tastes of the dominant order, to survive culturally. “Recipes too are crafted things like poems . . . preserved as an element of a culture’s will to survive. A poem might be thought of as a last gasp against oblivion, the printed page a monument to life. . . . It’s why this issue’s cover bears an image of the HMS Hampton Court: the painting preserves the violence of the English at sea. It’s a violence not everyone survives. . . . We can’t read or write in their place but we can read and write in our own with them in mind.”

Poets in this issue include Ali Al-Jamri, Claire Booker, Gerry Cambridge, Kitty Donnelly, Mave Fellowes, Roz Goddard, Nicola Healey, Lucy Holmes, Anhaf Jazeem, Frederico Italiano, Kabir, Phil Kirby, Roy McFarlane, Anita Pati, Stav Poleg, Samuel Tongue and Rory Waterman.

Issue seven offers new perspectives on issues that are often side-lined in mainstream journals. Translating poetry into English has become something of a trend among Anglophone poets. It used to be that translators were virtually bilingual in the language of origin, but many poets now see translation as the act of creating versions from a literal translation prepared by an intermediary. Mona Kareem’s essay ‘Western Poets Kidnap your Poems and Call them Translations’ is an eye-watering shot across the bows to this approach: “I’m not arguing that a poetry translation might win you the Nobel or welcome you into the canon, but I am saying textual violence disturbs my peace and pleasure alike.”

Alongside this intriguingly shot photo ‘Adlestrop Storm’ by Nuzhat Bukhari, you can enjoy a wonderful introduction, by Amit Majmudar, of Kabir’s poetry – the 15th century, illiterate genius who composed poems about his day job (weaving) which resonate with the sublime. Also an essay on translating Sufi poetry, prose responses to Louis MacNeice and Vahni Capildeo, an examination of the jazz poetry of Wanda Coleman, and PBLJ‘s regular column on developing poetic craft, this time with Karen Solie and Daljit Nagra. There’s also a wide range of reviews.

Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal is published twice a year. To buy a copy of issue seven, subscribe to the journal, or submit your work, please visit: http://www.poetrybirmingham.com

Artemis goes Down-Under

Calling all women poets! You have until Feb 28th to send in your poems for the Spring issue of Artemis. It’s a magazine that puts women in the driving seat, both as editors and contributors.

To ensure variety of content, Artemis invites a different guest editor to join general editors Katherine Gallagher and Dilys Wood in selecting poems for the next issue. There’s always a couple of featured poets, in-depth book reviews, plus feature articles around a theme, as well as notice boards, news items and some fun feminist cartoons.

I’m lucky enough to have a poem in the current issue, alongside a fascinating cross-section of poets selected by guest editor Ruth Sharman, including Hilary Hares, Rosie Jackson, Kaye Lee, Jill McEvoy, Myra Schneider, Kate Scott, Penelope Shuttle, Nicola Warwick, Margaret Wilmot, and Veronica Zundel. There are also the winning and commended poems in Second Light’s 2021 Poetry Competition. First prizes went to Cathy Whittaker and Daphne Milne in the Short Poem and Long Poem categories respectively.

“It is easier to muse on the struggle

than to struggle on the muse.”

(Cartoon by Caro Reeves)

The theme for issue 27 is Australian women poets. There are some incisive articles by Australians living in the UK (including Cath Drake of The Verandah fame and Kaye Lee); a closer look at the work of two Australian stalwarts Gwen Harwood and Judith Wright, plus insights by British poet Moya Pacey, who lives and writes in Australia, and offers her view on the improving opportunities for women’s poetry down under, including the marginalised voices of women of colour.

You can send up to four of your poems for possible publication in issue 28 of Artemis. The poetry editor will be Kathy Miles. Submission guidelines can be found at http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk

And if winter is getting you down, why not raise a smile, or even a belly-laugh, by visiting the chuckle-making webzine Lighten Up Online? Edited by Jerome Betts, it’s published monthly, and includes everything from ballads and clerihews, to limericks, satire and rhyming couplets. You can check out two of the smallest poems I’ve ever written at: https://www.lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/issue-56-december-2021/2206-interval-two-from-musk-oxen-to-marmots and https://www.lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/isse-55-september-2021/2128-interval-one-a-flurry-of-fours

Lightening the Dark – Morning Star and Solstice Shorts

My poem about a female volleyball player, inspired by the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan, was published in The Morning Star newspaper on 23rd Dec, and can also be read online at: News Flash

‘Newsflash’ is one of those poems that write themselves out of an instant emotional reaction. I read with horror about the beheading of a young woman volleyball player by the Taliban. This coincided with a birthday celebration in Brighton on a beautiful sunny day. The mismatch was painful, and a poem started to rise up in response. The first draft was just in time for my Stanza group, where some helpful feedback ensued (thank you Brighton Stanza), followed by a second draft, then a quick email to Andy Croft who selects for The Morning Star‘s 21st Century Poetry column. Ten minutes later, he pinged back an acceptance (does he never sleep?).

I’m under no illusion that this poem will make a difference to how the Taliban treat women (or indeed men), but apart from supporting Amnesty, it’s all I can offer. As poets, we must write as we feel.

The winter solstice is a symbol of how dark and deadly the world can become. What better way to contemplate the lengthening of days and hope for positive change, than the fascinating mix of stories and poems in Arachne Press’ latest Solstice Shorts anthology, Words from the Brink?

Contributors include Jane Aldous, Julian Bishop, Claire Booker, Kate Foley, Katherine Gallagher, Lucy Grace, Mandy Macdonald, Ness Owen, Michelle Penn, Diana Powell and Robert Rene Galvan.

The amazing cover image is ‘Red Earth’ by Komal Madar, and beautifully reflects the anger of our planet driven to ground by human greed and ignorance. Published by Cherry Potts at Arachne Press, ‘Words from the Brink’ is the seventh Solstice Shorts anthology, marking the tipping point of each year. “We urge you all to do SOMETHING while we still can,” writes Cherry in her foreword. “Turn off that light, turn off that tap; reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle; plant a tree, protect the bees; write a song, a poem, a story that can reach people who need to hear. Everything may yet be all right, but only with your help.”

You can watch the zoom launch of ‘Words from the Brink’ at Arachne Press’s Youtube channel, or better still, buy a copy of the book at https://arachnepress.com/shop/

If you have a poem to share on the pages of The Morning Star, then drop Andy Croft an email at info@smokestack-books.co.uk. The Culture section at the Star’s website is also worth a read. You can check up to 7 articles per month, including featured poems, for free. https://morningstaronline.co.uk/categories/arts

Channel Magazine + Spelt Advent poetry

We’re several days into Advent already, and I’m enjoying Spelt Magazine’s YouTube calendar with its pithy four line poems popping out from each day’s window. My tiny poem is due on day 14. Check them out here: https://speltmagazine.com/spelt-advent-calendar-2021/

“An issue of a magazine, more so than a collection or anthology, marks its content as belonging to a particular moment in time,” write Channel‘s editors.

“There’s a weightiness to the thought that the work in Issue 5 belongs to a moment in which ways of living and working are hybrid and ever-changing. They align to the flux we find ourselves within, evoking a sense of untetheredness.”

So congratulations to Cassia Gaden Gilmartin and Elizabeth Murtough for bringing together work which reflects the times but avoids the pitfalls of over-stating the obvious. Their biannual print magazine is published in Dublin, and focuses on the interconnection between humans and nature.

Poets in issue 5 include Aiyejinna Abraham O, Pragya Bhagat, Claire Booker, Olga Dugan, Adam van Graan, Cliona O’Connell, Jackson Jesse Nash, Rhona McAdam, Marion Oxley, Cheryl Pearson, Joel Scarfe, Ojo Taiye and Carolyne Wright. Many of the writers are from Ireland, Canada, the United States or the UK, but in this issue alone, there’s also beautiful work from Nigeria, India, South Africa and South Korea.

The magazine also carries three short stories and three essays, including a deeply moving poetic diary of a miscarriage, entitled ‘Snowbird’ by Fergus Hogan.

I love the way Channel launches its issues with a mix of pre-recorded readings by contributors, interspersed with photos, nature videos and art work. You can dip into issue 5’s launch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie6gJGo7R8I I get to read my two poems at 59 mins 45 secs in.

To order a copy of Channel or submit your work, click on https://channelmag.org/current-issue/

The cover image for issue 5 is by Kevin Mooney: https://kevinmooney.org/