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.
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
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
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 email@example.com. 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
“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.
14 poetry magazine is where lovers of the sonnet go for their fix. Free-verse, Shakespearean or concrete, specular or prose poem, if it’s got 14 lines, you’ll find it on the pages of Richard Skinner’s lovingly compiled, celebration of the form.
After a hiatus of several years, following the retirement of originating editor, Mike Loveday, 14 (Series 2) has risen phoenix-like as a new annual magazine, which now includes a special feature for under-represented voices from community groups and charities across the UK.
Poets in the Red Issue include:
Jill Abram, Clare Best, Dermot Bolger, Claire Booker, Stephanie Bowgett, Angela Cleland, Imogen Cooper, Josephine Corcoran, Charlotte Gann, Robert Harper, Maria Isakova-Bennett, Peter Kenny, Claire-Lise Kieffer, Brian Kirk, Pippa Little, Rosie Miles, Jessica Mookherjee, Cheryl Pearson, Kathy Pimlott, Estelle Price, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Sue Spiers, Isabelle Thompson, Harriet Truscott, Julia Webb and Tamar Yoseloff.
“I hope you enjoy the contents of Series Two, Issue 2 of 14 magazine, writes Richard in his foreword. “From Leith Harbour to Whitehall, from the Isle of Man to Crosby Beach to Hope Gap, Middlesex to Suffolk, Montparnasse to Port Antonio, Zimbabwe and beyond, the world awaits you.”
“I’m delighted to showcase work by five women supported by Community Action Sutton, a membership organisation that supports, develops and promotes the voluntary sector in the London borough of Sutton”.
I loved all these showcase poems: such strong and fascinating insights into other cultures. So thank you to Fay Chung, Beverley Dixon, Elizabeth Mudyiwa, Nali Patel and Barbara Watts, for sharing their work.
You can buy a copy of 14 from VanguardEditions (richardskinner.weebly.com). Plus look out for the next submissions window when it comes up in April.
Thank you Katrina Naomi for choosing my poem Framed Woman as joint-runner up in this year’s Poetry Society Stanza Competition. The poem was inspired by an Edward Hopper painting used as a prompt at Poetry Kit’s on-line ekphrastic poetry course, then polished to betterment following feedback from the Brighton Stanza Group. Yes, many hands make light work!
Katrina chose a rich variety of interpretations on this year’s competition theme ‘Choice’. My poem focuses on a woman trying to move out of a claustrophobic relationship. The possibility of choice comes to her as “a tendril unlaces in the white hot sun.”
Stanza groups exist all over the UK (and even abroad). Everyone is welcome to attend, share their work, feedback on other people’s poetry. Some Stanzas hold organised public readings, publish anthologies, run workshops – the sky’s the limit. Check the Poetry Society website for details of your nearest group.
Nature is never far away in my poetry, so it felt really special to have a poem included in the poetry and flash fiction anthology Awakenings, published online by The Sussex Wildlife Trust.
It’s great that organisations are increasingly including poetry in their communications with the general public. Every poem that reaches new constituencies is to be especially celebrated.
Living down here in Brighton, the South Downs are a big part of my life. The Brighton Downs Alliance now includes a poetry/flash section on their website. Check out Chalk It Up for my poem On Beacon Hill and 15 other snapshots of downland life at: https://www.brightondownsalliance.org.uk/chalk-it-up.html
Issue 5 of Jan Heritage’s lovingly produced Finished Creatures, includes the work of 60 poets, each offering a different interpretation on the theme of ‘surface’. I was delighted to read my contribution at the magazine’s Zoom launch this month, along side stablemates Clare Best, Carole Bromley, Susannah Hart, Cheryl Moskowitz, Paul Stephenson and many others.
The full roll call includes Dean Atta, Judy Brown, Matt Bryden, Oliver Comins, Claire Dyer, Charlotte Gann, Maria Isakova Bennett, Karen Izod, Maria Jastrzebska, Tess Jolly, Lisa Kelly, Jane Lovell, Antony Mair, Jenny Mitchell, Fiona Moore, Jeremy Page, Penelope Shuttle, Richard Skinner and Helen Tookey.
“The theme of Surface invited so many beautiful and intelligent responses: new landscapes, delicate textures and intricate stories of concealment and exposure,” writes editor, Jan Heritage, in her foreword. “This selection of poems asks the reader to move from one environment to another and to continually readjust the focus as we stand by icy foreshores and frozen lakes, or on the crust of the Earth with its ancient fractures and secrets: as we climb mountains and fells, or look out to sea ‘keeping watch for the future.’
“Our eye is drawn from infinite horizons to the miniscule detail of fungi, moss, mulch and skin. We are weathered, windswept and often drenched as the climate and seasons change; sometimes we are invited to curl up and hide.
“These are poems that ask us to get soaked and muddy; to dive below the surface of rivers, oceans and dreams; to excavate for lost people or to hear the hearbeat of the not yet born. We are asked to look closely, to look again and, as Lisa (Kelly) says, ‘Consider’.”
To buy a copy of Finished Creatures (issue 5) or to subscribe to the biannual magazine, please visit: www.finishedcreatures.co.uk The next submissions window will open early in the new year, with a new theme, so keep your eye on the website for news.
Three cheers for Dreamcatcher – that ray of sunshine blazing out of Yorkshire twice a year with poems, short stories, reviews and fine art.
The literary mag started life as founding editor Paul Sutherland’s degree project, and was later taken on by Stairwell Books, gained Arts Council funding and Lottery money, and is still true to its original vision of a multi-ethnic, eclectic space for writing. The current editor, Hannah Stone, continues its fine tradition for open-mindedness with a penchant for narrative above abstract.
Poets in issue 43 include Claire Booker, Annemarie Cooper, Seth Crook (using the intriguing nom de plume Bruach Kandinsky Mhor!), Peter Datyner, Wilf Deckner, Marilyn Donovan, Tim Dwyer, Ann Gibson, Oz Hardwick, Hilary Hares, Jenny Hockey, Graham Mort, Carolyn Oulton, David Sapp, Kate Scott, Mary Anne Smith Sellen, Pat Simmons, Jean Stevens, and Sue Watling.
There’s a generous supply of short fiction too, from Connie Bott, Rosamund Davies, Tom Dixen, Mary Earnshaw, Colette Longbottom, David McVey and Holly Sykes. Plus the featured artist for this issue is Beth Ross.
This is where the plush paper Dreamcatcher is printed on really comes into play – four colour plates of Ross’s work look good enough to frame. Dare I deface my issue to do so? For the moment, I’m leaving the issue face-forward on my book shelf so I can admire the cover, entitled ‘Where is the Blue Canary’. Where indeed?
“Asking the artist to explain the finished work . . . can be like dancing to architecture, ” writes Dreamcatcher editorial board member, Greg McGee in his introduction to Beth Ross.
“The painter relies wholly on the visual experience of the viewer for connection. Any subsequent verbal vindication is dangerously reminiscent of the gibberish that increasingly haunts art criticism. Not everything needs an explanation or closure.”
Amen to that! Even titles can be an awkward burden, though I rather like ‘Pouty Frothy Ethereal Sea’ for Ross’s picture (above).
It’s still not too late to submit to issue 44 if you have poems, stories or book reviews ready in the wings. Closing date 30th August, so get your skates on. Paper copies only please, sent to The Editor, or the Book Reviews Editor, at 109 Wensley Drive, Leeds LS7 2LU.
How interesting it’ll be when we can look back at the Covid-19 pandemic and evaluate how (if at all) it’s made permanent changes to our lives. At the moment, first responses are all we have. Poetry anthologies have bloomed, and I’m happy to have a poem in The Poetry Kit‘s online anthology Poetry In The Plague Year, which includes work from nearly 600 poets in 21 countries.
Each poem is dated by when it was completed, so you can trace the development of ideas chronologically through the progression of the pandemic.
Hearty congratulations to Jim Bennett at The Poetry Kit for putting together such an inclusive anthology.
It’s also worth checking out the website for their on-line poetry courses. They’re fantastic value for money. I’ve taken part in two (ekphrastic poetry, plus writing from science) and can recommend them.
Not surprisingly, Covid-19 features strongly within the pages of Caduceus, a health and healing magazine for which Dawn Gorman has recently set up a poetry page. As well as being a fine poet in her own right, you may also know Dawn as the co-host of The Poetry Place show on West Wilts Radio. You can listen to the show live on the last Sunday of the month, or catch up any time on ‘play again: https://westwiltsradio.com/shows/the-poetry-place/
Issue 105 contains poems by Jean Atkin, Claire Booker, Pratibha Castle, Cora Greenhill, Richard Skinner and Lynne Wycherley, on the theme of ‘The Oneness of All’.
“Many people have recently turned for sustenance to Nature’s grace,” writes Dawn in her introduction. “Here, two poets lean against oak trees: the synchronicity is no surprise.”