Category Archives: Poetry Events

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.

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/

Pandemic Poetry

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.

You can view all of the poems for free at: https://www.poetrykit.org/py/00335.htm

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.”

Channel Magazine and Fragmented Voices

It’s great to see how young editors are moulding the poetry world. As something of an oldie, I’m especially happy to be part of the new wave of literary magazines, such as the Dublin-based Channel, which are redefining what really matters.

Channel editors Cassia Gaden Gilmartin and Elizabeth Murtough believe the creative arts have a role to play in the challenges we now face as a planet. “Environmentalists know that the biosphere is built on an infinitely complex series of interconnected networks, and that the suppression or destruction of one damages the whole. Social issues are not separate from this connectedness, neither in the immediate effect . . . nor in the cascading consequences of oppression.”

In issue 3, you’ll find poems, essays and short stories by writers selected from a field of over 1,300 submissions. These include Bebe Ashley, Cliodhna Bhreathnach, Claire Booker, Dylan Brennan, David Butler, Julian Brasington, Nancy Cook, Karen Luke Jackson, Uma Menon, Joel Scarfe, Kerry Trautman, Ann V. DeVilbiss, Marcy Rae Henry, Dorsia Smith Silva, Ian Twiddy and Pip Osmond-Williams.

The lively cover for issue 3 is from a Cork-based project funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, which works with young refugees, migrants and youth activists to find imaginative ways to represent their ideas and experiences. You can read about My Generation in the magazine, and also enjoy a ‘guided tour’ of the project on Channel‘s issue 3 zoom launch. Also on the link, is a cornucopia of writers reading their work, including myself (at 1h 38 minutes into the video): http://channelmag.org/issue-3-launch/

Copies are available to buy from the website, or at Dublin, Dingle and Ennistymon book shops.

Natalie Crick, and her co-editors Natalie Nera and Rue Collinge at Fragmented Voices are another set of young women, taking the world of poetry to an interesting place. The language of salt is their first anthology of verse, which is inspired by love and loss.

“This collection is a little soul-machine. It hums,” writes Natalie Crick. “We wanted our final selection of fifty poems to experiment with language and form, to push boundaries. This is not a traditional collection. Our poems confront erotic love, parental love, and the bleaker, darker realities of human affection.”

Poets in the anthology include Derek Adams, Jackie Biggs, Claire Booker, Graham Burchell, Seth Crook, Mike Farren, Kirsty Hollings, Rob A. Mackenzie, Gill McEvoy, Abigail Morley, Cheryl Pearson, Finola Scott, Rob Walton and Simon Williams.

The anthology is selling fast, but there are plans for a re-print, and there’ll be a digital copy of the book available via their on-line shop soon. For more information about Fragmented Voices please visit: https://fragmentedvoices.com/about/

Here Comes the Sun!

The days are growing longer already. It’s as if they’ve just picked up a copy of the Arachne Press Tymes Goe By Turnes anthology of writing inspired by Robert Southall’s poem, and decided to embrace the spirit of change.

On December 21st, The Solstice Shorts Festival, usually spread across several venues in various countries, was forced to go online. Contributors whose work was performed to camera include Jane Aldous, AJ Bermudez, Julian Bishop, Claire Booker, Elinor Brooks, Sean Carney, Kelly Davis, Neil Lawrence, Ness Owen, Brooke Stanicki and Laila Sumpton. The event was hosted by editor, Cherry Potts.

Why not treat yourself to a copy of this paeon to optimism? Let stories and poems whisk you away on a railway journey across America, to Turner’s World Of Twirls or piano lessons for the reluctant child. Let them introduce you to wolf-dogs, to memories of salty bodies and strawberries, cats that love fish skins and poems that ask intriguing questions of the soil, such as: “when did you forget you were a flower?” Everyone could do with Pippa Gladhill’s Twelve Point Plan – a perfect list of do’s and don’ts for lockdown – or a dip into spring bulbs, plum trees, rewilding.

You can watch the whole two hour show in segments by visiting the Arachne Press website, and selecting ‘Solstice Shorts’. Or click on the link below to watch actress Annalie Wilson read my poem Piano Lessons (11 minutes into the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN86K-qS-vM

If you’d like to buy a copy of the anthology (£8.99) go direct to Arachne Press at: http://www.arachnepress.com

Arachne Press has a number of projects brewing and are currently interested in hearing from writers who come from Wales, those who are D/deaf, and UK writers of BAME origin.

Solstice Shorts Festival lights up the Darkest Day

Solstice Hastings Dec 19Arachne Press pulled off a seven-venue, four-nation, simultaneous festival of stories and poetry on the theme of Time & Tide last week, including two of my poems (seen here being performed in Hasting’s Fisherman’s museum). Solstice, Kate Dyson

This is the sixth Solstice Shorts Festival to light up the darkest day of the year. Festival Director, Cherry Potts put out a call for stories set on, or beside, the sea or tidal rivers, with a historical flavour. Sailing under the title of Time & Tide (named for the Suffragette’s newspaper), Cherry was keen for this year’s festival to include pieces with a strong female voice.

Solstice Shorts AnthologyMy poem ‘The Fisherman’s Daughter’ is inspired by Brighton’s fishing heritage, and was performed in Lisbon (Portugal), Maryport, Hastings, Greenwich (England) and Clydeside (Scotland). My second poem about ‘mail order’ brides for British soldiers on a remote Atlantic island, was performed at Peterhead, Clydeside, Lisbon, Maryport and Greenwich. Neither poem made it to the Welsh event in Holyhead, but three countries out of four is a good innings!

In the slick, darkly covered anthology Time & Tide, you can find every story and poem performed at each of the venues of this year’s Festival – wonderful pieces to stir the blood on long, dark nights, including tales of diaspora, refugees, sex in beach huts, cockle women, Crosby Beach, Noah’s wife, the wisdom of halibut, and much, much more. Solstice, Time &Tide

There was live-streaming from each venue, and you can watch some of these films on Facebook. Facebook Solstice Shorts page It’s fascinating to see how different actors bring their own take to the exact same poem or story. Hastings net huts

I managed to make it to the Hastings gig, which was held in the enthralling (if slightly chilly) Fisherman’s Museum – a beautiful old church where men would worship before facing the dangers at sea. We were plied with mulled wine and mince pies by the volunteers who run this gem of a museum, and the turn-out (on a rain-battered day) was hearteningly good, with standing room only (well, two of us had to sit on a box!). The actors gave forth from a lectern on the deck of a fishing boat in what proved to be the perfect setting, both acoustically and thematically.

Solstice Hastings 19Thank you to Joan Taylor-Rowan for organising the Hastings leg of the Festival, to Simta Ali for filming it, and to Kate Dyson, Rebekah Wilkinson, Jared Stoughton, Patrick Keiley and Umi Sinha for their pitch-perfect performances. A big thank you also to Cherry Potts for keeping a steady hand on the tiller of this extraordinary Festival, and to all the crowd-funders and The Arts Council for financing it.

Solstice HastingsYou can see the entire Hastings at: Time & Tide Hastings

To buy a copy of the Anthology (Time & Tide), or to discover more about any of the Solstice Shorts Festivals, or the many other activities at Arachne Press, please visit:  Arachne Press

Moon, Poetry and Frogs!

Frogmore Papers (issue 94)The world’s just got a little froggier, thanks to The Frogmore Press’ fabulous anthology of poems about the moon, and its bi-annual Frogmore Papers (issue 94) glowing in lime green! Pale Moon NVT launch

Pale Fire was given it’s Brighton launch at The New Venture Theatre last week. I joined nine other poets performing work from the anthology to an excellent turn out of enthusiastic moon-afficionados. Pale Moon - me (2)

There was music from singer-song writer Seema Kapila, a short symposium on the cultural history of the moon from Alexandra Loske, and a wonderful changing track of moon images as backdrop to poems from Claire Booker, Neil Gower, Maria Jastrzebska, Seema Kapila, Chris McDermott, Zel Norwood, John O’Donoghue, Jeremy Page, Stephen Plaice, Chris Sykes and Janet Sutherland.

Maria Jastrzebska (2)

Maria Jastrzebska

“This anthology is published 50 years after human kind first set foot on a world outside our own,” said editor, Alexandra Loske. “For the first time, we were able to see the Moon up-close, a place and object we had been observing, visualising and imagining for millennia. The magnitude of this human achievement and its impact on our culture and psyche cannot be underestimated.”

The autumn issue of The Frogmore Papers is packed with goodies, including the winning and short-listed poems from this year’s Frogmore Poetry Prize, judged by John O’Donoghue. Polly Walshe was the winner with her atmospheric poem ‘Our District’, and runners up are Michael Swan (”We Refugees’) and Robert Hamberger (‘Sleeping with Uncertainty’).

Issue 94 also offers the reader poems by Stephen Bone, Claire Booker, Laura Chalar, Alison Harrison, Rowan Lyster, D A Prince, Rachel Spence, Beatrice Stanley and Roddy Williams among others. As always, there are short stories and book reviews. Pale Moon, Alexandra Loske

To submit your work to The Frogmore Papers, please adhere to the submissions windows of April and October. For more details, or to buy copies of Pale Moon or The Frogmore Papers, please visit: The Frogmore Press

Magma 74 – Poetry Gets Down to Work

Magma 74We may be knee-deep in the holiday season, but Magma’s summer issue gets to the heart of what everyday life so often boils down to – work. The getting of it. The losing of it. The joys. The frustrations. The politics.

It’s a truly memorable issue, put together by editors Benedict Newbery and Pauline Sewards with an eye for wit, as well as grit. The cover image by Joff Winterhart is spot on.

Poets published in issue 74 include:  Anne Berkeley, Claire Booker, Kate Bingham, Alison Brackenbury, Carole Bromley, Fiona Cartwright, Emma Danes, Caroline Davies, Terence Dooley, Duncan Forbes, Owen Gallagher, Anne Hay, Robin Houghton, Angela Howarth, Ewan John, Lorraine Mariner, Fokkina McDonald, Martin Rieser, Anne Ryland, Jayne Stanton, Paul Stephenson and Angela Topping.

Magma (Work) launch 2 (2)From posties, haymakers, turnip-pullers and stone masons, to tea ladies, celebrity-minders, university lecturers, ventriloquists and new mums – so many takes on what makes work, work. How to survive it. Why we do it. What it’s like when it stops.

“Work should be every bit as universal a theme as love” says Jane Commane in her feature article ‘Ideas Above Your Station’. “And yet too often it remains the unspoken, unsung business of our days.”

As part of Magma’s regular slot, Tim Wells responds to Linton Kwesi Johnson’s poem Inglan is a Bitch, with his own specially commissioned poem no escaping it – read with absolute verve and conviction at the Magma 74 London launch at Exmouth Market last month (see below). Magma (Work) launch

It was lovely to be one of the 23 contributors performing on such a glitzy stage. Stand-out readings included the flamboyant Stuart Charlesworth, the sinister tones of Graham Buchan, and a brilliant sestina by Rachel Bower. There was even a surprise guest spot for Hilaire whose joint collection with Joolz Sparkes is reviewed in this issue.

If you entered Magma’s 2018/19 poetry competition, you’ll be interested to read the winning entries – Judge’s Prize: Fuck/Boys by Inua Ellams; Stillborn by Rowena Warwick; Hangover by Ben Strak. Editors’ Prize: A Strange Boulder by Derek Hughes; Entertaining Sammy Davis Jnr in St Ives, 1962 by Kathy Pimlott; Lanterns by Katie Hale.

Magma (74)_0002Tom Sastry is the featured poet in the current issue. His first full collection (A Man’s House Catches Fire) will be published by Nine Arches Press in October. There are fascinating articles relating to poetry, work and class by Louisa Adjoa Parker, Jane Commane and Fran Lock, and the usual meaty, thought-inducing reviews section.

To order a copy of Magma (issue 74) or to find out how to submit to Magma 76 (closing date 31st August, theme Resistencia) check out the website at: Magma

Frogmore Press celebrates Moon Landings

Pale Fire front cover (1)Fifty years ago this month, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and uttered his now infamous phrase: “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

As poets, we continue to be awed, fascinated and drawn into the orbit of our nearest planet.

To celebrate all things lunar, The Frogmore Press have published an anthology of contemporary poetry entitled Pale Fire and packed it with work by more than sixty poets,  including Clare Best, Sharon Black, Robin Bolam, Claire Booker, Maggie Butt, Maggie Harris, Seema Kapila, Jane Lovell, Martin Malone, Jessica Mookherjee, Fiona Moore, Grace Nichols, Zel Norwood, Jeremy Page, Cheryl Pearson,  John Rice, Myra Schneider, Peter Stewart, Janet Sutherland, Kay Syrad, George Szirtes and Mark Urbanowicz.

Pale MoonThe anthology fascinates with its wide-ranging styles and content. Star of the show (no pun intended) is the moon, which sails through the many stories and emotions contained within these poems. Sometimes it’s a “pale orange egg”, or a “ferrier of calm”, or “an astonished semibreve”, or “a factory light burning on the top floor”. Sometimes it’s benign, sometimes threatening, sometimes plain funny. Never is it boring!

Pale Fire is the brainchild of editor Alexandra Loske and includes a series of exquisite illustrations of the moon by Sussex-based painter Fergus Hare (www.fergushare.net). 

Moon anthology 4The book was launched last month at Fitzroy House – a gem of a gothic-revival building in Lewes, East Sussex. Not only did the audience get a chance to enjoy (I hope!) hearing a bunch of us read our poems, but they were also treated to an exhibition of drawings, etchings, paintings and sculpture inspired by the moon which had been curated around this amazing circular room. Moon Anthology 2

“Seeing the moon’s desolate landscape up-close may to some initially have felt like a visual disappointment,” writes Alexandra Loske. “But the magnitude of this human achievement and its impact on our culture and psyche cannot be underestimated.”

Pale Fire is testimony to the poetic impact of the moon. The anthology is available from The Frogmore Press price £10.

For more information go to: Frogmore Press