Category Archives: Poetry Events

Paper Swans Press gets Best of British

Best-of-British-cover[1]Best of British is a daring title for an anthology in these post-Brexit days, but co-editors Sarah Miles and Jill Munro are a safe and experienced pair of hands.

“It’s a wonderful anthology of accessible, varied and memorable poems,” writes Costa poetry prize winner Jonathan Edwards. “These are poems for and about people as much as about place.”

Best of British launchThe anthology includes work by Rebecca Bird, Claire Booker, Michael Brown, Claire Collison, Karen Izod, Sarah James, Angela Readman, Maggie Sawkins, Derek Sellen, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Paul Stephenson, Alison Stone, Alex Toms and Jules Whiting among others.

Subjects are wide and various, ranging from Viking museums, London rivers and stolen pavements, to citizenship tests, motorways and Scottish fish gutters.

Best of British was given a rousing launch at The George, Tunbridge Wells, with readings from Carole Bromley, Claire Collinson, Karen Izod, Ed Broom, Lawrence Wilson, Susan Evans, Claire Booker, Sue Spiers and Maggie Sawkins. PaperSwan's Press British launch

To buy a copy, or find out more about the award-winning Paper Swans Press, please visit: Paper Swans Press

 

 

Advertisements

When Poems Meet a Composer

Out of Place - St PaulsPoetry began life as sung word, often in a religious context. So what a privilege to return to those poetic roots and have one of my poems set to music and performed as part of an evening of new compositions at the Actor’s Church (St Paul’s) in Covent Garden.

Out of Place is the brainchild of musician Nicola Burnett Smith, who sought out poems from contemporary poets and brought them together with a team of composers to create twelve very varied pieces.  The result was a gala evening of new musical work including fun improvisation, classical composition, solo instrumentalists, wonderful readings by Annette Badland, acapella singing and some pretty acrobatic percussion work!Out of Place - composers

The composers (Gemma Storr, Sarah Woolfenden, Marianne Johnson and Nicola Burnett Smith) each chose poems that inspired them, then spent six months creating a great variety of responses. The chosen poets include Claire Booker, Dharmavadana, Alexander James, Anna Kisby and Samantha Pearse.

Out of Place - Nicki Burnet Smith and Anne BadlandsIn front of a packed audience, the evening raised money for The Rory Peck Trust which supports freelance journalists working in hostile environments. For more information about the Trust or to buy an anthology of all the poems, including some not set to music, (all takings donated to the Trust) please email 2017outofplace@gmail.com or p hone 020 3219 7860.

The concert can be viewed by clicking: Out of Place concert (https://youtu.be/l90YRFlpOtU). If you need to fast forward to my poem (you’ll be missing some great music though) you can find it at 16.20 mins into the film.

To hear my poem read by Olivier-nominated actor Annette Badland (aka Hazel in the Archers!) please click:   Audio of ‘Dancing Green’ (https://soundcloud.com/nicolaburnettsmith/sets/out-of-place?utm_source=soundcloud&utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=email)

Out of Place - posterA huge thank you to Annette Badland, the musicians and Nicola Burnett Smith for all her hard work and skill in taking my poem ‘Refuge’ and creating from it her piece ‘Dancing Green’ (clarinet-Nicola Burnett Smith, percussion – Gemma Storr, flute – Marianne Johnson, trumpet – Sarah Woolfenden, piano – Sarah Lambie).

Bucharest University Press publishes PoetryArt Exchange

PAE - cred. Chris Leman-RileyAn experiment in UK/Romanian collaborative poetry which began two years ago is now available to read in a FREE e-book at: http://editura.mttlc.ro/ rushton-poetryartexchange- romania-uk.html

The book comprises 36 interlinked poems, correspondence and debate from nine participating poets – Claire Booker, Margento, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Iulia Militaru, John Riley, Andra Rotaru, Steve Rushton, Aleksandar Stoicovici and Stephen Watts.

PAE CentralaIn life, and virtually, these poets have got together and riffed off each other’s energy and ideas, creating new poems, interactive soundscapes, musical experimentation, exhibitions and live readings of their work at Deptford’s Bird’s Nest Gallery, The Hundred Years Gallery, Hoxton, and Birmingham’s Centrala Gallery.  PAE - 100 years audience

“Experimentalism has gone global,” says Lidia Vianu, Director of The Contemporary Literature Press (University of Bucharest) in her foreword to the book. “The change in the language of poetry, as well as in its obsessions, is so brutal that somebody like me, who has been teaching 20th Century poetry, plus the early years of the 21st Century, can only wonder at the brave new world which is opening as we speak, and say with me, poetryartexchange is a book for the next generation.”

PoetryArtExchange has also won praise from Ukrainian-born Ilya Kaminsky (two of whose poems headline the current Magma magazine). He writes: ” . . . nine poets from two countries coming together to smash the barriers and reach out to each other. In our world so torn by various nationalisms, refugee crises, political darknesses, what respite—what a gift, really—to find humans who create a country all their own (all our own, now) out of words. If I had to pledge allegiance to any nation, it would be this one.”

PAE - John Riley

During PoetryArtExchange performances, poetic phrases have been glued to windows, light-projected onto walls, beaten out to the sound of drums, ball point pens and assorted instruments, blown up large as art-works, whispered into microphones above a palimpsest of previous recordings. Sebastian Sterkowicz on bass clarinet and Costin Dumitrache on piano have added further layers of music-making experimentation alongside the poets.

New poems have been created by each participant in a kind of call and response. Margento brilliantly references work by all nine poets in a colour-coded poem entitled: London (né) – Bookar®est Express (A Nuyorican Language GPS). Connections and debate are made between all the poets in English, Romanian, the languages of academia and even the language of satire. Who, for example, is the art critic Johannes Metzger who attacks an imaginary show ‘I Have a Cock’ with unstoppable pretension? Perhaps only John Riley can know.

A film of the PoetryArtExchange performance at The Hundred Years Gallery is available here: poetryartexchange(Romania/UK) at Hundred Years Gallery London

“What a show! Nine writers from two cultures, Romania and the UK, working their brand-new, poly-vocal invention. As one of the poets says, “It’s an attempt at establishing.” It establishes, and powerfully invigorates, so many aesthetics and colors, so many flavors and voices—cases, fonts, songs, diatribes, tracts, interiors and pluralities. This book is dynamic—as in drop-the-mike—as in dynamite.”  David Baker

 Check out the PAE blogsite at: poetryartexchange.wordpress. com

A podcast of three of the poets discussing PoetryArtExchange is available here: Podcast + playlist: Hello GoodBye – 27.05.17 – Sebastian Melmoth, Steve Rushton, Margento + Simon Waldram | hellogoodbyeshow

Topmost photo credit: Christine Leman-Riley.

 

Donald Trump has read Magma 67

Magma 67In a parallel universe, Donald Trump has read Magma’s Bones & Breath issue and is discovering that poetry can bite back!

In their introduction to the issue, co-editors Rob A Mackenzie and A.B. Jackson ask “how can poetry bring fresh perspective in the face of socio-political crisis?” Five poets attempt an answer in a though-provoking feature that’s a must-read in the aftermath of Brexit and Trump.

Making something happen within its ice-cool pages are voices from across the globe including Caroline Bird, Claire Booker, Alison Brackenbury, Vahni Capildeo, Martyn Crucefix, Isobel Dixon, John Greening, Anja Konig, Stav Poleg, Richard Price and David Wheatley.

Ilya Kaminsky’s searing poems ‘The Map of Bone and Opened Valves’ and ‘Our Boys Drag a Soldier into a Sunlit Piazza’ bring the banal horror of contemporary war into subtle and devastating perspective. Asif Khan, Dzifa Benson, Alistair Noon, Theodoros Chiotis, Eleanor Livingstone and Juana Adcock share their thoughts on Brexit and Poetry and there is explosive wordplay from selected poet Holly Corfield Carr including her ‘Z’ – a highly inventive riff on letters of the alphabet.

Magma 67 launchA Magma launch is always a gold star event in the calendar, so I was thrilled to be one of the contributors invited to read in front of a buzzing audience packing the L -shaped London Review Bookshop in central London.

Performing page poetry can be something of a challenge, but we were lucky to enjoy a range of voices, including the poised and incisive Martin Crucefix, a delightfully bubbly Alison Brackenbury and bucket loads of wit from Nicki Heinen and  Holly Corfield Carr.

Issue 67 continues Magma’s series of inviting poets to create a new poem in response to work by their favourite poet. In this issue, it’s Guggenheim Award winner Cate Marvin who was inspired by Charlotte Mew’s ‘The Quiet House’ to create her own homage in the shape of ‘My Father’s Liquor Cabinet’.

Magma 67 launch“The Quiet House contains one of my all-time favorite poetic statements: ‘A rose can stab you from across the street/ deeper than any knife’.” says Cate Marvin. “I wanted to chose a poet that not everyone might be familiar with because this is one of the pleasures we can provide for one another as readers.

“It’s times like these [Trump’s election] that we truly need poetry. Not just to read it, but to write it, and write a lot of it. . . . My sense of the impact of the election is that Americans (half of us anyway) now know what it feels like to be an exile in one’s own country.”

Claire Crowther, Katy Evans Bush, Lisa Kelly and Jon Sayers review some of the latest poetry fare, including ‘Float’ by Anne Carson, ‘Sunshine’ by Melissa Lee-Houghton, ‘The Further Adventures of the Lives of the Saints’ by Patrick Mackie, and ‘Noir’ by Charlotte Gann.

To buy a one off copy of Magma 67, order a subscription to the magazine, or check on submission windows, please visit: www.magmapoetry.com

Cover : Bahar Yurukoglu.

It’s Blue Friday for The Emma Press Anthology of The Sea

emma-press-the-sea_0001Who needs Black Friday? Let’s turn it into Blue Friday and fill our friends’ and family’s Christmas stockings with The Emma Press’s gloriously azure Anthology of the Sea?

The charmingly designed, pocket-sized book includes poems by Natalya Anderson, Claire Booker, Geraldine Clarkson, Katherine Gallagher, Rebecca Goss, Sarah Howe, Amy McCauley, Jacqueline Saphra, Claire Trevien and Sophie S. Wright. There’s also the first published poem by Brian Grant – a young Irish writer who is definitely one to watch.

From its elegant deep blue end-pages, to Emma Wright’s atmospheric pen and wash illustrations, The Anthology of the Sea has been beautifully gathered in by editor, Eve Lacey. She divides the book into four sections – Ashore, Adrift, Awash and Avast – and offers readers a rich diversity of subjects, from poems about sea creatures, loved ones lost at sea, the power of weather and waves, and the industrial flotsam of jetties, fish canning and lifeboats.emma-press-the-sea_0002

The anthology made quite a splash when it was launched last month in central London. The evening buzzed with some fantastic readings and a lively and appreciative audience. Readers included Jacqueline Saphra, Brian Grant, Geraldine Clarkson and myself. emma-press-sea-jacqueline-saphra

emma-press-sea-brian-grant    emma-press-sea-geraldine-clarkson                                               emma-sea-anth-launch

To find out more about the book and its poets please visit https://theemmapress.com/anthology-of-the-sea/

Ready to buy? Here’s a link to the webshop: https://theemmapress.com/shop/anthology-of-the-sea-paperback/

Six reasons to join The Poetry Society

If you’re still not a member of The Poetry Society, here are a few good reasons why you (and your bank account!) might decide to join in the party. It costs as little as £20 a year.

In no particular order – the infamous Stanza Bonanza! StanzaBon (Reading v Clapham)

All over Britain, groups of poets get together at Poetry Society Stanza groups to share work, inspire each other, produce anthologies or perform together in friendly internecine shoot-outs.  Here is last month’s Stanza Bonanza between Clapham – aka Original Poets – (front from left: Tom Vaughan, Nicole Carrell, Tessa Lang, Mark Fiddes, Claire Booker; back far left: Hilaire) and Reading (back from 2nd left: Susan Utting, Louise Ordish, Shelley Connor, Gill Learner, Alan Hester, Ted Millichap).

Poetry CafeOur Bonanza frolics took place in The Poetry Place – another great reason to support the Poetry Society. This bijou building (ok it’s cramped and steamy in summer but a refurb is on the way) is bang smack in the cultural heartland of London’s Covent Garden. Virtually every night there’s an event to enjoy or an exhibition to ponder. The Café provides tasty vegetarian food and a place to write or hang out in. Upstairs there’s a venue for workshops, parties and hard-working Poetry Society staff (also boxes and boxes of poetry books – the nicest possible kind of tripping hazard).

Every member receives a copy of Poetry News, packed with news and views. As a member, you can enter the Member’s Poems competition four times a year. Winners are published in Poetry News and receive a juicy parcel of poetry books. My poem ‘Deadline’ is twinkling away happily in this summer issue. If you’d like to read it, along with the five other winning poems on the theme of Smell, please click: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/membership/members-poems-2/

Poetry News Summer 2016More than £16,000 is give out each year in prize money by the Poetry Society, which runs The National Poetry Competition, The Ted Hughes Award, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year, Slambassadors and numerous others.

Members also have the option of receiving Poetry Review – one the most respected poetry magazines in the English speaking world.  If you hope to be published in its august pages, perhaps take advantage of the Poetry Prescription service available to Poetry Society members at a very reasonable fee. Poets with great track records are available in the four corners of Britain (or by Skype) to read and report back on examples of your poetry. I can highly recommend it from personal experience (thank you Katy Evans Bush!).

Joining the Poetry Society gives a nice warm feeling too, as you’re directly supporting its original, eclectic projects. From canal-sides, supermarkets, football pitches and former battlefields, to schools and arts venues, projects range from ongoing programmes to one-off commissions of new work. The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, The Canal Laureateship, Poems on the Underground, National Poetry Day – all wonderful examples of how the Poetry Society is raising poetry’s profile with people of all ages.

Convinced? Still not sure?  For the full deal, click on: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/ and give some serious thought to joining, supporting, engaging with and using the opportunities that the Poetry Society has been providing to poets and poetry lovers since 1909.  You know it makes sense!

ElbowRoom unfolds its Poetry Broadsheet

ElbowRoom Broadsheet (issue 1)Too many poems, not enough space? Some literary mags choose the online option. Others produce large-round-the-waist issues. ElbowRoom has gone for its first intricately folded Broadsheet, available to subscribers and at book fairs, as a perfect addition to their handcrafted magazine.

I’m delighted to be part of the experiment curated by Rosie Sherwood and Zelda Chappel and printed by their publishing arm As Yet Untitled. The crisply folded sheet of  fine cream paper contains poems by myself, Mary Gollonne, Jason Jackson, Wes Lee, Richie McCaffery, Nikki Robson and Chamning Yuan, including one by Phil Vernan of five stanzas which can be read in any order. I’ve tried three different orders so far and it works! ElbowRoom Broadsheet 2

And for those who love their prose, there’s a touching short story by David O’Neill  – A Hole to Dig and A Past to Bury.

Claire at ElbowRoomThe Elbowroom Broadsheet was officially flagged up earlier this month at an ElbowRoomLive gig for the launch of issue 12.

The atmosphere at The Harrison in King’s Cross was informal and fun, with some wonderful singing and technical bravado by Andrea Kempson and sure-fire poetry from Stephen Bone, Louis Buxton and Andrew Wells. I joined them with a set of my own work. According to the publicity blurb, my role was to be the tease for the up-coming Broadsheet. No pressure then!

ElbowRoom Andrea Kempson

Andrea Kempson

ElbowRoom issue 12 is a limited edition (as are all the previous ones), hand crafted and a perfect little gem. To check on its availability or that of The Elbowroom Broadsheet please visit:

http://www.elbow-room.org/