Category Archives: Poetry Events

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/

UK/Romanian Poetry Art Exhibition

poetryartexch 6There was a real buzz last night as people crowded into Undercurrents Gallery in Deptford to enjoy words blown up big, tiny, ripped apart, hung on walls, painted, incendiarised . . .

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The free exhibition showcases poetry and artifacts from nine Romanian and British poets who make up Poetryartexchange – a project which draws on art for poetic inspiration and plays with poetry as a visual art.  The participating poets are: Claire Booker,  Anna Maria Mickiewicz, John Riley, Steve Rushton, Andra Rotaru, Margento, Iulia Militaru, Aleksandar Stoicovici and Stephen Watts.

Each poet submitted two poems on the subject of art and/or poetry and then wrote two more in response to each other’s work. These, along with statements and discussions between poets, plus the original poems, will be developed into an online book, to be published by Contemporary Literature Press (the online publishing house of the University of Bucharest) in spring 2017. For more information, please visit:  http://editura.mttlc.ro/  poetryartexchange4

You can catch the FREE exhibition at Undercurrents Gallery, The Bird’s Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, SE8 4RZ. It runs until Wednesday 25th May and is open to the public every day of the week from 12 noon to 11pm.

Feel a bit artistic yourself? You’re invited to leave your own mark on poetryartexchange‘s living blackboard where spontaneous poetry and/or art will arise (and may appear later in an e-book).  

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Further exhibitions are planned for Birmingham, Bucharest and the Romanian Embassy in London. Undercurrents Gallery provides generous space to artists and free entry to see their work. If you’re interested in setting up an exhibition, check them out at The Birds Nest, Deptford or find out more at: undercurrentsgallery.tumblr.com

Structo interviews North Korea’s ex poet laureate

Structo15 coverCan poetry truly exist in a totalitarian state?  Structo (issue 15) unearths some painful answers in its interview with Jang Jin-sung, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ex poet laureate.

Jang was once employed by Section 5 (Literature), Division 19 (Poetry) of Office 101 of the United Front Department (jeepers  – room 101!) where, as a privleged member of the elite, he was allowed access to Byron’s poetry. It had a profound effect on him.

Now living in South Korea, Jang explains how culture in the DPRK was (and still is) a matter of state politics. “Even on gravestones you cannot write what you want, because when over three people are able to read it, it is considered propaganda and is therefore subject to censorship. No private or individual literature can be written. No artists are free to be creative.”

Structo Launch 2016

Structo contributors and editors

More fortunate poets making a mark in Structo’s 15th issue include Daniel Bennett, Claire Booker, Marianne Daniels, Claire Dyer, Siobhan Harvey, Michael Metivier, Timothy Otte, Maria Ferencuhova (translated from Slovak by Juana Adcock) and the eternal Sapho (translated by Kate Wise).

The launch drew contributors from all corners of the UK and was a convivial affair in Oxford’s Albion Beatnik Books, with chat, tea and fabulous chocolate cake.  Holding up the side for poetry were Claire Dyer and myself, both reading some of our work published in this issue. I was particularly moved by Picture This  – Claire’s paean to maternal love (and loss). Claire Dyer at Structo

Structo without short fiction would be – well, something else altogether. We were treated to some eye-watering originality from Jude Cook, Stephen Hargadon, Paula Hunter, Dan Micklethwaite and Barbara Rennel who performed their short stories with gusto.

Structo Stephen DurkanA highlight for me was Stephen Durkan’s one-man blitz of a story ‘A Day in the Life of a Modern Man’. His first published piece, apparently. Bravo Structo for spotting a winning new talent!

Never judge a book by its cover, so the saying goes. But it turns out a good cover is: “a distillation, a haiku, if you will, of the story.” Structo’s interview with leading book cover designers Jennifer Carrow, Daniel Benneworth-Gray and Oliver Munday left me with a much clearer idea of what makes me stop, browse and buy. Think about it next time you make a purchase.

Talking of which, to buy a hard copy of Structo (issue 15) or to submit your work to the magazine, please visit:  www.structomagazine.co.uk   Twitter or Facebook  To download a free copy of Structo (issue 15) click on:  https://issuu.com/structo/docs/structo15