Tag Archives: Claire Booker

Finished Creatures rises to the surface

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.

Dream Catcher celebrates its 25th Year

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.

To buy a copy of issue 43, take out a subscription (£15 per year), or find out more about the magazine, here is the link: https://www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk/

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.”

The Poetry of Cinema

One of my favourite of all films, Cinema Paradiso, inspired my eponymous poem recently published in The Spectator. Film can be a prism for ideas and emotions in much the same way as poetry: an admix of the visual and the visceral. How to capture, in a few lines, the essence of a film which has affected you deeply? As so often in poetry, it’s what you leave out that matters.

Thank you to Hugo Williams for selecting my poem to appear in the 10th July issue of the magazine. You can read it on-line at: https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/cinema-paradiso

Other poets recently published there include Fleur Adcock, John Levett, Richie McCaffery and Claudine Toutoungi.

If you’d like to submit your poems to Hugo for consideration, send them c/o Arts & Books editor Claire Asquith at The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP. Hard copies + SAE required.

Another, more surreal, cinematic poem of mine, My Night as a 50-Foot Woman, is featured in the New York based anthology, Poetry Inspired by Film, edited by Jennifer Maloney and Bart White; a fantastic bunch of poets and cinema enthusiasts, gravitating around The Little Theatre of Moving Images. They organised six Trans-Atlantic video launches for the anthology (it’s a big book!) so all contributors had the opportunity to perform their work live.

“Years before I identified and pursued my love of poetry, I was in love with movies,” writes Bart White in his foreword. “The filmmaker explores qualities of storytelling and of time, slowing time down or speeding it up . . . and now we might be speaking of the poet who looks in wonder at the world, absorbs light and sound, then shapes a form to hold an experience. . . or are we speaking again of the filmmaker? Between them there is a deep resonance”

“A community of artists was the impetus behind this anthology,” writes Jennifer Maloney. “Watching movies, during this pandemic year, soothed me, distracted and uplifted me.”

The anthology includes images of specially commissioned paintings by David James Delaney, including ‘And Toto Too’.

You can purchase a copy of the anthology for $11 (warning: postal charges from the US are astronomical!) by emailing Kenneth Kelbaugh at movies2020holo@aol.com

If you’re interested in exploring the rich heritage of film, I can thoroughly recommend Alan Price’s regular blog (vastland) where he puts his erudition to work on all manner of creative questions. Here he writes about films which have influenced him: https://alanprice69.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/blessay-4-three-films-that-shaped-me/

Summer bonanza at The High Window

Nothing says treat like a bumper pack of juicy goodies in The High Window. There are new poems from 36 writers (including 4 of my own); two featured poets (the American Steve Lambert, and Australian Kim Waters); a Russian poetry supplement edited and translated by Belinda Cooke; an essay about what it means to write by Feilim James; a raft of book reviews, plus poetry and artwork from The High Window‘s very own resident artist, Stella Wulf. How on earth does editor, David Cooke, pull this off single-handedly every three months?

I’ve been in love with the Russian language since I stumbled across my father’s Teach Yourself Russian text book as a teenager. I dropped out before taking the ‘A’ level, but retain enough to be entranced by Belinda’s wonderful translations of poems by Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Vladimir Mayakovksy and Marina Tsvetaeva plus several other poets less well known to the West.

“The Silver Age of Russian poetry includes early and late Symbolists, as well as the later Acmeism and Futurism, two movements that reacted against the otherworldly, often artificial language of Symbolism, bringing it back down to earth, with more concrete language. . . . But it is the younger generation: Mayakovsky, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, Pasternak and Akhmatova who were to create poetry that achieved international renown, as well as suffering the realities of attempting to maintain their art within the apocalyptic events of the Russian Revolution, Civil War and Stalin’s Purges of the thirties.”

On a more cheery note, this inquisitive little piggie (below) is one of many of Stella’s drawings you can view by visiting The High Window.

Poets in the summer issue include Isabel Bermudez, Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Claire Booker, Neil Elder, Oz Hardwick, Jill Learner, Dino Mahoney, Jane Lovell, Wendy Klein, Ilse Pedler, Jessica Mukherjee, Rachel Playforth, Graham Mort, Simon Williams, Robert Lindsay Wilson and Rodney Wood.

You can read their poems for free (like everything else on the website) by visiting https://thehighwindowpress.com/category/poetry/

And if you’re still at a loose end, do click on the following link to read my poem ‘Redacted’ which was recently published by litzine The Ekphrastic Review. This poem is my response to seeing the stunning Bruegel interpretation of The Massacre of the Innocents in the Queen’s Gallery, London. The painting was over-painted hundreds of years ago as literal political cover-up of a real life atrocity in the Spanish Netherlands. Once seen, never forgotten (the painting, I mean!).

The Lake webzine and Ink, Sweat & Tears

Life under Covid-19 has forced me to become more digitally aware. As a result, I’ve found myself reading more poetry webzines. It’s been fun. So many out there, something for every poetic taste.

The Lake is edited by John Murphy, a successful poet in his own right, who’s taught creative writing at Brunel, Essex and The Open universities. The webzine carries about a dozen poets each month, and in May published one of my poems, alongside a diverse set of poets, including Johanna Boal, Jenny Hockey, Beth McDonough, Kunle Okesipe and Tineke van der Eeken. Their archive of poems goes back to 2013.

John responds to submissions within two to three weeks, and he’ll accept previously published work, so long as a year or more has passed since its initial publication. You can read my poem at: http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry/claire-booker/

The Lake has a new review feature, in addition to their regular review section. One Poem Reviews takes a single poem featured from a new book/pamphlet along with a cover JPG and a link to the publisher’s website. Here is the first one, with a poem each from Claire Booker, John Gerard Fagan, JCM Hepple, Tom Rudd and Phil Vernon.

http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/reviews/oprjune21/

While on the subject of reviews, I must give a shout out to Ink, Sweat & Tears, edited by Helen Ivory. It’s a great read, with cutting edge poetry and prose, and well-written reviews. A big thank you from me to Jane Maker and the webzine for a splendid review of my latest pamphlet The Bone That Sang. You can read it here: https://inksweatandtears.co.uk/28380-2/

If you’ve recently read something that made your thoughts bubble, why not consider a review? Ink, Sweat & Tears have no resident reviewers but are pleased to accept unsolicited reviews for poetry and short story collections. The guideline word-count for a full collection is 700 words, for a pamphlet, 500 words. They have a good archive of previous reviews to inspire you. So pick up that pen!

Latest from Fenland Poetry Journal & Words For The Wild

If you write about nature, here are two great places to submit. I’m happy to have poems in Words for the Wild (surely one of the most visually delightful webzines going), and also in Fenland Poetry Journal, an elegant printed magazine edited by Elizabeth Sennitt Clough.

“The poems contained in this issue are textured with the ‘tremor of leaf play’ and ‘plosive bubble-threads – they are alive. They are creaturely.” says Sennitt Clough in her editorial for issue 4.

Poets in the spring issue include: Briony Bax, Kathryn Bevis, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Dagne Forrest, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Sarah Mnatzaganian, DA Prince, Hannah Stone, Charles Ulyatt, Louise Warren and Gareth Writer-Davies.

Fittingly, the Fenland Poetry Journal (like its previous incarnation, The Fenland Reed) comes to you from wind-swept, sky-rich Cambridgeshire. The magazine is published twice a year. For information about submissions windows, or to buy a copy, please visit: www.fenlandpoetryjournal.co.uk

Words for the Wild has built up a treasure trove of beautifully illustrated poems and short stories on a wide range of subjects that hold at their centre, the natural world. It’s edited by Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor, who both actively campaign to protect the countryside.

You can submit previously published work to their quarterly themed pages, or brand new work to their general pages.

The current theme (still open for submissions) is Gerald Durrell and his work as a conservationist. To read my poem ‘At the Bear Sanctuary’, please click on the following link: https://wordsforthewild.co.uk/?page_id=13306 This also allows you to scroll to other work within the site, including cracking poems by Kevin Cahill, Rebecca Gethin, Lisa Kelly and SA Leavesley, to name just a few.

Spelt Magazine – new kid on the block

It’s a thrill when your work makes it onto the pages of a brand new magazine. How will it look? Who’ll be in it? Will it last? So hurrah for Spelt, edited by Wendy Pratt. I can answer the first two questions – it looks great, it has some excellent work inside. Whether it will last is in the lap of the gods – ie the reader!

Spelt celebrates the rural experience through poetry and creative non fiction,” says Wendy in her first editorial.

“We want to see Spelt sitting not just in bookshops, but pubs and cafes, in gardens and tractor cabs, at poetry readings, festivals and spread out on a table at your local library. We also want to create something colourful, because nature doesn’t happen in black and white, and nature is at the heart of this magazine.”

Poets in this issue include Bob Beagrie, Claire Booker, Carole Bromley, Stephen Boyce, Pat Edwards, John Foggin, Mary Gilonne, Janet Hatherley, Oz Hardwick, Jenna Plewes, Gareth Writer-Davis and Lynne Wycherley.

Foolscap size and glossy, it’s the sort of magazine you might expect to see in a doctor’s waiting room (wouldn’t that be nice?). Each poem is given a full page with its own illustrative image and a picture of the poet with their bio and contact details. Generous, or what?

And true to its coffee table spirit, Spelt has four regular columnists. Its creative non-fiction writers take on such diverse subjects as Mary Earnshaw on wolves in Yellow Stone Park; a wacky piece by self-confessed vampire and Saboteur Award winning, Steve Nash; insights into archaeology by Electra Rhodes; living with M.E. in the village of Coalbrookdale by Kathryn Anna Marshall; and the ins and outs of eking a living as a trawler fisherman. There is also an in-depth interview with Irish poet Aoife Lyall whose first collection ‘Mother, Nature’ is published by Bloodaxe. I was incredibly impressed by her work when she read at the Spelt zoom launch earlier this month. There’s something about the emotional depth of her work, combined with that Irish lilt, that I found irresistible.

Co-editor, Steve Nash, has created films of many of the poems in the first issue, including my own ‘The Lightness of Words’ which can be viewed on Spelt’s YouTube channel at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s92NA-n2l6g

Spelt could not have got off the ground without its crowd-funding backers. So, over to the reader, now! Do please buy a copy if you can (£7.00 including p&p) and you’ll help the green shoots to grow and thrive (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

And there’s still time to submit your work to Issue 2 (closing date April 30th). To submit poetry and creative non-fiction, buy a copy of the magazine, or donate please visit: https://speltmagazine.com/

Poetry Salzburg Review – eclectic as ever

In its latest editorial, Poetry Salzburg Review makes no bones about its mission: “We need to get back to a time where the ‘general public’ see poetry as an essential literary engagement.” Here you’ll find poetry for just about everyone, from narratives, translations and humour, to experimental lay-outs, ekphrasis and sonnets. As a reader, I really love the mix I find here. As a poet, I’m grateful for a place which will consider every kind of poem I write.

Poets in issue 36 include William Bedford, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Brecht (transl.), Joe Caldwell, David J. Costello, Natalie Crick, Horace (transl.), L. Kiew, Tom Paine, Matthew Paul, Penelope Shuttle, Marjorie Sweetko, Grant Tabard, Marina Tsvetaeva (transl.) and Margaret Wilmot.

There’s the usual strong selection of book reviews, plus an essay on the late Chris Bendon by Glyn Pursglove, and one on Edward Lowbury (1913-2007) by Roland John.

And let’s celebrate another wonderful cover image – ‘The Waterfall’, by Steven Kenny. The front of every issue is a glorious invocation of the surreal; perhaps only to be expected from a magazine produced in the country where Sigmund Freud first tussled with the unconscious mind.

To order a copy of issue 36 or submit your own poems please check the following link: http://www.poetrysalzburg.com/psr.htm

Poetry Salzburg Review is issued twice a year, and I for one have been subscribing to it for some time. It’s printed with the support of the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Salzburg, with an editorial board that spans the Atlantic (Robert Dassanowsky and Keith Hutson) under the expert eye of editor Wolfgang Gortschacher.

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/