Tag Archives: Claire Booker

Spelt magazine – for the rural experience

Guess what’s turned up in my local library? A copy of Spelt (issue 4) happily ensconced in the community section. Spoiler alert: I donated the copy to Rottingdean’s small but perfectly formed lending library. Like many others in rural areas, it’s only staffed a few days per week, but we have key cards to let ourselves in if the urge for a book becomes all consuming!

Inside this issue are poems by Claire Booker, Lia Brooks, Yvie Holder, Rosie Jackson, Jackie Wills, John Lanyon, Millie Light, Matt Nicholson and many others.

Issue 4 also contains fascinating articles and prose pieces from a number of Spelt columnists, including Suzanne Iuppa (on Welsh sustainable development), Sierra Kaag (on growing up in rural Idaho), and Sara Stegen (on the mega-thunderstorms of the Hondsrug area of Holland). Spelt editor Wendy Pratt gets to interview Polly Atkins, whose collection Much with Body is out with Seren, and is based on her fascination with Dorothy Wordsworth.

Plus, there’s a poetry prompt from James McDermott on how to include facts in your poems, a verbal walk through the Galloway Forest Park, and some truly evocative images to accompany each of the poems. If you’ve never seen a mole above ground, now’s your chance!

Poems or pieces of creative non-fiction inspired by the rural experience can be submitted until May 1st for the next issue of Spelt. Check the details (and of course buy a copy if you can) at http://www.speltmagazine.com

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.

My Part in the Revolution

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.

If you don’t get The Spectator, you can also read the poem here: https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/my-part-in-the-revolution

Other poets in recent issues of The Spectator include Stephen Bone, Diana Hendry, Claudine Toutoungi, Hugo Williams and William Wootten.

If you’d like to submit your poetry for consideration, send hard copies plus an SAE to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.

Poetry Birmingham pulls no punches

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

Artemis goes Down-Under

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

And if winter is getting you down, why not raise a smile, or even a belly-laugh, by visiting the chuckle-making webzine Lighten Up Online? Edited by Jerome Betts, it’s published monthly, and includes everything from ballads and clerihews, to limericks, satire and rhyming couplets. You can check out two of the smallest poems I’ve ever written at: https://www.lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/issue-56-december-2021/2206-interval-two-from-musk-oxen-to-marmots and https://www.lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/isse-55-september-2021/2128-interval-one-a-flurry-of-fours

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/

14 Magazine – the Red issue

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 Vanguard Editions (richardskinner.weebly.com). Plus look out for the next submissions window when it comes up in April.

Art and Nature – inspiring poetry

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.”

You can read Framed Woman, together with the winning poem (Sarah Wimbush’s Blood Sugar), joint runner-up Liz McPherson’s Outsider, and the ten commended poems by Julian Bishop, David Bleiman, Partridge Boswell, David Bundred, Sue Burge, Virginia Griem, Sue Norton, Michael Saunderson, Michael Shann and Paul Wellby, by clicking on: https://poetrysociety.org.uk/news/sarah-wimbush-is-chosen-as-the-poetry-societys-2021-stanza-competition-winner/

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 the brainchild of Lucy Townsend, who approached the Trust with the idea as a way to celebrate its 60th anniversary. You can read it all for free at: https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/awakenings

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

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.