Tag Archives: Claire Booker

Paper Swans Pocket Book of Love

Pocket Book of LoveAs inflation continues to gouge lumps out of our wallets, Paper Swans have come up with a winning formula – a pocket book series of poetry priced £3.50 including p&p.

First off the press is The Pocket Book of Love, which contains 12 short poems by Yvonne Baker, Charlotte Begg, Claire Booker, Carole Bromley, Sami Cox, Olivia Dawson, Olga Dermott-Bond, Maria Isakova-Bennett, Karen Izod, Linda Kurowski, Fokkina McDonnell and Claire Walker.

It’s a little gem of concision, put together by editor Sarah Miles. If you’re too busy, or too shy, to pop one in the post to a loved one, Paper Swans Press will do this for you. Weighing less than 100g, it goes standard class, and is even more fun than receiving a postcard.

Next in the series is Anger – (careful who you send that one to!) with pocket books of poetry on Women’s Suffrage, Gardening, Cricket and Weddings in the pipeline.

If you’d like to buy a copy of The Pocket Book of Love please visit this link: Pocket Book of Love  Or to find out more about Paper Swans Press click on: Paper Swans Press

It’s not too late to submit your own work for the Gardening, Cricket and Weddings pocket books. Poems should be a maximum of 12 lines and can have been published elsewhere.  Pocket Book of Love  Pocket Book of LovePocket Book of LoveCloses March 31st.


Stand Magazine – a rolling landscape of lines

Stand 15 (4)If page shape, layout and typeset matter in the enjoyment of reading poetry (which I believe they do), then Stand is surely one of the most pleasurable of literary magazines. I simply love the generous, landscape look of it, with space enough for the longest of line lengths.

Of course, content is crucial too. The winter issue offers an eclectic mix of poems from Gary Allen, Claire Booker, Sean O’Brien, Vahni Capildeo, Anne Fitzgerald, John Gohorry, mystic poet Hafez (translated by Mario Petrucci), Matt Howard, Dan MacIsaac, David Redgrave, Anne Stevenson and J. Twm, among others.

There are thought-provoking, cross-genre offerings, including Anne Stevenson’s piece of prose (or is it poetry?) (or both?) which examines the context of her poem Sandi Russell Sings. Another genre-bending piece is David Sheshkin’s intriguing Modern Art which concocts four reviews of an avant-garde artist, so close to the real thing, that I’m still left wondering.

Associate editor, David Latane, reminds us that ‘little magazines’ can often punch above their weight, giving examples of Wyndham Lewis’ Blast and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s Germ to illustrate his point. Thanks to founding editor, John Silkin’s original premise, Stand has been a significant player in the world of contemporary literature since 1952.

Stand Simon Armitage ArchiveStand is produced by The University of Leeds’ English Department, so it’s no surprise to find an article about their very own Poetry Professor, Simon Armitage, in this issue, including facsimile copies of pages from his red notebook used when walking the Pennine Way.

There are some muscular and entertaining pieces of flash by Michael Cadnum, a short story by John Siberry and reviews by Martin Malone, Rachel Bower and Tony Roberts.

To buy a copy of Issue 15 (4), take out a subscription or find out how to submit your work, please click on the following link: Stand Magazine

Latest from Poetry Salzburg Review

Poetry Salzburg Review 31It’s always a joy when Poetry Salzburg Review drops onto my door mat, with its Austrian postmark,  gloriously surreal cover and meaty, 180 or so pages of new poetry, translations, reviews and interviews.

Issue 31 is a particular treat for me, as it contains two of my poems, alongside work by Jackie Wills, Sean O’Brien, Robert Peake, Hugo Ball (writer of the Dada Manifesto and co-founder of the infamous Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich 1916), Carole Bromley, James Caruth, Jessica Mookherjee, John Lyons, Richard Skinner, Ruth Bidgood, Marjorie Sweetko and Robert Hampson, among many others.

There’s a good selection of international work in this issue, including poets with connections to South Africa, America, Australia, Canada, Trinidad, India, Cuba, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. It’s refreshing to hear voices and styles informed by very different cultural backgrounds.  

Poetry Salzburg Review is ” one of the most stimulating eclectic and certainly international outlets for quality contemporary poetry,” says the poetry magazine’s newest editorial board member, Keith Hutson. He joins Vahni Capildeo, Robert Dassanowsky and editor Wolfgang Görtschacher in selecting what goes into the bi-annual magazine.  Poetry Salzburg Review 31With several thousand submissions a year, this is no easy matter, but Hutson is clear about the task. “It seems to me that the journal’s only aim is to find and publish poetry that feels important – whatever the subject matter – and in the search for these poems, established writers are welcomed and new writers are celebrated.”

This issue has a fascinating interview with novelist and poet Elaine Feinstein, whose many impressive credits include translating the brilliant Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, thus helping to secure her a place in the cannon of great women poets writing in a language other than English. I for one am hugely grateful to her.

Issue 31 also offers readers fourteen late sonnets (most of them previously unpublished) by the poet Peter Russell, who was a protégé of TS Elliott and long-term correspondent with Ezra Pound. Plus a chance to read a generous selection of work by the recently deceased Frances Galleymore.

Poetry Salzburg Review is published twice yearly. To submit your own work, or buy a copy of Autumn 2017 (issue 31) or take out a subscription, click on the following link: Poetry Salzburg Review


14 Great Poetry Gigs to Celebrate

Postcards (Collage 3)Writing poetry is one thing. Marketing it, quite another. This is where poetry gigs can come into their own. Over the last year, I’ve taken my poetry pamphlet, Later There Will Be Postcards, on a whistle stop tour of some great venues.

Green Bottle Press launched the pamphlet last October at SLAM Kings Cross – a delightful venue with an ornate horseshoe balcony and music hall feel.  So far so great – a nice turn out of friends and poetry well-wishers, plus stablemates Tracey Rhys and Yvonne Piper launching their own books too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGBP Postc (Joolz pic)My editor, Jennifer Gregg, had arranged a pre-launch at The Torriano Meeting House – a little piece of literary history tucked away in Kentish Town, which is also home to the imprint Hearing Eye.  I featured there with fellow Green Bottle Press poet Sarah Sibley, reading from her PBS acclaimed pamphlet The Withering Room.  I was there again two weeks later to feature with poets Alan Price and Louise Warren, and enjoy the usual high quality open-mic readers.

In February I was invited to read two of my poems at Palewell Press‘s launch of a powerful book about refugees – Three Days in Damascus, a memoir by Kim Schultz. The venue was The Hive in Dalston, a really wacky, welcoming space full of contemporary art, great coffee and a happening feel to it.  Handy for the Jeffrey Museum too.

Magma 67 launchMagma being one of my top three favourite literary mags (no, I’m not telling!) I was thrilled to be asked to read two of my poems at the launch of its 67th issue (Bones & Breath) at The London Review Bookshop – handy for the British museum. The distinctive L-shaped room is surprisingly good acoustically, and there’s a real buzz sitting in such close proximity to so many books. Perhaps most inspiring is the quality of listening you get at a Magma launch.

Best-of-British-cover[1] And now let’s hear it for Royal Tunbridge Wells, and in particularly that adventurous publisher Paper Swans Press, who launched their Best of British Anthology at The George, not so far from the pantiles where Jane Austin may have sipped a Bacardi Breezer or two (or the Regency equivalent). My fellow contributors gathered from all corners of the UK to share offerings on the topic of British Life.

PAE Centrala 2April saw me in Birmingham’s Centrala Gallery, a great space which specialises in Eastern European art, and overlooks the Grand Union Canal. It was all part of the Birmingham Literature Festival. With Arts Council funding, our UK/Romanian collective PoetryArtExchange could afford to pay for three British poets and two Romanian poets plus a Polish saxophonist to perform poetry to an avant-garde sound track of words and musical sounds. I really let my hair down on castanets, tambourine and ball point pen! PAE - John Riley

Written in Water Constable event 6 May posterBrighton Museum, inside the Prince Regent’s fantasy palace with its minarets and flamboyant painted dragons, is a unique venue. For this year’s Brighton Festival, The Frogmore Press invited a contingent of Brighton-based poets to read their work inspired by clouds and sea. What a delight to share words in front of a magnificent collection of John Constable paintings and sketches.  There was an excellent turn out from the public, some of whom didn’t expect this added extra but stopped to listen to such poets as Clare Best, Maria Jastrzebska, Mandy Pannett, Jeremy Page, Lyn Thomas and Marek Urbanowicz. Thank you to Alexandra Loske for inviting us.

Beyond WordsIf you live within reach of south London, count yourself lucky. Beyond Words at the Gipsy Hill Tavern, is one of the most consistently enjoyable spoken word events and punches well above its weight. Hosts Angela Brodie and Caroline Vero invited me to feature in the summer, alongside Jim Alderson. What could be more convenient than a 2 minute walk to the train station and then up to Victoria in an eye-wink? I got home to Brighton in time for a nightcap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALoose Muse Covent Garden, run by the inimitable Agnes Meadows, welcomed me as feature poet in June, alongside novelist SV Berlin and blogger Naomi Woddis. Later in Ocober I had the pleasure of featuring at the Winchester’s Loose Muse, alongside Jessica Mookherjee. I had time to visit some Winchester’s wonderfully preserved heritage (including King Arthur’s round table) before heading for The Discovery Centre, which was buzzing with interested poets thanks to organiser Sue Wrinch’s warm and efficient hospitality. I even managed to sell ten copies of Later There Will Be Postcards which is (and will probably remain) a personal best. We were the closing act of the UK-India Festival of Words set up by Sue, which included a flash fiction workshop, a free Bollywood film, poetry workshops and performances by Mona Arshi, Rishi Dastidar and Martyn Crucefix. Aminur

The Indian subcontinent continued to exert its effects, this time through the Bangla poet, Aminur Rahman, who was over in the UK to promote his latest collection, Perpetual Diary. Agnes Meadows organised an evening at The Sun Covent Garden, where Aminur charmed us with his readings in English and Bengali, and Isabel White, Racheal Joseph and myself were the supporting acts.

Petersfield Write Angle 2017Petersfield in Hampshire is a delightful  town with a market-place, herb garden and lovely winding river that runs through its Tudor and Georgian houses. It’s also home to a wonderfully eclectic poetry night – Petersfield Write Angle – run by Leah and Jake Cohen. Petersfield - Claire Dyer They invited myself and novelist/poet Claire Dyer to fill the feature slot for August (always the third Tuesday of the month). The venue is intimate and quirky, and the open mic drew some extraordinary performances, including a wonderful harpist.

Ver poets poster 17I travelled up to St Albans, burial place of Harold (arrow-in-the eye) Godwinson to feature at a Ver Poets Reading, alongside John Mole and Caroline Vero. St Albans public library was a joy – warm, bright and inviting, with an attentive mix of Ver poets and members of the public making up the audience.  John was reading from his Shoestring Press collection Gestures & Counterpoints, and Caroline shared some of her most up-to-the-minute poems.   Chroma 1d

Chroma 1And the final event I featured in this year, was the launch of the brand new lit mag Chroma at Brighton’s bijou ONCA Gallery.  Chroma will focus on a different colour each issue. Issue one is red and heart-stoppingly gorgeous to look at. The launch was awash with talented young artists, musicians and writers, and there was a beautifully curated exhibition of some of photographs and poems  (including my own I’m proud to say).  So thank you to Emma Phillips for fashioning such a sumptuous read!

Copies of Later There Will Be Postcards are still available at £6.20 plus p&p from: GREEN BOTTLE PRESS

Picaroon Poetry goes ‘Deranged’

DerangedWith Halloween just round the corner, why not treat yourself to some seriously unsettling poetry, curtesy of Picaroon’s ‘Deranged’ anthology, edited by Kate Garrett and Rachel Nix? The book is “for seriously ‘deranged poetesses’, in practice or in spirit, everywhere,” states its dedication.

Always happy to walk the edge, I’m delighted to have a poem in the anthology, alongside poets such as Rishika Aggarwal, Carole Bromley, Rebecca Gethin, Lizzie Holden, Amy Kinsman, Laurie Kolp, Misti Rainwater-Lites, Sarah Pritchard, Angela Readman and Sade Andria Zabala.  There’s a strong contingent from across The Pond, which is perhaps not surprising, given the move towards madness shown recently by the American electorate!

The anthology features poems about rule-breaking, gender nonconformity and women in the arts. It is “for those who openly refuse to be chained to the status quo; those who rebel quietly, biding their time; and everyone in between. ”  I’ll drink to that!

For more information on Picaroon Poetry please click the following link: Picaroon anthology

To order a copy of ‘Deranged’ direct, please click: Deranged


The High Window lit-zine offers great views

The High Window issue 6If your wish-list includes a beautifully curated, quarterly poetry journal that costs only time to enjoy then look no further than The High Window. Launched last year, its roll-call of contributors is already impressive.

Issue 6 (summer) carries three poems by Claire Booker and work by Carrie Etter, Philip Gross, Anne Irwin, Sean Kelly, Bethany Rivers, Jean Stevens and Simon Williams among others. Age is no bar to publication, as Sophie Reisbord (age 15) and Maurice Rutherford (age 95) can testify. They join such illustrious High Window alumni as Ian Duhig, David Harsent, Abigail Morley, Helen Mort, Mario Petrucci, Fiona Sampson and Matthew Sweeney.

The High Window is anything but parochial. Alongside a lively mix of poetry from the UK and around the world, it packs in intelligent reviews, a selection of poems in translation, profiles on American poets (issue 6 features Richard Hoffman) and essays (issue 6 considers Sam Gardiner). High Window REviews

Reviews in this issue include Ruth Sharman’s Scarlet Tiger reviewed by Claire Dyer, and a thought-provoking analysis of Michael Crowley’s First Fleet by Peter Riley in which he questions whether it’s possible for a contemporary poet to write a truly narrative poem.

dcthw[2]Co-founders David Cooke and Anthony Costello  edit The High Window and also run The High Window Press which publishes chapbooks and anthologies by poets who are up and coming or, in the opinion of the editors, may have been unduly neglected. img_20150504_231611[1]

So why not consider submitting some of your unpublished work to the magazine? According to the submissions blurb, your poem is more likely to excite the editors if it has the authenticity of lived experience or engages imaginatively with an idea. They will expect to see a commitment to the craft of poetry and respect for the sense and sound of language. And who can argue with that?

To read the latest issue (and/or back issues) click on: The High Window (issue 6)

To find out more about the publishing house click on: The High Window Press


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).