Tag Archives: Claire Dyer

The Interpreter’s House – a Celebration

Interpreters House, Martin Malone, Karen Izod 2018Martin Malone tested the limits of heat endurance when he handed over the keys of The Interpreter’s House on a sweltering night at a packed-to-the-rafters event in Nell of Old Drury, Covent Garden.

Celebrating the end of his five year tenure as editor, contributors from issues 67 and 68 waxed lyrical (and sweaty) during an evening both warm in body and heart.

Poets sharing their work included Claire Booker, Rachel Clyne, Sophie Dumont, Janet Hatherley, Pamela Johnson, Gary Jude, Wendy Klein, Candyce Lang, Jeremy Page, Jessica Mookheree, Olivia Tuck, Julia Webb and Ros Woolner, as well as commended poets and the runner-up in this year’s TIH poetry competition – Claire Dyer, Fiona Larkin and Karen Izod (above: with Martin Malone). Interpreter's House issue 68

IH68Launch2The latest issue includes the winning poem ‘Operation Thunderstorm’ by Theophilus Kwek, as well as poems by people who couldn’t make it to the launch such as Josephine Balmer, Robert Crawford, Katie Donovan, Carrie Etter and Robin Houghton. Plus there’s a powerful story by S.P. Hannaway and reviews by Martin Malone, Aoife Lyall, Dawn Gorman and Declan Ryan.

“Poetry’s background music represents an incrementally important soundtrack to what a society is, and in one of the developed world’s most socially unequal, this is no small thing,” says Martin Malone in his final editorial. Out-going Assistant Editor, Charles Lauder Jnr adds: “The goal was and always has been to accept the best writing – strong, surprising, unique, well-crafted, thought-provoking poems and stories.” IH launch 68 - 3

IH68launchIt’s a tough act to follow for new editors Georgi Gill and Andrew Wells, but they’re already on the case. Something like 1,500 submissions will land in their in-tray over the coming weeks, so if you’d like to see one of your poems or short stories in issue 69, check out the website at: The Interpreter’s House

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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

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

 

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

Other Poetry gets Lost in the Forest

Black ForestForests can be treacherous places – unless you’re armed with a good compass.   The sorry tale of a young man in the Bavarian Alps  inspired my poem ‘Dead Letter Box’  which is out in the latest issue of Other Poetry.

People go missing in these vast European forests and are not always found.  This particular young man was discovered fifteen years later by an enthusiastic hiker.

What might YOU do if you found a skeleton next to a well-preserved rucksack and inside, a picture postcard, written, stamped and ready to go?

Other Poetry Series 4, No 7Answers on a postcard please! Or better still, buy a copy of Other Poetry (Series 4, no 7) to find out what hiker, Hubert Schaunegger, actually did do.

Other poets featured in this issue include Mike Barlow, Will Kemp, John Hartley Williams and Claire Dyer. To order a copy of the magazine please visit their website at http://www.otherpoetry.com