Tag Archives: contemporary poetry

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

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

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.

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.

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!

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/

Artemis – In Praise of Older Women

Artemis Poetry has a seductive power which draws you through its spacious pages, its poems, the interviews, the delightful artwork, and leaves you pleasantly sated at the end.

Issue 25 is no exception, with feature poet Margaret Wilmot’s six fine poems, a tantalising three from Alison Brackenbury on the back cover, an illuminating interview with Penelope Shuttle (with 4 poems to go) and work in the main body of the magazine from Claire Booker, Katherine Gallagher, Gill Learner, Kathy Miles, Jennifer Nadel, Ilse Pedler, Kate Scott, Sue Spiers, Myra Schneider, Marion Tracy and Merryn Williams among many others.

by Caro Reeves

Caroline Carver and Dilys Wood’s editorial is a paean to the creative potential of middle age and beyond. Here is an extract:

“‘Older’ is of course always a relative term. New generations may appear to tread us down even when we feel our bones are still green. There are real problems around ‘the cult of youth’ however natural it is for event organisers and editors to look out for new talent. Sometimes there is a quite wrong-headed disassociation between ‘freshness’ and innovation and a writer’s count of years. Among creative people across the arts, there are so many examples of older people either producing their best work at the end of their lives, or striking out in entirely unforeseen directions which may involve high levels of innovation.”

There’s a graceful elegance about this magazine, but it’s piping hot with ideas under the surface.

Penelope Shuttle gives a fascinating interview about the life of a writer: “. . . the main thing about poetry is to find your own voice, and develop it, stay true to you. You can’t trim it to the fashion of the moment.” You can read the winning and commended poems in this year’s Second Light Poetry Competition; learn more about the late, great Anne Stevenson and Elaine Feinstein, and consider Jacqueline Saphra’s perspective on older poets, with her suggestion that older women writers might exhibit “. . . divine rage, the kind of rage that ricochets down the centuries, takes the male canon to task and hammers on the doors of patriarchy.”

There’s a generous supply of book reviews, including the latest from Clare Best, Naomi Foyle and Fiona Sampson, plus interviews with RV Bailey, Nadine Brummer, Katherine Gallagher, MR Peacocke and Myra Schneider about what makes older women writers tick. Rather like Magma Poetry, Artemis uses a different poetry editor for each issue (Helen Ivory edited this one). As a result, you can never second guess an Artemis poem. It’s a fresh every time.

I enjoyed the magazine so much, I’ve decided to buy a subscription and become a member of Second Light, which offers a whole package of goodies, including workshops, online publication, member reviews and publicity. All for £28 a year (if you’re 40+) or £16 associate membership for women aged 30-40. For more information please visit: www.secondlightlive.co.uk