Tag Archives: contemporary poetry

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

Stand Magazine pays tribute to Eavan Boland

It’s great to be in another issue of Stand, which offers the perfect place for poems that play with horizontal layouts.   

Stand (issue Vol 18, 2) 

Poets in this issue include Richard Aronowitz, Grace Atkinson, Kate Behrens, Claire Booker, Maia Elsner, John Glover, Robin Houghton,  Laura Potts, Jessica Sneddon, Nic Stringer, plus a series of five extraordinary poems from Robert Hamberger.

There’s also a short story by Ted Slaughter and reviews by Jennifer Wong, Stella Pye and John Gallas.

In his foreword, managing editor, John Whale, references Coleridge’s 1797 poem ‘This Lime-tree Bower My Prison’ as his lockdown poem of choice. In the poem, Coleridge provides intense, detailed observations of nature, which enable him to bear the isolation of his illness with fortitude and even appreciation. IMG_0049[1]

Says John Whale: “At this moment of of our current pandemic it is worth celebrating this historical example of the appreciation of particularity arising from a thorough-going meditative attention to nature. It shows us what compensations can emerge from privation.” 

The first six pages of Stand 226 contain tributes to the Irish poet, feminist and editor, Eavan Boland, who died in April. A great loss to the world of poetry.

Boland famously said it was ‘easier to have a political murder in an Irish poem than a washing machine.” So-called ‘domestic poetry’ still has to contend with prejudice from some editors (often, but not always, male), who would airbrush it from their pages. Apparently, they fail to see that all experience contains the potential for poetry, including such deeply personal relationships such as motherhood. 

In one of the tributes carried in Stand, Shirley Chew quotes from Boland’s poem sequence, Anna Liffey. It’s a beautiful statement of the right to be subjective in a poem, to bring yourself right into its core, and not simply be a commentator on the ‘big subjects’: 

Make of a nation what you will
Make of the past
What you can -

There is now
A woman in the doorway.

It has taken me
All my strength to do this.

Becoming a figure in a poem.

Usurping a name and a theme.

To buy a copy of Stand, Volume 18 (2), or take out an online or paper subscription, or to submit your work to the magazine, please visit: http://www.standmagazine.org

Prole Magazine is 10 years old!

Prole x6Prole‘s 10th birthday is a cause for celebration among all who prefer their poetry and short stories lively and accessible. So here’s a glass (or two!) raised with a hurrah for editors Brett Evans and Phil Robertson, who have steered this Sabateur award-winning magazine from the word go.

I’ve been chuffed to have poems in seven of those issues, including the current one (Prole 30), which contains short stories by Dan Burns, S. Dean, Sue Pace, and poetry by Sharon Black, Michael Carrino, Kitty Coles, Kevin Hanson, Deborah Harvey, Jennifer A McGowan, Matt Pitt, Emma Purshouse and Rowena Warwick among others. Prole cartoon

Until recently, the magazine has come out three times a year, but now it’s going to be biannual. This will take some pressure off the editors but will very likely disappoint readers and submitters alike.  C’est la vie. We’ll appreciate it all the more. I love the look of the magazine, with its trade-mark black and white covers, witty cartoons, and clear demarcation between prose and poetry. Great that contributors are offered a profit-share too.  Prole issue 30

Prole is not just a magazine, however. Every year, it holds a Prole Laureate Competition (plus similar for short stories). You can read the 2020 winning poems by Paul Stephenson, Jinny Fisher and Angela Platt in this current issue.

Is your finished pamphlet looking for a home? If so, there’s still time to enter this year’s Prole Pamphlet Competition, being judged by John McCullough. Your pamphlet needs to be between 20 and 40 pages. Closing date is September 16th. More details at: Prole

Arriba, arriba Magma!

Magma 76Call it Latinx, Latin American, Hispanic – the ‘Resistencia’ issue of Magma is a red hot fiesta of South America’s many vibrant cultures and their diaspora.

Poets featured include Juana Adcock, Gioconda Belli, Claire Booker, Olivia Dawson, Caleb Femi, Russel Karrick, Sharon Larkin, Katherine Lockton, Maria Negroni, Stephen Payne, Bianca Perez, Amilcar Sanatan, Adrianna Smith, Yome Sode, Claudine Toutoungi and Hilary Watson.

The poems include ghazals, sonnets and sestinas, as well as prose poetry, translations and other forms. They range from powerful acts of witness to whimsical musing and sensual meditative explorations. At a time when the UK is becoming increasingly multilingual, the richness of living in the creative tensions between languages is a fertile and critical area to explore.

Last month’s launch should have been at Tate Modern’s Terrace bookshop with resplendent views of the River Thames. Instead it was at my house, your house, houses across the globe, curtesy of Zoom. No lovely photos of the launch, therefore, (your know what a Zoom line-up looks like by now!) but a good hundred people turned up, many of whom would not have been able to make it to London.

With its nose for the cross-cultural, the collaboration, the unpredictable, Magma has pulled off a tour de force. Ignore this one at your peril.

download“This is probably the first poetry journal in the world to include Latin American poets from that region, British Latinx poets and North American Latinx poets, illustrating the way in which Latin American culture exists in diaspora,” write Leo Boix and Nathalie Teitler in their Editorial.

Coming from a mix of cultures myself (French, English), I love the fluidity of this issue – how it moves between languages, translations, some poems coming from a place of dual heritage, others from outsiders looking in. And I’m especially thrilled that my poem ‘The Bone That Sang’ has been included (literally the last poem in the issue), because it’s the title poem of my next pamphlet, due out later this year from Indigo Dreams (here endeth the plug!)

photo-1518593929011-2b5ef6be57c7There’s an astounding piece of writing by Pascale Petit, entitled Rio Tambopata, about her experiences in the Amazon. We’re in full-on Petit territory here, with its unmistakable magical realism and emotional impact: “I have to pass through the gates of the jaguar’s sparkling fangs, to imagine my birth.  . . . I lie on my leaf-cradle next to a baby caiman, and see the cockroaches scuttle into my mother’s flowering face.” A Thomson Holidays tour this ain’t!

Also in this issue, Francisco Aragon responds to work by Carmen Gimenez Smith and creates the found poem ‘With Carmen’: “The piece couldn’t exist without Carmen’s exquisite language. My contribution is the deliberate curation of and, no less crucial, ordering of that language.”  This raises the interesting point of why poets borrow from each other’s work, and how collaboration can yield exciting adventures with exactly the same words, but not necessarily – to quote Eric Morecombe – in the same order!

Plus there’s a fascinating evaluation of the Manifesto for a Latino-British Poetry by Dr Nathalie Teitler, as well as the usual in-depth reviews of newly released poetry collections.

To buy a copy of Magma (issue 76), take out a subscription or check on the next submissions window, visit: Magma

Poetry Salzburg Review – flying the flag for English poetry

Poetry Salzburg Review (issue 34)With only weeks before a possible plunge off the Brexit cliff, it’s good to know that English language poetry is still cherished in the heart of Europe. images[7]

The latest issue of Poetry Salzburg Review contains work from 72 English-speaking poets including John Arnold, Claire Booker, Jonathan Catherall, Carole Coates, Andy Croft, Robert Dassanowsky, Terry Doyle, Julie Maclean, Sue Kindon, Fiona Larkin, Owen Lowery, Matthew Paul, Paul Stephenson, Tessa Strickland, Iain Twiddy, Tom Vaughan, Sarah Juliet Walsh and Andrew Wildermuth.

Poetry Salzburg Review (issue 34) (3)Continuing its trend of fabulously surreal covers, the artwork for issue 34 is by Michael Cheval. This is the third issue of PSR that has carried my poems, and each time Cheval has wowed me with his inventiveness and luscious use of colour. You can find out more about his work at Michael Cheval

But of course, a book is more than it’s cover. Look inside this one, and as well as a wide range of poetic styles and themes, you’ll find reviews of European and UK poets by John Challis, Keith Hutson and Robert Peake; and a thought-provoking interview with Scottish poet and translater Alan Riach by PSR editor Wolfgang Gortschacher.

To buy a copy of Poetry Salzburg Review, browse their collections and pamphlets, or submit your own work, please visit Poetry Salzburg