Tag Archives: new poems

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!

Here Comes the Sun!

The days are growing longer already. It’s as if they’ve just picked up a copy of the Arachne Press Tymes Goe By Turnes anthology of writing inspired by Robert Southall’s poem, and decided to embrace the spirit of change.

On December 21st, The Solstice Shorts Festival, usually spread across several venues in various countries, was forced to go online. Contributors whose work was performed to camera include Jane Aldous, AJ Bermudez, Julian Bishop, Claire Booker, Elinor Brooks, Sean Carney, Kelly Davis, Neil Lawrence, Ness Owen, Brooke Stanicki and Laila Sumpton. The event was hosted by editor, Cherry Potts.

Why not treat yourself to a copy of this paeon to optimism? Let stories and poems whisk you away on a railway journey across America, to Turner’s World Of Twirls or piano lessons for the reluctant child. Let them introduce you to wolf-dogs, to memories of salty bodies and strawberries, cats that love fish skins and poems that ask intriguing questions of the soil, such as: “when did you forget you were a flower?” Everyone could do with Pippa Gladhill’s Twelve Point Plan – a perfect list of do’s and don’ts for lockdown – or a dip into spring bulbs, plum trees, rewilding.

You can watch the whole two hour show in segments by visiting the Arachne Press website, and selecting ‘Solstice Shorts’. Or click on the link below to watch actress Annalie Wilson read my poem Piano Lessons (11 minutes into the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN86K-qS-vM

If you’d like to buy a copy of the anthology (£8.99) go direct to Arachne Press at: http://www.arachnepress.com

Arachne Press has a number of projects brewing and are currently interested in hearing from writers who come from Wales, those who are D/deaf, and UK writers of BAME origin.

My poem ‘Drone-Boys’ in The Spectator

I’m delighted to be in The Spectator again. A big thank you to Hugo Williams for choosing my poem about lambs, drones and lads on the South Downs.

Since moving to Brighton three years ago, sheep have begun to loom large in my life. They can be very addictive creatures – drones, less so!

You can read the poem in the November 7th issue (or on the image below).

This issue includes an intriguing poem about a fly by Kate Bingham, plus a villanelle in praise of Wendy Cope by Jane Blanchard.

The Spectator is England’s oldest continuously published Magazine (dating back to 1828), so it’s seen a lot of history come and go. It usually carries between two and four poems per week, plus a weekly competition for themed or form poems. Check each week for the required topic.

You can submit poems for the body of the magazine to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.

Black Lives Matter poem in Morning Star

Morning Star Aug 20Some poems arrive unexpectedly. My poem ‘The Chair’ in Wednesday’s Morning Star caught me blind-side while scrolling through my Facebook feed. There was an image. One I couldn’t get out of my head. The only solution. Write a poem.

Black Lives Matter has arisen spontaneously, through the power of social media. It’s a movement for desperately needed justice. Anger can be turned into action. Laws changed. Attitudes altered. We all have our part to play. Things are changing – but slowly.

Morning Star (12.8.20)

It seems deeply shocking that a so-called civilised society like America still executes people. The constitution allows each State to decide for itself, and tragically 25 States still have capital punishment on their statute books.

If that’s not horrendous enough, the colour of your skin has a lot to do with whether you receive a death sentence. The ethnicity of the murder victim is statistically the deal breaker – a white victim more often results in Death Row than if the victim were black. Old prejudices die hard.  Some lives are still deemed more equal than others, yet the US Supreme Court does not acknowledge statistical bias as a reason to overturn an individual sentence.

I’ve been a member of Amnesty International for much of my adult life. It campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty world-wide. Do please consider joining if you aren’t already a member.  Here is a link to their work on capital punishment: Amnesty International

imagesMy thanks to Andy Croft, who chose ‘The Chair’ as Poem of the Week in the printed newspaper. The Morning Star costs £1.20 and is available at a number of outlets, including The Coop, Budgens and McColls. You can also read its mix of News, Politics, Culture and Sport online, where my poem is also available to view at:  The Chair by Claire Booker

Moon, Poetry and Frogs!

Frogmore Papers (issue 94)The world’s just got a little froggier, thanks to The Frogmore Press’ fabulous anthology of poems about the moon, and its bi-annual Frogmore Papers (issue 94) glowing in lime green! Pale Moon NVT launch

Pale Fire was given it’s Brighton launch at The New Venture Theatre last week. I joined nine other poets performing work from the anthology to an excellent turn out of enthusiastic moon-afficionados. Pale Moon - me (2)

There was music from singer-song writer Seema Kapila, a short symposium on the cultural history of the moon from Alexandra Loske, and a wonderful changing track of moon images as backdrop to poems from Claire Booker, Neil Gower, Maria Jastrzebska, Seema Kapila, Chris McDermott, Zel Norwood, John O’Donoghue, Jeremy Page, Stephen Plaice, Chris Sykes and Janet Sutherland.

Maria Jastrzebska (2)

Maria Jastrzebska

“This anthology is published 50 years after human kind first set foot on a world outside our own,” said editor, Alexandra Loske. “For the first time, we were able to see the Moon up-close, a place and object we had been observing, visualising and imagining for millennia. The magnitude of this human achievement and its impact on our culture and psyche cannot be underestimated.”

The autumn issue of The Frogmore Papers is packed with goodies, including the winning and short-listed poems from this year’s Frogmore Poetry Prize, judged by John O’Donoghue. Polly Walshe was the winner with her atmospheric poem ‘Our District’, and runners up are Michael Swan (”We Refugees’) and Robert Hamberger (‘Sleeping with Uncertainty’).

Issue 94 also offers the reader poems by Stephen Bone, Claire Booker, Laura Chalar, Alison Harrison, Rowan Lyster, D A Prince, Rachel Spence, Beatrice Stanley and Roddy Williams among others. As always, there are short stories and book reviews. Pale Moon, Alexandra Loske

To submit your work to The Frogmore Papers, please adhere to the submissions windows of April and October. For more details, or to buy copies of Pale Moon or The Frogmore Papers, please visit: The Frogmore Press

High Window, Ekphrastic Review and Celebrating Change – why publish on-line?

A recent flurry of my poems being carried by The High Window (issue 15), The Ekphrastic Review (August 2019) and Celebrating Change (September 2019) has made me ponder the pros and cons of online publishing.

Ekphrastic Review (25.8.19)You write a poem, you re-write a poem, you workshop it, you work on it again, eventually you submit, sometimes it’s accepted for publication. So far, so normal. Appearing in a magazine or anthology enables us to share our craft, our vision, our voice.  Being published doffs its cap to posterity.

So what can online publication offer that printed books and magazines can’t?  Well, for a start, online magazines are usually free to read. This, together with the fact that content can be shared more easily via social media, means you potentially reach more readers. There can be greater immediacy too when you by-pass the laborious processes of printing and posting out. This is particularly relevant for political poems. Online is so handy for journeys – no more lugging heavy books around. Stuck in a jam? Pull out your mobile and get reading. Online magazines allow you to search for individual poet’s work, often across many issues. At magazines like The Ekphrastic Review, you also get to see the painting or artwork that inspired the poem – a delight that books can usually only dream of. Online creative collaborations such as Celebrating Change can use film, music, written word or spoken word in ways that printed form simply can’t deliver. Not least of all, online poetry saves trees!IMG_20190928_125228151[1]

For many writers (and readers) however, the printed book or magazine simply can’t be beaten. There’s something about the quietness of paper that conduces to contemplation and absorption. Bad habits of dipping and diving on-screen can be left behind and poems given the space (literal and metaphorical) they deserve. Many online magazines can’t take unusual formats because line breaks get easily mangled. Goodbye concrete poetry!  In terms of longevity, a book can be retrieved from your shelves and re-read in years to come, whereas online work tends to plunge into oblivion remarkably quickly (unless it’s a bad review or embarrassing photo!)

There are no right or wrongs, of course. Clearly, online and print both have a place in our reading lives. It’s fun to embrace them both. As far as I’m concerned, thank you for taking my work, and vive la difference!

The Ekphrastic Review, edited in Canada by Lorette C Luzajic, publishes poems on a daily basis and accepts reprints: “We’re an online journal devoted entirely to writing inspired by visual art. Our objective is to promote ekphrastic writing, promote art appreciation, and experience how the two strengthen each other and bring enrichment to every facet of life. We want to inspire more ekphrastic writing and promote the best in ekphrasis far and wide.” Check it out here at: The Ekphrastic Review

The High Window is published quarterly by David Cooke and includes reviews, guest poets, poems in translation, occasional articles, and new poems by established and up and coming poets. He has recently started releasing it in instalments to allow for less pressured reading. By clicking names on the contributors’ list, you get taken straight to that person’s poems. Poets in the autumn 2019 issue include Claire Booker, Rebecca Gethin, Rosie Jackson, Maitreyabandhu, Angela Topping and Gareth Writer Davis. The High Window (issue 15)

Celebrating Change is an ACE funded story-telling project based in Middlesbrough led by Laura Degnan and Kirsten Luckins, which combines film, poetry and writing workshops around social change. It releases a poem every ten days, and accepts reprints. Guest editors have included Amy Kinsman and Jess Green.  Some of the poets published so far are Claire Booker, Rachel Burns, Sarah L Dixon, Catherine Fulkner, Moira Garland, Ye Min and Marka Rifat. Check it out here at: Celebrating Change

 

Orbis #187 – ooh, la, la, it’s Sylvia Plath!

Orbis (issue 187)It’s a real treat to be in Orbis again. I love how editor Carole Baldock creates a sense of community through opportunities for feedback (a Readers’ Award – with cash prizes and a Reader’s Response on a topic of choice). Whether you’re a poet or a subscriber (or both) you’re instantly part of the conversation.

This latest issue contains poetry by Faye Boland, Claire Booker, Patricia Brody, Laura Chalar, Philip Dunkerley, Victoria Gatehouse, David Lukens, Jenna Plewes, Sue Spiers, Paul Stephenson, Jules Whiting and Rodney Wood among many others, together with a generous feature spot of work by Denise McSheeny.

There’s also a fascinating article by Paul Stephenson on comedic effect in the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Mission impossible, surely? Yet he offers a robust set of arguments, starting with a quote from South African poet Finuala Dowling: “It’s not a fashionable thing to say in an age of gravitas, but I believe that wit is the quintessential poetic craft. The truly witty poet . . . feels life’s pain, but anaesthetises it temporarily with irony, absurdity or sheer bravado.”

Paul highlights specific poems to show that “Plath’s humour comes precisely from the tragi-comic. That is to say, the tragi-comedy of the individual in her self-absorbed and confessional plight – for love and life.

“Plath is a satirical chronicler of her adopted country. We watch [her] deal the blows, the sharp-tongued wit in the verbal bullying and lexical assaults on those who inflict pain on her: father; husband; community; society at large. Comedy lies in the futility of her painful posturing.”

This issue also contains book reviews, competition alerts, prose by Charlotte Gringrass, Denise McSheehy and Jenna Plewes, and a Reader’s Response on gender equality in literature.

To buy a copy of Oribis (issue 187) or to submit your own work, check out the website at this link: Orbis

Popshot 21 – the Dream Issue

Popshot issue 21 - Adamastor Studio_0002I dreamt I had a poem published in Popshot then woke up and found I really did!  A quarterly magazine of flash fiction, poetry and short stories mouth-wateringly illustrated by more than 20 cutting-edge artists – that’s what dreams are made of.Popshot issue 21 - Adamastor Studio_0005

Each issue of Popshot works to a theme and draws submissions from across the globe. I find myself returning to old issues time and time again. It’s a picture book for adults with imagination and flair – a genuine treat to read, pulsing with the unexpected.

The current (Dream) issue is headlined by Hodder author Lydia Ruffles. There are haunting stories about hemiplegia, a giant squid and a Texan ghost by Jeremy Adam Smith, Jenny Holden and Joe Giordano ; flash fiction by Alice Ash and Jack Somers; as well as poetry by Claire Booker, Rachel Bower, Jo Brandon, Helen Cox, Michelle Marie Earl, Audrey Molloy and Emma Tilley, among others.

Popshot issue 21 - Adamastor Studio_0001Plus so many gorgeous illustrations – among my favourites Adamastor Studio’s depiction of my poem ‘Butterfly Night’ (see above); Elisa Puglielli’s neat block work; the fluid lines of Joanna Layla’s ‘Chosen’; black & white pointillist portraits by Renzo Razzetto; Charlie Davis’ ravishing colour palette; and the surreal impact of Jorn Kaspuhl’s work. Not to mention those cute otter cubs gambolling over front and back cover by Vector That Fox.

A £20 subscription buys you four issues a year plus free access to Popshot’s digital archives of more than 500 stories.  Can you afford to be without it?

Popshot issue 21 - Adamastor Studio_0004Editor Laura Silverman and Art Editor Alicia Fernandes operate submissions windows and would love to see your work (words or visual) as soon as the next theme is set.

For updates go to @popshotmag, or email hello@popshotpopshot.com, or visit: Popshot Magazine

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

Six reasons to join The Poetry Society

If you’re still not a member of The Poetry Society, here are a few good reasons why you (and your bank account!) might decide to join in the party. It costs as little as £20 a year.

In no particular order – the infamous Stanza Bonanza! StanzaBon (Reading v Clapham)

All over Britain, groups of poets get together at Poetry Society Stanza groups to share work, inspire each other, produce anthologies or perform together in friendly internecine shoot-outs.  Here is last month’s Stanza Bonanza between Clapham – aka Original Poets – (front from left: Tom Vaughan, Nicole Carrell, Tessa Lang, Mark Fiddes, Claire Booker; back far left: Hilaire) and Reading (back from 2nd left: Susan Utting, Louise Ordish, Shelley Connor, Gill Learner, Alan Hester, Ted Millichap).

Poetry CafeOur Bonanza frolics took place in The Poetry Place – another great reason to support the Poetry Society. This bijou building (ok it’s cramped and steamy in summer but a refurb is on the way) is bang smack in the cultural heartland of London’s Covent Garden. Virtually every night there’s an event to enjoy or an exhibition to ponder. The Café provides tasty vegetarian food and a place to write or hang out in. Upstairs there’s a venue for workshops, parties and hard-working Poetry Society staff (also boxes and boxes of poetry books – the nicest possible kind of tripping hazard).

Every member receives a copy of Poetry News, packed with news and views. As a member, you can enter the Member’s Poems competition four times a year. Winners are published in Poetry News and receive a juicy parcel of poetry books. My poem ‘Deadline’ is twinkling away happily in this summer issue. If you’d like to read it, along with the five other winning poems on the theme of Smell, please click: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/membership/members-poems-2/

Poetry News Summer 2016More than £16,000 is give out each year in prize money by the Poetry Society, which runs The National Poetry Competition, The Ted Hughes Award, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year, Slambassadors and numerous others.

Members also have the option of receiving Poetry Review – one the most respected poetry magazines in the English speaking world.  If you hope to be published in its august pages, perhaps take advantage of the Poetry Prescription service available to Poetry Society members at a very reasonable fee. Poets with great track records are available in the four corners of Britain (or by Skype) to read and report back on examples of your poetry. I can highly recommend it from personal experience (thank you Katy Evans Bush!).

Joining the Poetry Society gives a nice warm feeling too, as you’re directly supporting its original, eclectic projects. From canal-sides, supermarkets, football pitches and former battlefields, to schools and arts venues, projects range from ongoing programmes to one-off commissions of new work. The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, The Canal Laureateship, Poems on the Underground, National Poetry Day – all wonderful examples of how the Poetry Society is raising poetry’s profile with people of all ages.

Convinced? Still not sure?  For the full deal, click on: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/ and give some serious thought to joining, supporting, engaging with and using the opportunities that the Poetry Society has been providing to poets and poetry lovers since 1909.  You know it makes sense!