Tag Archives: new poetry

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).

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Donald Trump has read Magma 67

Magma 67In a parallel universe, Donald Trump has read Magma’s Bones & Breath issue and is discovering that poetry can bite back!

In their introduction to the issue, co-editors Rob A Mackenzie and A.B. Jackson ask “how can poetry bring fresh perspective in the face of socio-political crisis?” Five poets attempt an answer in a though-provoking feature that’s a must-read in the aftermath of Brexit and Trump.

Making something happen within its ice-cool pages are voices from across the globe including Caroline Bird, Claire Booker, Alison Brackenbury, Vahni Capildeo, Martyn Crucefix, Isobel Dixon, John Greening, Anja Konig, Stav Poleg, Richard Price and David Wheatley.

Ilya Kaminsky’s searing poems ‘The Map of Bone and Opened Valves’ and ‘Our Boys Drag a Soldier into a Sunlit Piazza’ bring the banal horror of contemporary war into subtle and devastating perspective. Asif Khan, Dzifa Benson, Alistair Noon, Theodoros Chiotis, Eleanor Livingstone and Juana Adcock share their thoughts on Brexit and Poetry and there is explosive wordplay from selected poet Holly Corfield Carr including her ‘Z’ – a highly inventive riff on letters of the alphabet.

Magma 67 launchA Magma launch is always a gold star event in the calendar, so I was thrilled to be one of the contributors invited to read in front of a buzzing audience packing the L -shaped London Review Bookshop in central London.

Performing page poetry can be something of a challenge, but we were lucky to enjoy a range of voices, including the poised and incisive Martin Crucefix, a delightfully bubbly Alison Brackenbury and bucket loads of wit from Nicki Heinen and  Holly Corfield Carr.

Issue 67 continues Magma’s series of inviting poets to create a new poem in response to work by their favourite poet. In this issue, it’s Guggenheim Award winner Cate Marvin who was inspired by Charlotte Mew’s ‘The Quiet House’ to create her own homage in the shape of ‘My Father’s Liquor Cabinet’.

Magma 67 launch“The Quiet House contains one of my all-time favorite poetic statements: ‘A rose can stab you from across the street/ deeper than any knife’.” says Cate Marvin. “I wanted to chose a poet that not everyone might be familiar with because this is one of the pleasures we can provide for one another as readers.

“It’s times like these [Trump’s election] that we truly need poetry. Not just to read it, but to write it, and write a lot of it. . . . My sense of the impact of the election is that Americans (half of us anyway) now know what it feels like to be an exile in one’s own country.”

Claire Crowther, Katy Evans Bush, Lisa Kelly and Jon Sayers review some of the latest poetry fare, including ‘Float’ by Anne Carson, ‘Sunshine’ by Melissa Lee-Houghton, ‘The Further Adventures of the Lives of the Saints’ by Patrick Mackie, and ‘Noir’ by Charlotte Gann.

To buy a one off copy of Magma 67, order a subscription to the magazine, or check on submission windows, please visit: www.magmapoetry.com

Cover : Bahar Yurukoglu.

The Interpreter’s House unleashes flying furniture!

interpreters-house-64Chairs and sofas are blooming on the spring issue of The Interpreter’s House. No need for daffs and crocuses when you can enjoy poetry and short stories, curled up somewhere warm until the clocks change.

Poets in issue 64 include Miranda Barnes, Claire Booker, Ingrid Casey, Gram Joel Davies, Pamela Job, Wendy Klein, Julie Mellor, Katrina Naomi, Stuart Pickford, James Sutherland Smith and Samuel Tongue.

And if that’s not enough to rev up your day, there’s fiction by Anna Lewis, Eleanor Fordyce and Nicola Ratnett, plus Dawn Gorman reviews Much Possessed (John Foggin, smith/doorstop) and Martin Malone reviews Scarlet Tiger (Ruth Sharman, Templar Poetry).

The Interpreter’s House is edited by Martin Malone from his eerie in Aberdeen and comes out three times a year. If you want your work to appear in the summer issue, hurry, hurry as the submissions window closes on Feb 28th.

To buy a copy of issue 64 or find out more about the magazine, go to: theinterpretershouse.com

Review of Rosie Garland’s ‘As in Judy’

rosie-garland_0001What makes a good review? Is it readability? Accuracy? An instinct for the telling quote? Having grappled with writing my first poetry review, all I know is that, like any other art-form, it will take years of practice to hone the skill.

But not withstanding, it was a gripping experience to read the newest poetry collection from the multi-talented and heart-warmingly modest Rose Garland.  I can only urge you to get down to your local book store and order a copy of As in Judy. It’s full of verbal spark and hard-won humanity. Or you can go direct to Manchester-based publisher Flapjack Press (www.flapjackpress.co.uk) and buy it on-line.

If you’d like a taste of ‘As in Judy, here’s the link to my write-up on Write Out Loud (another gem of the poetry world):  www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=63176

Dreamcatcher 33 – for a ride on the wild side

The latest issue of Dreamcatcher travels down baking highways into  small town America with its drive-in diners, car lots and lonely motels. Thumb a lift in this shining Cadillac of a literary mag and discover poetry and short stories that sit on the edge of dangerous. dreamcatcher-33

Poets in issue 33 include Claire Booker, Carol Coiffait, Mark Connors, Simon French, Alice Harrison, Becci Louise, Eva Strittmatter (in translation and original German), Marc Swan, Tom Vaughan and Susan Wallace.

There’s a nice range of short stories too. I particularly enjoyed Roger Harveys’ tale of trespassing lovers, Forbidden Fruit, and the excellent Merryn Williams’ chilling  Next of Kin about a woman on a life support machine.

There are reviews of books by Thelma Laycock, Graham High, Tanya Nightingale, Jackie Biggs, Bill Dodd, Mark Mansfield and TF Griffin.

dreamcatcher-33Featured artist Horace Panter’s brilliantly brash work blows right through the issue and is described by Art Editor Greg McGee as: “a pop art homage to what is a Kerouacian yearning to travel to altered states, to adventure, to expand horizons: to remaster, in a sense, the myth of The American Dream.”

To buy a copy of Dreamcatcher 33, or submit to the next issue, please visit: www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk

Erbacce 45 is out!

Always full of surprises, the latest issue of erbacce  (Italian for weed) has spread its green feelers across continents, with poetry from Chicago, Germany, Italy and the UK.erbacce 45

Edited in Liverpool by Alan Corkish and Andrew Taylor, erbacce has a fine tradition of presenting poetry that is  unusual, provoking, even – words that make exciting  shapes on the page.

I’m delighted they’ve taken four of my poems for this issue, alongside the work of Peter Eustace (Verona, Italy), Michelle Chen (Whitestone, USA), Clive Donovan (Devon), Alex Dreppee (Darmstadt, Germany), Luke Karl Thurogood (Wigan) and Eric Allen Yankee (Chicago, USA).

It’s great to read a wide range of poets in one magazine, but it can also be enjoyable to read more work, from a smaller pot of poets. This is where erbacce comes into its own. Issue 45 includes 14 poems by Peter Eustace, a thought-provoking poet of pared down words and a fierce eye for detail. In an interview with Alan Corkish, Peter explains how his forty years based in Verona have affected his poetry, and what drives him to carry on writing.

If you’d like to buy a copy of erbacce 45, or submit your work to the magazine, please click on this link:http://www.erbacce.com/

Booker poem makes it into The Spectator

Spectator (26.3.16)_0001You know how it goes – another A4 brown envelope hits the doormat, you rip it open, braced for a rejection, read the slip which says  . . . hang on, it says: “Thanks, I’d like to take your poem. With best wishes, Hugo W.”

Within hours of reading Hugo Williams’ note,  the phone rings. It’s the Spectator’s Arts Desk to check my poem is still available (apparently, a two month wait is considered worthy of an apology). Then, after a couple of days, the emotional back lash – is it true, did I dream it up, will it really go in?

Come Easter, there it is, better than a chocolate egg, on page 13 of the March 26th  edition, all shiny and brand new in the middle of an article about Tory in-fighting.

Friends are duly phoned. They buy copies (many in disguise for political reasons) and I sit back and try to imagine the 60,000 readers who might be considering my poem right now. Will it help them think differently about the refugee crisis?  Does poetry make anything happen? Are we all wasting our time? Spectator (26.3.16)_0004

Much too heavy for the Easter break. I decide on a piece of chocolate and settle down to read some mouth-watering book reviews, including one I may well spend my ill-gotten fee on: Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits. It’s by art historian Frances Borzello, full of lavish illustrations and new research into gifted female painters who currently languish in museum basements. Shame on you, Establishment!