Tag Archives: new poetry

Dream Catcher celebrates its 25th Year

Three cheers for Dreamcatcher – that ray of sunshine blazing out of Yorkshire twice a year with poems, short stories, reviews and fine art.

The literary mag started life as founding editor Paul Sutherland’s degree project, and was later taken on by Stairwell Books, gained Arts Council funding and Lottery money, and is still true to its original vision of a multi-ethnic, eclectic space for writing. The current editor, Hannah Stone, continues its fine tradition for open-mindedness with a penchant for narrative above abstract.

Poets in issue 43 include Claire Booker, Annemarie Cooper, Seth Crook (using the intriguing nom de plume Bruach Kandinsky Mhor!), Peter Datyner, Wilf Deckner, Marilyn Donovan, Tim Dwyer, Ann Gibson, Oz Hardwick, Hilary Hares, Jenny Hockey, Graham Mort, Carolyn Oulton, David Sapp, Kate Scott, Mary Anne Smith Sellen, Pat Simmons, Jean Stevens, and Sue Watling.

There’s a generous supply of short fiction too, from Connie Bott, Rosamund Davies, Tom Dixen, Mary Earnshaw, Colette Longbottom, David McVey and Holly Sykes. Plus the featured artist for this issue is Beth Ross.

This is where the plush paper Dreamcatcher is printed on really comes into play – four colour plates of Ross’s work look good enough to frame. Dare I deface my issue to do so? For the moment, I’m leaving the issue face-forward on my book shelf so I can admire the cover, entitled ‘Where is the Blue Canary’. Where indeed?

“Asking the artist to explain the finished work . . . can be like dancing to architecture, ” writes Dreamcatcher editorial board member, Greg McGee in his introduction to Beth Ross.

“The painter relies wholly on the visual experience of the viewer for connection. Any subsequent verbal vindication is dangerously reminiscent of the gibberish that increasingly haunts art criticism. Not everything needs an explanation or closure.”

Amen to that! Even titles can be an awkward burden, though I rather like ‘Pouty Frothy Ethereal Sea’ for Ross’s picture (above).

It’s still not too late to submit to issue 44 if you have poems, stories or book reviews ready in the wings. Closing date 30th August, so get your skates on. Paper copies only please, sent to The Editor, or the Book Reviews Editor, at 109 Wensley Drive, Leeds LS7 2LU.

To buy a copy of issue 43, take out a subscription (£15 per year), or find out more about the magazine, here is the link: https://www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk/

Summer bonanza at The High Window

Nothing says treat like a bumper pack of juicy goodies in The High Window. There are new poems from 36 writers (including 4 of my own); two featured poets (the American Steve Lambert, and Australian Kim Waters); a Russian poetry supplement edited and translated by Belinda Cooke; an essay about what it means to write by Feilim James; a raft of book reviews, plus poetry and artwork from The High Window‘s very own resident artist, Stella Wulf. How on earth does editor, David Cooke, pull this off single-handedly every three months?

I’ve been in love with the Russian language since I stumbled across my father’s Teach Yourself Russian text book as a teenager. I dropped out before taking the ‘A’ level, but retain enough to be entranced by Belinda’s wonderful translations of poems by Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Vladimir Mayakovksy and Marina Tsvetaeva plus several other poets less well known to the West.

“The Silver Age of Russian poetry includes early and late Symbolists, as well as the later Acmeism and Futurism, two movements that reacted against the otherworldly, often artificial language of Symbolism, bringing it back down to earth, with more concrete language. . . . But it is the younger generation: Mayakovsky, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, Pasternak and Akhmatova who were to create poetry that achieved international renown, as well as suffering the realities of attempting to maintain their art within the apocalyptic events of the Russian Revolution, Civil War and Stalin’s Purges of the thirties.”

On a more cheery note, this inquisitive little piggie (below) is one of many of Stella’s drawings you can view by visiting The High Window.

Poets in the summer issue include Isabel Bermudez, Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Claire Booker, Neil Elder, Oz Hardwick, Jill Learner, Dino Mahoney, Jane Lovell, Wendy Klein, Ilse Pedler, Jessica Mukherjee, Rachel Playforth, Graham Mort, Simon Williams, Robert Lindsay Wilson and Rodney Wood.

You can read their poems for free (like everything else on the website) by visiting https://thehighwindowpress.com/category/poetry/

And if you’re still at a loose end, do click on the following link to read my poem ‘Redacted’ which was recently published by litzine The Ekphrastic Review. This poem is my response to seeing the stunning Bruegel interpretation of The Massacre of the Innocents in the Queen’s Gallery, London. The painting was over-painted hundreds of years ago as literal political cover-up of a real life atrocity in the Spanish Netherlands. Once seen, never forgotten (the painting, I mean!).

Latest from Fenland Poetry Journal & Words For The Wild

If you write about nature, here are two great places to submit. I’m happy to have poems in Words for the Wild (surely one of the most visually delightful webzines going), and also in Fenland Poetry Journal, an elegant printed magazine edited by Elizabeth Sennitt Clough.

“The poems contained in this issue are textured with the ‘tremor of leaf play’ and ‘plosive bubble-threads – they are alive. They are creaturely.” says Sennitt Clough in her editorial for issue 4.

Poets in the spring issue include: Briony Bax, Kathryn Bevis, Sharon Black, Claire Booker, Dagne Forrest, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Sarah Mnatzaganian, DA Prince, Hannah Stone, Charles Ulyatt, Louise Warren and Gareth Writer-Davies.

Fittingly, the Fenland Poetry Journal (like its previous incarnation, The Fenland Reed) comes to you from wind-swept, sky-rich Cambridgeshire. The magazine is published twice a year. For information about submissions windows, or to buy a copy, please visit: www.fenlandpoetryjournal.co.uk

Words for the Wild has built up a treasure trove of beautifully illustrated poems and short stories on a wide range of subjects that hold at their centre, the natural world. It’s edited by Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor, who both actively campaign to protect the countryside.

You can submit previously published work to their quarterly themed pages, or brand new work to their general pages.

The current theme (still open for submissions) is Gerald Durrell and his work as a conservationist. To read my poem ‘At the Bear Sanctuary’, please click on the following link: https://wordsforthewild.co.uk/?page_id=13306 This also allows you to scroll to other work within the site, including cracking poems by Kevin Cahill, Rebecca Gethin, Lisa Kelly and SA Leavesley, to name just a few.

Spelt Magazine – new kid on the block

It’s a thrill when your work makes it onto the pages of a brand new magazine. How will it look? Who’ll be in it? Will it last? So hurrah for Spelt, edited by Wendy Pratt. I can answer the first two questions – it looks great, it has some excellent work inside. Whether it will last is in the lap of the gods – ie the reader!

Spelt celebrates the rural experience through poetry and creative non fiction,” says Wendy in her first editorial.

“We want to see Spelt sitting not just in bookshops, but pubs and cafes, in gardens and tractor cabs, at poetry readings, festivals and spread out on a table at your local library. We also want to create something colourful, because nature doesn’t happen in black and white, and nature is at the heart of this magazine.”

Poets in this issue include Bob Beagrie, Claire Booker, Carole Bromley, Stephen Boyce, Pat Edwards, John Foggin, Mary Gilonne, Janet Hatherley, Oz Hardwick, Jenna Plewes, Gareth Writer-Davis and Lynne Wycherley.

Foolscap size and glossy, it’s the sort of magazine you might expect to see in a doctor’s waiting room (wouldn’t that be nice?). Each poem is given a full page with its own illustrative image and a picture of the poet with their bio and contact details. Generous, or what?

And true to its coffee table spirit, Spelt has four regular columnists. Its creative non-fiction writers take on such diverse subjects as Mary Earnshaw on wolves in Yellow Stone Park; a wacky piece by self-confessed vampire and Saboteur Award winning, Steve Nash; insights into archaeology by Electra Rhodes; living with M.E. in the village of Coalbrookdale by Kathryn Anna Marshall; and the ins and outs of eking a living as a trawler fisherman. There is also an in-depth interview with Irish poet Aoife Lyall whose first collection ‘Mother, Nature’ is published by Bloodaxe. I was incredibly impressed by her work when she read at the Spelt zoom launch earlier this month. There’s something about the emotional depth of her work, combined with that Irish lilt, that I found irresistible.

Co-editor, Steve Nash, has created films of many of the poems in the first issue, including my own ‘The Lightness of Words’ which can be viewed on Spelt’s YouTube channel at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s92NA-n2l6g

Spelt could not have got off the ground without its crowd-funding backers. So, over to the reader, now! Do please buy a copy if you can (£7.00 including p&p) and you’ll help the green shoots to grow and thrive (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

And there’s still time to submit your work to Issue 2 (closing date April 30th). To submit poetry and creative non-fiction, buy a copy of the magazine, or donate please visit: https://speltmagazine.com/

My poem about childhood in The Spectator

I’m a huge fan of John Mole’s work, so it was a real thrill to find myself published alongside him in the same issue of The Spectator last month. His satiric, but deeply moving, ‘Keeping in Step’ contemplates the graveyard, via the carnival of jazz and brass bands. My ‘Museum of Childhood’ tackles the other end of life.

You can read our poems via the following links, or look out for them in the 12th December issue at your library when it reopens: https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/keeping-in-step https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/museum-of-childhood

As well as its excellent Books & Arts section, I particularly enjoy the little column on the back page of The Spectator, entitled ‘Mind Your Language’, where Dot Wordsworth examines the common misuses of words and grammar. In this issue, ‘fortuitous’ came under the scalpel, via the Daily Mail, the Roman Empire, the OED and Geoffrey Chaucer. If you’re a stickler for exactitude, this is the column for you.

Whilst on the subject of childhood, a friend tipped me off about The Poet Magazine, which has free call-outs several times a year for its international anthologies. As a result, I have two poems in the Childhood Anthology (Vol 2), edited by Robin Barratt and published this month (available from Amazon price £9.95 inc. p&p). Other UK poets include Neil Leadbeater, Emma Lee, Strider Marcus Jones, Maxine Rose Munro, Chrys Salt, Annie Wright and Mantz Yorke.

The Poet has a very cosmopolitan feel, with poets across the globe contributing their work. Whilst it’s commonplace to read work from North America or the Antipodes in many British literary journals, it’s lovely to be introduced to poets from Thailand, Romania, Armenia, Ethiopia, India, Poland, Malawi, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, Ecuador and others.

‘Uniting the world through poetry’ is the bimonthly magazine’s mission statement. Their website includes book reviews, interviews, poet of the week, and a section for young poets. To buy a copy, or submit to the magazine or one of its up-coming anthologies, check out: https://www.thepoetmagazine.org/the-magazine

The Wax Paper + Lighten Up Online

I love submitting my work to new or unusual literary publications. Here are two I tried earlier.

The Wax Paper is an American broadsheet distributed in Chicago, Brooklyn, Mankato (I had to look that one up – it’s in Minnesota) and Los Angeles. I had two short dramas published there a few years ago, but would they take my poetry? The answer can be found in issue 11. Editor Hans Hetrick is hugely welcoming to all in ‘The Wax Paper family’ (it’s a forever family once your piece has appeared). And there’s a mouth-watering variety of work on show: flash, short stories, dramas, poetry, photography, artwork, essays, interviews, and hybrids (I love Ryan Drendel’s ‘Long Distance Relationship as Unsolved Sudoku’). The broadsheet is delivered to you wrapped and sealed with red wax – how neat is that?

As to be expected from an American lit mag, the writing is punchy, unpretentious and pulsing with life. The Wax Paper accepts simultaneous submissions and previously published items (but requests First North American Serial Rights for 30 days, after which all rights are returned). To submit, subscribe or find out more, visit: www.thewaxpaper.com

For sheer, unadulterated fun, Lighten Up On line (or LUPO to the cognoscenti) takes some beating.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, however. Be prepared for wit, satire, limericks, verbal prat-falls and in-your-face puns. If it rhymes, all the better. Editor Jerome Betts makes no bones about it:

We believe that light verse is very far from being the poor relation of “proper” poetry. On this site you will find work by light verse specialists as well as by some of the many “proper” poets who enjoy it and write it and agree that light verse deserves a wider audience than it is normally given.

In this post-Christmas no-man’s land, why not indulge your funny-bone with work from Claire Booker, Orla Fay, DA Prince, Shikhandin, Tom Vaughan and many others. Perhaps even pick up your pen and craft some rib-ticklers yourself. Check it out at: https://www.lightenup-online.co.uk/index.php/issue-51-september-2020

Structo 20 – the lit mag with attitude

You may have seen Structo editor Euan Monaghan’s recent series of YouTube interviews with writers from issue 20. Relaxed and incisive don’t always go together, but Structo is all about surprising juxtapositions, be it poetry, short fiction, photography, translation or feature interview. As one of those interviewed, I can vouch that the experience was a cross between cosy, fireside chat and University entrance interview (I hadn’t read one of the writers mentioned, but I think I got away with it!)

You can watch how I fared (and contrast and compare with other writers interviewed!) by clicking on this link https://youtu.be/HI3zLgfCInQ

There’s plenty of poetry in issue 20 to enjoy from Luigi Coppola, Marie-Andree Auclair, Georgi Gill, Petra Hilgers, Joseph Hardy, Michael Bazzett, Stephanie Limb, Daisy G. Bassen, Daniel Bennett and Claire Booker, and you can also read the winning poem by Jen Stuart Fueston from Structo’s 2019 Lenten Psalm Contest. Psalms as theme? What a brilliant idea!

Plus, there’s a feature interview with Catalan poet, Joan Margarit, who is the first Catalan ever to receive the prestigious Miguel de Cervantes prize. “The safety of home is not so different from the safety of the spirit” he tells Anna Crowe, and discusses the difficulties still faced by Catalan culture. His advice to young poets? “Making a poem means looking inside yourself. Inside you there are millions of things. You have to find among them one thing that may interested someone whom you don’t know at all. You have to make it in such a way that he or she will be astonished, as though they looked into a mirror, and will say in a low voice: This is me . . .

Also in issue 20, there’s a fascinating ‘workshop’ on the art of translation, where Faroe Island poet Kim Simonsen discusses the strength and weaknesses of Matthew Landrum’s translation of one of his poem. The interviewer? Matthew Landrum! No rights of wrongs, of course; just shades of opinion.

And don’t miss some truly strong short stories from writers including LP Lee, Tom Benn, Joe Bedford and Kate Feld, plus an impressionistic set of black and white landscape photos by Annie Spratt.

You can read back-copies of Structo on the link below, or order a copy of issue 20, https://structomagazine.co.uk/structo/current-issue/

My new pamphlet is born!

The Bone That Sang has been safely delivered by Indigo Dreams Publishing and is now available to dandle on laps and laptops. It follows my debut poetry pamphlet Later There Will Be Postcards, now a feisty toddler at Green Bottle Press.

You can read five of the poems from The Bone That Sang at your leisure at the link below, and press the ‘BUY’ button if you’re feeling flush!

https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/claire-booker/4595059690

The new pamphlet is packed with 29 pages of poetry. Some of the poems first appeared in The Spectator, Poetry News, Structo, The New Welsh Reader, The Interpreter’s House, Stand, Prole, Poetry Salzburg Review, The High Window, The Frogmore Papers, Ambit, South Bank Poetry and Magma.

The Bone That Sang explores what it means to be human in an imperfect world. A refugee sprints for his life; an at-risk child craves a baby; a one-night stand goes hilariously wrong; a beloved mother-in-law makes a final spiritual journey. Narrative often drives my inspiration, but you’ll also find poems here that stand outside the moment.

“Claire Booker’s second collection of poems has an indefatigable spirit. Even as they explore man’s incredible capacity for cruelty, they reveal a tender humanity and have an unflagging energy. The political nature of many of these poems refuses to let the reader off the hook, but Booker’s fine sense of tone and craft means we’re happy to be left wriggling.” Lisa Kelly.

Finished Creatures is one year old

Finished Creatures (issue 3)_0001The biannual literary journal Finished Creatures has just celebrated its third issue with almost 70 pages of poetry on the theme of Balance.

Its luxurious crisp, white pages hold poems by Jill Abram, Isabelle Baafi, Claire Booker, Rachel Bower, Claire Collison, Martin Crucefix, Claire Dyer, Josh Ekroy, Susannah Hart, Hilaire, Matt Howard, Jenny Mitchell, Jessica Mookherjee, Matt Riches and Penelope Shuttle among a host of other poets.

It’s the brainchild of editor, Jan Heritage. And as so often is the case, she’s a gifted poet herself:

Finished Creatures is a new platform for emerging and experienced poets: an independent, no profit, printed magazine, carefully produced with an eye for detail and originality.

Here you will find poets engaging with the realities of the Anthropocene. You’ll find work that considers human and non-human beings with equal interest and affinity, and which sometimes explores the territory in between.  

Alongside environmental concerns and ecopoetry are poems that draw on personal experience, politics, myth and science to express something new and restless. Finished Creatures (issue 3)_0002

The theme of Balance was chosen before the virus took hold. But there are poems here that seem to foretell: chaos and apocalypse feature, as do gods – of mischief or of no use. Time takes on new meaning. Things disappear from view, perspectives change. But there is also the celebration of small triumphs, the ordinary and the near at hand.

The next issue is being guest-edited by Corrupted Poetry – a collective comprising Nic Stringer, Fiona Larkin and also Michelle Penn, whose poem, portrait of you as time, is featured on the inside cover of the Balance issue.

Issue One FCIf you’d like to submit your work, you have until July 31st to send up to four of your unpublished poems on the theme of Stranger.

Copies of the magazine cost £7.00 +1.50 p&p. ORDER DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER: poetry@finishedcreatures.co.uk    Or via: http://www.paypal.me/creaturespoetrymag

For more information, or to buy a copy of any of the first three issues: Airbourne, Risk or Balance, please follow this link: Finished Creatures

The Interpreter’s House is showing at a screen near you!

The Interpreter’s House joined the ranks of E-zines last year –  a sign of the times, I think. Interpreter's House Launch, Oxford

It’s always great to have a poem accepted, and issue 74 sits on my computer screen, offering some really strong prose and poetry from the likes of Jo Bratten, Natalie Crick, Josh Ekroy, Scott Elder, Helena Fornells, Sam Garvan, Roma Havers, Helen Tookey, Jean Taylor and Lydia Unsworth.

I’ve got four past issues of this fabulous lit mag on my book shelves. It always sported really eye-catching covers, and how nice to be able to flick through poems that I read perhaps years ago, but are still there, with my annotations, ready to read and enjoy again.

Of course, there are advantages to moving a magazine online. In the past, you would have to have part with a crisp fiver to read these poems and short stories. Now, just click on this link and read the entire magazine (including my poem ‘The Feral Dogs of Moscow’) for the cost of the electricity it takes to power your screen. Interpreter’s House (issue 74)

Interpreter's House issue 68It also takes some of the sweat and risk away for the editors – those long-suffering heroes and heroines, without whom contemporary writers would be seriously marginalised. And it’s great to be able to share a poem you like with other people, in a matter of seconds, using a simple link.

Do people read work online, in the same way as from a book? Possibly not. Digital is both easier, and perhaps less impactful an experience. The temptation to flit is quite strong. Perhaps more pieces get read, but with less depth of concentration. I also like being able to flick through a book and stop at a poem that has an interesting layout. Not possible in this type of format.

interpreters-house-64Not withstanding, Georgi Gill and her assistant editor, Andrew Wells, must be congratulated on creating a really clean, clear look to their website. You instantly see who the writers are, and the title of their work. One click and you’re in. The quality of the work speaks for itself.

They’ve also slimmed the magazine down, so now you get to read 2 or 3 short stories, and about 17 poets.  A very manageable number, which can be read in one sitting.

And how about a Zoom launch, so you get a chance to hear the writers read their work? It would be lovely to ‘meet’ the team, which includes Louise Peterkin (poetry editor) and Annie Rutherford (prose editor).  Community is everything, as Covid-19 has shown. Anything that can bring us together is to be greatly celebrated.

The Interpreter’s House operates submissions windows for poetry and prose in February, June and October. So there’s still time to get your work in this month. Plus don’t forget to check out their reviews, which are published on a separate web page. Full details on the website.