My next seaside adventure involves Worthing Pier, where the community arts group Creative Waves has set up a fabulous exhibition on all things coastal. My poem ‘Morning After’ joins a host of other maritime poems, flash, photos and drawings exhibited along the pier’s walkway.
Tens of thousands visit Worthing Pier each year, and the exhibition is scheduled to remain on the pier until the end of 2023, bringing local voices and visitors together in a delightful blend of image and word.
A big shout out for Jessica Gill, who took the beautiful sunset photo of a murmuration over Worthing Pier which sits alongside my poem.
The brains and brawn behind ‘Creative Waves’ are co-founders and directors Nadia Chalk (left) and Vanessa Breen (right). They set up ‘Art on the Pier’ back in 2012, and with their team of volunteers, aim to transform places, and connect communities through arts and culture, heritage and natural environments.
If you’d like to know more about Creative Waves‘ many projects and free workshops, including their beautiful community garden, then please click on the following link: https://www.creativewaves.co.uk/
Last Tuesday I performed a set of poems in Dhaka, Bangladesh and 3 days later read more poems at The Turner Contemporary Gallery as part of the Margate Bookie Festival. A tiny glimpse of the jet-setting life!
My grateful thanks goes to Bengali poet Aminur Rahman, who rustled up a venue, audience and the kindest of welcomes for me and my husband. We were in Dhaka for the funeral of my father-in-law, Abdul Gaffar Choudhury, who is hugely respected in Bangladesh as a poet, journalist, and hero of the 1971 war of liberation. It was lovely to catch up with some of the poets I met in 2019 when we performed at venues across the city. These included Shakhib Lohani, Ayesha S Chowdhury, Jahidul Huq, and Mohammad Nurul Huda.
The latest issue of The Dhaka Review, edited by Aminur Rahman, was also launched, with articles or poems by a host of respected Bengali poets, plus international writers including Fiona Sampson, Agnes Meadows, Isabel White, Ali al-Shalha, Annabel Villar, Julio Pavanetti, Claire Booker and Tobias Burghardt.
Tributes to Abdul Gaffar Choudhury included a beautiful rendition of his song of liberation, and poems specially written to commemorate him.
Touching down at Heathrow after a 14 hour flight (including breath-taking vistas of Sylhet’s endless horizons of water) I had only one day to recover, before heading off for Margate. What a joy when I arrived to find poetry friends, old and new, in the magnificent modernism of the Turner Gallery.
Here we are, ready to perform our poem +1 from the latest issue of 14 magazine, edited by Richard Skinner, curtesy of Margate Bookie’s creator and man about the pumps, Andreas Loizou.
Poets included Jill Abram, Clare Best, Claire Booker, Angus Carlyle, James Coghill, Kaylen Forsyth, Christopher Hamilton-Emery, Caroline Maldonado, Jess Mookherjee, Kathy Pimlott, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Emma Simon, Tamar Yoseloff, plus four women poets supported by Community Action Sutton (Fay Chung, Beverley Dixon, Elizabeth Mudyiwa, and Nali Patel).
Good things continue to come out of the North and can be enjoyed here on the southernmost edge of England (Brighton) and way beyond, of course! I’m delighted to be in the latest issues of Newcastle-based Butcher’s Dog and Yorkshire’s very own Pennine Platform – the former a relative newcomer to the poetry scene, the latter an established part of the scenery since 1973.
Issue 16 of Butcher’s Dog contains poems by Cat Turham, Tania Hershman, Fahad Al-Amoudi, Rachel Burns, Peter Raynard, Rosamund Taylor, Helen Bowell, Claire Booker, Michelle Penn, Julia Webb, Holly Moberley, Anna Milan, and Sean O’Brien.
Co-editors Jo Clement, Emily Brenchi and Hannah Hodgson organised two cracking zoom launches for the issue. “We’re an independent press without funding making good on the promise to publish the best poems emerging from the UK and ROI.”
The cover image is by Sarah V Battle, and for the sheer joy of it, wraps right round to the back of the magazine as a removable cover. Woof, woof and thrice woof to that! If you’d like to buy a copy of issue 16, take out a subscription or find out about submission windows, please check: http://www.butchersdogmagazine.co.uk
Julia Deakin’s selection of poems for issue 91 of Pennine Platform coincided with the Ukrainian crisis. In her forward, she brings to our attention the humbling question: “In full democracies (6.4% of the world’s population in 2021, according to The Economist) to respond in words isn’t risking one’s life. If it were, which of us would do it?”
She reminds us how Stalin persecuted dissident writers to their deaths, that regimes are still doing so, and that poets always feature on Amnesty’s Write for Rights list.
Poets in issue 91 of Pennine Platform include Elizabeth Barrett, Claire Booker, Alison Campbell, Seth Crook, Kevin Hanson, Rosie Jackson, Fred Johnston, Char March, Stuart Pickford, D A Prince, Belinda Rimmer, John Short, Paul Stephenson and the late Carole Satyamurti (with a thoughtful analysis of her poem by K E Smith). To order a copy of the issue, or submit your work (next window is September) please check http://www.pennineplatform.com Their website is also a great place to drop in and explore, with its pleasing to the eye images, and a selection of poems read by contributors from previous issues.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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/
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.
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
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.
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!)
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.