Tag Archives: poems

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/

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.

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

Magma 74 – Poetry Gets Down to Work

Magma 74We may be knee-deep in the holiday season, but Magma’s summer issue gets to the heart of what everyday life so often boils down to – work. The getting of it. The losing of it. The joys. The frustrations. The politics.

It’s a truly memorable issue, put together by editors Benedict Newbery and Pauline Sewards with an eye for wit, as well as grit. The cover image by Joff Winterhart is spot on.

Poets published in issue 74 include:  Anne Berkeley, Claire Booker, Kate Bingham, Alison Brackenbury, Carole Bromley, Fiona Cartwright, Emma Danes, Caroline Davies, Terence Dooley, Duncan Forbes, Owen Gallagher, Anne Hay, Robin Houghton, Angela Howarth, Ewan John, Lorraine Mariner, Fokkina McDonald, Martin Rieser, Anne Ryland, Jayne Stanton, Paul Stephenson and Angela Topping.

Magma (Work) launch 2 (2)From posties, haymakers, turnip-pullers and stone masons, to tea ladies, celebrity-minders, university lecturers, ventriloquists and new mums – so many takes on what makes work, work. How to survive it. Why we do it. What it’s like when it stops.

“Work should be every bit as universal a theme as love” says Jane Commane in her feature article ‘Ideas Above Your Station’. “And yet too often it remains the unspoken, unsung business of our days.”

As part of Magma’s regular slot, Tim Wells responds to Linton Kwesi Johnson’s poem Inglan is a Bitch, with his own specially commissioned poem no escaping it – read with absolute verve and conviction at the Magma 74 London launch at Exmouth Market last month (see below). Magma (Work) launch

It was lovely to be one of the 23 contributors performing on such a glitzy stage. Stand-out readings included the flamboyant Stuart Charlesworth, the sinister tones of Graham Buchan, and a brilliant sestina by Rachel Bower. There was even a surprise guest spot for Hilaire whose joint collection with Joolz Sparkes is reviewed in this issue.

If you entered Magma’s 2018/19 poetry competition, you’ll be interested to read the winning entries – Judge’s Prize: Fuck/Boys by Inua Ellams; Stillborn by Rowena Warwick; Hangover by Ben Strak. Editors’ Prize: A Strange Boulder by Derek Hughes; Entertaining Sammy Davis Jnr in St Ives, 1962 by Kathy Pimlott; Lanterns by Katie Hale.

Magma (74)_0002Tom Sastry is the featured poet in the current issue. His first full collection (A Man’s House Catches Fire) will be published by Nine Arches Press in October. There are fascinating articles relating to poetry, work and class by Louisa Adjoa Parker, Jane Commane and Fran Lock, and the usual meaty, thought-inducing reviews section.

To order a copy of Magma (issue 74) or to find out how to submit to Magma 76 (closing date 31st August, theme Resistencia) check out the website at: Magma

It’s Cricket! Paper Swan’s Latest Pocket Book is Out

Paper Swans - CricketIf the hallowed sound of leather against willow seems like a distant dream, why not buy yourself a copy of Paper Swans’ CRICKET Pocket Book of Poetry, where twelve poets will knock you for six with their spin on the noble game?images51VWJZ8U

Look out for stories of love among the wickets, batting triumphs and bowling disasters from Penny Blackburn, Claire Booker, Catherine Edmunds, Steve Harrison, Neil Leadbetter, Roy Marshall, Jill Munro, Brenda Read-Brown, Sue Spiers, Rob Walton, Joe Williams and Lawrence Wilson.

The Pocket Book of Poetry – CRICKET is one of a series of themed poetry pamphlets edited by Sarah Miles and designed to pop into a pocket, a bag or send with a greetings card to make it extra special. They’re available from Paper Swans Press for £3.50 (ex p&p) and include the topics of LOVE, WEDDINGS, ANGER and WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE.

To buy a copy or learn more about the Tunbridge Wells based publisher, click on: Paper Swans Press

South Bank Poetry is 10 Years Old

South Bank Poetry (issue 30)_0002Poetry magazines aren’t notable for their longevity. It takes dedication and sheer bloody mindedness (I suspect) to keep jumping those hurdles, year after year.

So a massive thumbs-up to Peter Ebsworth and Katherine Lockton for steering their ever-popular magazine into its second decade. By sheer fluke, I have two poems in the 10th anniversary issue, which in a lovely way, gives me a direct connection with that celebration.

Due to prior commitments, I wasn’t able to attend the launch of South Bank Poetry (issue 30) at the Poetry Place, but by all accounts it was an evening to remember. Many contributors attended and read their poems. For those of us who weren’t able, there was a special treat in store. The actress Annette Badland (Hazel of Archer’s fame), kindly agreed to perform our work. SBP Annette Badland reads At Risk Child 18

Having heard her read another of my poems last year in the Actor’s Church, Covent Garden, as part of the Out of Place music project, I know just how well she uses that intelligent voice of hers to bring out every nuance in a piece of poetry.

Contributors to the 10th anniversary issue include Jim Alderson, Tessa Berring, Leonardo Boix, Claire Booker, Oliver Comins, Daniel Loudon, Joel Scarfe, Paul Stephenson, Joe Wedgbury and Heidi Williamson.

“We would like to thank all our contributors to this issue, as well as all the poets who have sent us their work over the last ten years,” writes Katherine Lockton in the intro. We would be nothing without you. Over the years we have seen poets published in our magazine go on to become poetry superstars. We are so proud of what you have all achieved and continue to accomplish.”

South Bank Poetry (issue 30)_0001I can think of no better encomium for the magazine, than that written by the poet, journalist and travel writer, Hugo Williams: “I have always enjoyed South Bank Poetry for its unexpected mix of strange and traditional, lyrical and political, young, old and odd, so I don’t hesitate in recommending it to anyone remotely interested in the art. It is just a very good money’s worth and will last.”

How prescient he turns out to be. A hearty thanks to Peter and Katherine for giving us a decade of happy reading. Here’s to the next ten years (and more)!

To buy a copy of the magazine, or submit your own work, please check: www.southbankpoetry.co.uk

Rialto 88 takes a trip ‘Up North’

Rialto 88The compass is set due north in the latest issue of The Rialto, with its dark, moody cover of a Scandinavian maiden linking arms with a wolf-man, plus promises of a ‘northern sampler’ of poems edited by Degna Stone.

Inside, you can find work by poets including Fleur Adcock, Claire Booker, Mary Jean Chan, Ella Frears, Tania Hershman, Sean Hewitt, Matt Howard, Anthony Mair, Jessica Mookherjee, Les Murray and Emma Wills, plus the first published poems of new poet on the block, CB Green (more please!)

The first twelve pages of this issue contain poems gleaned from The Rialto’s first pamphlet competition. “One of the things I enjoy most is finding writers who are new to us, or even new to just about everyone,” says the Editor, Michael Mackmin.  Look out for the competition winner, Sean Wai Keung’s pamphlet, at FREE VERSE (and via The Rialto website) later this month.

And then there’s the northern sampler itself:

“I guess what I wanted to do was to highlight some of the fantastic poets who are writing in my region,” explains Degna Stone. “I chose poems that I felt have a vitality and urgency about the world; whether that’s by looking back and asking us to think about what how much, or how little, things have changed, or centring us firmly in the present and asking us to think about how we can move forward.

“So, get yourself a cuppa or a glass of something, take fifteen minutes out of your day, and have a read.”  With poems by Anne Caldwell, John Challis, Pippa Little and William Stephenson among other northerners to read, I suggest you put aside a little longer to relish the magic of their windswept words. Rialto 88

To buy a copy of The Rialto issue 88 (£8.50), take out an annual subscription (£24/19 for 3 issues) or submit to the magazine, please check out: The Rialto

The High Window lit-zine offers great views

The High Window issue 6If your wish-list includes a beautifully curated, quarterly poetry journal that costs only time to enjoy then look no further than The High Window. Launched last year, its roll-call of contributors is already impressive.

Issue 6 (summer) carries three poems by Claire Booker and work by Carrie Etter, Philip Gross, Anne Irwin, Sean Kelly, Bethany Rivers, Jean Stevens and Simon Williams among others. Age is no bar to publication, as Sophie Reisbord (age 15) and Maurice Rutherford (age 95) can testify. They join such illustrious High Window alumni as Ian Duhig, David Harsent, Abigail Morley, Helen Mort, Mario Petrucci, Fiona Sampson and Matthew Sweeney.

The High Window is anything but parochial. Alongside a lively mix of poetry from the UK and around the world, it packs in intelligent reviews, a selection of poems in translation, profiles on American poets (issue 6 features Richard Hoffman) and essays (issue 6 considers Sam Gardiner). High Window REviews

Reviews in this issue include Ruth Sharman’s Scarlet Tiger reviewed by Claire Dyer, and a thought-provoking analysis of Michael Crowley’s First Fleet by Peter Riley in which he questions whether it’s possible for a contemporary poet to write a truly narrative poem.

dcthw[2]Co-founders David Cooke and Anthony Costello  edit The High Window and also run The High Window Press which publishes chapbooks and anthologies by poets who are up and coming or, in the opinion of the editors, may have been unduly neglected. img_20150504_231611[1]

So why not consider submitting some of your unpublished work to the magazine? According to the submissions blurb, your poem is more likely to excite the editors if it has the authenticity of lived experience or engages imaginatively with an idea. They will expect to see a commitment to the craft of poetry and respect for the sense and sound of language. And who can argue with that?

To read the latest issue (and/or back issues) click on: The High Window (issue 6)

To find out more about the publishing house click on: The High Window Press