Tag Archives: 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).

Advertisements

The Wax Paper – an American Arts broadsheet

The internet occasionally throws up gems and The Wax Paper is one of them. I stumbled on its call for submissions through the highly useful (and free) online resource The Review Review  (99review@gmail.com)

Published as a quarterly broadsheet in Brooklyn and distributed in New York, Chicago and Mankato, The Wax Paper has all the bluff of newspapers before they shrank into tabloids. Eight arm-stretching pages is enough to keep you reading happily for more than an hour. The Wax Paper

So I’m delighted, they accepted two of my short plays for publication in Volume Two (Issue One) alongside some powerful short stories, arresting photography and excellent poems. Wax Paper Vol 2 Issue 1 (2 plays)

Poets may have a hard time getting published, but playwrights are competing for even fewer print opportunities.

Double bravo therefore to The Wax Paper for giving over an entire page to my two dramas. Lost Property has been performed a number of times, most recently at The Lost Theatre’s Five Minute Play Festival (see photo to the right with actors David Bevan and Maria Askew). 011_14

Bathroom Secrets is a 10 minute play, most recently performed at Unheard, a Festival run by Goblin Baby Theatre Co. at The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham. Bathroom Secrets(Photographer Kenneth Jay)

On the left you can see actors Susan Hodgetts and Mark Lisseman in full flow as a married couple who can’t communicate.

Both plays are available to read on my website: www.bookerplays.co.uk

This issue of The Wax Paper contains poetry by the flamboyantly named Richard King Perkins II, Holly Wren Spaulding, Charles Rafferty, Robbie Gamble, Talal Alyan, Jennie Greensfelder and George Eklund.

Two of the short stories are absolutely knock out: The Gods by Melissa Knox is a fascinating critique of a life under Freudian analysis. The Second to Last Supper by Sabrina Harris, is a brilliantly satirical attack on capital punishment using the absurd (and I believe legally correct) premise that a United States prisoner cannot be executed unless they have been given their last meal request in full.

“The first priority of The Wax Paper is to expand our understanding of the people we share the world with,” says Editor Hans Hetrick. “Pieces will be selected on their ability to illuminate the humanity and significance of the subjects that inhabit the work – work that required patient observation, remained steadfast in its empathy and displayed genuine vitality.”

The Wax Paper with sealIf you have poems, short stories, drama, collected conversations, photographs or artwork you think might belong within these lovely pages, please visit:  www.thewaxpaper.com/submissions or email Hans Hetrick at waxsubmissions@gmail.com

Prole issue 20 is out and proud!

Winner of Best Magazine at The Saboteur Awards in the year that Wales magicked itself into footballing history, Prole has a lot to be proud about.  Prole issue 20

Issue 20 of the Welsh-based lit mag is packed to the rafters with short stories and poetry from the Anglophone world. Poets published in time for autumn include Claire Booker, Matt Duggan, Mab Jones, Joanne Key,  Lisa Kelly, Tess Kincaid, Sue Pace and Jonny Rodgers.

To lift a quote from one of the many Saboteur Award voters: “Prole takes risks, is innovative and don’t take no bullshit from no-one.”  Yes indeed, Prole editors Brett Evans and Phil Robertson accept only clear-sighted work that isn’t dressed up in literary pretention.

Prole issue 20 Sparx' cartoon_0001One of the highlights for me in this issue is Bill Schillaci’s story The Artist Between Lives which had me hooked from the beginning with its ironic take on sessions with a psychotherapist. Also, Maureen Cullen’s Ring of Fire with its great observations and Glaswegian verbal dexterity. Poems that stand out for me include Tess Kincaid’s surreal poem Totem and Lisa Kelly’s Angelica’s Apology. There’s a guilt-inducing little gem from Robert de Born about slug extermination too. And a cartoon by Sparx rounds off the issue

If you’re a prose writer, there’s still time to enter the 2016 Prolitzer Prize which closes for entries on October 1st. Word limit is 2,500. For more details of the competition, or to submit poetry and/or prose to Prole, or buy a copy of issue 20, please click on: www.prolebooks.co.uk

ElbowRoom unfolds its Poetry Broadsheet

ElbowRoom Broadsheet (issue 1)Too many poems, not enough space? Some literary mags choose the online option. Others produce large-round-the-waist issues. ElbowRoom has gone for its first intricately folded Broadsheet, available to subscribers and at book fairs, as a perfect addition to their handcrafted magazine.

I’m delighted to be part of the experiment curated by Rosie Sherwood and Zelda Chappel and printed by their publishing arm As Yet Untitled. The crisply folded sheet of  fine cream paper contains poems by myself, Mary Gollonne, Jason Jackson, Wes Lee, Richie McCaffery, Nikki Robson and Chamning Yuan, including one by Phil Vernan of five stanzas which can be read in any order. I’ve tried three different orders so far and it works! ElbowRoom Broadsheet 2

And for those who love their prose, there’s a touching short story by David O’Neill  – A Hole to Dig and A Past to Bury.

Claire at ElbowRoomThe Elbowroom Broadsheet was officially flagged up earlier this month at an ElbowRoomLive gig for the launch of issue 12.

The atmosphere at The Harrison in King’s Cross was informal and fun, with some wonderful singing and technical bravado by Andrea Kempson and sure-fire poetry from Stephen Bone, Louis Buxton and Andrew Wells. I joined them with a set of my own work. According to the publicity blurb, my role was to be the tease for the up-coming Broadsheet. No pressure then!

ElbowRoom Andrea Kempson

Andrea Kempson

ElbowRoom issue 12 is a limited edition (as are all the previous ones), hand crafted and a perfect little gem. To check on its availability or that of The Elbowroom Broadsheet please visit:

http://www.elbow-room.org/

Childhood memories flutter in The Moth

Summer so often brings childhood bubbling to the surface. A time for drowsing, lazing and youthful adventures.  The latest issue of arts and literature magazine The Moth contains images and words that sparkle with beaches, rivers, people disrobed, fragile and intriguing.  Moth (issue 25)

Poets in issue 25 include Mona Arshi, Claire Booker, Christina Logue, Stuart Paterson, Jennifer Tonge and Terence Winch. The art is lusciously reproduced, including beach and seascapes by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, mono-tint bathers by Jane Hambleton and work by Michael Carson (cover).

There are treats in store for story lovers too, including ‘The California Grizzly’ by Matthew Woodman, ‘Proves the Rule’ by James Kincaid and ‘The Chantry Priest’ by Thomas Maloney. I particularly enjoyed ‘Glad There Are Places’ by Hugh Smith:

Moth (is. 25)“I’m glad there are places within you, vast, perhaps endless places, which my love has nothing to do with. My love might ruin your conversation, but it can’t touch your childhood.”

And for a finger on the pulse of one of poetry’s bright young stars, there’s an illuminating interview with Guardian First Book Award winner Andrew McMillan in which he talks about his ex-labourer father, Ian, aka the Bard of Barnsley. Sometimes they perform their work together at venues: “I used to be very resistant. I guess for obvious reasons. It’s just kind of fun now. It’s like our equivalent of a fishing trip or having a lads’ night away.”

The Moth is a quarterly arts journal edited by Rebecca O’Connor and Will Govan and published in Co. Cavan, Ireland.  Look out too for the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, worth 10,000 euros, which is in association with The Moth. The closing date this year is 31st December. For more details, t0 subscribe to the magazine or submit your own work, please visit: http://www.themothmagazine.com/

Moth (Recreation '99 by Jonathan Turner)

Recreation ’99 by Jonathan Turner

 

UK/Romanian Poetry Art Exhibition

poetryartexch 6There was a real buzz last night as people crowded into Undercurrents Gallery in Deptford to enjoy words blown up big, tiny, ripped apart, hung on walls, painted, incendiarised . . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The free exhibition showcases poetry and artifacts from nine Romanian and British poets who make up Poetryartexchange – a project which draws on art for poetic inspiration and plays with poetry as a visual art.  The participating poets are: Claire Booker,  Anna Maria Mickiewicz, John Riley, Steve Rushton, Andra Rotaru, Margento, Iulia Militaru, Aleksandar Stoicovici and Stephen Watts.

Each poet submitted two poems on the subject of art and/or poetry and then wrote two more in response to each other’s work. These, along with statements and discussions between poets, plus the original poems, will be developed into an online book, to be published by Contemporary Literature Press (the online publishing house of the University of Bucharest) in spring 2017. For more information, please visit:  http://editura.mttlc.ro/  poetryartexchange4

You can catch the FREE exhibition at Undercurrents Gallery, The Bird’s Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, SE8 4RZ. It runs until Wednesday 25th May and is open to the public every day of the week from 12 noon to 11pm.

Feel a bit artistic yourself? You’re invited to leave your own mark on poetryartexchange‘s living blackboard where spontaneous poetry and/or art will arise (and may appear later in an e-book).  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Further exhibitions are planned for Birmingham, Bucharest and the Romanian Embassy in London. Undercurrents Gallery provides generous space to artists and free entry to see their work. If you’re interested in setting up an exhibition, check them out at The Birds Nest, Deptford or find out more at: undercurrentsgallery.tumblr.com

Poems, reviews, short fiction in Under the Radar

The alphabet’s been good to me. I was born with a ‘B’ in my mouth, which means I get to be one of the front runners in alphabetically organised lists through no skill of my own.

Under the Radar (issue 16)Uncommonly for a literary magazine, Under the Radar chooses to present its poetry in alphabetical order. You’d think this would make an awkward flow of poems, kicking randomly against each other. But no; in issue 16, more than fifty poems weave their content, style and layout with panache, offering a truly invigorating read. How did editor Jane Commane manage that?

And  there’s the added advantage that it’s easier to track a poet you know or want to read for a second time if all the work is alphabetically arranged.

Writers in issue 16 include Claire Booker, Natalie Burdett, Andrew Button, Rishi Dastidar, Chris Dodd, Charlotte Gann, James Giddings, Chris Hardy, Jenny Hope, Brian Johnstone, Martin Malone, Joan Michelson, Fiona Moore, Angela Readman, Martin Reed, Marion Tracy and Julia Webb.

There are a couple of short stories, plus thirteen well-argued reviews from Kathleen Bell, Alison Brackenbury, Kim Moore, Pam Thompson, Deborah Tyler-Bennett and Charles Whalley. The clever money appears to be on, among others, Josephine Corcoran’s The Misplaced House; Steve Ely’s Englaland; Kim Moore’s The Art of Falling; Peter Riley’s Due North; and John Tait’s Barearse Boy.

To buy a copy of Under the Radar (Issue 16) or to submit your own work (the current window for short fiction and poetry closes on 30th April) please visit: www.ninearchespress.com