Tag Archives: short stories

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.

Here Comes the Sun!

The days are growing longer already. It’s as if they’ve just picked up a copy of the Arachne Press Tymes Goe By Turnes anthology of writing inspired by Robert Southall’s poem, and decided to embrace the spirit of change.

On December 21st, The Solstice Shorts Festival, usually spread across several venues in various countries, was forced to go online. Contributors whose work was performed to camera include Jane Aldous, AJ Bermudez, Julian Bishop, Claire Booker, Elinor Brooks, Sean Carney, Kelly Davis, Neil Lawrence, Ness Owen, Brooke Stanicki and Laila Sumpton. The event was hosted by editor, Cherry Potts.

Why not treat yourself to a copy of this paeon to optimism? Let stories and poems whisk you away on a railway journey across America, to Turner’s World Of Twirls or piano lessons for the reluctant child. Let them introduce you to wolf-dogs, to memories of salty bodies and strawberries, cats that love fish skins and poems that ask intriguing questions of the soil, such as: “when did you forget you were a flower?” Everyone could do with Pippa Gladhill’s Twelve Point Plan – a perfect list of do’s and don’ts for lockdown – or a dip into spring bulbs, plum trees, rewilding.

You can watch the whole two hour show in segments by visiting the Arachne Press website, and selecting ‘Solstice Shorts’. Or click on the link below to watch actress Annalie Wilson read my poem Piano Lessons (11 minutes into the video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN86K-qS-vM

If you’d like to buy a copy of the anthology (£8.99) go direct to Arachne Press at: http://www.arachnepress.com

Arachne Press has a number of projects brewing and are currently interested in hearing from writers who come from Wales, those who are D/deaf, and UK writers of BAME origin.

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

Words for the Wild – the magic of nature

 

Visually sumptuous, verbally lively – the webzine Words For The Wild is a joyful way of spending time with words and images that relate to Nature.

So a big thank you to poet Hilaire for introducing me to the webzine, and to editors Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor for posting my poem ‘New Arrival’.

To read it, please click here: New Arrival The same link will lead you through to stories and poems by a raft of gifted writers, including Shanta Acharya, Kathryn Bevis, Stephen Bone, Alison Brackenbury, Maggie Butt, Caroline Davies, Kate Firth, Hugh Greasley, Chris Hardy, Hilaire and S.A. Leavesley.

Submissions of prose and poetry are welcome year round, with changing themes. Your work can already have been published elsewhere (subject to copywrite). So far, they’ve covered the themes of Jungle, Fruit, Gift, and New Build.

The Ellen TreeThe ethos of Words for the Wild is one of celebration and action. “We are writers who love the countryside, and we want to stop the kind of development that will destroy our gorgeous green land; we want to conserve it for future generations. Of course we need houses but we also need to protect wildlife and retain these pockets of peacefulness where we can walk our dogs or jog or cycle or build dens, play or paint, or simply wander and think.”

Words for the Wild has published a paperback anthology of poems and stories (£6.40 from Words For The Wild) profits of which go to support the community campaign, AADD, which has just succeeded in preventing a housing development being built that would have threatened ancient woodland. More information at: Action Against Destructive Development

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.

Dreamcatcher – worth a pile of beans!

Dreamcatcher 40_0001During the siege of Leningrad, people flocked to the libraries for nourishment. Here, we flock to the supermarkets for toilet rolls. Perhaps the Russians have something to teach us.

I’m fortunate (so far) in having food and books enough. And my contributor’s copy of Dreamcatcher 40 has just arrived, pulsating with verbal and visual treats.  It’s Wendy Pratt’s final issue as Editor, and she’s really pushed the boat out.

It includes some cracking short stories: Mark Jarman’s fascinating take on Shanghai; Kevan Youde’s mouth-watering sea voyage; a tale from Down Under by Christian McCulloch and something for Movie buffs from Mark Wasserman.

Poets featured include Claire Booker, Nick Boreham, Pamela Coren, Sandra Galton, Yvonne Hendrie, Michael Henry, Gary Jude, Mark Anthony Kaye, David Lewitzky, Karen Little, Jenny McRobert,  Jeremy Platt, Florian Rose, Iain Twiddy and Alessio Zanelli.Dreamcatcher 40_0002

The ravishing artwork in this issue has been selected from oil paintings by David Baumforth. Born in York, David’s inspiration is the ‘bitter beauty’ of England’s North East coast.  His technique is Turnerian, but the modern visual risk-taker is very much in evidence too.

Dreamcatcher 40_0003“I paint how I’ve always painted,” explains Baumforth, “and that’s with a focus on the truth of what I see in front of me. Yorkshire and its coastline are a constant source of inspiration. My last collections are very well received, and though that is gratifying, success or lack of it can be a distraction.”

Wise words indeed. And what fantastic use of colour. Clearly a painter I need to find out more about. So, thank you, Dreamcatcher for introducing him to me.

This issue also carries reviews of Derrida’s Monkey by Nell Farrell, and The Unknown Civilian by Antony Owen. Plus a very handy guide by Alan Gillott to three, on-line resources for writers: Write Out Loud, The Poetry Kit, and Rhyme Zone.

To buy a copy of Dreamcatcher 40, subscribe to the magazine (two issues a year), or check submissions windows, visit: Dreamcatcher

 

Celebrating Change – When Poetry Packs a Punch

A project underway in Middlesbrough is working with local people and the wider literary community to harness the power of poetry for creating social and political change.

It’s a year-long digital storytelling project, funded by Arts Council England and led by film-maker Laura Degnan and poet Kirsten Luckins.

images59ORYF4GLast month, guest editor Amy Kinsman selected my poem about a refugee seeking asylum via the Channel Tunnel and published it on the Celebrating Change website. You can find it under their recent posts (June 14th), or read it here: Abdul Haroun Almost Medals at Dover 

If you’ve written a poem that tackles injustice, inspired perhaps by people striving to create a better world, you might be interested to know that Celebrating Change are looking for poems on a rolling basis. canva-females-gathering-on-road-for-demonstrations-MADOYVgN2Gw[1]

Here’s the gen:

“Please send poems (no longer than 40 lines) and stories (no longer than 750 words) as attachments to celebratingchange2017@gmail.com. We are happy to accept previously published work, just tell us where and when it first appeared so we can acknowledge.

csd-2735009__340[2]Please also include a short biog (50 words) and links to your blog, website or audio/video channel. A good photo of you, or a photo taken by you that we can use to illustrate the poem would be super for the Insta feed.

Our overarching theme is ‘change’ – guest editors will be more specific. Because this is a digital storytelling project, we like poems that tell a story in some way.”

To enjoy poems already live on the site, including work by Ian Badcoe, Claire Booker, Jane Burn, Sara Hirsch and Marylin Longstaff, check out: Celebrating Change

 

Stand – Indonesia: Special Edition

Stand Vol 17 (1)Poetry is a powerful way to connect with another culture. Succinct, deeply felt, immediate – poems reveal new ways of looking, the heart of a people.

Following my experiences in Bangladesh (see previous post), I’m now delighting in Stand’s  snapshot of poets from the world’s fourth most populous nation, Indonesia.

According to a fascinating article by John H. McGlynn, “poetry is arguably the most essential of all the Indonesian literary genres, enjoying as it does a status far above that of even the novel.”

Stand Vol 17 (1)_0003The literary traditions of the Malay language (mother of Indonesian) go back to at least 400 AD, and there are exquisite palm-leaf manuscripts in the shape of fans to prove this. The transformation of Malay into ‘Indonesian’, first  proposed in 1928 by members of the Youth Congress, accomplished linguistic unity in a country where more than 600 languages are still spoken today. Stand Vol 17 (1)_0004

So, it’s a great honour to have two of my own poems published in this issue, alongside other anglophone poets, including Shanta Acharya, Richard Aronowitz, Claire Crowther, Ian Harker, Keith J. Hutson, Sonia Jarema, John McCullogh, Jo-ann Mort and Pat Winslow.

The contributions from Indonesia in this issue are a hard act to follow – bold and daring, and particularly engaging in their commitment to powerful emotion and a strong sense of the absurd. The Indonesian poets include Mario Lawi (tans. John H McGlynn), Warih Wisatsana (trans. C W Watson), M. Aan Mansur (trans. John H McGlynn), and Avianti Armand (trans. John H McGlynn). 

And Stand also includes short pieces of prose from both UK/USA based writers and Indonesian writers, together with reviews of Donald Levering’s ‘Previous Lives’ by David Latane, and Ken Smith’s Collected Poems by  N.S. Thompson.

To buy a copy of Stand Volume 17(1) or to submit work to the magazine, visit: www.standmagazine.org

The Interpreter’s House – a Celebration

Interpreters House, Martin Malone, Karen Izod 2018Martin Malone tested the limits of heat endurance when he handed over the keys of The Interpreter’s House on a sweltering night at a packed-to-the-rafters event in Nell of Old Drury, Covent Garden.

Celebrating the end of his five year tenure as editor, contributors from issues 67 and 68 waxed lyrical (and sweaty) during an evening both warm in body and heart.

Poets sharing their work included Claire Booker, Rachel Clyne, Sophie Dumont, Janet Hatherley, Pamela Johnson, Gary Jude, Wendy Klein, Candyce Lang, Jeremy Page, Jessica Mookheree, Olivia Tuck, Julia Webb and Ros Woolner, as well as commended poets and the runner-up in this year’s TIH poetry competition – Claire Dyer, Fiona Larkin and Karen Izod (above: with Martin Malone). Interpreter's House issue 68

IH68Launch2The latest issue includes the winning poem ‘Operation Thunderstorm’ by Theophilus Kwek, as well as poems by people who couldn’t make it to the launch such as Josephine Balmer, Robert Crawford, Katie Donovan, Carrie Etter and Robin Houghton. Plus there’s a powerful story by S.P. Hannaway and reviews by Martin Malone, Aoife Lyall, Dawn Gorman and Declan Ryan.

“Poetry’s background music represents an incrementally important soundtrack to what a society is, and in one of the developed world’s most socially unequal, this is no small thing,” says Martin Malone in his final editorial. Out-going Assistant Editor, Charles Lauder Jnr adds: “The goal was and always has been to accept the best writing – strong, surprising, unique, well-crafted, thought-provoking poems and stories.” IH launch 68 - 3

IH68launchIt’s a tough act to follow for new editors Georgi Gill and Andrew Wells, but they’re already on the case. Something like 1,500 submissions will land in their in-tray over the coming weeks, so if you’d like to see one of your poems or short stories in issue 69, check out the website at: The Interpreter’s House