Tag Archives: The Morning Star

Magma 84 and The Morning Star

Physics and poetry are uncommon bedfellows, but Susannah Hart and Stav Poleg’s call-out earlier this year has created a Magma pulsing with philosophical vigour (and a few laughs too!) Poets include Vasiliko Albado, Claire Booker, Mark Fiddes, Martin Figura, Philip Gross, Ramona Herdman, Jan Heritage, Tania Hershman, NJ Hynes, Isabella Mead, Hilary Menos, Meredi Ortega, Paul Stephenson, Claudine Toutoungi and Rebecca Watts.

Many of the poets in this issue are scientist or mathematicians, including Ilse Pedler (veterinary surgeon), Ian Buchanan (X-ray imaging scientist), Lucy Calder (astrophysicist), Pippa Goldschmidt (astronomer), Kinneson Lalor and Chris Athorne (mathematicians). A reminder that poetry is not just the reserve of the literary set. Perhaps the arts would do well to become more literate in things scientific.

“As a temporal art that is often concise enough to be held on a single page and form its own unique visual structure, poetry is a perfect vehicle for the concepts of time and space,” write the editors in their intro. “The poem happens in time, as we read it; it keeps changing as we go along with it, and yet, at any time during the process, we can take a glimpse of its entirety. Moreover, in evoking memories, visual images and sounds, the poem may offer us a glimpse to the fact that time is, in fact, not linear.”

Alongside the poems, you can read thought-provoking features, including Lucy Sheerman on how her long-held desire to become an astronaut fed into the libretto she wrote for Peterborough Cathedral. Also, a fascinating exposition by Tania Hershman on the relationship between parts and wholes, in which she literally took literary works apart in her PHD thesis on ‘particle fiction’. Plus, of course, the usual reviews. To buy a copy of Magma (issue 84), take out a subscription, or check the next submissions window, click on the following link: www.magmapoetry.com

And here’s a chance to read my poem, Woman, life, freedom, which was published in The Morning Star on 24th November as their 21st Century Poetry poem of the week. It’s a response to the death of Mahsa Amini (seen right) in suspicious circumstances, following her arrest by the Iranian morality police for improper wearing of her hijab. Mass protests continue, despite harsh penalties.

Click here for the poem: https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/c/21st-century-poetry-woman-life-freedom

Lightening the Dark – Morning Star and Solstice Shorts

My poem about a female volleyball player, inspired by the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan, was published in The Morning Star newspaper on 23rd Dec, and can also be read online at: News Flash

‘Newsflash’ is one of those poems that write themselves out of an instant emotional reaction. I read with horror about the beheading of a young woman volleyball player by the Taliban. This coincided with a birthday celebration in Brighton on a beautiful sunny day. The mismatch was painful, and a poem started to rise up in response. The first draft was just in time for my Stanza group, where some helpful feedback ensued (thank you Brighton Stanza), followed by a second draft, then a quick email to Andy Croft who selects for The Morning Star‘s 21st Century Poetry column. Ten minutes later, he pinged back an acceptance (does he never sleep?).

I’m under no illusion that this poem will make a difference to how the Taliban treat women (or indeed men), but apart from supporting Amnesty, it’s all I can offer. As poets, we must write as we feel.

The winter solstice is a symbol of how dark and deadly the world can become. What better way to contemplate the lengthening of days and hope for positive change, than the fascinating mix of stories and poems in Arachne Press’ latest Solstice Shorts anthology, Words from the Brink?

Contributors include Jane Aldous, Julian Bishop, Claire Booker, Kate Foley, Katherine Gallagher, Lucy Grace, Mandy Macdonald, Ness Owen, Michelle Penn, Diana Powell and Robert Rene Galvan.

The amazing cover image is ‘Red Earth’ by Komal Madar, and beautifully reflects the anger of our planet driven to ground by human greed and ignorance. Published by Cherry Potts at Arachne Press, ‘Words from the Brink’ is the seventh Solstice Shorts anthology, marking the tipping point of each year. “We urge you all to do SOMETHING while we still can,” writes Cherry in her foreword. “Turn off that light, turn off that tap; reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle; plant a tree, protect the bees; write a song, a poem, a story that can reach people who need to hear. Everything may yet be all right, but only with your help.”

You can watch the zoom launch of ‘Words from the Brink’ at Arachne Press’s Youtube channel, or better still, buy a copy of the book at https://arachnepress.com/shop/

If you have a poem to share on the pages of The Morning Star, then drop Andy Croft an email at info@smokestack-books.co.uk. The Culture section at the Star’s website is also worth a read. You can check up to 7 articles per month, including featured poems, for free. https://morningstaronline.co.uk/categories/arts

Black Lives Matter poem in Morning Star

Morning Star Aug 20Some poems arrive unexpectedly. My poem ‘The Chair’ in Wednesday’s Morning Star caught me blind-side while scrolling through my Facebook feed. There was an image. One I couldn’t get out of my head. The only solution. Write a poem.

Black Lives Matter has arisen spontaneously, through the power of social media. It’s a movement for desperately needed justice. Anger can be turned into action. Laws changed. Attitudes altered. We all have our part to play. Things are changing – but slowly.

Morning Star (12.8.20)

It seems deeply shocking that a so-called civilised society like America still executes people. The constitution allows each State to decide for itself, and tragically 25 States still have capital punishment on their statute books.

If that’s not horrendous enough, the colour of your skin has a lot to do with whether you receive a death sentence. The ethnicity of the murder victim is statistically the deal breaker – a white victim more often results in Death Row than if the victim were black. Old prejudices die hard.  Some lives are still deemed more equal than others, yet the US Supreme Court does not acknowledge statistical bias as a reason to overturn an individual sentence.

I’ve been a member of Amnesty International for much of my adult life. It campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty world-wide. Do please consider joining if you aren’t already a member.  Here is a link to their work on capital punishment: Amnesty International

imagesMy thanks to Andy Croft, who chose ‘The Chair’ as Poem of the Week in the printed newspaper. The Morning Star costs £1.20 and is available at a number of outlets, including The Coop, Budgens and McColls. You can also read its mix of News, Politics, Culture and Sport online, where my poem is also available to view at:  The Chair by Claire Booker

Changes to English GCSE slammed by a sonnet!

It’s a mad world. Government changes to the English GCSE syllabus mean pupils will no longer study poems written after 1980. That’s a veto on the last 34 years’ poetic output, including most poems written by our current Poet Laureate!

Morning StarMy sonnet ‘Of Words and Trees’ is a response to this, and was written at a time when the Government was also considering weakening planning laws which protect ancient woodland. The poem was published in The Morning Star’s ‘Well Versed’ section last Thursday. To read it in full, click on: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-e9a5-Claire-Booker-Of-Trees-and-Words#.UxnT1PnV9Bo

‘Well Versed’ is edited by Jody Porter. If you have a poem you would like to see published in The Morning Star, you can e-mail him at wveditor@gmail.com