Tag Archives: The Poetry Society

Poetry News goes to the Circus

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThank you Nick Makoha for choosing my poem about a Romanian bear sanctuary as one of the winners in this summer’s Poetry Society Members’ Poems Competition.

Sanctuarul Ursilor joins five strong poems by Sue Davies, Jenny Hamlett, N.J. Hynes, Christopher James and Isabella Mead on the centre pages of Poetry News, with an introduction by Nick about why he chose them.

The theme for the competition was ‘Circus’ and it’s fascinating to see how each of the poets bring their own vision and interpretation of the word, from Cornish rituals and Scottish islands, to Galileo’s observations, and my own take on the theme – the imposition of human traits on wild animals in the name of entertainment.

You can read all the winning poems, including Sanctuarul Ursulor, by clicking the following link: Winning Poems 2018

Poetry News (Summer 2018)Nick Makoha is an accomplished poet who won the 2010 Arvon International Poetry Prize and the 2016 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection. His poems have appeared in magazines including The Poetry Review, The New York Times and Wasafiri. “A poem is a world unto itself that, when aligned in the right orbit, will hold our gaze and reveal something new,” writes Nick. “The six poems I have chosen have indeed succeeded by shifting me in time or place.”

Not yet a member of The Poetry Society? Don’t miss out! It’s ludicrously good value AND you’ll be able to enter the next Members’ Competition on the theme of ‘Change’. The judge this time is Meryl Pugh. Deadline for entries is August 6th. If you’re a Poetry Society Member and also part of a Stanza Group, you could also enter this year’s Stanza Competition judged by Penelope Shuttle. The theme is ‘tradition’. Both competition are free to enter.  So time to get writing!

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Six reasons to join The Poetry Society

If you’re still not a member of The Poetry Society, here are a few good reasons why you (and your bank account!) might decide to join in the party. It costs as little as £20 a year.

In no particular order – the infamous Stanza Bonanza! StanzaBon (Reading v Clapham)

All over Britain, groups of poets get together at Poetry Society Stanza groups to share work, inspire each other, produce anthologies or perform together in friendly internecine shoot-outs.  Here is last month’s Stanza Bonanza between Clapham – aka Original Poets – (front from left: Tom Vaughan, Nicole Carrell, Tessa Lang, Mark Fiddes, Claire Booker; back far left: Hilaire) and Reading (back from 2nd left: Susan Utting, Louise Ordish, Shelley Connor, Gill Learner, Alan Hester, Ted Millichap).

Poetry CafeOur Bonanza frolics took place in The Poetry Place – another great reason to support the Poetry Society. This bijou building (ok it’s cramped and steamy in summer but a refurb is on the way) is bang smack in the cultural heartland of London’s Covent Garden. Virtually every night there’s an event to enjoy or an exhibition to ponder. The Café provides tasty vegetarian food and a place to write or hang out in. Upstairs there’s a venue for workshops, parties and hard-working Poetry Society staff (also boxes and boxes of poetry books – the nicest possible kind of tripping hazard).

Every member receives a copy of Poetry News, packed with news and views. As a member, you can enter the Member’s Poems competition four times a year. Winners are published in Poetry News and receive a juicy parcel of poetry books. My poem ‘Deadline’ is twinkling away happily in this summer issue. If you’d like to read it, along with the five other winning poems on the theme of Smell, please click: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/membership/members-poems-2/

Poetry News Summer 2016More than £16,000 is give out each year in prize money by the Poetry Society, which runs The National Poetry Competition, The Ted Hughes Award, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year, Slambassadors and numerous others.

Members also have the option of receiving Poetry Review – one the most respected poetry magazines in the English speaking world.  If you hope to be published in its august pages, perhaps take advantage of the Poetry Prescription service available to Poetry Society members at a very reasonable fee. Poets with great track records are available in the four corners of Britain (or by Skype) to read and report back on examples of your poetry. I can highly recommend it from personal experience (thank you Katy Evans Bush!).

Joining the Poetry Society gives a nice warm feeling too, as you’re directly supporting its original, eclectic projects. From canal-sides, supermarkets, football pitches and former battlefields, to schools and arts venues, projects range from ongoing programmes to one-off commissions of new work. The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, The Canal Laureateship, Poems on the Underground, National Poetry Day – all wonderful examples of how the Poetry Society is raising poetry’s profile with people of all ages.

Convinced? Still not sure?  For the full deal, click on: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/ and give some serious thought to joining, supporting, engaging with and using the opportunities that the Poetry Society has been providing to poets and poetry lovers since 1909.  You know it makes sense!

Poetry Gigs I Know and Love

Performance is a great way to test out a new poem or recharge an old one. Looking back over 2015,  I’ve performed at some great gigs – either as an invited feature or open-mic – and learned so much. Thank you all for having me!

Torriano - Tessa LangSo let’s hear it for The Torriano Meeting House, which invited my Stanza Group, Original Poets, led by Tessa Lang (left) to perform some of our poetry in January. People meet every Sunday evening to share poetry at this unique Kentish Town venue. Don’t miss powerful young American Robert Peake reading there on Jan 17th. www.torrianomeetinghouse.wordpress.com

Original Poets meet every third Monday of the month (7pm) at The Bread & Roses pub, Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ. All are welcome to attend.

Rachael Joseph, Barry Brock, Claire Booker, Frank Mariani, Angela Brodie

Rachael Joseph, Barry Brock, Claire Booker, Frank Mariani, Angela Brodie

In Feb, I was at Keat’s House in Hampstead to read a couple of my poems in the Templar Publication‘s 2015 anthology.  www.templarpoetry.com

Then Camden Poetry Series invited five regulars from Beyond Words to be their March feature. Open mic readers can have their poems included in the Camden/Lumen annual anthology which raises money for cold weather shelters. I was back again in June to read at the anthology launch.   www.camdenlumen.wordpress.com

Check out poetic combo Hilaire and Joolz who are featuring at Beyond Words on Tues 5th Jan. www.beyondwordspoetrylondon.co.uk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe launch of a new issue of Magma is an event to relish. Such a swanky venue (London Review of Books), so many great poets, such generous glasses of wine! What a privilege to read two of my poems at the launch of issue 61 (The Street) alongside poets such as Simon Barraclough, Lisa Kelly and Christine Webb. www.magmapoetry.com

Donnel Dempsey

Donnel Dempsey

In June, I headed to Guildford to give forth at the launch of The Keystone Anthology, then later as a feature at Pop Up Poetry. Both are run by formidable team, Janice Windle and Donnel Dempsey, who can pull sizzling hot poetry evenings out of a hat – any hat! Dempsey&Windle – books, pamphlets and poems

Stanza Bonanza June 15And where would we be without the frisson of a Stanza Bonanza? Original Poets (Mark Fiddes, Nicole Piggott, Steve Hoy, Michael Cosham, Tessa Lang and myself) representing Clapham, took on the might of Brixton’s best under the firm baton of Poetry Society’s Paul McGrane. If you’re serious about poetry, get serious about joining The Poetry Society (for as little as £20 a year). It’s been flying the flag for poets since 1909. www.poetrysociety.org.uk

Interpreter's House Launch, OxfordOxford’s eternal spires welcomed me in July to the launch of The Interpreter’s House (issue 59), where I joined fellow contributors in a fantastic evening of poetry, teapots and bonhomie. The submissions window for the summer issue is February. Email editor Martin Malone at theinterpretershouse@aol.com or visit:  www.interpretershouse.com

Drop in InstructionIn September I was guest poet at Poet In The City‘s Drop in at Waterstone’s in Picadilly, London. The theme was ‘Instruction’. My choice of poems included ‘Instructions for Building Straw Huts’ by Yusef Komunyakaa; ‘Timothy Winters’ by Charles Causley; ‘Sun a-shine, rain a-fall by Valerie Bloom; ‘Song’ by W H Auden and a couple of my own poems. Drop-ins are free, with a new theme each month. Bring your own poems or favourites. www.poetinthecity.co.uk

Stephanie James in 'Alleluiah'

Stephanie James in ‘Alleluiah’

Loose Muse is London’s premier event for women writers of all genres, and is expanding fast, with sister ships in Manchester, Cornwall and Winchester. Agnes Meadows, who IS Loose Muse, invited me to bring my short play ‘Alleluiah’ to the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden earlier this year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALoose Muse Winchester, set up and run by poet Sue Wrinch, booked me as their feature in November, alongside poet and novelist Claire Dyer. I can thoroughly recommend both venues as welcoming, well-attended and full of surprises. Women only get to perform, but men are always welcome in the audience. www.loose-muse.com

So here’s hoping that 2016 will be rich in opportunity and inspiration for each and every one of us. A very Happy New Year!

Clapham and Brixton poetry riots!

Claphm Stanza BonanzaSix red-hot poets from Clapham faced six notorious wordsmiths from Brixton in a Stanza Bonanza that is destined to go down in history.

For two intense, often hilarious and sometime shocking hours, poetry pinged off the walls of Covent Garden’s Poetry Cafe like buckshot. The event was so popular, many audience members were forced to stand at the back or along the stairs and even celebrity, Alistair McGowan, found himself shoe-horned in at the back.

Clapham Brixton Stanza BonanzaPunching for the Clapham Stanza group were Claire Booker, Nicole Carrel, Mickey Feather, Andy Hickmott, Tessa Lang and Chris Parker whilst Jill Abram, Steve Boorman,Wendy Dyer, Margaret Haig, Sophie Herxheimer and Paul Minor  squared up in the Brixton corner.  Each poet had precisely eight minutes to prove their worth in a head-to-head battle with their opposite number.

To avoid bloodshed, Paul McGrane from The Poetry Society, declared the evening a draw and both sides removed to the bar to celebrate, if any proof is needed, that poetry can make a sizzling evening’s entertainment.

The entire event was filmed for Poetical TV. Click on the following link if you’d like to see me reading my poem ‘New Arrival’. I’m the fourth poet (in the pink shirt!) about half way through the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io7vZh_5DDE&feature=player_detailpage

Claphm Stanza BonanzaFor more information on Clapham Original Poets please visit:  Facebook page

To find out more about The Poetry Society, click on:  http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk