‘A Story’ in Far Off Places

fairy tales retold black

Far Off Places is a creative writing and illustration magazine based in Edinburgh, that was launched early in 2013.

Their vision is “to create a stage for emerging writers to strut their stuff, both traditional and experimental. We hope to reach, enchant and grip readers who wouldn’t ordinarily pick up a poetry magazine. We believe in beautiful craftsmanship, where choice of font and paper type is an artistic decision.”

The writing in this first issue ‘Fairy Tales Retold’ is striking, imaginative, and seasoned well with those special touches of dark comedy particular to the strangeness of fairy tales.

Oh, and it also has one of my poems in it, which starts like this…

A Story

Like dreams that steal the air from your lungs:
alcohol; sex; annihilation; thought; forgetfulness;
in a few years time maybe a residue in your mind.

Stains.

“Tell us a story?” they asked, not knowing
the impossible task.

…. if you’d like to read the rest, then you can download a digital copy of the magazine for just £1.99 at Faroffplaces.org.
However, if you feel that you’d like a little more teasing first, you can get a FREE teaser edition of the magazine HERE.
And you can read it in the British Library too – which is pretty cool!

27th April – ‘Imagining Our Futures’ – Central School of Speech and Drama, London

GI LogoI feel that being able to imagine a positive and productive future for yourself is a really key part of living a happy life, and so I am delighted to be speaking at this event next weekend.

‘Imagining Our Futures’ brings together trans professionals from a range of backgrounds to talk about their careers, what inspires them, and how being trans may have had an effect on things for them.

past_present_future_smallsign1

The event is organised by Gendered Intelligence, and will give young trans people an opportunity to hear from older trans people and ask questions – whether it’s about the career path itself or information on being trans or transitioning in a particular field.

The venue is fully accessible. Travel bursaries will be available, for up to £7 per person, with a receipt. Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, go to Imagining Our Futures.

This is Not My Story @ Hall for Cornwall

“People tell me we live in a pretty equal world,
but man… this is a little boy
who everyone thinks is a girl, and
by high school his whole world is broken…”

‘This is Not My Story’ filmed at the Hall for Cornwall in Truro, February 2013, as part of a Telltales event.

 

‘Reading About Poetry (whilst thinking about girls)’ in LAVENDER REVIEW

In December I had a poem published in the Muse edition of the Lavender Reviewcalled ‘Reading About Poetry (whilst thinking about girls)‘. I wrote it back when I was at uni, trying to complete a rather tedious homework assignment – which then turned out to be far more fun than I’d anticipated! Here’s an extract:

George Segal, Gay Liberation Monument, Sheridan Square, NYC (1980). Photo by Robert Giard. Courtesy of the Stephen Bulger Gallery. I’m squeezing alliteration
out of her gluteus
maximus, medius, and minimus
until they are oozing
with assonance.

I’m licking the ligature ‘ash’ off
her lobulus auriculæ,
and when I
open her bra (
that she bought at the market)
I find iambic areolae
flitTING aCROSS my BRAIN
punctuated at periods with
mammary papilla…

You can read the poem in full, and/or listen to me reading it aloud (if you’re into that sort of thing) on the Lavender Review website.

The Lavender Review is an international, biannual e-zine dedicated to poetry and art by, about, and for lesbians, including whatever might appeal to a lesbian readership. It was born on Gay Pride Day, June 27, 2010.

24th January – Telltales @ Hall for Cornwall – Truro

whats-on-hall-for-cornwall-banner

Well, it’s a new year, and I’m happy to say I’ll be starting it off with a gig down in Cornwall, performing in a line-up selected by the brilliant purveyor of fine words that is Telltales.

Telltales at the Hall for Cornwall looks set to be a powerful evening full of drama and delight. Bringing you 8 writers, each with their own take on ‘This Mortal Coil’ – so expect life’s stresses, being human, making mistakes, mortality, death, birth and everything between!

The Telltales MicrophoneThere’s an eclectic line-up with a little bit of something for everybody, including  sci-fi writer Ben Power; rising talent Aaron Kent; award-winning writer Felicity Notley and her story The FootMy Cornwall competition winner Douglas Bence who’ll be sharing his story An Unexpected Guest; lots more from Nic Robey, Mary Mcstecky, and Alan Robinson; and a 5-minute performance poem from me, called This is not my story.

This event is part of the Hall for Cornwall’s series of ‘Platform Events’ that take place in their Assembly Rooms. Tickets are free, but seats are limited to just 80 and must be booked in advance as when we last checked there were only about 10 left. So…

Follow this link to BOOK YOUR TICKET NOW.

See you there!

Telltales: The Parabola Project III: Horizons - get the book while stocks last

Day 25: Small Press Advent Calendar: CINNAMON PRESS

day 25This will be the last post in this 2012 Small Press Advent Calendar, and so I’d like to thank you for following, sharing, and most importantly, buying the books. Without you buying books, these fantastic, quirky, and sometimes life-changing, independent publishing houses would not be able to operate. So, without further ado, behind door 25, is…

‘Above the Forests’ by Ruth Bidgood, Published by Cinnamon Press

Cinnamon Press is a small, independent publisher run by a family team. They publish fiction, poetry and selective non fiction books, choosing not by genre, but by selecting works they feel passionate about, writing that is thought provoking and says something new.

Based in North Wales, they aim to include a significant list of Welsh writing in English amongst their titles, and their other authors come from a wide range of places from South Africa to New Zealand, America to China, the rest of the UK, and more.

They also run Envoi poetry magazine, which is now in its 53rd year, and a number of competitions.

cinnamon_-_above_the_forests_resized_‘Above the Forests’ by Ruth Bidgood, is a collection of poems in which the lie of Welsh land, local and family history, social pressures, the promptings of dream and of scientific speculation are all evoked, serving to draw the reader, often literally step by step, into processes of questioning, self-questioning and an intuitive crossing of boundaries.

At 90 years of age, Ruth’s voice remains effortlessly precise: the thought and language in the poems comes across razor sharp, and with ‘a lyricism that pushes at the boundaries of life.’ [-GWales]

“These are daring poems… Above the Forest combines deep feeling with keen intelligence.” – Anne Cluysenaar

‘Above the Forests’ is available to buy now via Inpress Books for £7.99.

[Day 25 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Eleven pm, 25th December’ by Charlotte Wetton. Do carry on visiting the site daily for the rest of their calendar, which carries on until Dec 31st!]

Merry Christmas!!

 

Day 24: Small Press Advent Calendar: HAPPENSTANCE

day 24The book behind the 24th door of the advent calendar reminds me of the underbelly of Christmas time; those moments you have as a child when you’re not really sure what’s going on, but you just know somehow that things are not as they should be.

‘Giant in the Doorway’ by Marion Tracy, Published by HappenStance

HappenStance is an independent publisher based in Scotland that specialises in poetry pamphlets. In addition to publishing, they review chapbooks and provide information about pamphlet publishing in general, mostly via their sister site Sphinx. They also operate an interesting subscription scheme that is worth looking into:

For just £7.50 pa, you receive:

– 1 free publication of your choice.
– The latest chapter of The HappenStance Story.
– Information about each new publication (snail mail).
– News about press activities during the year.
– 25% off the cover price of each publication.
– A free PoemCard with every order:
– Feedback on up to twelve poems of your own, if sent during reading ‘windows’.

Find out more information and/or subscribe HERE.

‘Giant in the Doorway’ by Marion Tracy is a collection of poems that begins with an evocative account of one day and night in a holiday cottage, from the point of view of a child struggling to make sense of her mother’s psychiatric illness. The subsequent poems extend the narrative through a mature (but no less emotive) reflection on the mother’s life, death and legacy.

Here’s a taster poem, as featured on the HappenStance site:

Giant in the Doorway   Marion TracyGiant in the doorway

10.

I’m in the double bed next to judith
lennie is asleep in the cot moon lays down
a clean bandage onto the floor I can hear

the sea singing with my mother
their voices mutter and shout
and dip and scream together below

and outside I know the word mad
but when I ask judith what’s wrong
with mummy exactly and judith says

she can’t spell it or pronounce it I know
judith doesn’t want to talk about it
I shouldn’t talk about it

Buy ‘Giant in the Doorway’ direct from HappenStance now for £4.00.

[Day 24 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘You are Not’ by Nathan Lunt]

Day 23: Small Press Advent Calendar: POETRY TRANSLATION CENTRE

day 23Next up is a publisher that focuses solely on the, sometimes contentions, subject of poetry in translation. Their explanation for doing this reminded me why translating poetry, although difficult, is a very important thing to do. Door 24 features…

‘Poems’ by Azita Ghahreman, Published by Poetry Translation Centre

The Poetry Translation Centre, established by the poet Sarah Maguire in 2004, translates contemporary poetry from Africa, Asia and Latin America to a high literary standard. They believe that:

“Poetry thrives on translation: it’s impossible to imagine English poetry without it. From Chaucer, via Wyatt, Dryden and Pope, to Ezra Pound’s Cathay, translation has been its life-blood.

But English poetry has yet to engage with the rich poetic traditions of the many languages now spoken in the UK; for Islamic communities in particular, poetry is a particularly significant art form. Our work aims to redress that deficiency.

By making their poetry at home in English, we aim to celebrate the cultures of communities that are frequently neglected and abused in the UK, inviting them to play a vital role in British cultural life.”

Poems‘ by Azita Ghahreman, trans. byMaura Dooley & Elhum Shakerifar, is an introductory collection of Azita’s work, and features her poems in the Farsi language they were written in, with the translated English version alongside.

poemsAzita Ghahreman, born in Mashhad in 1962, is one of Iran’s leading poets. She has published four collections of poetry: Eve’s Songs (1983), Sculptures of Autumn (1986), Forgetfulness is a Simple Ritual (1992) and The Suburb of Crows (2008), a collection reflecting on he exile in Sweden (where she has lived since 2006).

Her poems directly address questions of female desire and challenge the accepted position of women.

If you are intrigued, you can buy the book direct from the Poetry Translation Centre for £4.00.

If you’d like to try before you buy, you can actually just download yourself a free pdf from the same site. Can’t be bad!

[Day 23 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘That time we said we’d be back on the 23rd’ by Stephanie Chan]

Day 22: Small Press Advent Calendar: SMITH/DOORSTOP

day 22Behind Door 22 we turn once again to one of the more established publishers on this list, to find…

‘Otherwhere’ by Catherine Smith, Published by Smith/Doorstop Books

Smith/Doorstop is the imprint under which The Poetry Business publishes its books, pamphlets, audio and ebooks. Described by The Independent as a “small but enterprising publisher talent-spotting marvellous new poets”, their poets have won or been shortlisted for almost every major poetry prize, including the Forward Prize on 11 occasions and 10 Poetry Book Society awards.

The Poetry Business operates on the basis of four priorities:

  • The spreading of interest in contemporary poetry
  • The encouragement of new writers
  • The publishing of work of new and established writers
  • The setting of high artistic standard

smith_doorstop_-_otherwhere‘Otherwhere’ by Catherine Smith is described as “recklessly wise writing”, which romps through such themes as the spaghetti harvest and the drought of 1976, vegetarian hangovers, horse-racing, teenage girls inhaling helium and cats brought in a case through customs.

There are a number of short, tantalising reviews on both the Smith/Doorstop and Inpress websites, a couple of which I’ll post below, or you can get more of a taste for the book by heading over to The Poetry Shed where you can read ‘The Spaghetti Harvest‘ in full.

“Her scary, unsettling voice seems unexpected in poetry, and cuts her free of the crowd.” – The Times

“Catherine Smith’s poems are at once visceral and delicate. The mythical seeps through the tang and stench of the everyday and asserts itself, triumphant and strange.” – Sasha Dugdale

You can buy ‘Otherwhere’ now direct from The Poetry Business for £9.95.

[Day 22 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Walking to Snowfall’ by Vivien Foster.]

 

Day 21: Small Press Advent Calendar: HOLDFIRE PRESS

day 21It is now too late to order for delivery before Christmas, but this advent calendar continues so that you will know what to spend your book tokens on! Day 21 brings you…

‘The Necropolis Boat’ by Luke Kennard, Published by Holdfire Press

Holdfire Press is a new, small publisher based in Liverpool.  Their first 8 pamphlets were released in May 2012, and they aim to continue to publish pamphlets and also full collections by emerging UK poets.

‘The Necropolis Boat’ by Luke Kennard was selected by the Poetry Book Society as their Autumn Pamphlet Choice, which makes it even more surprising then that there there seem to be no descriptions of this intriguing 28-page mystery on the internet (nb. I’ve not searched the whole internet, but little is forthcoming). But as I’m a massive fan of Luke’s work in general, I’m sure he’s a great introduction to Holdfire.

We do get a bit of info about this pamphlet though on Luke’s blog, Planet-Shaped Horse. He writes:

Necropolis boat“My pamphlet, The Necropolis Boat, takes place within one of the lines of a poem from Planet-Shaped Horse, so could be considered a sequel or prequel or whatever you call a follow-up sequence the narrative of which occurs within one of the lines from the preceding work. A nested sequel, is what I’m going to call it, I think. But you don’t have to have read PSH to enjoy it! It stands alone! Like a man! On a jetty! On his own!
 
I hate the word jetty. I could have said anywhere and I went with jetty.”

 

For those of you not familiar with his work, here’s a short intro to him and poem lifted from the Poem a Month website (check them out!):

“Luke’s writing reflects his own personal interest in mental health and the way society perceives it, often using humour in his poems.”

The following poem, ‘Chorus’, is a poem from his second collection The Harbour Beyond the Movie. Luke gives us this insight:

harbour meyond the movie“I wrote it about seven years ago, at a time when I was writing these little fourteen-line anti-sonnets which explore a single tragi-comical scene. I wrote over a hundred and my editor selected ten to go in the middle section of the book. The other ninety were terrible. This one I wrote for a close friend who was going through a particularly nasty spell of clinical depression.”

CHORUS

The choir hadn’t left him alone since the first day of summer;
He awoke to find them stationed around his bed.

One day the choir arrived without warning or explanation,
Sang the choir in four-part harmony, handing him toast.

On his first day back at work, the choir stood at his desk,
Singing, The choir are making his professional life impossible.

Two weeks later his partner left him for an osteopath.
Hannah cannot stand the choir any longer, they sang.

That night he pummelled the choristers with his fists;
He beats the choir in frustration, but though they are bruised

And bleeding at the lip, they sing with redoubled vigour, sang the choir.
Then they sang, He cannot get to sleep, he cannot get to sleep,

He cannot get to sleep, in perfect fifths, until he fell asleep.
In time you may even grow fond of us, they sang, quietly.

– Read more on Poem a Month

Buy ‘The Necropolis Boat’ via the Book Depository now for £4.98 (free p&p).

[Day 21 on the Poetry Advent calendar is the very appropriate ‘Solstice’ by Russell J. Turner]