Tag Archives: Advent calendar

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 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.”


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]


Day 19: Small Press Advent Calendar: SHOESTRING PRESS

day 19Living on Anglesey this summer has found me writing a lot of poems about stones, which drew my eye to this next title and I’m glad it did, as the book is peopled with characters as strong and striking as rocks. Day 19 is…

‘Swallowing Stones’ by Carole Coates, Published by Shoestring Press

Shoestring Press specialise in publishing poetry sequences and collections, usually by established but unfashionable poets or poets they are introducing to British readers for the first time (though they may be well known elsewhere).

They pay particular attention to layout and illustrative material which is legitimately part of the verbal text or vigorously enhances it. As well as publishing works by UK poets, they have a selection of poetry and fiction by Greek and Australian authors.

‘Swallowing Stones’ by Carole Coates is a verse narrative of a fictional dystopia, peopled by an astonishing range of voices.

'Swallowing Stones' by Carole CoatesSet in the far-off, imaginary, but very real country of Kor, she explores the relation between individuals and the culture in which they have to live, through a range of different voices, incidents and landscapes.

Carole Coates is a fine poet with a novelist’s eye.  In Swallowing Stones she creates an utterly convincing world and peoples it with vivid characters whose voices – sometimes shocking, sometimes lyrical, always perfectly judged – are woven together in this powerful and moving sequence.” –Elizabeth Burns

You can buy ‘Swallowing Stones’ by Carole Coates direct from Shoestring Press for £9.00 (via their mail order form, or if that’s a bit complicated, then head over to Waterstones).

[Day 19 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is joining us on the previous ‘tea’ theme, with ‘Marriage Tea’ by Angela Topping.]

Day 15: Small Press Advent Calendar: FIVE LEAVES PUBLICATIONS

day 15This next title is perhaps more suitable for those looking for a companion through a difficult Christmas time, or perhaps just for those who like their reading subjects serious, even while their halls be decked and their trees be tinseled. Day 15 is…

‘The Oxygen Man’ by Joanne Limburg, Published by Five Leaves Publications

Five Leaves is a small, independent press, that specialises in several areas – Jewish secular culture, social history, fiction and poetry.

In addition to their publishing program, the press is one half of the organising team for Lowdham Book Festival (the largest literature event in Nottinghamshire), a sponsor for several writing prizes, and one of the brains behind States of Independence, a project promoting independent presses.

Five Leaves is supported by Arts Council England. Read about them in more detail here.

five_leaves_-_the_oxygen_man‘The Oxygen Man’ by Joanne Limburg is a collection of poems written in response to the death of the author’s younger brother, a brilliant chemist who took his own life in 2008. They follow Limburg as she visits the mid-Western town where her brother lived, worked and died, range back over their shared childhood, and look ahead as she tries to work out what it means to be the one who stays behind.

“Limburg’s universe appears to be constantly twisting away from perception even as she pins it down in lines of singular economy.”
Poetry Book Society

You can read 3 sample poems from the book on the blog Peony Moon.

Buy ‘The Oxygen Man’ now via Inpress for just £4.00 .

[Day 15 on The Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Tattoo in Winter’ by Kate Noakes]

Day 14: Small Press Advent Calendar: BLACKHEATH BOOKS

day 14Next up, we once again have a press who embrace the handmade, papery, personal touch of the pamphlet. Behind door 14, is…

‘Dark Corners of the Land’ by Adelle Stripe, Published by Blackheath Books

‘blackheath books’ provide a home for literary outsiders, for those “mavericks who swim against the flow of incessant mainstream specialness.” They deliberately keep things small, with very limited print runs of  signed and numbered editions. All their books are hand printed using vintage equipment and techniques on 100% recycled paper and card that contains a high percentage of post consumer waste.

‘blackheath books’ are a ‘not for profit’ organisation and receive no external funding.

‘Dark Corners of the Land’ by Adelle Stripe is a collection of confessional poems exploring rural life, strange deaths, hunting, farming and hedonism set against the backdrop of a small Yorkshire town.

Dark+CornersAdelle Stripe draws influence from Robinson Jeffers, D.H. Lawrence and Ted Hughes. Her poems respond to subjects from myxomatosis and bull castration, to the Battle of Towton, underage drinking and acid house. It’s…

“Brave new writing, touched with tenderness and raw emotional depth”
– The Guardian

The handmade chapbook features a stenciled barbed wire spray-painted cover, and the first 50 copies come with a vintage Brooke Bond Tea Card ‘Wild Birds of Britain’ edition by C.F. Tunnicliffe, and contain within their pages an exclusive print by London artist Lisa Cradduck.

Read more about ‘Dark Corners of the Land’ by Adelle Stripe by clicking here.

Buy the book here for £5.00 (inc. p&P).

[Day 14 of the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Tapering’ by Rachel Newlon]

Day 13: Small Press Advent Calendar: CANDLESTICK PRESS

day 13If, like me, you prefer to do your Christmas shopping from the comfort of your dressing gown, then this next one is for you. These pamphlets make perfect little gifts, probably even for people who don’t think they like poetry. Door 13 is…

‘Tea’ by Various, Published by Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press is a small, independent publisher based in Nottingham. They publish poetry pamphlets aimed equally at people familiar with poetry and those who are not. They chose the pamphlet form partly because they love it’s historic associations with literature, politics, philosophy, radical thought and social welfare; and partly because it’s perfect size to make an ideal alternative to a greetings card.

And this is where Candlestick Press come into their own on the gift front. The pamphlets come with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message, and they issue them on a wonderful range of intriguing themes such as tea, or mother, or sheep, or bereavement, or London, or love, or pudding, or even… a series of 12 Poems for Christmas, introduced by Carol Ann Duffy.

ten-poems-about-tea‘Ten Poems about Tea’ by Various, with an Introduction by Sophie Dahl, does what it says on the tin really. You like poetry? You like tea? You’ll like this. As Kenny Knight rightly says in his poem ‘Lessons in Teamaking’, there was a time when, in the eyes of some,

“the teapot was the centre
of the known universe.”  

Get this book for anybody who still feels this is true!

And if you don’t like tea, be sure to check out the Candlestick Press anyway because they’re bound to have something that does appeal.

For a full list of the poems/poets included in ‘Ten Poems about Tea’, just click this link, where you can also buy it now for £4.95 (+£0.75 p&p).

Thanks you to Lydia Towsey for this recommendation!

[Day 13 of the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Seasons Jewels’ by David Mountain]

Day 11: Small Press Advent Calendar: PENNED IN THE MARGINS

day 11Am I allowed to have favourites? If so, then this next publisher is definitely one (and not just because they have a CHRISTMAS SALE on), which made it hard to chose just one book. I’m going to go with poet, Hannah Silva’s suggestion, though, as  it’s a great introduction to what I love about their whole list. Day 11 is…

‘Adventures in Form’ by Various, Published by Penned in the Margins

Penned in the Margins is a literary arts producer and independent publisher. Based in London’s East End, they specialise in contemporary poetry and spoken word, but operate across all art forms.

penned in the margins booksSince 2004 they have curated, produced and commissioned a diverse range of events, projects and productions: from sell-out music/poetry nights, to a series of bespoke literary salons, and a number of UK touring shows – working with over one hundred and fifty writers, musicians and artists.

They publish poetry collections, anthologies, and a series of limited edition mini-books, and come highly recommend from a number of very notable sources [read all about them here].

‘Adventures in Form: A Compendium of Poetic Forms, Rules, and Constraints’ by Various, has received a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and been picked by The Independent as one its Best Christmas Gifts for the Bookish, so if you’re still unsure about this buying poetry lark, then maybe they can convince you!

And for the already converted, Hannah Silva (check out her blog ‘Opposition‘ – she does some very interesting, innovative stuff) explains that the book is great if you’re a writer looking for inspiration, as it’s full of playful approaches to words and form. Penned in the Margins write:

adventuresinform_cover“Welcome to a strange new world in which a poem can be written using only one vowel, processed through computer code, collaged from film trailers, compiled from Facebook status updates, hidden inside a Sudoku puzzle, and even painted on sheep to demonstrate Quantum Theory.

Discover a multitude of new and unusual poetic forms – from tweet to time-splice, and from skinny villanelle to breakbeat sonnet – in this inspiring and inventive anthology.

Adventures in Form features over ninety poems by forty-six contributors”

Read a list & short bio of all those contributors, and several short reviews on the Penned in the Margins website.

Buy ‘Adventures in Form’ now, available for the DISCOUNTED PRICE of £7.99 until 21/12/12!!

And be sure to have a look at the rest of their catalogue, they have some sparkling gems in there.

[Behind door 11 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Christmas Fire, Christmas Fare’ by Sarah L. Dixon]