Tag Archives: poetry

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 18: Small Press Advent Calendar: EYEWEAR PUBLISHING

day 18As I featured a book called ‘Tea‘ the other day, I thought it only right and proper that for Day 18, we should indulge in some…

‘Dangerous Cakes’ by Elspeth Smith, Published by Eyewear Publishing

Eyewear Publishing Ltd. is a small independent press that is still, so to speak, ‘hot off the press’. They are based in London and started up just this last year (2012). They focus on excellent new work by poets from the UK and abroad, as well as the rediscovery of out-of-print figures, such as   Terence Tiller.

dangerous cakes‘Dangerous Cakes’ by Elspeth Smith is full of “sly poems that limit themselves with obsessive tropes – shoes, wine glasses, balloons, tea, cake, dancing – and then open up, somehow, into vast, mysterious places, with a question or aperçu. Her vision is both light and dark, for curtains open and close. And, though her own life is, and was, doubtless filled with countless personal details of interest, she has pared all back in her poems, that, in their quiet universality, are all the more intimate, and devastatingly lovely.” – Read this and more reviews on Eyewear.

‘Elspeth Smith’s poems are indeed “dangerous cakes”; tiny parcels of benign delightfulness with danger at their centres. A patch of grass, a fresh covering of snow, an old shoe box take a sinister turn if you dare to join the party.’ – Lorraine Mariner

‘Dangerous Cakes’ is available to buy now for £12.99 direct from Eyewear Publishing.

christmasBundle320x216Also, Eyewear are including this book in their SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFER: £39.99 for a bundle of books  (normally £51.96)! In this you get four very different poetry collections that offer a snapshot of contemporary poetry, and it all comes tied up nicely in a special Eyewear ribbon.

The bundle includes:

  • Dangerous Cakes by Elspeth Smith
  • Cape Town by Kate Noakes
  • Night Journey by Richard Lambert
  • Midwest Ritual Burning by Morgan Harlow

Eyewear are also happy to include a gift message with the set, if you type the message in the ‘note to seller’ box on their Paypal site, which you’ll see when you order. Buy the lot here now.

[Day 18 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Unplug the Fairy Lights before Bedtime’ by Matthew Stoppard]

Day 17: Small Press Advent Calendar: SEREN BOOKS

day 17Today I have been in Wales, and so I thought Day 17’s entry should also hail from the land of magic and mountains. Instead of poetry though, here we have the letters of poets, oh, and a FREE GIFT* (of poems).

‘Poet to Poet: Edward Thomas’s Letters to Walter de la Mare‘ Ed. by Judy KendalL, Published by Seren Books

Seren Books is an independent literary publisher specialising mainly in English writing from Wales. They are  driven by quality writing across a wide-ranging list which includes poetry, fiction, translation, biography, art and history, and are proud to have published authors and books that have won many a prize here in the UK and over in the USA.

At the heart of their list is a good story told well or an idea or history presented interestingly or provocatively. They have an international authorship and readership, but their roots remain in Wales, where they continue to prove that writers from a small country with an intricate culture have a worldwide relevance.

‘Poet to Poet: Edward Thomas’s Letters to Walter de la Mare’ Ed. by Judy Kendall, is a collection of 318 letters written between Edward Thomas and Walter de la Mare from 1906 to 1917, only 3 of which have been previously published).

poet_to_poet_front2The letters provide new and crucial evidence about Thomas’s poetic processes and the start of his mature poetry, as well as the mutual support the two poets enjoyed. The Seren Books website tells us that:

“Poet to Poet offers a moving epistolary account of the developing personal and poetic relationship of both poets, with biographical revelations, and increased understanding of their influence on each other and key points relating to their poetic processes.”

“This marvelous book about the thankless, frustrating task of, well, keeping on keeping on. But, frankly, what else can a poor poet ever do?” The Tablet

Sounds intriguing to me! I’m always fascinated by how other poets go about the process of writing and, if I’m honest, also how they go about being a poet.

Check it out and browse an extract from the book on the Seren Website.

‘Poet to Poet’ is available to buy now from Seren Books for £14.99.

And, it comes with a lovely FREE GIFT*, so here’s a bit about that too…

‘Christmas in Wales’ by Various: Celebrate Christmas the Welsh way in the company of some of Wales’ leading writers, past and present.

christmas_in_wales_0There are poems on pretty much every seasonal subject you could imagine: “Christmas mass, the nativity play, turkey and plum pudding, the Mari Lwyd, presents, the weather, the shopping and post-festive blues are among the many subjects drawn from stories, poems, diaries and letters. Wartime Christmases in Swansea and the Rhondda – and home thoughts from India and Italy – pantomime characters, Christmas cards and New Year Resolutions; R.S. Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Dannie Abse, Gillian Clarke, Catherine Fisher, Bruce Chatwin, Sian James, Kate Roberts and Leslie Norris, Christmas in Wales has all the ingredients for the complete experience of the season of celebration.”

*Normally £7.99, this book is automatically included free with every order placed before December 21st 2012.

[Day 17 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Untitled’ by Anna Percy]

Day 16: Small Press Advent Calendar: CRYSTAL CLEAR CREATORS

day 16If you like your poetry served up with a large slice of what one might term ‘gritty northern realism’, then this next pamphlet is for you. Behind door 16 we turn to…

‘Citizen Kaned’ by Andrew Graves, Published by Crystal Clear Creators

Crystal Clear Creators is a not-for-profit arts organisation based in the East Midlands, devoted to developing, producing, publishing and promoting new writing. It records, produces and broadcasts spoken-word material; it publishes anthologies and pamphlets of new writing; it runs dayschools and courses on creative writing, media and heritage; and it hosts live events, including readings. It works with new, up-and-coming and established writers, actors and producers, as well as other partner organisations.

They also currently run a literary magazine, called Hearing Voices, the first four issues of which can be purchased from their website.

‘Citizen Kaned’ by Andrew Graves is collection of work more often seen on the stage, under Graves’ performance name ‘MulletProof’. Reviewer, Matthew Herbert, advises however, that “there’s far more scope for enjoyment if Citizen Kaned is read without such preconceptions.”

I’ve got a feeling that fans of John Cooper Clarke might enjoy this collection. Herbert’s description continues:

CitizenKaned_COVER“Rhythms and rhymes gallop through these deft observations on the inherent incongruence of life in Nottingham, yet there are also underlying layers of subtlety. Rather than using clichés as lazy shortcuts, Graves is capable of turning expressions upside down. Witness this line from ‘Ceremony’:

their love spins round like kebab-house meat

Graves then completes the poem by summoning a sense of beautiful grottiness:

they emerge embarrassed, wasted and sweaty
to shower in the headlights and raindrop confetti.”

There are those who won’t like this pamphlet, but if you’re into the stage/page cross over then I think you’ll like this. Just the snippets I’ve read certainly made the rainy northern/midland-ish town I grew up in jump straight back into view!

Read more reviews of ‘Citizen Kaned’ on the fantastic Sphinx Poetry Chapbook Review website.

‘Citizen Kaned’ is available to buy now from Crystal Clear Creators for £4.00.

[Day 16 of the The Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Snowman Poem Written on a Sunday Night’ by Rob Auton]

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 12: Small Press Advent Calendar: WRITE BLOODY

day 12Poetry has long been a form that has provided a space for marginalised voices to make themselves heard, and both this next publisher and poet have done their fair share of amplifying the seldom heard. Behind door 12, we go over the pond to…

‘The Madness Vase’ by Andrea Gibson, Published by Write Bloody

Write Bloody are grass roots, DIY, boot strap believers who believe that great poetry and other forms of literature changes people for the better. Based in California, they publish and promote:

“4-12 tour savvy authors per year, and [their] authors are out there — in small record shops and large colleges, in strange theaters and swampy bars — doing readings all across Europe and the United States.”  

[And it’s true what they say, I caught Buddy Wakefield in Bangor, of all places!]

the madness vaseIf you like your poetry spoken with passion and full of raw emotion then you’ll love Andrea Gibson. The poems in ‘The Madness Vase’ by Andrea Gibson cover topics from hate crimes to playgrounds, from international conflict to hometowns, from falling in love to the desperation of loneliness. Throughout her career, Gibson’s poems have always been a call to social justice. But this collection “goes beyond awareness. Her images linger in our psyches and entreat us to action. They challenge us to grow into our own skin.” – Read more here.

To give you a sense of her work, here’s Andrea Gibson performing a longer version of the title poem, ‘The Madness Vase’. She explains that some of the motivation for the piece was the It Gets Better Project, a campaign that really reminds us of the power that words can have as people share their stories to make a difference to the lives of young L,G,B,T&Q people.

‘The Madness Vase’ is available to buy (in time for Christmas) from Amazon: £5.18 on Kindle or £9.00 paperback (or direct from Write Bloody if you’re in the US.)

Amazon also features a small preview of the book, where you can read a couple of the poems.

[Day 12 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Fog’ by Nick Jarvis – hey, that’s me!]

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]

Day 10: Small Press Advent Calendar: SALT

day 10Up next by popular request (and not just for melting the ice), this publisher has had a great year, with some fantastic achievements including a title shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (The Lighthouse by Alison Moore). Behind Door 10, we have…

‘Some Bright Elegance’ by Kayo Chingonyi, Published by Salt

Salt was founded in 1999, and since then has published nearly 1000 titles. They are proudly independent and deal with work spanning a wide range of genres. For whatever it is they’re publishing though, they have three over-arching principles:

  • To meet the needs of readers and to build new audiences.
  • To have the highest design and production standards for product in all media.
  • To support the best new writing (wherever it is found) from the most important writers working today.

To further support their commitment to developing new authors, Salt also operates a number of important literary prizes: The Crashaw Prize for Debut Collections of PoetryThe Scott Prize for Debut Collections of Short Stories and The Salt Prizes for individual short stories, flash fiction and poems.

‘Some Bright Elegance’ by Kayo Chingonyi is a book of poetry about the changes that are a part of life in the 21st Century.

Some Bright Elegance by Kayo ChingonyiThe book explores these changes in relation to the search for meaning and consolation in the wake of bereavement, the memorial role of music, and the effects of social change on local communities. The website tells us more…

“Chingonyi’s debut offering presents an achingly tangible vision of a world of bass and deified beats and backstreet pizzerias and so much more, shuttling from Borges and Cildo Meireles to Bojangles and manga/anime, all rendered through an effortlessly self-assured voice. More than a title, ‘Some Bright Elegance’ is a statement of intent, a promise that Chingonyi delivers on”

To read more reviews of the book and view a sample of the poems, head over to the Salt website. You can also buy it from there for the DISCOUNTED PRICE of £5.20.

[Day 10 of the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Initiation’ by Katy Ewing.]