One Year On – poetry and story from Greenwich on Thursday 25 March, 7.30pm

What better way to look back over this extraordinary year together than with poetry and story. On Thursday 25, my dear friend Irena Hill will host a Zoom event in her In-Words series from Greenwich, London called ONE YEAR ON. To receive the Zoom link, please just email irena@in-words.co.uk

Irena describes her line-up like this – in alphabetical order so I’m leading us off:

Rosie Johnston‘s four poetry books are published by Lapwing Publications in her native Belfast, most recently Six-Count Jive (2019), a description in 17-syllable stanzas of the inner landscape of post-traumatic stress disorder. Last December top Irish poetry blogger Billy Mills chose it as one of his top three Irish poetry books of 2020. Rosie’s poems have appeared or featured in the Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poems and Pictures blog, London Grip, Culture NI, FourxFour, The Honest Ulsterman, Ink, Sweat & Tears and Hedgerow. Anthologies include Live Canon’s ‘154 Project: In Response to Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ (2016), Her Other Language published by Arlen House in 2020 and the Northern Irish section of Places of Poetry (OneWorld, 2020). Before being distracted by poetry, Rosie had two novels published, in London and Dublin. For this event she will read the first fiction she has written in over ten years. You can find her and her books online at www.rosiejohnstonwrites.com

Alex Josephy lives in London and Italy. Her collection Naked Since Faversham was published by Pindrop Press in 2020 (http://www.pindroppress.com). Other work includes White Roads, poems set in Italy(Paekakariki Press, 2018, https://www.paekakarikipress.com), and Other Blackbirds (Cinnamon Press, 2016, https://www.cinnamonpress.com). Her poems have won the McLellan and Battered Moons prizes, and have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the UK and Italy. As part of the Poetry School Mixed Borders scheme, she has been poet-in-residence at Rainham Hall, Essex, and in Markham Square, London.  Find out more on her website: www.alexjosephy.net Her books can be ordered from the publishers, or for signed copies email Alex on alex@alexjosephy.net.

Colin Pink’s poems and fiction have appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and anthologies. His first book of poems, Acrobats of Sound, was published in 2016 (by Poetry Salzburg Press) and The Ventriloquist Dummy’s Lament, a pamphlet of 21 villanelles, with woodcuts by Daniel Goodwin, was published in 2019 ( by Against the Grain Press). He is having two new collections published this year: Wreck of the Jeanne Gougy, a pamphlet also published by Paekakariki with woodcut illustrations by Daniel Goodwin and Typicity, his second full-length collection to be published by Dempsey and Windle in April. You can obtain copies of his books directly from Colin by emailing him on colinpinkconsulting@gmail.com or order them from the publisher’s websites. Visit his Facebook page to see announcements: https://www.facebook.com/colin.pink.37/

Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye 2011)was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press 2014) won the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work. All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press 2017)was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. Two of her sonnet sequences A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller (2017) and Veritas: Poems After Artemisia (2020) are published by Hercules EditionsHer third collection, Dad, Remember You Are Dead was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019. She will read from her latest book, One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets, published in February 2021 by Nine Arches Press and now available in paperback. She is a founder member of Poets for the Planet, lives in London and teaches at The Poetry School.

Scunthorpe-born Rob Walton lives in Whitley Bay.  His poetry has been published by The Emma Press, Strix, The Interpreter’s House, Sidekick Books, Frances Lincoln, Macmillan and others.  His works of fiction have been published in the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and New Zealand.  Arachne Press will publish his debut poetry collection, This Poem Here, in March 2021. He collated the New Hartley Memorial Pathway text.  You can follow him on Twitter: @anicelad. 

I hope your appetite has been truly whetted. See you on the 25th, wherever you are.

Our Devon poetry evening – a video recording with pictures!

Last month, thanks to Arts Destination South Molton in Devon, we celebrated Gill Stoker’s Poems and Pictures blog on the Mary Evans Picture Library’s website. It was a fabulous evening of all kinds of marvellous poetry read by the poets and here is a video, including the pictures, if you missed it or would like to hear some again. My reading begins around 45 minutes in, after John Freeman’s swallows. Enjoy!

Devon’s celebration of Poems and Pictures reaches across the world

Last night’s event celebrating Gill Stoker’s Poems and Pictures blog was an extraordinary, beautiful mix of words and images that reached all over the world. Very many thanks to everyone who came, to Alison and Marc of Arts Destination South Molton for their flawless organisation and to Gill herself for her magnificent blog on the website of the Mary Evans Picture Library, a Tardis of all kinds of pictures in Blackheath, south east London.

The idea for the blog came from Gill and Greenwich’s Nevada Street Poets, with the first entry on National Poetry Day, October 2015. The blog has 130 contributors so far, some of us appearing several times.

Today’s online events swap the pleasure of chatting in person with allowing many more of us to get together no matter where we are, and over 90 of us honoured Gill and the library last night. People came not only from the UK and Ireland but from France, chilly Spain, Italy, Belgium, Canada, the USA and the Caucasus.

The poetry was enormously varied, from barometers to crossing the Styx, and came from Jill Sharp, Jane Clarke, Rebecca Gethin, Rosie Jackson, Janet Sutherland, Martyn Crucefix, Alison Hill, Richard Westcott and his daughter Sarah Westcott, Robin Houghton, Vivien and John Freeman, Derek Sellen and Chris Hardy. What a fabulous list – if you scroll through the blog’s left-side list, you’ll enjoy their words. My contribution – Oyster 17s – came from the north coast of Kent in England and sunnier, healthier times. It celebrates Whitstable’s tradition of seafood, whether it’s getting together with friends in restaurants or having platefuls of fresh oysters with wine on the beach while we watch the sun sink into a golden sea. Those days will come again.

A kaleidoscope of poetry and images on Monday 11 Jan, 6 – 7.30pm

Welcome to 2021! How do we lighten this chilly, bleak time of year? Well, this Monday between 6 and 7.30pm the Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poetry and Pictures blog is having a showcase. Gill Stoker set up and curates this beautiful blog, an ideal spot for anyone with a taste for the timeless combination of poetry and images, sometimes in quirky combinations. Gill has given space to several of my poems and I’m honoured to be one of the poets invited to read on Monday.

Arts Destination South Molton in Devon will be our hosts; more details are here and on their Facebook event page. The pandemic being what it is, you can join us wherever you are – please come, it’s free 🙂 To get the zoom link, just email Alison admin@artsdestination.co.uk

What am I going to read? This might give you a clue … See you there!

In Billy Mills’ top three Irish poetry books this year!

The company I am keeping in this tweet! Billy Mills runs hardPressed poetry with Catherine Walsh and his reviews on his Elliptical Movements website are highly thought of and sensitively written. I am deeply honoured that he has chosen my Lapwing pamphlet Six-Count Jive.

Billy’s review is here. If you would like to read Six-Count Jive, you can buy from Lapwing Publications direct here. Or you could have an author copy signed by me, using Paypal here. Please let me know if you would like me to sign in favour of a name, I’m happy to do it.

The subject matter of Six-Count Jive is slow recovery from PTSD after years of abuse but it has a happy ending and many people have told me, usually in a quiet aside, that they have found comfort in it and keep it close. One recently asked for a second copy as she had worn her first one out.

I wish you all a peaceful break, and health and strength for you and yours now and in the future. Writing has been a great solace to me throughout this awful year and I wish you joy and success in yours.

Mary Evans poetry reading in Devon, Mon 11 January, 2021 at 6 – 7.15pm

ARTS DESTINATION SOUTH MOLTON in DEVON is hosting a reading featuring the MARY EVANS POEMS AND PICTURES BLOG and I am delighted to join in a celebration of the work of this marvellous blog curated by Gill Stoker. The Mary Evans Picture Library, founded in 1964, is a beautiful little store house in south east London of millions of images of every sort. You have probably enjoyed their images on television and in newspapers and magazines all over the world without necessarily knowing where they came from. The Mary Evans website allows you to sneak behind the library’s closed doors. Images and poetry have always been good company and the Poems and Pictures blog is a marvellous browse, whatever your taste.

Please join us. It will be the ADSM’s first event of 2021 and is the first Zoom event for the poetry blog ever! The beauty of Zoom events is that, while we can’t necessarily go and dabble our toes in the Devon sea, we can enjoy the event wherever we are. The event is free.

Anthologies update

I’ve just updated my Books page about anthologies that have come my way this year. First was the invitation by Ruth Carr and Natasha Cuddington to join them in HER OTHER LANGUAGE Northern Irish Women Writers Address Domestic Violence and Abuse (Arlen House, 2020) It’s an honour to be part of this excellent project.

Our first CHURCHILL WRITERS’ ANTHOLOGY was published early this year too, thanks to the diligence and efficiency of Gervase Vernon. Gervase is a prolific writer and one of the group’s earliest members. It’s a marvellous read, full of variety, and I’m deeply proud, as well as fond, of all the writers.

Last year I posted on the Places of Poetry website set up and run by Andrew McRae and Paul Farley and am thrilled to have my Carnlough Bay selected for the Northern Irish section of their anthology, PLACES OF POETRY (Oneworld, 2020).

These three sit proudly beside two Live Canon anthologies from 2016 and 2018 that contain my work: LIVE CANON More New Poems for Christmas and LIVE CANON 154 PROJECT: 154 poems by 154 contemporary poets in response to Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets.

In this tragic year, our creativity has not always been easy but I hope you and yours stay well and that next year brings safety, togetherness and all the writing flow you could wish for.

Places of Poetry – more news!

Still buzzing about selection of my poem Carnlough Bay for the Northern Irish section of the Places of Poetry anthology being launched on 1 October. It’s wonderful news that the UK Poetry Society‘s online launch on 1 October 2020 is FREE and you are very welcome to join us using this link here.

To celebrate the anthology’s launch, the project is also going to reopen the marvellous website map between 1 and 11 October so you will have extra time to add your favourite poems of place in the UK. They are hoping to gather another 2,500 poems to lift the total to 10,000 – so don’t hold back. There’ll be more about this on social media soon.

Congratulations to the Places of Poetry team on the project being shortlisted for ‘Research Project of the Year: Humanities and Social Sciences‘ at the THE Awards. You can see more about the award and shortlist here. Here’s wishing them all the very best!

Places of Poetry anthology coming soon

One of the United Kingdom’s most beautiful poetic projects recently has been the Places of Poetry map, set up by Paul Farley and Andrew McRae. Last year we were invited to pin poems about any place to the relevant spot on the map, rather like Orlando in As You Like It pinning his love poems to trees. As the site said, Places of Poetry is open to all readers and writers. It aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales, celebrating the diversity, heritage and personalities of place. The site is closed now but the project has announced publication of a Places of Poetry anthology soon.

I am thrilled that my poem Carnlough Bay is selected for the Northern Ireland section of the anthology – here it is on the Words for the Wild website. I spent most of last weekend, with force 5 gales and rain beating down outside here in Kent, remembering the beauties of the gusty, damp coast of Northern Ireland where I grew up. Beloved places do glow in our blood and aspects of that gorgeous place are with me all the time: long breakers riding to the shore, the way the wind can haul you right over a cliff edge, seagulls who know that while we think we own the world, the land, air and oceans are always theirs. So, while the north winds battered at my windows, I recorded a wee video of Carnlough Bay. All the anthology poems will have videos to circulate in place of a launch.

It’s going to be a wonderful book – I can’t wait to read it. And I hope you enjoy our videos when they are released. img_3204 (1)Portstewart Strand in Northern Ireland where I grew up. Beautiful, whatever the weather. 

Join me online in Glasgow tomorrow, 7pm – Public Health Private Illness

One of the silver linings of these grim times is that we can attend events all over the world without being there. Glasgow University’s conference (planned for last April) on public health and private illness – details here – has been revived online and I’m delighted to invite you to join us tomorrow from 7pm at an evening of creative reading.

I’ll be reading from Six-Count Jive (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, April 2019) and will be with:
Georgi Gill
Colette Coen
Sam Rose
Mara Dougall
Moira Dancer
Sara Louise Wheeler
Judy Crow
Caitlin Stobie
Gillian Shirreffs
MT Taylor
Jane Hartshorn and
Laura Donald

It’s going to be an amazing night. Please register here to get the Zoom details. See you there!