Timelines: Carolyn O'Connell, Indigo Dreams

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Journeys are a feature of this collection – many of the poems contain lines that operate as reflections on the passing of time, mostly in the context of generations within and beyond a particular family.  The real journey of the poems take place in time and memory rather than space.  In ‘Night Ride’ a daughter returns from abroad, her “belly large with new life” as a reflection in a driving mirror...

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Review

Ten poets bring Quiet Compere's year-long tour to an end with spice and humour

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Sarah L Dixon’s inspired Quiet Compere poetry tour giving 10 poets 10 minutes each to read at every venue bade farewell to 2014 with a night at the Blue Cat Cafe in Heaton Moor, Stockport.

It was a buzzing evening – right on my doorstep – and although Sarah had suggested a topic of “volume”, an e...

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Review

Double Bill: edited by Andy Jackson, Red Squirrel Press

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I have just had a stressful few days, but 10 minutes with this volume of gems cleared my mind, refreshed my brain and invigorated my laughing muscles. Double Bill is a worthy follow-up to 2012’s Split...

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Review

Home truths from abroad: Louise Fazackerley's lyrical, authentic performance at Write Out Loud

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To see a world in a grain of sand, wrote Blake, and heaven in a wild flower.

On Thursday, the Risk a Verse audience at Milnsbridge, Huddersfield, was shown a world with which most of us were unfami...

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Review

Split Screen, edited by Andy Jackson, Red Squirrel Press

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There are lots of poetry anthologies out there these days; some good, some middling, some not so great. But Split Screen - poems inspired by film and television and edited by Andy Jackson - is an anth...

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Review

Exotic, esoteric, freewheeling: an evening with Long Poem magazine

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Many calls for poetry submissions specify a maximum length of 40 lines. Long Poem magazine, as the name suggests, takes the opposite view. Ten contributors read at the launch of issue 12 on Wednesday ...

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Review

In praise of three poets from the West Midlands

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There is no shortage of literary talent coming out of the West Midlands and Offa’s Press is leading the way in promoting some its finest voices to the attention of a wider audience.

Nick Pearson is...

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Review

Remembering Salford's past - and fighting to save a library

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If you wondered where the great and good of Salford and Manchester were on Sunday afternoon, I can tell you. This event in aid of the much-loved Working Class Movement Library over the road sold out w...

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Review

The Fire in Me Now: Michael Curtis, Cultured Llama

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The title of this 12th collection of poems by Michael Curtis is taken from a quote from Samuel Beckett’s play Krapp’s Last Tape. At first reading the poet’s fire could be mistaken for pure rage; and t...

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Review

Tutors Mimi Khalvati and Tamar Yoseloff showcase Poetry School pupils

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Mimi Khalvati and Tamar Yoseloff are esteemed poets, and highly inspirational poetry tutors as well, judging from the expertise and affection displayed by some of their Poetry School students who read...

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Review

Eastern flavour as past and present collide at Manchester's Poets & Players

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The latest in Manchester’s much-loved series of music and poetry sessions of Poets & Players took place in the glorious historic reading room at the John Rylands Library, beneath false-moustachioed st...

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Review

Boom!: Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Seren

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Thanks no doubt to the overwhelmingly male nature of the literary canon, birth and parenthood are under-represented in the history of British poetry, despite their importance in human experience. Whil...

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Review

Roger McGough talks about comic poetry, and why the critics don't take it seriously

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Roger McGough has any number of very funny poems.  As he explained at his reading at the Troubadour in London on Monday night, ‘Mermaid and Chips’ is “about pubescent longing – but mainly about chips”...

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Review

Fishing in the Aftermath: Salena Godden, Burning Eye

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This collection marks 20 years of poetry and performance by Salena Godden, though the majority of the work included has never been previously published, which is surprising, given the quality. 

Hai...

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Review

Magnificent Kate Tempest tells audience: 'Forget the hype and nonsense'

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I’ll be honest, dear readers, I expected to hate this performance at Manchester’s Contact theatre as part of the literature festival. There is so much hype and bluster around Tempest, what with a Merc...

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Review

Lorna Goodison and Kei Miller, mapmakers of Jamaica, at Manchester lit festival

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This Poets and Players event was staged as part of Manchester literature festival at the wonderful Halle St Peter’s, one of Manchester best performance spaces. There was such a big turnout, the pre-sh...

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Review

Waiting for the dawn: lyrical perfection from Alice Oswald

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All the lights went out last evening and we sat in pitch dark at the Purcell Room on the Southbank for the commencement of Alice Oswald’s Tithonus: 46 minutes in the life of the Dawn, commissioned by ...

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Review

Good evening, America: Stateside poets reinforce Troubadour's transatlantic reputation

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Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, Jorie Graham and CK Willams are just some of the host of American names that have appeared at the famous Troubadour poetry venue in west London over the years. You can now ...

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Review

Passionate poetry on Chanje Kunda's journey to Amsterdam

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What happens when a perfectly responsible woman gives in to the pull of passion and adventure? That’s the subject of this one-woman show by Manchester poet/playwright/performance artist Chanje Kunda w...

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Review

Signposts to the past on a day to Remember at the Southbank

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The new Forward prize winner, Kei Miller, looked out at the audience, smiled, and apologised for the downbeat nature of his final poem on National Poetry Day Live at the Southbank Centre in London. Hi...

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Review

Steve Pottinger creates a buzz as 'last orders' threatens Rhythm & Muse

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The quietly-spoken, hard-travelling Steve Pottinger was back at Kingston’s Rhythm & Muse on Thursday night. As he told his audience, he gets “a real buzz” out of travelling to different gigs, meeting ...

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Review

Slate Rising: Alison Hill, Indigo Dreams

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This collection combines the familiar with a touch of other worlds, observed with an eye that is compassionate as well as curious. At times, there is an unsettling hint of something out there, as in ‘...

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Review

Is Billy Collins still at the top of his game? A fan's view from Edinburgh book festival

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Book festivals, unlike music festivals, rarely seem to set many people into a heightened state of animation – unless, of course, those people are bibliophiles. 

There were over 800 events taking pl...

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Review

Anthology of Fatherhood, ed. Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright, Emma Press

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This anthology of fatherhood arrived hot on the heels of its companion anthology of motherhood, but that’s not surprising. The Emma Press specialises in anthologies and pamphlets; it has produced seve...

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Review

Short Days, Long Shadows: Sheenagh Pugh, Seren

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This consummate collection has the certainty of touch one has come to expect from Sheenagh Pugh, one of our finest contemporary poets. The opener, ‘Extremophile’, recently a Guardian Saturday Poem, is...

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Review

Live From Worktown: Bolton's poetry festival anthology

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Write Out Loud’s roots are in the north-west; it actually started in Bolton. And this anthology, put together to coincide with the town’s first international poetry festival, Live From Worktown, earli...

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Review

Survivors: ed. by Thomas Ország-Land, Smokestack

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True poetry is immune to propaganda and social control; it is immune to infiltration by the far right and to the rewriting of history. That is why we need it.  Of vital importance – now, perhaps, more...

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Review

In Between: John Wedgwood Clarke, Valley Press

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This slim volume contains a sequence of 18 poems about York’s snickets, passageways, courts and yards, from ‘Mad Alice Lane’ to ‘Whip ma whop ma gate’, and was commissioned for a project that explores...

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Review

Between two worlds: George the Poet on the estates, Oxbridge and the BBC

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I missed George the Poet at Latitude after he sent word that he was stuck on a train.  On Wednesday night at Out-Spoken in the heart of Camden there came a message that he was delayed in south London....

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Review

Slate Voices: Mavis Gulliver and Jan Fortune, Cinnamon

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Landscape and memory, landscape and voices, landscape and ghosts. How inevitably connected is the human spirit to the places we inhabit or have inhabited, both in life and death.  This is the subject ...

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Review

The Hundred Years' War: edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe

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You could hear the guns firing on the western front back in England. I didn’t know that was also true in the second world war, but ‘that low pulsation in the east is war’, realised Denise Levertov, in...

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Review

Look At All The Women: Cathy Bryant, Mother's Milk

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I have just had a nasty dose of sunburn and I blame Cathy Bryant. You see, doctor, I was sitting in my garden after a vigorous bout of weeding and decided to flick through her latest book of poetry wh...

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Review

Shooting from the hip: Dharker, Gross and Mort are quick on the draw at the Troubadour

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Three leading poets at the top of their games amused, surprised and entertained an audience at the Troubadour in London last night as they delivered a succession of snippets of their poetry in an impr...

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Review

Joyriding the Storm: Vanessa Kisuule, Burning Eye

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Vanessa Kisuule  is a multi-slam and award-winning young poet, who was voted best spoken word performer in the 2013 Saboteur awards. She writes plays, and one-woman shows, and performs regularly at fe...

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Review

Poetry School students end Joyce odyssey with 'Bloomsound'

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It was Bloomsday yesterday – Monday 16 June – in Dublin, and last night it was celebrated at the Blue Elephant theatre in Camberwell, south London, too, as students from the Poetry School, led by tuto...

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Review

Barrier, battleground? The table as disturbing metaphor

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Two Cinnamon Press titles were launched last week at the Poetry Cafe in London. The first reading was given by Jane Monson, pictured, from her new collection of prose poems, The Shared Surface.  The C...

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Review

Moontide: Niall Campbell, Bloodaxe

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Prompted by the news that Moontide had been shortlisted for best first collection in the Forward prize, and spurred on by the furore surrounding Jeremy Paxman’s remarks, I finally took the book out of...

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Review

Liz Lochhead warms up for the Edinburgh Fringe in Devizes

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Scotland’s makar, Liz Lochhead, is trying out new poetry for her forthcoming Edinburgh show later this summer. Poems like ‘Song for a Dirty Diva’ might be suitable for the Fringe, but Devizes on a Sun...

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Review

Recapturing that 60s mood with Brian Patten in night of laughter and nostalgia

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Brian Patten is a survivor of the 1960s. As one of the Liverpool Poets, with Roger McGough and Adrian Henri, he took poetry to a new audience with the joint Penguin publication, The Mersey Sound. Patt...

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Review

Knife wielding, protective gloves: dipping a toe into the world of experimental poetry

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How do you feel about experimental poetry? And who defines it anyway? As an amateur listener in this field I went to the latest evening of performance at The Other Room in Manchester in some trepidati...

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Review

Never mind the Forward: Smokestack publisher's breath of fresh air

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Smokestack Books is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. In that time it has published 90 titles, “and not one of them has been reviewed by Poetry Review”, said publisher Andy Croft, introducing a...

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Review

Prayer to Imperfection: Lucy English, Burning Eye

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Burning Eye Books specialise in publishing performance poetry. Most publishers won’t touch performance poets with a big stick, so my curiosity was instantly piqued. Prayer to Imperfection is Lucy Engl...

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Review

Making themselves heard: festival puts Suffolk poetry groups on map

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From the drowned churches of Dunwich, to the rivers Deben and Orwell, to nightingales at the RSPB haven at Minsmere, Suffolk is a place that produces an impressive amount of inpirational poetry locati...

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Review

Louis de Bernières wears his heart on his sleeve at the Troubadour

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“This is like a mini poetry festival,” said one enthusiastic poet at Coffee-House Poetry at London’s Troubadour on Monday night. You could see her point.

There were seven poets, each with at least ...

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Review

Cameo Metro: Ken Champion, The Penniless Press

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I picked up Ken Champion’s second collection, Cameo Metro, with anticipation. His first, but black & white is better, has a 1960s-style cover, and a sharp, laconic style that I’d guess owes nothing to...

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Review

Rembrandt's Bible: Atar Hadari, Indigo Dreams

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This collection is based on an idea of modernised stories from the Old Testament, and is divided into four sections:  ‘Honey’, ‘Songs of David’, ‘Father Tongue’, and ‘Rembrandt’s Bible’. To interpret ...

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Review

The Museum of Disappearing Sounds: Zoë Skoulding, Seren

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Writing on her staff profile page for Bangor University, where she is senior lecturer in the school of English, Zoë Skoulding says: “I perform poetry with field recordings and electronic music as an e...

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Review

Noel Coward, Benny Hill ... and Elvis McGonagall in roll call of cultural heroes

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“Elvis,” compere Julie Mullen confided to her audience, “is in the building.” And what a building! “You did say it was deconsecrated?” the legendary resident of Graceland Caravan Park inquired later, ...

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Review

My Family and other Superheroes: Jonathan Edwards, Seren

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This collection, in parts nostalgic and emotional, reveals a poet preoccupied with heart and hearth. However, Jonathan Edwards’ characters and places stop short of being caricature, and his appeal to ...

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Review

The Killing of Sophie Lancaster: a tragedy that continues to haunt

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There are the sounds of children playing as the audience files in, shouts and laughter; it could be a playground in a park. With the knowledge of what we are about to see, the sounds are eerie, sinist...

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Review

Things I Will Put in my Mother's Pocket: Catherine Graham, Indigo Dreams

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This collection by Newcastle-based poet Catherine Graham begins strongly. In ‘Making Marmalade with Marc Bolan’ the free verse form employed particularly suits the whimsical, yet coherent narrative.  ...

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Review

Historic night at Southbank as five laureates read together for first time

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It was, as Liz Lochhead said, “a wow of a night, right enough". Five women poet laureates – Gillian Clarke (Wales), Sinead Morrissey (Belfast), Lochhead (Scotland), Paula Meehan (Ireland), and Carol A...

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Review

Wit and wisdom at Nag's Head: if you weren't there, you should have been

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I Swear I was There, this third evening of poetry/comedy/music created and hosted by Salford’s own JB Barrington (aka WordsEscapeMe) at the Nag’s Head in Manchester, was packed to the gunnels. And rig...

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Review

Warm, edgy, inspiring Loose Muse in Manchester: what's not to like?

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Women were on the loose at this open mic night of poetry at Manchester's Three Minute Theatre, a wonderful venue, on Monday 3 March. Held under the umbrella of the established and expanding Loose Muse...

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Review

The Claims Office: Dai George, Seren Books

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Dai George is a young poet, born in Cardiff, who now lives in London but often returns to Wales.  His debut collection shows a strong interest in religion and ancestors, is enriched by a deep sense of...

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Review

The Elephant Tests: Matt Merritt, Nine Arches Press

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I don’t like crosswords, whodunnits or things that require a dictionary, encyclopaedia of myths and legends, or even Wikipedia at hand to get below the surface and winkle out the hidden meanings of th...

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Review

A taste of Canadian poetry in Manchester

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This evening at the Anthony Burgess Foundation’s Engine House could have been a disaster. Despite living and working in Manchester for 25 years, I had never heard of the Anthony Burgess Foundation (I ...

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Review

A Shed for Wood: Daniel Thomas Moran, Salmon

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I pondered the significance of the title of this collection.   A wood shed can be storage for fuel (memories?). It is also a form of shelter. This poet was born in New York but has Irish forbears. The...

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Review

The Visitations: Kathryn Simmonds, Seren

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Second collections can be difficult, especially if a poet’s first collection is published to wide acclaim, garnering praise and prizes, as was the case with Kathryn Simmonds’ Forward prize-winning deb...

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Review

On Light & Carbon: Noel Duffy, Ward Wood Publishing

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Noel Duffy is a scientist who studied experimental physics at Trinity College, Dublin, and  graduated with a first in 1992. After a brief period in research he turned to writing and poetry. On Light &...

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Review

Maps & Legends: eds. Jo Bell and Jane Commane, Nine Arches Press

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Midlands-based Nine Arches Press has been around for five years. To celebrate that achievement – no small feat in the world of poetry publishing – they have produced an anthology which can be viewed a...

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Review

The Best British Poetry 2013: edited by Ahren Warner, Salt

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In his candid introduction to this anthology, editor Ahren Warner uses words such as “dubious” and “absurd” to describe the idea of selecting the “best” poetry. Warner, who is also editor of Poetry Lo...

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