All That Jazz and Other Poems: Adrian Green, The Littoral Press

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The first poem in the first poetry book I bought, way back in the early 1970s, consisted of two lines: “He breathed in air, he breathed out light./Charlie Parker was my delight.” The poet was Adrian Mitchell but I wasn’t quite sure who Parker was. After some research, and some vinyl borrowed from the library, I found out that Charlie “Bird” Parker was one of the greatest saxophone players ever to ...

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Collected Poems: Ken Smith, Bloodaxe

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How does one sum up the collected works of a writer when the book weighs in at a massive 630-odd pages of richly various poetry, in a way that truly does the man justice? From his first collection, Ken Smith produced some of English poetry’s most remarkable poems. He was neither entirely mainstream,...

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Review

All That Jazz and Other Poems: Adrian Green, Littoral Press

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The first poem in the first poetry book I bought, way back in the early 1970s, consisted of two lines: “He breathed in air, he breathed out light./Charlie Parker was my delight.” The poet was Adrian M...

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Review

Don't Oil The Hinges: Heather Wastie, Black Pear Press

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It’s not a question of sitting around, waiting for the muse to turn up. As a local poet laureate you have to get on with the job, look for inspiration in all sorts of places. That’s one of the message...

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The House of Ghosts and Mirrors: Oz Hardwick, Valley Press

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This collection is haunted by 50 years of the poet’s psychic and physical life. It starts at the end of life, and finishes with his birth, when he screamed “a slapped baby scream / that clawed my thro...

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Review

Ghosting for Beginners: Anna Saunders, Indigo Dreams

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Anna Saunders’s Ghosting for Beginners is a rich procession of phantoms and monsters. An undercurrent of anxiety for the material world grounds the collection: these spirits are anything but fey; thes...

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Review

On the Wing: Ros Woolner, Offa's Press

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Ros Woolner lives in Wolverhampton with her partner and two teenage children. Her poem ‘Sack of Night’ came second in the inaugural Wolverhampton literature festival competition. She works as a transl...

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Review

Punching Cork Stoppers: Neil Leadbeater, Original Plus

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The poems in this chapbook by Neil Leadbeater represent a love letter to Lisbon, to Portugal, and to its cork groves in particular. In the capital the poet hears fado music, a form of song characteris...

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Review

The Other Guernica: Derek Sellen, Cultured Llama

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Readers who are unfamiliar with Spanish art might be expected to find 65 poems on the topic something of a challenge. Yet such is Derek Sellen’s passion for his subject and so varied are his approache...

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Review

Swiftscape: Frances White, Seventh Quarry Press

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Frances White is a member of a poetry group that was formed by the late Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Dylan Thomas. She grew up near London and has strong family ties in south Wales. The venues she has ...

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Review

Laura Taylor calling - you'd better be listening

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Laura Taylor is a force of nature, worth abandoning a quiet life of retirement and taking the train to that London to hear. That London? Yes, Laura is a popular performance poet at festivals and clubs...

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Review

This is Just to Say: John Woodall, Offa's Press

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The title of this pamphlet collection is a nod to the well-known poem by William Carlos Williams which goes under the same name. Woodall’s poem, which echoes several of the lines found in the one by W...

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Review

Mapping: Mark Totterdell, Indigo Dreams

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One of the pleasurable tasks I was invited to undertake at my secondary school – one of the few, to be honest – was to devise an Ordnance Survey map from my own imagination, complete with all the nece...

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Review

Passing Through: Geraldine Green, Indigo Dreams

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By sheer coincidence, when Geraldine Green’s book arrived for review I was reading another volume of poems bearing exactly the same title by the Welsh poet John Tripp.  Tripp’s book, which was publish...

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Review

The Houses Along the Wall: Karen Hayes, Holland Park Press

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I may well have fallen for this collection before I read it, as soon as I heard of its subject matter. The set of poems in The Houses Along the Wall creates a fictional history for 16 of the buildings...

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Review

Kierkegaard's Cupboard: Marianne Burton, Seren

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Marianne Burton trained as a lawyer and worked in the City. Her first book, She Inserts the Key was nominated for the Forward prize for best first collection. Kierkegaard’s Cupboard, the culmination o...

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Review

Flood: Clare Shaw, Bloodaxe

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Floods inhabit myths, legend and our psyche. From classical tales and bible stories they appear throughout our literature. The flash flood in DH Lawrence’s The Rainbow springs to mind, as does Tom Wei...

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Review

The Evening Entertainment: Matthew Paul, Eyewear

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There is no shortage of exotic subjects in Matthew Paul’s debut poetry collection, which is said to have taken 30 years to put together. It includes poems about high-wire artists cheating death, a man...

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Review

The Lovely Disciplines: Martyn Crucefix, Seren

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Martyn Crucefix is closing in on his third decade as a poet of renown. His first collection, the wonderfully titled Beneath Tremendous Rain came out 28 years ago, when this reviewer still thought pop ...

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Review

Quines: Gerda Stevenson, Luath Press

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Gerda Stevenson is well known as an award-winning actor, director, musician and playwright, but is less well known as a poet. Her first collection was the autobiographical If This Were Real (2013), wh...

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Review

The Dark Interval: Rainer Maria Rilke, Random House

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What The Dark Interval first highlights is that the life of a poet is often interspersed with letters and other forms of correspondence which, taken as a complement to their poems, helps us to make se...

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Review

Apple Water/Povel Panni: Raine Geoghegan, Hedgehog Poetry Press

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Raine Geoghegan was born in the Welsh valleys, and is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of Chichester and now lives in West Sussex.

...

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Review

Housework: Susan Birchenough, KFS

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This is a relatively short book – only 20 poems and a total of 30 pages – but it’s perfectly put together in a larger than standard format because of the nature of some of the poems. Susan Birchenough...

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Fault Lines: Laura Taylor, Flapjack

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When I was young I played a video game featuring a character with a giant mace, who whirled through the battlefield dealing blows left and right, flames spitting out of the end of the weapon, lighting...

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Review

Ten: Poets of the New Generation, ed. by Karen McCarthy Woolf, Bloodaxe

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This is the third in a series of anthologies - the first  was published in 2010 - which were intended to correct a perceived imbalance in the publishing of poets of black and minority ethnic (BAME) or...

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Review

Way More Than Luck: Ben Wilkinson, Seren

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I found Ben Wilkinson’s work, as represented in this collection from Seren, direct but nuanced.  The poems are well crafted in a range of forms. The three sections of the book have distinct themes. Th...

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Review

The English River: Virginia Astley, Bloodaxe

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I came across Virginia Astley way back in 1983 with the release of her first solo album From Gardens Where We Feel Secure - an almost entirely instrumental piece that fused ambient sound recordings of...

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Review

The Book of Upside Down Thinking: Brian Patten, Forget Me Not Books

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And now for something completely different, as someone once said. A priest halfway between Heaven and Hell, a tax collector, a magician, a philosopher, a blind man, a monk and a hammer, and quite a fe...

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Review

Assembly Lines: Jane Commane, Bloodaxe

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In a BBC Radio 4 broadcast (Start the Week, 21 May 2018) Jane Commane asserted that “poetry has a duty to look at the layers of history … the push and pull between the past and the present”,  and this...

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Review

Point me at the stars: Noel Williams, Indigo Dreams

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Noel Williams lives in Sheffield where he has been a key figure in its expanding poetry scene for many years. He has initiated group projects such as Speakers 2, Women and War, and offered invaluable ...

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Review

Land of Three Rivers: anthology edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe

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Hexham is a market town in Northumberland, south of the river Tyne, and close to Hadrian’s Wall. It is also the home of Bloodaxe Books, whose editor Neil Astley is renowned for the bestselling antholo...

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Review

Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods: Tishani Doshi, Bloodaxe

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Poet, novelist and dancer Tishani Doshi is of Welsh-Gujarati descent. Born in Madras, she received her Masters in writing from Johns Hopkins University in America, worked in London in advertising and ...

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Review

We Are All Lucky: Ben Banyard, Indigo Dreams

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Ben Banyard grew up in Solihull but now lives in Portishead, near Bristol. His work has been published widely in print and online. We Are All Lucky is his first full-length collection and follows his ...

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Review

The Glass Aisle: Paul Henry, Seren

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Born in Aberystwyth, singer-songwriter and poet Paul Henry has had nine previous books of poetry published and is an established voice on the Welsh poetry circuit.

In keeping with his earlier work,...

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Review

A Watchful Astronomy: Paul Deaton, Seren

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Born in London and raised in Wales, Paul Deaton’s debut collection is as much about family as it is about nature. A difficult father-son relationship is at the heart of much of what he writes about. T...

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Review

Citizens: Ian Parks, Smokestack

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It rains in a lot of Ian Parks’ poems. I was tempted to work out the percentage.  He is writing out of South Yorkshire and the post-industrial north of England, a home I share.  Our urban landscape an...

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Review

There are Boats on the Orchard: Maria C McCarthy, Cultured Llama

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Author, poet and editor Maria C McCarthy, winner of the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust short story award in 2015, has an MA in creative writing from the University of Kent. This  attractively pr...

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Review

A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry, ed. by Naomi Foyle, Smokestack

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The Arab world is full of poetry, and always has been, but for most people, I suspect it’s a completely closed world. With the possible exception of Rumi, and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, badly trans...

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Review

I'm Having the Rhyme of My Life: George Melling, Talentvine Press

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Flapjack Press, an independent publisher of north-west performance poetry and poetry theatre for adults and children, also produce collections and anthologies for schools, workshop groups, festivals a...

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Review

Belongings: Trevor Hughes, Kingston Press

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This is not an easy review to write. Not because the poems in Trevor Hughes’ debut collection, Belongings, are “hard”, in the sense of releasing their meaning with difficulty. Not even because of the ...

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Review

Looking South: Stuart A Paterson, Indigo Dreams

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Stuart A Paterson writes in English and his native Scots, and lives by the Solway coast in Galloway. He is a past recipient of an Eric Gregory award, in 1992, and his pamphlet collection, Border Lines...

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Review

Basic Nest Architecture: Polly Atkin, Seren

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Polly Atkin teaches English studies at the University of Strathclyde and lives in the Lake District, an inspiration for much of her writing.  Basic Nest Architecture is her debut collection. At least ...

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Review

Atlantic Drift: ed by James Byrne and Robert Sheppard, Arc

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Subtitled ‘An Anthology of Poetry and Poetics,’ this is an important anthology not just for the poetry in it, but for the thinking about poetry within it as well. Most people, I suspect, don’t sit dow...

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Review

Cry Baby: Gareth Writer-Davies, Indigo Dreams

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Based in Brecon, Gareth Writer-Davies has been commended in a number of competitions, and has also been twice shortlisted for the Bridport prize. Cry Baby is his second pamphlet published by Indigo Dr...

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Review

Missing Miles: Hannah Stone, Indigo Dreams

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Hannah Stone holds an MA in creative writing from Leeds Trinity University. Her first  collection, Lodestone, was published by Stairwell Books in 2016. She won the Poetry Business Yorkshire Poetry pri...

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Review

Curlew Calling: edited by Karen Lloyd, Numenius Press

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The cover of this anthology of poetry, nature writing and images “in celebration of curlew” shows a distant, indistinct bird in flight, an image that is sadly appropriate.

According to the RSPB, be...

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Review

Our Beautiful Scars: Jane Seabourne, Offa's Press

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Wolverhampton-based poet Jane Seabourne has an MA in English literature and post-graduate certificates in education and mentoring. Now a freelance writer and mentor, most of her adult life has been sp...

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