The Bicycles of Ice and Salt: Jean Atkin, Indigo Dreams

This pamphlet of poems concerns two long bicycle journeys in Europe, one with a female companion, and a later one with a male, undertaken in the 1980s. Jean Atkin has said about the journeys in a blogpost: “Both journeys were at times bitterly cold, hungry, and overwhelming. Both journeys were absolutely magical, and I was never the same again.”

Her first journey took place over 10 months from ...

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Review

Nocturnes: David Olsen, Dempsey & Windle

David Olsen is the American author of four full-length poetry collections published in UK and four poetry chapbooks from the US. He is also a playwright, a writer of short fiction, and former freelance journalist who has lived in Oxford, England, since 2002.

A quick glance through the contents pa...

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Review

Wagtails, puppets, pogroms: Roma women poets find their voices

“Oke Romano ceriklo! Dikasa kalen! Behold a wagtail, and you shall see Gypsies!” These are the final words of editor Jo Clement’s preface to Wagtail, the Roma Women’s poetry anthology, that was launch...

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Review

Fireworks and fiery words at Spoaken Word in Lewes

It’s hard to beat Janine Booth as an experienced organiser and MC. The Marxist, trade unionist and socialist-feminist has been around as a poet since the 1980s, when she was one of the ranters who bra...

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Review

Never mind the rugby, the planes, or even the literature festival: grassroots voices put Richmond upon Thames on the poetry map

To be fair, the rugby fans didn’t turn a hair when they encountered a group of poets beside the river Thames in Richmond while they were heading from the pub to nearby Twickenham. On the other hand, t...

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Review

'If I fell I would fall in state-shaped flakes. One for every place my body lingered'

Sometimes 'dream poems' give an account of the strange revelations of our subconscious, and sometimes, like here, the 'dream poem' is the poem of wishes and hope, expressing a fantasy of a certain lon...

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Review

All the Men I Never Married: Kim Moore, Seren

This remarkable and very readable book about “a gallery of exes and significant others” first emerged from academia. In an interview earlier this year Kim Moore explained that the poems in her second ...

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Review

Bloody Amazing: ed. by Gill Lambert, Rebecca Bilkau, Dragon Yaffle

This is a comprehensive, really ‘amazing’ anthology of poems about periods, examining in depth all aspects of menstruation and its effect on the female body and mind. It is a woman’s world from which ...

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Review

Red Letter Openings, 40th anniversary anthology, Open University Poets

This is special all right; 40 years and still going with a wide range of styles. You can tell it has been put together by clever Open University students because it can be roughly split using the prin...

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Review

Snow like Silk around my Soul: Liv Johannesson

Sincerity and openness characterise Liv Johannesson’s first collection. She first published her work on Instagram and was supported by her followers and also by the Greenwich Writers’ Group. Friends a...

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Review

Call and Response: collated by Amanda Bonnick, Black Pear Press

This attractive pamphlet of 23 poems by 17 poets has been collated by Amanda Bonnick, Worcester Cathedral’s first poet-in-residence, following a call for submissions from local poets to send in poems ...

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Review

Forged: Tina Cole, Yaffle

I’ll be honest. My heart sank when I first glanced at this pamphlet. It appeared to be another elegy for the Black Country and its industrial past, and it just feels as if I have read a few of these.

...

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Review

Performance Rites: Barry Smith, Waterloo Press

Barry Smith has a soft spot for the 1960s. ‘Beatific’, inspired by ‘The Beatles 1962’ by Sir Peter Blake, is bursting with colour, as was the later part of the decade. It is the small details that thi...

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Review

Pressed Flowers: eds. Charley Barnes, Polly Stretton, Black Pear Press

Oshibana, or the art of pressing flowers in such a way as to make a whole picture, dates back to the 16th century, according to Japan Today. When exchanges between Japan and Europe increased in the ea...

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Review

Driftwood by Starlight: Caroline Gill, Seventh Quarry Press

Prize-winning poet Caroline Gill, who currently lives in Suffolk, grew up in London, Kent and Norfolk. After graduating in classical studies at Newcastle University, she went on to teach Classical Civ...

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Review

Paul Muldoon provides the poetry magic as festival returns to 'trousers-on' audiences

Abruptly, without any fanfare, Paul Muldoon began his reading at Winchester poetry festival by fishing out his mobile phone and reading John Keats’ poem ‘To Autumn’. Afterwards he said merely that his...

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Review

Growing Places: Polly Stretton, Black Pear Press

Chair of the OU Poetry Society, poet, coach and mentor Polly Stretton is the author of three previous full-length poetry collections, Girl’s Got Rhythm (2012), Chatterton (2014) and The Alchemy of ’42...

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Review

The poetry of Coventry: things that Larkin forgot to mention

The opening verse from a poem by Philip Larkin is inscribed on a plaque at Coventry station. The poem, ‘I Remember, I Remember’, concludes in typically downbeat Larkin fashion: “ ‘Nothing, like someth...

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Review

The Oscillations: Kate Fox, Nine Arches Press

The award-winning poet Kate Fox challengingly engages the reader in the peculiarity of being someone who is a ‘neurodivergent thinker’ in the difficult times of the pandemic. The collection is divided...

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Review

Constructions [Konstrukce]: Joshua Calladine-Jones, tall-lighthouse

This impressive debut pamphlet by Joshua Calladine-Jones features three sections that question the very roots of how we use language and proposes different ways of communication. This might entail mak...

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Review

Marples Must Go!: Greg Freeman, Dempsey & Windle

Marples Must Go! was the slogan which protesters spray-painted on a motorway bridge near Luton, with reference to the controversial Minister of Transport Ernie Marples, who oversaw the closure of a hu...

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Review

​​​​​​​100 Poems to Save the Earth, eds. Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans, Seren

The timing for the launch of this anthology could not have been better given the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the COP26 UN climate change conference to be held in G...

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Review

Cures: Jo Brandon, Valley Press

Jo Brandon has worked as a domestic for the Royal Household, and as a tour guide, as well as an administrator for the Poetry Society and the Poetry School. She is now a freelance poetry editor, libret...

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Review

Lyonesse: Penelope Shuttle, Bloodaxe

I was drawn to this poetry collection by its title, and by its location. In her preface, Cornwall-based poet Penelope Shuttle mentions that Thomas Hardy always referred to Cornwall as ‘Lyonesse’. The ...

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Review

In The Sticks: eds. Simon Fletcher, Cherry Doyle, Offa's Press

This anthology of hard-hitting rural poetry from Shropshire-based Offa’s Press began as a series of online regional workshops - and made me wonder where the term “in the sticks” originally comes from....

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Review

Auscultation: Ilse Peder, Seren

Born in Derby and raised in Birmingham, Ilse Pedler now lives in Kendal where she runs her own veterinary practice offering holistic treatment for animals in Cumbria and the north-west of England.

...

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Review

Panopticon: Brian Comber, Black Pear Press

The title of Worcestershire poet Brian Comber’s debut collection made me reach for the dictionary. Historically, a panopticon was a circular prison with cells arranged around a central tower from whic...

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Review

Speaking in Tongues: Laura Taylor, Flapjack Press

Perhaps the most important poem in Laura Taylor’s third collection is not the title poem but ‘Origin’, which precedes it in the book. This poem employs remarkable, un-everyday words such as “prephonat...

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Review

In An Ideal World I'd Not Be Murdered, Chaucer Cameron, Against The Grain Press

The epigraph says it all: To my dearest Helen & [                ]. This magnificent book, part memoir and part fiction of the author’s experiences in the sex industry, exists to give voice to those m...

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Review

The Earth is a Bookcase: Beth O'Brien, Black Pear Press

Writer, editor and reviewer Beth O’Brien is the author of two previous collections of poetry: Light Perception (2019) and I Left the Room Burning (2021), both published by Wild Pressed Books. Her late...

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Review

Pig's Ear, Dog's Dinner: Paul Cookson, Flapjack

As a reviewer, your heart inevitably sinks when you read a sub-title, ‘A Covid-19 Poetry Diary, Vol 3’. It seems only yesterday that I was leafing through a book by Paul Cookson, which I now know to b...

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Review

Yay!: Robert Garnham, Burning Eye

An acclaimed performer of comedy poetry, Robert Garnham reads his poems at fringes and festivals. His work is double-edged, humorous and entertaining but also profoundly connected to the human conditi...

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Review

If You Want Thunder: Ruth Valentine, Smokestack

Ruth Valentine is a writer of poetry, novels, short stories and non-fiction. A number of her previous poetry collections – Downpour, On the Saltmarsh, and The Tide Table – suggest an interest in water...

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Review

How to Wear a Skin: Louisa Adjoa Parker, Indigo Dreams

A poignant exploration of identity, loss and the potential of love evolves in the enthralling poems of Louisa Adjoa Parker. Her English and Ghanaian origins merge in a displacing yet enriching cultura...

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Review

When Women Fly: Sarah Pritchard, Hidden Voice

This is a brave collection that revisits the seven stages of women’s lives from the angles of displacement and personal trauma and from an LGBT perspective. The titles of the seven sections give an id...

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Review

50 Ways to Score a Goal and other football poems: Brian Bilston, Macmillan

It’s all a question of timing if you want to succeed in sending the ball past the custodian – and in poetry, too. Here’s the ever-popular Brian Bilston in his football kit and with a newly-published c...

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Review

The best of Attila the Stockbroker, with knobs on!

I have no truck with folk who deem poetry about terrible events ‘tragedy porn’. I’ve long held the opinion that poets are cultural historians, and that it is almost our duty to document tragic or unju...

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Review

Reading Between the Lines: Neil Leadbeater, Littoral Press

The poetry of place and a love and detailed knowledge of nature go hand in hand in the work of Neil Leadbeater, who in his latest collection Reading Between the Lines delights in excursions down count...

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Review

Rescue From The Dark: Paul Francis, Fair Acre Press

Paul Francis is a retired teacher who has published three previous main poetry collections; he has also won three national poetry competitions, and been placed second or third in three others, includi...

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Review

This Kilt of Many Colours: David Bleiman, Dempsey & Windle

Different languages and diverse cultural heritages shape this multi-voiced collection. David Bleiman weaves his multilingual identity, embracing English, Scots, Scots-Yiddish, Spanish and Yiddish lang...

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Review

Magnolia: Nina Mingya Powles, Nine Arches Press

Nina Mingya Powles is a prize-winning poet and zinemaker from Aotearoa in New Zealand, who is currently living in London. She is the author of several poetry pamphlet collections and the founding edit...

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Review

Map of a Plantation: Jenny Mitchell, Indigo Dreams

The cover illustration of Jenny Mitchell’s second collection, Map of a Plantation, is of a beautiful woman of dignified bearing, and is a detail from ‘Golden earring’ by Gregg Kreutz. It seems outrage...

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Review

When listening isn't enough: Rodney Wood, Independent Publishing Network

Rodney Wood’s second pamphlet is an original and powerful sequence of 21 poems about a challenging time the author experienced, his own difficulties interweaving with stories told by ‘Steve’, whom he ...

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Review

Cov Kids: Antony Owen, Knives Forks and Spoons Press

Antony Owen is best known in the poetry world and beyond for his passionate work about war and peace. It’s interesting to see him take a diversion from his usual subject matter in this collection abou...

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Review

When Peter Sellars Came to Tea: Trisha Broomfield, Dempsey & Windle

Trisha Broomfield’s short collection is drenched in memories in which characters from her childhood and adulthood vividly portray her life experiences in a humorous yet compelling way. She engages the...

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Review

Letters Home: Jennifer Wong, Nine Arches Press

Translator, poet and critic Jennifer Wong was born and grew up in Hong Kong. She studied English at Oxford and received an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is the recipient...

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Review

Anxious Corporals: Alan Morrison, Smokestack

Alan Morrison is a left-leaning, much-published poet and editor who can produce wonderful, ringing phrases of denunciation: “O what hope for red roses / To grow among the thorns of red-top-hypnotised,...

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Review

'A testimony to the power of poetry': Write Out Loud's Beyond the Storm anthology reviewed

As we mark a year since the start of the first Covid lockdown, Write Out Loud would like to share a heartening review of our Beyond the Storm competition anthology that has been published in the quart...

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Review

Inhale/Exile: Abeer Ameer, Seren

Abeer Ameer is of Iraqi heritage, was born in Sunderland and grew up in Wales. She trained as a dentist in London and completed an MSc, developing an interest in the treatment of anxious patients and ...

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Review

The Feel-Good Movie of the Year: Luke Wright, Penned in the Margins

It feels authentic when Luke Wright writes about the state of England; he understands the kind of people that voted for Brexit. They are the same people who believe in Essex lions; he knows them, and ...

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Review

Yield: Claire Dyer, Two Rivers Press

This collection is about a mother’s journey as her child transitions from son to daughter; as the poet moves from seeing a “honeycomb heart shatter, fall”, to anticipating going clothes shopping toget...

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Review

Jumping into a Waterfall: Anna Percy, Flapjack

Manchester-based Anna Percy is a firework of a poet. But I am left pondering what sort of firework – not a rocket, not a Roman candle, more a Catherine wheel, swirly, sparky and deceptively dangerous.

...

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Review

Alexa, what is there to know about love?: Brian Bilston, Picador

How has a poet with a pseudonym, whose work mostly rhymes and includes a large slice of humour, amassed so many followers – more than 80,000 at the latest count – on Twitter? The answer may indeed lie...

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Review

Alexa, what is there to know about love?: Brian Bilston, Picador

How has a poet with a pseudonym, whose work mostly rhymes and includes a large slice of humour, amassed so many followers – more than 80,000 at the latest count – on Twitter? The answer may indeed lie...

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Review

The Alchemy of 42: Polly Stretton, Black Pear Press

Polly Stretton is chair of the Open University Poetry Society, one of the Croome Poets linked with a National Trust mansion and park in Worcestershire, and has worked with children in schools. Her fir...

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Review

Open Windows, Open Doors: Vanessa Vie, New Departures

This debut collection of poetry and visual art by Vanessa Vie opens with an epigraph by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, from which it takes its title, and a foreword by Michael Horovitz, veteran Beat poet and ...

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Review

Pick Your Own: Amanda Bonnick, Black Pear Press

Worcestershire-based actor, director, producer and poet Amanda Bonnick holds a BA degree in philosophy and sociology from the University of Warwick. As a theatre practitioner, she has produced a numbe...

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Review

Alice and the North: Anne Caldwell, Valley Press

I’m no expert on the mysteries of prose poetry - but then, who is? Maybe Anne Caldwell, for one, for she edited a recent prose poetry anthology with Oz Hardwick that was published by Valley Press. .

...

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Review

What Survives Is the Singing: Shanta Acharya, Indigo Dreams

In her long career as a scholar and writer, Shanta Acharya has published poetry, literary criticism and fiction as well as business and finance works. Her seventh collection explores the vulnerability...

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Review

Poems from Cardiff: edited by Amy Wack, Seren

Poems from Cardiff forms a part of Seren’s attractively produced pamphlet series celebrating the spirit of places in Wales. The other pamphlets in the series are titled Poems from Pembrokeshire; Poems...

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Review

Passerine: Kirsten Luckins, Bad Betty Press

There’s no shortage of bold and innovative poetry coming from the UK right now, but you won’t read another collection like this one any time soon. Passerine is delicately defiant, powerfully intricate...

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Review

The Call of the Clerihew: ed. George Szirtes and Andy Jackson, Smokestack

A clerihew is defined on the cover of this anthology of 800 examples of them as “a childish anti-panagyric, a flat-footed, Hidibranistic, eponymous quatrain designed to cut everyone down to size”, and...

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Review

Riverwise: Jack Smylie Wild, Parthian

Born in Aberystwyth but mostly raised on the edge of Dartmoor, poet, nature writer and award-winning baker Jack Smylie Wild has been moving between England and Wales for the last 30 years. In 2011 he ...

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Review

'Write Out Loud was life-changing for me': Tony Walsh on how he became a poet

Leading performance poet Tony Walsh paid a heartfelt tribute to Write Out Loud at our fundraising Facebook event on Thursday night. Tony, who touched a global nerve with his poem ‘This is the Place’ a...

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Review

The Beauty Within Shadow: Henry Normal, Flapjack

I am going to admit that during lockdown I have found it very hard to read anything of any substance.  Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, online dross were all tolerable, but for the first five month...

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Review

The 'man in the cardigan' was gently ribbed by Ian McMillan. But does he have a point?

Over the last few years, I have got out of the habit of attending the TS Eliot Prize readings at the Royal Festival Hall at London’s Southbank Centre. My growing involvement with local, grassroots poe...

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Review

How to Make Curry Goat: Louise McStravick, Fly on the Wall Press

Louise McStravick describes herself as “a writer, a teacher and proud Brummie”. She is also a slam-winning poet and performer, and has said in an interview: “I started out doing spoken word due to the...

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Review

A Sense of Tiptoe: Karen Hayes, Holland Park Press

Karen Hayes spent the earlier part of her working life as an actor and musician and later artistic director of the Bristol-based theatre collective Public Parts. From theatre she moved towards lyric a...

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Review

Forest moor or less: Dawn Bauling and Ronnie Goodyer, Indigo Dreams

Exercise to preserve physical and mental health has become even more important during the pandemic. And walking is still a relatively easy way  – and currently permitted, within certain boundaries – t...

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Review

Poems from the Borders: ed. by Amy Wack, Seren

Poems from the Borders forms a part of Seren’s attractively produced pamphlet series celebrating the spirit of place in Wales. The other pamphlets in the series are titled Poems from Cardiff; Poems fr...

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Review

Belongings: David Constantine, Bloodaxe

A map on the cover of a poetry collection is always a promising sign to me. And that promise is fulfilled in Belongings by David Constantine, recent recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Jus...

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