Archive for April 2019

Sunshine & Rain: Poetry Inspiration, Influences & Impressions

spring haiku for Nine Arches smaller size

The photo-poem above features a spring haiku written for Nine Arches Press last month.

I’m very pleased to have ‘Like a bird‘ published in Unbroken journal for prose poems and poetic prose issue 21.

I’m also delighted to have a photo and poem, ‘Sparkle’, included on The Writing Manchester Map just launched by Manchester Metropolitan University and WordLife. ‘Sparkle’ is set at The Midland hotel and features Ada, the main character of my Overton Poetry Prize 2015 pamphlet Lampshades & Glass Rivers. The map can be explored here. (And the direct link for my poem and photo here – though I’d really recommend enjoying exploring the full map.)

Balancing Acts: My Writing Day‘ article with photos on Rob McLennan’s my (small press) writing day blog in March 2019.

Sunshine and Rain: Photo-poems inspired by Jacques Prévert‘ published on The High Window in March 2019.


The Europeans David ClarkeEven an ostrich with its head under several Saharas’ worth of sand couldn’t avoid Brexit. David Clarke’s new Nine Arches Press collection The Europeans does what British politicians currently seem to be failing to do – it cuts through the chaos to highlight what things really look and feel like in, and beyond, Britain and Europe. Clarke’s poems combine strong and striking imagery with beautifully crafted lines to retain a deceptively light touch yet dig deep. His poems here examine and re-imagine “this awkward age” and sometimes “cold rage” in light of the past, world uncertainty now and the implications on what may come next. A thought- and admiration-provoking collection!

9781911587163 Inside the Blue House cover imageIt’s been a good fortnight for me when it comes to enjoying new poetry. Inside the Blue House by Sonia Jarema (Palewell Press) is a striking selection of evocative and moving poems encompassing grief, growing up and going home, as well as migration, multi-cultural influences and more. The pamphlet opens with a short, interesting introduction to the background setting – both family history and the history of the Ukraine. The two are closely intertwined in the pamphlet where the past is inseparable from the present, however much life also throws new changes and challenges. Suffering is matched by resilience, striking details reinforced by memorable phrasing. Here:

“only the river is never swept away” (‘the earth holds secrets’);

“The ghost is a village of itself,” (‘Mariyka’s song’);

“I take my friend to a funeral and watch
as a detached blue and yellow car bonnet
is carried into church. Its edges
are shaped like Ukraine’s borders
but one part is missing…”

(‘Ukraine you come to me in dreams’.)

The Sticklebacks from The Hedgehog Poetry Press are one-of-a-kind. These ultra-slim booklets have ISSNs rather than ISBNs and feel like a cross between typical poetry magazine format and a solo-poet poetry card. As a cult member/ press subscriber, the six recent Sticklebacks arrived together – as if in a journal, and yet each poet’s work is actually presented in a stylish individual poetry-card style booklet with cover, endpapers and 4-6 pages of poems.
The recent set of sticklebacks includes:
Kate Garrett (The fifth and final – striking and moving poems of motherhood, nature, the generations before and behind us)
Martin Malone (Shetland Lyrics – evocative and beguiling poems of time, place and people)
Jeremy Reed (Spotlight on Jeremy Reed – imaginative, characterful, energetic and linguistically sizzling poems of celebrity, culture, society, politics)
C. R. Smith (Quiet Conversations With The Dead – a wide-encompassing, evocative and thought-provoking selection of poems of individual and ecological death, loss and memory)
Penelope Shuttle (Poems from Lyonesse – beguiling, atmospheric and characterful poems of legend and place)
Melissa Fu (String & Circumstance – beautifully choreographed and beguiling prose poetry, featuring childhood, family and life)

I could easily write more about all of these titles, but time being in constant deficit, I’m going to concentrate on one by a writer I’ve not micro-reviewed before. String & Circumstance by Melissa Fu is a beguiling series of second-person snapshots, combining narrative elements, strong characterisation and striking imagery, language and metaphor. They’re evocative and crafted, thought-provoking and emotion-stirring. But the closing lines of the ‘Kaleidoscope’ actually sums up this selection by Fu better than I could. “Their beauty falls through your vision, like water through your fingers. A dance choreographed from equal measures of chance and gravity.” Like these kaleidoscopic shapes, Fu’s words are beautifully choreographed, illuminating each insight or snippet of life from varied intricate slants.

PaperHouse cover image

The Paper House by Karen Dennison is a very enjoyable full collection from The Hedgehog Poetry Press. The poems are full of evocative and sensual details, with wonderful, beautiful, striking lines that made me gasp time and time again. Loss threads through all four parts – be it death, childhood memories or the lives, possibilities and relationships now behind the poet-narrator(s). But they’re crafted in a way that also brings insight and wonder: “Time stacks up behind us, a realisation that we’ve gone | too far, that turning back will bring only dark” (‘In the Mountains’). Family, place (London), artistic inspiration and a sense of home and not-home are other themes that hook me in. The imagery, narratives and characters are so vivid that I can see and feel them. But Dennison layers deftly as well as deeply, retaining light touches of mystery/the unexplained that leave space for reader interpretation and make for beguiling and haunting poetry. A beautiful, moving and spell-binding collection.

Karen is also sending any profits from sales to St Mungo’s Charity working to support the homeless and prevent homelessness. Copies can be purchased from here


Sunday, June 30 – Publishing with an Indie Press, Flash Fiction Festival
Trinity College Bristol, Stoke Hill, Stoke Bishop, 2.45-3.45pm. This event is part of the weekend festival – full details on booking can be found on the festival website at

‘Publishing with an Indie Press’
Diane Simmons, whose debut flash fiction collection Finding A Way was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in February 2019, and Damhnait Monaghan, whose debut flash fiction chapbook The Neverlands was published in April 2019 by V.Press, will talk about their journeys to publication and what has happened in the few months since, with publishers Jude Higgins from Ad Hoc Fiction and Sarah Leavesley from V Press. Diane and Damhnait will read samples from their collections and there will be Q and A.

April 14, 2019

Bonnie’s Crew #2 – April 2019

Bonnie's Crew

Welcome to the second issue of Bonnie’s Crew!

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Add comment April 9, 2019






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