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How I Did It: Michael Marks Award Special – Phoebe Stuckes on ‘Mad Chicks Cool’

Ahead of the Awards ceremony on Thursday 12th December, The Poetry School has asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets to discuss the writing process behind a poem from their award-nominated work. So far, Theophilus Kwek and Charlotte Wetton have talked about their poems; today, Phoebe Stuckes shares the inspiration behind…

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On Writing Your Body, Outside In

What a strange thing it is to inhabit this gummy, flexible, porous, resilient, terrifying, exhilarating vessel from which we have no escape. Take a deep breath. Four seconds in (count them), and four seconds out (count them). What a different thing it is to purposefully concentrate on the one act we’ve done continuously since birth,…

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How I Did It: Michael Marks Award Special – Charlotte Wetton on ‘The Archivist’s House’

Ahead of the Awards ceremony on Thursday 12th December, The Poetry School has asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets to discuss the writing process behind a poem from their award-nominated work. Yesterday, Theophilus Kwek wrote about his poem, ‘The Crossing’; today, Charlotte Wetton talks us through her poem ‘The Archivist’s…

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Review: ‘Bear’ by Chrissy Williams

An enormous bear with piercing yellow eyes fills the cover of Chrissy Williams’ first full-length collection; stare for long enough and its neutral expression seems to shift from challenging to friendly to curious to sad, and back. The bear appears again in the opening poem – ‘Bear of the Artist’ – cementing its symbolic significance…

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How I Did It: Michael Marks Award Special – Theophilus Kwek on ‘The Crossing’

Ahead of the Awards ceremony on Thursday 12th December, The Poetry School has asked the five poets shortlisted for this year’s Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets to discuss the writing process behind a poem from their award-nominated work. First in the series, Theophilus Kwek writes about his poem, ‘The Crossing’.  Easter 2015. I am walking with…

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Sarala Estruch, Romalyn Ante and Aviva Dautch Selected for Primers Vol 3

Congratulations to Romalyn Ante, Sarala Estruch and Aviva Dautch, who have been selected for this year’s Primers! Each poet will receive mentoring from Hannah Lowe, editorial support from Jane Commane, and publication in Primers Volume Three with Nine Arches Press! Nine Arches editor and Primers judge, Jane Commane said: “Huge congratulations to our three finalists, and…

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Risking forms

One of the best things that a poem can do is that it can unsettle you. It may be a certain strangeness to do with its form or the voice, for instance, that keeps you thinking about what it says. Take, for instance, the creative decision Abigail Parry made, to begin her poem ‘Arterial’ (which…

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‘asana’

forward fold rolling down each vertebrae the top of the duvet until i’m a penknife or a nutcracker. swing elbows swing head. ensure the release. massage the belly by squeezing it on the thighs good for the guts. a gutsy move this one it makes the hamstrings shriek. a most decisive vulnerability. shift weight to…

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Review: ‘This Is Not a Rescue’ by Emily Blewitt

If Jane Austen was a modern Welsh poet, her name would be Emily Blewitt. This Is Not a Rescue (Seren) is an easy mix of dark and light, scooping its inspiration from the years between girlhood to marriage in Wales. These are old-fashioned yet ageless themes and Blewitt draws us in with her keen eye for…

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The Shadow of Violence

One Friday night, when I was fifteen, I got into a fight. More accurately: I bravely stood-up for a loudmouth friend and then bravely lay in the grass, while five men kicked my head in. This was nothing unusual for my mid-teens (or indeed my mid-twenties). The only difference being that this time I limped-off…

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Beyond the Self and Writing What You Don’t Know

‘Write what you know’ is the advice often given to new writers, and it’s true that our stories, or versions of the stories that haunt us, are the starting point for much of our writing.  If you are not Karl Ove Knausgaard, however, you may tire of your life story and yearn to transcend the limits…

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‘Half-empty’ by Romalyn Ante – Primers Shortlist 2017

‘The Philippines must be half-empty; you’re all here running the NHS’ – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Drug: Migrationazoline (available in full or half-empty bottles) Indications: ____– prophylaxis of parents who nag like masonry drills, ______saying they did not send you to college ______to be a health-centre volunteer ____– ulcers on the lips for eating…

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‘Baby’ by Amelia Loulli – Primers Shortlist 2017

Most people drown without _______making a noise or splashing. See me here Baby, watch me _______lying out plank, below the surface, all that stillness, all that _______peace, see how long I can breathe down here alone. You must _______trust me, I am your mother after all, don’t think about the firefighter who _______lies to the…

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‘A curious, messy business, fraught with failure’: Poetry and Science

Our lives are threaded through with science  – from the way our cars convert petrol into energy to how food changes form when cooked at different temperatures (runny or hard-boiled eggs, anyone?). I mean, isn’t the Great British Bake Off really a science show involving a lot of cake? Scientists often use languages and vocabularies…

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Review: ‘Joy’ by Sasha Dugdale

Sometimes you read a work that is so clearly deserving of the accolades it’s received that it restores your faith in things. Sasha Dugdale’s ‘Joy’ – the title-piece of this, her fourth collection from Carcanet – is such a work, having won the 2016 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and rightly so. A playwright…

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‘To The Wounded Among Us*’ by Sarala Estruch – Primers Shortlist 2017

  But everyone is wounded a little. What are hearts but purple, pumping wounds? What are we but hearts travelling in skin suits? Today we are tired of listening. This morning we woke with our ears full, cochleae still reverberating with gunshot and the bombs we detonated yesterday in yet another failed coup to colonise…

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‘Athenian Light’ by Kostya Tsolákis – Primers Shortlist 2017

I was born into it in late September, when it’s sweet and hued at sunset like the seeded flesh of figs. Smog meddled with it at the time, hanging over Athens like bad history. And growing up, what use was lyrical light when stuck two hours every day in an airless school bus, my biggest…

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‘Elders of the Pot’ by Jasmine Cooray – Primers Shortlist 2017

They sit in a rainbow of re-used jam jars, watch the traffic of the kitchen, hold proverb and gossip in their gnarled shapes and powders. Every wooden spoon is yellow to the neck. Turmeric, coriander, mustard seed land on the heat of inherited pans, smoke their sour huck into the corners of the house, leak…

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Re: Review: ‘The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea’

Avast! In scale, power and sheer unpredictability, there is nothing like the sea to inspire in both a physical and creative sense. Never homogenous, it is often astonishingly beautiful and offers up a beguiling mix of complexity and change on a micro and macro level – from the dance of exquisite plankton to the erosion…

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‘Garam Aandey’ by Aisha Hassan – Primers Shortlist 2017

Those ancient cobbles hum with heat long after sundown the shrill cry of the boy with the thermos full of hard boiled eggs for sale the donkey pulling the cart of bananas – refusing to move as the doodh wallah on his bike delivers the milk door to door And here is rain that is…

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Review: ‘The Hill’ by Angela France

Angela France’s The Hill is a book-length sequence of poems celebrating Leckhampton Hill near Cheltenham. In its commitment to explore every aspect of the area, from its history to its landscape to the people who meet there, the collection is an all-encompassing celebration of place, as well as a showcase for the versatility and range…

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‘Old Town’ by Imogen Forster – Primers Shortlist 2017

The churches wear black hoods and on the inebriated street bars shine, all glass and varnish. Voices talk beer and whisky. A boy kicks a bottle down the stank, pigeons sip daintily in the grooves between worn granite setts. The hunchbacked street is an arête, a dry fishbone. Closes fall away from its spine, swallowing…

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‘The May-Tree’ by Yvonne Reddick – Primers Shortlist 2017

Your embrace was the Shelter Stone when the ferns began ____________________to unscroll their questions. You planted a may-tree, and said the whitethorn could not match the bloom in my cheeks. By summer, you swore you’d carry me from Edale to Kielder, to show me the dens of lynx. My vows were the Ring of Steall….

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‘The House’ by Aviva Dautch – Primers Shortlist 2017

  Aviva Dautch is on the ten-person shortlist for Primers Volume III. ‘The House’ is from her shortlisted manuscript When The World Was Rotting. We’ll be showcasing the work of all the shortlisted writers over the next two weeks, so check back to read more poems. Aviva Dautch teaches at the British Library and Bethlem Museum of the Mind (the…

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‘Second-hand’ by L Kiew – Primers Shortlist 2017

___(Penang, 1932) _________(i) Lao ma believes the dead cling to their possessions. My dress is red shantung; its last occupant is heart-broken and tugging on my hem as I step onto the polished floor. My partner is her ex- husband. He holds me out at arms’ length, cold and stiff. I waltz around, around. When…

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