Sunday, 29 March 2015

Best Scottish Poems 2014 from the Scottish Poetry Library

A lovely treat for Sunday - the best poems from Scotland last year as edited by Roderick Watson.

I am delighted to find p&g poets among their number:

You can find the complete poem selection here including work from Kei Miller (seen last at StAnza), powerful new voice Claire Askew and the irrespressible Andrew Sclater to name a few

Clear Poetry

A new kind of online magazine has arrived - Clear Poetry's tagline is:


I caught up with Editor Ben Banyard, who like many was inspired by Jo Bell's 52 ( and this is what he told me.

Yes, I'm very fortunate in that being part of the whole Jo Bell/52 thing meant that I felt comfortable stepping straight into the middle of the poetry scene. It's also the secret behind attracting some really good work early on because I was able to ask poets I already knew if they had material they could lend me!
The ethos comes from feeling like an outsider who's happy to point out when I feel that the emperor's clothes are missing. It was a reaction to a lot of writing which I didn't personally enjoy but which a lot of others feel obliged to praise and which seemed to be cropping up in a lot of lit mags. I also felt that trying to show people who perhaps have no real interest in poetry a small selection of a poet's work which can be read in 10 minutes or so somewhere in their hectic day would give it real value and resonance.
Clear Poetry is very personal - it's entirely my choice. Having resolved to only publish work that I enjoy makes the business of being an editor much less daunting, if that makes sense. Hopefully people like it, and the quality of submissions that I'm getting shows that people writing great work want to be featured - that makes me very proud.
Thankfully the volume of submissions is still manageable, and I can work through them wherever I am thanks to the wonders of a Smartphone! I read everything several times, at different times of the day and in various locations. I often find something I didn't enjoy at first which I read while at work suddenly jumps up at me while I'm standing in the kitchen at home waiting for the kettle to boil!
I generally respond to all submissions within ten days or so, although that will inevitably increase if more people send work in. Being a poet who's always submitting work, I know how frustrating it is when it takes months to receive a generic response so as well as trying to giving people a rapid yes or no I try to make even the straight no emails as friendly and personal as possible.

p&g also works on the personal response; our magazine is what we like so I enjoyed hearing about Ben's approach and his reading tips - now perhaps it is up to poets to write stuff that holds up robustly in a world where our work could be read anywhere and any time. So the reading aloud in different places might help as part of the editing process too...

You can read Clear Poetry here and find out how to submit here and there is another rather interesting article about Jo Bell's 52 here

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Roads to Yair - some Border poems - Bridget Khursheed - coming soon

This book of border poetry - in every sense of the word - is out on the 1st May 2015 - an auspicious day for a launch we judge. And of course we hope so - as Bridget Khursheed is the p&g editor.

Bridget explains the origin of the word yair:

The title of the collection refers to a yair: this is both an old Scots word for fish trap and a quiet spot in Tweeddale where once in 1156 King Malcolm allowed the monks of Kelso to build a dam on the river to create a pool to fish. The word Yair became the place name and made the map.
The Borders landscape sometimes appears empty; its spaces home to few inhabitants or lines on the map, no motorway and not even a running railway until recently. But our Borders also house a suggestive otherworld: a pool to fish for a past and present that is hidden from view; the myth, magic, industrial and literary excellence, invention, nature, music, saints, sinners and of course our Border folk.
Many poets of great skill have woven the Borders landscape into song. To that legacy, I add these poems - my yairs - to capture a contemporary truth that lies somewhere between the map, its roads and rivers and the landscape.

You can purchase the book at Twinlaw Publishing here and in Borders bookshops.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Novel subject matter

Not sure if it was the eclipse or what but decided to send my first novel out to an agent last night. It is the first time I have done this and the feeling is quite curious. An exposure. A few friends have seen it. But I think even they have forgotten that I write fiction by now.

I wonder if the eclipse had anything to do with it.

In p&g we always encourage you to test boundaries but sending out fiction in seriousness to an agent feels as close to transgressing out of anything I have done. Much worse that the other naughtiness we occasionally get up to here. Maybe this is only in my head or maybe it is because fiction is treated more seriously than poetry...when it actual fact you just have to sit down more and for longer - which doesn't make me and fiction a natural fit.

Not that this is going to becoming a constant theme - far from it - but I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Writing retreats

It is a dreary old day - damp with the kind of rain that sinks in.

Lighten your spirits imagining yourself some free time and space for writing. I would vote for an island croft with surf-wracked beach and oystercatchers.

More here and here and here and - executive style - here

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Last call for poetry Issue 10 p&g

Seeking the finest poetry in the most stretched and frayed forms...

We experimented with prose poems in our last issue and that is perhaps what you want to send us. Send in jpg form if necessary to preserve the formatting. Maybe you want to try something else and that is fine. But the deadline is hovering close at your shoulder. This all ends on March 30th 2015.

As ever p&g offers you, the poet, the full deluxe experience with breakfast excluded.

The magazine is due out in May but make of that what you will. Full information on submission and the joy of our previous editions available here

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize shortlisted poets 2015

The Brunel University African Poetry Prize is a major poetry prize of £3000 aimed at the development, celebration and promotion of poetry from Africa.

The shortlisted poets for 2015 are: Inua Ellams (Nigeria);
Ngwatilo Mawiyoo (Kenya); Nick Makoha (Uganda); Bernard Matambo (Zimbabwe); Safia Elhillo (Sudan); Hope Wabuke (Uganda).

The winner is announced on 11th May 2015.

Learn more about the shortlisted poets here

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Delighted to be at #StAnza15

Having a pause after visiting the pamphlet sale or poetry market - curated by Alan Gay - in the town hall here in St Andrews and I can report that StAnza is every bit as good as people say - maybe the streets aren't paved with poets (not even after kicking out time at the pubs as Ian Duhig naughtily suggested on Twitter) - but the population density is certainly high.

This is heightened by the fact that the festival venues are close together in the three streets - with the result that you can mix fantastic and imaginative events with the constant joy of running into old friends.

I went straight into a great reading on arrival last night- the place is packed out - and I was lucky to pick up a returned ticket for Helen Mort and J L Williams (replacing Liz Berry) and then on into a (not so quiet) open mic (Colin Will reading in the picture) at Zest - where, yes, I read my first poems at StAnza. Fab.

Tonight it is Ian Duhig, Kei Miller, Ilya Kaminsky, the slam and Simon Armitage.