In rapid succession:

  • just heard from Cinnamon that I was one of six finalists in their poetry collection award, but didn’t quite get to the final two for publication, which is disappointing but still encouraging;
  • then received my copies of the latest anthology In Terra Pax (in which I’ve three poems) which, as usual, has a great mix of quality poems and stories, including one by my good friend Tricia Durdey;
  • then received two books from Cinnamon for review in Orbis, both of which rather tempt me to do the job myself: Will Kemp’s Nocturnes (I’ve admired Will’s work for some while, even though he keeps knocking me back in competitions) and Omar Sabbagh’s The Square Root of Beirut, a new voice to me, but one which appears on first reading to connect intelligent insight with sensitive originality.

is the name of an anthology to be published by Cinnamon Press in Spring 2011. I’ll have four poems in it, as I was shortlisted in their pamphlet competition (but didn’t make the final cut). The poems are: Litany (I wrote for my daughter, Natasha); In the Vice Provost’s Garden (which was written actually overlooking the garden of the vice provost of King’s College, Cambridge); Seven Summers (a sequence of seven haiku I wrote for the Sheffield Haiku trail, describing seven distinct summers of my life); and, The Song of Yellow Skin, which is one of the poems from my woman and warfare sequence on Kim Phuc. Strangely now, four of those six poems have been taken, but not the key, central, poem See Kim Run (although thei was recently workshopped by Michael Laskey, so maybe I’ve now an improved version).

Here’s an update of my events in the near future (mainly within Off the Shelf).

Oct 6th, 20th and 27th, 5pm till 7: Poetry workshop, Methodist Chapel, Denby Dale: A free workshop organised by Art in the Park

Oct 9th, 12.30: The Word Tent: Sheffield Town Hall (with Angelina Ayers) – reading. A free event.

Oct 13th, 1-3: Greenhill Library, Sheffield: an introductory workshop for writers. A free event, organised by Art in the Park.

Oct 13th, 7.15: Launch of Matter #10, Readings at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Sheffield. Free.

Oct 21st, 7.00: Readings by Matter #10 writers, Riverside pub, Sheffield. Free.

Oct 23rd, 10am till 4pm: An Art and poetry workshop (with Angelina Ayers), Bank Street Arts Centre, Bank Street, Sheffield. £4/£3 (Supported by Bank St and by Blackwell’s Bookshop)

Oct 26th, 12.30-5.00: Drop in Poetry Clinic, Bank Street Arts Centre, Bank Street, Sheffield. A free resource. Drop in to the poetry cafe anytime for chat, reading, workshopping, discussion of poets and poetry.

Oct 26th, 6.30-10.00pm: Tuesday Poets on a Tuesday, Fusion Cafe, Sheffield. £12 for food. Book in advance.

Nov 4th, 7.00:  Launch of Matter #10, Readings at London Review Bookshop, London. Free.

Oct 9th to Oct 26th: as part of Off the Shelf, we’ve organised a series of “Poets in Residence for a day” at Bank St Arts Centre, Bank St, Sheffield. Come along to work with a different poet every day (except Sundays and Mondays). Twenty different local poets, supported by Noel and Angelina Ayers, will be on hand to help you with your work, or to talk about their own.

Although I didn’t get anywhere in the recent Build Africa (Excel for Charity) Poetry Competition, my two poems “Fid. Def. Ind. Imp.” and “Bringing them back to earth” have been selected for inclusion in their anthology “A’ Freak Yer! and Other Poems”.  Should be good.

LXV are a new independent bookshop in London. I’ve never been there. I don’t like London. But they seem to want to do things differently, with some success. So they ran a small poetry competition and, I heard yesterday, I came second.

I wrote a poem specifically for this competition, “Concrete Poetry”, although it came out of notes I’d had hanging around for a while. The judge, Ann Drysdale, wrote: “The internal assonances dissolve in the mouth like butterscotch (dismal clinker; huddled in fug) and the image in the penultimate line is exquisite.” (She also had some critical notes, which were fair enough, in fact – suggesting to me I’ve not quite finished this poem, so I was lucky to succeed with it).

It looks like there’ll be an anthology of the submissions, too. So, of course, I’m going to suggest you check out LXV:

On Wednesday we arranged a small launch event for the Cinnamon Press anthology “The Visitors”, at Blackwells in Sheffield. A little over twenty people turned up, and seemed to have a very good time. I’d managed to get generous permission from several of the contributors to have their work read, and three contributors read their own work. Here’s the programme:

Reader Author Piece
Tricia Durdey   Welcome
Kate Rutter Anne Caldwell Walk in the Park, You can say what you like to the dead
Angelina Ayers Aisling Tempany Five of us Together, Prydferth
Fay Musselwhite Marcus Smith 58 Dead in England, Driving around
Lorna Festa Margaret Wilmot The New Café
Kate Rutter Diana Gittins Repulsive II, Hale New Moon Bopp
Fay Musselwhite Judith Watts Smiling Torso/Laughing Buttocks
Noel Williams Annie Bien Beneath night, Heart
Will Kemp Will Kemp Wolf, The Painters who studied clouds
Tricia Durdey Tricia Durdey The Visitors
Noel Williams Noel Williams Return to High Force, Snow on the Edge


Thanks to everyone who took part or came along to support us. And particular thanks to Blackwells, and Sarah, Angelina and Beverley for hosting the event. Go along there and buy a couple of books!

The Aesthetica Creative Works Annual 2010 arrived today, and a beautiful object it is, too.

I’ve not read much of it yet, but what I have is absolutely excellent. And the images within the artists’ competition are wonderful, too.

I only know a couple of the other authors in it. I’d supposed with 3500 entries there’d be a few more. But, anyway, congratulations to Julia Deakin, whose work I know and who is well worth seeking out, and to Matt Spence, who is not in the volume, but commended (and was also shortlisted in the Bridport) – a young poet to watch, I think.

Just heard I was shortlisted for the Off the Shelf “Birthday Letters” competition (one of nine), but didn’t quite make it to the top grade. This seems to be a habit. Have had another commended, too, with a small prize, but I’m not allowed to say where, just yet. And am excited by the Aesthetica Annual which should arrive soon, too.

The small successes continue, the big ones elude me.