I’ve now a firm date for the launch of Out of Breath.

It’s Tuesday, March 25th, at Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield. The event starts at 6.30 and will finish a little after 8.00.

As well as me reading from the new collection (that phrase still seems strange, almost a hostage to fortune) I’ve asked a some of our brilliant local poets and friends to help me out, reading from their own work as well as mine. At the moment, Sally Goldsmith and Suzannah Evans are firm bookings. There’ll be at least one other voice.

If you know me, you’ll probably be inundated with invitations to this event. My first collection! Seems impossible.

I’m looking at my diary for the year to come. It’s an exciting year for me.

Early in March I read with the Writing School of The Poetry Business at The Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Centre, their wonderful museum next to Dove Cottage at Grasmere. That’s Sunday March 2nd, 2.30.  See HERE 

It’s a free event, so you should come along if you can to hear a great variety of UK poets, namely Jim Caruth, Jennifer Copley, Lydia Harris, Fokkina McDonnell, Jane McKie, Kim Moore, Alan Payne, Paul Stephenson, Pam Thompson, Liz Venn, Noel Williams, David Wilson, Gina Wilson and River Wolton.

Jennifer has recently published Sisters, which will be reviewed in the next Orbis. River published her collection Indoor Skydiving  which I hope to review myself at some point. Both are great books. Kim’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves was one of the most interesting pamphlets published last year, reviewed in the TLS no less. Kim also has one of the liveliest poetry blogs in the UK. Gina, Alan and Jim also have really good pamphlets, though published a couple of years ago now. Gina’s Paper, Scissors, Stone  is quite quirky and very clever. Alan has a particularly good line in the terse personal lyric, as shown in his pamphlet: Exploring the Orinoco. Jim’s Marking the Lambs is full of his soft, compassionate, gentle voice. (You can find my Antiphon review of it here).

Unfortunately my own Out of Breath is unlikely to be around as early as March 2nd. The official launch is planned for Tuesday 25th March at the the welcoming branch of Waterstones in Sheffield’s Orchard Square, who always put on excellent book launches. Starts at 6.30. I’ll make a proper announcement when there’s a publicity sheet to send out.

You might like to check out the new website of The Poetry Business, just up and running yesterday. It has some very useful resources for poets, and the discussion forum may well develop into something really interesting for active poets.

See: http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/

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.

Antiphon Issue #1 seems to have been a hit. We were sent some great poems and were able to create a quality issue (see antiphon.org.uk) publishing twenty poems of the 500 we received.

The question is: can we do it again with Issue #2? We’re hoping for more poems, and even higher quality. We want to build a magazine that’s top quality for language and image. We know we’ll have more reviews and articles, but it’s the poetry that really matters. We’re especially keen to promote upcoming poets who are trying hard to get themselves established (because, that’s basically where we are, too).

So, please submit. Send us your very best and help us make Antiphon the best online poetry magazine in the UK.

It’s that time of year again: Sheffield’s Literary Festival, Off the Shelf. 

It’s a busy time for me. Yesterday I read at John Clare’s cottage in Helpston (it turns out I won second prize). The poems are here: http://www.clarecottage.org/poetryprize.htm

Tomorrow (Monday) I’m in an Off the Shelf debate on the Future of the Book. (Sheffield’s Quaker Meeting House, St James St, Mon, 10th Oct, 7.30. Freed admission.)

Weds: we’re running the usual (free, open invitation) poetry workshop at Bank St Arts Centre (12.00 to 3.00, Bank St, Sheffield). If you want to take part, bring copies of a poem to workshop, and we’ll have a discussion of Sean O-Brien’s November, too.
(Also that evening Rachel Genn launches her novel The Cure at Blackwells – should be a pleasant event).

Thursday I’ll be reading on the Speakers Steps at the House of Commons, again for the John Clare competition  – a strange prize, but an exciting one. Around 11.30, I believe, if you’re in the vicinity.

Monday 17th: I’ve a ten minute reading as part of the launch of new mag Uroborus, at Sheffield’s West Street Live (7.30). Another free event.

Weds 19th: Launch of Matter magazine no #11. I was part of the editorial team, but won’t be reading, merely listening to all the fine contributors (including Fay Musselwhite, Angelina Ayers, Rosemary Badcoe – lots of great writers)

Also sometime “real soon now” as they say in the software industry, I hope to have the website of Sheffield’s Public Poetry available for OTS to launch. This is proving harder than I thought to get together, but I think I’ll make it.

If you want to choose other OTS events, you can find a programme at: http://www.offtheshelf.org.uk/programme.php

And whilst all this is going on, Rosemary and I are putting the first fabulous issue of Antiphon together. I think it’s going to be particularly good and will, naturally enough, post a notice when it’s there for your delight and delectation. (Apologies to all poets who’ve not yet had a decision from us: we both need to agree to a poem before including it, and that’s caused a fair series of debates).

logoSheffield is holding its very first Poetry Festival on the weekend of April 1-3rd, with “fringe” events in the days preceding and following.

You can find out more at: http://www.sheffieldpoetryfestival.org.uk/home.html where you can also download the full festival brochure. There are 34 events to choose from (I’m involved in a couple) including readings by Simon Armitage, George Szirtes, Geoff Hattersley, Geraldine Monk, Helen Mort, Ben Wilkinson, Chris Jones (on the Forward Prize shortlist last year), Elizabeth Barrett, Mark GoodwinMatthew Hollis, Maurice Riordan, Harriet Tarlo, local laureates Ann Atkinson and River Wolton and many local poets, less well known, but well worth hearing nevertheless.

The group I belong to, The Tuesday Poets, have a themed event “Out of Place” planned for March 29th, 7.30 at Bank Street Arts.

There are also launches of new books, an event for children, a poetry walk, a garden party, talks, social gatherings where you can meet many of the poets taking part and even a “poetry university challenge” in which notables from the two Sheffield universities show how little they really know about poetry.

It’s bound to be fun and interesting. Some of it might be exciting. If its successful, the hope is to make it a regular event, so please come along and support it.