ART THE ARMS FAIR

by Carmina Masoliver

CW: sexism, war

Who knew there was an arms fair happening in London? Well, it was news to me before I went to Art The Arms Fair for an event of protest poetry – just one night in a series of events aiming to raise awareness about this issue. All profits from events go to CAAT (Campaign Against the Arms Trade), with original artwork and prints for sale. Work has been donated from all over the world, including both established artists and emerging. It was rumoured that Banksy had a piece there too, which was later confirmed, raising £205,000 for Reprieve and Campaign Against Arms Trade.

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REVIEW: BETTER WATCH YOUR MOUTH, BY JENN HART

by Carmina Masoliver

The cover of Better Watch Your Mouth displays a set of lips and teeth pulling the kind of expression you would make after being told such a thing. It suggests an unapologetic rejection of censorship, which is later reflected in the poem ‘Ugh, Men’ with the statement ‘we will not censor ourselves (x3)’.

This is a collection that mixes everyday language with profound metaphor, and beautiful imagery with emotive stories. It begins with the telling of others’ stories and gradually becomes more personal, yet in a way that is also relatable, as time skips back and forth like the mind floating back to memories, some singed with pain and others with nostalgia.

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REVIEW: A BOOK OF FRAGMENTS AND DREAMS, REBECCA McMANUS

by Lewis Buxton

Despite being called A Book of Fragments and Dreams, the poems in Rebecca McManus’ collection are far from fragmentary. They speak loudly to one another and are rooted decisively in the people, places, and objects of her life. Unthank Cameo has released this collection posthumously after Rebecca McManus was killed by a speeding driver whilst waiting at a bus stop. She was 21 and just weeks away from graduating from the University of East Anglia.Continue Reading

REVIEW: GRITO DE MUJER FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT

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by Carmina Masoliver

Whilst living in Spain – though I have missed my loved ones – what I have missed most is the abundance of poetry and arts nights you can find in London. It wasn’t long before I arrived in Córdoba that I went in search of events. I saw an old poster for a “Poetry Slam” at the Jazz Café, but it didn’t appear to exist any more. I then stumbled upon Mujeres Poetas Internacional. I contacted founder Jael Uribe, from the Dominican Republic, and she soon responded and contacted the organisers in Córdoba, and even translated four of my own poems into Spanish.

I corresponded with Sergio Perez Rodrigeuz and Maria Pizarro, organisers of the Grito de Mujer at which I was booked to read. I emailed in Spanish, which perhaps led them to believe I could speak Spanish, which is certainly not the case (writing =/=speaking). There were awkward moments, such as me not realising a group photograph included me and having it retaken, and me staring blankly when trying to discuss the proceedings (thankfully an audience member with some English skills stepped in). But for a night of poetry where I could only pick out a few words, it showed that poetry was well and truly alive in Spain.Continue Reading

REVIEW: MOONRISE BY ELLA CHAPPELL

by Lewis Buxton

Moonrise’s publisher, As Yet Untitled, is an ‘independent press that specialises in limited edition, handmade works that embrace the breadth of possibility in the book’s form’. The book is beautifully made, a fragile thing one worries about reading with a cup of tea too close. Interesting then to consider the fragility of the book’s form with the robustness of the poems. Moonrise, by Ella Chappell, is a book about sex and love and flowers and moons and stones and good nights and bad nights and scientific theories and the gravity that pulls at us all. These aren’t new themes. But that’s what I like about this book; there is at once a familiarity to it but still a newness in the words, a fresh light on the scene.Continue Reading

REVIEW – AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT, BY INUA ELLAMS

by Alex Valente

I moved back to Prato, Italy, last March. I thought I’d left behind the UK poetry scene, so very different in Italy in so many ways. Then, my own hometown organises a whole series of free events, including poetry nights – and invites Inua Ellams to perform his An Evening with an Immigrant show. Did you really think I wouldn’t attend, notebook in hand?Continue Reading

A PLACE FOR POETRY

by Candice Nembhard

The Nobel Prize for Literature is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated and respected arts prizes in the calendar year. Previous winners include Harold Pinter, V.S. Naipaul and Toni Morrison – all of whom have gone on to achieve worldwide and commercial success. This year’s prize was awarded to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who – surprisingly – only ever wrote one novel. The Blonde on Blonde singer was awarded the honour over rumoured nominees Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Haruki Murakami.‘Having created new poetic expressions within the American songbook tradition’, Dylan’s surrealist, stream-of-consciousness protest lyrics have been given the Nobel stamp of approval – but what impact does this have on our understanding of this increasingly popular form?

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BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: CAROL ANN DUFFY’S POETRY DESERVES CELEBRATION

by Jake Reynolds

Here’s something that will make poetry sound a little more dangerous (but not really), and doesn’t involve tattooing Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ from your neck to your toes: it is said that the poets chosen for the UK’s prestigious poet laureateship are plagued with a curse.

That is to say, the poems written during a poet’s tenure as poet laureate – an honorary position in which there is no strict demand but certainly an expectation for the poet to write original poems for important national occasions – are sub-standard when read in light of poet’s earlier, or later, work.Continue Reading

RADICAL POETS AT THE UEA POETRY FESTIVAL

by Fern Richards

Over the past couple of years, the UEA Poetics Project has been doing the important job of sneaking radical poets into the institution without much fanfare. The Norwich Radical featured an article by Linda Russo fairly recently – one of the readers at the last Poetics Project event – but apart from that, not a huge amount has been written about these readings. As a fan of radical poetry, political poetry, anti-establishment poetry, I thought it might be worth giving a small preview of the second UEA Poetry Festival, or at least its featured readers, Sandeep Parmar and Sean Bonney.Continue Reading

POETRY HITS THE HEADLINES, BUT IS IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS?

by Carmina Masoliver

For those who are partial to a bit of poetry, you’ll probably have heard by now that Sarah Howe has been awarded this year’s T.S. Eliot prize by judges Pascale Petit (chair), Kei Miller, and Ahren Warner. You may also have seen this article, which questioned the negative tinge of the criticism of which Howe has received. Katy Evans-Bush argued that these criticisms were more to do with Howe’s age, gender and ethnicity (Howe is of dual Chinese-British heritage). Some seemed baffled both that it was possible to win on a first collection, yet also that it took her ten years to write. Surely the fact that she spent so long producing the poetry might suggest how it became possible to win? I mean, that, or witchcraft.Continue Reading

REVIEW: WARSAN SHIRE’S HER BLUE BODY

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by Carmina Masoliver

In 2013 I was amongst around twenty poets long-listed for the first Young Poet Laureate for London prize. I remember meeting Warsan Shire that day; she seemed quiet, perhaps nervous, yet confident and bold. We performed one piece to a panel of judges, and I was either before or after Shire. Although she prefers writing to performing her work, I remember being blown away by not only the words, but the delivery of her poem Ugly. I remember that I had already heard lines quoted by Kayo Chingonyi from a workshop he was leading for students at the school where I work. It was no surprise when Shire was shortlisted, much less when she won.

To have the power to write poetry that sticks in the mind is certainly a gift that Shire bestows in much of her work. I have since had the pleasure of seeing Shire again at the launch of the first Podium Poets anthology, by Spread the Word, and attended workshops lead by her on an Arvon retreat. As an aspiring poet, she is an inspiration to many as a writer and as a human being.Continue Reading