Category Archives: poetry pamphlets

Simon Howard’s Wrecked

Simon Howard was born in Fulham, London, in 1960. He attended University College London & was active as a poet until the early 90s when self-disenchantment with his voice led to muteness. He began to publish again in the late 2000s; his books are ZOOAXEIMPLODE (The Arthur Shilling Press), Numbers (The Knives Forks & Spoons Press), adrift (The Red Ceilings Press) & recently Wrecked (Oystercatcher Press). He has contributed to a tribute volume for Barry MacSweeney & has a blog at where much of his work is available. He has four poems forthcoming in the second edition of Snow, the new literary magazine edited by Anthony Barnett & Ian Brinton.
“Simon Howard’s poetry has the rare quality of evoking ‘images’ whose ‘sonic’ component is as memorable as (and indistinguishable from) the visual – and not because musical references are threaded through the poems; rather, everything in this poetry emerges from an obsessive sensitivity to a music which is not just ‘in’ the words but surrounds and informs them, in ways that no other poetry I know can do.”

– Richard Barrett
All my fascist uncles / all my cannibal nieces
& wonderfully a multitude of green butterflies flutters from our stony mouths

The lines give a sense of the breadth of Howard’s landscape. A landscape of stones, of green LED lights, the screen, keyboard clicks, domesticity, songbirds somewhere. Quiet terror, silent determination, endless waiting. Eerie as Hegel, peaceful as unrest. Wrecked is a remarkable chronicle, a calm refusal of the implosive Tory apocalypse.”

– Sean Bonney
Wrecked is a collection sewn tightly with ephemeral, vivid dreamscapes that dart from butterflies to the odd polar bear. The transience of nature is contrasted with signifiers of everyday life such as chairs, cupboards and cigarillos. Complete with a Teutonic instrument that continues to lure the reader further in, it is a book in which the musicality remains with the reader well after it is finished. Each word is packed with a precision that would make the most attentive of double bass players blush. London Town may be invisible, but Wrecked’s charm and cohesion is there for all to see.”

– Sarah Crewe
“Read outside, through the damage. These lyrics ring out vestiges of song in silent alphabets, in the calligraphy of birds and plants. Short lines find their way into pathways, fragments return in cannibal tongues and singular scores. There is wonderful order here, and the work of encountering what it might continue to be, while the pelting of sounded and violent contradiction goes on. Listen to the stranger, to what flutters from mouths: you are here.”

– Carol Watts
What is said will be any secret
the slow trudge

down day
break hill

proscribed pro-scribed –

scribbleenscrypted –
big cat found in a block of ice

theory = universal peace by
means of perpetual war &


Late afternoon
the weather clearing

sky gaze
a beautiful gauzy blue

pale green goldening, motionless

levitation, a bramble scratch
a vocalise

the interweaving undergrowth
Disquiet at finding myself inside a house
with good weather outside, inside the branches thrashing

incompatibility of remembered imagination & memory
she’d worked in a circus in a land

where the moon is blank the stars never lose brilliance

of course blindfold assassinations
are something they do when rationalising their militias

& wonderfully a multitude of pale green butterflies
flutters from our stony mouths


Forest of lautenklaviers
twanging & chattering

there’s been no news of her lately
& a light bulb burnt out

told me I couldn’t stay

all I hope for is to listen to the silent streets
a barrel rolling down a ramp

archaic formation
strolls in like a blind king
We walk out on them laughing
put on surgical gowns for party

games o eerily quiet everything hidden
even the inconsolable

I think someone is asking us their identity

was known as navigator’s parsley
or incendiaries

a boat on a canal
in the next country by alphabet


Everyone drinking hard
or otherwise drugged sober

insect dreams project
on tiny screens inside our tears

what flower do you associate with a quiet day in your life(?)

I think I can make me
out moving behind curtains

though he may also be invisible
just like London Town
(for my mother)
The strangers exchange smiles
now I can’t stop smiling

dark bees swim inside
a radiant Absolute

a white perfumed bush
lifts into the sky below my feet

there are advertisements forgotten
on a patch of forgetful ground

describe your experiences of semi-invisible architecture
try to stop crying

we were waiting for a train
when a huge tempest broke over the sea, I

attributed your exemplary calm
to my eating an ice cream
from Wrecked (Oystercatcher Press, 2013).
Order Wrecked.
Read Ian Brinton’s review at Tears in the Fence.
Visit Simon’s blog.

Sabotage Reviews and the Saboteur Awards

Saboteur Awards 
Sabotage Reviews and the Saboteur Awards

by Richard T. Watson
(with James Webster and Claire Trévien)
Sabotage Reviews started off modestly as a blog in May 2010 with reviews mostly by Claire Trévien, and has developed into to a website with three editors and a small but dedicated team of regular reviewers. Early Sabotage focused on small-scale published poetry, but in the last two years we’ve tried to expand on this by reviewing short story collections, zines, anthologies and novellas as well as published and performance poetry. Claire wanted Sabotage to be about more than her own tastes, which lie firmly in the world of poetry pamphlets and magazines, and so James Webster and Richard T. Watson joined as Performance and Fiction Editors, with their own varied interests.
It’s still very much a labour of love dependent on the goodwill of strangers to send us their 500 to 1000 word reviews, of editors to come home from work and press ‘track changes’ and, of course, of publishers, organisers, authors and performers, to introduce us to, send us, and invite us into their worlds.

Our Saboteur Awards mark Sabotage’s birthday each year, but our third birthday is the first time we’ve held a party. It’s on May 29th and we’re really looking forward to it. We’ve experimented with different ways of choosing who wins, and this year – wanting readers and audiences (not just of Sabotage) to be able to have their say – we’ve opened the whole thing up to popular vote. The party’s going to be a big celebration of indie lit, with music, poetry and awards, as well as a book fair.
Over the course of the last three years, an increasing concern at the heart of the website has been to maintain a balance between encouragement and criticism. On the one hand, we believe in giving exposure to small scale endeavours, but don’t think that anyone benefits from blanket approval and, of course, each reviewer is entitled to their own opinion. A good example of that practice is Éireann Lorsung’s review of Colette Sensier’s Holdfire Press pamphlet which, while finding much to admire in the writing, also highlighted a worrying trend among Western writers to practice what she calls poetic tourism. The review was one of many of the new Holdfire Press pamphlets covered by different reviewers who brought their unique viewpoint to them.
Our growing team of fiction reviewers has covered, among others, Danish mini-sagas, demonic rock bands, lesbian steampunk, and a twelve-page story of a cockroach at the Gates of St Peter – a collection of real quality writing (and some howlers!) that Richard likes to think of as the Fiction stable. Not everything in our stable strictly counts as ‘fiction’ or prose, but this isn’t something that’s ever bothered us. Sabotage aims to give some exposure to the ephemeral, the self-published, the unspoken-for, and strict categories get in the way of that; so our ‘Fiction’ happily encompasses publications that include a variety of forms which might otherwise not get reviewed because they don’t fit into an easily-described box.
For example, US-based Armchair/Shotgun has short fiction alongside poetry and visual artwork – and Richard’s particularly proud that A/S #2 went on to win the second of our Saboteur Awards. For sheer baffled disgust, our review of the Swedish Anger Mode is worth reading in full. That said, one of our favourite reviews has been Tori Truslow’s review of Steam-Powered II: The Lesbian Steampunk Anthology, if only for that airship comparison.
The performance side of Sabotage is one that folds very neatly into our envelope of ‘Reviews of the Ephemeral’. Because of the nature of spoken word, there are aspects of a performance or a certain poetry night that will not and cannot be recreated; nuances to one reading that change by the next, or things that went unfortunately and hilariously wrong. It’s one of the real pleasures of editing for Sabotage that we manage to catch and preserve some of these individual moments and serve them up to a wider audience (such as the ridiculous exchange between poet Paul Askew and his mother or the time a champagne bottle spontaneously popped during a performance by Amy Acre). And due to the kind of ‘crowd-sourced’ nature of open mic and slam events many of the spoken word artists we’ve ended up reviewing are people who have simply turned up on the off-chance of a reading and whose performances otherwise might have gone unnoticed. Instead, they’ve been caught in our reviewers’ crosshairs, suddenly receiving a barrage of critique or praise that was unexpected and has almost always been appreciated.
We’ve had the pleasure of covering a whole host of different events, but favourites include our Edinburgh Fringe coverage and Koel Mukherjee’s review of Carmina’s Poetry Tease, which exemplified our attempts to capture the spirit and feel of an event.
What we hope to achieve with these awards is a balance similar to the balance of the site’s coverage as a whole; the winners will be decided by popular vote, but there will also be a critical counterpart in the form of a review or interview to go along with the results. We want to celebrate the exciting things that are going on in underground literature, while at the same time encouraging greater quality by highlighting these excellent endeavours.
Visit Sabotage Reviews.

You can view the Saboteur Awards shortlist with a link to the voting page here.
Sabotage Reviews

Robert Peake’s The Silence Teacher

© Image by John J. Campbell

© Image by John J. Campbell


Robert Peake is an American poet living in England since 2011. In that same year, his collection Human Shade was published by Lost Horse Press in the United States, and he was long-listed in the UK National Poetry Competition. His poems have appeared in North American Review, Poetry International, Iota, Magma and others. The Silence Teacher (2013) is part of the Poetry Salzburg Pamphlet Series. Robert writes about poetry and culture at
The Silence Teacher 
“Written in the seven years following the death of the author’s infant son, these poems explore the sometimes quiet and often startling nature of love and grief. Through a range of forms and panoply of figures—spiders, fish, a famous cellist, and prophetic apparitions—this collection probes what William Faulkner called, “the human heart in conflict with itself”.”

The Silence Teacher is entirely remarkable for its dignity, its beauty, its many strengths of word and of witness. Robert Peake’s lines and images polish the hardest of grief-stones until it gleams, until it becomes almost bearable to hold. Here is poetry’s task and gift to us – untransformable loss made malleable and sustaining by the ways it is met, said, and seen.”

– Jane Hirshfield
“If one locked a mute into the bell of a trumpet, changing the color of its song, its spectral envelope, one might approximate the timbre of Robert Peake’s threnody. Anyone who hears this wailing song written by a father for a son’s brief life will be haunted by its beauty and restraint.”

– Sandra Alcosser
The Silence Teacher
Seeing friends for the first time after his death
tested the silence a room could hold. The rest
was a kindness like holding our breath.

My wife’s oldest friend offers her best
brave smile, tells us about the first time
her daughter, in new hearing aids, passed a nest.

Pitched as high as a tin wind chime,
in a sphere beyond the rumble of speech
she only knew “tweet” from what her mother had mimed.

But birds’ hunger songs seemed as far from reach
as the angels Blake saw perched in a tree,
and sweeter than any science her mother could teach.

Her world was based partly on what she could see.
The rest was a guess – the flailing of a street preacher
seemed like the swats of a man attacked by bees.

Quick lips make it easy to misread a speaker,
and once at a party, based on what she had seen,
the girl introduced her mother as a “silence teacher”.

Grief’s small hands cupped before me,
reliving the news of our infant son’s tests,
his brain as quiet as her soundless sea,

and still as winter in a robin’s nest,
I did not say: I was the one who held him last
until the ticking heart stopped in his chest

or what that silence taught, and how it pressed.
from The Silence Teacher (Poetry Salzburg, 2013).

Pre-order The Silence Teacher here or here.

Visit Robert’s blog.

Kim Moore’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves

Kim Moore 
Kim Moore’s first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves (Smith/Doorstop, 2012) was a winner in the 2011 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition. In 2011 she won an Eric Gregory Award and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. Her poems have been published in various magazines including Poetry Review, The TLS, Ambit, The Rialto and Poetry London. If We Could Speak Like Wolves was selected as one of The Independent’s Books of the Year in 2012 and her writing placements include Young Poet-in-Residence at the 2012 Ledbury Poetry Festival.
If We Could Speak Like Wolves 
“These are terrifically assured poems – sensual, perceptive, entertaining – which bridge the gap between feeling and utterance with a genuine lyric gift.”

– Carol Ann Duffy
“Kim Moore’s poetry is tough and beautiful. It is also an absolutely distinctive presence: hers is a voice that knows its own mind. Moore’s work is drily hilarious but also mysterious, disciplined but also risk-taking. Exact and exacting, she is modernizing the lyric tradition.”

– Fiona Sampson
“The poems in Kim Moore’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves are beautifully modulated, decked out in confident, well-judged rhymes, with a keen rhythmic intelligence.”

– C J Allen, Litter
“What stands out for me is the musicality of all these poems: the lines are rhythmic, and the words dance, and echo off each other.”

E E Nobbs
“The title poem, ‘If We Could Speak Like Wolves’, has the muscular power of the creatures it describes […] It builds and builds to the payoff at the end; this is not just a stunning portrait of wild animals, but a picture of a relationship “more simple than marriage”. The poem works as a kind of slanted nature poem, but the final lines make the reader see it all in a new light.”

Clarissa Ackroyd
Walney Channel
There’s a door frame in the channel,
made of thin black twisted wood.

When the tide is in, it leads to water.
When the tide is out, it leads to mud

and the beginning of the old road
across the channel. Listen at dusk

for the shouts of those who walked
that channel years ago. This was just

a crossing, the only way, before the bridge
was built. Each morning you’ll hear

the shipyard siren calling men to work.
Wait and watch the path appear

like the spine of some forgotten animal
turning in its sleep before you come

to find me. Wear boots, or go barefoot.
Don’t stop, and if you hear them

calling, don’t turn around. You’ll see
barnacles and seaweed on my causeway

and a blue boat waiting at the shore.
Train Journey, Barrow to Sheffield
Even though the train is usually full of people
I don’t like, who play music obnoxiously loud
or talk into their phones and tell the whole carriage
and their mother how they’re afraid of dying
even though they’re only twenty five,

even though the fluorescent lights
and the dark outside make my face look like
a dinner plate, even though it’s always cold
around my ankles and there’s chewing gum
stuck to the table and the guard is rude

and bashes me with his ticket box,
even though the toilet smells like nothing
will even be clean again, even though
the voice that announces the stations
says Bancaster instead of Lancaster,

still I love the train, its sheer unstoppability,
its relentless pressing on, the way the track
stretches its limb across the estuary
as the sheep eat greedily at the salty grass,
and thinking that if the sheep aren’t rounded up

will they stand and let the tide come in, because
that’s what sheep do, they don’t save themselves,
and knowing people have drowned out there
like the father who put his son on his shoulders
as the water rose past his knees and waist and chest

and rang the coast guard, who talked to him
and tried to find him, but the fog came down,
and though he could hear the road, he didn’t know
which way to turn, but in a train, there are no choices,
just one direction, one decision you must stick to.

This morning the sun came up in Bolton and all
the sky was red, and a man in a suit fell asleep
and dribbled on my shoulder till the trolley
came round and rattled loudly and he woke up
with a start and shouted I’ve got to find the sword.
If We Could Speak Like Wolves
if I could wait for weeks for the slightest change
in you, then each day hurt you in a dozen
different ways, bite heart-shaped chunks
of flesh from your thighs to test if you flinch
or if you could be trusted to endure,

if I could rub my scent along your shins to make
you mine, if a mistake could be followed
by instant retribution and end with you
rolling over to expose the stubble and grace
of your throat, if it could be forgotten

the moment the wind changed, if my eyes
could sharpen to yellow, if we journeyed
each night for miles, taking it in turns
to lead, if we could know by smell
what we are born to, if before we met

we sent our lonely howls across the estuary
where in the fading light wader birds stiffen
and take to the air, then we could agree
a role for each of us, more complicated
than alpha, more simple than marriage.
from If We Could Speak Like Wolves (Smith/Doorstop, 2012).

Order If We Could Speak Like Wolves.

Visit Kim’s blog.

Jill McDonough’s Oh, James!

© Image by Stephanie Craig

© Image by Stephanie Craig

Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough’s books of poems include Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens, 2012), and Where You Live (Salt, 2012). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and Stanford’s Stegner program, she taught incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program for thirteen years. Her work appears in Slate, The Nation, The Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry 2011. She teaches poetry at UMass-Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the online writing program at the Fine Arts Work Center.
Thunderball II
Domino wears slutty bathing suits: zebra
bikini, black tank with sheer inset that shows, for
a second, her nipple, my hand
to God. I pause
the DVD, flickered her nipple just
to be sure. She wears the black and white surplice
bandeau wrap bikini to have sex
with James. James
wearing scuba gear.

Oh, James.

They shoot one shark
to distract the others, and he swims into them,
a swarm of sharks, a cloud of blood, to find
the sunken plane.

He skims past sharks like cats, like
the lady assassin in his bathtub. She
is naked, asks for something
to wear. He hands her
shoes. She’s thinking about Pussy:
James Bond, who only has to make love
to a woman, and she repents, returns
to the side of right and virtue.
But not this one, she says, and shoots.
Moonraker I
When the pretty French pilot with the heart

of gold betrays the bad guy, shows James the safe

in the Louis XIV clock, her evil employer

asks her to leave. She leaves. Then he

releases the Doberman Pinschers. She has put

aside the slutty low-cut frocks she wore

before she met James, wears a white dress, long

sleeves, pleats, white lace up her throat to run

through the woods, woods filled with mist, with

slanting sunlight, branches that tear at her face

and hair, sweet dress, the score rising with her ragged

breath until, in slow motion, the dogs take her down.
For Your Eyes Only
When you break into the drug lord’s lair, there’s
the swimming pool, girls. A Pacific Islander wears
a red hibiscus behind her ear, a turquoise bikini, tassels
bouncing at her hips. A white woman with beaded
cornrows, off-the-shoulder tank, dives in;
a black woman in a red one-piece looks on
from her lounge chair, looks like she just
got high. A periwinkle swimsuit crawls
up a brunette’s ass. She walks toward
a tall white girl: white bikini, camel toe.

          The sound of heels on flagstones. Disco.

They dance on the crabgrass. The Asian’s
in lilac, reads a magazine, smiles. A strung-out
blonde fights a blonde man; he agrees
to play paddle ball. When the white girl
in a white one-piece sees the suitcase is full
of cash, her eyes widen
like a girl’s. She
whispers—Wow!—the one line spoken by a woman
in this scene. Pam Grier, or the one who looks
like Pam Grier, wears big sunglasses, sucks
her stomach in. She’s seen the suitcases before.
She grins, raises her eyebrows; the drug lord,
balls bunched to one side of his tight striped
trunks, tosses a stack of bills to her lap.

Everyone is having a good time.

When he gets hit with a dart and bellyflops, dead,
in the pool, the women laugh at first—
our drug lord, always goofing around—then
understand, cry out, reach for each other. James
shoves men in the pool, knocks bad guys around
with sunbrellas. This is their life: getting high, piña
coladas, paddleball, all the waist-chains
and swimsuits they need, that wiggle that makes me
think they all have yeast infections, UTIs. Happy
until James shows up, kills their benefactor, leaves.
In the last glimpse we have of the pool, their whole
world, they gather together, lift his bloodied corpse
tenderly out of the pool.
You know, things are going pretty good. Sure,
your dad named you Octopussy, then killed
himself, but you’ve pulled yourself up by your
garter straps: diamond smuggling, your own
all-white-girl Indian island cult. They rise
gleaming, naked from your swimming pools
to the sound of more young women chatting, laughing,
wrapping each other up in high threadcount
towels, gold and pink saris, a hundred shades of rose.

Where did you recruit all these lovelies?
Doesn’t he get it? Did he ask Blofeld, Goldfinger,
Drax where they got all those matching futuristic
suits, the blinking lights at headquarters. No. I train
them, give them a purpose, a sisterhood and a way of life.
James is suspicious. How can it be this good? In crime?
In business. It’s 1983, you fool: I diversified into shipping,
hotels, carnivals, and circuses. Oh, Octopussy, don’t
do it: think of Gwendolyn and Midge, a dozen more
in matching scarlet spandex, the blonde
who ties her sheer pink sari to a balcony rail
and tumbles, graceful, to the ground. Don’t make
the damn martini, go to bed with Bond.

Here’s what you’ll get: three dirty men
breaking in with their knives and yo-yo saw
blades, a turbaned thug with a missing eye, no teeth,
a redneck’s giggle. Bond’s in your bed an hour and it’s
trashed, saw blades everywhere, satin pillows torn, aquaria,
teak honeycomb lattice smashed. Shirtless, sweaty
men covered in feathers lunging after you, mahogany side tables
sawn in half. Your pink silk sheets, your gilded
octopus-shaped bed, its pink satin upholstered
octopus head. Your thirty-foot ceilings, priceless
stained glass dome, your marble tables laden
with ripe tropical fruit, all sawn up, broken, gone.
Don’t do it, Octopussy: you shake that
martini, next thing you know you’re breaking
bottles over strange men’s heads, shooting
half-naked men with poisoned darts in your dressing room.
It all starts here: the Russian generals slipping
nuclear warheads in your circus cannon, duplicate
cabooses, Bond panicked in a clown suit, the works.

You’ll have to use your whole girl circus, your dancing
girls, your acrobats, your human pyramid of girls in matching
spandex. You’ll have to break out the sheik headdresses,
the ropes, the galley slaves, fake prostitutes to first distract,
then knock out the guards. Your whispering
pole balancers, your tiny snub-nosed pistol, your nets,
your elephants, all your sword fighting skills. Is it worth
your veiled half-naked trapeze artists’ efforts, Octopussy?

Octopussy. Don’t do this, please. Take a look
at his old man’s mouth, the lewd looks
he gives Gwendolyn, poor Midge. Don’t
give up everything you’ve worked for, don’t
do it, don’t you do it, no—Oh, James.
Goldeneye I
Judi Dench is M: I think
you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic
of the cold war.

Junkyard of Soviet statues, busts
of Lenin, arms, a disembodied
Bond-size Lenin hand. Long
shadows, sourceless light: cue
the creepy fog, a raven’s call,
a crow’s. Rusted-out red
star, rusty columns, a wreath
of wheat and stars. Strong worker
heroes, muscular men and women out
of Rockwell Kent. Three Lenins, one
capped, another trapped in scaffolding.

In the turncoat 006’s evil lair, James mocks
his loyalty to his dead parents, calls him
“little Alec”. Oh, please, James, spare me the Freud.
I might as well ask you if all the vodka martinis ever silence
the screams of all the men you’ve killed. Or if you ever
found forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women
for all the dead ones you failed to protect.
Die Another Day
The movie starts with Bond getting caught
in North Korea, unable, for once, to fuck
his way out. The naked ladies
in silhouette, black silhouettes of guns—
this time that alternates with James
in a filthy prison, James
refusing to talk. Scorpions, syringes, primitive
waterboarding. A man laughing, ducking
James’s head into dirty water. The camera is
with James, under the dirty water, again
and again. The camera can’t
do anything to help. A woman
strings him up by the hands and holds
a scorpion to his face. A woman made
of ice, a woman of fire, a woman of melting
ice, water droplets filled with Bond
under water, the water hitting the women
of fire, the water turning to steam. Then men
haul him out of the water to kick
the shit out of him. Fingers of ice stroking
flanks of ice. Time passes. Bond has
long hair, a beard, a filthy t-shirt, pants
he’s been wearing fourteen months.
About to be executed, he’s exchanged
for another prisoner, a smiling, clean
Korean wearing a freshly laundered
jumpsuit. Freshly shaven. Sleek
and healthy, fresh from an American
prison. Lucky guy.
from Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens Press, 2012).

Visit Seven Kitchens Press.

Visit Jill’s website.

Visit the Creative Writing, MFA webpage
at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Visit 24PearlStreet.

Peter Hughes’ Soft Rush

Soft Rush 
Peter Hughes is a poet, painter and the founding editor of Oystercatcher Press. He was born in Oxford in 1956, based in Italy for many years and now lives on the Norfolk coast. He is the author of over a dozen books of poetry which include Nistanimera, The Sardine Tree, The Summer of Agios Dimitrios, Behoven and The Pistol Tree Poems. Nathan Thompson has described the latter as “flickering, intense, innovative and utterly mesmerising”.
Peter’s Selected Poems, drawing on work from over 30 years, will by published by Shearsman in April. This coincides with the publication, by the same press, of ‘An intuition of the particular’: Some essays on the poetry of Peter Hughes, which is edited by Ian Brinton. 2013 also sees the publication, by Reality Street, of Allotment Architecture.
More information about Peter’s poetry and his press, Oystercatcher, can be found at his website.
Soft Rush (The Red Ceilings Press, 2013) consists of 30 versions of Petrarch’s sonnets, numbers 67 to 96. It forms part of  an ongoing series in which Peter Hughes is creating ‘translations’ (in the broadest sense of the word) of all Petrarch’s sonnets. John Hall has written of Hughes’ work:
“Read it, in the expectation of any number of lyrical pleasures, for the ear, for the play of line against continuous movement, for its celebration of remembered pleasures, for its good will and for its wit. By this last, I mean a mind in evidence in the poems that can constantly surprise itself in the turns of speech, that can dance in the syllables and still have world and experience in its sights.”
Tony Fraser, on the Shearsman website, refers to Peter Hughes as “one of the UK’s most interesting and unclassifiable poets.”
3 / 69
Erano i capei d’oro a l’aura sparsi
a deft breeze slightly lifted surprising
qualities of fair hair woven with light
from her eyes extensive swathes of elsewhere
via memory into now where she is not
to be forgotten is the fate of all
living creatures hint at the angelic
harmonising language equals silence
echoes in dark chambers of our hearts
& if I say she moved like Bill Evans played
you’ll hear the subtlest of accompaniments
which compliment the voices of the world
where weird late sun slants downwards through storm clouds
out over a desolate valley road
we’ll walk unaccompanied tomorrow
6 / 72
Più volte Amor m’avea già detto: Scrivi
it is often love that sings the pen is
greater than the sane or diplomatic
in the middle of the night this neon
clamour plays & drives heaven’s dark heart wild
to wake up on the street in gentle rain
without a world in your care is the fate
of those who dive from the cliff into love
where we landed & paddle in morning
life’s too short to be a conservative
& art too deep in the merely current
we ride on the bows of the bright & free
who has redelivered us to language
& redelivered language to our hearts
well write out your own list & let me know
11 / 77
Orso, al vostro destrier si pò ben porre
I know I could have been a contender
billowing proudly in the field of dreams
my little pennant waving in the breeze
past all the sulky guards in silky tights
someone always comes & cuts the guy-ropes
makes off with the poles & we’re blown away
flapping up & over the hedgerows at dusk
discarded wrappers of our destinies
& we look back from the borders of night
out on the cold edge of the atmosphere
to green & distant fields of long ago
our emblem a small yellow rectangle
of damp & famished turf embellished with
colonies of red & wiry bloodworms
14 / 80
Lasso, ben so che dolorose prede
I think you’ll find the world will let us go
calmly with whatever grace we leave it
& it’s given that each of us will fall
through personal doors into no autumn
I think you’ll find the world will let us go
treading with care as in a dream of say
this taut prelude & fugue in A minor
BWV 889 which still
escapes from the litter of time & leaves
a garden on the other side of death
while we live on this other side of death
I think you’ll find the world will let us go
our structures sifted back into the seed
beds of our time & love & timelessness
17 / 83
L’aspecta vertù, che ‘n voi fioriva
rather than knock up another statue
to be ruined by pigeons & spray-paint
as well as acid rain & student pranks
that might leave you brandishing a dildo
you’d be better off encouraging me
to write about how wonderful you are
how you’re the perfect Lord of Rimini
to be lauded through all eternity
like Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood
1973 (for long thought lost)
winner of the Grandma’s Attic award
at the Eerie Horror Film Festival
& another illustration of how
no-one escapes from the tunnel of love
from Soft Rush (The Red Ceilings Press, 2013).
Order Soft Rush.
Visit Peter’s website.

Sarah Crewe’s flick invicta

Sarah Crewe 
Sarah Crewe is from the Port of Liverpool. She co-edited Binders Full of Women with Sophie Mayer and Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot with Sophie Mayer and Mark Burnhope. She has work upcoming in Tears In The Fence and Party In Your Eye Socket. She also co-edits M58, a webzine for visual poetry, with Andrew Taylor, and Stinky Bear Press with two other Stinky Bears. She has never quite got over the fact that Malory Towers is a work of fiction. flick invicta is published by Oystercatcher Press.
flick invicta
the dead push up the indigo

doc leaves soothe

                    hannah’s shattered wrists
one stone left    the grass sinks

beneath flick’s heels

non conformist          stockpile
marilyn up against the wall

grass circle

               of dead energy
flows       is caught in    hawthorn

in damsel flight        in felo de se

infirmary escapism
decay in flux        decline as cause

of death          poppies convulsing

into red dots        teething pains
flick circles the water tower

         the path remains the same
peridot hearts

                    in hair

legs in combat

verdant caught in
see through

my flesh breathes trees

blooming          arched

clutching limes

reading heat

feed me

petals tumbling

leaves reaching

in chlorophyllic glee

never to be seen
no patience for
the birds or a
silent bandstand
chasing swifts
he brings flowers
to the bees and
says he’s used to
things that sting
flick/blue heaven
flick provoked
flick invokes
flick invicta

flick hears vipers
                     in the clover

flick’s red poppies
ox eye daisies
wasteland nursery

flaky social club

flag on the brow side
flick shudders
flick seeks camomile

jennifer rides a wild boar

flick felicitous
mint choc cathedral
terracotta spindle

bare legs whipped
                by dry grass
from flick invicta (Oystercatcher Press, 2012).

Order flick invicta.

Nia Davies’ Then Spree

© Image by Maria Angelica Madero

© Image by Maria Angelica Madero

Nia Davies was born in Sheffield in the United Kingdom and studied English at the University of Sussex where she won the first Stanmer Prize for poetry. Her poems have featured in Bird Book from Sidekick Books and The Salt Book of Younger Poets and in magazines such as Poetry Wales, White Review and Poetry Northeast. Then Spree is her first publication – a pamphlet of poems published in the Salt Modern Voices series in 2012. Nia is currently based in London where she works for Literature Across Frontiers – a European platform for literary translation and intercultural dialogue. She is also a project manager for Cyfnewidfa Len Cymru / Wales Literature Exchange – Wales’s hub for literary translation.

Then Spree 
“The poems in Then Spree take language for a ride bare-backed through fringe-worlds: through the backwoods of forgotten histories to the watery edges of landmasses, from the sunken, frayed psyche of a man living underwater to the wild spree of a meandering imagination. This debut introduces a poet devoted to the wayward call of music and always prepared to risk terror for the rewards of song, love and insight.”
“Nia Davies’s poems are sharply attentive to the realm of the ‘inner ear’, a meeting point of external and internal environments. The lines have their own intense music, but instead of approaching song’s recognition and resolution they push towards the unfamiliar. Archaeologies and soundscapes are carefully excavated in language that sparks at every turn, while multiple directions open for the reader and ‘choice is a parallelogram/ best made on the slant’.”

– Zoë Skoulding
“These are poems of great subtlety and depth, with acute emotional precision and a canny kind of brilliance. It is alert, quick and ancient, all at the same time. It is simply beautiful.”

– Jay Griffiths
“Davies (who hails from Sheffield but has Welsh roots) writes rich and adventurous poems. Appropriately for someone who works with Literature Across Frontiers, her work feels borderless, influenced by experimental American and eastern European poetries as much as—probably more than—the British canon. Her Welsh identity, if it is on display at all, shows in the dense, heavily stressed fabric of the verse, which seems (or sounds) conversant with Cynghanedd, Hopkins and Glyn Jones. In the event that an ‘I’ surfaces in her work, it is defiantly plastic and multivalent.”

– Dai George, from the essay ‘Worth their Salt’  
Periphylla Periphylla
On and off,
it’s the benign traffic light
of his coruscating heart:

a triangular jellyfish, spreading
and closing, visible through the greased glass
of the night bus. He travels

sunkenly and half-happy
through a dawdling soup,
the city’s deep midwater.

Aboard this electric ark,
his macaw-red eyes weep vodka,
a cell perishes with every blink.

He rides to his stop by the all-night butchers.
All alit are the stripped shins
and beheaded hens.

When they dangle like that
they witness his troubled isosceles,
lighthousing through his body.

He must walk on, possible
only by beating at
the krill-strewn sea.

In the ninth abyss
the tensing pipes of his bright organ
widen for water.
Bubble headed, diving-bell brained,
he drifts, in a bee’s aerial course,

across the night-hewn road,
tacks against the wind siphoned by streets,

longs to suck its stream of nutrients.
Under awnings, the Michelin man

has stacked up black rubber, bright
as dull can be under yellow light.

He is cast towards the pub and its open arms,
but those poor stung legs,

are feeling the taunt of stingray pikes,
and from the frets of the sea bed

come the coral polyps, alive and clinging.
It’s slow going. The massing gutter sounds,

the tump on the slabs by other fish.
Unlike them. He is unalike:

a crawling embittered stumble,
white with flummox.
Daylight and there is dimming
in our aged white star. Past the Coexistence Trust
a peculiar grey in green.

It’s all the trick of that ailing thing,
the sun, that melts and forgets radiance,
fluffs hem, cuff and hairline.

He walks in a very straight line
towards the sinking star,
across the royal park.

The press on his lungs is lessened
in the light. But still in his head the fug
of a sorry skin-dive.

When he was born, there was too much soft tissue
in the x-ray. Chatting was outlawed.
Now he’s passing into paving

and grass, with each step
the charnels of the sea go blank.
In each step a bone replaces

tentacle. He is gaining buoyancy
hourly, but he is still awash,
still the Crown Jelly.
i Want To Do Everything
Bibulous, happy, exploded in the litter
of pomegranate, I want to live long.

And face the glaciers’ flume. It’s spring,
it’s spring in that toothpaste. The winter is game,

asks me to press forward: evenly. Then spree.
The rubble of my room, the follicles pushed up,

flowering envelopes, springs of seed packeted.
What can be chosen amid this?

In the bed we’ll live long to bear orang-utans.
And in clusters of eight we’ll count them.

Nine might be holy. And it’s better
when it’s a charmed story.

Peeled wheat at breakfast, blood oranges and March.
Let it be March soon.
from Then Spree (Salt Publishing).

Order Then Spree.

Visit Nia’s blog, Sky Like That.

Binders Full of Women

“Make it as political as hell, and make it irrevocably 

– Toni Morrison
are Sarah Crewe, Nia Davies, Amy Evans, Maria Gornell, Sarah Hesketh, Kirsten Irving, Mara Katz, Rowena Knight, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Agnes Marton, Sophie Mayer, Sally McAlister, Michelle McGrane, slmendoza, Steph Pike, Chella Quint, Nat Raha, Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg, Jacqueline Saphra, Claire Trévien, Jackie Wills, Alison Winch.
Editors, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, write:
Threats to society. Shouty women, scroungers on benefits, queers, trannies, boys in lipstick, girls in suits. This is how Republicans see it. This is how Tories see it. This is how every right wing government sees it.

Those of us screaming out of the Binders Full of Women see things differently. We have to, because we are these “threats to society”.

We see inequality as the greatest ill of the times we live in. We recognise that rape has existed as a weapon since the beginning of time. It is biblical, it is prehistoric, medieval, Victorian. Yet in the age of media as the fourth estate, we are horrified to witness the double standards, the culture of blame, the glorification of this sick malfunction of the pathetic on television screens, in cinemas.

We have a situation whereby a man is allowed to take refuge in an Ecuadorian embassy from rape charges, as opposed to being sent to face trial, and hailed as a hero by the socialist press. Is it any wonder that we feel let down, and disillusioned by the lack of voice for the feminist cause?

It’s no wonder, but it’s not the only possible response, as our collaborators prove. Their work, arriving in our inboxes daily, lifted us up, made us rage with them, laugh with them, cry with them and celebrate with them. They name gender violence – misogyny, homophobia, transphobia – and reclaim the bodies that are subject to it. They extend love, joy, pleasure, rage, beauty, thought, art, and activism as strategies of reclamation for you, the reader, to share.

Twenty-two poets who identify as female, trans, intersex or gender-neutral consented to be bound in Binders Full of Women. Rather than speak for them (as patriarchy tends to do), we’d rather let their voices be heard, collectively describing why they contributed to the anthology, and what the anthology is – so, after a bit of crucial information about where the proceeds from Binders are going – there’s a sampler of fantastic lines, in alphabetical order by poet, that adds up to an introduction, a manifesto and (with a tip of the hat to Le Tigre) a symphony of the sound of women defiantly refusing to swallow their own tongues.

Raising our voices together has been powerful: using them to raise money and awareness for two crucial UK-based organisations, both threatened by increasing conservatism and loss of funding, has felt more powerful still.

Choosing Rape Crisis seemed like the most positive action we could take. Not just though donating money, but by raising awareness of the fact that such an important facility exists for survivors. The word is so ugly that it’s difficult to type: but rape needs to be talked about and confronted. If by reading Binders just one person becomes incensed by the horror of rape, raises the profile of rape crisis, asks their local politician exactly what they intend to do to ensure that this issue starts getting treated with the action it requires, then that’s good enough for us.

The Michael Causer Foundation is a charity based in Liverpool to help LGBT young people find crisis accommodation and support. Michael was a gay teenager who was brutally assaulted and later died. He was attacked after one of his killers found sexually explicit images on his mobile phone as he slept upstairs at a house party. Ridiculously, one of the gang claimed “self defence” against a boy who suffered a fractured skull at the hands of their violence. This defendant walked free.

Michael’s mother could have easily locked the doors and grieved for life. Instead, she set up the Foundation in memory of her son, to help the community her son was a part of and to aid those at risk from the type of vicious prejudice that led to the death of her son. It is hard for us to imagine the strength of her courage. It is also a reminder of just how difficult life can be for LGBT young people to be accepted in their communities. In spite of state, systemic and individual cruelty, it is good to know that support is out there for those who need it.

These continuing acts of violence are hateful. Yet the work of both the poets and these charities that emerges in response to them is open, affective, exciting, caring and transformative. It’s imperative, as the poems argue, that we highlight these issues, by standing together and speaking collectively.
          we are sewing the clitoral jewels on all the pretty dresses

          And of course I thought about Mossycoat. She singles out

          material all a round

          following the signs

          wants to kiss away these names that linger

          It made the Echo: a quarter-column

          before I grew them, I knew they were mine

          warning that there could be no return

          at the funeral your mother said she knew about me

          Or Julie, sometimes this/that.

          you pick-axe crackers of cunt psephology

          Call it what you would love better

          a girl like that, what did she expect?

          mouth opens suddenly and makes the click of

          we stink of blood and sweat and piss

          and laughing, for all the right reasons

          or narratives rendered through medical ciscentricism

          The playbill is stapled to my chest

          would you, with longing, spread your legs for this

          cuties [but no bitches, hussies, ladettes, matrons


          But in on the cosmic joke.
A Steel Kiss
Maria Gornell
It’s cold tonight
the moon looks
down with a steel
eye that refuses
to melt.

He wore a coat of flame
stole the breath
from my lungs

followed my trail
like a dog that
claimed its territory.

Promised to turn the world gold
with a Midas touch

that looks a bleak grey tonight
a stiff corpse frozen
in unfulfilled hollow
words that

echo a sound of suffering.
He will sleep with the devil
tonight; dream of a black mane
and eyes of truth he cannot bear.

A coward that took himself
out of the equation and
sabotaged his own

Tonight he wears a coat
of shame. The cold night
covers him in icicles
a steel kiss
to his heart

and I keep on
following the signs.
Race Against the Cure
Mara Katz
When I was a child I learned
not to let anyone I didn’t love touch my breasts.
Before I grew them, I knew they were mine
and the job was mine of protecting them.

But breasts in my family
are hard to take care of.
My father’s mother met the woman her son would marry
just once
because of her breasts.
Back then there was no cure.
My mother sacrificed her breasts
and was in pain for a year
so she could live for my sister and me.

You want to tell me
whether I shall die like my grandmother
or be cured like my mother
all because I have breasts.

With all your money, you don’t know what they’re worth.
Rowena Knight
The rules were arbitrary, but sharp as steel;
we let them be. We all
wore satin boxer shorts,
studied the changing room floor,
and shaved.

Tights were not an option,
in the same way that gravity exists.
My sister instructed me on technique,
warning there could be no return;
blunt hairs would only seem more riotous.

Still I prized my cheap Bic razor,
a golden ticket to anonymity.
I triumphed over each little black snake.

There was blood, of course,
sometimes laddering my legs.
But scabs served as badges,
proof that I was trying.

At eleven I was desperate
to feel like a woman who has to cull
the conflict of stubble,
who searches for a child
with a razor.
Jacqueline Saphra
(after Epstein’s Adam)
His cock hangs at half mast; it’s primed to score:
rising, monstrous; nothing like those bland
and flaccid members in rooms 3 and 4.
Drunk on lust, pumped up with blood, he stands
broad on his plinth and howls for cunt. Who’d dare
to leave his call unanswered? This is where
we find the source: that first, primeval sin:
he forced an opening, she let him in.

Later they wrote she asked for it – her pink
seductive flesh, the bruise and not the kiss.
You ask who wrote those books: who do you think?
Would you, with longing, spread your legs for this,
bear more like him? It seems so far to fall.
Must this man be the father of us all?
Order your Binder Full of Women here.

Edward Mackay’s Swarming

Edward Mackay studied History and English at Oxford University and lives in east London where he also runs a mediation charity. His poetry was shortlisted for the inaugural Picador Poetry Prize (2011), commended in the Emerge Escalator competition (2010) and shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award (2009). He has been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Swarming (Salt Publishing, 2012) is his first solo publication.
Swarming is a waspish debut of strange voices and unsettling moments which jostle at the border of individual and collective experience: a holy fool lurks uneasily in an abattoir; a host of angels go to work in the Israeli post office; a tiger wanders through London, blurring the lines between dream and reality, the atomised individual and the possibilities of the social. Meanwhile Mesolithic voices emerge in a spell from the depths of the north sea and eclectic presiding spirits from Ivor Gurney to Jim and William Reid haunt poems which are deeply personal and quietly political – poems which hope, fiercely, for a remade world and rage that it is not so.”
“Edward Mackay’s poems sound like the real thing. In fact, the pleasure of reading them again and again is heightened by the growing perception that they are indeed the real thing: their wide-ranging subject-matter and striking allusiveness are complemented by a richness of diction, an impressive intelligence, and a formal elegance at the service of his subject. The tone ranges from an almost objective detachment when dealing with ‘heavy’ emotional material, to a controlled anger, to an almost excruciating relish in the depiction of the grotesque, to poignant expressions of the human predicament – see the poem of a life lived on the boundary, ‘Stone House Asylum, 1932’, about the poet Ivor Gurney’s last days.

Here is a poet whose capacious imagination and obvious love of language is matched by his abilities to transform sensation, feeling, and intellectual awareness into true art.”

– Robert Vas Dias
“Edward Mackay’s poems always deliver surprise: his formality is jagged and irreverent; he re-envisions the lyric in the edgy fringes of east London. He takes on many guises – cannibal lover, death-knell raven, restless traveller. This is an extraordinarily confident and beautifully crafted debut from a poet who is going places.”

– Tamar Yoseloff
“Sharply sequenced, Mackay’s pamphlet possesses a courageous, focused, and often visceral perception, revealing its author to be equipped with that necessary ‘acuteness of the senses’, to quote Poe, that makes for good poetry. From ravens to abbats, to the Johnny Cash bassline of a tiger’s walk, to the pinnacle work on Edward Thomas and Private Guerney, these well-crafted poems reward the reader with characters and phrasings that bend our customary ways of seeing things, retelling the world through the integrity of their metaphors.”

– Rachael Boast
Yours, the browning, bent-down corners
of my books, Jupiter’s red rings drying
in a wine glass. Yours, the somersaults
of the furies, the restless night, the rupture.

I give you, too, an anagram of your discarded
names, your absences, your story, your stomach’s
taut fire-lines, the idle traces of your toe in ash:
smoked signals on that sill above the Mile End Road.

I leave you the thrilled, sour taste of those early
nights, dissolved like the host on my tongue,
in that chaste first month when we lay, untouching,
outlines of leaves rustling in the borrowed dark.

Yours, fermented hours, cradling a hope inside
the heart’s neat crook. I give you back your echo,
my pencil shavings, three burned down candles,
the granite revelations, these swarming years.
So, yes, I will sit in your pew, performing
the ablutions of custom: sing lustily and then
forever hold my peace. I’ll beam – and mean it –

as a puce-faced man links arms with you and speaks
his part. I’ll dab a dignified eye and place
my slip-shod faith in your fresh happiness. These things

I do for you. I’ll even think of other things
(between the hymned injunctions that you don’t believe)
to put aside the memory of your fresh grown curves,

their neat silhouette on curtains drawn across
our conspiracy of amber afternoons. And I’ll not
picture the lovely chaos of piled clothes, jam jar lids

of dogends, or you, shameless, sitting at the far end
of my bed reading aloud – your crease of belly
grinning, slicked in sun. Or then the twist of hips,

wide-eyes, and clumsy tongues. These things I’ll try.
I’ll raise a glass. I’ll even dance. I’ll kiss your cheek,
wish you well then drive into the heavy evening

of your August wedding night where dusk is furred
with stories, motorway illuminations trail, and
all’s washed clean, forgotten. You will wear white

and be unhistoried. I’ll turn off course, and look back briefly
down the incline of the years, to read that outgrown city
that went on without us. And above, the jittering

stars will slip into the constellations of your freckled back.
These gathering days
are the thin, electric days,
fermenting to the spark of a golden sun.

Full harvest days, taut before the rains,
billowing beneath the contented weight

of a dying season. They come in equal
moments, clinking from the cupboards;

the measuring days, in muddled, misfit rows,
the palm-prickled hoarding days

sifted to the weight of a purpled fig,
resting fleshy and warm, a bird in the bowl of a hand.

The hours are counted out in pierced sloes,
sliding their springtimes, greened from

their opened sea-deep blues. We drop sweetened words
into bottles, slicking them in syrups, vinegars and rums:

plump fruits marooned from time, press idly
against glass as juice and sap slip between cracks,

their rhythm slowed. They settle into one another,
bobbing in their tiny glassy worlds.

Veined skins split pathways from the sun
in these shrunken days. Then comes

the cold; we are well-stocked
to hold back the hunger,

yet indifferent jars stay sealed,
furring with dust as the treasures sleep.
from Swarming (Salt Publishing, 2012).

Pre-order Swarming here, here and here.

Visit Edward’s Salt author page.

Visit Edward’s website.