Tag Archives: poetry collections

Maggie Butt’s petite

    
    
Maggie Butt’s petite (Hearing Eye, 2010) follows her first full collection, Lipstick (Greenwich Exchange, 2007). Maggie’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and on the internet. She is an ex-journalist and BBC television producer, and is currently head of the Media department of Middlesex University. She lives in London and is chair of the National Association of Writers in Education.
   
   
Ant Life
Maggie Butt
  
Scurrying in and out of readings
lugging our self-important words
like leaf-clippings half our own size;
busying ourselves with so-and-so’s review,
award, obituary. Coming and going
going and coming, weaving through grass
stalks as if they were forest giants
gazing up at the jack-booted humans
and higher, to the birds, longing to fly.
   
   
Pigalle
Maggie Butt
  
This Rue is where my daughter plans to live:
a tattoo artist yelling at a drunk;
three old men sun their leathered chests and give
her leering looks; a flame-haired punk
holds fresh baguette and tiny dogs on leads;
a corner bar boasts cross-dress cabaret;
the scent of urine rises; heat forms beads
of sweat – a spring Parisian bouquet.
   
But strangers share their picnic in the park
and she will climb five flights of champagne night
where rooftops of Montmartre after dark
gleam with reflected gold and ruby light,
throw wide the shutters, sip the air’s rich wine,
intoxicated, think, “All this is mine.”
  
  
from petite (Hearing Eye, 2010)
  
Purchase a copy of petite from Maggie by emailing her: m.butt@mdx.ac.uk.
£5 (incl. p & p) will get you a signed copy.
   

Maggie Butt

   
Pocket-sized poems from the author of Lipstick.
    
“Maggie Butt’s miniatures are witty, wise, original and compassionate, with a vision which ranges from the mundane to the sublime, and a concern for the language and craft of poetry which is apparent on every page.”
  
– James Aitchison
   
  
“Here are poems that are lyrical, highly-visual, and that dance off the page with delightful immediacy. In exquisitely-framed cameos, Maggie Butt explores relationships and events with an eye to the paradoxes and ironies.”
  
– Katherine Gallagher
   
  
“These small poems are tender, hopeful and unreasonably delightful.”
   
– Helena Nelson
   
  
“Maggie Butt is a poet with a supple intelligence which joins neatly with her sense of music. This makes her take on reality a pleasure to read.”
   
– Sebastian Barker
 
 
Visit Maggie’s website, lifesoup.net.
 
Read more of Maggie’s work at poetry p f, including Lipstick’s title poem.

Naomi Foyle’s The Night Pavilion

     
  
Mademoiselle Mal Chance
Naomi Foyle

   
A secret of eyelashes;
       a daisy dipped in pitch;
             a delicate brooch
pinned to the side of the tub ―
  
                    until I approach
with my plundering streams,
my inveigling finger:
a menace,
              a moment,
                             a flood.
   
Where is your fine lifeline, spider?
Where are your eight water wings?
You sprawl, a legless gamine.
   
I share a hot bath with your corpse.
It clings to my skin like a mole.
My mascara runs in the steam.
  
 
  
The Angel of Anarchy
Naomi Foyle
  
after the bust by Eileen Agar
  
The night you wrapped my head
in a Wake knot of silk scarves,
clipped chains around my thighs,
pressed your cheek against the feather
inked into my breast —
 
that night I almost felt your breath
warmly puzzling my flesh.
You could have been a robber,
an artist, or a god. But from your smell
of pepper, mixed with baby mouse,
 
I sensed that who I was
beneath the mask, and why I stayed
a pinioned herald on your bed,
 
you were too afraid to ask.
  
  
 
Miss Dickinson Regrets
Naomi Foyle
 
Blandishments and tourniquets
won’t stem the Surgeon’s gash —
I left my Ribcage on the Beach,
my brain Pan in the wash.
  
My Heart I folded in a cloth,
and placed it in a Basin,
with my Skin I stitched a cloak —
no Sleeves to slip your Ace in.
  
I left my Flesh so far behind
your Love to forage for…
Now, with ancient Teeth I munch
Starry porridge raw.
  
My face remains in Lockets
you lost inside a drawer.
Be careful turning back your Clocks —
inside their slow, infernal Works
  
I spat one sharpened Claw.
  
 
  
Your Summer Arm
Naomi Foyle
 
Was it an odd sort of cricket
climbing my oak dresser? No ―
an emerald shield bug, you said,
watching as I tried to slide
 
a piece of A4 paper
beneath its crooked legs.
When a foot caught, and tore,
I thought we both might cry.
 
 
*
 
 
Where is grass to comfort that green?
Those sweet, young shoots
I slipped from their sheaths
and chewed with wobbly teeth?
 
Now, as we curl into bed,
outside in the whistling damp
the husk I dismembered today
begins to decay in the leaves.
 
 
*
 
 
This whirring of thoughts,
rustle of pages,
mean nothing to you
anymore.
 
Your breathing is so quiet,
I’d hardly know you were there
if it wasn’t for the glowing limb
buried in my hair.
 
 
 
from The Night Pavilion (Waterloo Press, 2008),
a Poetry Book Society Recommendation
  
Carol Rumens blogs about ‘Your Summer Arm’.
    
    

Naomi Foyle

    
“Truly original new work in verse and prose, as well as some adventurous, idiomatic translations, unsettle complacency and challenge expectations. Ostentatious, flirtatious, sometimes witty, technically ambitious and expansively sensuous, these poems push boundaries of form, genre and manner. At the same time they are highly approachable. Discerning readers will be delighted to discover a poet whose work is innovative but far from obscure, entertaining but never escapist.”
   
– Carol Rumens
  
 
“Naomi Foyle’s The Night Pavilion, her superb and startling first collection, glories in “needles, nettles, splinters” but it is the hard forms of those unlovely things, as much as their power to sting, which she celebrates. For all their mastery of form, these are poems that prowl, poems with whiskers, alert to “the tender tips of words.” She has an eye, and a nose, for unseemly contrasts—not only “cock” and “cunt” but the sexiest “crop circles” on record—and yet, out of these rude collisions a difficult beauty takes shape … Even so, just when you begin to think that Foyle is a lineal descendant of the Three Weird Sisters, all packed into one “pink hovel” of a mouth, you detect the sadness beneath the fierce aplomb.”
  
– Eric Ormsby
  
 
“No stranger to the intricacies of pain or the mystery of pleasure, in which both men and women are ‘blindfolded’ and bound – whether in ballads or prose poems – Naomi Foyle writes with elegance and wit, while never pulling any punches.”
 
– Maria Jastrzębska
   
  
Read more about Naomi Foyle and The Night Pavilion.
  
Order The Night Pavilion.

Ross Sutherland’s Things To Do Before You Leave Town

 
Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh in 1979. He was included in The Times’s list of Top Ten Literary Stars of 2008. His debut poetry collection, Things To Do Before You Leave Town (Penned in the Margins), was published in January this year. Ross is also a member of the poetry collective Aisle16 with whom he runs Homework, an evening of literary miscellany in East London. His one-man poetry/comedy show, The Three Stigmata of Pacman, debuts at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington in January 2010. Visit Ross’s website.
 

Ross Sutherland

    
 
Critical praise for my last relationship
Ross Sutherland
   
At first glance, our faces appeared little more
than frayed notes, hinting at a distant mood.
Yet, on reflection, there was something compelling in that fraying:
My beard was loaded with the channeled pressure of something
                                                       being said.
Her eyes were not one thought, but two.
   
If you kept your nerve and stuck with us
You would have found that each day we spent together
had a distinct tone and shape.
Our subject range was impressive:
A man regresses himself through his previously owned automobiles,
A snow crystal grows synthetically on a petri dish,
Ovid laments his exile from Rome.
   
In winter, we underwent an odd shift of register.
Humour masked an aposiopesis. I trailed off into northern slang.
My invocation of a lost England was haunting in its fragility,
A place Frank Ormsby at the Belfast Telegraph described as
                                                      ‘a world of cries’.
  
She was as personal as Emily Dickinson.
I was as striking.
We were happy spanning joy and death together.
Cutting out every word we dared,
then walking out upon empty streets,
heat rising up into the negative space above us.
  
There were occasional poor lines,
but they were made noticeable by their rarity.
A meditation on the exchange of Christmas gifts
whilst well written,
felt too much like a generic picture of despair.
  
   
 
Published in Things To Do Before You Leave Town
(Penned in the Margins, 2009).
  
Buy Things To Do Before You Leave Town.
  
Check out a new animation based on another of Ross’s poems from Things To Do Before You Leave Town.

Stephanie Leal’s Metrophobia

Metrophobia

    
Stephanie Leal is originally from New Jersey, USA. She received her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2007 and is studying for her PhD in Philosophy. She currently lives in Norwich. Visit her website.
      

Stephanie Leal

Stephanie Leal by Alexandra Bone

 
Boston Tea
Stephanie Leal
 
December 16, 1773
 
Sixteen sips from Chinese porcelain
espy the arbitrary day, the decisive act.
 
History began mohawking the bay:
vulcanizing sand dunes
 
cracking into champagned water,
bumbling with stamped-out Liberty,
 
the smuggling thief; a unanimous
continental conspiracy
 
to remember the misrepresentation,
remember the gunpowder;
 
convulsing welkin
obscures feathered headdress.
 
The tea still washes up
on the shores of Boston;
 
nothing was damaged or stolen
except a padlock
 
that was accidentally broken,
but anonymously replaced one week after.
    
   
Mrs Darling’s Kiss
Stephanie Leal
  
Lines lifted from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
   
Her mouth, a nightlight, conspicuously
sweet and mocking. On it was a kiss,
hung on the right-hand corner of her lips,
unobtainable. And yet he, clad in leaves
and juices that ooze from trees, easily
stole that kiss away. She pirouettes. Miss
Darling, now released from her innocence,
forgets how to fly, forgets how to see.
 
Although she is now dead and forgotten,
fairy dust still sparkles on the wood floor
(dog hair mixed with strands of white silk cotton).
She asked for a kiss, he gave an acorn.
Sewing youth to shadow never softens
the wrinkles: Napoleon slams the door.

      
Published in Metrophobia (Penned in the Margins, 2009).
   
Read more about Metrophobia.

Napoleon’s Travelling Bookshelf

Napoleon's Travelling Bookshelf

  
Sarah Hesketh was born in 1983 and grew up in Pendle, East Lancashire. She attended Merton College, Oxford and holds an MA in Creative Writing from UEA. In 2007 her collaboration with composer Alastair Caplin was performed at the Leeds Lieder Festival. She currently works as Assistant Director at the writers’ charity English PEN. Visit Sarah’s website.
  
  

Sarah Hesketh by Benjamin Thompson

Sarah Hesketh by Benjamin Thompson

  
July
Sarah Hesketh
  
               A month
                              of leaping trout.
The villagers dusted earth from their boots,
muttered of meanings caught lurking in the corn.
   
It befits such tales to begin with a stranger.
And so she seemed: the pots unwashed,
the blackberries gone to rot inside the door.
Nights were worse.
  
I am thrice blessed by moonlight, he declared,
and she kissed his scars in brazen view
of that common nunnery gossip.
  
Later, when the cows wouldn’t calve,
and her neighbour held a barrel
to the head of his hound, she would testify, only
  
to this: that his night-rushed skin
turned to smoke come the morning.
And the rising light across sky-rocked fields,
came like a command from home.
  
  
The Ravensbrück Seamstress
Sarah Hesketh
 
She bites buttons from the coats of dead men.
Fillets the seams of grain sacks for thread.
Spits when repairing the outline of stars.
 
Mud is murder on the hems. They come to her
for pockets that might save a photograph, a ring.
Cuffs are fashionably frayed that year. Waists cinched in.
 
When Reuben dies by the train track, in the rain,
twelve girls are wearing his socks by lunch.
Each thick red stitch she forces through their collars
 
irritates the skin, reminds them to struggle.
They break ice for mirrors for a treat when it’s cold,
worn faces, suddenly respectable to themselves.
  
  
Published in Napoleon’s Travelling Bookshelf
(Penned in the Margins, 2009).
   
Read more about Napoleon’s Travelling Bookshelf.

George Ttoouli’s Static Exile

George Ttoouli

George Ttoouli

   
George Ttoouli was born in London in 1979 to Greek parents. An Honorary Teaching Fellow for the Warwick Writing Programme, he co-founded the Heaventree Press in 2002, has worked in the education team at the Poetry Society, and co-edits poetry blogzine, Gists & Piths. He is now mostly skint, in Coventry. George’s articles, reviews, poems, short stories and essays have been published widely. In 2004 he received a Jerwood-Arvon Young Writing Apprenticeship to work on a novel, which he still hasn’t abandoned. Static Exile (Penned in the Margins, 2009) is his debut collection of poetry.
    
    
Nearing Extinction
George Ttoouli
  
You know this feeling.
The air carries a sense of erasure
and for the first time you notice
the streets are scrubbed of anyone
who might offer the phantom you’ve become
a smile. The last bus pulls from the kerb
like a page ripping out of a diary and every pavement
is a shapeless mask, all the escalators full
in other directions. You are
the only person on the platform
to which no train will arrive.
Something in you expects this, made a choice
to fill the streets with negative spaces
and the tyres of every feeling you have in you
to the point of bursting on the first bend.
First though, a flood; some dark mist
congeals into a whisper and scours the streets,
tubes, shops and cafés, kitchen counters
full of plastic-wrapped packets and bottles,
cuts clean with its meniscus every trace
of people from the surface. This is more
real than you imagined, the skin
of the manmade dulled to a dark grey,
until the world is a unified obsidian
though soft like the flank of a panther
nearing extinction, growling yet.
   
   
Published in Static Exile (Penned in the Margins, 2009).
   
Order Static Exile.
      

Static Exile  
   
Join Penned in the Margins for the launch of George Ttoouli’s Static Exile and James Wilkes’ Weather A System at The Slaughtered Lamb, 34-35 Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 0DX, on Sunday, 8 November, from 8pm till late. 
Nearest tube: Farringdon.
    
Simon Turner and Holly Pester will be supporting Ttoouli and Wilkes.
  
Entry is free.

Sophie Mayer’s Her Various Scalpels

Sophie Mayer

Sophie Mayer by Lady Vervaine

      
Sophie Mayer writes passionately and politically about poetry and film anywhere and everywhere she can, including Horizon Review, Esprit de Corps, Blackbox Manifold, Sight & Sound, Little White Lies and Artesian. She blogs about reading as Delirium’s Librarian, and is a regular contributor to the review blog for Chroma journal, where she is commissioning editor. Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009), her first solo poetry collection, was the auspicious start to a very exciting three-book year, followed by The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love (Wallflower, 2009)and (as co-editor) There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking and Beyond (Wayne State University Press, 2009). Her next collection, The Private Parts of Girls, will be published by Salt in 2011, and she has future plans for encounters between poetry and film. Visit Sophie’s website.
   
   
Rearranging the Stars
Sophie Mayer
  
after Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient
  
Lost you. Out here, where a call to prayer shivers
stone into song, where night falls like knives,
  
there’s a trick to the sky, how you see it, smell
what’s coming. It is like reading. It’s so small
  
at first, and granular, then overwhelms: eyes,
mouth, hands, hair. You cannot possibly sleep.
  
But you do, lulled by wind and waking. Stories –
his stories, more stories than there could be stars –
   
breathe around you with their shine, draw hearts
on dirty glass. You know what they find in deserts:
   
fragments. Texts under sand winds, brilliant disasters.
And you, in secret, on fire with new constellations.
   
   
Previously published in Staple 71: The Art Issue (Summer 2009).
  
  
Her Various Scalpels

  
pieuvres / lèvres (lilies / lips)
Sophie Mayer
  
Did I realise then that I would spend my whole life
with their lipstick on my face. Other girls and their kisses
 
goodbye. I know that now, having watched soft asses
walk away from me, having been paid my tithe
 
for watchful quiet. For the flattery of desire. Ingrown
hair, that’s what it’s like: turning against the razor
 
blade and on itself. Like my toes, curled mazily
through each other with waiting, waiting that flows
 
up my calves and out my mouth. A shower in reverse:
a fountain, inwards out: And what was in her,
 
I felt that too. All her hardness in my fingers
rattling her stem. All those flower words, perverse
 
euphemisms for a force like an ocean
in a swimming pool. Did she not see
 
what poured out of (her into) me? Salt of her sea,
stick of her sap. And it’s not the explosion
 
that I’m talking about, her wet cunt a concrete
underpass around my hand. It’s the light that thrums
 
from her lily-mouth, her pollinated tongue
extended like a stamen. Like a beesting hot-sweet
 
under the skin, a tear oozing from an eye. An ingrown
hair turning outwards against skin tough as petals
 
under drops of rain. The pain of it like cold metal,
like waiting. The stem of spit plunges down
 
and you wonder that such softness does such hurt.
No softness in the doing: spit’s active as a limb,
  
a cock, a race, a city street. It dances itself thin.
The stem of things. Wet birth. My first.
 
 
Buy Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009) here.

Janet Sutherland’s Hangman’s Acre

    
   
Janet Sutherland was raised on a dairy farm in Wiltshire, lived twenty years in London and now lives in Lewes. Her second collection, Hangman’s Acre (Shearsman Books, 2009), is to be published on 15 October 2009. Of her first collection, Burning the Heartwood (Shearsman Books, 2006), reviewed in Poetry Review, Judith Kazantzis said the “poems are questioning, tender, guarded”. Her work has appeared in many magazines including Poetry Review and Poetry Wales and in anthologies including The Virago Book of Love Poetry and The New British Poetry 1968-88. She has read widely including at venues in Brighton, London and at the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Read more about Janet and Hangman’s Acre on her Shearsman author page  and website.
    
  
    
Assemblage des Beautés
  
Bone monkey has set up shop in the airing cupboard.
It’s warm in there. Silverfish take refuge in his skull
and slide around his ribs. Worn sheets have ruched between
his bones like the petals of old roses – Assemblage des Beautés
for instance – so cherry red and full it almost seems
there is blood again and a heart beating like crazy.
  
  
Previously published in Poetry Review (Volume 99:2 Summer 2009).
  
  
 
Nearer
  
rain is falling under sodium lights
the municipal toilet roof is bathed in gold
up station street the tarmac shines and little rivers
writhe and coil along the roadside gutters
 
it’s late     the traffic light in broken pieces
scatters across the deserted lane
in amber, red, red and amber, green
in all the houses darkness slowly deepens
  
in this town on a night like this     my heart
glitters     each footfall takes me nearer
to your bed   and to the dark where I will
lie with you this little time     I thought
  
it could not be like this   but I was wrong
walking on light and water     coming home
  
  
Published in Hangman’s Acre (Shearsman Books, 2009).
  
  
 
Bath launch of Carrie Etter’s pamphlet and Janet Sutherland’s second book
  
Monday 26 October, 6.30pm, Carrie Etter and Janet Sutherland launch new collections at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, 14 – 15 John Street, Bath, BA1 2JL. Phone: 01225331155. Email: books@mrbsemporium.com.
 
Shearsman Books December 2009 Reading
 
Tuesday 1 December 2009, 7.30pm, Alan Wearne and Janet Sutherland at Swedenborg Hall, Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way (entry on Barter Street), London, WC1A 2TH. Email: editor@shearsman.com.

Tamsin Kendrick’s Charismatic Megafauna

   
        
Peter Pan Versus Captain Hook
Tamsin Kendrick
    
My friend vouched a theory that all men were either
Peter Pans or Captain Hooks. I don’t know about you but
   
I know where I stand. Look what that bastard did to poor Wendy;
Tinkerbell too. I’ll have no truck with flighty boys.
   
Give me instead the feel of steel on my thigh,
the screams of pirates trapped in the boo-boo box.
   
But most of all give me the whispery hair under the wig,
the gnarled hand, the hook trailing red lines down my abdomen.
   
He pulls my hair, holds his hook to my mouth, then, suddenly shy,
his mouth. No thimbles in sight. Finally, a real kiss.
    
   
 
Waiting for the Post
Tamsin Kendrick
   
End with Amen or a clap?
I get confused.
I lose my place.
Is this a circle we’re standing in?
Are we standing stones?
Is there magic here?
  
I think there are things in here with us.
A Jack-in-the-box, purple corners,
tumours perhaps?
An incessant buzzing.
Bruises on our knees.
And as we look we find bruises everywhere,
blue and black from front to back.
  
I remember when outside meant away
and I was always a stranger,
alien and wild in unfamiliar streets,
erupting from my own womb.
Can’t you see my footprints
on the ocean? I’ve been here before.
Was it for a long time? Or a short time?
I don’t know.
  
I don’t remember much.
Reality flinches. I pull my knees up.
Balance on the surface of things.
A waxed stare. Bleached fingers.
A postcard sent from Feltham.
A broken branch on lavender seas.
A silk hat, a felt slipper.
  
Just things
and things I wanted.
   
   
 
Published in Charismatic Megafauna (Penned in the Margins, 2009)
    
Read more about Tamsin and Charismatic Megafauna here.

An interview with Tom Chivers

  
     
Tom Chivers was born in 1983. A writer, editor and promoter, he is Director of live literature organisation Penned in the Margins, Co-Director of London Word Festival and Associate Editor of international journal Tears in the Fence. In 2008 he was the first ever Poet in Residence at The Bishopsgate Institute, London. In September 2009 BBC Radio 4 broadcast his documentary about the poet Barry MacSweeney.
     
His first collection, How To Build A City, was published by Salt in 2009. A sequence of poems, The Terrors, has appeared as a limited edition chapbook from Nine Arches Press, described by Iain Sinclair as ‘dark London history, dredged and interrogated’.
     
Tom, what did you enjoy about studying Medieval English Literature at Oxford?
       
Grappling with medieval literature at university was an extraordinary privilege, but a slog too. I had to learn Old English (Anglo-Saxon) from scratch and even some of the Middle English dialects are pretty demanding. Beowulf, Pearl, Gawain and the Green Knight, Piers Plowman, most of Chaucer and countless other texts have really nourished my love of language, of eccentricity, humour and the exotic. My final year dissertation was entitled ‘Literary Practice in Late Medieval London’ and certainly extended the depth of my knowledge of and interest in London history. My thesis proposed that the socio-political conditions of the city at that time (1350-1500) created a peculiarly heightened sense of textual anxiety. I think we’re going through something similar now, with the internet, blogging, e-books and the rest.
      
Salt recently published your Crashaw Prize-winning collection, How To Build A City. How did you decide upon the title?
      
How To Build A City is the title of the longest piece in the book, a prose narrative I sometimes refer to as a kind of failed travelogue to the East End. Initially it appeared as an A3 poster pull-out in the underground literary magazine The Edgeless Shape – if I remember correctly, one of the editors, Caleb Klaces, came up with the title during a conversation at his kitchen table!
     
The volume is divided into two parts.  How did you order the poems?
     
With difficulty. I knew I wanted the title piece in the middle, the sequence of fragments ‘Thom, C & I’ at the end, and some short poems at the beginning. The rest just fell into place during the editing process. The first part of the book focuses on the city; the second part is more of a miscellany, with poems set in Israel, Nepal and the Peak District.
        
Tell me about your relationship with London and, in particular, the East End?
      
I was born and raised in South London but have lived in the East End for the past five years. I identify with the city very strongly. I suppose it’s a kind of pride, but not a static, smug sense of belonging but a flawed, fluid impulse to describe the urban environment. Or rather, to evoke and work-out my subjective relationship with that environment. I don’t believe in a poetry that speaks truths or captures a knowable ‘reality’. I am suspicious of those who do. I admire the Futurists, the way they engaged with the speed and ruthless modernity of urbanism. I don’t care much for their decline into low-level Fascism, however.
      
When I first moved to the East End I felt as if I had betrayed my roots south of the river. I know that sounds pompous, but hey … It’s a very strange area. It’s a terminus zone for journeys of exile: French Huguenots, Russian Jews, Bengalis, Somalis. I live on a historic street market, reputedly where cockney rhyming slang was invented. That might sound romantic and sometimes it is, but usually it’s just very loud. I don’t get much sleep.
     
Which local East End haunts would you recommend to a first-time visitor?
     
The whole area around Spitalfields is fascinating, although I would recommend avoiding the rather mawkish Jack the Ripper tours. The tiny alleys off Middlesex Street are worth hunting down, as well as the grand Georgian houses on Fournier, Princelet and Wilkes Streets. Further south, near the Tower of London, is one of the most beautiful and undiscovered buildings in the city: Wilton’s Music Hall. So much of the East End, particularly around the Docks, was destroyed during the Blitz, so it’s a blessing this crumbling gem is still here.
     
Can you briefly describe your chapbook, The Terrors?
      
The Terrors is a sequence of ‘imagined emails’ written to inmates at London’s notorious Newgate Prison between 1700 and 1740. Still with me? Good. The poems steal from various sources including The Newgate Calendar, a popular anthology of prison tales which combines celebrity, voyeurism and moral snobbery with shameless gore. I’ve incorporated some of the tone and language of the original, as well as oblique references to modern places of terror, such as Abu Ghraib and the Big Brother house.
      
As director of Penned in the Margins, you promote live literature in the city. Is the spoken word scene thriving in London?
     
Yes, thriving and surviving! The last five or six years has seen a genuine revival in interest in spoken word, and a lot of energy has been generated by independent promoters. The extent to which that revival will extend beyond transitory media attention and occasional culture industry buy-in is yet to be decided. But I am personally excited about what is being written, read and performed. I see my role as an instigator of activity and nurturer of talent. I’m in it for the long haul.
     
Penned in the Margins has also published anthologies, Generation Txt and City State: The New London Poetry, as well as full collections by David Caddy, Tamsin Kendrick, Ross Sutherland, Stephanie Leal and Sarah Hesketh.  Does conflict exist between your work as an editor and your own writing?  How compatible are the two?
     
That’s a probing question indeed. Speaking frankly, there are some ways in which my work as an editor/promoter has actually stymied my own creativity. But now I’ve had my first collection published, I feel more justified in carving out time to write. In general I’m concerned with drawing a distinct line between my professional work and my writing, but that line is often blurrier than I’d like. I’m lucky enough to work with writers who inspire and influence me – Iain Sinclair, Ross Sutherland, James Wilkes, et al. Being a poet also helps me edit other people’s work as I hope to bring sensitivity and attention to language to the process.
         
Would you name a few of your favourite poetry collections? Why are they important to you?
    
The Book of Demons by Barry MacSweeney for its passion, dark comedy and jagged edge. Seamus Heaney’s North for the visceral language and for risk. The wildly musical poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins have been an inspiration (as well as Alice Oswald, whose first two books channel that music brilliantly); I connect with the humour of Ashbery and the controlled energy of the New York poets, as well as the relentless innovation of Allen Fisher, Geraldine Monk, and others. Of more recent volumes, D.S. Marriott’s Hoodoo Voodoo takes some beating for its haunting evocation of the Afro-Diaspora experience. I think Chris McCabe is mining some important veins too.
    
Thank you for your time, Tom.
  
Read more about Tom and How To Build A City here.
    
Follow Tom’s blog, this is yogic.
 
Read more from Tom at the Londonist and Gists and Piths. Tomorrow, he’ll stop by Baroque in Hackney and on Friday he’ll visit Mercy Recommends.