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“White Label Collection – Deux” First Collection Pamphlet Competition CLOSES 28 February

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The Hedgehog Poetry Press is looking for three new poets who will have a debut pamphlet published and receive 100 copies of their collection.

Following on from the first White Label competition that saw Annie Maclean, Attracta Fahy and Philippa Hatton-Lepine join the array of Hedgehog Press poets in 2019, this competition is the next phase of the odyssey.

The search for Three More First Collections, with the ‘White Label Collection’ competition that will see each of the winners destined to have their work beautifully published in pamphlet form by the Hedgehog Poetry Press.

White Label collections are a new series that intend to provide a home to poets for their first collections, however there is no age limit or profile for these. Additionally, there are no restrictions if you have previously self-published a collection, you are still invited to enter. So whether you are 17 or 70, have just come to poetry or are returning to it after living a life, please enter your work.

Each winner will be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press and receive 100 copies of their collection.

The competition will be judged by Mark Davidson, Editor of The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

GO TO THEIR WEBSITE

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Mersea by Karen Dennison

Mersea

We bicker in the car, heading east
to the Strood causeway, winter biting our tail.
The tide is low, the white-fenced road
dry and clear, flanked by stubbled fields.

We agree to disagree amid the clink
of sail-less masts. The boats are moored
in creeks, hung with ropes.
Paint-chipped wooden prows
lean between Blackwater, Colne, sea.

Silenced by the rhythm of our steps,
we pass dog-walkers, kite-flyers,
couples hand-in-hand, parents with children
in hats and mittens, windsurfers, beachcombers,
a row of pastel beach huts, padlocked for winter.

The salted air rushes our lungs
as we walk the sandbars and shingle,
crunching shells underfoot,
erasing footprints with footprints.

Shouts and barks and voices fade to wind.
The darkening mudflats stretch
beyond wooden groynes heavy with seaweed
out to a bank of metallic sea
glistening with possibility.

Two oyster pickers bend over buckets,
dark figures amongst golden pools of cats-paws.
The sun, swung low, huge in a cloud-flecked sky
dazzles us, bleaches our memories.

White heat glosses the cool sea
and Bradwell is like a ghost ship on the horizon.
Turning back, we stop to hear a curlew, and its trill
seems to rise from our throats, like a spell.

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First published in South and Counting Rain https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/karen-dennison/4560258365

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Karen’s first collection, Counting Rain, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2012. Her second collection, The Paper House, will be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in February 2019. Karen is editor and publisher of the pamphlets Book of Sand, Blueshift and Free-fall and co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

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Children of the seventies by Luigi Marchini

Children of the seventies

A lipsticked girl dropped her purse
when snow fell hardest,
on the corner
between boulevard
and side road.
Ripped sleeves
and the black eyes
you’ll never forget.

You helped her search;
fingers grazed
as branches snapped,
crows cawed,
silence ripped away.
Just the two of you:
stand-off in the dusk
the white wet
and dripping.

Today you remember:
snowflakes, largest you ‘d seen,
wind music when the thaw came,
birds singing almost too close.
Flowers springing up in slush
trees growing taller.

No longer sodden nor even pink,
it lays on the floor by her side;
you hesitate.
bend
down.

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‘Luigi Marchini was brought up in London where he spent many a happy maths and physics lesson at the National Film Theatre. Since escaping to Kent some years ago he been chairman of the Canterbury based SaveAs Writers’ groupSaveAs Writers’ group.

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Against the Grain Press 2019

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As Against the Grain Press is over one year old it is popping up on various indie press lists – Happenstance creates a well-compiled list and Mslexia has just been in touch to add up to theirs. So what have we been doing during this time?

Our first publication was Anna Kisby’s, All the Naked Daughters, that came out in November 2017. Anna is a Devon-based poet and archivist. After growing up in London, she studied Literature and Film at the universities of East Anglia, Sussex and Paris-Sorbonne, taught English in Prague and sold cowboy boots in Massachusetts, then training as an archivist and working with women’s history collections.

Read Emma Lee’s review HERE

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Following on Kisby’s heels, we were delighted to publish S. A. Leavesley’s, How to Grow Matches in spring 2018.

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S.A. Leavesley is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Author of seven poetry titles, two novellas and a touring poetry-play, she has had poetry featured in the Guardian, Financial Times, Bloodaxe anthologies and The Forward Book of Poetry 2016. Overton Poetry Prize winner 2015, her Against the Grain Press poetry pamphlet How to Grow Matches (2018) and her Nine Arches Press collection plenty-fish (2015) were both shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Award. Sarah runs V. Press, a poetry and flash fiction imprint. The High Window Resident Artist 2019, she’s also curator and photographer for LitWorld2, online photo-poem and photo-flash journal.

how to growHow to Grow Matches

Take the long matchsticks:
those like pink-tipped bulrushes,
those Gretel’s step-mum
might strike to light her oven.

Snap one – like a sharp blow
sideways behind a man’s knees.
Then another and another
for each jibe or slight.

Note how easily the wood splits
after years of hidden anger.
A felled forest at your feet,
and still the pile grows!

Lay the toppled pieces
against each other’s thinness,
rested on crumpled paper.
Now you have a bonfire.

Don’t think of Moses,
not Guy Fawkes or Jeanne d’Arc,
but of waking every day
to stroke your curves

into those clothes,
hip-sways and lip expressions
condoned for your office
as a woman.

Leavesley had a cracking launch and a whoppingly high level of reviews. Take a look over at her website HERE.

Summer brought us Flood-Junk from Sean Magnus Martin and another great launch at The Poetry Café. Sean Magnus Martin is a poet from the Lake District. He won the 2015 Battered Moons poetry competition and was shortlisted in the 2015 Outspoken poetry prize. He was also published in Bath Spa University’s 2017 MA anthology Plume. He has been published with Ink, Sweat and Tears, Riggwelter Press and AmberFlora, and has poetry forthcoming with Irisi.

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Check out this review of Flood Junk by Caitlin Miller. Here’s a snippet –
“A gripping and thought-provoking debut pamphlet, Flood Junk by Bath Spa Allumni Sean Magnus Martin… touches on both human and eco themes. It is layered and imaginatively crafted; a must read for enthusiasts of contemporary poetry who are interested in having a new and exciting reader-ly experience.”

In autumn we were treated to a performance of Metastatic by Jane Lovell accompanied at the launch by Timothy Ades. Lovell has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She won the Flambard Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted for several awards including the Basil Bunting Prize, the Robert Graves Prize and Periplum Book Award. Her pamphlets have been published by Against the Grain Press, Night River Wood and Coast to Coast to Coast. Jane also writes for Elementum Journal.
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“Jane Lovell’s writing charts mysterious, unsettling trajectories: the invisible paths of bees, the journey of dead light, the routes found in folded and untied landscapes. These poems unmoor us, find beauty and strangeness in the everyday.” Helen Mort.

We’re really looking forward to our spring launches on March 16th from Michelle Diaz and Graham Clifford. We hope to see you there!

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Well that’s us in a nutshell. But of course later in the year we launch Claire Walker’s pamphlet as well as an exciting ekphrastic collection…

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Aurora Borealis by Margaret Beston

Aurora Borealis
for Sue

On the day I hear the news, I’m sailing north
to where they say the firefox sparks his tail
too hard against the snow, good and evil
dragons fight with fire, and raven, torch
blazing, guides spirits to another world.

Frost freezes pools of water on the deck,
arctic winds numb fingers, cheekbones.
Genie-lamp spirals rise, swirl soft-green,
gauze-like swathes unfurl across the sky,
veil the Pleiades and Andromeda.

And I think of you, enfolded in this mystery,
as you follow your own spirit guide across
the Bifrost Bridge, the pulsating arch of light.

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Margaret Beston is a linguist-turned-poet. As well as poetry magazines and her own collection, her work has been published in several anthologies, most recently in Poems for Grenfell Tower (Onslaught Press) and Suffrage (Paper Swans Press). In 2018 her poem Pro-Nouns was commended in the Poetry Space competition and she was shortlisted for the Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast single poet pamphlet competition. She is the founder of Roundel, a Poetry Society Stanza based in Tonbridge where she lives.

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Glove by Angela Hall

Glove

Someone had stuck it in
the hedge. Impaled on thorns
it hung all winter sodden
with rain, dried by sun
and wind, fingers frosted
palm snow-dusted — a frayed
red woollen glove slowly
haemorrhaging away–
a few stray threads veining
the moss and sticks in a nest
of pale blue glossy eggs —
among the wreaths of bright
spring leaves and sprays of white
light-powdered hawthorn flowers.

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Angela Hall has published seven collections of poetry. She has lived all her life in the Kentish countryside.

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Valerie Morton reviews Gaia Holmes – Where the Road Runs Out

GaiaWhere the Road Runs Out – Gaia Holmes
Comma Press, £9.99.

Gaia Holmes third collection in the main invites us to take the road to her father’s caravan, to share with her the time caring for him through his dying days.  Her conversational style demonstrates a powerful honesty and great underlying skill. A refreshingly accessible collection in a language which turns every day, every object, into something remarkable as is so deftly illustrated in the image of her father’s raincoat “hanging on the back of the cellar door/loud and kitsch as a Warhol tangerine” (Your Orange Raincoat).

The recurring theme running through the poems is the schisms left in our lives when suffering loss – the way they open up, like sinkholes, exposing our vulnerability, causing us to fear that we too might fall into the darkness left in a place once filled with light. In this collection the loss runs side by side with the environment in which it occurs – the island of Orkney – adding a strong sense of place and atmosphere, magic and myth:

I Belong Here

“I belong here in December
with you and your three white cats,
grinding your tablets
to powder at midnight,
as the Orkney gales rock the caravan.

I belong here
with your dying
and every dawn sky
seething
and blistered
with stars.”

The following lines from Feckless candidly express the strength of helplessness felt at trying but failing to get things right …… an already creeping sense of being out of her depth, needing to take control but not being allowed to because “sometimes it makes him angry, this dying/and I keep doing things wrong” :

“And I know that I’ve lost
my angel’s status
but I’m trying.
I’ve knackered my back
from trying to shift the moon,
angling it so it shines into his room.
I’ve worn out my songs
from trying to teach the seabirds
to sing something sweet.
I’ve used up my prayers
from trying to persuade
the wind to die down
and give us some peace.”

Despite the situation Gaia Holmes manages to add a sense of humour in Playing Alive through the way the nurses behave while her father is in hospital.

“They pretend he might be alright,
lay his freshly washed running socks
across his trainers on a chair
in case he feels like
taking a jog through the mizzle
down the hospital drive
in the middle of the night.
They hang his coat, ready to go,
on the back of the door.”

This collection takes us to the edge of everything and we teeter there trying to avoid the sinkhole of absence that threatens to overtake us. Holes appear everywhere – in the socks she tries to darn, in the letterbox she tries to plug up to stop the mist getting in, and all the cracks in the house she wants to seal with gaffer tape.  And the absence is no more strongly felt than in Thermals:

“When he was around
our breath was invisible.
The air had no angles.
He nudged the whole, cold world
to the liquid edge of melting
but if I wanted ice
he gave me ice.”

Although concentrating on the death of a loved one Gaia Holmes also takes us to other meanings of loss and absences – i.e. the loss of freedom (as with the miners in the San Jose mine in Chile (Remembering Light), and the reader is left with thoughts of the many ways in which chasms are opened throughout life due to illness, accidents, ageing, and so much more.

We walk beside the poet through all the heartbreaking stages of grief but it is comforting that we are finally left with Hope :

“Though it seems so dark
and the ceiling of the world’s a wound
and so many hours have been bruised,
and so many lives have been broken,
there are stars up there tonight
and we must name them,
we must love them ……..”

A highly recommended collection from a poet whose command of language and depth of spirit shine out from every page.
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Valerie Morton’s work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies in the UK and USA. She has two collections published by Indigo Dreams Publishing – Mango Tree (2013) and Handprints (2015).She has taught Creative Writing at a mental health charity and since 2016 has been Poet in Residence at the Clinton Baker Pinetum in Hertfordshire.

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HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED? by E. E. Nobbs

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED?

On Mars

the snow falls only

at night — not made of water

but carbon dioxide — fog-flakes (same size as human

rust-coloured erythrocytes)

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E.E. Nobbs is from Canada and writes poems – mostly short ones. More info here: https://ellyfromearth.wordpress.com/ She’s presently travelling to Mars and other distant places via the free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) at Coursera – “Astronomy: Exploring Time and Space”.

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Feeding the Jays by Claire Walker

Feeding the Jays

I hung up the sheep’s breastbone –
my bird table offering for the year’s infant months.
I could sense fear when they first flew by,
cautious twitching heads as they weighed their safety.

Persuaded, their ravenous beaks set to work,
stopping only occasionally to flit, amused,
around the rack. Such appetite,
despite being only the size of my hand.

This was not a selfless gift. Days lighten
when I see those green wings fly in,
black heads bobbing for the fat they hunger for.
Winter has been sparse, we’re all desperate to be full.

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Claire Walker’s poetry has been published widely. She has two pamphlets published by V. Press – The Girl Who Grew Into A Crocodile (2015), and Somewhere Between Rose and Black (2017), which was shortlisted for Best Poetry Pamphlet at the 2018 Saboteur Awards. Her third pamphlet, Collision, is due in 2019 from Against the Grain Press. She is Co-Editor of Atrium poetry webzine.

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The Prole Laureate Poetry Competition closes 31st January 2019

The Prole Laureate Poetry Competition, 2019

Prize

Winner: £200, Publication in Prole 28 in April 2019.

Publication on the Prole website

2 x runner up prizes of £50, publication in Prole 28.

Publication on the Prole website.

Judge

stuart-a-pattersonStuart A Paterson: Scottish poet and performer. Stuart Paterson received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 1992 and a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014.

He was writer-in-residence for Dumfries & Galloway 1996-98, and was appointed the Scots Language Centre’s Virtual Poet in Residence 2015-2016. In 2017, he was appointed BBC Scotland Poet in Residence. He has seven collections.

Winners will be announced in issue 28 of Prole in April 2019 and on our website by April 20th 2019.

Further details HERE