2016 Shooter Poetry Competition closes 30th October


2016 Shooter Poetry Competition

Shooter’s Poetry Competition offers a chance to write about whatever most compels you, in any style. They’re looking for sharply observed poetry with strong ideas and imaginative use of language: in short, arresting poems that appeal to both the head and the heart.

In return for the £3 entry fee, ALL ENTRANTS will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s winter 2017 issue, which will feature the winning poem.

•The winner of the 2016 Shooter Poetry Competition will receive £100, publication in the winter issue and on the website, and promotion on Shooter’s social media.

•The runner-up will receive £50, publication on Shooter’s website, and promotion on social media.

•All entrants will receive an e-copy of Shooter’s winter issue.

•Poems may be any theme or style, up to 125 lines long.

•The competition is open to entries through October 30, 2016.

•All proceeds from entry fees go toward prizes, contributor payments and Shooter’s production costs, supporting our mission to promote the best new writing and encourage the principle of paying writers for their work.

Full details

Jinny Fisher – 2 poems

Fish-paste Sandwiches

After Anthony Rudolf’s “Perfect Happiness”

My grandmother wears a floral frock and a grey cardigan, no bra. She doesn’t hug or kiss. The hall smells of damp and lavender. I hang my blazer and satchel from the coat-stand and follow her into the kitchen to sit at the Formica-topped table. There is no heating. Grandmother makes the tea in her Victorian silver teapot and serves it in a rosebud china cup, with a saucer. There are fish-paste sandwiches and a rock bun, which she serves as a treat, but it’s hard to swallow. When I need the lavatory, I can choose between the bathroom upstairs, which is cold, and the one by the back door. That one has spiders in the top corners.

After tea, we go into the sitting room. There is an upright piano, but she doesn’t ask me to play it. We play Bezique, which uses two packs of cards, but only the picture cards, the ace, and the ten. Grandmother remarks that it is a bit cold in here—she means I should shovel a lump of coal from the brass coal-scuttle and feed the small fire. She never asks directly, never says please. She is the only person who uses my given name, which she hunts down, like this: Mary, Geraldine, Judith, Bridget, Anthea, Jane….


Archie stands quite still, his back a little stooped as though he has always been this shape. He is tall, lithe, his head pushed slightly forward. Is he outdoors, on his way to a picnic perhaps, since he carries a small piece of cake and a fork? But his top hat and lack of shoes remain a puzzle.

He was bought from a pet food shop, gassed and frozen, to be later defrosted and transformed. His skin was peeled away with scalpel strokes. Turned inside out. Soaked in alcohol. Painted with tanning solution. Rammed with a hand-rolled cotton wool sausage. Some people remove the head entirely to reach the contents and scour the cavity; in Archie’s case a firm chop excised half the skull, which was later re-formed with super-glue. His face and brains have been thoroughly cleaned, as this part of the rat, if not properly treated, tends to rot.

Archie’s metal spine cannot be re-moulded. He stands, thanks to the wires that pierce his back paws. This is a kind of crucifixion.


Jinny Fisher has been a violinist and is now a psychotherapist. She has been writing poetry since 2007 and has been published in print and online, including in The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, and Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis. She lives near Castle Cary in Somerset where she is a member of Taunton’s Juncture 25, and Wells Fountain Poets. She has been three times longlisted for the Bridport Prize, and in 2016 was Highly Commended in York Mix competition and placed second in The Interpreter’s House competition. Her most recent project is the Poetry Pram, which she likes to push around music festivals with her poet friends, reading its contents to surprised festival-goers.

Two poems from Susan Castillo Street


I went to college in some style
to the sort of place where young ladies
from good families could board their horse,
if they so wished.
In the second year, however,
Dad speculated on wheat futures.
Circumstances changed.

I graded papers, babysat for profs,
waited tables in the dining hall, heard
lobotomized debutantes talk of boys
with bank accounts, while looking straight through me.
This does encourage one
to develop a jaundiced view
of sisterhood.

On the last day of term I walked in
with a tray stacked 12-plate high
on my left shoulder.
Olympic discus thrower,
I demurely hurled the tray
in perfect arc, shattering titters, twitters.
Stunned silence followed.

Amid the fragments,
holding up both sides of skirts
I did a perfect three-point curtsey
as Southern ladies learn to do
from infancy, and topped it off with
patronizing windshield wiper wave,
queenly razor smile.


What Every Mother Knows

Most shadows are grape-coloured.
They have clear contours, pooling,
flowing violet in our wake,
made of just one piece.
Not mine. She’s scythed in two.

Her left side holds the children close.
She tends the home fires, helps with homework,
bakes cakes, thinks of what she’s missing:
bright lights, late nights, promotions,
sparkling conversations.

Her right half is strong, high-powerered.
She chairs meetings, sits on boards, conquers worlds,
thinks of her children’s little triumphs,
their first words, steps taken
when she wasn’t there.

Both frayed shadow halves have edges
sutured with a bloodstained needle,
limned with hues of dark grey longing
serrated by regret.
Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College, University of London. She has published three collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (Diehard Press, 2003), Abiding Chemistry, (Aldrich Press, 2015), and Constellations (Three Drops Press, 2016), as well as several scholarly monographs and edited anthologies. Her work has appeared in Southern Quarterly, Prole, The High Window, Ink Sweat & Tears, Messages in a Bottle, The Missing Slate, Clear Poetry, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Foliate Oak, The Yellow Chair Review, and other journals and anthologies.

Jess Mookherjee’s The Swell – Telltale Poet Sarah Barnsley tells of its creation

I asked Telltale Poet Sarah Barnsley to give me a bit of background to this poetry collective and tell me something about their latest publication, The Swell from Jess Mookherjee which is being launched on October 5th at the Pitcher and Piano in Tunbridge Wells.


“Telltale is a poets’ publishing collective specialising in first, short, high-quality pamphlets. Telltale poets are equal members of the collective and play a part in running the Press. Poets share and learn skills (such as editing, print production, promotion, event organising), take part in regular readings and have a say in the Press’ direction. New pamphlets are published by invitation only. One of the Telltale poets suggested Jess and sent around a link to her work on the Clear Poetry website – and we all loved them! They possess an enticing blend where chattiness meets emotion, images of menace and transcendence meet the ordinary and the commonplace. The resulting pamphlet, The Swell, operates on many different levels, reflective of the multiplicity of meanings in its title – it suggests motion and fluidity, violence, maternity, growth, intensity and, of course, idiomatically, a kind of coolness – you want to hang out with it.

As well as offering a distinctive voice Jess exudes the kinds of qualities essential to a not-for-profit collective: collegiality, enthusiasm, a willingness to network, and a much welcome ‘can-do’ / ‘get-on-with-it’ attitude. She also has the credentials that we especially look for in a Telltale poet. Not only had Jess been shortlisted earlier this year for the Fair Acre pamphlet prize, she had also chalked up a strong publishing record (in Jess’ case, in a very short amount of time). And there’s clearly more to come from Jess, which is exactly what Telltale was set up to do: create stepping-stones to larger projects for exciting new poets. We’re delighted to have Jess on board.”

Sarah Barnsley



Dawn Chorus

He saw me in a late night shop
buying Marlbro’ Lights.
I only remember his beard – nothing else,
I didn’t think about how
he looked at me.
He asked me out for dinner –
what went through my mind
was did I look like I needed feeding
or just like someone who’d say yes
to a chicken dinner.
I didn’t know then, that to all men
a seventeen year old girl is beautiful –
even with ample flesh,
spiked purple hair
and art school clothes.
I can’t remember a single thing about him,
just the taste of the chicken fricassee,
the cushions of the limousine
and the dawn chorus, before light
as he drove me home.

First published in Ink, Sweat & Tears 2015
Also in Chronicles of Eve Anthology ( Paper Swans Press 2016)

Interview with Sharon black editor of Pindrop press

Billy CollinsCheryl Pearson’s Bob CooperMark RussellElisabeth Sennitt Clough



Can you tell me how you very first heard about Pindrop Press when you were looking for a publisher?

An online poet friend mentioned that she had just met a lovely editor, Jo Hemmant, who had published several collections by established poets, and was now looking to publish a debut collection by a UK writer. I had just completed a manuscript for my first collection and sent it to her the next day.

What made you choose this press and how was it working with the editor, Jo Hemmant?

When Jo offered me a publishing contract, I had already checked out Pindrop’s backlist and decided this was a serious press I could trust, with a sound reputation. I also clicked with Jo on a personal level, which felt important as we were going to have to work together over something extremely close to my heart. Finally, I admired her very much as a poet in her own right, which again felt important for taking on board her editing suggestions.

Working with Jo was a dream. I’ve since discovered that publishers and editors vary enormously in the way they work with authors. Jo was prompt, thorough and open to suggestions. She also allowed me a large say in the book’s look and feel – she was happy to use a cover image I suggested, for example –which I was deeply grateful for.


How did you become interested in taking over the press and how does your vision compare with the Founder’s?

I had recently had my second collection published – by a different press – and on learning that this other press might be on its way out I expressed an interest in taking it over. That takeover didn’t work out, but during my discussions with the owner I’d dropped Jo a couple of emails with questions about the industry to help me make up my mind. In one of these emails, Jo said – well, if it doesn’t work out with this other press then maybe you’d consider taking over Pindrop?

I would say my vision for Pindrop is very close to Jo’s. Like many small presses, Pindrop is run by just one person – me – and as such its output is low, at the moment 4 titles a year, though this may increase in time. What this means is I can really focus on quality – both manuscript and finished book. Like Jo, I handpick titles that I believe are excellent, and I work closely with authors, ensuring they get their say in everything from the content and layout of the poems, to the cover. This last point I think is very important – I know presses vary greatly in the extent to which they allow their authors input. I see no point in putting out a book that a poet is not 100% behind. It’s a relationship that’s being created, not just a product.

What do you look for in a submission now you are the editor?

Quite simply – poems that I love, work that I believe in. Poetry that I am convinced should be out there in the public arena, touching people in the way it touches me. Really it boils down to that. The usual clichés – writing that is surprising, challenging, pushes boundaries – apply of course to some extent. But only insofar as the poems have that effect on me. I know that’s not very helpful, but I think it’s true.

What titles are being published in the future. Can you tell me a little about the poetry/poets you have chosen?

Pindrop will be publishing 4 titles over the next 6 months, and I am enormously excited about all of them. The first is by poet Mark Russell, who lives in Scotland and has a previous pamphlet to his name. Mark’s debut collection, Spearmint & Rescue, is a wonderful blend of poetry that is bittersweet, hilarious, tragic, sexy and poignant. After that comes another debut collection, Sightings, by the fabulous Norfolk poet Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, whose pamphlet Glass won the 2016 Paper Swans Press Pamphlet Competition. Elisabeth’s poetry is rooted in the everyday, yet manages to find the magical and the universal in the most mundane details. Next is Bob Cooper, a seasoned poet from Birmingham whose poetry is sometimes surreal, sometimes skilfully plain, but always understated and exquisitely observed. Finally, Cheryl Pearson’s debut collection Oysterlight is powerful, raw, delicate and quite beautiful poetry, with mythology, history and love as its central themes.


What challenges have you had so far and where would you like to see the press heading?

The only challenges I’ve had so far have been administrative and technical. Fortunately, I have a wonderful IT team in place, in the form of my long-suffering husband Alex, who is a dab hand at all things software and hardware related. Reading reams and reams of poetry has been a pleasure. Turning down poets whose work is good but just not quite good enough, or simply not to my taste, is never easy, but that’s just one of the necessary drawbacks of the job. Luckily there are lots of poetry presses out there and I know many will find good homes elsewhere.

I would like to see the press heading exactly where it wants to head. I don’t believe it setting long-term goals. I’d much rather watch an organic evolution taking place than push Pindrop in a certain direction. As long as my own passion lies in poetry and in creating beautiful books, then this will remain Pindrop’s emphasis.

If you could select one person in the world (this or another) living or dead who could make you a coffee in the morning and look over submissions with you, who would you choose?

It would have to be Billy Collins, the former US poet laureate. I’m a huge fan of his work and I think he’d make an excellent coffee. He’d take his time over it and serve it up with something unfancy but unspeakably delicious. Then he’d sit blowing slow smoke rings over the desk while calmly pushing this page into that pile, that page into this pile, barely saying a word but managing to convey which poems to take and which to leave, and why, by just the simplest gestures. Could I have him for the week?

INDIGO DREAMS PAMPHLET PRIZE 2016 Closing Date: 14 October 2016



Details: Two winners will receive a royalty publishing contract from award-winning Indigo Dreams and receive 20 copies of their poetry pamphlet Submission: Full poetry pamphlet up to 30 pages 36 lines max inc line breaks.

Entry Fee: £15 per block of poems.


All entries must be accompanied by cheque to correct amount made payable to ‘IDP’ or via PayPal.

See full submission rules at


Postal submissions to

Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize, 24 Forest Houses, Halwill,

Beaworthy, Devon, EX21 5UU

Vahni Capildeo wins 2016 Forward Prize for poetry


Parts of this are taken from The Guardian and parts from the Forward Prize

Vahni Capildeo has won the 2016 Forward prize for best poetry collection. Capildeo’s collection Measures of Expatriation, which explores ideas of belonging and home, saw off a shortlist including TS Eliot winner Alice Oswald, Ian Duhig, Choman Hardi and Denise Riley. She follows two Jamaican-born poets, Kei Miller and Claudia Rankine, who took the main prize respectively in 2014 and 2015.

Sasha Dugdale was awarded the £1,000 best single poem prize for Joy, which was first published in PN Review. A “surprisingly long winner” according to Booker, Joy is written in the voice of William Blake’s newly widowed wife Catherine, and is “mesmerising, beautiful and effortless to read”.

Forward Prizes….tonight!



See the nation’s most coveted poetry prizes awarded live on stage.

Between the prize givings, hear readings from the ten collections chosen by the Forward judges from poetry published in the UK and the Republic of Ireland over the last 12 months.

Now in their 25th year, the Forward Prizes remain dedicated to heralding fresh new voices as well as commemorating famous names. This year’s judges are Liz Berry, Don Share, George Szirtes and Tracey Thorn, chaired by Malika Booker.

This year’s shortlists are:

The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£15,000)
Vahni Capildeo – Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet)
Ian Duhig – The Blind Roadmaker (Picador Poetry)
Choman Hardi – Considering the Women (Bloodaxe Books)
Alice Oswald – Falling Awake (Cape Poetry)
Denise Riley – Say Something Back (Picador Poetry)

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)
Nancy Campbell – Disko Bay (Enitharmon Press)
Ron Carey – DISTANCE (Revival Press)
Harry Giles – Tonguit (Freight Books)
Ruby Robinson – Every Little Sound (Liverpool University Press)
Tiphanie Yanique – Wife (Peepal Tree Press)

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000)
Sasha Dugdale – ‘Joy’ (PN Review)
David Harsent – ‘from Salt’ (Poetry London)
Solmaz Sharif – ‘Force Visibility’ (Granta Magazine)
Melissa Lee-Houghton – ‘i am very precious’ (Prac Crit)
Rachel Hadas – ‘Roosevelt Hospital Blues’ (Times Literary Supplement)

‘The Forward Prizes have turned a spotlight on contemporary poetry which is both searching and glamorous.’ (Carol Ann Duffy)

Open for submissions: The Poets’ Republic

The Poets’ Republic is calling for submissions of unpublished poetry (up to three poems).

A little bit about them:

Founded in 2015, The Poets’ Republic magazine is published twice a year. They want irreverent, witty, contrary poems, or poems that jolt them from their slumbers. They welcome poetry that is hungry for a riot, as well as poems that will melt their flinty northern hearts. The magazine is run on a voluntary basis and is not in receipt of any funding.


If you’d like to submit your original poetry, please read their submissions guidelines.