Saveas Writers’ International Writing Competition closes soon – Jane Austen theme


Saveas Writers’ International Writing Competition 2017

‘Love & Friendship’
This year marks the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s death. To commemorate this event SaveAs Writers invite poems and short stories on any aspect of her life and works. Update her plots to the modern world of Twitter and Tinder, give poetic voice to one of her minor characters, investigate the issues that are on the margins of her work such as slavery and war. Explore these and other creative possibilities and send us your work.

Poetry: Professor Jan Montefiore from the University of Kent

Prose: Victoria Grainger, writer and illustrator

First: £100

Second: £50

Third: £25

August 31st 2017

Poems: 60 lines max.

Short stories: 3500 words max.

Entry fees:
£3 per poem/£8 for three

£4 per short story/£10 for three


Further details here


Reading at Loose Muse – Winchester 14th August


Delighted to have been invited by the lovely Sue Wrinch to read at Loose Muse on August 14th. There’s also an open mic, so hope to see and hear lots of wonderful poets.

Where? The Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, Winchester, Hants SO23 8SB
When? 7.30-9.30 p.m.
Price: £5.00 on the door

Here’s a poem that came out in Oxford Poetry a wee while ago.


They’re trying to wash it out of my hair ‒ rub strands
from tip to root, start on the nub of each bone that juts
from the back of my neck, fingers rough on my flesh.

I clamp mercury-filled teeth, imagine planets
clattering inside a shut-tight mouth ‒ my listless tongue’s
the Milky Way arching in darkness. Outside my body

women scrub till the smell of sour milk clings
to fabric, wallpaper, full-length striped curtains
smothering windows on the south side of the house.

Inside, I’m quicksand, snow melting, an undecided
summer’s day. I swallow myself in a blether of words.
They whittle my bones like I’m unfallen snow.


Offspring by J V Birch

today's poem vertical


I carry my loss with me most days now and it’s
surprisingly heavy, considering it’s the absence
of something. It turned up not long after you
went, like it didn’t want to meet you, although
I suspect it had been there a while getting
ready for the answering-back phase. I used
to keep it at home with the curtains drawn
until a well-meaning neighbour said this was
simply not healthy, that I must allow it to do
what it wants, but I was worried there’d be a
scene. She convinced me though and I took it
to her Friday night group where it sat quiet and
bright, annoyingly so, waiting for me to break.
But that had been a good day and I held out
until we got home where we had words over a
bottle of red. So now it’s in my handbag messing
with my make-up and laughing at my diary. But
even this has its risks when I tried to pay with it
the other day, certain I’d seen your eyes in
someone else’s, failing to notice the god-awful
sound and the look on the poor girl serving me.


J V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at Midnight and What the water & moon gave me – published by Ginninderra Press, and is currently working on her third. She blogs at www.jvbirch.com


The Prole Laureate Poetry Competition 2018 is now open for entries

The Prole Laureate Poetry Competition, 2018


Winner: £200, Publication in Prole 25 in April 2018.

Publication on the Prole website

2 x runner up prizes of £50, publication in Prole 25.

Publication on the Prole website


All entries will be read by judge, Kate Garrett whose latest pamphlet You’ve never seen a doomsday like it, was released by Indigo Dreams Publishing in July 2017, and her next pamphlet, Losing interest in the sound of petrichor, will be published by The Black Light Engine Room Press in early 2018. She is currently writing the sequel to Deadly, Delicate, as well as her first full collection of history and horror poems.

Time scale

Entries from August 1st 2017 to January 31st 2018.

Winners will be announced in issue 25 of Prole in April 2018 and on our website by April 20th 2018.


All work must be the original work of the writer and be unpublished.


£3.00 for first entry, £2.00 for any subsequent entries. For more details enter their site here


Ayesha Chatterjee Bottles and Bones

Bottles and Bones is Chatterjee’s follow up to the 2011 collection, The Clarity of Distance published by Bayeux Arts last month. Chatterjee is celebrating her birthday today – so I just had to share this!!


The gift of Nefertem

And from the water lily,
blue as evening and as blameless,
rises the sun, dripping water
onto the horizon that is the river
and the river is glass. And the water lily
gives to the sun emptiness, which
is also thought, and a clear sea-taste,
which is existence, and the leaves
of a single dream so that
the sun may grow strong and free itself
from the river which follows the sun with
its fingers through the morning.
And the river crumbles.
And the sun grows strong,
filling the sky with its scent of perfection
both exhilarating and cruel.
And so the world is made
a thing divided,
neither heat nor purity
but a child’s musings,
already distant.


ayeshac.pngBorn and raised in India, Ayesha Chatterjee has lived in England, the USA and Germany and now calls Toronto home. Her poetry has appeared in journals across the globe as well as being featured by the (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and on the official website of Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke. Bayeux Arts published her first collection of poetry, The Clarity of Distance, in 2011 and has just released her second, Bottles and Bones, this summer. Bottles and Bones is available to buy online from indigo.ca. She is past president of the League of Canadian Poets.


Foxglove Journal: Poetry and Fiction

Here’s another ezine that’s new to me and currently open for submissions. It was set up by poet Elizabeth Gibson last October; Foxglove Journal features work from UK and international writers, some of whom I recognise from my old editing days with The New Writer.

Foxglove Journal showcase work “that thrills, comforts and stimulates”. Each poem is accompanied by one of Elizabeth’s fantastic photographs. Elizabeth is also Fiction Editor at Miracle Magazine and writes for The Mancunion, Cuckoo Review, The Cadaverine and Third Year Abroad.


I recently published Elizabeth’s stunning poem Sheepgoat which deserves another reading if you have time 😉  … so click on the title to have a read.

I’ve snatched one of the poems from the site for you to read now. It’s by Nancy Iannucci, an historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY.


The Day After

A tremor & a shift,
Kerouac’s Desolation Pops dropped
to my feet by the jolt.

Black tea dyed crescents on the envelope,
tsunamis rushed ashore. My heart
raced & read, reread & raced through

your words with a flux capacitor.
Your letter came today, but
we gathered yesterday

by the flowers during
your calling hours. I thought
you never responded.

To find out more about submitting to Foxglove follow the link below….



Against the Grain Press announce their debut poet

Whilst busy reading the submissions from poets for next year’s list, I thought I’d like to announce our commissioned poet whose collection will launch the press. Why commission someone? Well, all three editors agreed on the voice and mood of the press and in our meetings were throwing around names of poets whose work we admire and wish we had published! So we thought about inviting someone to be our first poet…

One name kept popping up – her poems are startling in their energy, beautifully crafted, tender yet muscular, and gathered in the pamphlet we are currently editing are absolutely stunning. We don’t only want to publish the poems, we wish we had written them!


So, our first poet is Anna Kisby – a Devon-based poet and we are so pleased to have her on board. A leap of faith in the press for which we are most grateful. So, a bit about her…

After growing up in London she studied Literature and Film at the universities of East Anglia, Sussex and the Sorbonne, taught English in Prague and sold cowboy boots in Massachusetts, then training as an archivist and working with women’s history collections. Her poems are widely published in magazines including Magma, Mslexia and Poetry News and anthologies including 154: contemporary poets respond to Shakespeare’s sonnets and Campaign in Poetry. In 2017 she was part of the collaborative poetry performance Somme Suite – a First World War commemoration. She won the BBC Proms Poetry competition 2016, the Havant Poetry Competition 2016 and was commended in the Faber New Poets Scheme 2015-16. 

Now you know! So it’s time to go back to reading the fabulous submissions for next year…. we will be announcing details  in early August, but for now I’ll leave you with one of Anna’s poems:

Boating under the Northern Lights
for Sara from Nunavut

The way she tells it, the sky is a peeled nectarine.
We wear bear leather, row an umiak of stretched skin
smelling of the tar that holds it together, make ripples
like salmon on the lake.

I think she is the seagull husband and I the goddess Nerrivick
whose fallen fingers turn to whale, seal and caribou –
as she talks her eyes slice through the walls of the rented room
in King’s Cross. All day we waitress; each night our hair streaks
the sink enamel with the dirt of London’s heatwave.

The northern lights are the colour of kumquat,
she says, it’s enough to make the world blush
with pleasure. I remember her foot against mine cold as ice
cream, rippled through and through with frozen berries.


Winchester Poetry Prize 2017


Winchester Poetry Prize 2017 celebrating the best in new writing

First Prize: £1,000

2nd Prize: £500

3rd Prize: £250​

Best poem by a Hampshire-based poet: Classic Bauhaus-design Lamy 2000 pen
[Kindly donated by Warren & Son]​​

Judge: Sarah Howe

Entry fee: £5 for first poem, £4 for subsequent poems

Closing Date: 31 July 2017

​Winchester Poetry Prize aims to surprise and delight. Following its launch in 2016, the Winchester Poetry Prize is now an annual competition.

In addition to receiving cash prizes winners will be invited to read at a special prize-giving event at Winchester Poetry Day on Saturday 14th October 2017. Winning and commended poems will also be published in a competition anthology.

​A prize is also available for the best poem written by a Hampshire-based poet.

how to


howeSarah Howe’s first book, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.  Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit, an online journal of poetry and criticism. She is currently a Leverhulme Fellow in English at University College London.




LOVE AND LOSS AND OTHER IMPORTANT STUFF by Jonathan Pinnock – reviewed by Valerie Morton.


So often a reader can be seduced by a brilliant cover but disappointed by the words within. Not so with this collection – the seduction continues with each turn of the page.

Pinnock clearly has a healthy irreverence for rules and trends and his debut collection is no exception. I soon realised that I would need to read between the lines to find the ‘Important Stuff”. For a start his titles are deceptive, almost designed to mislead the reader. The opening poem ‘Lost for Words’ is very tongue-in-cheek as here is a writer who is far from ‘lost’ for words :

He ordered online
and the words were delivered
by a man in a van
with expansive
rear cleavage.


He signed for the words,
and the delivery man left,
then he shouted ‘Wait!
How do I mix it
all together?’

The answer to the final question is that Pinnock produces a delicious mixture of rare ingredients – hilariously funny in many places, macabre in others, and heartbreaking on occasions. It is a fast moving collection that jumps around with alarming speed as the reader is thrown from one familiar theme to another: the daughter who runs away with the circus (‘Moving On’), a parody on the round robin Christmas letter (‘Between the Lines’), a stereotypical librarian keeping up her reputation (‘Professionalism’).

But it would be wrong of me to see this work as all spoof and cynicism because underneath the often bland and misleading titles are gems of deep and conscious connections with sorrow and pathos which jump out at the reader, as in:

‘Back to School’

Peter’s going back to school,
wondering who knows
and who doesn’t.

It was only a few days
after all – hardly a long break
in the grand theme of things,
but Peter knows that everything

has changed. No-one says
a word – he didn’t expect them to –
but he gets an easy ride in his
French test and he knows it.

He still hasn’t shed a single tear
and he’s proud of that. Didn’t
want to let his father down. And yet
one day in his rage he will try

to remember her and wonder
how he ever coped.

In taking a humorous dig at the present poetry scene Pinnock reveals how that scene invites such cynical appraisal – he nonchalantly flings in the occasional ‘forbidden words’ (‘shards’ for one), overused phrases and clichés and very questionable line breaks (pronouns, verbs and adverbs left hanging). He ends poems with their title (as in ‘Exquisite Torture’). And has lots of fun with rhyming. Yet despite all this wordsmith rebellion there are some serious messages, some very strong connection with what it’s like to be human.

I cite a few tidbits to tempt you to invest in this collection – a call to a mother after a child is cloned at school through an accident in the biology department:

‘School Uniform’

We didn’t notice what was wrong
till it was far too late.
You began today with just one son,
but you finished it with eight.”

‘A Dissonant Love Song #2’ :

I loved you like a psychopath,
as lustful as the Pope,
a one-track-minded polymath
with a solid sieve of hope.

And St. Peter at the pearly gates – (‘Paradise Found Wanting’):

I beckoned to St Peter,
who was lounging
by the gates. Stubbing out
his roll-up, he sauntered over


I hope you will be tempted to discover what happens next?

And to the ‘Postscript’

…… please make use of
our twenty-four hour
helpline, Dial-a-Bard.

Press 1 for rhyme
2 for free verse,
or 3 for random form
chosen at the councillor’s

Haiku are also
available but only
during working hours.

We all on occasions need to laugh at ourselves, As poets particularly as there is a tendency to take it all too seriously as if it is a sport and we need to win every time, and in so doing lose the very purpose of a connection with the people who really matter – the wider readership.

This collection is worthy of a place on any bookshelf – it will entertain but at the same time offer the reader much to think about and perhaps question the way in which they see themselves. That is no bad thing from time to time. Jonathan blogs at http://www.jonathanpinnock.com – well worth a read.  Published by http://silhouettepress.co.uk


Valerie Morton has been published in various magazines and anthologies, and won or been placed in a number of competitions. After completing an Open University degree in 2011 she taught Creative Writing at a mental health charity. Her two collections (Mango Tree 2013 and Handprints 2015) were published by Indigo Dreams Publishing.  Since 2015 she has been Poet in Residence at the Clinton Baker Pinetum in Hertfordshire. Her most recent endeavour was publishing A Poetry of Elephants in aid of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (2016).