Angela Readman Featured Poet



The Morning of La Llorona

After the drowning, I lay my palms on the table
and watched my fingers soak into dead wood.
I saw the grain lighten, my old hands draining away.

I untied my apron like a raft the colour of fires.
It couldn’t save us. Cotton roses drifted, moved
to bits by my hips, the white water of my neck.

I was a woman of water, foremost. I fed my girls
little birds, silver flecks off the mirror. I killed
a kingfisher, sliced light off its back to fill gaps.

Yet under my dress was a river- a bellyful of notes
in bottles, unread,-so many men I almost loved.
I thought of you, your good hand undoing my braid.

To see you, I made a dress. I tore scraps off the sky
each night you weren’t there, pinned it to my chest.
I wore it with pearls on my wrists, bubbles of air.

And I rushed to your house, a waterfall, ready
to pour whoever I thought I was into your arms.

From The Book of Tides (Nine Arches 2016)


‘Angela Readman’s poems are neatly packed creels, poised to spring open with spinning bobbins, the glister of fishes and their dark red blood. Fleet with surprise, where the real and the fabulous occupy the same sea, she writes with an enviable inventiveness, which can turn your eyes inside out!’ – Helen Ivory


Angela Readman’s poetry has been published in anthologies and journals including Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe, 2015), The Rialto, Popshot, Magma, Bare Fiction, Clear Poetry, And Other Poems, Ambit, and Envoi. She has been a winner of The Mslexia Poetry Competition, The Essex Poetry Prize, and The Charles Causley Prize. Her new collection The Book of Tides is published by Nine Arches. She also writes stories.

Musings on Self-discovery in 4 Seasons – Belinda Zhawi… The Little Orchestra

As part of The Little Orchestra’s mission to bring a passion for classical music to young audiences, we are forming connections between diverse, exciting contemporary artists and the composers we love, such as Vivaldi.

When Vivaldi published The Four Seasons, he included four sonnets to accompany the music. Though not known as a poet, it is thought that Vivaldi wrote the poems himself. As part of an event by The Little Orchestra, Vivaldi Recomposed, they asked Zimbabwean born writer and the ICA’s Associate Poet for 2017 Belinda Zhawi, to write her own The Four Seasons inspired poem.


Photo by Amaal Said

As a fan of the composer, Belinda allowed the music to take her on her own journey, with very few similarities to 18th Century Venice. The poem is a reflection on her own self-discovery, described in four seasons.


Musings on Self-discovery in 4 Seasons
………………………………………………………………………………………….. i. – mania & joy

“Again and again, the cicada’s untiring cry pierced the sultry summer air like a needle at work on thick cotton cloth.” –Yukio Mishima

The sea twinkles under the sun that I learnt to sing for myself from my mother who also sang for herself. I was a shadow, a dark corner, curls of smoke rising out of my face but all that couldn’t hide those eyes that said come closer, come if you are brave. Long white dress – cotton top, silk bottom, head wrapped in silver specks, dangled a bangled left wrist, red lips diluted pink, turquoise string on right wrist, muddy bare feet. In the song I sang I only knew how to shudder – in that thin space between dream & lucidity.

………………………………………………………………………………….. ii. – not all that glitters

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

We met in the first month of autumn at a house party we’d both gate crashed. Malcolm X glared from the front of his t-shirt; he danced badly, drunkenly, feet locked in a ferocious fight as he mouthed the words to the song spilling out of the sixfoot high soundsystem sat in the cleared sitting room. There was something of a lost night in the blackness of his eyes which reminded me of mine. Locked somewhere between a bump & grind we finally kissed, he tasted like cheap rum. Since the day he staggered out of my life, nightly, gently, he blows back in like that first night in the first month of autumn. I always wish him to kiss me. Even last night when I dreamed him, fully masked in rot.

 ………………………………………………………………………………. iii. – winter hues & blues

“Winter’s the time for comfort… and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

I’m an empty bag, in cold wind. A hollow chest that rises & falls not knowing whether it’ll ever be flooded with butterflies. I’m in need of a warm bed that’ll hold me close till I sink in. I’m in need of a body that fits mine till our skins open as one heat, the kind that spreads over all it is laid on. We’ll play slow songs that make us feel nostalgic about a past life we aren’t sure we died from, days we think we lived. Dry earth & stones that our shoes could not shield us from.

 ………………………………………………………………………. iv. – meeting myself in the sun

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley

when i first saw you, you’d not bloomed into verse yet
your face was tight & barer than the simplest of sentences
now, you’re like a love letter full of the lost promises
only found in spring when I look at the rose bushes &
cherry tree that grow in my mother’s front garden

your words are honey-
suckle juice & water
when my mouth’s dry

Nature and Place Poetry Competition | Closing Date: 01-Mar-17

Nature And Place Poetry Competition 2017


The Rialto working with the RSPB, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative

Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of nature and place and will be given a very wide interpretation by the judge.

1st prize – £1000
2nd prize – £500
3rd prize – A place on a creative writing course
at Ty Newydd Writing Centre in 2017

A personal tour with Mark Cocker of his most cherished wildlife places in East Anglia.
A personal tour with Nick Davies of his beloved Wicken Fen to learn about his research there.

Tŷ Newydd (Third Prize) National Writing Centre of Wales and offers an impressive range of Creative Writing courses in the beautiful coastal surroundings of north-west Wales. (*

Mark Cocker is one of Britain’s most celebrated writers on nature. He is author of the magnificent Birds and People as well as the award winning Crow Country and Birds Britannica. He writes and broadcasts regularly in national media and his column in The Guardian has run for more than 25 years.

Nick Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Cambridge. For many years his work has focused on the evolutionary battle between cuckoos and their hosts and has been based at Wicken Fen in Cambridge. In 2015 Nick published Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature, a book David Attenborough describes as, ‘an amazing detective story by one of the country’s greatest field naturalists’.


Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie was born in the west of Scotland. Her poetry collections to date include The Overhaul, which won the 2012 Costa Poetry Prize, and The Tree House, which won both the Forward Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year Award. For the last decade Kathleen Jamie has also written non-fiction concerning land, nature and culture: she is author of the highly regarded Findings and Sightlines. Her most recent collection The Bonniest Companie appeared in 2015. Kathleen is Chair of Poetry at the University of Stirling.

Enter online here or follow this link back to The Rialto


The Swell by Jessica Mookherjee – reviewed by Karen Dennison

dustjacket-theswellThe Swell, a pamphlet of fifteen poems, by Jessica Mookherjee is published by Telltale Press and beautifully produced with a stunning cover illustration by Hannah Clare. Bengali by heritage, Jessica was brought up in South Wales and many of the poems reflect on a life between two cultures.

This collection begins with Snapshot where the speaker grapples with a childhood in which her parents are disappointed at not having had a boy. Whilst trying to console them in ways only a child can she also hides her own conflicting emotions – ‘no evidence that I tried not to slip and break my neck’.

Red explores the speaker growing up, questioning convention, cleverly weaving the colour red through the poem, including the red tikka on her mother’s forehead that ‘looked like someone had shot her’ and evoking images of blood. By the end of the poem she’s in a failing relationship and ‘There’s blood in the bathroom again, this month’.

In Glass Sisters the figurines her mother occasionally takes out from the cabinet and sits on the sofa while she ‘played with a typewriter’ are used to represent locked away potential, the mother’s desire to ‘get a job, learn to drive, drink wine’. There is also a sense in which the glass sisters morph into the mother’s daughters, how they too were locked away – ‘we were all cabinet curios’.

In the eponymous poem, The Swell, with the birth of another daughter, her mother’s waters breaking are likened to flood waters and we feel a compelling mixture of power and powerlessness. Other poems concern being accused of lying at school and being wooed by an older man, at an age when she is unaware of the beauty of her youth. In The Neglect the neglect of a relationship is deftly depicted through the abandonment of a garden.

Mother’s Day is a particularly poignant poem where the speaker receives someone else’s flowers by mistake and they become a symbol for her own lack of children. ‘Their scent leaked into my everyday, alive like new baby smell’. Kept in their packaging for a week once the real owner is found she leaves ‘clutching my wilted flowers to her chest’.

The last few poems concern the break up of the speaker’s relationship. In Mate Choice ‘we would have birthed a master race, produced strong and hairy kids, they would have saved the Earth from drowning’. The touch of humour against the speaker’s repeated lament of how she would have liked to save the Earth from drowning (a very effective use of repetition) together make the poem even more moving. In Trying at Stratford East she bumps into her now ex and they have a friendly and light-hearted conversation, before parting ways. The poem ends with the particularly striking and visually arresting line ‘When I got onto the Tube, my face bruised like a bin, I think I was crying’.

The final poem addresses the Bedroom Door, shut when he moved to the spare room. Now he has moved out, it ends on a positively celebratory note ‘You swing, gape, grin,/ you are always open’. We are left at an ending which is also a beginning, stepping off the page into a future of possibility.

This first collection from Jessica covers a lot of ground and important themes in a small amount of space. Each poem carries its weight in this collection which is highly recommended.


Karen Dennison won the Indigo Dreams Collection Competition in 2011 resulting in the publication of her first collection Counting Rain. She is editor and publisher of the pamphlets Book of Sand and Blueshift (longlisted for the Saboteur Awards 2016) and is currently working on her second collection.

The Anti-Slam Valentine’s Special


Date: Saturday 11 February, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Price: £8 / £7
Venue address:
Hackney Attic, 270 Mare Street, London E8 1HE

Valentine’s Day is traditionally a time for heartfelt sentiment and loving feelings – best expressed through beautiful poetry. The Anti-Slam turns that on its head for an Anti-Valentine’s Day slam!

In a normal poetry slam competition, the highest scoring poet wins. At The Anti-Slam, the worst poet wins! We’ve challenged London’s top poets to be hilariously terrible. Laugh-out-loud embarrassing. Entertainingly cringe worthy. Poetry so bad it transcends quality, becoming genius – all given an Anti-Valentine’s twist.

The worst poet wins in The Anti-Slam Anti-Valentine’s Day show. Hosted by Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson, and featuring some of London’s very best poets lowering the bar with riotously abysmal love poems. (Don’t) bring a date!

Time Out London’s Valentine’s pick and sell-out show four years running!

“A delightful sham… a brilliant time.” – Sabotage Reviews


The Anchored Tercet Challenge


Following on from my previous post I would like to invite you to take up The Anchored Tercet, a new, short poetic form consisting of three words, one per line, with a full-stop on a fourth line anchoring the three above it.

The form was created by Lisa Matthews as part of her work as Lead Poet on the NPL development project taking place across Northumberland in 2015-2017.

The Anchored Terset is a new, short poetic form consisting of three words, one per line, with a full-stop on a fourth line anchoring the three above it. Here are three examples of anchored tersets, the first being the original terset and the new identity for the Northern Poetry Library (NPL):




Simply post your poem into the comments line and I will put them up…. nothing could be easier… or could it?

The Diet









E E Nobbs



Peadar O’Donoghue

David Mark Williams




Colin Pink



Northern Poetry Library


An open access, public library

The Northern Poetry Library, located in The Chantry in Morpeth, Northumberland, is the largest collection of post-World War II poetry in England outside London. There are over 15,000 volumes, including first editions, signed copies and runs of poetry periodicals. Its a perfect place to lose yourself in and come out with a pile of books knowing you are helping libraries live.


If you don’t live near enough to visit why not take a up their challenge of writing The Anchored Tercet, a new, short poetic form consisting of three words, one per line, with a full-stop on a fourth line anchoring the three above it. The form was created by Lisa Matthews as part of her work as Lead Poet on the NPL development project taking place across Northumberland in 2015-2017. Previous Poets in Residence include:

  • Lisa Matthews (Lead Poet)
  • John Challis
  • Jo Colley
  • Linda France
  • Carolyn Jess-Cooke
  • Degna Stone

If you do to live nearby their opening hours are Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm.

William Park – Two Poems

The Barn House

Sprawly rug
of a squashed rabbit.
Boots discarded
Slender cloud:
a pale woman
moving into grey
over dark hills.

A sharp heat
in the eyes of a sleek
ferocious cat.
Moon over reservoir:
torch to a scared hare,
flap of a pheasant:
taut rig bending,
sails snapping.

The converted barn’s
a refuge from panic and storms,
coal fire’s teeth
fierce in the night.


Winter Dream

After the hush, the black bird plummets:
a cinder from the squashed sun.
Dusky creatures shake off sleep, lift their snouts
and sniff for food on the chill air,
smelling chimney smoke memories.

Men have disappeared, abandoning the mist-fields
for warm cottages and warming pie. Outside the house
it is starlighting. No one has come home.
Small footprints follow the road. Voices of children
tinkle from the church, then the wind sucks them up.

In the small, snug sphere of home
words catch the woman like thorns.
She hoped the eyes of a girl would shine tonight.
Her pupils are small, round windows of smoked glass.
Her fingers sleep on her lap:
a family of red-faced nuns.

The log fire crackles and spits. She dreams.

Awake. She opens the door. The trees are green tin.
The oranges are blue.
She brushes tingling fingers over snow,
searches for grass, a shred of life
beneath the unreal, anaesthetizing white.

(A version of this poem appeared in The Rialto)

William Park began publishing poetry in the late 1970s and received a Gregory Award in 1990. His collection Surfacing appeared from Spike Publishing in 2005, reviewed in Ambit, Critical Survey, London Magazine, The North.

He tutors in a wide range of community settings, including hospitals and a prison, and is Creative Writing editor for Asylum magazine for democratic psychiatry.

He has a Master’s in the Creative Arts, a PGCE, and is a recent convert to jogging.

Valerie Morton reviews Eileen R Tabios’ The Opposite of Claustrophobia, Prime’s Anti-Autobiography, The Knives Forks and Spoons Press (2017)

theopp1Eileen R Tabios is a Filipino-American poet and writer whose work I have come to admire and who constantly surprises with her adventurous experiments with new forms. It is especially exciting to see her first poetry collection published in the UK by Knives Spoons and Forks Press giving readers the opportunity to engage with her work and begin to experience her vast contribution to the poetry world.

Tabios is a multi-talented and prolific writer and publisher – a philosopher, historian, artist, and a cultural ambassador for her own worldwide Filipino community – qualities that dominate everything she writes. Here are poems firmly rooted in all aspects of the human condition – life/death … hope/despair … war/peace … love/hate …… and so much more – with no scaffolding, no rungs on the ladder – so much so that the reader is compelled to interpret from what is not said, rather than what is.

Opening any work by Eileen Tabios is like waiting for the curtain to rise in a theatre when you have no idea of the performance you are about to watch; exciting and slightly daunting at the same time. She has the uncanny ability to take us to places we may never have known existed, and to bring us home to a place within ourselves that is forever ‘us’, universal and constant.

The Opposite of Claustrophobia is the sixth and last book to come out of her MDR (Murder Death Resurrection) series* (see below), a database of 1,147 lines generated from reading her own previous works. Each work recreates lines into a new order, with each line beginning with ‘I forgot’. Claustrophobia was created by applying prime numbers against the order of lines from this database, relating to the conceit that the MDR lines can be combined in any random combination and the result is poetry.

With this extraordinary method Eileen Tabios brilliantly retains the musicality and imagery of poetry, with the result that whichever way this is read and in whichever order, the reader ends up with the same emotional response, startling and surprising in its ability to take the breath away.

I forgot it need not take more than one person to bring the world to ruin – for my mother, that person was me.

I forgot how one begins marking time from a lover’s utterance of Farewell

I forgot feeling you in the air against my cheek

I forgot you falling asleep in my skin to dream

I forgot how one can sag into night as if night was a lover

Tabios never allows the reader to arrive – as soon as we seem to be getting comfortable she whisks us away again, like a continuous turning wheel that picks up the new, the unexpected, questions without answers, a slow letting go and picking up. There is no room for complacency:

I forgot the collapse of New York City Towers – I forgot inhaling their spines to become mine in the aftermath

I forgot the grandmother who was too old to run

I forgot the alley of your city where I stood as a statue frozen by unrequited longing

I forgot how to perceive with tenderness

I forgot you cradled me

The work of this remarkable poet broadens our perceptions of ‘memory’ – what we thought were our own memories become ‘universal’ memories, belonging to collective humanity and if we can ‘remember’ then maybe we can move on to communion rather than division offering a way out of prejudice, fear, rejection – handing us a basic, most simple key, to recognition of each of us as one, not as other. By the constant repetition of ‘I forgot’ Tabios is ensuring that we ‘remember’.

The very words in this collection seem to breathe –

I forgot I saw a city breathing beyond the window

I forgot the musk of evenings quivering into post-elegance

I forgot a sarong fell and a river blushed

I forgot a girl singing as she smooched the sun …..

The poetry of Eileen Tabios invites us to look at what it truly means to be part of the human race, not merely a fragment of it. Challenging in its width and breadth, I would highly recommend this collection – it is at the same time startling and unnerving, not always comfortable reading, but every page/every line is an adventure in itself. If you are prepared to travel with her you will be astonished at her creativity and will close the last page wanting more :

I forgot the perfume of fresh bread outside a panetteria, the vinegary tang floating from a wine shop, heaven as the scent of roasting coffee from a grocer, and the necesssary reminder of those different from us through the stench of street drains

Eileen R Tabios loves books and has released over 40 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in eight countries and cyberspace. Recipient of the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry for her first poetry collection, she has seen her poems translated into eight languages. She also is the inventor of the poetic form “hay(na)ku.” More information is available at

* the six works using the MDR series
44 Resurrections (2014)
I Forgot Light Burns (2015)
Duende in The Alleys (2015
Amnesia: Somebody’s Memoir (2016)
The Connoisseur of Alleyways (2016)
The Opposite of Claustrophobia: Prime’s Anti-Autobiography (2017)

Valerie Morton’s work has apppeared 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 is at present Poet in Residence at the Clinton Baker Pinetum in Hertfordshire. She is a member of Ver Poets.