Writers Katy Wareham Morris, Ruth Stacey and Sarah James draw on history, literature and art for their poems and narratives about women’s roles and experience in society – now and in the past.
Tonight at Wolverhampton Literature Festival: details here https://www.wlv.ac.uk/about-us/news-and-events/calendar/?view=fulltext&id=d.en.1506710
It’s a wonderful feeling to have been shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards, with Katy Wareham Morris, for our collaborative piece Inheritance (published by Mother’s Milk Books). Thank you to people who voted for our pamphlet.
This sequence of poems was written at a time when both Katy and I were under various life pressures, but we found a break from all the stress by working on the poems together. I started the sequence off with the first poem and then we would write in response, incorporating a word, phrase or feeling from the previous poem to create an echo across the centuries. After working on my book, Queen, Jewel, Mistress, it was absorbing to explore just one imaginary character in the 19th century. In contrast, Katy was working on poems that examined the current experience of modern motherhood.
“2016. Nights of no sleep, new infant to feed and soothe; a woman reaches for an old box of papers to read. Letters, diary: fragments of a life long gone. The writing of a forgotten relative from the 19th century that she had always meant to do something with. Archive. Study. Yet, she never had the time, until now, when her baby ‘murmurs in the blue slate light’. The woman from the past is suddenly in her life, ‘soft as the nook between neck and ear’. Two voices trying to find their way through motherhood and marriage, whilst still clinging to their own identities.
Inheritance brings together two poets, Ruth Stacey and Katy Wareham Morris, to create an unforgettable sequence of poems. The poems follow each other with echoes from the past, images that re-surface and bring with them a feeling of universal emotion, irrelevant of the century.”
If you have enjoyed Inheritance … 9th April-9th May: Voting on shortlist opens: Vote Now!
It is also brilliant to have two V Press Poets nominated for best pamphlet. Claire Walker and Romalyn Ante. Edited by Sarah Leavesley, who runs V Press, they are very different in style and showcase the variety of excellent work Sarah selects.
As usual, my part of V.Press was designing the hand-sketched covers (Sarah does the photo covers for the flash fiction). Below is one of the stag images I drew for Claire, one of many as it was a very vivid sequence set in the countryside. It wasn’t chosen as the final cover but it remains a favourite of mine. Claire chose a tremulous, cautious deer peering out of the trees, which suited the pamphlet perfectly. Romalyn’s design was plain and one of those perfect combinations of the words becoming the image. I really enjoy reading each new poetry pamphlet or poetry book and working on the covers; sketching the pamphlets (where I include the word poetry somewhere) and bolder designs for the books. For example, Kathy Gee’s Book of Bones had a striking, white image of a skull on the cover. Antony Owen, recently shortlisted for the Ted Hughes, had a plain blue cover with a repeating classical pattern bordering the name of the book: The Nagasaki Elder. Antony is an incredible ambassador for peaceful protest against nuclear arms and one of the things that sums up his kind, generous nature is the request he made to me to make his name hardly stand out on the cover as it was the names of the people in the poems, those interviewed in Hiroshima and Coventry, that mattered.
Finally, the incredible, monumental, heartbreaking, upsetting, vital #metoo anthology has been nominated. I am very proud to be included in this book. It has been so carefully and considerately edited by Deborah Alma and published by Nadia Kingsley at Fairacre Press. The work in this book will not be an easy read, but it is necessary, and ultimately creates a feeling of hope and solidarity. You can hear Deborah discuss the anthology at the Hive, Worcester 17th April.
‘The Awards are now established among the most significant awards in contemporary poetry. They are designed to raise the profile of poetry pamphlets, recognising the enormous contribution that they make to the poetry world.’
‘Judges’ Comments: The V. Press offering of four remarkably diverse pamphlets included a mix of established and new writers. We fell in love in particular with Alex Reed’s pamphlet ‘A Career in Accompaniment’ about looking after his wife – quiet poems, carefully crafted, with enormous emotional heft and dignity.’
We have a special offer at V.Press at the moment to celebrate the press being shortlisted for the awards, please follow this LINK to find out more.
Katy and I had a brilliant day at the Free Verse Poetry book fair. Imagine you are a stamp collector and you went to a stamp collecting convention. A room full of people that share your peculiar passion. Well, that is what the book fair was for us. Hundreds of people who spend all their time wrangling words into the correct place. Pondering for hours about an adjective or a comma. Poetry geeks. It was heaven. Being able to screech in delight at a particular table that had an array of beautiful books was so much fun. Or chat to a friend who you usually only get to speak to online; finally meeting in real life was very satisfying. The whole room was full of enthusiastic, delighted people. Poetry is an unusual addiction, so it is good to be with like-minded people.
We read from our collaborative pamphlet, Inheritance, published by Mother’s Milk Books. I enjoyed writing with another poet; it created an excellent dialogue. I liked the tiny threads we picked up from each poem and the way that was woven into our own work. The garden cafe was a relaxed place to read and we had some great conversations after with members of the audience who enjoyed the poems.
I also enjoyed hearing V.Press poets Stephen Daniels and Nina Lewis (albeit briefly) reading in the garden and Silhouette Press poets, Jamie Thrasivoulou and Andrea Mbarushimana reading earlier in the day.
Ruth Stacey and Katy Wareham Morris
The fair itself is free to enter and is open to the public from 11am – 6pm, with an Evening Do from 7pm onwards, at Conway Hall (25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL).”
Illustration: Ruth Stacey, oil pastels and pencil.
“History holds such a wealth of material for any writer – but especially so for poets. And yet, so few poets find themselves looking to such inspiration. Of all the poets I know, of all the (contemporary) poets I’ve read, I’ve never quite found someone who interprets history through poetry like Ruth Stacey. I’m not talking of using poetry to illustrate history. I’m not talking of political ballads or of waxing poetics. I’m talking of recreating history, provoking ghosts, resurrecting the dead. I have many friends who are history interpreters, working or volunteering at historical sites. They dress in costumes, don weaponry, and wield the mannerisms and speech of the people who were there. Ruth Stacey interprets history in just this way. I was once told, of a poem I wrote of an American Civil War widow, “If they taught history like that in school, I might have paid attention!” Pay attention, dear readers. You will love Stacey’s Queens.”
Eve Brackenbury, Poet and owner of Inklings’ Books & Coffee Shoppe.
Queen, Jewel, Mistress is a collection of poems that journeys from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. Every famous queen and many forgotten ones get a moment to speak with the reader. In the back of the book is a brief history of all the queens. To win an illustrated copy of my book just comment on this post and share with your history loving friends.
The queens in the sketches are Anne Boleyn and Ælfthryth, wife of King Edgar. Plus, a songbird for Eleanor of Provence…you will have to read the poem to know why!
I will choose a winner on 30th April. Good luck!
Pressure. To write a poem every day for a whole month. Will it force me to focus and help my current period of writer’s block? Will the daily deadline just create an accumulation of mini failures as I don’t hit my target? Will it be fun?
I did it a few years back, using Carrie Etter’s prompts, and got a good number of drafts that became published poems. Jo Bell’s 52 project was also very useful. However, this year I am feeling quite flat and uninspired, even with prompts.
I have written a couple so far and it’s day 10 so I am way behind. Instead of trying to force something, I have been writing observations in careful detail. Describing people, conversations, scenes. It’s taken the pressure off and it is fun again. Like sketching instead of painting the final portrait in oils.