Lockdown Lecture Series

As part of our English, Media and Culture Lockdown Lecture Series I will be talking to Dr Whitney Standlee, who teaches English Literature in our department at the University of Worcester. Whitney is a fascinating colleague and I love hearing about her research, so I am looking forward to her questions about my new book, I Ursula.

Dr Whitney Standlee (@was925) | Twitter

30th June 5pm: Dr Whitney Standlee, ‘In Conversation:
Ruth Stacey on her “mysterious and fabular” new
collection “I, Ursula“‘ Follow this LINK to join.

Whitney chose the title for the event from my recent review by Fiona Sampson:

Today’s new publishing lists are giving readers what they want, though old habits of coverage can die hard. Disproportionately overlooked are non-metropolitan poets such as Ruth Stacey, whose second collection, the mysterious and fabular I, Ursula (V. Press £10.99) appears from an award-winning West Midlands micropublisher. The book conjures a Dantesque lost forest, where foxes and wild children wrestle amid the spells and rhymes of oral tradition: “Apricot is the colour / of a setting ball of / flame, my beloved.” But in this piercingly unsentimental report from Angela Carter territory, the most dangerous “beast” is already “in the house”.

The first lecture is tonight at 5.00pm, by Dr Lucy Arnold and I am very much looking forward to it as Lucy researches one of my favourite writers, Hilary Mantel. There are lots of great topics covered in the next few weeks:

Programme:

16th June 5pm: Dr Lucy Arnold, ‘”If the dead need
translators”: Haunting, Mourning and Translation in
Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”‘

23rd June 5pm: Professor Mike Bradshaw, ‘English
Literature and the French Revolution: The Politics of
Style’

30th June 5pm: Dr Whitney Standlee, ‘In Conversation:
Ruth Stacey on her “mysterious and fabular” new
collection “I, Ursula”‘

7th July 5pm: Professor Nicoleta Cinpoes,
‘Shakestivaling in the New Europe’

14th July 5pm: Dr Sharon Young, ‘”Hairy on the inside”:
Twins, Monstrosity and “The Duchess of Malfi”‘

21st July 5pm: Dr Barbara Mitra, ‘”It has to be a really
good picture”: Young People, Social Media and Gender’

Link to join the lectures HERE

Saboteur Awards: Inheritance

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.

V.Press shortlisted for the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets

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.