Byron and the Beauty is loosely based on Byron’s biography and takes place during two weeks of October 1809, during his now famous sojourn in the Balkans. Besides being a great love story, this is also a novel about East and West, about Europe and the Balkans, about travel and friendship and cruelty. Bazdulj marvellously combines facts with imagination, history and romance, resulting in an exceptionally beautiful novel. The author’s style has something of the subtle lyricism and chronicle-like tranquillity of his countryman Ivo Andric, but also a touch of the oriental baroque richness associated with Orhan Pamuk, making this a book which is both erudite and innovative, with a daring sense of humour.
Milner Place: Born 25/1/30… First job timber faller before doing National Service 1948/50… Some time at Agricultural College but opted out… worked as barman… managed farm and estate… got involved in horse racin… 1953… sailed to South Africa… worked as undergound surveyor copper mines… managed fruit farm…1955 returned to England to manage another farm, left and entered journalism…1958… sailed to new York …1958/61… Bahamas, did some surveying work. Bought a dinghy and learned to sail. Then a sloop, freighting and fishing… skippered for Burl Ives… took over yacht in Miami… returned to England… left for Majorca…Dec 1961… smuggling run to Algiers during war, cargo one man… Supplemented income by smuggling money from England for Brit living abroad…1962… took over staysail schooner, working Balearics and wintered yacht in Ibiza…spent time in Bilboa and Madrid…Sailed to Italy, left Autumn 1963…wintered Madrid…1964…bought sloop and summered Burnham-on-Crouch…1965…took job as captain of ketch built in Holland and sailed her to Lisbon…met Count of Barcelona and his son (now King of Spain). Wintered in Gibraltar and Tangiers, then to Cadiz and Seville…back to Lisbon where did several ocean races with Count of Barcelona…quit job with ketch and sailed with Count for England…1966 Autumn…sailed own sloop to Bordeaux and via Canal du Midi to Toulouse…left for Denmark to convert a working trading schooner to a yacht… 1967…sailed same to Malta to effect conversion…did a delivery to Greece (minus keel)…August 1968 quit job and returned Spain…then France to pick up own sloop…lost it off Spanish coast, wandered round Andalucia, returned London courtesy of consular services…back to Malta to do honeymoon charter for couple, sailing to Tunisia via Lampedusa…1969…employed as consultant by Forte’s International Hotels on projects in Sardinia and Greece…left for Ecuador for job as consultant Tourist Investments S.A…9 months organizing marlin fishing fleet, Punta Carnero…left for Peru under threat of charge of Piracy, consultancy work on Manu River project, others in Brazil and Panama…1971… England and then Grand Canary, where scratched a living as a photographer…1973…took off for Mexico to write unsuccessful novel…1976…moved to Majorca now with partner, Dorothy and stepson Paul…1977 first poems published in Spanish…trip to Canada – hashish smugglers – didn’t…1979/82…Boroughbridge, N.Yorks… worked as petrol station attendant, filling shelves at supermarket, night-watchman and running a B&B…1982/87… ran hotel in Alston, Cumbria until bankrupt…Jan 1987…came to Huddersfield, went to workshops, became sort of poet.
John Hartley Williams’s Canada explores a country of the mind, where whatever mania comes to mind becomes its own reality, and writing happens automatically. In Canada, poems arrive out of the ether like the fabled, lantern-jawed Mountie coming to the rescue out of nowhere. Others are on their way back into the ether, transmissions from the brain of an uneasy redman. These are poems which make you feel like the hairs on a pony’s neck. Canada opens in the backwoods of autobiography and narrative, then reports crisply on the alarums of sex and desire. After crossing the frontier, a final coda blows innocence off the map for good and all. Shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 1997.
Centenary Selected Poems marks the poet’s 100th birthday and is the first book to reveal the full range of his poetry. All his natural and invented voices speak here – animals, inanimate objects, dramatic monologues by famous, imaginary and anonymous people – in all sort of forms and styles – sonnets, science fiction constructions, concrete poetry, sound poems, his own invented stanzas – together with his evocations of place, in particular his inexhaustible home city of Glasgow. They all illustrate his incurable curiosity and a kind of relentless optimism for humanity.
Cherry Pie is a collection by Hollie Poetry, inspired by her grandparents’ advice on newspapers, war, sex and tinned cherries. The poems collected in Cherry Pie hold personal meaning for Hollie as well as being those which are most often requested by audiences in theatres, pubs and at festivals up and down the UK. The book is illustrated by a selection of artists from across the globe.
As if convinced that all divination of the future is somehow a revisioning of the past, Kwame Dawes reminds us of the clairvoyance of haunting. The lyric poems in ‘City of Bones’ constitute a restless jeremiad for our times, and Dawes’s inimitable voice peoples this collection with multitudes of souls urgently and forcefully singing, shouting, groaning, and dreaming.
From well-known and award-winning authors-including Bernardine Evaristo, Fred D’Aguiar, and Leone Ross-to previous unpublished writers, this ambitious and intriguing anthology of short stories showcases each author’s most challenging work. These works from writers who are happy to describe themselves as Black British, have a rich variety of styles, forms, and themes, from raw realism, the erotic, and elegant economy, to the fanciful, humorous, and the tender.
The contributors to Closure display a keen awareness of the short story form in all its contemporary possibilities as a way of telling and finding a form for the writer’s vision. These are stories about the ways in which we do and do not love, unrequited yearnings, the quiet and often hidden violence in our lives, moments of epiphany, and the precious occasions of jubilation and uplift.
John Anthony Burgess Wilson (1917-93) was an industrious writer. He published over fifty books, thousands of essays and numerous drafts and fragments survive. He predicted many of the struggles and challenges of his own and the following century.
Burgess’s most famous book is A Clockwork Orange (1962), later adapted into a controversial film by Stanley Kubrick. The linguistic innovations of that novel, the strict formal devices used to contain them, and its range of themes are all to be found too in Burgess’s poetry, an area of his work where he was at once most free and most experimental. His flair for words, formal discipline, experimentalism, and fondness for variousness mark every page.
This beautifully intricate collection betrays a gimlet eye for detail and a huge passion for the tiny dramas of everyday life. Kath McKay’s dense and fragmentary lines wind themselves around the subconscious, recounting the quiet firestorms that fuel human relationships and the seismic reverberations that can often ensue.
A brave, exciting and adult collection that entertains with wit, shocks with frankness, and engages both intellect and emotion. Richly varied, it ranges from extended stories to intense pieces of flash fiction. Stories may be set in realistic settings – but develop magical narrative twists that make us see all afresh. Others begin in fantasy – returnees from the dead, a man who finds discarded hymens – but are so skilfully realist we can only believe in their actuality.
Choman Hardi’s Considering the Women explores the equivocal relationship between immigrants and their homeland – the constant push and pull – as well as the breakdown of an intermarriage, and the plight of women in an aggressive patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. The book’s central sequence, Anfal, draws on Choman Hardi’s post-doctoral research on women survivors of genocide in Kurdistan. The stories of eleven survivors (nine women, an elderly man and a boy child) are framed by the radically shifting voice of the researcher: naïve and matter-of-fact at the start; grieved, abstracted and confused by the end. Knowledge has a noxious effect in this book, destroying the poet’s earlier optimistic sense of self and replacing it with a darker identity where she is ready for ‘all the good people in the world to disappoint her’. Hardi’s second collection in English ends with a new beginning found in new love and in taking time off from the journey of traumatic discovery to enjoy the small, ordinary things of life. ‘The courage of this book – her refusal to to be daunted by the context of its cataclysmic scale – is impossible to ignore and perhaps the book’s principal driving force. Such fortitude is at its most tangible in the book’s focal sequence, Anfal… The horror of the subject matter is counterbalanced by the humility of her poems. Humility is a rare commodity among poets but Hardi, in her economy of utterance, yields not an inch to the showy, exploitative or sensational. The language is trimmed back, its wings clipped, its phrase-making curfewed… genocide requires its own poetry of witness, but also the sort of plain speaking integrity which inheres in Considering the Women… Choman Hardi is no tourist poet, or well meaning writer in residence in a women’s prison: she is chronicler of catastrophe, and gives up all her talent to the subject, all her tact; it feels like an act of sacrifice.’ – Tim Liardet & John Burnside, Poetry Book Society Bulletin ‘Another contender for this year’s Forward poetry prize, Kurdish writer and translator Choman Hardi’s collection Considering the Women explores the eternal push and pull relationship between immigrants and their homeland(s), as well as considers the plight of women in a patriarchal society and as survivors of political violence. An important voice now more than ever, Hardi brings us closer to the experiences of those for whom we all too often assume to speak.’ – The Skinny (Best Summer Reads) ‘At a time when the British media is full of the terrible results of events in the Middle East… Choman Hardi’s poetry puts us directly among the people living and suffering through it all, hearing their voices and sharing their experiences….There are any number of places in the school curriculum where this poetry would prove illuminating, and it really should be read.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian ‘Considering the Women is impressive in the sense that it leaves its dent upon the reader. I came away from my first reading dizzied, imbalanced and ashamed in a way which I have not felt since first encountering the work of Primo Levi. The collection delivers snatched fragments of the Kurdish story to an Anglophone audience and enacts the uncomfortable yoking of an adopted nationality with fading memories of a crumbling homeland. The grainy footage of barren Middle-Eastern landscapes which make cameos in UK news reports are hereby superseded, through Hardi, by the unflinching force of human testimony.’ – Phil Brown, The Huffington Post
CCTV cameras, TV recording equipment, microphones, all capturing and recording events in peoples lives. In today’s Big Brother world, these constant intrusions are at once a threat and a comfort – moments would be lost forever without surveillance. Tim cumming tells of events caught on camera as they happen to disparate protagonists, seemingly at random, but which dissolve into one another as they loose partners, jobs, identities and belief. “Contact Print” is set in a traffic jam on the Holloway Road in London. Its hero is Tony Harris, who is seen driving away for the last time from his married girlfriend’s house into a traffic snarl-up, a demo, a pub, a maze of memories, the city or the city itself, repeating itself to the horizon, which finally swallows him up. Along the way we are treated to arresting images of urban life, from the kidnapping of a junior minister to doing smack in the toilets of Paddington station. This is a world of personal and political instability, captured with photographic accuracy.
Tim Cumming’s poems have been published widely in Britain and America, and he writes regularly for The Guardian and The Independent. His work has been broadcast on BBC radio and TV, and he has featured in the New Voices season at the South Bank. He lives and works in London.
The thread connecting the tales in ‘Corksucker‘ is the years Fante spent as a cab driver and self loathing alcoholic in the pitiless sunshine of Los Angles. All of the anger and rage of the novels are here, yet the format of the short story allows him to shift focus away from Fante as anti-hero and focus on the bizarre and damaged characters who come in and out of his orbit: the sad, petty, spiteful alcoholic doorman known as Wifebeater Bob, the beautiful, grief-crazed, tragic Mrs. Randolph and most memorably the smacked-out, fast talking, amoral Libby who along with his girlfriend Niggabitch and their insatiable pet boa constrictor form the nucleus of one of the collections stand out stories – the outrageous, ghoulish black comedy ‘Princess.’
Cornrows and Cornfields is a heartfelt journey from the childhood fields of Indiana to the glittering metropolis of Chicago. Spinning together memory, popular culture and personal politics, celeste doaks makes words dance, weep, wail and sing – often in the space of just a couple of lines. This sublime collection of delightfully bold and vivid poems burn upon the mind’s eye long after the final page is turned.
Courting Katie explores tenuous notions of what it means to be Irish. This is a collection about drunken nights, about cranes, outbound flights, and confirmation parties. Situated within a range of pre- and post-Celtic Tiger contexts, it examines social and cultural crises, both local and national. These poems engage with the experience of Ireland, not simply in a grandiose manner, but through the individual, and the many disappointments that have been suffered on this island.
From a sapient pig to human extinction, syphilis to broken bones, a woman who births rabbits to changelings in the crib, this collection explores the full range of human fallibility as well as the eternal quest for hopefulness.
Cures is filled with strange characters: volcanic women, a rat catcher on the brink of retirement, a bonesetter, a drunkard, a mermaid; the collection is brimful with both the uncanny and the familiar, exploring the joys of parenthood, the folly of dissipation and reflecting on lives lived – mixing words in search of a tonic.
Robert Peake’s second full collection of poems is about weathering storms—personal, political, psychological—in our present-day climate of chaos. These are matters of life or death, and Cyclone urges us to consider what the ill wind may bring, and how we will survive it. Peake’s acutely tuned poems bring eloquence and urgency to matters of profound devastation. With shattering delicacy, he writes of personal loss, of grief and the long aftermath; “whenever the wind sprays into my face, I taste salt of your absence”. These poems also hazard an eye at the global weather and find a world in turmoil, wild with unreliable news and terrible forecasts. Manifesting between the storms is the man with the kindest face. Is he here to save us or warn us? A guide or a harbinger? As these brilliantly-visioned poems suggest, nothing is certain in the eye of the storm. Nevertheless, there is some form of consolation and rescue: “He seems at home in this tempest. He seems happy”.
Born into slavery on a U.S. plantation in 1759, Daniel has no experience of life beyond the boundaries of his masters’ land until an event occurs which changes his life forever. Daniel is cast out of the plantation into a hostile world. He embarks on a journey which will span continents, test his courage and endurance to the limit and expose him to the horror of the slave trade.
Daniel’s experience as a crew member of a slave ship is so profound that he becomes determiend to campaign for the abolition of the UK slave trade. In doing so, he adds his voice to those of the great reformers of the age, inclduing Thomas Clarkson and the great William Wilberforce.
Daniel’s story is testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and how one man can make a difference. As we approach the anniversary of the abolition of slavery act, Daniel’s story reminds us of the determination and fortitude of those who brought about that change and continue to inspire us.
Doris Kareva is one of Estonia’s leading poets, admired especially for poems that balance precision and control with passion and bravado. Her achievement, according to Estonian Literature, is in writing poems which are both ‘plentiful and fragile like a crystal… balancing on the line between the human soul and the universe, between sound and silence’. Days of Grace spans over forty years of her poetic output, showing how the sustained depth and clarity of her poetry lies in her ability to create ambiguity and suggest harmony at the same time, with a multiplicity of meanings generating the opposite of clarity: a form of hinting which at its most illuminating becomes utterly oracle-like. Such is the metaphysical sensitivity of her poetry that its moral charge is sensed almost physically. She has also been called ‘a priestess of love’ who is fearless as well as discreet in her portrayal of love that is so ‘pure and elevating like mountain air’ that she seems to be writing from another time or dimension.
Octavian Paler wrote a number of poetry collections during his lifetime. The poems, which appear as ‘definitions’, are rather like Haiku in their intensity and succinctness: condensed descriptions of a feeling or a moment, they offer us an open door into the larger world of internal reflection. Dosage: read one a day before meals or lingering over coffee ”The poems carry deep inside Paler’s unique tenderness and reflection – short descriptions of feelings, thoughts or moments of our life. In all these short poems, sometimes only into a verse…I found again the main and constant topics which enriched my mind…I found definitions of tears and cries, of departures, of love, of regret, or of obsession. I found definitions of illusion, of maturity, of dignity, of balance, of silence, of loneliness, of ego….” Mariana Ganea, Romanian-Insider
‘This is sly, subtle, elliptical work, entrapping both subject and reader in something queasily human […] It’s the sign of a poet utterly in control of her gifts. This may seem a strange thing to say about a book so filled with unreliable narrators, but in Deformations Dugdale proves hers is a voice you can trust.’ Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph, Poetry Book of the Month
Deformations includes two large-scale works related in their preoccupation with biographical and mythical narrative. ‘Welfare Handbook’ explores the life and art of Eric Gill, the well-known English letter cutter, sculptor and cultural figure, who is known to have sexually abused his daughters. The poem draws on material from Gill’s letters, diaries, notes and essays as part of a lyrical exploration of the conjunction between aesthetics, subjectivity and violence. ‘Pitysad’ is a series of simultaneously occurring fragments composed around themes and characters from Homer’s Odyssey. It considers how trauma is disguised and deformed through myth and art. Acting as a bridge between these two works is a series of individual poems on the creation and destruction of cultural and mythical conventions.
Winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize, Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of Dara McAnulty’s world, from spring to summer, autumn to winter, on his home patch, at school, in the wild and in his head. Evocative, raw and beautifully written, this very special book vividly explores the natural world from the perspective of an autistic teenager juggling homework, exams and friendships alongside his life as a conservationist and environmental activist. With a sense of awe and wonder, Dara describes in meticulous detail encounters in his garden and the wild, with blackbirds, whooper swans, red kites, hen harriers, frogs, dandelions, skylarks, bats, cuckoo flowers, Irish hares and many more species. The power and warmth of his words also draw an affectionate and moving portrait of a close-knit family making their way in the world.
“At the multi-laned intersection to the M20 I listened to Alanis singing her heart out about the pain of isolation and loss and I burst into tears in an Oxford Green Jaguar X Series 3 litre car.”
Like missiles, these poems shoot out into the world seeking light and warmth from out of the darkness of illness. Peter Carr’s poetic voice mirrors the fast-paced juxtopositions of a life previously spent in an internationalist world of commerce. Wide-ranging and uncompromising, ironic, darkly comedic and sometimes bitter, and populated by the unconventional, the displaced and the lonely, the collection is nevertheless bound together by the realisation and need of the importance of human encounter, companionship and love in an illusory and earth-shifting world. – Maggie Harris
Don t Forget the Couscous is a book of poetry about exile and home, love and loss. It is a beautiful love-song to the Arab world Syria, Kurdistan, Morocco, Palestine and his native Aleppo. It is a memoir of the failed Arab Spring and the civil-war that has turned his native Syria into a fountain of blood. It s a bitter account of the demonization of Islam in the West, and the violent interference of the West in the Islamic world. It is about being a Muslim and not a terrorist. Amir Darwish draws on the magical-realism of Naguib Mahfouz, the social satire of Muhammad al-Maghut and the love poetry of Rumi to describe the experience of Islam in Europe from a Friday night dőner kebab after a good night out to a girl who has taken off the hijab in order to feel safe and a mosque with broken windows. It is a book about travel and love, and an apology on behalf of Muslims everywhere for having contributed nothing to the modern world except astronomy, coffee, clocks, algebra, falafels, apricots and dőner kebabs. And don t forget the couscous…
Double Take tells how to rob Heathrow Airport and get away with it.
An ‘Italian Job’ for the 21st century, with swearing in several languages – some of it translated – chillis as offensive weapons, but no Minis. Double Take deconstructs one of Agatha Christie’s most audacious plots.
An eclectic collection of poems from the unique perspective of a poet who has spent much of his life at the hard edge of education.
These poems reflect the emotions and experience of being a teacher as well as the thoughts and feelings about everything that externally impinges on teaching English. While the collection will have broad appeal to fellow practitioners, it will also resonate with anyone and everyone who has attended school.
Mike Ferguson’s poems about teaching and examining were written over a 30 year period as an English teacher, and over 35 years as an examiner of English Literature at GCSE level. The eclecticism comes not only from reflecting over a long period of time but, more pertinently, on a varying focus of style and the experiences themselves.
Ferguson’s most recent writing is almost exclusively ‘experimental’ in vein. A small core of poems are sonnets. A number of poems air the poet’s political and critical views on education.
“The concept of ‘following your dream’ seems like a very modern concoction, but here we have an example of it in the first half of the twentieth century . . . And, for a few brief years between the wars, the dream blossomed.”Amy Liptrot
In 1927, R. M. Lockley became the custodian of Skokholm and its derelict farmhouse, where he spent twelve years with his wife and daughter, building his utopia from the bounty of the sea, recording and studying migratory birds, working the land, living out his dream until it was shattered by the outbreak of the Second World War. Dream Island is an inspiring journey of how R.M. Lockley, a naturalist of international renown, discovered his love of nature and the freedom and struggle of living a self-sufficient life.
Characters born into the celebrated Viz comic strip, ‘Drunken Bakers’, are here for the first time immortalised in a book. A day in the life: the decline of the independent bakery, and the steeper decline of the independent bakers within it (cake and bargain booze included). A harsh reality displayed without apology, elbowing its way into our comfort zone bringing laughter and the smell of stale beer.
At Wrecking Ball Press we wait in great anticipation for stuff like Drunken Baker by Barney Farmer to drop through the letter box. It’s what we do… A fisherman waits for a fish to bite. A hypochondriac waits for death. Vladimir and Estragon wait for Godot. Bob waited in vain. We wait for the barman to catch our eye. We count the minutes before it’s time to go. The prisoner waits for sentence. I’m waiting on a call. We’re all waiting to be seen. We all watch the news, hold our breath and wait for sense. We play the waiting game. All publishers wait for the next great book. We’ve been waiting 21 years and it’s finally arrived.
Gabriela Babnik’s novel Dry Season breaks the mould of what we usually expect from a writer from a small, Central European nation. With a global perspective, Babnik takes on the themes of racism, the role of women in modern society and the loneliness of the human condition. Dry Season is a record of an unusual love affair. Anna is a 62-year-old designer from Slovenia and Ismael is a 27-year-old from Burkina Faso who was brought up on the street, where he was often the victim of abuse. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry hamartan season, during which neither nature nor love is able to flourish. She soon realizes that the emptiness between them is not really caused by their skin colour and age difference, but predominantly by her belonging to the Western culture in which she has lost or abandoned all the preordained roles of daughter, wife and mother. Sex does not outstrip the loneliness and repressed secrets from the past surface into a world she sees as much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than her own. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magic realism.
Earwigging is a journey, never lingering for too long in any one place. It is the written equivalent of walking through a train station or waiting for a friend in a pub, conversations drifting in and out of earshot, only ever in part and neither beginning nor resolved. It is the overheard world. It is poignant, it is as unreal as only reality can be. It is hilarious.
After the battle of Brunanburh, when Æthelstan’s army defeated an invading alliance of Scots, Irish, Britons and Norse, the Viking mercenary Egil Skallagrimsson extemporised a panegyric for the English and their king. Englaland is a stunning re-imagining of Skallagrimsson’s song, an unapologetic and paradoxical affirmation of a bloody, bloody-minded and bloody brilliant people. Danish huscarls, Falklands war heroes, pit-village bird-nesters, aging prize-fighters, flying pickets, jihadi suicide-bombers and singing yellowhammers parade through the book in an incendiary combination, rising to the challenge of the skald s affirmation: you are the people in the land; know you are the people; know it is your land.
Dorothy Lehane’s debut poetry collection is experimental and exploratory – part daybook, and part astronomical chart, this is a voyage into both the self, the body and the personal as well as into an ever-expanding cosmos of stars, planets and space. The poems of Ephemeris are fiercely bright and tuned in on a precise, musical wavelength of sound and form. Language, seen here through this particular telescope, is exuberant and numerous with possibilities, gracefully testing its own boundaries. In galaxies of sounds and shapes, Lehane brilliantly takes a giant lyric leap from poem to poem, making for something of a stellar debut.