Alice and the North is a sequence of prose poems that form a love-song to the North, its post-industrial landscapes, wild uplands, obsession with weather, seasonal change and awkwardness. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice before her, the lead character shifts and changes as her journey across the North continues; she is at turns playful, sexy, rebellious and adventurous, carving a new identity for the region as she goes.
From herring quines to the hidden corners of Manchester, from Lytham St Anne’s to the canals of Congleton, readers are invited to grow up with Alice as she finds her voice – straddling the territory between prose and poetry, exploring the down to earth cadences of everyday speech and the richness of the North’s many idioms and dialects.
Alice even finds time to gently tease the ‘titans’ of Northern poetry, Ted Hughes and Simon Armitage, whose voices have long shaped the poetry-reading public’s idea of the North. Now, however, they must step aside and make room for Alice.
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.
In this, her fifth collection, Char March searches for hidden nests of humanity within the cold, bare branches of politics, and gives a voice to the voiceless (both human and otherwise). She expertly immerses us in the landscapes and soundscapes of her twin homes of Scotland and Yorkshire – and, whether visiting the depths of Leeds’ sewers or tasting the Hebrides sea, never strays far from the sharp humour and eye for detail that her readers have come to expect. This is poetry at its very best, highly-involved writing that seems effortless; a feast of fantastic literature to warm your soul, whatever the season.
‘I love Char March’s poems. This is a fantastic collection, powerfully evocative and full of lyrical emotion.’ Francesca Martinez
‘These poems made me pay attention – and laugh. They’re wry, pithy and downright funny. They unpack into serial astonishment: each poem doorsteps you with its distinct voice and attitude.’Graham Mort
Glass Work Humans is a bold, unflinching collection of short stories and poems offering an honest and, at times, darkly humorous glimpse into the fragile and precarious lives of ordinary men and women in 21st-century Scotland. From the steelworker penning a suicide note in his lunch hour to the lonely divorcee finding comfort in a swarm of bees, the war-weary ex-copper toasting lost lives and the battle-scarred son dealing with his violent past, these are all people on the brink but not quite ready to break – seeking hope, salvation and solace in the smallest of everyday miracles.
Tom Gillespie is a Scottish-born novel and short story writer, now living in exile in Bath, England. His stories have been published worldwide in journals, e-zines and creative anthologies. His latest novel, The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce (Vine Leaves Press), has been praised by critics as ‘brilliantly unsettling’ and ‘obsessively compelling’. Tom is a graduate of Glasgow University and works as an English lecturer.
Paul Cowan grew up in Falkirk in central Scotland. After leaving school, he trained as a welder, which took him up and down the country and abroad. He even dipped his toes in the North Sea and worked offshore. He has been honing his skill as a writer, using his own life experiences as his guide, for nearly twenty years. His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Paul can still be found in Falkirk and has a five-year-old daughter.
John McKenzie grew up in Menstrie, a small village in Scotland. He worked in the financial sector until returning to education in his mid-thirties. Six years and one undergraduate degree course later, John is about to complete his Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling. He is also working on his first novel.
Winner, “Best Anthology” at the Saboteur Awards 2019
Drinking stories are told by drunks, or about drunks; they are told in pubs, or set in pubs. They are stories where people drink, and stories which somehow induce a sense of drunkenness in readers and listeners. Anton Chekhov may or may not have drunkenly compared the experience of reading a short story to downing a shot of vodka, and F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed that a good short story could “be written on a bottle.” Here is a collection of contemporary short stories written on and about bottles – stories about the comedies, tragedies, pleasures, pains and horrors of alcohol – all of which can be downed like (and perhaps with) a glass of vodka.
‘An intoxicating cocktail of stories. Drink deep, but be warned: there is darkness in the cup.’ Will Buckingham
What happens when poetry and philosophy converge? Over coffee at Leeds’ Opposite Cafe, award-winning poet Helen Mort and Professor of Philosophical Aesthetics Aaron Meskin set out to explore that very question.
Their caffeine-fuelled discussions morphed into the intriguing concept behind this book: a cross-disciplinary creative dialogue in which the poet lets her imagination loose on philosophical texts and the authors of the papers respond.
Like all the best coffee shop conversations, the results take unexpected turns through the art of tattooing, graffiti, Belle & Sebastian, food, rock climbing and whether there’s such a thing as bad art. So pull up a chair, and join Helen, Aaron and ten of the world’s leading philosophers of art for coffee, poetry and everything in between.
A hilarious anthology book that celebrates the joys, the aches, the lapses, the frustrations and the creaks of the retirement years. With fifty funny, nostalgic and poignant rhymes about childhood memories, hair loss, modern technology, manners, packaging, cats, grandchildren and more it’s the perfect read for those of fifty plus who like a chuckle.
If you loved Now We Are Sixty and Pam Ayres makes you laugh, then this is for you!
Winner, “Best Anthology” at the Saboteur Awards 2017.
The result of the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize, launched in late 2015, this is a collection of thoughtful and poignant responses to the story of David Oluwale, hounded to his death in the River Aire in 1969. The 1971 trial in Leeds, UK, of the two policemen accused of his manslaughter brought David’s plight briefly into the national spotlight; newspaper reports by Ron Phillips, a BBC radio play by Jeremy Sandford and poetry by Linton Kwesi Johnson followed. Then David was mostly forgotten, while the issues that he embodied – hostility to migration, racism, mental ill-health, homelessness, police malpractice and destitution – continued to scar British society, still making headlines fifty years on.
Remembering Oluwale includes extracts from recent books about David by Caryl Phillips and Kester Aspden, as well as poems responding to his story by Ian Duhig, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sai Murray, Zodwa Nyoni, and many other contemporary writers. The resulting body of work serves as an introduction to some fascinating new voices in UK literature, and also as a clarion call for us to re-make our neighbourhoods as places of inclusion, acceptance and hospitality.
Are you ready to travel to the outer limits of your imagination? This eclectic collection of science fiction writing and visuals, originally curated by York St John University’s Terra Two online magazine, is ready to blast off on a mind-expanding journey through space, time and consciousness, asking key questions along the way about our society, spirituality and sustainability.
Through essays, drawings, poetry and fiction – including six new short stories exclusive to this anthology – an intrepid band of author adventurers have taken a giant leap into the unknown, to provide a survival guide for those of us curious enough to follow in their pioneering footsteps.
MacGregor is desperate to return home. Unfortunately, he’s marooned in the Gulf of Darién, following independent Scotland’s doomed colonisation attempt at the end of the 17th century. Worse still, he’s a character in a novel whose author is dying, and he’s running out of time.
As the author’s preoccupations, memories and spiralling thoughts start to pollute MacGregor’s world, he finds his narrative eroding and his escape routes blocked. Desperately clinging to hope, MacGregor is determined to keep his Creator writing long enough to deliver him home. But will he be able to drive the story to its end before his Creator reaches theirs?
Madame Spots is lauded for setting up a free school in her village, but her seductive silk qipao and obvious wealth elicit deadly envy as well as admiration. The Phoenix Widow finds a jar of ingots but loses her precious son to wily and, ultimately, unwise kidnappers. Little Spoon stumbles into Running Cow Valley Village with two pails on her water pole and inadvertently becomes a hero to people parched of leadership. Feng Laicai, a diminutive farmer with a life of bad luck behind him, is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, thanks to a scholarly goat.
Set in the counties of the Western Plain, these bleak yet beautiful stories shed an incisive light on the extraordinary lives of colourful people. While closely observing the triumphs and tragedies of a cast of unforgettable characters, the ten stories that make up this important collection also bear witness to the evolution of rural China from the early days of the 20th century to the late 1980s, skillfully illustrating the often brutal battle between tradition and progress.
“Youth is a dream, a form of chemical madness.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s 1941, the last summer of American innocence, and eighteen-year-old Lillie Carrigan is desperate to love and be loved, to lose her virginity, to experience her life’s great, epic romance. Preoccupied with whiskey and cigarettes, sex and Catholic guilt, Lillie unknowingly sets in motion events leading to death and estrangement from her two best friends.
A decade on, Lillie is still haunted by the ghosts of that summer. Did she act solely out of youthful naivety and adolescent jealousy? Or perhaps there were darker forces at work: grief, guilt, sexual assault, and the double standards of her strict religious upbringing. Searching for patterns and meaning in the events of that year, and anxious to understand the person she has become, Lillie reflects on the darkness of her tarnished youth and confesses her sins.
A man does battle with a wolf, two sworn brothers lock horns – literally – as they drink and brag the night away, and an old man turns to his flame-bellied stove for comfort when facing a bitter winter alone.
These are just some of the fascinating folk who inhabit the magical stories of Hong Ke. Set in Xinjiang, the gateway between China and Middle Asia, The Howl of the Wolf paints a colourful picture of frontier life in all its earthy glory.
A ‘Recommended Anthology’ for National Poetry Day 2017
For this landmark anthology, Valley Press asked poets from the UK (and beyond) to consider our home county of Yorkshire. The resulting collection, edited by VP authors Miles Salter and Oz Hardwick, pays tribute to the traditions that have made Yorkshire a world-famous destination, but looks beyond ‘flat caps and whippets’ to celebrate a thoroughly modern county, whose inhabitants are as diverse as the rural and urban landscapes they call home.
A young couple wonder whether family life would be easier if they were cuttlefish. A father and daughter communicate through moths. A child embraces the power she has over creatures smaller than herself. A town finds itself at the mercy of a polar bear…
In her debut pamphlet, Charlotte Eichler explores human relationships through our ambivalent interactions with the natural world. Navigating many literal and metaphorical islands along the way, her poems form an archipelago of ideas, taking us on an unforgettable journey from the Hebrides to the Norse heavens.
Verse Matters harnesses the power of everyday stories, highlighting the strength and inspiration that comes from speaking out proudly in unsettled times. This anthology of poems and prose, edited by award-winning Sheffield-based writers Helen Mort and Rachel Bower, brings a diverse range of voices to the fore, from celebrated contemporary poets like Malika Booker, Liz Berry and Hollie McNish to first-time published writers from home and abroad. What brings them together is the extraordinary, ordinary tales they tell each other, and their determination to be heard.