Spotlight Poet #55 is the brilliant Helen Allison. Helen is from Forres in Morayshire, North East Scotland. Her poetry is rooted in the dark and light of the natural world and relationships, and her work has appeared in journals and online. The poems in her first collection ‘Tree standing small’ (Clochoderick Press, 2018) explore her family tree, grief and longing, tangled with the beauty and brutality of the natural world. Frequent swearer, tea drinker, walker, swimmer, art trier and important of all mum to two teens, she is working on a new sequence of poems.
Pamphlets and Collections: Tree standing small, Clochoderick Press, - available directly from Helen: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Spotlight Poet #53 is the brilliant Maia Elsner. Maia was born in London to Mexican and Polish Jewish parents, with three refugee grandparents. Much of her work thinks about exile in relation to the dislocation of objects and languages, as well as people. She is interested in silences and fragmentation in relation to memory, as a form of alternate history in contexts where so much has been destroyed, and how we resist established narratives, forms and structures. Overall, her subject is the search for intimacy, hope and survive in a violent world. She hopes one day to write about joy.
Spotlight Poet #52 is the incomparable Aaron Kent. Aaron is a working-class publisher and poet from Cornwall, now living in Wales. He has been awarded the Awen medal and won the Michael Marks Publishing award 2020. Aaron has had several pamphlets released, and his debut collection, Angels the size of Houses, is released at the end of July by shearsman. Gillian Clarke has called his poetry 'word-music', JH Prynne has called it 'unicorn flavoured'.
Spotlight Poet #51 is the talented Kali Richmond. Kali is a lapsed video artist living in the north of England. Her poetry has featured in various publications, including Gutter, The Babel Tower, Green Ink Poetry, Coven, Jaden Magazine, Osmosis and Porridge. In 2020 she won both the Reflex Press and Lucent Dreaming flash fiction competitions.
Spotlight Poet #49 is the excellent Rick Dove.Rick is a progressive poet, storyteller and activist whose work extends across page and stage, blending styles, both old and new, to examine societal and personal change and these forces interact as we grow. A regular performer on the London poetry scene since late 2015, Rick has been published in numerous poetry zines, the national press, was highly commended at the BBC Edinburgh Poetry Slam in 2018, The Hammer & Tongue London Slam Champion in 2019, and the UK Slam Silver Medallist in 2019.
Spotlight Poet #48 is the fabulous Olga Dermott-Bond. Olga is originally from Northern Ireland. She studied English at the University of St Andrews and is an assistant head teacher at a secondary school in Warwickshire. She has always loved reading and writing poetry, and over the past five years has been dedicating more time to her writing. She has two daughters, and motherhood has shaped and influenced many aspects of her work. Memory, social and political history and female identity spark her interest as a writer and are prevalent themes in her work.
Spotlight Poet #46 is the excellent Bryony Littlefair. Bryony is a poet, community worker and workshop facilitator living in London. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, most recently Poetry Ireland, Magma and Poetry Wales. Her pamphlet Giraffe won the Mslexia prize in 2017. She was shortlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation prize in 2018 and 2020 and in 2019 received the Moth Retreat Bursary Award. Her first collection Escape Room will be released with Seren in 2022 and is funded by Arts Council England. bryonylittlefair.wordpress.com
‘the sky darkening from light to heavy grey
And why shouldn’t I be happy, and why shouldn’t we argue –‘
Spotlight Poet #45 is the fabulous Michael Conley. Michael is a writer and teacher from Manchester. His poetry has appeared in Rialto, Magma, Interpreters House, Butcher’s Dog, Strix, among other magazines. His first pamphlet, ‘Aquarium’ was published by Flarestack. He also writes short stories and flash fiction, and his prose collection, ‘Flare And Falter’, was published by Splice and longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize.
Spotlight Poet #44 is the excellent Jake Wild Hall. Jake is one half of Bad Betty Press, the host of Boomerang Club and winner of the PBH 2016 Spirit Of The Free Fringe Award. He has performed on BBC Radio and at festivals and literary events across the UK, including touring his debut pamphlet Solomon’s World—longlisted for Best Pamphlet in the 2018 Saboteur Awards. He co-edited anthologies The Dizziness of Freedom and Alter Egos (Bad Betty Press, 2018 and 2019). He is a multiple slam champion and his work has been published in magazines and anthologies including Hit Points (Broken Sleep Books). His second pamphlet Blank is out with Bad Betty now.
Spotlight Poet #43 is the brilliant Gill McEvoy. Gill won Keele University’s Inaugural Poetry Prize, 2007, and Havant Literature Festival 2009. Best of all was winning the 2015 Michael Marks Award for “The First Telling” (Happenstance Press) It gave her a 2 week residency in Greece at the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies, Nafplion, just wonderful!! Hawthornden Fellow (2012).
Pamphlet title: from Happenstance Press: Uncertain Days, 2006; A Sampler, 2008; The First Telling, 2014. Collections. From Cinnamon Press: The Plucking Shed, 2010; Rise. 2013. Hedgehog press: Are You Listening? 2020. Also one of 6 featured poets in Caboodle, Prole books, 2015.
My greatest achievement in life is that, because I have always loved wild-flowers and trees I was passionate about learning their names as a child, and I’m pleased to say I can still name most of them even when they’re not in flower. I learned to Look, really look, and I treasure that. I’m not sure if that counts as an ‘interesting fact’ but as I haven’t gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel it will have to do!
Spotlight Poet #38 is the excellent Amara Amaryah. Amara is a poet and travel writer of Jamaican descent, born in London. Her writing is interested in generational traditions, voice, spirit and black womanhood. She has been longlisted for the Women Poets’ Prize (2020) and her poetry can be found published in Under the Radar magazine, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, the Hippodrome Young Poet’s anthology and translated in the Colombian publication Arcadia. Amara has performed her poetry both nationally and internationally. The Opposite of an Exodus is her debut pamphlet.
Spotlight Poet #37 is the brilliant Stuart McPherson. Stuart is a poet from Leicester in the United Kingdom. His work has appeared in online journals and anthologies, including Beir Bua Journal, After the Pause and Selcouth Station. His debut pamphlet ‘Water Bearer’ will be published in December 2021 by Broken Sleep Books. His work tends to explore the impact of family dysfunction and trauma upon ‘norms’ of masculinity and encourages a more open dialogue and openness around this challenging subject. He has also been known to write the odd cat poem from time to time.
Spotlight Poet #36 is the irrepressible Anna Saunders. Anna has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North, ‘a modern myth maker’ by Paul Stephenson, and Tears in the Fence said of her ‘Anna Saunders’ poetry is reminiscent of Plath – with all its alpha achievement and radiance’. The author of six collections, Anna’s new book is Feverfew. (Indigo Dreams 2021). The collection has been described as ‘rich with obsession, sensuousness and potency’ by Ben Ray, and ‘a beautiful and necessary collection’ by Penny Shuttle. She is also the Executive Director of Cheltenham Poetry Festival and works as a creative writing tutor and mentor, communications specialist, journalist, broadcaster and copywriter/editor.
Spotlight Poet #32 is the brilliant Sue Finch. Sue was born in Kent and now lives with her wife in North Wales. She likes all kinds of coasts, peculiar things and the scent of ice-cream freezers. Her first collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, was published in Autumn 2020 with Black Eyes Publishing UK. Georgi Gill describes Sue’s work as having “the ability to beguile and shock”. Helen Ivory says Sue’s poems are “tender and straight talking yet can catch you off-guard with their slanted pathways” and Anna Saunders comments on Sue’s “fiercely original vision of the world”.
Collections/pamphlets titles: A Poultry Lover’s Guide to Poetry (Indigo Dreams 2015)
Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.
Spotlight Poet #27 is the enigmatic Simon Maddrell.Simon Maddrell was born in the Isle of Man in 1965, brought up in Bolton, lived in London for twenty years and then moved to Brighton & Hove in Feb. 2020.Simon writes through the lens of a queer Manx man, thriving with HIV.In 2020, Simon was first runner-up in the Frogmore Poetry Prize. His debut chapbook, Throatbone (UnCollected Press) was longlisted for the Poetry Book Awards. Simon also appeared in The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2019 (Black Mountain Press).Queerfella was Joint Winner in The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition, 2020 and will be published in December.
Collections/pamphlets titles: Throatbone (UnCollected Press, July 2020); Queerfella (The Rialto, Dec. 2020)
Spotlight Poet #25 is the excellent Julie Stevens. Julie has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and used to be a teacher and successful athlete. Her poems tend to reflect the impact MS has on her life, as well as other topics close to her heart. She writes for both adults and children. Her poems have been published in various magazines, most recently The Honest Ulsterman, Dodging the Rain and Dreich. Her debut chapbook, Quicksand, came second in the Dreich Chapbook Competition 2020 and was subsequetly published. Her poem 'If I Can’t' was a winning poem in Bespoke Verse’s poetry competition in association with National Poetry Day 2019. www.jumpingjulespoetry.com
Hometown: Kingston upon Thames
Pamphlet: A Dovetail of Breath
What are you currently working on? I’m developing a couple of new pamphlets, which
might come together as a collection or might stand alone - it’s all quite fluid at the moment.
Spotlight Poet #22 is the fantastic Arun Jeetoo. Arun is a poet and educator from Enfield, North London. He is a wanderer and a compassionate soul, known for his dirty realism style, provocative imagery, and dark humour. His work appears in The London Reader and LUMIN Journal amongst numerous print and online magazines across the world. His poetry received second place in the John Hopkins Prize (2016) and was shortlisted for the Erbacce Prize (2020). His debut pamphlet I Want to Be the One You Think About at Night published from Waterloo Press is on sale right now. He tweets @G2poetry and Instagrams @g2poetry.
Name: Briony Hughes
Hometown: Ipplepen, Devon
Collections/pamphlets titles: Dorothy (Broken Sleep Books), Microsporidial (Sampson Low)
What are you currently working on?
I am currently developing a series of object poems which address the 1940s and 50s testing of nuclear weaponry at the Bikini Atoll, alongside the design of the bikini swimsuit, and the 2015 development of a ‘pollution absorbing’ bikini. Within the poem, found language linkingto each of these moments is in freefall, suspended in water and subject to chance encounters, collisions, disruptions, and reverberations.
Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your work and why?
It would be criminal to not mention Redell Olsen in response to this question. Dell led the lectures in the ‘Introduction to Poetry’ course during the first year of my BA. Fast-forward four years and Dell led my MA in Poetic Practice and is now my current doctoral supervisor. She has been such a wonderful and generous mentor, teacher, and friend, and has helped me to develop my writing and creative practice in so many unexpected ways. Check out some of her collections! Film Poems (Les Figues), Punk Faun: A Bar Rock Pastel (Sub Press).
If you could take one collection with you to a desert island, what would it be?
Juliana Spahr’s Well Then There Now (Black Sparrow)
What advice would you give to your young poetself?
Ignore the rules. Tear the rules down, open yourself up to different possibilities and don’t be afraid to experiment (in every sense of the word). Find the small presses. Find the indie presses. Engage with presses which champion all voices. Write and find a community and write some more. Throw rhyme out of the window and do something different. Language is fun.
Spotlight Poet #20 is the excellent Clint Wastling. Clint’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies like Blue Nib, Dream Catcher, Orbis and Dreich. His novel, The Geology of Desire, is an LGBTQ thriller set around Whitby in the 1980’s and Hull during World War II. He also has a sci-fi novel: Tyrants Rex set 3000 years in the future, both are published by Stairwell Books. Clint has worked with composers as part of Leeds Lieder Festival and toured his one man show, The Poet as a Geologist.
What are you currently working on? I’m working on a series of poems charting the River Hull from its source to meeting the Humber at the city of Hull. My family farmed in the area for many generations, so it’s not just about landscape. There’s also the edits on the next draft of my novel Stalin’s Bear to do and a publisher to find!
Spotlight Poet #16 is the fabulous Richy Campbell. Richy is a writer based in Manchester. With language, he wishes to capture noticeable detail, dream-like apparitions and the idiosyncrasies of human beings. He has performed his work at the Poetry Cafe in London, the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and Huddersfield Literature Festival. In January 2020, his first collection of poetry, Lovely Peripheries, was published by Live Canon. In addition to his own literary pursuits, he co-edits Sideways poetry magazine. He exists digitally on Twitter (@richyacampbell) and Instagram (@lovelyperipheries).
Spotlight Poet #15 is the brillant Liam Bates. Liam is a poet originally from the Black Country, currently living in Birmingham. He’s been published in some places and not published in most places.
Collection/ pamphlet’s title: Circling the Sun (2018), Memory Forest (2019)
What are you currently working on? Promoting my debut full collection, Venus in Pink Marble, due for release from the Hedgehog Poetry Press 8th September 2020. As I have a 9 to 5 job, I have limited time and I can’t always find the time to write. I would love to say I was working on my next collection, but alas…
Spotlight Poet #13 is the amazing Sunita Thind. Sunita is a British, Punjabi published poet with two published collections of multicultural poetry. She is a performance poet as well as Secondary English, History and Primary school teacher and workshop facilitator. She uses her poetry as a medium to voice important issues that woman have to deal with, such as mental health, equality, cultural and social injustice, racism as well as achievements. She has suffered from depression, PTSD, GAD, anxiety and paranoia throughout my life as well as having Ovarian Cancer twice. She is a BAME, female, Punjabi, Malaysian, British writer, qualified Make Up Artist and model and writer. She is also an advocate for Ovarian Cancer and have fundraised or charities and completed charity fashion shows and she has been covered by BBC East Midlands, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Asian Network, Mirror, The Daily Express, Eastern Eye Magazine, Huffington Post and Macmillian Cancer Support as a media volunteer.
Pamphlet’s title: The Barging Buddhi And Other Poems (Black Pear Press) The Coconut Girl (Wild Pressed Books - Upcoming in November)
Spotlight Poet #12 is the tidal wave of brilliance that is Serge ♆ Neptune.Serge ♆ Neptune has been called ‘the little merman of British poetry’. His first pamphlet is 'These Queer Merboys' published with Broken Sleep. His work has appeared in Lighthouse, Banshee, Brittle Star and elsewhere. He is the creator and host of poetry broadcast 'Neptune's Glitter House for WayWard Poets'.
Spotlight Poet #8 is the brilliant James Roome. James is a poet and English teacher from Manchester, UK. His first pamphlet, Bull, was published in April 2019 by The Red Ceilings Press. Recent work has appeared in Tears in the Fence, Anthropocene and Iamb.