Friday Poem — ‘Laika’, Claire Williamson

Tomorrow marks sixty years since the conclusion of the Sputnik 2 spacecraft mission that carried Laika, the first dog and living creature to orbit Earth, into space. In commemoration of the historic dog, who tragically did not survive the mission, our Friday poem this week is ‘Laika’ by Claire Williamson. 

Minotaur cover.pngThe tender, unexpectedly hopeful poem comes from Williamson’s upcoming collection Visiting the Minotaur, which will be published on April 30th but is available for pre-order on the Seren website. In the inventive and intensely felt collection, the poet must enter a labyrinth of her own complicated family history, a history beset with secrets and lies, in order to come to terms with her own identity.  Williamson borrows from myths, histories, careful observations of nature, of city life, in order to fashion her artful meditations on experience and mortality.

As Michel Faber writes of the work, ‘Claire Williamson’s poems are beguiling hybrids – self-assured yet emotionally raw, mysterious yet not precious, meditations of wonder and exorcisms of grief.’

LaikaPoem

Visiting the Minotaur is available for pre-order on the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

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Friday Poem – ‘The Hatching’, Rhian Edwards

Friday Poem The Hatching Rhian Edwards

Spring has just arrived and so our Friday Poem this week is ‘The Hatching’ by Rhian Edwards – a decidedly alternative portrait of new life.

Taken from Edwards’ multi award-winning debut, Clueless Dogs, ‘The Hatching’ places us in claustrophobic darkness to witness the faltering first steps of a baby bird. This sense of magnified reality prevails throughout the collection – Time Out Magazine hits the nail on the head by saying, ‘although her poems are accessible … and supremely crafted they are also inhabited by something far rarer, an unerring ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.’
Clueless Dogs is a brave and beautiful first book, full of verve and humour, with a winning honesty and intensity.

 

 

The Hatching Clueless Dogs Rhian Edwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clueless Dogs is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘Easter Sunday, Table Mountain’, Graham Mort

Easter Sunday Table Mountain Friday Poem Graham Mort

It’s Good Friday today and the start of the blissfully long Easter weekend. In celebration, our Friday Poem is ‘Easter Sunday, Table Mountain’ by Graham Mort, from Black Shiver Moss.

This transportive poem will sweep you – at all angles – through unfamiliar landscapes: whether high above Cape Town, the ‘broiling city’, or precariously gazing upwards at a rocky landscape on the cusp of falling.
Black Shiver Moss includes pieces about landscapes and peoples as distant as our featured poem’s South Africa, and as close as Europe. Mort’s talent for vivid descriptions and evocations renders each new destination intimate and familiar – here is a traveller who has taken his destinations to heart, reproducing their weathers and textures with a startling exactitude and intensity.

A note on the poem:

I wrote this poem after walking the old Pipe Track that curves around Table Mountain above Camps Bay, past the gullied buttresses of the Twelve Apostles. I’m working there again and it seems odd to be home for Easter in North Yorkshire, looking at snow on Ingleborough, which has always seemed a miniature of that other flat-topped mountain. When I wrote the poem I’d just visited a Saturday school in Philippi township, held in a church constructed of cardboard and corrugated iron, attended by a group of wonderfully enthusiastic children. I wondered about their futures in what is still an emergent democracy, in the lingering shadows of Apartheid. I’m not religious, but there’s a hint of George Herbert’s Easter Wings in the poem, a desire for equanimity in a part of the world where oceans, languages and cultures come together in a constant flux. I’m flying back out on Easter Monday into the worst drought for a hundred years, but also to another kind of thirst – the almost palpable longing for freedom, equality and restitution.

Graham Mort

 

Graham Mort Easter Sunday Table Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Shiver Moss is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

Friday Poem – ‘As we live’, Martyn Crucefix

Friday Poem As we live Martyn Crucefix

This week as our Friday Poem we have ‘As we live’ by Martyn Crucefix, from his latest collection, The Lovely Disciplines.

Martyn Crucefix The Lovely DisciplinesA second-hand book proves to be the window into another’s world in ‘As we live’, which picks apart a scrawled shopping list to conjure plans, insecurities, and possible futures.
The Lovely Disciplines is full of such ‘acutely astute observations’ (Mario Petrucci): Crucefix’s poems often begin with the visible, the tangible, the ordinary, yet through each act of attentiveness and the delicate fluidity of the language they re-discover the extraordinary in the everyday.

 

Friday Poem Martyn Crucefix As we live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lovely Disciplines is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

Recipe & Interview with Sarah Philpott – The Occasional Vegan Blog Hop

The Occasional Vegan blog hop KFC recipe

Today marks the beginning of The Occasional Vegan  blog hop – two weeks of recipes, giveaways, reviews and articles from some of the UK’s best foodie blogs. To kick things off we have an interview with author Sarah Philpott, and a free recipe – Kentucky Fried Cauliflower.

The Occasional Vegan Sarah Philpott

The Occasional Vegan, your new cookbook, has just been released and we couldn’t be happier. You describe in the introduction how you dived straight into veganism, giving up meat and dairy cold turkey after making the decision that you wanted to eat more ethically. What was the hardest part about changing your diet so radically and so quickly?

Well, it was a bit of a shock to the system and it took my body a little while to adapt so I was quite tired and hungry at first. That didn’t last for long though, and as my taste buds changed, I soon realised that there was so much food for me to eat. It’s easier now than ever because there are so many vegan alternatives out there and plenty of biscuits, cakes, and even cheeses, to enjoy.

Would you recommend the same approach to others who are considering the vegan diet? And which resources would you recommend, to help with the transition?

Everybody is different and it’s important to do what feels right for you, your body and your lifestyle. If you want to try eating vegan, you can introduce new things gently and gradually, perhaps buying almond milk for your cereal or making a spaghetti bolognese with lentils instead of minced beef. There’s plenty of support out there and we’re a friendly bunch in the vegan community – we don’t preach, we teach! Veganuary is a great resource and there are plenty of great vegan cookery books and blogs out there – some of my favourites are Avant Garde Vegan, Anna Jones and Aine Carlin – and Instagram is full of inspiration, too.

Criticism of veganism often leans towards comments about ‘rabbit food’, kale, and boring salads. What do you have to say to people who think vegan food lacks variety and flavour?

It’s such a myth that vegans don’t like food! Of course, vegans can eat salad all the time, but most of us don’t! And if your salads are boring, you’re not making them right. Cooking as a vegan forces you to be more creative and to play around with different flavours and textures. What’s not to love about that?

What do you cook for your non-vegan friends and family? Do you have a go-to dinner party menu that has proven to be a hit?

Luckily, most of my friends and family don’t mind that I cook without meat and my boyfriend is a vegetarian so that makes things a lot easier. I tend to cook hearty but healthy meals like spaghetti bolognese, chilli, and warming stews and casseroles. My salads always go down well; I like to experiment with different flavours, and beetroot, orange and fennel is a current favourite combination. I also make a mean chocolate mousse.

All of us have times when we fancy eating something naughty – perhaps late at night, or maybe even the next morning. What’s your favourite go-to greasy food?

I don’t think that any food is ‘naughty’, because enjoying a bit of what you fancy is an important part of balanced eating. If I fancy something a bit greasy I’ll sometimes have chips or I’ll make a toasted sandwich with vegan cheese, and if I want a real treat I’ll make KFC – that’s Kentucky fried cauliflower! – which tastes amazing and is surprisingly easy to make. My favourite breakfast is avocado on toast with peanut butter and Marmite because it’s sweet and salty and a good source of protein and healthy fats – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

There are masses more vegans now than there have ever been before. Do you think the popularity of plant-based diets will lead to real social, ecological and agricultural change? What would you like to see happen?

I’d like to see more people embrace the idea of veganism, even if they decide not to eat that way all the time. Every little helps and reducing our consumption of animal products can make a real difference. People are a lot more aware of the impact that agriculture has on the environment and the cruelty that animals suffer and I think they want to change that.

And finally, what do you most hope people will get out of your book? 

I hope people will try the recipes and discover that being vegan can be just as delicious – if not more so – as any other way of eating. Giving up meat doesn’t mean that you have to miss out!  

Thank you Sarah for giving us some insight into your vegan experience. And now for a little vegan comfort food…

Kentucky Fried Cauliflower (KFC) with sweet potato fries

KFC vegan

Delicious, cruelty-free and surprisingly easy to make, thisKentucky Fried Cauliflower uses most of the ‘secret’ spices in KFC’s blend. By grounding the flaxseed, you create an egg-like binder which makes the spicy coating stick to the cauliflower. There’s no other way to say this: these are delicious. Seriously good and definitely worth the mess.

Ingredients

–1 large head of cauliflower, cut into largish pieces
– 200ml vegetable oil, or more depending on how shallow your pan is

For the dry coating
– 3 tsp salt
– ½ tsp dried thyme
– ½ tsp dried basil
– ½ tsp dried oregano
– 2 tsp black pepper
– 2 tsp sweet paprika
– 2 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 2 tsp brown sugar
– 150g plain flour

For the wet coating
– 2 tbsp ground flaxseed (or linseed) or chia seeds
– 3 tbsp hot sauce
– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
– 1 tbsp maple syrup
– 70ml water

For the sweet potato fries
– 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– ½ tsp dried rosemary or thyme
– 1-2 tbsp plain flour or cornflour
– Salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 200C. Make the chips by popping everything into a freezer bag and shaking it so that the potato fries are coated. Place them onto greaseproof paper on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the wet coating for your cauliflower. Put the seeds into a food processor or grind in a pestle and mortar. Add to a bowl and mix together with the other ingredients. Stir well and give it a few minutes to thicken.

Make your dry coating. In a large bowl, mix the flour with all the spices, sugar and salt and pepper.

Pour the vegetable oil into a large pan (make sure it’s about 2-3cm high so that the cauliflower pieces are fully submerged when you dip them in) and place on a high heat. Make sure that it doesn’t get too hot – it shouldn’t bubble or splatter.

Now comes the messy bit. Take a cauliflower piece and dip it into the wet coating, making sure to cover both sides. Dip into the flour coating, again covering both sides. Now, repeat the process: roll in the wet coating and then again in the flour mixture.

Using tongs, take the cauliflower and submerge in the oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown and crispy. Place on a plate with some kitchen roll to absorb some of the oil. Repeat with all the pieces (you may need to top up the oil), then serve with the sweet potato fries.

 

The Occasional Vegan is available from all good bookshops, and also the Seren website (£12.99).

Follow the rest of the blog hop, which features 13 fabulous food bloggers – tomorrow, there will be a giveaway and guest post from Sarah on the For the Love of Hygge blog.

 

Friday Poem – ‘Why islanders don’t kiss hello’, Siobhán Campbell

Friday Poem Why islanders don't kiss hello Siobhan Campbell

Tomorrow many of you will be celebrating Ireland’s foremost patron saint, and so today we feature Irish poet Siobhán Campbell’s witty rumination on cultural customs, ‘Why islanders don’t kiss hello’.

Heat Signature Siobhan CampbellTaken from Campbell’s most recent collection, Heat Signature, ‘Why islanders don’t hiss hello’ is not simply a humorous piece about the awkward and personal nature of the continental cheek-kiss, but also – as with much of Campbell’s poetry – a wry commentary on the political: ‘Perhaps we are not fully of the Europe…’
Heat Signature is Siobhán’s sixth collection, and its complex style is entirely characteristic of the poet’s spikey voice: infused with an intelligence that resists easy answers to the conundrums that have faced her Irish homeland, but also suffused with a grudging admiration for the citizens who have survived their tumultuous history.

 

Siobhan Campbell Why islanders don't kiss hello

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat Signature is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

 

The Occasional Vegan – Blog Hop

The Occasional Vegan blog hop

Today marks the official release of Sarah Philpott’s The Occasional Vegan and to celebrate we are hosting a blog hop – two weeks of content from some of the UK’s best foodie blogs.

The Occasional Vegan blog hop

 

What is a blog hop?  A blog hop is when group of bloggers all join up to write about or engage with a certain theme. Our theme is delicious vegan food – specifically the food you’ll find inside Sarah’s stunning new book, The Occasional Vegan.

From March 21 – 05 April, a selection of brilliant bloggers will be sharing recipes, giveaways, reviews and articles about The Occasional Vegan. Get a sneak peek inside the book and find out what experienced bloggers think of it by following along – each blogger will be publishing something new and different.

We will kick things off on the Seren blog with an author interview, recipe and video on March 21, and from there on a different blogger will take the reins each day.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

21 March   Seren – vegan KFC recipe & author interview
22 March   For the Love of Hygge – Finding balance through veganism & free recipe
23 March   Eat Happy Wales – review & giveaway
24 March   Definitely Vegan – recipe & review
26 March   Hungry City Hippy – book giveaway
27 March   Freelancer’s Cookbook – ‘God’s Butter’ recipe
28 March   The Flexitarian – review
29 March   Sareta’s Kitchen – review
30 March   Little Nibble – ‘the parental test’ recipe review
01 April      Wrapped in Newspaper – Meatless Moussaka & book giveaway
02 April     Win Friends with Salad – book & recipe review
03 April     The Rare Welsh Bit
04 April     ScandiNathan
05 April     Vegan Burd

 

We hope you enjoy this whistle-stop tour of vegan ideas and inspiration – whether you’re new to plant-based meals or otherwise.

 

Attend The Occasional Vegan book launch party!

Sarah Philpott The Occasional VeganReserve your free tickets for the book launch, which will be taking place at the Cardiff Story Museum on Wednesday 04 April:
https://occasional-vegan.eventbrite.co.uk

You will have the chance to enjoy tasters of food from the book, and also to hear about Sarah’s vegan journey and the inspiration behind her delicious recipes. Sarah will also be available to sign copies of the book.

Families & children welcome.

Please book your free ticket to guarantee your place.

 

 

Short Story of the Month | ‘Beginning Again’, Candy Neubert

Short Story Beginning Again Candy Neubert

Our Short Story of the Month for March is ‘Beginning Again’ by Candy Neubert.

Cornish Short Stories

The story will shortly be published in Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing (The History Press).

Candy Neubert lives in Cornwall but maintains strong ties with South Africa where she lived from 1990–1996. She has received numerous literary awards, including the Bridport Prize. She is the author of Foreign Bodies (Seren, 2009) and Big Low Tide (Seren, 2012).

 

Beginning Again

This is an extract. Read the full short story for free on our website.

 

She was coming straight up the beach towards him.
Through half-closed eyes, his head propped up against his rucksack, he watched her come. In silhouette at first, the kind of shape you just knew wasn’t English, couldn’t be English, but you couldn’t say why. Hair plastered back slick and wet off her face.
She came right up and stood over him, flicking water over his hot skin. Hey, he laughed. She lifted her towel, shaking it out like a sheet over a bed, lying down with a grunt.
He felt the cool coming from her, saw tiny droplets drying on her neck—Sonya, his mate, his life’s woman.
“Mm … now I’m hungry,” she said, not opening her eyes. He was, too. He sat up slowly, sun dizzy, and reached into the rucksack. Here it was, the container she always filled to the brim—he raised a corner of the lid and out came the smell of food, olives and onion and … just then he woke up, as the small figure of the boy crossed his line of vision, still quite far off, heading his way.

        The path went straight up from Porthcurno and he took it two steps at a time. Not really steps but boulders and cliff straight up from the car park, just the way to get going on a cool morning. They’d soon be warm and the mist would clear; it was only a sea mist. He positively sprang all the way, pretty fit for a business man, an office chap.

        When the path levelled out, he waited for Daniel. It was an inviting path, gorse on either side, beaten earth sprinkled with rabbit droppings, gulls laughing overhead. But he kept still and waited patiently. He was so effing patient. But Daniel wasn’t in sight.

        Finally.

        If shoulders could talk.

        If shoulders could talk, the rucksack on Daniel’s back would shrivel up and die. As if towels were heavy. Bulky, yes, but not heavy. He should try the picnic, if he wanted heavy.

        Also, Fuller had the surfboard, which was fair enough; his arms were longer. But Daniel was young and strong. They did sports training at school, didn’t they?

        The boy climbed the last bit and came to a halt five yards away, his eyes fixed on his shoes.

        Patience, mind. Fuller held his tongue and set off again. A fresh scent came from the pink flowers in the grass under the gorse, while the mist ripped back off the cliffs before his eyes—what luck, when it might have come in thick and spoiled everything.

        They did sports training and next year Mandarin, of all things. He asked Daniel about it yesterday, about the new school. The boy made a face, sticking his tongue over his front teeth. They’re all tossers, he said. He’d wanted to go to a school in Devon where they taught tractor driving.

        But they were going to have a day today, a great day. They were here, damn it. The sun was coming out and everything was sorted.

        A kestrel rose and hung in the air, over to the right. Fuller put his fingers in his mouth and whistled, and the boy raised his head.

        ‘What?’ he yelled.

        ‘Kestrel!’

        ‘Uh.’

        Now, five hundred yards ahead, a gate—it had to be the right place, the path veering off towards the cliff edge, dipping at the end, there! He stood, breathing hard. Sheer drop on one side and at his feet, far down, two perfect golden discs of sand divided by a bar of pale green water, just like the photo in the brochure. He’d found it. His chest was big and warm and happy. Daniel came up behind him.

        ‘There it is—great, eh? Looks like the Caribbean. And the sun’s out. Got all my cards in one shoe, boy.’

        ‘What?’

        ‘Y’know—got everything I want, all in one place.’

        ‘Whatever.’

        He was twelve.

        ‘Go careful now. Very careful. Watch it.’

        They did have to be careful; it was a real rabbit path, hard on the knees. Fuller couldn’t be sure that this sluggish figure was truly his son; maybe he’d dart ahead the way he always had. He put out a warning arm. Sheer drop. Careful.

        The body board was a nuisance. Glancing at the sand below, he saw people down there already. Damn. Not to worry, live and let live, hey.

        ‘I’ll let the board drop,’ he called. Please let it not break, he said to himself as it slithered from his hand, pivoted on one edge and shot out of sight. Fuller turned around to take the last slope of rock backwards.

        ‘Turn around,’ he called up.

        The boy would figure it out. Let him find out for himself, let him learn from something a bit tough.

        All the nooks and crannies and shady spots were taken. Fuller walked the whole beach and back to where the boy had stopped, his bag dumped on the sand. Every cleft and shadow already occupied. A middle-aged couple were sauntering from one of these nooks, and something about them had the boy transfixed. Fuller looked. Not a stitch. Starkers. Perfect mahogany tans all over, their buttocks going concave as they walked, the brown flesh in shallow folds. The man had a hat on.

        ‘Well, what is the world coming to?’

        ‘Where are we going?’ asked Daniel.

        ‘Here’s as good as anywhere, I guess.’

        Fuller began to unpack the stuff. He was sure he’d brought everything: shorts, food, sun lotion, you name it, he’d got it. He flipped a ball in the boy’s direction, and it rolled a way off.

        ‘Bring your water bottle?’

        Daniel looked at him.

        ‘You didn’t, did you? You forgot, didn’t you? Didn’t I say: bring your water bottle?’

        ‘Well I didn’t, did I?’

        ‘We’ll be short. Good job I brought mine, but we’ll be short.’

        ‘What you doing?’

        ‘Getting the towels out.’

        ‘That’s my bag.’

        ‘I’m getting the towels out of your bag, okay? Please Daniel, may I get the towels out?’

        No reply. The boy sat down, yanked his cap further over his eyes, and looked at the sea. Fuller pulled his own shirt off and wrapped a towel tight around his waist. Still warm and happy; that sea was calling.

        ‘Coming?’

        He and his son, racing down the sand.

        ‘Coming?’

Continue reading ‘Beginning Again’ for free here.

 

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘March Morning, Pearson Park’, Carol Rumens

Friday Poem March Morning Pearson Park Carol Rumens

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘March Morning, Pearson Park’ by Carol Rumens, from her latest collection, Animal People.

Animal People Carol RumensThe setting for this poem is Hull’s Pearson Park, which was established on land that was given to the people by Zachariah Pearson in 1862 – hence the park’s original name of ‘People’s Park’. At this time, the lack of public spaces for working classes to enjoy and exercise in was a public cause, and approximately 30,000 visitors came to watch the park’s grand unveiling.
The poems of Animal People are frequently inspired by places, either wild landscapes as in ‘Fire, Stone, Snowdonia’ or the urban scenes of our featured poem. Often, a setting will be a pretext for a theme that has a political, sociological, aesthetic, philosophical or even metaphysical focus.

 

Carol Rumens March Morning Pearson Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dedication is to the Hull poet Maurice Rutherford, born in the same year as Philip Larkin, and still writing. Find out more on his website: www.mauricerutherford.com

 

Animal People is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Read Women: International Women’s Day 2018

Read Women International Women's Day

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day – a day of recognition for women’s achievements, and also a time to acknowledge and challenge the gender inequality still present in society.

We are also just days away from Mother’s Day, and whilst fluffy books about romance and cooking usually dominate consumers’ gift choices, we say: why not give mum, and yourself, something important instead?

Until Monday, these two significant anthologies are 50% off – and we will also upgrade postage to First Class at no extra charge (why wait longer to enjoy these books than you absolutely have to?)

Read Women International Women's Day

Writing Motherhooded. Carolyn Jess-Cooke
RRP £12.99 £6.49
The perfect literary gift, Writing Motherhood explores the relationship between creativity and motherhood, and queries the persistent societal obsession over whether women ‘can do both’. With contributions from writers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Sharon Olds and Hollie McNish.

‘This is a truly inspiring collection, all the more so for its wit and its grit, its poetry and its honesty; here we have women producing ‘good art’ despite – and often  because of – ‘the pram in the hall.’ – Shelley Day

Women’s Work, ed. Amy Wack & Eva Salzman
RRP £14.99 £7.49
Some may ask: is the literary establishment still as dominated by men as it once was? Who gets to decide the canon? Eva Salzman opens Women’s Work with a lively polemic, making the case for the women-only anthology with characteristic wit and flair. With over 250 contributors, this generous selection of poetry by women features poets from the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

Celebrating Seren’s women writers

The list of women writers Seren has published is a long one – and we would like to take a moment to send out our love and thanks to every talented one who has graced our list – and those we look forward to publishing in future.

International Women's Day 2018