National Poetry Day 2018: poem videos & events

National Poetry Day poems

We’re in the habit of celebrating poetry all throughout the year but to our delight, it’s National Poetry Day today – and that means there are loads of excellent events taking place, and creativity bursting out of every corner.

The good people behind the National Poetry Day campaign have recommended 36 amazing books for people of all ages to enjoy – and we’re thrilled to say that Seren poets Claire Williamson and Paul Deaton both feature on the list. As a treat today, we’ve filmed Claire and Paul reading a poem from their collections.

Claire Williamson, ‘My brother and mother as horses’

Visiting the Minotaur Claire Williamson

‘My Brother and Mother as Horses’ is taken from Visiting the Minotaur, published earlier this year.

In Visiting the Minotaur, 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.  She borrows from myths, histories, careful observations of nature, of city life, fashioning her artful meditations on experience and mortality.

Paul Deaton, ‘That Bang’

Paul Deaton A Watchful Astronomy‘That Bang’ was Highly Commended by the Forward Prize judges and features in the Forward Book of Poetry 2019. The poem is taken from Paul’s debut, A Watchful Astronomy.

A Watchful Astronomy is full of poems that are artfully formal, quietly precise, yet full of powerful emotion. A father ‘like a wounded bear’ haunts much of this book, yet nature is a guiding presence and the poet’s gaze turns often to the skies: to wildlife, the weathers and the stars, in powerful reflective pieces.

 

National Poetry Day events: what’s on?
There are over 100 events happening all over the UK today, so why not have a browse of the National Poetry Day events map and see what’s happening near you?

National Poetry Day events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local to Cardiff? Come along to October’s First Thursday event tonight which (as luck would have it) coincides with the National Poetry Day celebrations. Poet Marianne Burton and novelist David Llewellyn will read from their new books, guest poets Chad Norman and Emily Blewitt will treat us to a couple of poems, and then everyone will be invited to share a poem or piece of prose in the open mic.

Another Seren poet will also be hosting a National Poetry Day celebration – join Carrie Etter in the Chichester library for an evening event with wine, live music and open mic poetry.

 

Wherever you find yourself today, and whatever you decide to do with your time, we hope you feel inspired and enriched by poetry, new and old. Happy National Poetry Day.

dead poets society poetry GIF

 

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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.

 

 

Seren/Cornerstone Festival recap – the best bits of our poetry weekend

Seren poetry festival recap

This weekend we co-hosted Cardiff’s first weekend-long poetry festival in the beautiful Cornerstone building, and were thrilled to see so many people enjoying the programme of events.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors: Tidal Lagoon Power, the Rhys Davies Trust, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff. Thanks are also due for all at Cornerstone, who hosted us in their beautiful venue, to our official festival photographer David Hurn, and to the talented line-up of artists and authors who took part: Jonathan Edwards, Paul Henry, Brian Briggs, Philip Gross, Cyril Jones, Damian Walford Davies, Rhian Edwards, Gillian Clarke, Gwyneth Lewis, Richard Gwyn, Clare E. Potter, Susie Wild, Emily Blewitt, Katherine Stansfield, Stephen Payne, David Foster-Morgan, The Spoke, Little Rêd, Robert Minhinnick.

The mix of events combined spectacular poetry readings, beautiful music and thought-provoking film. Take a look at the slideshow below, where we have brought together photographs taken by the wonderful David Hurn, by Cornerstone photographer Chas Breton and by Seren’s Marketing Officer Rosie Johns.

 

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What about next year, we hear you ask? Will the festival return? Well, we’re pleased to say that we are already thinking about it…

 

 

 

Opening Night at the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival

Seren/Cornerstone poetry festival Cardiff

Good morning poetry lovers! Today’s the day we launch our inaugural poetry festival in the beautiful Cornerstone building on Charles Street, Cardiff.

So what can you look forward to, and how can you get tickets? All the important information is below…

Cornerstone Seren poetry festival
Festival venue: The Cornerstone building, Charles Street, Cardiff, CF10 2GA


Jonathan Edwards poet7:00pm: Jonathan Edwards, Welcome Buffet
Jonathan Edwards will open the festival with the Welcome Buffet event – listen to readings from Edwards’ Costa Prize-winning collection My Family and Other Superheroes plus new material while you enjoy a selection of food from the on-site Pantry Café.
£7 – For tickets contact Lucy King: 07445 816617
(booking recommended)

 

The Glass Aisle Paul Henry Brian Briggs8:30pm: ‘The Glass Aisle’: Paul Henry & Brian Briggs
Poet Paul Henry and singer/songwriter Brian Briggs perform their remarkable poetry & music collaboration at 8:30pm, with songs inspired by a stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal. This event also launches Henry’s book of the same name.
£10 – For tickets contact Lucy King: 07445 816617
(booking recommended)

 

The full festival brochure, with details of all the weekend’s events, is available to view & download on the festival website: http://rcadc.org/seren-poetry-2018/

Online ticketing has now ended but tickets can still be pre-booked over the phone. Contact Lucy King: 07445 816617

Tickets will also be available to buy on the door, but to guarantee your place pre-booking is advised (in particular for the food events)

 

Friday Poem – ‘Two men’, David Foster-Morgan

Friday Poem Two men David Foster-Morgan

This week our Friday Poem is David Foster-Morgan’s ‘Two men’, from his debut collection, Masculine Happiness.

Masculine happinessDavid is one of five fabulous poets taking part in the New Poets Showcase event, Saturday 17 February, 11:00am. Listen to him read alongside Emily Blewitt, Susie Wild, Katherine Stansfield and Stephen Payne – tickets available here (£5.00). The event is part of our inaugural Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival.

Masculine Happiness is a provocative yet subtle collection which explores the author’s ambivalence towards models of masculinity handed out to us by the media and modern society. There is also a considerable amount of humour here, along with astute satire and insightful character poems. Foster-Morgan’s work repays the careful attention of thoughtful readers.

 

David Foster-Morgan Two men

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masculine Happiness is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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

 

Friday Poem – ‘Reeling in the River’, Philip Gross

Our Friday Poem this week is Philip Gross’ ‘Reeling in the River’ from A Fold in the River, his collaborative work with artist Valerie Coffin Price.

Philip Gross once lived on the banks of the River Taff at Quakers Yard and his journals are the source for the powerful poems in this book. Price walked along the river there to create the beautiful prints and drawings that accompany the poems.

Don’t miss Philip & Valerie’s joint event at the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival, Saturday 17 February, 12:00pm.

Want to win a copy of this book? A Fold in the River is our giveaway prize for February – sign up to Seren News before 01 March to be in the running to win.

Philip Gross Reeling in the River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fold in the River is available from the Seren website: £12.99

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

 

 

The Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival: what to look forward to

Seren Cornerstone Poetry Festival

Our ‘winter weekend’ of poetry events, the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival, kicks off in less than three weeks. Here’s what to look forward to, and where to buy tickets.

Today only – get your three-day festival pass for only £90! (£100 from 1st February).

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Jonathan Edwards poetFood and poetry: welcome buffet with Jonathan Edwards
Friday 16 February, 19:00

£7.00 – Book now.

 

The Glass Aisle Paul Henry Brian Briggs

The Glass Aisle: music and poetry with Paul Henry & Brian Briggs
Friday 16 February, 20:30

£10.00 – Book now.

 

New Poets Showcase

Fresh voices: New Poets Showcase
Saturday 17 February, 11:00
£5.00 – Book now.

 

Philip Gross Valerie PriceA Fold in the River; Turnings/Troeon: Philip Gross, Valerie Price, Cyril Jones
Saturday 17 February, 12:00

£5.00 – Book now.

 

JudasDamian Walford Davies: Damian Walford Davies
Saturday 17 February, 13:00

£5.00 – Book now.

 

 

Film & Fiction: ‘Diary of the Last Man’, Robert Minhinnick
Saturday 17 February, 14:00
£5.00 – Book now.

 

The Other Tiger Richard ClareLatin American Poetry: Richard Gwyn & Clare E. Potter
Saturday 17 February, 15:00
£5.00 – Book now.

 

Afternoon Tea Gwyneth LewisAfternoon Tea & Desert Island Poems with Gwyneth Lewis
Saturday 17 February, 16:00
£20.00 – Book now.

 

Dai George Gwyneth LewisGenerations: Gwyneth Lewis meets Dai George
Saturday 17 February, 18:00
£5.00 – Book now.

 

Rhian EdwardsPoetry & Art: Brood by Rhian Edwards
Saturday 17 February, 19:00
£5.00 – Book now.

 

The Spoke poetry group‘The Spoke’: Poetry & Music with Little Red
Saturday 17 February, 20:00
£10.00 – Book now.

 

Sunday Lunch with Gillian Clarke
Sunday 18 February, 13:00
£20.00 – Book now.

 

We hope you enjoy our poetry-filled Cardiff weekend. Find the full programme on the festival website, and book your tickets before they sell out.

 

Enjoy free tea & chocolate with your Seren books this weekend

free tea and chocolate Seren books

‘It is truth universally acknowledged…’ that Black Friday is awful. The crowds, the stress, the queuing – all in all, it’s a wonder we made it through.

Now, after braving that most dreadful of days, we feel you could do with come relaxation – and to help you on your way to post-discount bliss, we’re giving away free Morgan’s Brew tea and free chocolate with every order, as well as scrapping our postage fees for the entire weekend.

tea GIF

Trust us, there’s no need to go outside at all – simply have a browse on our website, choose some new reading material, and wait for your care package of silky chocolate and soothing tea to arrive through the letterbox.

Civilised Saturday free tea and chocolate

 

Free postage on all orders (excludes the Mystery Bundle: Fiction & Mystery Bundle: Poetry)

 

 

National Poetry Day 2017: Recommended Reads

Recommended Reads National Poetry Day

This year National Poetry Day is taking place this Thursday, 28 September, and the theme is “Freedom”.

National Poetry Day is all about enjoying, discovering and sharing poems. With the support of publishers, the Forward Arts Foundation have curated four strong and varied lists of recommended poetry reading, comprising 40 books: anthologies, poetry for children, books for reading groups and current collections.

Seren are proud to announce that not one but two of our authors feature amongst this list of 40: Caroline Smith and Kim Moore. Find out more about their books, and how they tie into this year’s theme, below.

The Immigration Handbook Caroline SmithCaroline Smith’s The Immigration Handbook transforms stories heard every day by the author in her work as an Immigration Officer. Within this collection are heartbreaking scenes of anguish and frustration, contrasts between first and third worlds that prick the conscience, and also occasional moments of humour, of joy: the e-mail address changed to reflect a success, the comical mis-spellings of those learning English, the friendships that arise due to shared difficulties. Above all, The Immigration Handbook offers empathy and hope, with refugees and immigrants who step vividly off the page, emploring the reader to listen to their stories.

The Art of Falling Kim MooreThe quietly devastating central sequence in Kim Moore’s The Art of Falling, entitled ‘How I Abandoned My Body To His Keeping’, is the story of a woman embroiled in a relationship marked by coercion and violence. These are close-to-the-bone pieces, harrowing and exact, where in place of love there is posession, and the memory of violence is a haunting presence: ‘when I’m afraid,/ it’s only then I think of him, or remember his name.’ The poetry itself, though, is a means of catharsis, and throughout the collection pulls us like a current towards lighter, brighter things: an imagining of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s childhood mischief; a tattoo inspired by Virginia Woolf; beautifully imagined character portraits of John Lennon, Wallace Hartley and Chet Baker.

Find both amazing books in a bookshop near you!

 

Take a look at the Library of Freedom Poems on the National Poetry Day website, where you’ll find a great selection of themed poems to read.

Join in on National Poetry Day: find out what’s happening near you on the events map. You can also join in the conversation by using the hashtag #NationalPoetryDay on Twitter.

 

 

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The Poet and The Artist – R.S. Thomas and Elsi

R.S Thomas Elsi

As the Eglwys Fach R.S. Thomas Literary Festival approaches, we look at the poet’s relationship with his first wife, the artist Mildred ‘Elsi’ Elridge.

R.S. Thomas has long been considered one of the greats of Welsh poetry with his bleak but masterful verse. His relationship with his first wife, Elsi, has been one of his most profound subjects – but it has also been one of the least understood, and commented upon, by readers of his poetry.

Elsi was a brilliant and accomplished artist, who moved from the illustrious worlds of the Wimbledon and Royal Colleges of art to the Welsh borders of Oswestry where she met Thomas, a young curate at the time. The couple soon married in 1940. Their partnership briefly mixed with artistic collaboration when she illustrated the dust jacket of his first poetry collection, ‘Stones of the Field.’ Apart from this, however, her once prolific outpouring of artwork steadily declined, as did appreciation of her works once her husband rose to fame. Glyndwr University has done much to bring that work back into recognition, having held a large range of Elsie’s art since 2010. Their championing of her art was the catalyst for an exhibit at Abbot and Holder in London this April, before the pieces, including the ‘Dance of Life’ – a six-panelled mural widely considered to be her magnum opus – returned to their permanent home at the university’s Creative Industries Building for a new exhibition in October.

Undoubtedly, Thomas’ rising profile and the decreasing recognition of Elsi’s art punctuated their relationship with tension. In ‘The Way of It’, Thomas commended his wife’s talents, the ease with which her fingers transformed ‘paint into flowers’ while simultaneously suggesting the underlying strain within their relationship. ‘She is busy after for hours,’ he wrote, ‘rubbing smiles into wounds.’

Once found, Elsi’s art has a remarkable, even poetic range with enigmatic self-portraits and haunting landscapes alongside intricate studies of birds and wildlife. She used many mediums, from sculpture to oils, watercolours and sketches. All her talent was deeply moving to her husband, the man their only son, Gwydion, claimed was “visually illiterate” before meeting his wife. Her detailed studies of birds are especially poignant to their relationship, and as such, references to birds and the feather-like fragility of life frequently occur in Thomas’ poems. According to ‘A Marriage’, written after Elsi’s death, they ‘met under a shower of bird notes,’ and she ‘had done everything (in life) with a bird’s grace.’ His proposal was even followed by a joint effort to rescue a buzzard they discovered stuck in a gin trap in the moor.

The absences in their relationship have often been marked upon, even turned to sensational commentary. Thomas’ own comments, easily taken cold to the point of cruelty, such as: ‘I was alone when I was living with her’ suggest a love long worn into ambivalence by the quiet invasion of daily routine and drudgery. As Thomas’ poetry addresses, the restraint of their relationship was not all weakness. ‘Anniversary’ suggests the strength of endurance, of living side-by-side, ‘using the same air’ in spite of the distance between them.

His observations of early tenderness, his observation of an artistic equality they yearned for but never reached, the absolute precision of his descriptions of the artistic housewife who would not have her dormant creative spirit beaten; all these reveal something ‘graceful’, even loving, behind their silences. The language of looks and communication through touch are often present in Thomas’ poetry, even when words are absent. In ‘Pension’ they parry ‘sharp looks’, in ‘He and She’, ‘noiselessly they conversed’, and in ‘Remembering’, Thomas urges the reader to ‘take her hand in your hand’ to prove that ‘if, blind, it is not dumb’. All this builds a portrait of a marriage that though often tense, forged a profound connection and understanding through time.

Each deeply influenced the other. Their worn love, her power in her final absence, death – these are harsh beauties Thomas offers, and that enrich Elsi’s work.

Thomas wrote: ‘I never thought in this poor world to find/ Another who had loved the things I love’. Now, that love is shared and amplified by our opportunity to see her first great love, her art, and to revel in the complex facets of their relationship that his poetry reveals.

Don’t miss the R.S. Thomas Literary Festival at St Michael’s Church, Eglwys Fach, Ceredigion, which takes place on Friday 15 – Sunday 17 September. Festival leaflet and further information available here.

 

Golden Wedding

Cold hands meeting,
the eyes aside –
so vows are contracted
in the tongue’s absence.

Gradually
over fifty long years
of held breath
the heart has become warm.

 

‘The Golden Wedding’ is taken from R.S Thomas: Poems to Elsi. Available on the Seren website: £9.99

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