Three Poems for World Poetry Day

In celebration of World Poetry Day, we are featuring three poems by Seren poets, which you can read below.

Coinciding with the start of Spring, World Poetry Day is the perfect opportunity for us to brighten up your week with some of our favourite poems. It has been dreadfully difficult to narrow it down, but we hope you enjoy our selections: poems from Kim Moore, Paul Henry, and Rhian Edwards.

 

 

The Art of Falling Kim MooreKim Moore: ‘And the Soul’
Taken from Kim Moore’s outstanding debut, The Art of Falling – which was shortlisted for the Cumbria/Lakeland Book of the Year – ‘And the Soul’ considers the animalistic nature of the soul, be it domestic (‘And if it be a cat, find some people/ to ignore’) or primal.

 

And the Soul
And the soul, if she is to know
herself, must look into the soul…
– Plato

And the soul, if she is to know herself
must look into the soul and find
what kind of beast is hiding.

And if it be a horse, open up the gate
and let it run. And if it be a rabbit
give it sand dunes to disappear in.

And if it be a swan, create a mirror image,
give it water. And if it be a badger
grow a sloping woodland in your heart.

And if it be a tick, let the blood flow
until it’s sated. And if it be a fish
there must be a river and a mountain.

And if it be a cat, find some people
to ignore, but if it be a wolf,
you’ll know from its restless way

of moving, if it be a wolf,
throw back your head
and let it howl.

 

 

Boy Running, Paul Henry

Paul Henry: ‘Moving In’
This poem is taken from Boy Running, Paul Henry’s latest collection, which reached the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year Poetry Award (2016). Paul is currently touring with Stornoway singer-songwriter Brian Briggs as they perform their collaborative work, The Glass Aisle – a haunting piece which crosses the borders between poem and song lyric. Find the full list of events here.

 

Moving In
I cannot see the flowers at my feet…
Keats – ‘Ode to a Nightingale.’

They look and wonder what they’re doing here,
those who’ve moved with me across the years –
Dylan Thomas, Picasso, Nightingale Ann,
Goble, David Trevorrow, young Fanny Brawne…
all strewn about this flat where I hide.
(Did I dream, last night, of a tide
laying its artefacts on sand?) They stare
but do not judge, or change, or care.

Dylan’s just opened Manhattan’s cigar box.
‘Try one,’ he says, ‘before you die. Fuck books.’
Pablo’s still pushing against his pane.
He listens for a nightingale in vain.
Goble tilts back in his top hat.
He and Trevorrow could not have shared a flat
but I loved them both, and Fanny Brawne.
There are crows on my roof. The light has gone.

 

 

Rhian Edwards: ‘The Universal Doodle’
Taken from Rhian Edwards’ new poetry pamphlet, Brood, ‘The Universal Doodle’ carries on the pamphlet’s ever-present theme of birds by musing on the appearance of a murmuration cloud of starlings. Keep an eye on our website, as numerous launch events are on the horizon – and we would love for you to celebrate with us.

 

The Universal Doodle

A scattering corralled, lassoed
into the universal doodle of birds.
A mutable speech bubble

of pondering ‘m’s. This is the bombast
of starlings as they corkscrew the sky.
Each twist and fold is summarised

to a simile like iron filings,
flocked and flung across the sky
by the metaphorical whims of a magnet.

Can you hear the pathetic fallacy?
The siren song of a metal’s hum
crooning behind clouds, a bit like a God.

 

 

We hope you enjoyed our World Poetry Day selection. If it has inspired you to expand your poetry collection, then you can find our full list of Seren poetry books here.

 

Seren’s women on the books that have inspired us

Seren's women on the books that have inspired us

To mark International Women’s Day 2017, Seren’s female staff have come together to shine the spotlight on the books that have inspired us. Countless works of literature written by female writers have changed the world; the few mentioned here have personally changed us.

Sunshine, Melissa Lee-Houghton (Penned in the Margins, 2016)
Sunshine Melissa Lee HoughtonSuggested by Rebecca Parfitt, Editorial Assistant for Poetry Wales

“It both shocked and enthralled me in equal measure. Here is a poet laying her soul and body bare for all to see and its as uncomfortable as it is beautiful. Her poems have an energy that crackles on the page and her verse often long and sprawling as to almost seem unkempt. A truly authentic and honest contemporary female voice.”

 

A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, Eimear McBride (Galley Beggar Press, 2013)
A Girl is a Half-formed ThingSuggested by Rosie Johns, Marketing & Communications Officer

“Girlhood, growth and sexuality – this book is uncompromising in its depiction of the protagonist’s agonising journey through all of these. After puberty, she is seen by the men in her life (including her uncle) as a simply sexual thing. In reality she is fragmented, transgressive, troubled. There is nothing toned-down or dishonest about this book which, sadly, might explain the author’s staggering 9-year search for a publisher.”

 

Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer
Shakespeare's WifeSuggested by Amy Wack, Poetry Editor

“I’m a fan of this book by Greer, a scholarly and provocative imaginary life of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife. Greer constructs a plausible and sometimes unexpected Elizabethan England based mostly on her research sifting the actual records from Stratford at the time. I know Greer can be wrong-headed and stubbornly persistent, but I always appreciate that her goal is to get people to think, to argue back, to defy received opinions!”

 

 

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s, and commemorates the moment for women’s rights. The day is also an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements. This year the campaign centres around calling people to #BeBoldForChange – to help forge a better working world, and a more gender-inclusive world. Join in and be bold.

A treat for International Women’s Day

Treat for International Women's Day Women's Work half price

Today is International Women’s Day, a worldwide celebration of women’s achievements and a call for gender equality.

We can’t think of a better book to treat yourself to than Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English, so for today only, you can buy your copy at half price on our website.

Women's Work International Women's Day 2017

 

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. You will find familiar names as well as new discoveries amongst the contributors: Margaret Atwood, Sujata Bhatt, Colette Bryce, Siobhán Campbell, Amy Clampitt, Polly Clark, Wendy Cope (and many others). 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.


Buy your copy of Women’s Work today:

£14.99
£7.49

Offer ends midnight, 08/03/2017

 

 

 

Find a free Seren book this World Book Day

Seren books World Book Day 2017

Today we are celebrating all things literary for World Book Day, now in its 20th year. We want the world to discover our fantastic authors, and to help a few of you do just that, we’ve left a selection of our books all over Cardiff for lucky people to find and keep.

If you’re out in Cardiff today, stop for a coffee in one of the lovely independent cafés and you might well find a Seren book hiding somewhere near you! Take it, enjoy it, and pass it on to someone new to enjoy afterwards to spread the World Book Day love.

Seren books World Book Day book drop
Can you guess which books we’ve hidden? Poetry, fiction, non-fiction – there’s a real mix out there, just waiting to be found.

 

Happy World Book Day, and happy book hunting…

 

Author Appearances at the Seren Christmas Pop-Up Shop

chapter pop-up shop author appearances

The Seren pop-up bookshop is returning to Chapter, Cardiff, for its third year. You’ll find us in Chapter’s entrance hall, Friday 9th to Monday 12th December.

Come and have a browse of our books, take advantage of free Christmas gift wrapping, and chat with Seren staff about publishing, writing, reading – and your love of books. We look forward to seeing you!

When: 9-12 December, 10am–8pm
Where: Chapter Arts Centre, 40 Market Road, Cardiff, CF5 1QE

Seren authors will also be stopping by, so why not come along and grab a special signed Christmas gift or two?

author-appearances-chapter-pop-up-16

 

Peter Finch will be joining us on Saturday. A poet, author and critic, Peter is author of the hugely popular Real Cardiff trilogy, and series editor for the Real Series. He has published numerous poetry collections, including perennial bestseller Zen Cymru, and his Selected Later Poems. His latest book, The Roots of Rock, from Cardiff to Mississippi and Back, explores the evolution of rock and popular music, and is the perfect gift for the music lover in your life.

David Foster-Morgan will be coming to the pop-up shop on Sunday. David has been widely published in a number of journals including Poetry Wales, Envoi, Smiths Knoll and The Interpreter’s House, and was recently shortlisted in the Times Literary Supplement Poetry Competition. Masculine Happiness is his innovative debut collection, and signed copies will be available if you come along at 12.

 

We look forward to seeing you at the Seren Christmas pop-up shop!

 

NaNoWriMo: How to write a novel – advice from Seren novelists

how to write a novel advice from Seren novelists

It’s November and that means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has begun. If you’re not familiar with it, NaNoWriMo is a worldwide writing challenge, where participants have one month (1st–30th November) to write a 50,000 word novel.

Are you taking on the challenge? Perhaps you’re in need of a little motivation? Or maybe your novel has been in the works for a while now, and you need some guidance to get it finished? Whatever the case, Seren novelists are here to help.

Take a look below for some novel writing tips from the experts. Whether your novel takes a month or a year, we know you can do it.

Bethany W Pope author of Masque1. Start by letting your mind wander where it will. Taking long walks helps. Don’t ever say ‘no’ to an idea, however ridiculous or obscene it seems at first. Every idea is a seed; it’s best to let it grow. (Bethany W. Pope, author of Masque)

 

Jayne Joso author of My Falling Down House2. Don’t begin until the ideas preoccupy your thoughts, until you have read and researched to a point of exhaustion, until your mind is full of the world of the book, and the characters inhabit it freely. Things will change and move, grow, and diminish, and some will brutally be cut, but if you begin with a world that you can see, characters that you are beginning to know, then, when you settle down in the quiet to write, the world of your novel will begin to emerge as though by itself. Research more as you go, as you need to; sleep well, exercise and eat well, and always have something else to read. Stay with the world of your book in your mind, and switch off when you need to, sleep some more, run or swim some more. Then write and write, with fight, with joy. (Jayne Joso, author of My Falling Down House)

Bethany W Pope author of Masque3. Eventually you’ll spot your characters. Once you’ve seen them, the best way to capture what they’re like on the page is by inhabiting them, mentally. Use the actor’s method. Wear the skin of the role that you’re playing; write as if you are them and the writing will breathe. This is easier than you might think — after all, you are them, really; or they are aspects of you. Even the bad guys. Especially the bad guys. They’re parts of your psyche that you never let out. (Bethany W. Pope, author of Masque)

Jo Mazelis author of Significance4. There are two ways to approach a novel: some writers plot the whole work in advance, others begin with a vague idea, character or situation, then plunge in allowing organic development to occur. Neither is right or wrong, but there are certain advantages to both, every writer will discover along the way which works best for them. (Jo Mazelis, author of Significance)

Bethany W Pope author of Masque5. When it comes to the actual writing, do it wherever you can. By this, I mean that you should write wherever you can actually produce work. My top two choices are at the gym (I think best whilst moving — the stepper is my friend) and while sitting in my (empty) bathtub with a budgie on my head. There is no ‘should’ when it comes to writing. If it works for you, do it and give no thought to what other people think about it. You have to if you want to finish the job at hand. Once the story starts coming it will continue to come. If you love it, you will finish it. That which we cannot live without is that which we love. (Bethany W. Pope, author of Masque)

Jayne Joso author of My Falling Down House6. Drink whiskey, drink tea. Plan, don’t plan. Write. Tear it up. Start again, as you like… but finally, remember, there ain’t no way round but through, so just write the darn thing! (Jayne Joso, author of My Falling Down House)

 

Bethany W Pope author of Masque7. Do not worry about proofreading or editing until after the first draft is finished. Get it out, as fast as possible, even if it’s rough. It’s much, much easier to edit a finished manuscript than a few measly pages. But once it’s out of your head, for the love of God, go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Remove all the nits and every last tangle before sending it out to meet the world. It’s your child, after all. It deserves a clean face. (Bethany W. Pope, author of Masque)

 

We hope these helpful tips from our talented authors give you the push you need to get that novel finished – however long it takes.

‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.’
– Douglas Adams

 

 

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International Day of the Girl 2016

international day of the girl

Today is International Day of the Girl, a day designed to raise awareness about gender inequality and the barriers girls come up against, from birth to adulthood. In recognition, here are a few Seren writers whose books highlight the challenges girls and women face.

Six Pounds Eight Ounces, Rhian Elizabethsix pounds eight ounces
‘My first word was clock only it came out as cock. That was when my mother knew I was trouble.’
Rhian Elizabeth’s introduces us to Hannah King, a self-assured young girl brought up in the Rhondda Valley within a community that offers little prospect for her future. Situated in turbulent surroundings, in conflict with family and community, Hannah is pulled towards a dark instability. Both comic and tragic, this is a gripping portrayal of girlhood in Wales.

 

The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, Katrina Naomithe way the crocodile taught me
In Katrina Naomi’s collection we see a girl in fear of her domineering step-father whose ‘flashing anger’ (‘Portrait of my Step-father as a Xmas Tree’) threatens to bubble up at every turn. We see the trials a woman can face: sexual assault, aggression, misuse. This is an emotive collection that refuses to shy away from depictions of violence and abuse, yet remains resolutely uplifting.

 

 

folk music sheenagh pughFolk Music, Sheenagh Pugh
Set in a country lying somewhere between Wales and central Asia, in a time which might be the middle ages or the near-present, Folk Music is a work of fiction that draws parallels with the oppressive, patriarchal regimes still existing today. Central to the story is the convention that, on marriage, a woman does not speak to anyone, except in private to her husband, until the birth of her first child. Pugh explores the possibility for both oppression and empowerment in this subtly-entwined narrative, which asks whether the abandonment of tradition is a positive thing, or may leave us only with rootlessness and dislocation.

 

fighting-pretty-smallFighting Pretty, Louise Walsh
Walsh peers into the macho world of boxing with tenderness and telling humour. Reeling from divorce, jobless and living back home with her embittered father, Lizzie throws everything she has into training to be a boxer. Despite battles with her weight and other demons, Lizzie fights on, determined someday box for Wales, and wear the coveted red vest. This story breaks down the barriers separating men and women in sport, just as the Olympics have begun to give women better representation (in 2012, for the first time, 10 men’s Boxing events at the London Olympics were joined by three women’s events).

 

the tip of my tongue trezza assopardiThe Tip of my Tongue, Trezza Azzopardi
This re-telling of the Mabinogion story Geraint and Enid transforms a medieval heroine who won’t be silenced into a brace 1970’s girl from downtown Splott in Cardiff, who, no matter how difficult the circumstances, always seems to get the last word.
The original Enid from Celtic mythology defends her misguided husband by warning him of approaching villains, even though he has forbidden her to speak. Trezza Azzopardi’s young Enid is also unlikely to respect a gagging order.

 

This list features just a few of the many talented Seren women writers. Discover them all on our website.

 

Want to get involved with International Day of the Girl? Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #DayoftheGirl on Twitter.

 

Friday Poem – ‘Savoy Hotel, London’, Rosie Shepperd

friday poem rosie shepperd

This week our Friday Poem is from Rosie Shepperd’s tantalising debut, The Man at the Corner Table. You can hear Rosie read from this collection live on National Poetry Day, 6 October, at Berkhamsted Waterstones alongside Caroline Smith and Graham Clifford.

the man at the corner table rosie shepperdThe Man at the Corner Table crackles with the unexpected. The voice is one of urban sophistication; a merciless charm that teases and tempts us with sensual evocations of food and place. The reader is surprised with tastes, scents, colours and textures. There is a winning insistence on detail offered with an irony that blends into satire.

 

 

Savoy Hotel, London
Those nights downstairs at the American Bar;
it’s not just the chairs that show gilt in the telling.
Back then we were almost quite something.
You and London were lean;
your eyes, a fraction off-centre as you
struggled not to say,
We have this connection. My God.
You overplayed.
And not just your hand.

My role in this mellow
drama was to shift that arse
you loved to chase and twitch my best side
close to the oh-so-Maraschinos.
Too long ago, they were fruit in a tree.
Some tree.
I guess they were something for me
to play with; the pretence
we were ever friends was just
a way to simulate sharing.

30:70 and I never found out
who made the best bet
but I do know that’s the wrong word.
Early is just another kind of late and
anyway, you were always
there each night, every night. There’s
no fool like a blind
fool; thank God I didn’t see the edge
till I was over and out
the other side.

 

Buy your copy of The Man at the Corner Table now: £9.99

Claim 20% when you become a Book Club member

National Poetry Day 2016: All you need to know

National Poetry Day is an annual celebration of poetry and all things poetic. Started in 1994 by William Sieghart, it has engaged millions of people across the country with reading, writing and listening to poetry.

This year, National Poetry Day is taking place on Thursday 6th October. The 2016 theme is Messages – think texts, emails, letters, cards, speech; sad messages, hopeful ones, happy messages and even unspoken ones. They could be spooky, paranormal messages or those you hear every day, such as “hello” and “goodbye”.

Say it with a poem – be inspired by this years theme of Messages, and write a poem of your own to express yourself!

poetry-book-coverposterfinalupdate2-675x1024Download this year’s FREE poetry eBook – Messages: National Poetry Day 2016 is a free anthology of wonderful Messages poems – old and new. The fourteen poets in this eBook (created by MacMillan Children’s Books with Forward Arts Foundation) are all National Poetry Ambassadors.
Featured poets: Deborah Alma, Liz Brownlee, Paul Cookson, Sally Crabtree, Joseph Coelho, Matt Goodfellow, Sophie Herxheimer, Rachel McCrum, Brian Moses, Michaela Morgan, Joshua Seigal, Roger Stevens and Indigo Williams.

Download your free copy of the National Poetry Day 2016 anthology here.

Get involved! Attend one (or more) of the many National Poetry Day events happing all over the UK.
There are loads of events happening on and around National Poetry Day, 6th October, including two of our own:

First Thursday: New Fiction and Poetry at Chapter, Cardiff
Seren’s monthly celebration of new poetry and fiction returns after the summer break. Join us for readings from our special guests and then the famous open mic.
Cardiff poet and author Peter Finch presents: The Roots of Rock, from Cardiff to Mississippi and Back, and Jayne Joso reads from her new novel, set in the outskirts of tokyo: My Falling Down House.

Berkhamsted Waterstones: Caroline Smith, Graham Clifford & Rosie Shepperd
Celebrate National Poetry Day at Berkhamsted Waterstones with an evening of poetry readings, featuring three Seren poets: Caroline Smith (The Immigration Handbook), Graham Clifford (The Hitting Game) and Rosie Shepperd (The Man at the Corner Table).

Take a look at the National Poetry Day events map and go along to anything that catches your eye.

Take advantage of free online resources – There are loads of resources on the National Poety Day website, including advice on how to get your school enjoying poetry, news, and free poems to read and share. Take a look here.

 

Seren’s own celebrations will kick off with a flash poetry sale – keep an eye on our website (or social media channels) on 6th October to take advantage of our special National Poetry Day book offers!

 

 

 

 

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Friday Poem – ‘A Pembrokeshire Artist’, Tony Curtis

A Pembrokeshire Artist Tony Curtis Llangwm

This week we have a treat for you – our Friday Poem is one of the new poems from Tony Curtis’ forthcoming From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems (Seren, October 2016).

From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems, Tony CurtisFrom the Fortunate Isles, published in celebration of the author’s 70th year, features poems from ten of Curtis’ published collections as well as a substantial number of new poems. This is a poet whose themes and variations remain consistent: a profound interest in the wars of the last century, an abiding fascination for all art forms, particularly painting and poetry, tender attachments to family, and (most evident in the poem below), a deep affection for his roots in West Wales.

 

A Pembrokeshire Artist
John Knapp Fisher (1931 -2015)

An evening with the rain coming in,
that sea so cold and unsettled, a heavy graphite,
you’d not have gone out with your mackerel lines
in the Viking or any of her successors
from the stone-brick embrace of Porthgain.

We’ve eaten our fill at your wake, John,
the Sloop Inn squeezed tight
with suits, black ties and memories.
Wives, patrons, grandchildren.
Photos of you through all seven ages on the screen.

Inland to Wolf ’s Castle and as far south as the cathedral
the farms, haggards and holiday lets
shrug down for the cold night.
You’d have worked to conjure the reluctant light
discovered in them under this empting, moonless sky.

And the first scurp coming would have dabbed
your paper, blossomed and been coaxed,
smudged, into the finished sketch.
Now the county will have to sing its own spirit,
compose its own shape, keep its own watch.

 

If you would like to listen to Tony read from his forthcoming collection and other books in his native Pembrokeshire, don’t miss his event at the Llangwm Literary Festival, Saturday 12th August. More details here.

You can buy copies of Tony Curtis’ poetry collections, anthologies he has edited, critical essays, and other writing direct from us (20% off for Book Club Members):
Crossing Over
Heaven’s Gate
Tokens for the Foundlings (ed Tony Curtis)
After the First Death (ed Tony Curtis)

Wales at War
Real South Pembrokeshire
Keep an eye out on the Seren website – Tony’s new collection, From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems, is coming soon…