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.





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.

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.

Announcing the Myths & Legends Astronomy Tour of Wales

Myths and Legends Astronomy Tour Wales Martin Griffiths

With it being Wales’ Year of Legends, what better time could there be to discover the rich mythological history of our land? Martin Griffiths’ new astronomy book, Dark Land, Dark Skies, does just that – and now Martin is getting ready to tour Wales with his fascinating Celtic interpretation of the stars.

Dark Land, Dark Skies, Martin GriffithsThe tour kicks off with the Dark Land, Dark Skies book launch, tomorrow, at the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitors Centre, Libanus. Martin will introduce the legendary Welsh heroes, plotting a map of our mythology in the stars above. If the weather allows, we’ll step outside and gaze at the dark sky, the author’s expertise guiding us away from Greek and Roman to instead see mythical Celtic figures far above.
Free places are still available – book now.

Meet us in Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia, Elan Valley and Newtown as the tour continues: at each stop, Martin will reveal more about Welsh mythology and how it can be seen in the stars. These unmissable events will connect you to our culture and change the way you see the night sky.

Myths & Legends Astronomy Tour Wales


Find all the most up-to-date information on these events, including how to purchase tickets, on the Seren Events page.




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:


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?



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