Thursday, 28 February 2013

Our Recommended Reads February 2013

Check out the reviews section of our website for the latest recommended reads - from children's fiction to poetry and classic reads we're sure there is something for everyone. We also welcome your reviews too - email them to 'Reviews' at and we'll let you know when we use it!

Below are the titles we recommended during February 2013. (You can read our reviews and recommendations here.)

‘Star Paws Animal Dress-Up’ Published by Macmillan Children’s Books
‘The Moon Jet and Other Stories’ (Biff & Chip Series) Created by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta Published by Oxford University Press
‘My Phonic Flashcards’ Published by Oxford University Press
‘Fun With Words Flashcards’ Published by Oxford University Press
‘Deceit’ By Deborah White Published by Templar Publishing

Ruby, Blue and Blanket By Jane Hissey Published by Scribblers Books
‘Space Penguins: Star Attack!’ By L.A. Courtenay Published by Stripes Publishing

‘The Flip Flop Club: Midnight Messenger’ By Ellen Richardson Published by Oxford University Press
‘Duck Says Don’t’ By Alison Ritchie and Hannah George Published by Little Tiger Press
‘Unremembered: Book 1’ By Jessica Brody Published by Macmillan Children’s Books
‘Wereworld: Nest of Serpents’ (Book 4) By Curtis Jobling Published by Puffin
‘Dark Warning’ By Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick Published by Orion Books
‘Farm Babies’ By Liz and Kate Pope Published by Caterpillar Books

‘Jemmy Button’ Words by Alix Barzelay Illustrations by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali Published by Templar Publishing
‘The Odds Strike Back!’ By Adam Perrott Published by Stripes Publishing

‘Song Hunter’ By Sally Prue Published by Oxford University Press

March's recommended reads will start to appear on the website from next week. A selection of reviews will be published here too, as well as on our Facebook page ( and links from our Twitter account (@bookapoet).

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

100 Ways to Write Badly Well ...

Looking for a creative writing guide out there that will tell you how to write better? A book to tell you how to structure a perfect plot, create great characters, use language in a powerful and poetic way? This is not that book.

100 Ways to Write Badly Well is an adventure in drivel. It will teach you how to botch a plot, how to create characters that no one in their right mind would identify with and how to reduce the beauty of the English language to an incoherent mush.

Using one hundred practical examples, each awful in its own unique way, blogger and creative writing tutor Joel Stickley will lead you methodically up the creek and carefully remove your paddle before running off and leaving you stranded. The route is lined with mixed metaphors, terrible plot twists, piles of adjectives and characters staring at themselves in mirrors for no apparent reason.

Based on the popular blog and live comedy show 'How To Write Badly Well', this book is an invaluable guide to the art of awful writing that no would-be author should be without. Remember – if a thing’s worth doing badly, it’s worth doing badly well.

Joel Stickley is the author of the hit blog How To Write Badly Well, which has dispensed bad advice to over half a million visitors since its launch. (See Joel's page on our website for further info.) With long-time collaborator Luke Wright, he wrote the book 'Who Writes This Crap?' which The Guardian called “an inspired piece of parody,” and the animated film 'Crash Bang Wallow', which won the NFBC Short Film Award at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. He is Poet Laureate for the UK county of Lincolnshire and teaches creative writing at the Open University.

 You can purchase '100 Ways to Write Badly Well' in softback format from Nasty Little Press
Or you can purchase the ebook from Momentum Books. 

You can find more out about Joel and his work by visiting

Monday, 25 February 2013

Shortlist for Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2013 Announced

The shortlist for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, created to reward and champion new and emerging talent in children’s writing has been announced. Now in its ninth year, the Prize consists of three categories: picture books; fiction for ages 5-12; and teen books, to reflect the breadth of quality in children’s books. Six books will compete within each category to be crowned category winner, with the three category winners then vying for the overall title of Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year 2013.

James Daunt, Managing Director of Waterstones said: “Within these shortlists are books containing great beauty, humour, intrigue, imagination and important things to say, but most crucially all are fantastically good reads. Their diversity and quality, carrying with them the stamp of excellence as awarded by our expert booksellers, demonstrates that the world of children’s books is as exciting and innovative as ever.”

The 18 shortlisted titles competing for the coveted award this year are:

Picture Books:
  • Lunchtime by Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • Rabbityness by Jo Empson (Child’s Play)
  • Oh No George! by Chris Haughton (Walker)
  • The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp & Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon (Pavilion Children’s Books)
  • Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher (Little Tiger Press)
Fiction 5-12
  • The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (Chicken House)
  • Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray (Faber and Faber)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Random House Children’s Books)
  • The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters (Nosy Crow)
  • The Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey (Puffin)
  • Barry Loser: I Am Not A Loser by Jim Smith (Egmont)
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt (Egmont)
  • Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (Hot Key Books)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury Children’s)
  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Indigo)
  • Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb (Little Tiger Press)
The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize is unique in that it is voted for by booksellers across the country. Final judging is currently underway.

The winners will be announced on Thursday 21st March. The winner of each category will receive £2,000 with the overall winner picking up an additional £3,000.

You can find out further information here.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Exclusive Interview with Lauren Child MBE, Award-Winning Children's Author

Guest Questions from Year 2 at Newborough Primary School, Peterborough (who are currently doing an author study on Lauren)

Where do you get your ideas from?

Ideas come from everywhere. Can be from just looking out of my window, or from books, films and often my memory. It may be from little things I notice when I visit people’s houses or things I overhear when standing in the supermarket queue. It can be things people tell me, funny things, strange things or touching things or things that are totally imagined, things that just float through my mind.

How long do you take to write your stories?

I am never exactly sure how long it takes me to write my books as I am usually working on several stories or ideas at the same time as lots of other things. For my Clarice Bean novels, it took me about 18 months, once I had properly started writing them. For the Ruby Redfort novels I have to be a bit faster.

What made you base your ideas on fairytale stories and characters?

My book 'Beware the Storybook Wolves' was inspired by a reader who wrote to me and told me the lion on the front of my book, 'I Want a Pet' had frightened him. This made me think about characters coming out of the book. Then with 'Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book', I reversed this idea and had the character fall into the book. When we did 'The Princess and the Pea', I had wanted to work with the fantastic photographer Polly Borland, and thought about a story that would work well in photographs, something familiar which we could give a different approach to. We decide to use a classic fairytale but have everything in miniature.

What is your favourite book that you have written and why?

There are a few that I am very close to. 'Clarice Bean That’s M'e was the book that launched me as a writer. I stretched myself a lot when I did it. I wrote something that really appealed to me and was about me. At the time it was quite different from what picture books were usually like.

Is there anything you would like to write about that you haven't written about yet?

Yes, there are quite a lot. I’d like to write for older children and adults. I think a lot about quite serious ideas that humour could be added to.  I’d like to write about tough subjects, but address them in a humorous or comical way, a bit like the way children can talk about serious subjects in a matter-of-fact way.

Questions from Book a Poet:

What is your favourite medium of art to use?

When I’m illustrating, I like to be able to use all kinds of medium so I don’t restrict myself to one thing. I would find it very hard to just work in watercolours, for example. Collage suits me well, cutting out and sticking paper, different fabric patterns, but I also use oils, watercolours, gouache.

When you create your books do the pictures or words come first, or do the words change as you draw the illustrations?

I think a lot in pictures so I very rarely need to draw when I’m thinking about an idea. I can see it all in my head.

Your new book, ‘Ruby Redfort 2: Take Your Last Breath’ is just out – and we’re enjoying reading about the schoolgirl detective’s latest adventure at sea. Is it a challenge to write for different age ranges?

Don’t really think it’s a challenge. I try not to think about the age-group that I’m writing for too much because everybody’s taste, reading age is different so I don’t really write for a particular age-group – I always feel that a book is for anybody. The challenge with the Ruby books is plot as they are very plot-driven. The structure and tying up the different threads is the tricky thing.

Ruby’s character is from your Clarice Bean novel, was it easy to write the novels for Ruby, as a much-loved character, or did that make it harder to do?

I think what was hard was working out who she was. I had always talked about her from Clarice’s perspective. if Ruby was too silly, the books would be boring so it took some time to work out what kind of book I wanted to write.

Why do you think the spy genre is so popular with young readers?

I think the spy genre is popular with all age readers. The Ruby books are as much thrillers as secret agent books. Reading them you can explore a dangerous and exciting world, of jeopardy, danger and adventures, from a safe place.

What’s the best thing about being an author / illustrator?

It’s the best thing and the worst thing at the same time. You are sort of in charge of your own working life so you can work when you like. You have to motivate yourself and generate ideas. The hardest thing can be fitting it all into the time schedule you’ve got – that can feel like pressure. But coming up with ideas can be a really lovely job as well.

Do you have any tips for budding authors / illustrators?

My advice would be to write what you enjoy. You need to write about something that interests you. It might be something funny that you see out of the window or something that you’ve imagined or about your family. When I was young I wrote and created comic books with a friend – I loved that. You’ve got to enjoy what you’re writing or you won’t be able to carry on.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline you can share with us?

I’m working on the third Ruby book at the moment. Ruby’s in training, learning another agent skill and it will involve another code based on a different sense.

Where can fans find out more about your work?

There’s my own website where you can find out more about the books. There are some frequently asked questions here too. The Ruby website is It’s got some great games and codes to crack.

Lauren Child Biography

Lauren is the author of the phenomenally successful CHARLIE AND LOLA books, (as well as Associate Producer on the TV show of the same name), Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort books. Lauren’s books have been translated into dozens of languages around the world and she has won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize (four times), the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Red House Children’s Book Award. Lauren was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.

‘Ruby Redfort 2: Take Your Last Breath’
Published by Harper Collins Children's Books
RRP £12.99 (hardback)
ISBN 978-0007334087

Hey, buster! Normal life is a total yawn. So break out boredom with multi-million-copy bestselling author Lauren Child, and meet your new favourite heroine… Ruby Redfort: detective, secret agent, thirteen-year-old kid.

Everyone’s favourite kid detective is back for a second mind-blowing instalment, packed with all the off-the-wall humour, action and friendship of the first book. This time, though, it’s an adventure on the wide open ocean, and Ruby is all at sea…

Can she crack the case of the Twinford pirates while evading the clutches of a vile sea monster as well as the evil Count von Viscount?

Well, you wouldn’t want to bet against her…


“The new Ruby Redfort book is utterly exceptionordinarily brilliant” – Clarice Bean

“Lauren Child has put imagination and fun back into the real worlds of childhood.” – Julia Eccleshare, Guardian

“Lauren Child is so good it’s exhilarating” – The Independent

“What more could adventure-loving girls want?” – The Sunday Times.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Legatum Institute’s The Promise of Freedom Lecture Series

“The Promise of Freedom” consists of a series of events marking the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, that will focus on the relationship between British and American culture from 1953-2013. How did the creative arts in the UK impact on the American cultural scene, and vice-versa? And what was the nature of the contribution made by poets, visual artists, musicians and playwrights to the wider political, social and economic life of these two countries?  The themes to be explored therefore reflect the Legatum Institute's characteristic emphasis on a comprehensive understanding of social progress.

The Legatum Institute is based in London and is an independent non-partisan public policy organisation whose research, publications, and programmes advance ideas and policies in support of free and prosperous societies around the world.

Lecture Series 2013

February 26th - Grey Gowrie, Poet, former Cabinet Minister with responsibility for the Arts under Margaret Thatcher and company Chairman, will deliver the inaugural lecture in the series.  He has published several acclaimed collections of verse, and he will be concentrating on how British and American poetry influenced each other. Grey Gowrie will be discussing the work of T.S. Eliot- a poet who moved from the U.S. to live and work in Britain as well as W.H. Auden who travelled in the other direction.

March 14th  - Sandy Nairne, Director of the National  Portrait Gallery, will be discussing the changing face of royal portraiture and how the iconography of the Queen as portrayed in the immense variety of portraits that have been painted of her since 1953 has reflected the changing relationship between the Sovereign and her subjects.

April 21st -  Sir John Tavener will premier three choral works he has composed and which have been commissioned by the Legatum Institute. The concert will be held in Washington DC, at the National Cathedral. Tavener's choice of three works by  the early 17th century poet George Herbert as the words to be set to music, take us back to an earlier chapter in the transatlantic story- the time when religious and political radicals fled the Church and State establishment of England in order to embrace the freedom promised in the new American colonies.

May 23rd - Dame Harriet Walter will be delivering a talk on changing attitudes towards women, and the  evolution in the understanding of women's theatrical roles in the recent history of drama in Britain and America.

June 20th - Lieutenant-General Simon Mayall, Senior Adviser Middle East, Ministry of Defence  will be discussing 'The Arts of Peace and War 1953-2013'- analysing the differing perspectives of British and American commanders during that period. This concluding lecture in the series may serve as a reminder that no aspect of the life of a society can be studied in isolation: the arts and the humanities flourished during this period first under the shadow of the cold war, and at the turn of the millennium the conflicts in the middle east became an inescapable part of the public and cultural debate in the two great countries.

If you would like further information or would like to attend please contact .

You can also find out further info here.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

‘Unremembered Trilogy: Book 1’ By Jessica Brody - recommended read

‘Unremembered Trilogy: Book 1’
By Jessica Brody
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 28th Feb 2013
RRP £6.99 (paperback)
ISBN 9781447221128

The only thing worse than forgetting her past ... is remembering it.

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage – alive - is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Jena struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims she was part of a top-secret science experiment. The only person she trusts insists she shouldn’t believe anything he tells her. Can Jena work out who she is and where she came from?

From popular young adult author, Jessica Brody comes a mesmerizing and suspenseful new series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.

The film rights have already been optioned as part one of this thrilling trilogy is published! One to watch out for!

Highly recommended for readers aged 12+

Cuckoo Quarterly Wants Your Writing

Cuckoo Quarterly is on the hunt for new work by the North East's finest young writing talent for its sixth issue.  

They are looking for poetry, shorts, articles, reviews and rants by young writers aged 19 and under, so if you know a wannabe Carol Ann Duffy, Charlie Brooker or JK Rowling, please do send them Cuckoo Quarterly's way! 

Submissions should be sent to by 15th March. For details for how to submit, check out all the details on the Cuckoo website at

Issue six will be launched at a special Cuckoo event at Hexham Book Festival on 28th April. The event will be free to attend and for details, email

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mslexia 2013 Women’s Short Story Competition closes 18th March 2013

The 2013 Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition is for previously unpublished stories of up to 2,200 words by women writers.

Judged by Janice Galloway, the first prize is £2,000 plus a week’s writing retreat at Chawton House Library and a day with a Virago editor. Second prize is £500 and third prize is £250, with three other finalists winning £100 each. 

All winning stories will be published in issue 58 of Mslexia, published in June 2013. Deadline for submissions: 18th March with a £10 entry fee per story. 
For more information and to enter, see

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

We Are Poets

'We Are Poets' is an award-winning feature documentary; it is a heartfelt story of inspirational youth and poetry. 'We Are Poets' presents a poignant and inspirational story of youth, art and freedom of expression, as a remarkable team of six British teenagers from Leeds Young Authors are chosen to represent the UK at Brave New Voices: the most prestigious Poetry Slam competition in the world. The film premièred in UK cinemas last summer and has been greatly received by audiences and film critics alike. 'We Are Poets' is a film by Alex Ramseyer-Bache and Daniel Lucchesi.

‘We Are Poets’ is now available to book for a screening:

‘We Are Poets’ presents a moving and radical story of youth, art and freedom of expression, as a remarkable team of six British teenagers are chosen to represent the UK at Brave New Voices: the most prestigious Poetry Slam competition in the world.  From their inner city lives on the red-bricked back streets of Northern England, to a stage in front of the White House in Washington DC, the young poets explosively lay bare the concerns of a generation as they take on the world and prepare for a transformational and emotional journey of a lifetime.

Cinematic, imaginative and deeply poignant, ‘We Are Poets’ is a unique portrait of multicultural Britain and a testament to the power of creativity, community and the dynamism of young people. Anyone tempted to dismiss today’s youth as politically apathetic better pay heed: here is electrifying evidence to the contrary.

SCREEN INTERNTIONAL - “Uplifting, moving, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable…A great film – should be mandatory viewing”

TOTAL FILM - ★★★★”A slam-dunk documentary! Six teens from a deprived area of Leeds embrace the heartfelt, politicised expression of slam poetry in this gently unassuming but powerful film”

LITTLE WHITE LIES – ★★★★ “Striking and stunning - a perfectly formed documentary. Seriously memorable with spine-tingling recitals.  Joyfully unsentimental and pays a great deal of respect to the subjects.

BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH - “We Are Poets is’s poetry itself. Poetry is an art, filmmaking is an art, it takes great sensitivity to bring them together - this film shows us how it's done!”

At the heart of WE ARE POETS are the six teenagers that make up the Leeds Young Authors team.  Each member is unique – hailing from varying racial, cultural and social backgrounds – yet they must work together to embrace their differences, combine their forces and unite as a team.  These are people you simply don’t often see on screen and each has their own fascinating story.

Saju Ahmed, is a 19-year-old of Bangladeshi/Irish heritage, he is a reformed character who was offered an ultimatum in high school; choose between expulsion or extra curricular work with Leeds Young Authors. After being with the group for 4 years he is now the team captain - “Leeds Young Authors helped distract me from my criminal activities in school … I never thought I’d get this far, they gave me a stage to be heard”

Maryam Alam is 16 and from Kashmir.  As a young Muslim woman from a strict upbringing, she writes to explore her faith and counter the negative stereotypes of her culture. “Muslim girls rarely stand up and talk. I want to represent their voice”.  It is her first time as part of the team and she is apprehensive about how an American audience will react to her provocative poetry examining the USA’s foreign policy.

Joseph Buckley is a 16-year-old sci-fi fan, who when growing up in an all white community was a victim of racism, only to suffer again in his teens from the black community, due to his mixed race heritage –“When I was young I thought my name was nigger; I was on the outside - literally”. Through his frustration and anger, Joseph developed into a powerful performer who confronts his turbulent childhood in his poetry – “Did you ever hear of the mixed race kid who joined the BNP? I am a broken bridge between two worlds; broken by other people’s perceptions and broken by myself”.

Kadish Morris is 16 and, despite projecting a carefree image, she is the team’s most determined individual. She has been with LYA since its inception 8 years ago and has Poetry and performance in her blood. She views her work as a catalyst for change and is informed by her experiences growing up in a community where the issue of race is always at the fore. As the most experienced member of the team she often coaches younger poets and high school teams.

Rheima ‘Mimz’ Ibrahiim is a calm and candid young woman of Jamaican heritage and first ‘slammed’ at Brave New Voices aged just 12 years old. Now aged 16, she knows first hand of the deep-set problems of drugs and violence in her local neighbourhood and the devastating affects of falling into the wrong crowd.  “As easy as it is to think you can go stab or shoot someone, it’s just as easy for them to think they can do the same to you…I’ve been to too many funerals.”  Her poetry is a reaction to the social stigma of her community and a bold attempt at making sense of what she sees around her.

Azalia Anisko is the winner of the local LYA Poetry Slam and is awarded the first place on the team set for the states. Combining humour and dynamic performance, her poetry focuses on the angst of everyday teenage life growing up as a young woman in Britain. “I tell my family ‘its not that kind of poetry’…they just think poetry is roses are red, violets are blue”.  All she knows is Leeds but, with a Polish mother and West Indian father, she often finds herself torn between cultures.  Her troubled relationship with her absent father has made her more determined than ever to prove her worth to him and succeed in Washington DC.

Awards Won to Date

Winner Youth Jury Award, Sheffield Doc Fest 2011

Winner Best Documentary Award, Darklight Festival Dublin 2011

Winner Goethe Film Prize, Berlin Zebra Film Festival 2012

Winner Audience Award, Univerciné Film Festival 2012

Official selection, Guadalajara International Film Festival 2012

Official selection, Bradford International Film Festival 2012

Official selection, New Zealand Doc Edge Film Festival 2012

Gala Presentation, Leeds Young People’s Film Festival 2012

Official selection, Sottodiciotto Film Festival 2012

About the Filmakers

‘We Are Poets’ is the directorial debut of Alex Ramseyer-Bache & Daniel Lucchesi.

In 2004, whilst studying a degree in film production, Alex began work in education and community arts delivering film projects in some of Yorkshire’s most disadvantaged and ethnically diverse areas.  As a freelance director/cameraman and as a director/editor with Access Moving Image Films, he has since worked closely with campaign groups, schools, councils, community projects and artists in the region, directing a diverse range of hard hitting films exploring social cohesion and youth culture.  This collaboration with the local communities, and a desire to represent a positive and change provoking image of young people, culminated with the work he and his creative partner Daniel Lucchesi have done with the LYA poetry group and led to the now award winning WE ARE POETS.

Daniel began his career in his early teens making skateboarding videos for local skate shops; he has since maintained a far less demanding career in film and television. He graduated from the Leeds Northern Film School in July 2007 where he met long-term creative partner Alex Ramseyer-Bache, whom he co-directed and produced his first feature film with, the award winning ‘We Are Poets’. He now lives and works in London as a freelance PD, cameraman and editor for a number of major production companies on high-end television programmes. He also writes and directs comedy sketches for the BBC with his comedy group Rocket Sausage. Recently, Broadcast Magazine named Daniel a 2011 TV Hotshot.


Leeds Young Authors (LYA) is a grassroots youth organisation founded in 2003 by Khadijah Ibrahiim in the socially deprived area of Chapeltown, Leeds, UK. LYA promotes active literacy, social, political and cultural awareness by creating spaces to celebrate youth voices, and offers the opportunity for young people to develop their artistic abilities as confident writers and live performers across race, class, gender, culture and sexual orientation. LYA has offered free literature and creative writing workshops to dedicated young writers every week for the last 8 years. They participate in competitions known as ‘Poetry Slams’ where teams or individuals perform their work to an audience and panel of judges. LYA placed second in the world at Brave New Voices 2009 and won the 2010 UK national slam.  Every year they organize their own local individual slam, and high school team slam, with teams of poets from high schools across Leeds.  At the individual slam the winner of the event is given a place on the team that will travel to America to compete at Brave New Voices (BNV).

Brave New Voices (BNV) was created by Youth Speaks Inc in 1998 after the inaugural Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in San Francisco—the first poetry slam dedicated to youth in the nation’s history. Since that time, Brave New Voices has grown to represent youth from all across the United States, Europe and Asia, making it the largest ongoing spoken word event in the world.

‘We Are Poets’ is now available to book for a screening:

Useful Links:
Official website:

Book a Screening:



Brave New Voices & Youth Speaks:

2013 Cardiff International Poetry Competition Closing Date: Friday 15th February 2013

The closing date for the 2013 Cardiff International Poetry Competition is almost upon us! But don't fret if you haven't entered yet, there is still just enough time to send us your winning entry. The first prize-winner will walk away with a cheque for £5,000 for just one poem. Further prizes available are £500 for second place, £250 for third plus five runners-up will receive £50 each.

The competition is accessible to all; it doesn’t matter if you are an established poet or just dabble with verse now and then. All entries to the competition will be judged anonymously, so this is a great opportunity to have your poetry judged on its own merits.

The hard tasking of judging the 2013 competition will be down to none other than former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, and filter judge Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch. For more information on the judges click here.

If you think you have what it takes to delight the judges and get your hands on the top prize of £5,000, then send Literature Wales your poems now. Just make sure your poem is no longer than 50 lines long, is unpublished, in English and is not a translation of another author’s work. Send it, along with your entry form and payment, to Literature Wales.

The closing date is Friday 15th February 2013
To download an entry form, visit:

Check out our interview with last year's winner here:

Source: Literature Wales

Author Events in Peterborough this Spring!

Vivacity now has a new booking system so you can buy your tickets from any Peterborough library, not just Central Library and  Waterstones on Bridge Street will also have tickets for sale.

Experience Seventeenth Century England – fiction, fact, and food!
With Author Charlotte Betts and Re-enactor Lynda Carvell

Saturday 23rd March, 2pm
John Clare Theatre, Peterborough Central Library
£5 (£4 concessions & reading group members) including refreshments
Tickets available from any Peterborough Library and Waterstones Bridge Street

Join historical novel writer Charlotte Betts and re-enactor Lynda Carvell on a journey back to the 17th Century, with an afternoon of fact and fiction.

Charlotte’s latest novel 'The Painter's Apprentice' is set during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a significant event in British history. She will talk about why she loves writing historical fiction and the extensive research involved. She will read from some of her sources as well as her novels.

Re-enactor Lynda Carvell will join Charlotte to reveal the realities of life at the time. She will demonstrate the clothes the book’s characters would have worn.

Both author and re-enactor will reveal lots of other fascinating details of life in the 17th Century – including recipes and cooking techniques, with a chance to taste a 17th Century biscuit!

Copies of Charlotte’s books will be available for purchase and signing.

'The Apothecary’s Daughter' (2011) won a number of awards.  'The Painter’s Apprentice' is her latest book.

Further information on the event is available here:


World Book Night Author Event with Crime Writer S J Bolton
Folklore and Forensics: making sense out of the nightmare!

Tuesday 23rd April, 7pm
Peterborough Central Library
Tickets £5 (£4 concessions and reading group members)
Available from any Peterborough library, and Waterstones Bridge Street

Free prize draw included - great book giveaways!

Celebrate World Book Night with crime author S J Bolton. She will be speaking about how she became a writer and the particular sort of Gothic crime novel that has become her trademark.

Her new book is 'Like This For Ever':

Barney knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. He will drain the body of blood, and leave it on a Thames beach.
There will be no good reason for Lacey Flint to become involved . . . And no chance that she can stay away.

Face your darkest fears, but keep telling yourself it’s only fiction . . .

Copies of her books will be available to purchase and have signed.

S J Bolton is the author of five critically acclaimed novels. Her books have been shortlisted for several international awards, including the CWA Gold Dagger, and the Theakston's Old Peculier prize for crime novel of the year.

Further information on the event is available here:

Monday, 11 February 2013

Wanted - London Poets and UK Artists!

A new project for 2013. 

Jaybird Live Literature and Southbank Centre are planning a large scale poetry commissioning project for Summer and Autumn 2013.

They are going to find one poet connected to each of London's 33 boroughs* and ask them to create a new poem inspired or provoked by that borough.

They will then introduce each poet to an artist (visual, theatrical or digital) who will interpret the new poem and send it out into the world: launching it from a relevant borough location, from a space in Southbank Centre as part of the 2013 Neighbourhood Festival, and from the web.

They need poets, one of them connected to every London borough. Poets can be well established or just starting out, they can write in English or other languages, they can be native or adopted Londoners, they can be page or performance poets - but they must be able to respond to a specific commission creatively and professionally. It is unlikely that we will select poets who are still unpublished beyond magazine level, or who have as yet only given a couple of performances. A poet's connection with a borough may be that s/he lives /d there, was born there, works/ed there or experienced some genuinely significant life event there. (What's my borough? Check here.)

They need artists who can work imaginatively with text, whether visually, theatrically or digitally. They must be UK based, but they do not need to be London based. Artists can be individuals, partners or collectives, they can be well established or just starting out - but they must be able respond to a specific commission creatively and professionally and create an interpretation of an existing poem which is sympathetic to the qualities of that poem, and which is conceptually and / or physically robust. We are unlikely to select artists with no track record of delivering similar work.

If you can project a giant poem in light up the side of a wall, if you can make a poem grow in moss graffiti, if you can send a poem in morse code to search for extra terrestrial life (or similar!) we'd like to hear from you. We are looking for performances, happenings, large and small-scale installations, takeaways ... whatever delights us. Please bear in mind that while some interpretations will have a budget of £1,000s, most will have budget of £100s. We need your ideas and skills to carry our newly commissioned poems into the hearts of Londoners throughout 2013.

This new project will be managed by Julia Bird of Jaybird Live Literature; and Bea Colley, Participation Producer at Southbank Centre and one of the organisers of Poetry Parnassus in 2012.

How to Recommend ...
Poets and poet recommenders: please email Julia and Bea at with your / the poet's name, your / their borough if you know it, and a link to your / their website or online presence. We do not need detailed CVs or suggestions at this stage, just enough information to be able to follow up if we choose. Please title your email 'Poet Recommendation'.

Artists and artist recommenders: please email Julia and Bea at with your / the artist's or collective's name and a link to your / their website or online presence. We do not need detailed CVs or suggestions at this stage, just enough information to be able to follow up if we choose. Please title your email 'Artist Recommendation'.

A more detailed brief will be provided for poets and artists who are selected to take part.

All recommendations must be received by 18th February 2013.

The delivery of this project will take place in three stages over Summer and Autumn 2013 and the poets and artists we select will be notified within plenty of notice of any commissioning deadline. Because of the expected volume of recommendations, we will probably not be able to respond individually to the poets and artists we don't select. Details of the selected poets and artists will be announced on this website.

Please note 1: Organisers are expecting to receive many more recommendations than there are opportunities. Between them, Jaybird and Southbank Centre manage many poetry-related projects so all individuals will be borne in mind for possible future projects even if they are not selected to take part in this one.

Please note 2: This project depends in part on a successful Arts Council England funding bid. The poets' and artists' commissions will be paid opportunities, but no-one will be officially commissioned until the funding is in place.

* 32 boroughs, plus the City of London

Source: The Poetry Library

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Tom Palmer, Author, Latest News ...

I am currently on the final editing stage of my new children's book, "Ghost Stadium" for Barrington Stoke, out in June. You can find out more here.

In the meantime, there are some exciting international dates coming up this term linked to my children's books and please sign up to my newsletter for FREE literacy resources that will encourage reading for pleasure in your school or library.

To order your free poster pack or for any further information please do email
Dates for your Diary
Six Nations Rugby tournament: 2nd February-16th March

Free Resource : Rugby Reading and Love Rugby: Love Reading Two free packs full of ideas to help you get children into reading for pleasure through rugby

Read : Scrum!  A passion for rugby and a dilemma about it too lies at the heart of this touching story of a boy with a big decision to make.

You can also read my blog about using the Six Nations to promote reading.

Fairtrade Fortnight: 25th February-10th March

Free Resource : Fair Play teaching pack based on my research trip to Ghana is about Fair trade, football and literacy.

Read : Foul Play 3-Offside  Young detective Danny Harte helps a young footballer from a Ghanian cocoa farming family who is trafficked to the UK

Climate Change week: 4th March-10th March

Free Resource : The Pack Ideas for thinking about ecological issues including the melting ice in the Arctic and the scramble for the oil and gas underneath the seabed of the Arctic Circle.

Read : Squad 2-White Fear  Teenage spies are summoned to the deadly and frozen land of the Arctic Circle by the British Prime Minister prevent international war breaking out.

World Book Day: 7th March 2013

Free Resource : Award or start my Series Reading Challenge, with sticker books and progress charts and signed & personally dedicated certificates for any child reading all of my Football Academy or Foul Play series.

Find all my free resources here.

(Thanks to Tom Palmer for this info.)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Award-winning Irish poet Maurice Riordan is the new Editor of Poetry Review

The Poetry Society are delighted to announce that award-winning Irish poet Maurice Riordan is the new Editor of Poetry Review. Maurice will take up the role later in the year, beginning with the autumn issue of the magazine, which will be published in September 2013.

Looking forward to his Editorship of the Review, Maurice said: “It’s a good moment for poetry now the century is gathering pace. I sense a disturbing and creative energy in the air, alongside the vast new reach of our science and technologies. I’d want to plug in to that – and also to re-establish links with what’s happening in poetry elsewhere, initially in North America.”

An experienced poetry editor as well as an acclaimed poet, Maurice has edited numerous anthologies and was Editor of Poetry London from 2005 to 2009. He is currently Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University. 

Riordan’s poetry collections (all published by Faber) include A Word from the Loki (1995), a Poetry Book Society choice and shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize; and Floods (2000), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award. The Holy Land won the 2007 Michael Hartnett Award. A new collection, The Water Stealer, will be published this year. 

Guest Editors Moniza Alvi & Esther Morgan are producing the spring issue of the magazine, to be published at the end of March. The summer 2013 issue of Poetry Review will be guest edited by the leading poet, translator and novelist Patrick McGuinness.

Find out more via the Poetry Society media room at:

Source: Poetry Society Member Newsletter

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Second Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Author is Announced!

Eleven Doctors. Eleven months. Eleven authors. Eleven stories.

A year long celebration for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who!

The second instalment in a sensational series of stories celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is written by Michael Scott, New York Times best-selling author of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi TV show in the world and celebrates its 50th anniversary on 23rd November 2013. To celebrate, Puffin – in partnership with BBC Worldwide – is publishing an exclusive series of eleven ebook short stories each based on one of the Eleven Doctors, priced at £1.99 and released on the 23rd of each month from January to November 2013. Each story is written by a different author, bringing together some of the most exciting names in children’s fiction, from commercial blockbusters to literary award-winners. These authors will each bring their own interpretation and reimagining of their chosen Doctor to create a unique Doctor Who adventure in their own inimitable style.

On 23rd January, Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer launched the series with A Big Hand For The Doctor, his short story about the First Doctor, played by William Hartnell.

The authors of the subsequent eshorts will continue to be unveiled on the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who Facebook page on the first Tuesday of every month throughout the year.  A promotional video featuring the author will be released on the 11th of each month on the BBC Worldwide Doctor Who YouTube channel.

Puffin is thrilled that Michael Scott has written the second instalment in this series based on the Second Doctor. The author commented: “Everyone has their ‘own’ Doctor – usually the one they first started watching. Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, was mine and so writing this story was an opportunity to revisit a really important part of my childhood. There are elements of Patrick Troughton in every Doctor who followed – that's how influential and important he is.”

When Jamie McCrimmon brings the Doctor a mysterious book, little does he realise the danger contained within its pages. The book transports the TARDIS to a terrifying glass city on a distant world, where the Archons are intent on getting revenge on the Time Lord for an ancient grudge.

Photo by Perry Hagopian
About Michael Scott

Michael Scott (@flamelauthor) is one of Ireland's most successful and prolific writers for both children and adults. Michael has over 100 titles to his credit and has written in a variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction and horror, and is considered an authority on mythology and folklore.  In 2007, The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, the first in a ground-breaking young adult fantasy series, launched straight into the New York Times bestseller’s list, spending 16 weeks in the top ten. All six books in the series have been New York Times bestsellers and the series is now published in 37 countries. He lives in Dublin. For more information visit

Source: Press release.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Guest Blog by Pete 'Cardinal Cox', Poet

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year. As Poet-in-Residence for a church I managed to write around a dozen poems inspired by Christmas, some religious, some historical, some reflecting a handful of the minorities of Peterborough. I wangled a performance at one carol service, though some ask why I might go to such a thing being an atheist, I point out that my love of mince pies outweighs any ethical or philosophical objections I might otherwise have. The church also hosts the annual Holocaust Memorial Service and so I penned a poem for that too.

As part of a local circle of poets I performed at the Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival at the beginning of January. The festival is one largely of folk dance and music that also includes storytelling and (for the fourth year now) us performing our poetry in the local library. We always manage to attract an audience and always enjoy the day. However, any description of the festival has to include the phrase “Well, you know the film The Wicker Man …”

I was idly remembering a poetry festival I attended in Oxford ten years ago. On the Friday night I got to the venue early and so had a bit of a wander around to waste some time. When I returned I could see some people lounging around outside, apparently enjoying the evening air and sharing some liquid refreshment. Fortunately before I haled them as fellow poets I realised that they were actually using the homeless day centre next door. Well, it’s an easy mistake to make …

Sometimes you’ll get into a discussion about the relative merits of poets, and previously there has been no firm way to decide who is the better. I say previously because I’ve just bought the book “Poets Ranked by Beard Weight” by Upton Uxbridge Underwood, with commentary by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert (published by Skyhorse Publishing). No longer need we ponder over the relative merits of Lord Tennyson or Walt Whitman, as this tome clearly states Tennyson had the better beard. Sir Walter Raleigh or Dante Gabriel Rossetti? It’s the Pre-Raphaelite by a whisker (if you’ll excuse the pun). The introduction to the book is by Jack Passion, who won a title at the World Moustache and Beard Championships held in Brighton in 2007. By a curious co-incidence (and for reasons I’ll not go into here) I hi-jacked and took control of the photography lounge at that very championship.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Oundle Festival of Literature March Events


Rachel Joyce Event – 1st March

Rachel will be in conversation with Fiona Cumberpatch, Editor of Nene Valley Living.

1st March at 7.30pm in St Peter's Church, Oundle. Ticket prices £7 (£5)

They will be discussing her first novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has been shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Award and was also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. It was selected as one of Waterstone’s 11 for 2012.


William Nicholson Event - 16th March

16th March at 7.30pm in St Peter's Church, Oundle. Ticket prices £8 (£5)

 William has written many books for teenagers and adults .He will be talking about his new novel Motherland which will be released in February.

 This is a powerful story of a love triangle set in England, France, India, and Jamaica against the backdrop of World War II.
Motherland follows three characters sharing their hopes and dreams, love and losses amidst war and its aftermath.

Bill will also be talking about his career as a screenwriter. He has written award winning plays for television such as Shadowlands and Life Story, plus numerous films such as First Knight, Grey Owl, Gladiator, (as co-writer), and Les Misérables which has just been released to great acclaim.


A.F.Harrold Event - 17th March

17th March 2.00pm St Peter’s Church Oundle. Ticket price £4

A. F. Harrold is an English poet and performance poet who has performed at most of the Literary and Poetry Festivals, besides several Comedy Festivals and the Edinburgh Fringe.
He has won numerous poetry slams (live performance poetry competitions) including the Cheltenham Festival UK All-Stars title and was the Hammer and Tongue UK Champion two years running.

He has performed in Denmark, Canada, France and the USA, and his work is widely published in UK poetry magazines

He will be promoting three titles: Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away From the Circus (And Joined The Library); Fizzlebert Stump & The Bearded Boy; and a poetry collection, I Eat Squirrels.

Tickets from Oundle Box Office Tel 01832 274734, online at  Any queries contact Helen Shair at or telephone 01832 274134.