Saturday 29 December 2012

BBC Commission new trailer featuring poetry!

A few weeks ago Book a Poet were contacted by a company who research and produce content for the BBC. They wanted Alison Chisholm to advise them about poetry, in particular poems that covered certain themes as they wanted to use a poem in their new trailer for BBC, to air on Boxing Day.

Alison worked with the team both from her home and visiting the team in London. Alison suggested a Cento - which, in essence, is a 'mash-up' of lines from other poems compiled together to make a new poem. The poem included lines from Alison as well as several other poets; John Keats, Arthur O'Shaughnessy, James Elroy Flecker, Walter Savage Landor, Pecry Bysshe Shelley and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

The finished Cento is:

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen,
But still I long to learn tales, marvellous tales,
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
How others fought to forge my world.
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What wild ecstasy?
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Step forward,
To feel the blood run through the veins and tingle
Where busy thought and blind sensation mingle.

Come, my friends, 'tis not too late,
For we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems;
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.

You can read an exclusive blog by Alison Chisholm at the BBC -

You can view the 'Celebrating BBC Two' advert on You Tube - - we are sure you'll enjoy it, it's beautifully done and we're very pleased to have been a tiny part of it!  

You can find out more about Alison Chisholm at Book a Poet!

Thursday 20 December 2012

Fenland Poet Laureate Competition Now Open!

Could you write a poem for Fenland?

Are you inspired by Fenland? Could you be the next Poet Laureate for Fenland?

Atelier East, working in partnership with Wisbech & Fenland Museum, are proud to announce the Fenland Poet Laureate Awards 2013. 

This is a chance for all writers from across the Fens to come together and share their poetry and help put Fenland on the map for creative writing!

‘Being Fenland Poet Laureate has been fantastic, and the best year of my life as a writer,’ said Elaine Ewart, Fenland’s current Poet Laureate, and one of the judges of this years competition.

‘Last year the competition was an amazing success and the awards evening was absolutely wonderful, with lots of people coming together to read, share, and enjoy poetry at a really friendly and relaxed event. We’d like to make this year even better and get even more people to come out for poetry in Fenland,’ said Karen Harvey, Director of Atelier East, who is a judge and founded the Awards in 2012.

In 2012 Karen and Atelier East were given a highly acclaimed Clore Poetry and Literature Award for the concept and delivery of the Fenland Poet Laureate, the success of the project was even reported in the Journal of the International Board for Books for Young People.

There are two categories to be entered; a Young Poet Laureate Award for 10-16 year olds, and for those over 17 there is the Fenland Poet Laureate Award. Entry to the competition is completely free, the deadline for entries is February 1st 2013, and there will be a special awards evening at Wisbech & Fenland Museum on Friday 1st March 2013. 

Entry forms are available across Fenland in libraries and museums, or by email from

Tuesday 18 December 2012

2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction: Full judging panel announced

The full judging panel for the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction was announced, Monday 17th December 2012.
The judges are: Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Natalie Haynes, Martha Kearney and Stuart Kelly. The panel is chaired by Robert Macfarlane, academic, critic and writer.

Robert Macfarlane comments on behalf of the panel:
‘The first books are in, and the reading begins: the 2013 Man Booker jury starts its work this week. I am fortunate to be joined on this year's panel by four outstanding judges: the renowned broadcaster, bee-keeper and former Chair of the Orange Prize for Fiction, Martha Kearney; the critic, academic and prize-winning biographer, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst; the broadcaster, classicist and critic, Natalie Haynes; and Stuart Kelly, essayist, polymath and former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday. We are all looking forward to the ten months, 140 novels and many meetings and conversations that lie ahead of us, as we search for the very best of contemporary fiction.’

The judges’ mission is to select as a winner the novel of the highest literary quality from the past year. Between them, they will read over 100 novels submitted by UK publishers.

The judges will announce the 2013 ‘Man Booker Dozen’ – 12 or 13 longlisted books – on 23rd July 2013, with the shortlist of six outstanding titles announced on 10th September 2013. The winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced on Tuesday 15th October 2013, at an awards ceremony at London’s Guildhall.

On the impact of the prize, former winner Howard Jacobson has commented: ‘I have seen from the inside the interest it generates, the new readers it finds, not just for winning the book, but – if that book has the power to stimulate – for literature in general. Books I wrote years ago, which I thought were long buried, have been touched back into life…’.

2013 will mark the 45th year of the £50,000 prize, launched in 1969. Hilary Mantel made history in 2012 when she won the prize for the second time with Bring up the Bodies, as the first woman and the first British author to win the prize twice.

Monday 17 December 2012

Northern Writers’ Awards open for submissions across the north of England

£40,000 up for grabs as search begins for literature’s leading northern lights

Whether you’re an author of crime fiction, a children’s novelist or short story writer, whether your passion is poetry or prose, New Writing North want to see your submissions. New and established writers alike are being encouraged to enter for the awards, which are now open to wordsmiths from all over the north of England – from Carlisle to Castleford, Leeds to Liverpool and Humberside to Tyneside.

Originally aimed at writers living in the North East, the annual awards scheme has now been expanded to include entrants from the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, while the prize fund has increased dramatically, thanks largely to a new partnership with Northumbria University.

The awards have different categories for new and established writers, and for prose and poetry. Prizes include bursaries for writing courses, professional critiques on your work in development, cash prizes to help you buy time to write, and even an international residency in Newcastle, Australia, with an exchange with the Hunter Writers’ Centre.

You have until 5pm on Thursday 31st January to enter, and you can get all the information and apply at

Sunday 16 December 2012

Essential Christmas Reads from

In these modern stressful times of austerity and ever increasing bills, it's easy to forget about the simple pleasures in life - the scent from a Christmas candle, a delicious mince pie straight from the oven, or that lovely warm feeling you get when you're snug up on the sofa with a good book while there's a blizzard blowing outside! So this year enjoy Christmas the traditional way, with mince pies, mulled wine and one of our great essential Christmas reads!

Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye
Agatha is dreaming of a white Christmas, with plenty of mulled wine and kissing under the mistletoe? But during the dark, grey days of early December Agatha is obsessed by her ex, James Lacey. In order to drive him from her thoughts (or possibly to win him back), Agatha concentrates on planning the perfect Dickensian Christmas, and is determined to not even let the murder of Mrs Tamworthy distract her from her task!


Night before Christmas
All Lydia's ever wanted is a perfect Christmas... So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She's been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies - all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card. But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year...


Home for Christmas
A heart-warming story of love and friendship in wartime from the bestselling author of 'Where the Heart is' and 'London Belles'. It's September 1940 and the London Blitz has begun. For the four girls living at No. 13 Article Row, life must go on, despite the nightly bombing raids. Home for Christmas is a tale of four very different young women thrown together by war, finding freedom and independence - as well as love, passion and heartbreak.


It's the night before Hogswatch, and all is quiet, actually a little too quiet! The Hogfather (that fat jolly man who delivers presents) is missing! In his absence, Death decides to adorn himself in a red suit, false bread and a few cushions and say 'Ho Ho Ho'. While he's busy working out the mysteries of climbing down chimneys and drinking sherry, it's up to Susan to track down the real Hogfather and save Hogswatch! Pratchett works his magic with his wise and witty observations of the traditions of Christmas in this dark and delightful tale.


The Snowman
For many families, The Snowman has become as much a part of Christmas as mince pies. First published in 1978 it was made into an animated film in 1982 and has enchanted children and adults around the world ever since. This year, to mark the 30th anniversary of the film, the team behind it have made a sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog, which is to be screened on Christmas Eve on Channel 4.


Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival Tickets Now On Sale

Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival which was launched last week with a sell-out event featuring Jeff Kinney; the creator of the children’s book phenomenon, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Before the event Jeff said: ”I'm delighted to be visiting Cardiff. I visited Wales 15 years ago and I've been eager to get back ever since. I'm very excited to get the chance to meet some of my Welsh fans and I'm honoured to be launching the Cardiff Children's Literature Festival."

The Festival will take place from Wednesday 20th March to Sunday 24th March 2013 and the programme boasts some of the best national and local contemporary authors and illustrators in both English and Welsh, promoting literacy and the arts with an inventive and accessible programme across the city.

Children across the age ranges will be encouraged to meet and interact with their favourite authors, and to discover new voices and characters, including previous Children’s Laureate Jacqueline Wilson, Horrible Histories illustrator Martin Brown, Dan Anthony, Cressida Cowell, Eurig Salisbury, Young People's Laureate for Wales Catherine Fisher, Lucy Christopher, Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell and Lydia Monks.

For budding adult authors there’s the chance to learn how to get that children’s novel published, while for inspiration there’s an exhibition of children’s books from the 17th to 20th century at Cardiff University from February to April.

A free schools programme of high-profile authors, illustrators and poets includes Anthony Browne, Simon James, Mererid HopwoodJeremy StrongBethan Gwanas and creator of young James Bond Charlie Higson.

Leading up to the festival an Outreach programme will take workshops in storyboarding, scriptwriting, poetry and prose, as well as visits from Welsh authors, out to primary school children across Cardiff and the surrounding area.

The Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival is organised by Cardiff Council, Literature Wales, Cardiff University and Amgueddfa Cymru / National Museum Wales.

Tickets are available to buy from TicketlineUK
or by calling 02920 230 130.

To view the full Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival events programme
and for more information, visit
  Twitter @CDFKidsLitFest

Source: Literature Wales

Thursday 13 December 2012

Magma Poetry Competition Closes soon!

Hello Poets,

There are three days left to enter Magma’s poetry competition

Three days to send through your best poems of 11 to 80 lines for Gillian Clarke for the Judge’s Prize.
Three days to send through your best poems of 10 lines or fewer for the Editors’ Prize.

£1,600 of prize money will be shared by 15 winners.
All 15 winners will be published in Magma 55 in 2013.
All 15 winners can read at the Competition Celebration Reading on 18th February 2013.

Closing date 16th December 2012.

Full details can be found here

Good luck!

Magma Poetry, Registered Office: 23 Pine Walk, Carshalton, Surrey SM5 4ES, UK.

From Magma Poetry.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Norwich and Norfolk Festival 2013

Festival organisers are delighted to confirm the hit of this summer’s London 2012 Festival, How Like An Angel, returns in 2013.

They also have a feast of music including the queen of fado, Mariza; rising star Woodkid and the storming Soul Rebels from New Orleans. As part of Benjamin Britten’s Centenary celebrations, there is a very special concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra, including a performance of Our Hunting Fathers originally commissioned for the 1936 Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Organisers are very excited to welcome the Nature Theater of Oklahoma to the Festival for their first ever visit to the UK. This ground-breaking New York company will present the first five parts of their epic work Life and Times.

In addition to the Festival, they are presenting the National Theatre of Scotland's multi-award winning drama Black Watch for five performances only in April.

The full 2013 Festival will be announced in March 2013.

For further details and to book tickets please visit:

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Hubbard's Half Hour on Resonance Radio

The radio feature is a reading from and discussing the background to 'Girl in White', Sue Hubbard's new novel on the artist Paula Modersohn Becker :

29th November 2912


Sue Hubbard

By Jonathan Taylor

“In art,” the Expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907) declared, “one is usually totally alone with oneself.” For a female artist in the early 20th century, such aloneness was radical in itself. It is Modersohn-Becker’s radical alones, as artistic pioneer and independent woman, which particularly fascinates Sue Hubbard in her new novel, a fictionalised account of the artist’s life.

In Girl in White, Modersohn-Becker’s life is portrayed as a series of struggles to assert independence, or “aloneness”, freeing herself from the conventions of German art, from financial dependence on men, and from the binds of family life. In all these struggles, she is only half-successful, never satisfied that her paintings quite attain her aesthetic vision.

During her most productive period – her last stay in Pars – she is destitute, and repeatedly compelled to appeal for financial aid from others, including her estranged husband. Ultimately, she returns from Paris to her husband in Germany, forced by history into this “compromise”. As one character puts it, “I don’t believe the world is yet ready for a woman artist to make it alone.”

Yet is it precisely this “aloneness” that is a perquisite for art. “Art without pain, without sacrifice, without loneliness,"  says Rainer Maria Rilke, one of Modersohn-Becker’s lovers, is “impossible”. It is the impossibility of Modersohn-Becker’s position – torn between the loneliness of art and enforced selflessness of her role as a wife – that destroys her. After returning to her husband, she falls pregnant, and dies shortly after childbirth.

The power of Hubbard’s novel for contemporary readers is in its distillation of dilemmas which, of course, are still pressing for women today. As Rilke wrote of Modersohn-Becker in his great poem “Requiem”, it is her spirit which, of all his dead friends, most seems to haunt the future.

Jonathan Taylor is the author of the novel ‘Entertaining Strangers’ (Salt) and the memoir ‘Take Me Home: Parkinson’s, My Father, Myself (Granta)

Order for £8.99 (free p&P from The Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

Thank you to Sue Hubbard for sending us this information.

Monday 10 December 2012

A Pint of Po-ho-ho-ho-etry and a Dasher of Drama

Come and join us for a festive edition of Pint of Poetry at Charters Bar, Peterborough on the 12th December at 8:30pm.

It'll be choc full of seasonal mirth with a healthy smattering of bah humbug ... and Mark (Grist) assures us that this year he will be wearing full Christmas fancy dress ...

If you would like to perform (seasonal theme is not mandatory) then come along on the 12th and find us (Mark and Summer), we'll be there from 8pm putting together the set list ... we love our performers so we'll be really happy to see you!

We also love our audience, so if you enjoy being entertained you should come and be part of our lovely audience, you'll also get a chance to take part in our Christmas competition to win an incredible Christmas prize ...

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Summer, Richard and Mark,
(The Pint of Poetry Team)

Join them on Facebook!

Friday 7 December 2012

The Winners of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards

The Winners of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards have been annouced - "the only major book awards decided by readers", voted by the public.

J.K. Rowling claimed the Best Fiction prize for her grown-up book 'The Casual Vacancy', with 11,525 votes, proving that critical receptions don't necessarily dictate the opinions of readers.

Gillian Flynn topped the Mystery and Thriller category for her immensely popular third novel 'Gone Girl'; Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's 'The Long Earth' lead in Science Fiction; and 'Fifty Shades Freed', the third part of the trilogy from E.L. James Grey dominated Romance, receiving over 22,000 votes.

And the Winners Are ...
  •     Best Fiction: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  •     Best Mystery & Thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  •     Best Historical Fiction: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  •     Best Fantasy: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King, Jae Lee illustrator
  •     Best Paranormal Fantasy: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  •     Best Science Fiction: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter
  •     Best Romance: Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James
  •     Best Horror: The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  •     Best Memoir & Autobiography: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by    Cheryl Strayed
  •     Best History & Biography: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
  •     Best Non-fiction: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  •     Best Food & Cookbooks: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond
  •     Best Humor: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
  •     Best Graphic Novel & Comics: The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, illustrator
  •     Best Poetry: A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
For further information please visit

Wednesday 5 December 2012

The Man Asian Literary Prize Longlist Announced

Three debut novelists and a Nobel laureate are among the 15 writers to make the long list for Asia's most prestigious literary prize, with entries spread across the region from Turkey to Japan.

The longlist for the $US30,000 Man Asian Literary Prize was drawn from 108 published works from nine different Asian countries, submitted to a panel of judges led by literary critic and journalist Maya Jaggi.

"The far-ranging stories on our longlist draw the reader into some beautiful and some gruelling landscapes," said Jaggi in a statement on Tuesday.

"From the glaciers of northern Pakistan to the unforgiving Saudi desert; from an affluent Istanbul seaside resort to a Bombay opium den - and further afield to Montreal and Mexico."

Silent House, an early work from Turkish writer and 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Orhan Pamuk, made the list after appearing in English for the first time.

Turkey and Iran are among the 35 countries eligible for the prize, which is looking for a new sponsor with London-based Man Group ending its funding for the Asian prize after the 2012 event.

A total of seven books appear in translation, including 'Northern Girls' by Chinese author Sheng Keyi, about a 16-year-old who abandons her Hunan village and heads for the bright lights of Shenzhen.

Other works include two books that were shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which was won by record-breaking British author Hilary Mantel for 'Bring up the Bodies' in October.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Malaysia's Tan Twan Eng follows a young law graduate who discovers the only Japanese garden in Malaya and its secretive owner and creator.

Jeet Thayil's Narcopolis, a three-decade exploration of opium addiction, was also shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and he is one of three Indian authors on the Asian Prize longlist.

'Goat Days' by Benyamin follows the fate of an expat worker in the Gulf who is propelled into a slave-like existence as a goat herder in the middle of the brutal Saudi desert.

Anjali Joseph's 'Another Country', follows a twenty-something woman through Paris, London and Bombay at the dawn of the millennium.

"This list testifies to the strength and variety of new writing coming out of a culturally emergent Asia," said Professor David Parker, executive director of the Asian Literary Prize.

"It is full of stories the world hasn't heard before and which the world needs to hear."

A shortlist of up to six titles will be unveiled in early January before a winner is announced in March.

The Man Asian Literary Prize began in 2007 and is given to the best novel by an Asian writer, either written in English or translated into English.

The 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize was awarded to South Korean author Kyung-sook Shin for her novel Please Look After Mom, a story about a family's guilty soul-searching after the disappearance of their elderly mother that has gone on to sell more than two million copies.

You can find out more at

Monday 3 December 2012

Recommended Reads for November 2012

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 November 2012. You can read our reviews and recommendations at:
‘Ghost Knight’ by Cornelia Funke (Published by Orion Books)
‘Blink Once’ by Cylin Busby (Published by Bloomsbury)
‘Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh’ by Clint Twist (Published by Templar Publishing)
‘Ravenwood: The Glass Forest (Book 2)’ by Andrew Peters (Published by Chicken House)
‘The Christmas Unicorn’ by Anna Currey (Published by Oxford University Press)
‘Collected Poems’ by Sean O’Brien (Published by Picador)
‘Seeking Crystal’ by Joss Stirling (Published by Oxford University Press)
‘Star Fighters: Stealth Force’ by Max Chase (Published by Bloomsbury)
‘Deadly Diaries’ by Steve Backshall (Published by Orion)
‘Where My Wellies Take Me’ by Clare and Michael Morpurgo (Published by Templar Publishing)
‘Ninjago: The Character Encyclopaedia’ (Published by Dorling Kindersely Books)
‘Santa is Coming to Peterborough’ (Published by
‘Cinderelephant’ by Emma Dodd (Published by Templar Publishing)
'The Weight of Water' by Sarah Crossan (Published by Bloomsbury) 

December'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).

Saturday 1 December 2012

Featured Poem for December 2012 by Penny Pepper

The Ballad of Cripplegate

Give me twenty pork chops, ten gallons of ale
Plague will chase us to our death, so come and hear my tale.
We don’t look like the king and queen of this or any land,
But we’re staying and we’re shouting, to sit and take a stand.
There’s deaf, there’s blind, there’s wailers, the war hacked with a crutch
We gather at old Cripplegate for a morsel and nonesuch.
Bold Alice had the pox last year, her face can still make trade,
Prettier ladies with nosegays may give some women’s aid.
Edward entertains the Lords and throws a splendid hobble,
He rolls and shakes those stumps around and turns a dandy wobble.
It’s years away to Bedlam days and now we’ll blame the devil
Rip my clothes, I am possessed, hair alarmed, dishevelled.
Harold rings a begging bell, his leper’s nose unseen
But underneath his wretched shirt, Alice knows what’s keen-o.
By the wall of that old church, it’s all about St Giles
And if you see the pious man we’ll limp away some miles.
The farthings fall quite thick and fast upon the cripples gathered,
Make sure the priest don’t scoop ’em first, they’re always greedy blaggards. 
Soon the law says invalids can’t move along the straight
Yet begging is our given lot so we’ll haunt this bloody gate.
Tempus fugit, time it flies but much it stays the same.
Disabled people’s begging bowls rust with a different name.
Young soldiers lurch to hearth and home, minus limbs and eyes,
Heroes for a paltry day, then fraudsters to despise.
The mental, and the chronic ill, discarded to the gutter
Pull your socks up, you lazy lumps, ministers will utter.
Some wheelies can get sporty, win para medals bold,
But if you can’t move much at all, they wish you dead and cold.
We’re scroungers and we’re spongers the tabloids can berate,
Once again, the circle’s turned, we’re wastrels you can hate.

But let us say we’re merely you and soon the time will come,
Human life has twists and turns – accept this conundrum.
Difference can be difficult in any human state -
But difference brings its own rewards,  accept and celebrate!

© Penny Pepper 2012
(Please do not use without the poet’s permission.

Image courtesey of BBC 4thought
Penny Pepper is a writer, poet and performer with an extraordinary versatility to her work. Her key interests are exploration of difference and diversity, and unpicking the irresistible dark underbelly to life – always with a questioning smile. Genre-defying and quirky, her work is infused with her passion as a veteran inclusive arts activist, including a focus on mainstreaming disability creativity. Find out more at