Thursday, 30 May 2013

Guest Blog from Pete Cox, Poet

“And so my residency at St. John the Baptist came to an end. When I started there in April 2012 my vague ambitions were to try to write a poem a month, to raise some publicity and possibly write something in the style of a Medieval Mystery play (provisional title ‘Bring me the Head of John the Baptist’). What I actually got out of the year at the church were:
New poems, I actually wrote over fifty and they were poems that I wouldn’t have otherwise written. Every poet, I suspect, needs some inspiration at times and this proved to be mother-lode, though I did have to put a couple of other projects aside. Also this work was intentionally accessible as I know sometimes my work can be obscure or obtuse. We have a small grant so I’m hoping we can put a book together of the poems to sell in the church, but that is still to be sorted out.

New audience, around twenty of the poems were used in the regular parish newsletter and some others were used on websites associated with the church. I also got to perform individual poems at events in the church and at the inter-denominational service for Good Friday. Surely bringing poetry to a fresh audience is something every poet should aim for.

A new act, out of those poems I’ve put together an act of 30 – 40 minutes in length to offer around based around the fact that had you asked me before my year (and, indeed, as I was asked on radio at the very start) I’d have said I was an atheist and did that year shake my doubt?

As for my aspiration of publicity, I regret I only got one piece in the local newspaper, one piece in a local listings magazine and four times onto the local radio station. I had been sending out releases every two/three months but the fish weren’t biting in that pond.

The Mystery play remains a set of outlines and drafts of the loosest sort. From my mixing with the local amateur dramatic circuit I know who I’d want to play God (she’d be sitting at the top of a ladder reading the Weekly World News) and Gabriel (to be played in the style of a brash reporter, all “Exclusive: Virgin Birth in Bethlehem. Pictures on page 2”). From my few performances with a local burlesque troupe I had an idea of who’d play Salome. Perhaps something for the future.

The one remaining function (at the time of writing) is to help select my replacement. I know that the number of applicants is down on last year and when I recently attended the final of the Poet Laureate of Stamford competition they’d had less entrants as well. I have to wonder if a successful holder of such posts might not put other people off, because they then realise that these aren’t some easy sinecure but rather something that deserves hard work befitting the honour of the position.

Now though I’m not looking for anything similar straight away, but if something comes along, you can be sure I’ll give it a good consideration.”

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

News from Dean Atta, Poet, plus competition to win tickets to Point Blank Poets and 2 signed poetry books ...

I have recently been to New York for a week and taught in a High School in Brooklyn. Back home in London I led a poetry workshop for young people at City Hall and Jadan and Will Smith came to visit us. And I was invited to speak at London Southbank University alongside Doreen Lawrence about the legacy of her son Stephen Lawrence. These have all been incredibly inspiring and humbling experiences from which I have drawn great strength. They have also prompted me to reflect and take a pause, give thanks and know that I am on the right path. 

I don't have time to pause for very long as the month of June is looking incredibly busy! I've put up all the dates on the events page of my website (including shows in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, London and Wales) but I wanted to let you know about one particular show this Saturday 1st June at Southbank Centre with Point Blank Poets. This show will invite questions and discussion with the audience in between poetry from myself, Bridget Minamore, Deanna Rodger, Chimene Suleyman, Hollie McNish, Sabrina Mahfouz and a special musical guest Josh Osho. 

You can read more about the show here and win a pair of tickets and a signed copies of mine and Hollie McNish's poetry books:

Check out the events page on Dean's website for all his June shows:

You can also follow Dean on Twitter at

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: PATRICK NESS revealed as fifth author

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

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

The fifth instalment in a sensational series of stories celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is written by Patrick Ness, highly acclaimed author of the Chaos Walking trilogy and A Monster Calls, winner of the 2012 CILIP Carnegie medal.

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.

Following on from short stories by Eoin Colfer, Michael Scott, Marcus Sedgwick and Philip Reeve, Puffin is thrilled that Patrick Ness has written the fifth adventures in the series, based on the Fifth Doctor played by Peter Davison. Patrick Ness commented: ‘The Fifth Doctor is always the Doctor I thought most likely to be a novelist. People sometimes call him slightly passive, but I think it's more that he's observing, watching, waiting on the fringe to make his move. Just like any good writer. Which is why I've made this story one of those – which I've always liked – where the Doctor stays a bit out of the action and we see what happens through a non-canon character and get a whole different point of view of all the strange things happening. It's a bit how it feels when you watch the show as a young viewer.’

Synposis: In 1945, a strange new craze for Truth Tellers is sweeping the kids of small-town America. The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa soon arrive to investigate the phenomenon, only to discover that the actual truth behind the Truth Tellers is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined …

About Patrick Ness

Born in Virginia, USA Patrick Ness spent his upbringing in the states of Hawaii, Washington and California before moving permanently to the UK. He is the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy which established him as one of the most original and exciting writers of today. The trilogy has won many awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Costa Children’s Book Award, the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the CILIP Carnegie Medal. Patrick’s sixth book A Monster Calls received high critical acclaim and is the winner of the Children’s Book of the Year Award at the Galaxy National Book Awards, the Red House Children’s Book Award and the UKLA Children’s Book Prize. In June 2012, A Monster Calls became the first book ever to win both prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. His highly anticipated new novel for adults, The Crane Wife, was inspired by a Japanese folk tale and just published by Canongate in April 2013. A daring new YA novel More Than This is forthcoming later this year from Walker (Candlewick in the US).  Photo credit Debbie Smyth.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

PoetryQuest Community Project

The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts’ PoetryQuest project is supported by the MariaMarina Foundation and introduces 720 7-11 year old children from across the UK to performance poetry. The charity builds sustainble relationships between art venues across the country and their local schools to help to give schools the means and motivation to take their class into a new and inspiring environment. ach arts venue works to engage 4 local schools and 2 classes of year 5/6 students from each school.

This year PoetryQuest selected Francesca Beard and BREIS (plus Josh Solnick shadowing) at Kings Place, London; Levi Tafari and Mandy Coe at Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester and our very own Dead Poets (Mark Grist and MC Mixy) at Stamford Arts Centre, Lincolnshire.

PoetryQuest aims to give 720 children, who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity, the chance to work with a local performance space and professional poets to develop their poetry writing and performance skills. A pupil from The Royal Exchange Manchester said: “I feel now that I can do anything, be anything and could be whoever I want to be”!

The poets worked with the pupils over several weeks with the goals of encouraging them to get to know and enjoy poetry writing and performance, to help them  feel comfortable in a performance space by using writing and performance techniques to inspire and engage them both in the venue and back at school and to encourage children to write and perform their own poems. The wider aims of PoetryQuest are to impact positively on children’s academic interest, attainment and creativity, teaching the children skills which will build their confidence and self-esteem and inspire them to visit the venue with their families after the project has finished.

In addition to working with the children, the poets also provided 24 Key Stage 2 teachers with training in using poetry within the classroom to inspire their class’s creativitywhile still meeting curriculum targets.Teacher Will Power said: “Working with poets as part of The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts’ project ‘PoetryQuest’ I saw how my pupils were energised and inspired to look at their lives in a different way and to articulate this through rap and poetry”.

PoetryQuest is a fantastic project - building community links between poets, venues and schools, as well as giving children and teachers the opportunity to be part of something very special indeed! We caught up with Mixy (Dead Poets) after the event and he told us, "It was inspiring to work so closely with the schools around our own area, and a great feeling to see the high level of ability the students were able to achieve. A great project, run by great people".


For further information on PoetryQuest please visit their website.

For further info on the Dead Poets please visit us at Book a Poet

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Free Submissions Invited by Poems Underwater

Mermaids – half fish and half human – have a long cultural history, from the Wild Man of Orford to Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney – even Starbucks Coffee.The project has been looking specifically at the mermaid as a figure anchored in two or more communities with its needs met by neither.

But Poems Underwater is a collaborative project seeking to explore the figure of the mermaid from as many different creative viewpoints as possible.

We are looking for submissions of new artworks and writing to join the discussion and to be featured in a Poems Underwater zine and exhibition / poetry reading this September. 

Themes could include (but are not limited to):

  • queerness
  • migration
  • crossing borders
  • living in two or more places
  • feminism
  • waterways
  • sea creatures
  • hybrids
  • new versions of mermaid legends
  • not feeling at home
  • the environment and eco-consciousness
  • disability

Contribute writing

Please send no more than 6 previously unpublished pieces as attachments to by June 1st 2013.

They welcome short stories, flash fiction, poetry and non-fiction. But please do keep short stories under 2000 words, with poems no longer than 40 lines each.

Contribute artworks

As above – please send these as attachments or (if they’re large files) via WeTransfer or similar to by June 1st 2013.

We welcome artworks across all media, but please do not submit more than 6 pieces.
There is no entry fee for this project. Selected works will be displayed on this website as they come through, but we will let you know if your work has been chosen for inclusion in the Poems Underwater zine by June 20th.

The Poems Underwater launch event and exhibition will be held in London in September 2013.

If you’d like to clarify anything or ask any questions at all, please get in touch at


Friday, 17 May 2013

Alexandra Park Library Creative Writing Competition - Free Entry

The theme of the competition is ‘London Journey’.
Poems must not exceed 40 lines.

Flash Fiction must not exceed 500 words.  
Closing date for all submission is 31st May 2013.  
No entries will be accepted beyond that date.

Poems must be typed in single spacing and stories in double spacing. 
Paper submissions to:  Allen Ashley, c/o Alexandra Park Library, Alexandra Park Road, London N22 7UJ

Electronic submissions as a Word or RTF attachment to

Please put your name, contact details and title of your work on your manuscript. You may enter one poem and/or one story. 
There is no entry fee. 
All entries will be read by the judge, Allen Ashley.

A gift prize will be awarded to one winner in each category: Poetry and Flash Fiction.  Winners and runners-up will be invited to give a public reading at the library and poems and stories will be on display after the competition has been judged.  
Entries may also be placed on a website or in an email newsletter.

Email  for further details.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Recommended Read - 'The Border' (Poetry Collection) by Miles Cain

‘The Border’

By Miles Cain
Published by Valley Press
RRP £7.50 (paperback)
ISBN 9780956890443

One last thing. The heart’s just an engine,
a valve of sorts. That other stuff
(anger, jealousy, compassion etc) –
all of that is up to you. Ready now?
                              Deep breath. Sharp scratch. Here we go.

A woman borrows her husband tongue, a man spends years in a stalled car
, a teenage boy sees a crack divide his town ... In this impressive debut, York-based poet Miles Cain guides readers through an increasingly familiar dystopia of mind and city; a world observed with accuracy, wit and heart. Insightful, surreal and surprising, The Border marks the arrival of a formidable new voice in British poetry.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Tendril Literary Magazine is open to submissions for its first issue ...

Tendril Literary Magazine is an online collection of poetry, short fiction, and other words published with the seasons.

Send your unusually compelling poetry, short fiction under 1,500 words, and/or cover art. They are especially interested in experimental, surrealist, and absurdist work. 

Deadline is June 1st 2013.

Tendril will be published online with the seasons and a yearly anthology of highlights from the online magazine is probable.  

For complete guidelines, visit

Friday, 10 May 2013

Recommended Read - 'Pluto' (poetry collection) by Glyn Maxwell


By Glyn Maxwell
Published by Picador Poetry, April 2013
RRP £9.99 (paperback)
ISBN 9781447231585

Pluto – the non-planet, the ex-planet – is the dominant celestial influence in Glyn Maxwells new collection: Pluto is a book about change, the before-and-after of love, the aftermath of loss: change of status and station, home and place, of tense and pronoun. It also marks a radical departure for one of our most celebrated English poets: his formidable skills as a rhetorician and dramatist are suddenly directed inwardly, to produce poems of brutal self-examination, raw elegy, and strange songs of the kind those bruising encounters often leave us singing to ourselves. In Pluto, Maxwell has set out something like a metaphysic of the affair; the result is a lean and concentrated poetry of great emotional power, and far and away his most directly personal work to date.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Somerset Maugham is one of the most outstanding British authors. He was popular in his age and in his writings he arose many social and psychological problems. He was an incredibly talented novelist, had many works and his popularity reaved of rest the other, less popular writers. He was blamed for plagiarism, however he survived and that rumor didn’t affect his reputation and successful career. 

His writings impress greatly by the vividness and critical thinking. His manner of writing makes you feel a participant of the described actions. “Theatre” is not an exception. In this story the author introduces to us an incredibly talented woman – Julia Lambert. Though Somerset was an ordinary observer of the plays and was never close to the theatre life, he described so realistically the idea, which was firstly conveyed by Shakespeare: “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players”. Julia Lambert is a vivid confirmation of this quote.  If you are an attentive reader, you will see, that in real life Julia just choose the appropriate role from one or another play. The author describes her numerous affairs with different men, and she thinks that she feels real passion and love; however this is not true in reality. Roger, her son, is the only person who dares provide a glimpse of reality to her. At the end of the story, Roger tells her that he doesn’t know when she is real, and whether she can anyway be real. At this moment of truth, when her only son tells her about his disappointment in his mother, she thinks whether she can play the mother of Hamlet. At the end of the story, she triumphantly breaks the dreams of the young actress and her play on the stage is one of the best in her life. After this success, sitting alone in the cafĂ©, she proves to herself that her acting IS the real life, thus demonstrating to us the whole tragic moment.

To my way of thinking, in this novel, Julia Lambert is an embodiment of the whole society. As a matter of fact, people lie to each other pursuing their own aims – and this vice exists outside the hours. The problem is conveyed clearly. May be it is high time to stop running and thinking only about ourselves. We forget about human values, care about our ego and satisfy only our needs.  We are full of primitivism, greediness and prosaicness. Where is the romantic in the relationships, where is the desire for adventures and heroic deeds? I think the author asks us these questions between the lines and our task is to answer them to ourselves. And maybe we can realize that we should be real and don’t hide our faces behind the mask of pretense.

About the author: Paul Smith is a writer. He has rich experience, a great number of articles and the variety of topics impresses greatly. Leave your comments and remarks; he will surely take them into consideration. You can find out more about Paul at

Monday, 6 May 2013

The 2013 Poetry Proms - Calling All Poets Who'd Like to Perform!

The 2013 Poetry Proms have relocated to the busy seaside town of New Brighton. Offering easy access, reasonably priced accommodation (at Travelodge) for visiting poets, great venues, and a buzzing location, this year’s events promise to be even better than last year. 

There will be plenty of opportunity for all poets to perform between 2pm and 4:30pm on Saturday 6th July at any number of our hosted venues. There will also be free opening and closing events for everyone to meet, socialise, and chill! Local hosts The Bards of New Brighton and Tales by the Fireside will again be joined by Chester Poets offering a wide range of performance opportunities. Further details of venues will be announced in the coming weeks, but we can already confirm that the iconic Fort Perch Rock will be one venue on the day. 

In addition there will be an outdoor venue in the newly built performance "ampitheatre" right in the heart of the town for those with a penchant for performing to the crowds! Interested? We think you should be! For more details, or to register as a performer on the day, just drop an e-mail to and It’s as easy as that!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Our Recommended Reads for April 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 April 2013. (You can read our reviews and recommendations here.) If you'd like to get your book on our reading list send us an email that includes a press release and we'll get in touch!

‘100 Ways to Write Badly Well’ By Joel Stickley, Published by Nasty Little Press
‘Biff, Chip & Kipper: Levels 1-2 Reading Skills Activity Book' and ‘Biff, Chip & Kipper Levels 1-2  Phonics Activity Book’ Published by Oxford University Press
‘The Border’ By Miles Cain, Published by Valley Press
‘Sun Catcher’ By Sheila Rance, Published by Orion Children’s Books
‘Catch That Bat!’ By Adam Frost, Published by Bloomsbury
‘Little Owl's Orange Scarf’ By Tatyana Feeney, Published by Oxford University Press
‘Witch Fire’ By Laura Powell, Published by Bloomsbury
‘Arcadia Burns’ By Kai Meyer, Published by Templar Publishing
‘Hugh Shampoo’ By Karen George, Published by Oxford University Press
‘Sidney, Stella and the Moon’ By Emma Yarlett, Published by Templar Publishing
‘Smugglers Kiss’ By Marie-Louise Jensen, Published by Oxford University Press
‘A Lion in the Meadow’ By Margaret Mahy, Published by Orion Books
‘Waiting for Gonzo’ By Dave Cousins, Published by Oxford University Press
‘Lego Legends of Chima: Brickmaster - The Quest for Chi’, Published by DK Publishing
‘Pluto’ By Glyn Maxwell, Published by Picador Poetry

May'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).

Puffin Virtually Live Presents Jacqueline Wilson's Big Picnic on 9th May 2013

Puffin Virtually Live Presents Jacqueline Wilson's Big Picnic
is taking place on Thursday 9th May
11.30-12.15pm BST presented by Radio 2's Simon Mayo.

Jacqueline Wilson invites school children nationwide to join in on a Big Picnic with her to celebrate 155 years since the birth of E. Nesbit and all the wonderful picnics that take place in her own tribute novel to Nesbit, 'Four Children and It'. The event will end with a grand picnic and we are encouraging schools nationwide to get pupils to bring in picnic food to share with their class mates at the end of the event (indoors or outdoors!).


In advance of the event, you can download a preparation pack which includes everything you need to prepare children for the event with enough material for between 5 and 6 hours of lessons.

LOG IN or REGISTER now to get involved.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts: The Many Adventures of Enid Blyton

Seven Stories, Newcastle: From Saturday 4th May

One of the best-selling writers for children of all time, Enid Blyton’s stories have delighted generation after generation. This exhibition will show, for the first time, Seven Stories’ unique Enid Blyton Collection of original typescripts and illustrations. Admission fee applies. For more information, visit

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Featured Poem for May 2013 - Heart-Stopper by Richard Tyrone Jones

The ward’s tourniquets sport smiling cartoon Draculas;
All night, old men’s alarms have burst my dreams.
A med. student, red-nailed, raven-haired, immaculate,
asks so many questions it’s like she wants to date me.
She reads my wrist with slow, sharp-clawed precision
then joins the rounds – if I were well I’d like to rip her skirt off.
And at that thought, dark lightning tears my chest.
Sweat-drenched, I paw for oxygen, panic button,
it’s like my plug’s been pulled – breath fades so fast
I whimper ‘Mum, I love you’ with my last….
But the heart monitor nurse bursts in, whips back the curtain,
shouts out ‘He’s had a gap!’ The rest
dash back, ask the student: ‘can you get his shirt off?’
She panics ‘How?’ They just cut it, like on television.
I’m flailing, failing, they’re about to defibrillate me
– ‘Clear’ – But two have already stabbed in canulas;
adrenalin stakes slow paths through my bloodstream.
I’m alive, but empty, trembling. ‘Vaso-vascular’.

© Richard Tyrone Jones 2013
Please do not use without the poet’s permission.

The spoken word sitcom version of 'Richard Tyrone Jones's Big Heart' will be broadcast on Radio 4 this Autumn ... Keep an ear out!

 For further information about Richard Tyrone Jones and his work please visit Richard's page here

Call for submissions: Voicewalks

The Durham Book Festival team at New Writing North is working with the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University on a special series of events which will take place during this year’s festival. As part of the project, they’d like to invite writers of all levels to contribute to a pamphlet of poetry, prose and non-fiction in English about hearing voices when walking in the city. In addition to a specially-commissioned piece by Iain Sinclair, StepAway magazine will publish a special issue of a collection of walking narratives by both voice-hearers and writers who creatively imagine hearing voices.

Submissions can be as long as a 1,000-word essay or story, or as short as a 17-syllable haiku. Submissions can be named or anonymous, as the writers wish. 

Deadline: 1st August 2013. 

For full details and to apply, see