Category: Poetry News

28 Oct

A Little Winter Magic – Jackie Morris & Friends


Sunday 27th November 2022, The Globe , Hay-on-Wye SOLD OUT

The Poetry Bookshop is delighted to be welcoming Jackie Morris, Nicola Davies & John Mitchinson to The Globe at Hay celebrating 5 years of The Lost Words.

Feather, Leaf, Bark and & Stone, Unbound

Jackie will be chatting with her publisher John Mitchinson about the ever evolving phenomena that is The Lost Words. Hear how it has grown and where it has led her, including her beautiful and meditative new work from Unbound ‘Feather, Leaf, Bark and Stone’ A pillow book of poems, dreams & stories typed on sheets of gold leaf and recently beautifully narrated on film by Michael Sheen here and available for pre-order with collection at the event here

Limited Edition Jackie Morris Red Fox Tote Bag

Originally from Birmingham, Jackie settled in Wales in the mid 90s and says she lives in a house ‘held together by spider’s webs’ with ‘cats that come and go’. As well as her own poetry and writing she has illustrated the work of many authors, and as a fierce advocate for Independent bookshop Jackie released her exclusive limited edition ‘Books are my Bag’ fox bags which are available to buy here or at the event if there are any left!

Choose Love, Graffeg

Jackie will also be joined by her good friend and collaborator Nicola Davies, as they read from Nicola’s new book Choose Love published this month by Graffeg. In this moving sequence of poems Nicola Davies’s text combines with the superbly evocative illustrations of Petr Horácek to provide insight into the real-life experiences of refugees forced to leave their homes and previous lives behind to face an unknown future.

I offer these poems, in love and with respect, in the hope that readers will realise that nothing but circumstance separates any of us from the experience of being a refugee. Humanity faces an uncertain future, and there is only one choice that will get us through. We need to contemplate its deepest meaning and make it anew every day: Choose Love, choose love, every time.” Nicola Davies, 2022

Profits from Ticket Sales for this event will be split equally between three local chairties – Hay2Timbuktu, Hay,Talgarth & Brecon Refugees and Brecon Foodbank

27 Oct

Jan Skácel “Pebbles on a Child’s Palm

A tribute in words and music to Jan Skácel – Friday 18th November, 7.30pm

This event celebrates Skácel in his centenary year with readings in translation by local writer and translator Simon Pettifar accompanied by improvisational music from cellist Sonia Hammond and pianist Rod Paton, who has lived in the Czech Republic and was for a while a neighbour of the poet in Brno.

Places are limited so please reserve your place here – There is no entry charge but a contribution to Prison Phoenix Trust is invited on the evening

27 Oct

Alan Halsey 1949-2022

It is with sadness we write of the deaths of both Anne Stevenson, the founder of the Poetry Bookshop, & now Alan Halsey, its proprietor from 1981-1997. Anne’s “mad-cap idea” to set up the shop back in 1978 has, ever since, allowed its customers the rare thrill of finding themselves stood in a room entirely surrounded by poetry books you can browse & purchase. In addition to writing the first book on Elizabeth Bishop & her ground-breaking book on Sylvia Plath she was awarded both the Queen’s Medal for Poetry & the Neglected Masters’ Award in the US for her own work. Here is a poem she wrote during her brief, heady time in Hay

Spring comes little, a little. All April it rains.
The new leaves stick in their fists; new ferns still fiddleheads.
But one day the swifts are back. Face to the sun like a child
You shout, ‘The swifts are back!’

Sure enough, bolt nocks bow to carry one sky-scyther
Two hundred miles an hour across fullblown windfields.
Swereee swereee. Another. And another.
It’s the cut air falling in shrieks on our chimneys and roofs.

The next day, a fleet of high crosses cruises in ether.
These are the air pilgrims, pilots of air rivers.
But a shift of wing, and they’re earth-skimmers, daggers
Skilful in guiding the throw of themselves away from themselves.

Quick flutter, a scimitar upsweep, out of danger of touch, for
Earth is forbidden to them, water’s forbidden to them,
All air and fire, little owlish ascetics, they outfly storms,
They rush to the pillars of altitude, the thermal fountains.

Here is a legend of swifts, a parable —
When the Great Raven bent over earth to create the birds,
The swifts were ungrateful. They were small muddy things
Like shoes, with long legs and short wings,

So they took themselves off to the mountains to sulk.
And they stayed there. ‘Well,’ said the Raven, after years of this,
‘I will give you the sky. You can have the whole sky
On condition that you give up rest.’

‘Yes, yes,’ screamed the swifts, ‘We abhor rest.
We detest the filth of growth, the sweat of sleep,
Soft nests in the wet fields, slimehold of worms.
Let us be free, be air!’

So the Raven took their legs and bound them into their bodies.
He bent their wings like boomerangs, honed them like knives.
He streamlined their feathers and stripped them of velvet.
Then he released them, Never to Return

Inscribed on their feet and wings. And so
We have swifts, though in reality, not parables but
Bolts in the world’s need: swift
Swifts, not in punishment, not in ecstasy, simply

Sleepers over oceans in the mill of the world’s breathing.
The grace to say they live in another firmament.
A way to say the miracle will not occur,
And watch the miracle.

Anne Stevenson 1933 – 2020

However, it was the remains of Alan’s carefully curated stock that we “inherited” back in 1998. As is made evident by his own extensive work both as poet & editor his interest seemed boundless, whether in terms of modern innovative poetry or its most arcane 18th & 19th century practitioners. Even after all this time, that knowledge (all garnered in pre-internet times) remains an impossible act to follow! We leave the books to do their magic… Here is the second of two poems published in the Hereford Poems series of Five Seasons Press by Alan’s great friend & collaborator, Glenn Storhaug.

Song of the Rowan
Beam-branch bent down with berries
Hen-berries, witch-berries, dog-berry me.
Blown leaves pale-face the sun
My love has gone.

Quickbeam berry, summer’s curse
Blood-moon berry, woman’s care
Salve me. Curst the day
My love’s away.

Caretree berry, eye’s delight
Whose flowers were clear at twilight
Were clear and bright as moons:
Return her soon.

The year is quick as beauty lasts
Is quick, cut twig, leaf-silver’s cast
In berry-red. Heavy as berries night weighs
While she’s away.