Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Last month we read James Caruth's pamphlet, Marking the Lambs, which is available from The Poetry Business.  Here's a link to a review from Antiphon.

This time it's Anchoress by Esta Spalding, which is out of print, but there are copies available from Abebooks and Amazon, or try the library.  It's a book-length poem, described in this review:

Esta Spalding’s remarkable long poem explores, through the memories of a bereaved lover, a young female student’s intense inner life which is increasingly drawn into reports of the atrocities of the last Gulf War. Such is the level of her psychic involvement that she dies at her own hand, in Chicago, dramatically setting herself on fire as an ultimate act of protest.

There's another review here

The March Poetry Cafe will be on Wednesday 5th, from 12pm, at Bank Street Arts.  We'll discuss the book from 20 past, and aim to start the workshop at 1pm.

Hope you can make it!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Sun Bathers

Discussing the Romantics was brilliant, even though the parameters are so wide, and the era full of disparate poets, motifs and agendas; the changing socio-political context, and how various philosophical responses manifest in the poetry was interesting to think about.  Questions around nature, and the individual's relationship with their environment, demonstrated some of the tensions.  Clare's criticism of Keats's imaginative rendering of his environment through myth was something I didn't know, that he felt Keats hadn't really looked at a nightingale.  We could have gone on for hours, and we decided to do something similar with the metaphysical poets at some point next year.

Next month, though, we're getting more up-to-date with Roy Marshall's debut collection, The Sun Bathers, published last month by Shoestring Press.  I love the front cover image, which is a linocut print by Sheffield-born artist Leonard Beaumont.  Here's a link to the image on Roy's website, where there's also plenty of other information, including links to online poems.

Rhyme & Reason Bookshop, at Hunters Bar, will have copies from next week (w/c 11th Nov), and are offering a 10% discount for Poetry Cafe people.  They've been busily extending their poetry range, so it's worth a visit, and as with so many independents, they'll appreciate the support.

And here's a link to Sphinx's review of Roy's pamphlet, Gopagilla.

The December Poetry Cafe at Bank Street Arts is on Wednesday, 4th December, from 12pm for the reading group, and from 1pm for the writing workshop.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Romantics

At one of the workshops a few months ago, someone suggested we look back to the Romantics for the reading group, so we'll do that at the next Bank Street Arts Poetry Cafe, on 6th November.  

Rather than look at one poet, we'll look at a few. I've included links to some poems by William Blake, John Clare, Keats and Hannah More on the Poetry Foundation website, which also has links to biographies.  Reading these will give us some common ground for the discussion, but bring your favourites to talk about, too.

We'll discuss the poems from 12:20 until around 1pm, and then we'll workshop our own poems.  Bring copies.

See you then.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Division Street

Helen Mort's full-length collection, Division Street, was published earlier this month by Chatto.  The book is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and is the collection we're reading for the October Poetry Cafe, which will be on Wednesday 2nd October from 12pm, at Bank Street Arts.

Helen was born in Sheffield and grew up in Chesterfield.  She's won the Foyle Young Poets award five times, an Eric Gregory, and the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008.  She's had two pamphlets published with Tall Lighthouse, and was poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust.

Here's a link to her website, and to her blog, which relates to her PhD research at University of Sheffield about metaphor, poetry and neuroscience.

Here's a link to some of Helen's poems online, and there's an interview in The Oxonian Review, here.

The book is in stock at Rhyme & Reason, which is opposite Endcliffe Park.

We'll talk about the book from 12:20, and then start workshopping each other's poems around 1pm. Bring copies.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Heimlich's Manoeuvre

Paula Cunningham launched her Smith/Doorstop collection, Heimlich's Manoeuvre, at the recent Sheffield Poetry Festival.  She lives in Belfast, and her pamphlet A Dog called Chance was a winner in the Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition.

Here's a link to her poem, "Mother's Pride", from the collection, which appeared in the online journal, Antiphon, in their special edition earlier this year.

If you're looking to buy Cunningham's book, it's available online, via the Poetry Business, or if you prefer to buy from a shop, Rhyme & Reason are happy to order individual titles, if they don't have it in stock.

The Bank Street Arts Poetry Cafe is on Wednesday 4th September, 12pm for a 12:20 start.  We'll discuss the book until about 1pm, then move on to the workshop.

In October, we're hoping Helen Mort's debut full-length collection, Division Street, a PBS recommendation, will be available.  Pretty excited about that!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Czeslaw Milosz

The next Poetry Cafe at Bank Street Arts is on Wednesday 7th August, from 12pm.  We're looking at poems by Czeslaw Milosz in the first part of the session.  All the poems we're reading are online:

Poetry Foundation has 14 poems
There's another three at and "Artificer" at

Poetry Foundation also has some interesting essays, not just about Milosz, but around the political and cultural issues that might offer some potential ways of contextualising his work.  Here's a quote from one of the essays (by Bradford Gray Telford):

Chief among Milosz’s many gifts was his Virgilian assuredness—a contribution unique to Milosz the Poet-Philosopher-Dissident-Statesman-in-Exile—that guided innumerable Polish writers and readers through war, occupation, totalitarianism, and post-Communist bewilderment. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dear Boy

While we were discussing The Overhaul, the subject of sequencing poems came up, who might contribute to the ordering process, as well as how we read collections.  I'm keen on the idea of single-author collections as albums, so you might listen to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on shuffle, but I think it's much better to go from start to finish, not least because of that tricky overlapping at the start of "With a Little Help from My Friends" ... I guess I'm just old-fashioned.

The collection we're reading for next time is Emily Berry's Dear Boy, and as an attempt to intervene in the order you read her poems, here's one from page 22.  It's published in the New Statesman, and so I guess you could say it's been released as a single ...

Here's a link to Berry's website, and here's a link to the Guardian's review by Ben Wilkinson.

Rhyme & Reason have copies in stock, as well as an extended poetry section after their stint as festival bookseller for the Sheffield Poetry Festival, which ended on Sunday.  Their website is full of audio recordings, blog articles and photographs, so do have a look, if you've time.

The next Poetry Cafe at Bank Street is on Wednesday 3rd July, 12pm for a twenty-past start.  Bring copies of your poem, as usual.