Tuesday 11 June 2024

Celebrating National Flash Fiction Day 2024

  
V. Press is delighted to share a new buy one, get one free special offer to help readers celebrate National Flash Fiction Day on June 15, 2024 and stock up on their summer reading!

Order any of the print edition flash fiction pamphlets/chapbooks (titles with monochrome covers) from our Fiction Bookshop (for U.K. delivery only) by the end of June 2024 and we will send you a free copy of one of our narrative poetry pamphlets (Scare Stories by David Clarke, Checkout by Kathy Gee or Winter with Eva by Elaine Baker).*

If any readers would prefer a copy of one of Sarah Leavesley's pocket novella Kaleidoscope or Always Another Twist as their free title, please email Sarah on lifeislikeacherrytreeATyahooDOTcom (within 24 hours of purchase) with a copy of the paypal receipt for a valid V. Press order.*

* These offers apply to U.K. delivery of print fiction orders only and are only valid until the end of June 2024.



Want to start reading one of our flash fiction titles immediately? Our flash fiction eBooks (The Chemist's HouseThe NeverlandsAlice in Wonderland Syndrome and Set a Crow to Catch a Crow) can all be purchased through Amazon. 



Saturday 20 April 2024

Launching Fire and Bees


V. Press is very very delighted to announce the launch of Fire and Bees, a poetry chapbook by Bethan Rees.

“Fires both real and metaphorical crackle through this exciting new collection by Bethan Rees, and its pages hum and crawl with insect life. These poems are hard-hitting and poignant; exploring themes of class, loss, mental health and the way familial trauma is passed on from one generation to the next. Rees’ work is surreal and compelling – an exciting new voice in the poetry world.” Julia Webb

Fire and Bees darts with unexpected twists and edges, projecting its imagination into past, present and future, with themes of family, relationship and corporeal sensitivity. Mirroring the very nature of poetry, thresholds between the interior and exterior of bodies feel permeable, with recurring images of stings and syringes pricking the skin. Rees’ work is quick-witted and blazing.” Claire Williamson

Fire and Bees is very intense and very reflective, like the burning memories we carry. 

ISBN: 978-1-7394122-2-7
32 pages
R.R.P. £6.99

A sample poem can be enjoyed below.

BUY FIRE AND BEES NOW using the paypal options below. 

Fire and Bees (with p&p options)

N.B. Any international customs/duty charges are the buyer's responsibility.


Stitches

I need to let you know what
I’ve done in my life.
The journeys I’ve been on.
The people I have met
that you might have hated
or loved.
Sitting in the parlour, I take
thread from Gran’s biscuit tin
come sewing kit.
I’m telling you my story through
my skin. Stitching my narrative into
the body you gave me.
The thread slides through my palm
and the pull of the needle is guided
by your spirit.
I want to let you know what you want
to know. And hopefully you’ll feel this too.
I create an aeroplane with black cord
and flesh. But from your perspective it looks more
like a bird.






So, I start to stitch a bird, because I think
that’s what you want me to do.


LAUNCHES

20 April 2024 - London

Fire and Bees will be officially launched in London today (20 April 2024) at the Free Verse Poetry Book and Magazine Fair 2024.

This free all-day (11.30am - 6.30pm) event takes place at St Columba’s, SW1X 0BD. More information can be found on the flier below or at The Poetry Society: https://poetrysociety.org.uk/projects/free-verse-poetry-book-and-magazine-fair/.



9 May 2024 - Brixham

Join Bethan Rees at Golden Lion, Brixham on Thursday, 9 May 2024, 8pm, for the launch of Fire and Bees! 🐝🔥

📍 Location: Golden Lion, 65 New Road, Brixham

All poetry lovers welcome! Listen to Bethan read from her debut chapbook Fire and Bees and experience an open mic poetry session – share your own poetry or simply enjoy the spoken word.  (To secure your open mic spot, email brixhampoetry@gmail.com or sign up on the night.)

Admission is free! Copies of  Fire and Bees available for £6.99. Your support is valued whether you purchase or not.

Featuring MC Robert Garnham, Professor of Whimsy. Mark your calendars and spread the word! Let's celebrate the joy of poetry together.



Friday 12 April 2024

London, launching & lovely news!


V. Press is very very excited to be heading to London later this month for the Free Verse Poetry Book and Magazine Fair 2024.

This free all-day (11.30am - 6.30pm) event takes place on Saturday, 20 April 2024 at St Columba’s, SW1X 0BD. More than 50 publishers, including V. Press, are already confirmed as taking part. The fair is a chance to meet other publishers (and poets), find out more about their work and buy some books.

For more information about this year's Free Verse, check out the fair's website at http://www.poetrybookfair.com/p/welcome.html or The Poetry Society at https://poetrysociety.org.uk/projects/free-verse-poetry-book-and-magazine-fair/.



NOW AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER

V. Press is very very delighted to be launching Fire and Bees, a poetry chapbook by Bethan Rees, at Free Verse on 20 April.

Although Bethan won't be in London herself, we will be celebrating Fire and Bees' publication on our stand at the fair.

“Fires both real and metaphorical crackle through this exciting new collection by Bethan Rees, and its pages hum and crawl with insect life. These poems are hard-hitting and poignant; exploring themes of class, loss, mental health and the way familial trauma is passed on from one generation to the next. Rees’ work is surreal and compelling – an exciting new voice in the poetry world.” Julia Webb

Fire and Bees darts with unexpected twists and edges, projecting its imagination into past, present and future, with themes of family, relationship and corporeal sensitivity. Mirroring the very nature of poetry, thresholds between the interior and exterior of bodies feel permeable, with recurring images of stings and syringes pricking the skin. Rees’ work is quick-witted and blazing.” Claire Williamson

Fire and Bees is very intense and very reflective, like the burning memories we carry. 

ISBN: 978-1-7394122-2-7
32 pages
R.R.P. £6.99

A sample poem, more information and ordering for Fire and Bees can be found here.


REVIEW NEWS


"[...] in (m)othersongs, form and content are matched skilfully in service of the emotive main subject, that of not being a mother, and the ‘othering’ which happens in personal and public realms. [...] The poems are unflinching, and yet tenderness, not bitterness, predominates even in the face of difficult acceptance [...]"
Pam ThompsonOrbis

More information, a sample poem and ordering for (m)othersongs by Sarah Doyle can also be found on the V. Press website here.




“[…] there is an angst buzzing like an electric current throughout the work. In many ways, it is capturing the crackle that has been in the air for the last few years, the sense that things are out of kilter and could go snap at any time. […]  

“The hurt and strangeness of the world in Not Enough Rage, is encapsulated in those lines [the last 6 lines of the opening stanza of ‘How Many Nights’], the ‘glass corpse filled with hornets’ image is brilliant, and an example of what these poems can offer by way of originality. There is also a tenderness that hovers at the edge of the collection, looking for opportunities to show itself. In “World Away”, the opening poem, the goal was ‘to show the world’ that what matters is words, and ‘what happens’ with words that touch the nervous system ‘like a taper / to a gas-tap.’ In poems such as “How Many Nights” that goal is certainly met. As for the title of the collection, there seems to be plenty of rage in these poems; we all know there is plenty for Gram Joel Davies to rage against, and poetry that shows its teeth is sometimes no bad thing.”
Neil Elder, London Grip, full review here.

More information, a sample poem and ordering for Not Enough Rage can be found on the V. Press website here.

Friday 9 February 2024

Award News...& more!

V. Press is very very excited to share an exciting prize announcement, as well as a wonderful new review and a mini-selection of 'love' poems/flash for readers to enjoy.

First, a big drumroll for Nicola Warwick whose V. Press chapbook The Human Portion has won the poetry category of the East Anglian Book Awards 2023!!!

These coveted awards celebrate the very best of the region's publishing, writing, and V. Press is so pleased to see this beautiful pamphlet recognised!

Details of the category winners can be found here and the winning book from each category will next be considered by a final judging panel of representatives from Jarrolds, Eastern Daily Press, National Centre for Writing and University of East Anglia. One of these six finalists will then go on to win the overall Book of the Year Award, with the winner revealed at a celebratory event on Thursday 15 February, 6.30pm, at the National Centre for Writing, Dragon Hall. 

Meanwhile, more information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering for The Human Portion can be found here.

REVIEW NEWS

Not Enough Rage


“Wherever you open this splendid collection you’ll be overwhelmed by tumbling, tumultuous impressionistic images and memories, the sights, sounds and smells of snapshots [...]Davies has a real gift for using simple language to convey powerful complex images, which in turn tell yet more.”

Melissa ToddThe Journal, issue 70

More information, sample poems and ordering for Not Enough Rage can be found here.


LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

Life may or may not be like a box of chocolates, but V. Press is very very pleased to offer readers this Valentine's online mini-selection from some of our earlier titles.

The themed prose and poems here are a small sample of what's on offer in the bookshop. And please do click on the link for each title  below to enjoy more work by the same writer, along with information and reviews about the book or pamphlet.




Love poems

I’ve been reading love poems.
All the images – falling downstairs,
memories in ruins, sleeping by an ocean –
make me want to see him,

even though it wasn’t right then,
and would be wrong still now:
an incorrect answer to a maths problem;
an image that doesn’t quite fit.

But still, I want to see him,
relive the kingfisher and the swans
and the fish and chips by the harbour
and the cinema with armchairs,

in one brief meeting; lunch, perhaps.
We would smile, and talk about our children,
while thinking of other things;
and forget all those hotel rooms.

Brenda-Read Brown, from Like love

Incidence:Reflection

If, in a bus station, two people (who will one day fall in love) sit opposite on red benches which fold like cinema seats, bus stations everywhere occupying, dropboxlike, these same coordinates in spacetime where each of us would know the same sparkling floor, remember the place gum is pressed behind pipes, or how all tiled walls are touched with dieselgrime and a crane fly endlessly expires in fluorescence, and if, because such halts are built to expel us, one of these two people (who are soon to fall in love) has sent his mind away to some peak with boulders and peat and melon-red grass, but the other, instead, only lopes his eyes, catching eventually the first’s, so distant with falcons and mist he thinks his gaze is clasped, headlong, such that he smiles a surprised smile which melts through thought, to recognition, and if, suddenly, these two people (who begin to fall in love) find themselves spanning those dimensions without knowing whose long glance first lit whose, is it—on reflection—a mistake?

Gram Joel Davies, from Bolt Down This Earth

Apple Picking

Finally, something works.
The tree heaves beneath the weight –
that first flood of fruit; we pick,
store, rejoice.

Windfall offers enough to deer;
the branches remain full for us.
Green, blushing red in my hands –
life dressed in September colours.

Too sharp to eat raw,
they soften at golden sugar, simmered flames.
Flour and butter crumble through my fingers,
ready to blanket the sweetness.

Much is stored away. Jars, bottles,
anything that holds.
The whole ones nestle together, stalks entwined
in the pantry’s sleeping dark.

We cannot contain it all.
Hot inside our thawing mouths, we smile
for each other, for the turning of earth.
We eat the evening, spoon by spoon.

Claire WalkerSomewhere Between Rose and Black




Dali Clock 

I had the identical watch to this clock, once.
Bent out of shape, Roman numerals stretching
and shrinking, melting towards the centre.

I didn't know him back then
and yet here is an object
we were both attracted to.
A perfect match.

Glass protects hand and face
but it's nearly always one.
It has no function
except it stands on the second shelf
next to the picture of him with his godchildren –
all smiling and laughing.
A natural moment captured.
Next to time
that has stopped.

Nina Lewis, from Fragile Houses

“What Does Moonlight Smell Like?”

“What do you mean?”

“Polish? Shoe polish? No, wood polish. Lemons, but not real lemons; artificial lemons, fake lemons. Dusting cloth, artificial lemon polish. Not a fresh cloth, no. That stale cloth lemon. That musty dust of repeated disappointments and disappointing repetitions. What do you reckon it smells like? Here, take a whiff. The outside? Grass or leaves or soil or dirt or mud or rain or sand? A slight hint of ginger? Not ginger-ginger but gingerbread-ginger. Don’t look at me like that; they’re different. Moonlight smells like difficulty. It’s the opposite of triumphant – the word escapes me. It’s too passive to be resilient. You think it smells like the night? Well, what does night smell like? How do you know that the night doesn’t only smell like the night because what you can really smell is moonlight and now we’ve come to associate the smell of moonlight with the smell of the night? Which is which? Does moonlight smell the same everywhere? How about in Hawaii? I bet moonlight smells different there, or the night… Wait – wait! If the moon reflects the sun’s light, what does sunlight smell like? What is this I’m smelling? Day or night, sun or moon, light or reflection? How do we know if we’re smelling day at night-time or night at daytime? Wha–”

“Darling, it’s only a bunch of chemicals to make the candle scented. Put it down so we can go get something to eat.”

Santino Prinzi, from There's Something Macrocosmic About All of This

Trying too hard

When I was younger trying too hard was a good thing;
being “too helpful” wasn’t even a phrase.
I spent my childhood days trying too hard
to stitch trying too hard into my DNA
because trying this hard was thought admirable.

But when he, narrow-eyed and sharp-tongued,
tells grown-up me that I’m trying too damn hard,
he hurls the words like hardball insults.
My best quality is now the one that tests him
and his patience the most.

So I peel back skin, pull out parts
of myself and begin to unpick their stitching.
He catches me, shakes his head, laughs, and leaves –
on his way out he tells me how typical it is
that I’m trying too hard. Again.

Charley Barnes, from A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache
















The Gardener

I go to him when the lakes are quiet,
when blossom holds its breath
in bluest south.
The horses

have strung up their miles
and collect inwards towards the light –
coal,
and all the dim world’s glow,

this earth-meal and dust
now damp
and glittering in this autumn’s constant.
All the flames that go up

are a mortal shout.
The gardener’s burn,
its heat and grain

reveal him in his awfulness
tending the ruined mass,
this mode of a man
I’ve learned to love

tackles leaf, and loom, drags
the swollen bosom of wood
from a belly of wire

and bluish thistle.
He wants it all to burn.
We drain the lakes,
their glass up-sends in fume,

their iris codes
flurry, and whiten the air
to our killing conditions –

in this blood-red insistence
committing ourselves.
The horses walk on
like women through fire.

Helen Calcutt, from Unable Mother




Ladybird

As I peek through the gaps in the lattice fence
I see your face; you are looking back at me
from your seat in the park. There are tears

on your cheeks, which you do not brush away.
You raise your hand to your lips
and blow me a kiss; there are many reasons

why I can’t respond, many reasons
why I should not be here. Your perfection
draws me to you, still. Now, close to my head,

a ladybird walks a ridge, senses my shadow,
senses my breath, before opening its wings
and flying to you. All I can do

is stand here and wish,
wish I was with you
on that seat in the park.


John Lawrence, from The boy who couldn't say his name

Visit Day

Since Lisa said she wanted to separate a year ago, Nick had seen the word divorce at the edge of his vision; he’d heard the word when other words beginning with D had been spoken — division, divvy, detain. He’d been upset, of course, but not devastated. He’d see Lisa whenever he saw Crystal, and he felt that once they were broken up properly and time had passed, they’d have a chance to get together again.

Now, from inside his prison cell, Nick feels the finality of the word, of the act. His three-year sentence changes everything. Divorce means throwing him out like rotten vegetables, unusable, unhealthy. Divorce will quadruple his solitude, his fear, his loneliness when they were just bearable before.

So he lifts weights at rec time, limits himself to half a pack of cigarettes a day, doesn’t complain or even grimace as he mops the vast kitchen. He brushes his teeth after every meal; he’s reading for the first time since high school — just the newspaper, but he can’t believe how much happens, how much is always going on that he never thought of before.

He works on his answers. If she says divorce, he’ll tell her about the prison’s family counseling program. If she asks how he’s doing, he says he misses her and Crystal. If she says she’ll stick with him, he won’t cry. He’ll kiss her hands before he kisses her mouth.

When the day comes, Nick catches himself eating quickly and slows down. He imagines the softness of her lips and tries to remember details from the newspaper article on the fundraising drive for the zoo, so he can show he’s been reading, so he can talk about taking Crystal. He counts his steps as he walks to the visiting room, pulls his shoulders back as he enters.

It’s Eddie, in a blue Cubs t-shirt and jeans. They sit across from one another, and finally Nick asks, “Where’s Lisa?”

“Sorry, Nick, she got called into work at the last minute, so she asked me to come. Lucky I had the day off.”

Nick realizes he’s shaking, his whole body trembling before he wills it to stop. The voices of other prisoners and visitors rise up around them.

“So you’re looking good,” Eddie says. “You been working out?”

Nick shakes his head. He can’t do this. He can’t make small talk. “You,” he says at last, glancing at his wedding band. “Tell me about you.”

Carrie Etter, from Hometown

hallway

he presses the code she gave him
into the panel, fumbles
in the dark hallway
hearing his own heart quicken
as he taps at the door
tracing the sound —
answering footsteps
that move towards him
then seem to slow

there’s time for both to turn


Alex Reed, from These nights at homewith photos by Keren Banning





Seeking Miss Aether

“To the woman of my dreams:
I’m a mature, single male
who enjoys the pleasures 
of classical physics.”

You’re out there somewhere,
everywhere. I need you
to make sense of my world.

I accept I’m old-fashioned,
viewpoint unchanging.
It was good enough for Newton.

Young Albert insists
that you’re past it
but what does he know.

Forget about relativity,
the expanding universe.
This is bigger.

Darling, I’ve seen the light
bend, space contort
and I worry.

Where are you, lover?
Invisible siren, sing to me;
there’s still time.


Martin Zarrop, from Making Waves
A version of Seeking Miss Aether appeared in The Journal (2018)

Slaked

Their flesh meets like a wolf nearing water
just before dusk, its breath unmuzzled musk
as it nuzzle-greets its shape, then falters…

Eyes dip, its jaw unhooks, muscles tauten,
back arches, as fur sleeks to fluid lust.
Their flesh meets like a wolf nearing water.

The parched beast drinks deep, wide-throated, alters
stance to uncloak her taste from its red husk,
nuzzle-greets her warm-blooded shape, falters,

as nature’s leafy-scented young daughter
lays out her earth bed with its moist wood crust.
Their flesh meets like a wolf nearing water.

And so she blends, just as nature’s taught her:
two forest torsos, soft-mossed and fern-brushed.
As they nuzzle-greet, their wild shape falters –

a raindrop slides from its red-leaf altar,
a wolf’s tongue laps up the soft-falling dusk.
Their flesh meets like ripples across water,
nuzzle-greets its wild shape, doesn’t falter.

Sarah James, from The Vaginellas



at the door

he leans to the sound
of his own hand
tapping the dusk

skimming the music
just within reach
of her tinting her eyes

with blue shadow



Alex Reed, from These nights at homewith photos by Keren Banning




UnBreaking

i)

Sometimes a heart can break.
Not dropped on an unyielding tile-hard floor
to shatter into gem-sized fragments
Not splintered into the knife-blade-thickness
of rifts in unseasoned kindling
Not like the unearthing of a pit of bones
all with fractures from soldiers’ rifle-butts
Not bread broken into mass-sized pieces
for a line of Sunday half-believers
Not the clean snap of a KitKat bar
between the V of ungloved hands
Not the cracking of a pensioner’s skull
with a baseball bat from JD Sports
Not the curtain of night-cloud parting
for a glimpse of the moon’s borrowed sunlight
Not the unisoned break-down of black-clad mourners
as their loved one finishes dying.

ii)

Sometimes a heart can break, but no,
not suddenly like that – a heart can break
like the crazing lines on a fire-glazed vase,
where the ping of the creeping fractures
goes on and on for ever. A muttered no,
a lingering so what, a flicker of hate
in a sideways glance, the unworn ridge
in the middle of the bed, the days
of making-do and the nights of fake-believe;
two trapped half-lives, no longer a whole.

iii)

Maybe, sometimes, things can unbreak –
the kindling and the rifle-butts and the baseball bat
are restored to a tree and the dead wake back to life
and in my dream of all dreams you can’t wait
to break the silence with an i-love-you;
yes, I want more of you and you want more of me
and in every crazy day together
there’s a carnival of things unbroken.

Sometimes, a heart can unbreak.  Maybe.


John Lawrence, from The boy who couldn't say his name






Regeneration

The first change was the milk – 
the bottle half-full the day after
its use by. In time, I could make choices: 
a scarlet coffee mug from eBay;
a hand-made wooden bed
with a mattress that moulded 
to just my shape; daffodil-yellow paint
for the bedroom walls.

We’re told we repair and renew our cells
until the end of the end day, when
we don’t. For now, I’ll top up
the salt we kept in the old wine bottle,
never knowing how many grains
remain from the day he left the house.

Jinny Fisher, from The Escapologist


Hide

In matching North Face jackets
they sit side by side, still as herons, 
talking in whispers as if a lovers’ tryst. 

He: a single-handed hold 
on an up-market scope,
one eye on the birds, 
the other tightly shut. 
She: two hands grip binoculars
as though they hold a secret;
scuffed and chipped 
but doing the job.

On the fringe of the wetland,
two grebes declare themselves, 
shake heads, ready
for their elaborate tango. 

In the hide, she touches his arm,
code for have you seen?
He thinks of her in that blue cotton dress
at the dance where they met,
and nods his head.
This is no awkward silence,
this is it. Their safe word is teashop. 

Not what they dreamed of,
but it’ll do. 



7 reasons

standing by her door

waiting in the dark

listening for her footsteps

she walks towards him

all his selves uncovered

all the king’s horses

there is no other moment

Alex Reed, from These nights at homewith photos by Keren Banning







We are made from beautiful atoms

After Keiji Nakazawa

Remember, my sister,
we are made of beautiful atoms,
up there in the doll-eyed darkness,
our world is a teardrop from God,
no water is anywhere else but here –
remember, my sister, we are made from beautiful atoms.

Remember, my brother,
we both were born and wiped unclean;
that blood of birth could connect us –
our mothers are portals to beautiful atoms.
Hold on to me, brother, I shall carry you.
Remember our world was once a beautiful eye

but
none of us
saw it.

Antony Owen, from The Nagsaki Elder



Entanglement

A phantom haunts the universe,
a quantum thread that binds our lives
to distant mass, refusing to let go.

Astronomers hold to another truth:
as bodies move apart, attraction fades
and memory weighs nothing out in space.

Shut up and calculate
they tell the homesick astronaut
and yet

I thought I saw her yesterday
and wept.

Martin Zarrop, from Making Waves
Entanglement also appeared in Moving Pictures (Cinnamon Press, 2016)


Alarm

Now and then, Faith likes to switch on her smoke alarm in the middle of the night to wake Denholm. Summoning him next-door to read the electricity or kill her spiders just hasn’t got his attention. She always gets going at about four a.m., because she wants to give Denholm one restful sleep cycle, timing her disruption such as to disarrange him no more than necessary. She leaves her windows closed and switches on the fan oven, dishwasher and tumble dryer simultaneously, since she has discovered that the combined increase in temperature is enough to trigger her temperamental heat-sensitive kitchen alarm, a method that she considers altogether more stylish than resorting to burnt toast. And, once this little monster has begun its relentless middle-of-the-night ear-pain, she leaves it screeching, ignoring the dismay of her only cat, Rupert, until the connecting alarms in the hallway and bedroom are also kicking off. The triple effect of these in the pitch of night is usually enough to rouse her dutiful neighbour. If he is sleeping quite soundly, she nudges him further by clattering chairs and slamming the stick of her broom against the adjoining wall, in a pretence of dealing with the blare. When she’s heard his first tentative step down that creaking staircase, she removes all but a trace of make-up as if caught off-guard; tangles her braid bun into a just-out-of-someone-else’s-bed look; then puts on her lilac slip, which she is certain is his favourite. She does this even though she is a happy widow now and Denholm is fifteen years her senior. She does this even though he struggles down those stairs at nights to get to her with his gammy leg. She does this because she can’t resist her need for these performances: when his fingers press her buzzer and she swings the door open, she’s always beguiled by that look on her own face.

Michael Loveday, from Three Men on the Edge















Volcanoes

There was a time for volcanoes,
when lava burned through veins
and sparks spat from my eyes.

But now, I am ready for the sofa of him,
for the thousandth run on his TV
of Toy Story or Love, Actually;
for the sleep that I slip into
as easily as his cats;
for his cats, his cushions, his biscuits;
for his non-explosive central heating.

He should think himself lucky.
Volcanoes are much easier to live with

when they’re dormant.

Brenda-Read Brown, from Like love


Friday 15 December 2023

Seasonal greetings and some review news


 Wishing all our readers, writers and supporters a wonderful festive period and a great start to 2024! Thank you for being with us this year - and here's to many more to come!


REVIEWS


"Frequently in this moving collection, the reader has a sharp intake of breath and is propelled into knowing something visceral about the staggering pain and regret of involuntary childlessness. There are no easy answers here. Instead, Doyle has offered us a compelling and, at times, heartbreaking voice that sings of the complexity of un-motherhood." 

Diana CantLondon Grip, full review here.

"‘Corn Dolly’ opens the pamphlet, with some stunning images, ‘I am stiff-skirted, wide-/ legged, fecund and// pregnant with home-/spun magic’. [...]
One poem I found particularly moving was ‘Windsong, for my mother’: ‘Forgive me those times I slipped my moorings: the safe harbour of your arms, your kitchen/ table counsel’, summed up at the end of the poem as ‘belief, courage, hope.’ The poems in this pamphlet pay tribute to this counsel."

Mary MulhollandThe Alchemy Spoon, Issue 11

'Sarah Doyle's striking pamphlet explores deeply personal experiences of non-motherhood, endometriosis, infertility and "the faces of children / you will not have". These are poignant and painful poems, "twisted into promise", which will resonate with all those who are coming to terms with childlessness. Despite "the othering nature of un-motherhood", as Polly Atkins so eloquently puts it, (M)othersongs sings of "belief, courage, hope".'

Poetry Book SocietyWinter Bulletin 2023

(M)othersongs can be purchased through the Poetry Book Society here.

More information, a sample poem and ordering for (m)othersongs by Sarah Doyle can also be found on the V. Press website here.

Last-Minute Gifts


Finally, just a reminder that, if you're looking for a last-minute gift or find yourself with spare time over the festive break and want something to read, we do have some flash fiction titles available on Kindle. You can find more details on our fiction list here.



Friday 24 November 2023

Launching Brother

V. Press is very very delighted to share the publication of Brother, a chapbook/pamphlet of poems by Sheila Lockhart.

“Sheila Lockhart has created something special with this pamphlet. Brother is a poignant study of remembrance but one that manages to be almost joyful in its close observation of this lost life and the still-living world that goes on without it. It is special writing – clear, brightly configured, riven by pain, and perfectly formed.”

Niall Campbell

“These calm and clear-eyed poems are remarkable in their refusal to be afraid. Holding darkness and light in delicate balance, they move from suffering and loss into what comes afterwards and later, finding consolation in the dogged aliveness of the natural world and, no less importantly, in the patterns and shapes of language itself.  Sheila Lockhart has written a bold and beautiful book.”
Katharine Towers

The poems in Brother are a very heart-felt and very unflinching consideration of grief and healing after suicide.

ISBN: 978-1-7398838-9-8                                
36 pages
R.R.P. £6.50

A sample poem can be enjoyed below.

BUY BROTHER NOW using the paypal options below. 
Brother (with p&p options)

Gaia

In my arms you hardly weighed a thing,
the day I returned you to our Mother. 

She spread herself wide to receive you. 
Then locked her doors forever. 

The adamantine scythe left so little
when it cut you. 

Yes, there was plenty of blood, 
but where was all the rest? A seed 

forced into my heart, tangled roots. 
I remember how thirsty you were, 

how your dust soaked up the rain. 
How the roses blossomed. 

Monday 13 November 2023

Exciting news!

V. Press is very very delighted to share an exciting prize announcement as well as a whole batch of wonderful reviews, recent/forthcoming titles and events news.

The Human Portion by Nicola Warwick has been shortlisted in the poetry category of the coveted East Anglian Book Awards 2023, which celebrate the very best of publishing, writing, and reading in the region.

V. Press is so pleased to see this beautiful pamphlet recognised and sends big congratulations to Nicola that can probably be heard all the way from Worcestershire to East Anglia!

The full shortlists for all categories of the award can be found here and the category winners will be announced in the Eastern Daily Press in January.

The winning book from each category will be considered by a final judging panel of representatives from Jarrolds, Eastern Daily Press, National Centre for Writing and University of East Anglia. One of these six finalists will then go on to win the overall Book of the Year Award announced later that year.

Meanwhile, you can find details below of a recent review of The Human Portion and a forthcoming online V. Press showcase that Nicola will be reading at.

REVIEW NEWS

Not Enough Rage

"Davies’ first collection, Bolt Down This Earth, also published by V. Press in 2017, was an exciting debut which I believe was the first book I reviewed for Litter online. The follow-up is a mature collection, reflecting some of the same preoccupations but with the distance of time and experience to bring both focus and depth to what is essentially a very personal outlook on the modern world. 


"The subject matter involves issues of class, rural life, the relationship between virtual and ‘real’ reality, claustrophobia (in its broadest sense), poverty and disaffection based on circumstance and questions of mental health. [...]
 
"These poems are filled with anxiety and disturbing imagery yet they are also very much of their time, here and now, a present filled with uncertainty and a future best not projected into. There’s a confidence though, reflected in the form and variety of the writing [...]"

Steve SpenceLitter, full review here.

"Gram Joel Davies turns a forensic eye to working class life in these poems, amplifying the voices of the disadvantaged who are too busy existing and have too much to lose in feeling the rage to overturn systematic oppressions he wants to draw attention to. 

"It is so refreshing to read about working class life without feeling as if the writer is just ranting or using ‘edgy’ vocabulary to trot out stereotypes. Davies is raw and chronicles lives that get overlooked and does so with craft and class."

Emma LeeEmma Lee's Blog, full review here.

Not Enough Rage is also November and December's Featured Publication on Atrium here, including three sample poems from the collection.

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering for Not Enough Rage can be found here.




"Sarah Doyle's latest V. Press pamphlet, (m)othersongs, is a gorgeous, courageous publication. At the centre is a woman's experience of reaching middle age, having been unable to bear a child. Doyle's poems are a "complex harvest". Her willingness to be vulnerable, and her arresting language, creativity, and attention to craft make this collection shine."

Robin Blackburn McBridehere.

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering for (m)othersongs can be found here.

Sarah can also be heard reading some of her (m)othersongs poems and talking about (m)otherhood, menstruation and more with Wendy Allen and Charley Barnes on the What we've been reading podcast here.




"In The Beautiful Open Sky, also published by V. Press, Hannah Linden shows what it is for a child to be emotionally abandoned by her mother. As the work unfolds, Linden reveals the later struggles of that grown child, a single mum making a life with her family in social housing. Offsetting the serious subject matter is the poet's quirky humour. A haunting and tender study of resilience."

Robin Blackburn McBridehere.

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering for The Beautiful Open Sky can be found here.


"Her poems are moments of unsettling tension between the symmetry we see of ourselves in nature, and our oblivious disconnect. Warwick’s subtle glimpses of the individuals in her poems are unpredictably moving. Warwick shows us trying to bring the universe closer. Going to sleep, we still hope the birds outside call us to join our portion to the whole, as: ‘I watch them from the window for their exodus, / Count them out, count them all back in’."

Wendy Kyle, London Grip, full review here.

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering for The Human Portion can be found here.


RECENTLY RELEASED

NOT ENOUGH RAGE

“It’s rare for me to recognise, and feel kinship for, a lot of contemporary poetry. I recognise and feel kinship with this. Not Enough Rage is like a series of controlled explosions. Trembling houses. A burning voice. Experience dismantled and sewn back together with glowing needles and a mouth full of stars.”

Bobby Parker

“Like a Dylan Thomas of the age of mental illness, Gram Joel Davies leaps and flies through the world with dark exuberance. These are speakable poems, full of love for unlovable places and impossible people. In touch with but not tied to rap's rhymes and rhythms, this collection, for me, shifts the modern world into the painful focus of real poetry.” 
Peter Oswald

Not Enough Rage is very heady and very gutsy.

ISBN: 978-1-7398838-7-4
62 pages
R.R.P. £10.99

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering can be found here.


TURN AROUND WHEN POSSIBLE

“Combining a scientific eye with a poetic sensibility (and a sharp sense of humour), Martin Zarrop’s work is thought-provoking and wry. These poems take the long view and they never shy away from difficulty, each expertly using form to amplify content. Turn Around When Possible is an enlightening, enjoyable read.”

Helen Mort

“Whether he is looking back fondly on the seemingly mundane details of a working-class childhood or exploring the vastness of interstellar space, Martin Zarrop’s poems are distinguished by their metaphysical wit, humour, and sheer accessibility. There is a mathematical precision to every poem in this collection, a focus on details, that leads inevitably and, with a minimum of fuss, to memorable insights into love, affection, the ineluctable passage of time, and humanity’s place in the universe. Turn Around When Possible is a delight from start to finish and shows Zarrop writing at the height of his very considerable powers.”
David Cooke

Turn Around When Possible is very uncertain and very quirky.

ISBN: 978-1-7398838-8-1
74 pages    
R.R.P. £10.99

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and ordering can be found here.



OUT LATER THIS MONTH...

“Sheila Lockhart has created something special with this pamphlet. Brother is a poignant study of remembrance but one that manages to be almost joyful in its close observation of this lost life and the still-living world that goes on without it. It is special writing – clear, brightly configured, riven by pain, and perfectly formed.”
Niall Campbell

“These calm and clear-eyed poems are remarkable in their refusal to be afraid. Holding darkness and light in delicate balance, they move from suffering and loss into what comes afterwards and later, finding consolation in the dogged aliveness of the natural world and, no less importantly, in the patterns and shapes of language itself.  Sheila Lockhart has written a bold and beautiful book.”
Katharine Towers

The poems in Brother are a very heart-felt and very unflinching consideration of grief and healing after suicide.

ISBN: 978-1-7398838-9-8                                
36 pages
R.R.P. £6.50

More information, endorsements, a sample poem and pre-ordering can be found here.



EVENTS



Martin Zarrop will also be reading from his new V. Press collection, Turn Around When Possible, at a range of forthcoming events:

Friday, 17 Nov 2023, 7pm  at Manchester Poets, Chorlton Library, Manchester Road M21 9PN;

Wednesday, 22 Nov 2023, 7.30pm at Wednesday Writers, Golden Lion, Fielden Sq, Todmorden OL14 6LZ;

Wednesday, 6 Dec 2023, 7pm at Black Cat Poets, The Locks Coffee House,13-15 Derby St, Marple SK6 7AH;

Thursday, 7 Dec2023, 7pm at First Thursday, Linghams Bookshop, 248 Telegraph Rd, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 7SG;

Monday, 5 Feb 2024, 7.30pm at Poems & Pints, The Button Warehouse, Stanley St, Macclesfield SK11 6AU.