Thursday, 14 November 2019

Launching Patience

V. Press is very very delighted to announce the publication of Patience, a pamphlet of poems by Nina Lewis.

Patience opens with a watch being dissected, laid bare on a table with the delicacy and patience of a dedicated craftsman. This collection is a reverence to time and where memories lie in places, objects, a lover’s touch, shipping forecast or in a mother counting for days. Nina Lewis is deft and sensitive in speaking of grief and loss, of love and desire, of caring for the elderly. Her words and phrases are weighted with a lightness of touch, capturing golden moments with a watchmaker’s accuracy. She is determined to create a living record, to have the last say in the presence of illness and death, leaving us with codes for the broken and an encouragement ‘to learn the art of waiting’.” Roy McFarlane

 “The poems in Patience address problems of the human condition with a subtleness in technique, a gentleness in approach and a fresh outlook that avoids the cliché or overstatement such poetic themes can sometimes acquire; these poems are beautifully balanced, carefully crafted and the emotional content is all the more powerful because it is so well weighed. Some of these poems subtly convey the sense of a physical loss, others explore the trials of separation and the difficult adjustment in relationships. Grief is expressed but they also remind us of the power of human connection. Joy is held in our memories; in ‘Signs’, there is ‘the glow of orange even in dark beginnings’. These poems touch deeply and yet maintain a calm and measured face. Nina Lewis holds in her hands cogs of isolation, grief and loss moving along the wheels of love, of hope and of patience.” Julie Boden

Patience is very intimate and very fond.

ISBN: 978-1-9165052-9-2
32 pages
R.R.P. £6.50

A sample poem from Patience can be enjoyed below.

BUY Patience NOW using the paypal buttons (with delivery options) below.

Patience (including P&P/delivery options)

The Dark House

It started life as a home,
until the red bricks,
colour of rust, were abandoned.

The empty house
bore the brunt of nature;
tilted slates let water in.

It became a habitat
for shadow animals,
nocturnal kings.

At night, the edges of its frame
were accentuated by bypass lights:
silhouette house, secret of wild hedge.

The road beyond the garden
never stopped.

In sleep I walk the dark house,
enter the ash kitchen,
feel my way across charcoal tiles,

my paper feet never find the rooms,
never make it to the stairs.
I awake to light

spinning my darkened dreams.
I keep my eyes closed,
until only blue remains.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Launching Cuckoo

V. Press is very very delighted to announce the publication of Nichola Deane's debut full collection Cuckoo.

“Nichola Deane’s rich and sensuous poems may open with a plainspoken line or a recognisable surface, but they dwell only briefly in the familiar actual. Her syntax and image-making – both equally bold – bring the world to us in new and compelling guises. These are poems of darkness and delight – alive to sensation and feeling, and open to the urgency of beauty.” Katharine Towers

“Nichola Deane’s imagination has a long reach that pulls the unexpected into line after line. The language, clear yet idiosyncratic, and Deane’s deft touch give these poems ease, lightness and confidence.” Fiona Moore

Cuckoo is very sensory and very spacious.

ISBN: 978-1-9165052-4-7
68 pages
R.R.P. £10.99

A sample poem from Cuckoo can be enjoyed below.

BUY Cuckoo now using the paypal buttons (with delivery options) below.

Cuckoo (including P&P)

D Day

to my maternal grandmother, B.E.H., i.m.


You tell them then because our planes are flying over everyone
and have been since dawn when the engines woke you

because their drone note, its guttural swarm
hums through your bones and the sky has invaded your ear

because even these friendly squadrons
seem to have you in their sights

because a plague of angels is over you
death-birds you will see with closed eyes

like eye-flaws or black wizened tears
years afterwards

because these Angels of Vitreous Dust
have shocked from you a blast-wave of grief, a Jericho

as you say out loud
to your parents’ tightening draining faces

all you can smuggle past your shame and your self
to reach the lips of the story

hoping they won’t do
what you know they’ll do when you tell them

(haven’t you already packed your valise
in the dawn-light–spare underthings wrapped round

your shrinking childhood, your foreboding?)
You tell them because you, more than many

know at seventeen what soldiers do
and because you don’t need a Bible to tell you

you and your small passenger
will both be half-Job, half-Eve in this world


Seven months of knowledge
hidden under ever-looser clothing

seven months of my mother
within you, my secret mother, my mother your

grief, my mother the love
no mother mothered when you could not keep her

until I kept the secret of her
for her safe within me, until

I woke to the sound
of the Lancasters, Spitfires and Mustangs

within her and dawn-until-midnight
mother-grief, like that longest of all days

Monday, 14 October 2019

Launching The Aesthetics of Breath

V. Press is very very delighted to announce the publication of Charles G Lauder Jr's debut full collection The Aesthetics of Breath.

“There’s an enviable gusto and assurance about this debut, the confident voicing of a distinctive sensibility that deserves our attention. Lauder has a keen ear for the musical and metrical possibilities of the well-wrought line which well serves his deftly rendered lyric style. Particularly impressive are the domestic sequences and longer poems which hold both interest and momentum throughout: an achievement of poetic coherence and craft that can only be accomplished by a poet more than ready to stake a claim for his place on the contemporary scene.” Martin Malone

“In his debut collection, Charles G. Lauder is not afraid to delve beneath the surface of white masculinites, unearthing violence and toughness but vulnerability and tenderness also. This means examining his own past in the US; what he has inherited, what he brings to his life in England, and what he finds there. Again and again, poems reveal that his family is his lodestone: ‘We are our elements. I would be lost/without them.’ The Aesthetics of Breath is a rich and varied collection which has love and social justice at its heart but does not turn aside from uncomfortable truths.” Pam Thompson

The Aesthetics of Breath is NOT a breath of fresh air – it is a deep breathing-in of a gas called ‘history’, so that it hurts in the lungs. Be they personal myths or legends of entire nations’ violence, here the vapours of various histories sublimate into Lauder’s vivid solidifications – poems that render the distance and otherness of places and times as touchable and smelt. Some of these poems are ‘stellar gases congealing into orbits’, and they are celebratory confirmations of essential stories we humans need to tell our selves. But be warned: some of these poems cast ‘Hiroshima shadow[s]’ to exorcise our civilisation’s pale myths, its ghosts that too often comfortably haunt us, and our too easy and shallow breaths of memes. At times this book is like opening a grave to find the buried still alive ... and violently gasping out accounts of ‘the ruling passions of the woods’.” Mark Goodwin  

The Aesthetics of Breath is very personal, yet very eternal.

ISBN: 978-1-9165052-1-6
68 pages
RRP £10.99

A sample poem from The Aesthetics of Breath can be enjoyed below.

BUY The Aesthetics of Breath now using the paypal buttons (with delivery options) below.

The Aesthetics of Breath (including P&P)


And the man spied on the bridal path,
shimmering, vaporous, slow in gait
like a predator through grass, is black.
Parents waiting at the school gate
ask, Does he wear a backpack?

Our village is tasked with isolation
like an open wound wary of infection.
A Jamaican lived here for a season,
drank in the pub with his white wife’s son.
Are you visiting? we asked.

Our childminder is on the back lane
when the man falls in step, asks her name.
He is a carer for a chronic smoker
in Norden Heath. Going for a walk
is the only way he can breathe.


Stratford Launch: Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Love life, love poetry - National Poetry Day 2019!

'Love life, love poetry' is one of many truths that we're celebrating at V. Press this National Poetry Day. To mark the day, V. Press is very very pleased to offer readers another chance to enjoy a small online mini-selection from some of our titles.

The love/relationship-themed flash and poems here are a small sample of what's on offer in the bookshop. Readers can also find other recommendations on a variety of themes in The Reading Room. 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


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 Walker, Somewhere 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 –
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


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


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)


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



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.


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.


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


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


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. 

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

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

none of us
saw it.

Antony Owen, from The Nagsaki Elder


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)


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


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

Monday, 9 September 2019

V. Press Autumn News & Reviews

It's been one of those summers, shaking off the damper days' August rain and getting ready for the start of autumn colour and Keats' "mellow fruitfulness", but not the mists!

On the V. Press front, we've been celebrating a whole range of news, including:


"This heart-wrenching flash collection tells the story of a poverty-stricken Irish family dealing with the effects of loss and alcoholism. Each flash story can be read as a stand alone yet together they culminate to form a bigger story. Some stories run to a couple of pages in length and other are less than page. Each succeeds in creating a depth of atmosphere and characterisation that is truly impressive. [...]I absolutely loved The Neverlands. It is stunning from start to finish. [...] If you have never read flash fiction before then this collection is an excellent example of the form at its best."

Yasmina Floyer, TSS Publishing, the full, detailed, review here.

The eponymous mosaic flash (first published in Jellyfish Review) that inspired The Neverlands has also just been named one of the Best British and Irish Flash Fiction (BIFFY) 2018-19.

A sample flash, more information and orders of The Neverlands here. And on Monday, 14 October 2019, Damhnait will be be reading from the pamphlet in her Guest Feature at Loose Muse: Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, Winchester, Hants SO23 8SB. With Guest Feature poet Katrina Naomi as  Time:  7.30-9.30 p.m. Cost: £6 at the door.

"Natalie Linh Bolderston’s The Protection of Ghosts presents a phenomenal, haunting collection of poems considering family, culture, trauma, grief, and so much more. [...]

"In fewer than 40 pages and just 15 poems, The Protection of Ghosts provides more than a quick read—it’s truly a sensory experience that lingers long after you’ve left its pages."

Juliette SebockThe Poetry Question, full review here.

A sample poem, more information and pamphlet orders here.

“John Lawrence’s The Boy Who Couldn’t Say His Name (V. Press) is a look at living a good life beyond childhood trauma. It’s narrative and emotive and feels like looking out the window and watching time and people move maybe a step below real time. It’s cigarettes, love songs, betrayal, and Christmas morning.”

Christopher Margolin, The Poetry Question, full review here.

"Poetry, whether spoken or read, has the power to console, to annoy, to amuse, to empathise. It’s a complicated relationship between the poet, the poem, and the reader or audience." John Lawrence talks about his collection The boy who couldn't say his name and the power of poetry on the page and in performance in an article on The Poetry Question here

Author insights, themes and readers' notes for many of our titles can also be found in V. Press's The Reading Room here.

While we're sharing reviews, one too for How to Parallel Park by James Davey:

"Only when I’d re-read the pamphlet did I realise how cleverly this poem offers parallel parking as a wider image. If you want to write about the past what do you do? You halt at an appropriate point in your life, look back, start to travel backwards carefully, manoeuvring yourself into the perfect space from which to write — and you may be surprised at what you discover.

"You also bring your sense of humour along for the ride."

D.A. PrinceSphinx, the full OPOI (One Point of Interest) review here.


This summer we've been busy with new print runs on a number of V. Press titles, including The Protection of Ghosts by Natalie Linh Bolderston, Checkout by Kathy Gee, The Neverlands by Damhnait Monaghan and Michael Loveday's Saboteur Awards shortlisted flash fiction novella Three Men on the Edge. We like to keep titles in print for as long as possible, but at the same time predicting demand isn't an exact science. Some titles do sell-out fast, so it really is a case of buy these while you can!


Just published earlier this month: the illustrated autumn pamphlet John Dust (poems by Louise Warren, illustrations by John Duffin).

Like a character from a contemporary Somerset folktale,  John Dust is very atmospheric and very bewitching.


V. Press director, editor and odd-jobber (such is the glam life of small press publishing!) Sarah Leavesley will  be taking in part in two events at next month's Big Poetry Weekend festival in Swindon.

Saturday, 5 October, 2019 – The Big Poetry Weekend, Swindon – Poetry Publishing Panel & Reading

3-4pm Poets & Publishers: Carrie Etter in conversation with Claire Crowther, Deputy Editor of Long Poem Magazine and Sarah Leavesley, Editor of V. Press. £7.

Claire Crowther has published three full collections from Shearsman and five pamphlets, the latest of which, Knithoard from Happenstance, launched in June 2019. Her first collection was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh Prize. Her poetry has been published in many journals including London Review of Books, Poetry Review, Poetry London, PN Review, Poetry Wales, and Times Literary Supplement. She writes reviews, teaches creative writing at Oxford University, and was poet in residence at the Royal Mint.

Sarah Leavesley/Sarah James is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer, featured in the Guardian, Financial Times, on the BBC, and in the Blackpool Illuminations. Her work ranges across nature, place, the environment, family, relationships, disability and more. Her latest books are How to Grow Matches (Against the Grain Press) and plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press), both shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Awards. She also runs V. Press, a poetry and flash fiction imprint.

4:30-5.30 p.m. Reading by Claire Crowther and Sarah Leavesley. £7.

Venue: Tent Palace of the Delicious Air at Richard Jefferies Museum, Marlborough Road (corner of Day House Lane), Coate Water, Swindon, SN3 6AA

Full programme here.

Tickets (including weekend passes, and day passes at £15) here.


Sample poems, information endorsements and pre-orders are now available for October's poetry collections: The Aesthetics of Breath by Charles G. Lauder Jr and Cuckoo by Nichola Deane; and Novembers's pamphlet Patience by Nina Lewis.

V. Press editor Sarah Leavesley has also just started going through a select number of submissions from writers whose work we loved but couldn’t take on last submissions window, as well as new titles by existing V. Press authors.

There will be decisions on these over the next few weeks… Meanwhile, the first new title V. Press has taken on for next year is Diane Simmon's flash fiction pamphlet An Inheritance and we're very excited to have this to share with readers soon!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Launching John Dust

V. Press is very very delighted to announce the launch of John Dust with poems by Louise Warren and illustrated by John Duffin.

“Louise Warren uses grief as an artist uses a sharpened pencil to delicately illustrate that what we leave, we inevitably return to whether through memories or myth.  Nature and Death are dancing partners in this beautifully moving collection of poems which explore the idea of roots in family and place. An earthy reverence combined with the keenest observation brings Somerset alive from the ashes of the past. Here, we find apples, owls, folklore, riddles, hedgerows, all linked by the character of John Dust, who is so much more than mere mortality: “I will be your Silhouette, your Diplomat, your Compass” (‘Swifts’). Indeed, the footnote lets us know that these are all caravans. We are in sympathetic imaginative territory to Jacob Polley’s award-winning Jackself where the reader is engaged and often lulled, only to be taken by surprise. It could be argued this how the process of bereavement works – you think you have arrived at a certain point, only to be off-balanced, but the sense of re-discovery of something lost in these poems, is a joyous reclamation. Many of the poems have found recognition in poetry competitions, but this is more than a collection of standout poems; it is the whole that makes it remarkable. The pamphlet is also illustrated with fine drawings by the artist, John Duffin, which match Warren’s words with their deft yet delicate strokes and serve to highlight the wistful strength of this collection.” Lisa Kelly

“Riddles and rhythms weave the wonderful spell of John Dust – Louise Warren's original Somerset legend is a brilliant feat of imagination, and will leave you wanting more stories of this mythical man and his exquisitely off-kilter world.” Kate Garrett

Like a character from a contemporary Somerset folktale,  John Dust is very atmospheric and very bewitching.

ISBN: 978-1-9165052-8-5
36 pages     
R.R.P. £6.50

John Dust sample poem  by Louise Warren and illustration by John Duffin can be found below.

BUY John Dust using the paypal buttons (with delivery options) below.

John Dust (including P&P/delivery options)

The Marshes

In the barn, my sofa stands in its puff of white breath,
heavy, patient, packed in tight with the herd,
waiting. I wait for it.

Downstairs, the afternoon moves heavily around the house,
a washing line turns slowly on its stalk,
the carpet in the hallway runs a sluggish ditch.

Back then, before they built on it, back then
the path stumped short into nettles, just fields,
arm of the sky bent round, empty.

Empty as pockets, empty as churches,
empty as milk pails rusting on gateposts.
I look out the windows milky with flat screens,

empty as ditches,
cold in the kitchen, biting like nettles,
sheeny as hoar frost.

Deep inside the bathroom I undress myself for you,
John Dust.
Down to the sedge and water, down to the beak of me,

sharp in the reed bed, down to the hidden.
I strip the light from my skin until I am overcast,
become cloud cover.

John Dust.
My man under the motorway,
flat out in the dark fields, seeding the hedges,

scratching your chest hair, wispy as larches,
pinking like evening, stitchwort and abattoir, bloody as Sedgemoor,
lipped up with cider, scraggy as winter.

You fetch each room, one by one, back to the marshes.
Plant forks and teaspoons, chairs for the heron’s nest,
propped up and broken,

the sky rusting over, smashed up with egg yolks,
water as mirror, water as leather, water as smoke, as trick,
a light under the door.

I stand in the empty
waiting for nothing.
Birds in the buckthorn, a house full of berries.


Friday, 6 September 2019
Venue: 49 Great Ormond St, London WC1N 3HZ
6.30 (doors open at 6.15) TO 9.30.
Louise Warren will be reading from her new pamphlet John Dust, with guest poets.
Followed by a wine reception.

Thursday, 3 October 2019 (8pm-10pm)
Reading at Fire River Poets at the Creative Innovation Centre (CIC), Memorial Hall, Paul St, Taunton, Somerset TA1 3PF.

Monday, 2 December 2019
Wells Fountain Poets, Venue tbc, Wells, Somerset
Please look at website for further details: Fountain Poets.

Thursday, 2 April 2020
Venue: At the Chapel, High St, Bruton, Somerset.
Please look at website for further details:

Thursday, 30 April 2020
Words and Ears, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire.
Please look at website for further details:

Monday, 5 August 2019

2019 V. Press Prize for Poetry

V. Press is very very pleased to announce that the winner of the 2019 V. Press Prize for Poetry is 'yngordna' by Kelly Williams, with ‘Writing the Truth’ by Miguel Guerreiro Lourenco as runner-up.

Announcing the 2019 V. Press Prize for Poetry winner, Sarah Leavesley said: “This year’s shortlist from the University of Worcester featured five manuscripts with a delightfully varied selection of themed and focussed writing, across a variety of styles/forms including some stunning vispo.

“Kelly Williams’ ‘yngordna’ (androgny spelled backwards) is a bold and brave exploration of gender, sexuality and love within and against societal expectations. Bristling with vivid imagery, vibrant language and powerful emotions, these poems are not afraid to challenge conventional boundaries in poetry as life. The selection’s focussed theme is reinforced by a natural fluid flow in the poems’ ordering, just as the intensity of the lines is balanced by the poems’ use of line breaks and white space. A fresh and striking selection.

“I was also very struck by Miguel Guerreiro Lourenco’s ‘Writing the Truth’ – a selection of powerful poems that manages the feat of feeling imaginative yet also very real and moving, reinforced again by the choices of form and layout.”

Sarah is now working with Kelly Williams on their pamphlet to be published in 2020 and launched with a university event in The Studio at The Hive, Worcester on the evening of Friday, 1 May, 2020. Runner-up Miguel Guerreiro Lourenco will receive a selection of V. Press titles.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

V. Press Poets at Ledbury Poetry Festival this weekend, Features & Reviews!


"...the heart is tricky and a witch, and doesn’t always actually know what the heart wants. […] But long “Before birth and death / your hands first touched mine in the dark”, and eventually we find forgiveness and love and purpose on the Blue Peninsula."
Christopher Margolin, The Poetry Question, full review here.

Becky Varley-Winter also has a beautiful and fascinating article on The Poetry Question about the Power of Poetry and how it works for  her as both a reader and a writer. You can read that here.

A sample poem, more information about Heroines and ordering are available here.


The boy who couldn’t say his name by John Lawrence is a darkly entertaining debut, bristling with humour and heart in spite of the heart-wrenching story behind the title...

“All the while, these poems remain deeply attentive to musicality, finding rhythm and magic even in the mundane…”

Jade Cuttle, Versopolis Poetry, full review here .

A sample poem, more information about The boy who couldn't say his name and ordering here.


“Margaret Adkins’ debut poetry pamphlet, Mingled Space, celebrates myth, folklore and witchcraft with impressive care and control. The poet commands a highly evocative use of language, which occasionally forages into formal playfulness…

“There’s a strange charm to these poems, caught in the captivating throes of violence [...] Despite the danger and harm that lurks behind these bizarrely vivid poems, there’s a great deal of gentleness at work, tending to the shadows and silence of the world.”

Jade CuttleVersopolis Poetry, full review here.

A sample poem, more information about Mingled Space and ordering here.

Memories, Moments & Mingled Space: Margaret Akins shares how French philosopher Gaston Bachelard influenced her pamphlet Mingled Space, and considers the mingled spaces of Ledbury Poetry Festival, in an essay for Versopolis.


“In Like love by Brenda Read-Brown, there’s a powerful negotiation of feelings at play, as flesh and fantasy intertwine with spine-tingling and sinister results. These poems are refreshing in that they comment on romance with a cynical somewhat comical tone…

“Besides the romance, these poems are beautiful odes to family love too. ‘Empty rooms’ plunges into the pain of clearing up a child’s bedroom after they have left home, whilst others trace the decline of loved ones, then deal with the gaping hole that’s left once they’re gone. At the same time, the book proudly carries the stamp of superficiality that contemporary society has been conditioned to crave […] There’s a light-hearted glee and glamour to this writing.”

Jade CuttleVersopolis Poetry, full review here.

A sample poem, more information about Like love and ordering here.


This year's Ledbury Poetry Festival includes three V. Press poets, Margaret Adkins, John Lawrence and Brenda Read-Brown, giving FREE 20-minute readings on Sunday, July 14.

Photo by Leah Adkins
20 Minutes with… Margaret Adkins
12:20 pm - 12:40 pm

Margaret Adkins will read from her debut pamphlet, Mingled Space. It won the inaugural V. Press Poetry Prize in association with the University of Worcester, and was launched in May. These poems inhabit real and imagined everyday spaces. Other work features in recent issues of Under the Radar and Prole magazines.

20 Minutes with… John Lawrence
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm

John Lawrence will read from his V. Press debut collection The boy who couldn't say his name. His poems are packed with heart, humour, and a unique slant on everyday life. The Poetry Book Society Spring Bulletin reviewed The boy who couldn't say his name as ‘… a thoroughly enjoyable debut collection. Running the full gamut of the comic and the tragic...’

Photo by Andy Smith
20 Minutes with… Brenda Read-Brown
5:20 pm - 5:40 pm

A look at the sharper edges of life, love and laughter, performance poet Brenda Read-Brown has turned to the page with her new collection, Like love (V Press). “The poems in Like love are uncluttered. They are simple, profound, and immensely touching...” Brian Patten. "These poems remind me of the tingles. I’m so happy to feel them. This collection makes me want to run outside, kiss, fall in leaves and then write.” Hollie McNish

Romalyn Ante is also a Nine Arches/Poetry School Primers:Volume Three poet reading on Saturday, July 13. (You can find details of her V. Press pamphlet Rice & Rain which won the Saboteur Awards 2018 Best Poetry Pamphlet here.)

(Thanks to Herefordshire Libraries who are supporting these readings.) The festival runs from Friday, July 5 to Sunday, July 14 and you can check out the full festival programme here.

PS V. Press editor, Sarah Leavesley, will be camped out at the festival at various points, as well as at the V. Press readings. So please do come across and say hello or ask questions about V. Press, our author, the submission process or poetry and publishing in general!