Thursday, 17 January 2019

Love Thursdays - 3

Life may or may not be like a box of chocolates, but V. Press is very very pleased to offer readers this mini-selection of love poems/flashes from some of our titles in the run up to Valentine's Day 2019.

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.

Obviously, we love V. Press titles - we also think they're the perfect gift not just for reading and loving, but sharing too! For Valentine's Day and the rest of the year!

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

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Love Thursdays - 2

Life may or may not be like a box of chocolates, but V. Press is very very pleased to offer readers this mini-selection of love poems/flashes from some of our titles in the run up to Valentine's Day 2019.

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.

Obviously, we love V. Press titles - we also think they're the perfect gift not just for reading and loving, but sharing too! For Valentine's Day and the rest of the year!

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

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Love Thursdays - 1

Life may or may not be like a box of chocolates, but V. Press is very very pleased to offer readers this mini-selection of love poems/flashes from some of our titles in the run up to Valentine's Day 2019.

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.

Obviously, we love V. Press titles - we also think they're the perfect gift not just for reading and loving, but sharing too! For Valentine's Day and the rest of the year!

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 WalkerSomewhere Between Rose and Black

Monday, 31 December 2018

Celebrating 2018 & heading into 2019

The new year - if not a turning point as such, a pausing moment for looking back and looking forwards, across publications, award successes and new reviews.

Since V. Press's publication of Jacqui Rowe's Ransom Notes in 2015, V. Press has published 25 titles, across poetry and flash. In 2018 this included: How to Parallel ParkAgainst the Pull of Time, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache , These nights at homeUnable Mother Like loveThree Men on the Edge and There's Something Macrocosmic About All of This.

This past year saw Romalyn Ante's Rice & Rain win the Saboteur Awards 2018 Best Poetry Pamphlet, with Claire Walker's Somewhere Between Rose and Black shortlisted. Antony Owen's The Nagasaki Elder was shortlisted in the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

But the end of one year is the beginning of another, and we've more than ever lined up for 2019, including Jinny Fisher's The Escapologist (pamphlet), Martin Zarrop's Making Waves (pamphlet) and John Lawrence's The boy who couldn't say his name (collection), which are already available for pre-order!

V. Press is also starting the new year with a new feature - Love Thursdays! Every Thursday from January 3 right up to Valentine's Day, we will be sharing a selection of love poems and flashes by V. Press authors. Yes, there is romance, but also the grittier real-life edge of love too!

And our 2019 fiction publications will include The Neverlands by Damhnait Monaghan and Midnight Laughter by Paul McDonald.



V. Press is very delighted to end 2018 with Romalyn Ante's Rice & Rain praised in the TLS.

"Romalyn Ante's Rice & Rain is also interested in re- or dislocation, full of memories of home (in her case the Philippines) being replayed, a watchful shoring-up of vanished, loved scenes and people. Ante's mixing of  the small and grand scale, and her clarity of vision, are particularly impressive..." Declan Ryan, TLS, full article here

The pamphlet was also one of Liz Berry's choices for a 'perfect poetry Christmas gift' ('treasures') in the winter issue of Poetry News.

For more about Rice & Rain, a sample poem and to order a copy, click here.

It also seems very serendipitous to mark the move from one year to a new one with news of two new reviews of Jenna Plewes' Against the Pull of Time.

“This is a spare, meticulously-crafted and deceptively simple collection which carries a weight far beyond its few pages and which will bear repeated reading by anyone looking to come to terms with the finite nature of our relationship with life and land.” Justine Knowles, The Cannon’s Mouth

“...a gentle, accessible, attractive, but at times astringent pamphlet… Plewes is economical and to the point, marshalling her material effectively…This awareness [of precariousness/walking a tightrope] influences the form of the poems and gives then a contrapuntal quality and an edge which makes her work interesting as well as enjoyable.“ Dilys Wood, Artemis

For more about Against the Pull of Time, a sample poem and to order a copy, click here.

On the fiction front, Three Men on the Edge is also continuing to hit a strong note with readers and critics, including the latest new review. 

"There is heartache and humour in this tale of three men on the edge of lonely despair. Each tells his own story about coping with anger, self-doubt, depression in precise and beautifully crafted segments where the author is not afraid of introducing the heightened surrealism of troubled thoughts and dreams..."

Jennie Farley, full 5-star review here

Our Cultural Intern Kibriya Mehrban's latest selection of 'Top Notes' are for These nights at home by Alex Reed (poems) and Keren Banning (photographs).

"Hudson Taylor – Left Alone

Snow Patrol – If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To it

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Distant Sky

Peter Gabriel – I Grieve

Joe Purdy – Good Days

Putting together a playlist for Alex Reed and Keren Banning’s work These nights at home presented a very particular challenge for me. When reading this, there is a painful clarity that it is grounded in a very real and very specific experience of grief on the poet’s part..."

Kibriya's full playlist recommendations, with her reasons for these choices, can be enjoyed on Chez Nous.

Finally, we're delighted to give readers a sneak preview of V. Press's first 2019 title, Martin Zarrop's Making Waves Albert Einstein: Science & Life. The poetry pamphlet is published in January, and Kibriya has created some beautiful photo-quotes, including...


Friday, 14 December 2018

Seasonal Greetings & Offers

from late Latin refractio(n- ), from refringere ‘break up’

and when we awoke the world was made of glass
so sharp it cut our tongues
and so bright it burned our eyes
until all we could say was weather
and all we could see were the dark shapes
where the light used to be

and this is where we chose to build
our crystal kingdoms of kindness
and open invitations: soup kitchens, school plays,
our frozen-toed choirs, our warming flames
and dining tables stretching from vitric horizons
all bending through densities to reach us

and the hard pane of night went on for months;
we rang bells against it to make it sing
and we could not move for the press of dark
so we made games from huddling and melting
and when it was cold enough to mold-blow our breath
we filled our lungs, held it in

and the pale sun began to rise
and then

Kibriya Mehrban

V. Press is very very delighted to mark the festive season with this beautiful poem from our Cultural Intern Kibriya Merhrban.

This year is the fifth anniversary (yes, in Roman numerals, the vth birthday!) of V. Press's first publication and launch at Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2013!

To celebrate the 'holiday season', end of 2018 and start of 2019, we've two very very special offers - running for a month (until January 14, 2019.

These are:

Vth Birthday:Three poetry/fiction pamphlets for £12 offer (including P&P for UK delivery only) - Choose from art brut, Hometown, Scare Stories, The Chemist's House, Somewhere Between Rose and Black, How to Parallel Park, Against the Pull of Time, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache. Please specify which three you'd like when placing your order, otherwise we will make our own selection for you. *

Vth Birthday:Two books for £15 offer (including P&P for UK delivery only) - Choose from Bolt Down This Earth, The Nagasaki ElderBlink, Unable Mother, Three Men on the Edge, Like love. Please specify which three you'd like when placing your order, otherwise we will make our own selection for you.*


* Normally, there should be an 'instructions to merchant' section on Paypal where you can list your choices. If you don't get this, please email them over at the time of order to

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Poetry as experience - Kibriya's 'Top Notes' & more...

At V. Press, we've always believed that good poetry and fiction are more than just printed words on a page - they're an experience.

When readers buy a V. Press title, they get something more - be it a sharing of beauty, a shoulder to cry on, words that remind them they're not alone, an escape from mundane reality, inspiration, camaraderie, a chance to unwind...the possibilities are endless, and the experience unique to every reader with every title.

The sense that poetry and fiction are a pleasure that fits in alongside life and creates a wider experience as it does so, was one of the inspirations behind our Chez Nous section, suggesting wines, teas and other drinks that might be enjoyed while reading particular titles.

We're delighted that our Cultural Intern Kibriya Mehrban has come up with a new twist to this - Kibriya's 'Top Notes'.

Over the next few months, Kibriya will be creating Chez Nous 'playlists' of the music she'd recommend as capturing the sounds of forthcoming V. Press publications.

Kibriya's 'Top Notes' recommendations start with Brenda Read-Brown's Like Love:

"Frank Turner – Reasons Not to be an Idiot

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows

Adele – When We Were Young

Iron and Wine – Upward Over the Mountain

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Learning to Fly

At first glance, this playlist is a strange mix of sounds. Like Brenda Read-Brown’s collection Like Love, it changes as you go through it and – also like the collection – it can surprise you..."

Kibriya's full 'Top Notes' Chez Nous recommendation for Like Love can be found here.

BUY Like love now using the paypal button.

Like love (including P&P)

Kibriya has also created a second new initiative for V. Press - combining poem quotes with beautiful photographs...

More info about  Jinny Fisher's The Escapologist can be found here and the pamphlet pre-ordered using paypal below.

The Escapologist (including P&P)

And if you're in Worcester this evening...

Friday, 30 November 2018

Launching These nights at home

V. Press is very very delighted to launch These nights at home - a pamphlet of poems by Alex Reed with images from photographer Keren Banning.

These nights at home, which follows on from Alex Reed’s earlier V. Press pamphlet A Career in Accompaniment, is very personal, and yet very familiar. This longer pamphlet voices the loneliness and isolation that follow bereavement, and the predicament of trying to begin anew. Moments of tenderness, flashback, longing and love flicker through the mind and heart as the months pass. The poems are accompanied by Keren Banning’s striking series of photographic images that are simultaneously abstract and intimate, drawing the reader further into this fragmented landscape.

“The most striking feature of Alex Reed’s poems in These nights at home is their clarity – a transparency that allows the reader in to the emotions and experience they explore. This lucid quality allows complex and deep feelings to be expressed vividly. Being able to approach the most difficult human experience so directly and honestly makes the poems moving and compelling. Specific concrete details convey loss and grief, loneliness, the pull of memory. Recurring motifs – empty rooms, hallways, doors – suggest the slow and repetitive process of grieving. There is nothing spare in the poems. Every word earns its place. The voice is quiet, restrained, attentive. The poems are not sombre. There are flashes of humour and a range of tone is created through the different poetic forms – prose poems building unsettling extended metaphors, experimental layouts suggesting a shifting sense of memory and perception. The pamphlet shows the reader what it means to be living with loss, conveying the process of grief with its ‘pacing hours’, and just a hint of a tentative way forward. It reminds us how, in the right hands, the economy of poetry can communicate the most complex of emotions.” Cynthia Fuller

“Less fraught than A Career in Accompaniment, more a slow immersive haunting, the poems in These nights at home enter a different unknown – the oceanic space of loss and absence.  Tentative minimalism provides the key to open up distances, far and near.  Here, less is more – reflective territory exquisitely distilled in Keren Banning’s spectral photographs.” Linda France

A sample poem and a sample image from this longer pamphlet can be found below.

44 pages
ISBN: 978-1-9998444-6-2
R.R.P. £7.50

BUY These nights at home now using the paypal link below.

These nights at home (including P&P)

LIMITED BUNDLE OFFER for U.K. delivery only, buy a copy of These nights at home together with a copy of Alex Reed's A Career in Accompaniment for just £14, including U.K. postage and packing.


deep river

friends say it’s early yet
your picture on the fireplace, smiling

it takes a year
your reading specs on the table

it takes two years
folded clothes still on the shelves

it takes four years
faint trace of you from the wool

there is a river that runs within –
vast, uncharted, rising