Friday, 23 October 2020

Looking Onwards

There's no doubt that 2020 has been a hard year! Here in the UK, it also feels like this Christmas season may not be the kind of winter festivity that it is normally.

V. Press editor Sarah Leavesley was due to be on a month-long residency at the International Writers' and Translators' House in Latvia. This won't now be going ahead - for obvious reasons.

But though this Christmas may be different to what might have been expected at the start of this year, V. Press has some  extra special seasonal cheer lined up...watch this space, as they say, for more news on this soon.

Meanwhile, we've a range of new reviews and titles for you to curl up with, perfect for semi-hibernation, temporary escape from reality and pure enjoyment!

REVIEWS

A Blue Bottle in Late October

"John Wheway’s brilliant debut collection, A Blue Bottle in Late October, is ambitious; a mini saga with a compelling narrative arc, told through a series of short, self contained lyrics grouped into three ‘acts’, with plenty of drama and action and memorable characters. An ordinary, everyday tragedy, made extraordinary by the telling of it. [...]

"This collection has the heart and narrative scope of a novella, elevated into something special by the poet’s eye. Just open at random and enjoy [...]"

Alison Woodhouse, The High Window, full review here

For a sample poem, more information or to buy A Blue Bottle in Late October, please click here.

I, Ursula

"[...]Stacey is a master of deceptive language that haunts you by its lullaby and paradigm style. Before you know it, you are seduced and involved into the play of words and metaphors.[...] 

"A sumptuous piece of work from a writer that is going from strength to strength."

Antony Owen, Ink Sweat and Tears, full review here


"There is so much to enjoy in these poems. The imagery Ruth uses is inventive and expressive – children’s fists are “clams”, lace is “a little noose”. Line breaks maintain tension and often create a wry humour."

Andrea Mbarushimana, Here Comes Everyone, full review here

For a sample poem, more information or to buy I, Ursula, please click here.

This Lexia & Other Languages

“Sometimes the more unlikely the subject matter, the more intriguing it can be, as this pamphlet exemplifies. Helen Kay, a dyslexia tutor, considers dyslexia and how it is — and isn’t — addressed in mainstream schooling and beyond, principally via the relationship between a mother and her son.”

Matthew Paul, OPOI, Sphinx Review, full review here

For a sample poem, more information or to buy This Lexia & Other Languages, please click here




"These are heartfelt pieces which speak of tension: the permanence of the natural, and the soul’s depth, versus the expediency of market values and the urban. Thought provoking and original."

Maggie Mackay, OPOI, Sphinx Review, full review here

For a sample poem, more information or to buy Making Tracks, please click here.



NEW TITLES


V. Press is very very delighted to have published Blue Dot Aubade by Miranda Lynn Barnes earlier this month. Hosted by Caleb Parkin, with guest poet Tania Hershman and a wonderful open mic section to the theme of Miranda's beautiful pamphlet as well as her stunning reading, the launch event was truly out-of-this world!

A sample poem, more details about Blue Dot Aubade, guest edited by Carrie Etter, and ordering can be found here.


Saturday, 10 October 2020

Launching Blue Dot Aubade


V. Press is very very delighted to launch Blue Dot Aubade, a pamphlet of poems by Miranda Lynn Barnes.

“I don’t think poems need to teach anything but nevertheless there's much to learn about the cosmos, the spirit, matter, and what matters here. The best part is that the lessons are delivered by a high-energy beam of surprising, hyper-attentive language. I'm obsessed with light, as are these poems. Ultimately, the language is the lesson – it's how the poems see and they may affect your vision afterwards.
 
Light travels as waves
and arrives as particles.

We travel as bodies
and arrive as light.

(From 'Cheating Light')”

Simon Barraclough
 
“Miranda Lynn Barnes' Blue Dot Aubade uses astrophysics and human experience as lenses for one another and thereby creates a renewed appreciation of both. At times playful, at times poignant, these intelligent poems illuminate our environment in the broadest sense: they give us a new view of our universe and our relationship to it. An engaging, original debut.”

V. Press Guest Editor Carrie Etter

Blue Dot Aubade is very cosmic, and very numinous.

ISBN: 978-1-9161096-7-4

36 pages

R.R.P. £6.50

A sample poem from the pamphlet can be found below.

BUY BLUE DOT AUBADE NOW using the paypal options below. 

Blue Dot Aubade (including P&P/delivery options)

Olivine

She’s been found
on meteorites, the dust

on Mars, tails of comets,
and the natal discs

of forming stars. Her crystal
green has been seen

in early solar birth
and the magma ocean

of the moon as it cooled.
She sparkles in every arc,

every glint against the ink
of the sky.

You are the greenest twinkle
in my eye, Olivine.

LAUNCH EVENT

Saturday, 10 October 2020
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Zoom 
Free but must register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/blue-dot-aubade-pamphlet-launch-tickets-119339751409. Limited open mic slots available to book, first come, first served. 

Friday, 25 September 2020

Autumn news, reviews & National Poetry Day offer

V. Press is delighted to start into Keats' "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" with a lovely article in the Sept/Oct/Nov issue of Mslexia.

Editor and managing director Sarah Leavesley was asked to take part in an interview for the magazine's 'Indie in the news' section, focussing in particular on Natalie Linh Bolderston's pamphlet The Protection of Ghosts

Natalie received an Eric Gregory Award earlier this year with an application including five poems  featured in her V. Press pamphlet.The article also includes background on the press and our submission process. 

This issue of Mslexia (87) can be found here and Natalie's pamphlet, which was guest-edited by Carrie Etter, here.

This issue of Mslexia also features an article about the V. Press title  The Neverlands by Damhnait Monaghan, which won the Saboteur Awards 2020 Best Novella  Award. Yvonne Battle Felton's article 'Breaking the mould' combines review and writing exercise. Quotes from it can be found in the review section below.

Competition Joy

Congratulations to V. Press poet Ruth Stacey, whose collection I, Ursula has been longlisted in the Poetry Book Awards 2020!

More about the awards here. A sample poem, more about the collection and ordering of I, Ursula can be found here.




REVIEWS



“This stunning award-winning novella is told through a series of inter-connected flash fictions. Each is a self-contained burst of character, setting and tension. Alone, each piece is poignant and sharp; together they produce a compelling narrative.[..]"

Yvonne Battle Felton, 'Breaking the mould', Mslexia

A sample flash, more information about The Neverlands and ordering for the eBook can be found here.



Diane Simmons expertly uses flash fiction pieces to capture the complexities one family experiences over four generations in her novella, An Inheritance (V. Press). Each fictional piece chronologically charts significant moments for the characters as they navigate their lives—both independently and as a family. The collection as a whole is a dramatic family saga that interweaves issues of class, familial obligations and legacy. […]

“Entertaining and powerful, Diane Simmons’ publication, An Inheritance, is a comprehensive collection of flash fiction stories that transcend place and time. […]”

Mikiko Fukuda, Sabotage Reviews, full review here

A sample flash, more information and ordering for An Inheritance can be found here.


"[...] The juxtaposition of hate and anger with the safety of pure, fluid love, is what sustains this work: I felt the contrast drew me in, and amplified the anguish communicated through the poems.

[...] There is much that is strong and powerful in Ynygordna, which explores many contrasts, not just between love and hate, but also the battle between persecution and acceptance — ignorance and understanding."

Vic Pickup, OPOI review on Sphinx Reviews, full review here

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


"The poems in this noticeably direct and unpretentious pamphlet are framed by two pyramid-structured ‘hierarchies of need’ modelled after Abraham Maslow’s 1943 theory of human motivation. One pyramid shows nature’s basic, psychological and growth needs; the other does the same for ‘21st century humans’. The pamphlet sheds light on — and examines the symbiotic relationship between — the two sets of needs. [...]

"This pamphlet is a timely poetic reminder that all life needs to be tended respectfully, by ourselves as well as by others."

Tim Murphy, OPOI on Sphinx Reviews, full review here

A sample poem, more information and ordering for Hierarchy of Needs: A Retelling can be found here.

"I enjoyed seeing Wareham Morris play with words, presentation and spacing in this collection. What’s also great is when there’s a clear backbone to a collection, which was obvious from the title, ‘Making Tracks’, which was a reoccurring theme throughout. "
Nikki Dudley, full review here

"Making Tracks by Katy Wareham Morris is a creative and conceptual triumph, exploring the disparate effects of a changing place on a multifaceted set of identities, communities, and cultures. Like her poem I try to explain it again,we are in the rhizomes of place-identity and its upheaval. Language and formal experimentation strike a beautifully shaped punch throughout these pages; playfully rendering the slippery nature of memory, class, gender with poetic tricks that are genuinely avant-garde, but never at the expense of earthy guts; which these poems are drenched in. Making Tracks gets to the hypocentre of West Midlands Industrial life."
R. M. Francis

A sample poem, more information and ordering for Making Tracks can be found here.


"The poems which I find the most powerful are those where the poet explores the experience of the female muse and the male artist in both art and literature. [...] These poems – like so many others in the collection – explore relationships between artist and muse, men and women, the tensions between life and art, and the creation and appreciation of various forms of art, in terms of power and powerlessness."

Jane SimmonsEverybody's Reviewing, full review here.

A sample poem, more information and ordering for I, Ursula can be found here.



NATIONAL POETRY DAY 

This year's National Poetry Day is on Thursday, 1 October with a theme of VISION. V. Press is celebrating the day with a special poetry pamphlet bundle (for U.K. delivery only) that runs from now until the end of Sunday, 4 October 2020.

The NPD2020 bundle is 2 of This Lexia & Other Languages, Winter with Eva, Hierarchy of Needs, About Leaving, Patience , Making Tracks or Ynygornda for £12 including U.K. delivery only.

Please use the Paypal button below to order, remembering to include which 2 titles you'd prefer. (If it's left blank, then V. Press will select 2 for you.)

NB This offer is intended for U.K. only, though a P&P option for the rest of the world is included. Please make sure not to select the wrong option. Thank you.


NPD2020 delivery options
2 pamphlets you'd prefer?

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Launching Making Tracks

V. Press is very very pleased to announce the publication of Making Tracks, a poetry pamphlet by Katy Wareham Morris.

“From the very first page of this pamphlet, the reader encounters a voice which is entirely new. Within this pamphlet we find interrogations of masculinity, class, manual labour, what is and isn’t inherited through different generations and, most excitingly, see how these different preoccupations can be refracted and reflected through language and the line.

"As there should be when searching for new ways to contemplate tradition, a fresh type of experimentation with language, its spacial arrangement and its breath, is given to the reader, but always with a solid and concrete centre of people and place. A balance is struck between the heart, and the search for a language, scientific or natural, which might be able to fully represent it. Poems such as ‘You and Him: A Venn Diagram’ give us a visual language for exploring the pamphlet’s themes, and the pamphlet as a whole brings together the insertion of the urban and natural, the historical and the contemporary. An exciting new pamphlet from a poet doing important new things with the art.”
Andrew McMillan

Making Tracks uses the texture of language and collaged fragments to celebrate those people who worked at the now defunct Longbridge car factory.  Wareham Morris’s father is the beating heart at the centre of these poems, it’s whose voice we hear, entrusted to her tender keeping.  There is the melancholy of a way of life gone here, but also the love of a day’s work and the satisfaction of a job well done.”
Helen Ivory

By design, Making Tracks is very dutiful, yet very fallible.

ISBN: 978-1-8380488-0-8
36 pages
R.R.P. £6.50

A sample poem from the pamphlet can be found below.

BUY MAKING TRACKS NOW using the paypal options below.

Making Tracks (including P&P/delivery options)


Metamorphosis

You were ruled by the track that sliced through the factory,
that carved the operating chaos of your life,
me too, by the blood in my arms –
the cartographic lines drawn in the grass laid before me

to keep it moving, to keep them and us alive.
Hundreds of transposable parts simultaneously
dropping into place like dancers, with your eyes
shut counting beats, the rhythm in your fast feet
recognised the tools, the bodies, the faces
jacked up the day new West Works opened,
when shells swam with robots then sailed
over the Bristol Road. Each day before and after
mechanised, standardised, but you the one-off,
driving from one heart, one hearth to another.
Daily, nightly dangers posed by predictable
assembly sequence, lines forced to refine,
whilst you designed me first, yet my parts
still coming together, directions in motion,
crafting the chaos of the steadfast home that would work us,
and the men who remained unchanged for years,
the production line that had produced you before.

It never stopped – your brain like my brain
loudly crashing to the beat of your fast feet
dancing on my heart, growing from the middle,
multiplicities dropping into additional software
for brand new computers, your quick hands
finished processes same place, same time, every time.
The machine making machines work.
That conveyor bridge demolished first.

A video reading of 'Grass' from the pamphlet can also be enjoyed below.


LAUNCH EVENT

Katy Wareham Morris will launch ‘Making Tracks’ online on Monday, 14 September 2020 from 7.30pm. This event will take place on the platform Blackboard Collaborate. If you’d like to attend, you can email Katy directly for the access link. Her email is: k.wareham.morris@worc.ac.uk.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Announcing the Prize, Design Thanks & Reviews

V. PRESS PRIZE FOR POETRY 2020

V. Press is very very delighted to announce the winner of this year's V. Press Prize for Poetry run in conjunction with the University of Worcester.

V. Press editor Sarah Leavesley has chosen 'May We All Be Artefacts' by Chloe Hanks as this year's winner, with the winning pamphlet based on this portfolio to be published by V. Press in spring 2021.

She said: “This year’s winning portfolio for the V. Press Prize for Poetry is ‘May We All Be Artefacts’ – chosen from the University of Worcester’s shortlist of five for its striking and thought-provoking imagery, focal slants and choice of words. These are poems crafted with a painter’s eye for vivid details and a poet’s ear for language, its sounds and music. The scenes brought to life feel real, relevant and resonant.”

DESIGN THANKS

V. Press would like to say a VERY VERY BIG THANKS to Ruth Stacey who has just stepped down from designing the poetry covers.

Ruth was one of V. Press's founding editors in 2013 and has designed most of the press's poetry covers since then.

Seven years of design for the press and 40 odd poetry covers is no small feat. To put this in its full amazing context, both Ruth and V. Press editor Sarah Leavesley have given all their time and energy to their roles at V. Press on an unpaid basis. 

V. Press is extremely grateful to have had Ruth on board for so long doing this and would like to say a very big thank you   from the press, from Sarah Leavesley and on behalf of all our V. Press poets.


REVIEWS


V. Press is delighted to share a number of great reviews, including one about Diane Simmons' “exquisite prose” in An Inheritance, which was shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards Best Novella 2020.

“[…] what we have with An Inheritance is a gripping novella-in-flash that takes us on this journey at breakneck speed, as we flit through seventy years and four generations of family life – with all its love, grittiness, despair, hope, loss, grief and evolution.
“Diane Simmons delivers a story that is heartfelt, desperately hopeful and heartrending – the way Simmons is able to move the reader in so few words just showcases what a master she is of the flash fiction genre […]
“[…] An Inheritance is a fabulously woven collection that moves us to feel many emotions, whether we want to or not, and causes us to reflect or face our own familial differences or circumstances. Powerful and beautiful in all the right ways!”

Ross Jeffery, Storgy Magazine, full review here

A sample flash, more information and ordering for An Inheritance can be found here.


"These 29 micro stories, which can be read in one sitting, are so interconnected that the effect is of one short story, told in fragments—a fitting format for a meditation on the unraveling of a marriage, with guest stars (dogs, lovers, therapists, the tiger cat, a rat). The compressed power of flash, however, combined with Pokrass’ lyricism, invites the reader to re-read each piece, and unpack each morsel line by line.[...]

"At a time when we are all living in said movie, Meg Pokrass’ new flash offering is a reminder that, while this collective unmooring is new and unsettling, our emotional lives have already pulled us through a great many rabbit holes. At times surreal, at times elliptical, Alice In Wonderland Syndrome is ultimately an earthy and poignant grouping of flash fiction for an upside-down world."

Amanda Krupman, SmokeLong Quarterly, full review here

A sample flash, more information and ordering for Alice In Wonderland Syndrome can be found here.

Patience

"[...] Lewis’ short, crisp phrases are excellent at conveying the profoundly relatable experiences of uncertainty, vulnerability and ennui. Her poems explore both the sense of helplessness and futility in trying to both come to terms with the vast abstractions of time and space, as well as the experience of these concepts within intimate structures such as relationships and memories.[...]

"‘Patience’ reinforces the idea that the time and space around us is charged, not necessarily with any sententious significance, but with a more elemental and formidable force: the ‘electrical surge of the universe’. In this idea of patience, there are always possibilities [...]"

Phoebe Walker, Sabotage Reviews, full review here

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

About Leaving

"[...] It is such details of syntax and diction that are a key strength in this collection. The poems are plain on the surface, letting the emotional intensity of the events and responses they describe come through unembarrassed by poetic expression, aided by care and attention."

"[...] See again the clarity and directness of the writing. ‘Absent’ is in fact a pantoum, so its clarity, preserved throughout its length, is a mark of skill as well as disposition. [...]"

Stephen Payne, Sabotage Reviews, full review here

A sample poem, more information and ordering for About Leaving can be found here.

The Protection of Ghosts

"[...]The way Bolderston moves through time so smoothly is a kind of magic. [...] Time doesn’t work linearly in these poems; the past has never left. It’s in the small details. [...] her project has much to say about the way people and places are affected by history. [...]"

Eric Nguyen,  diaCRITICS, full review here

A sample poem, more information and ordering for The Protection of Ghosts can be found here.




Monday, 3 August 2020

Launching Hierarchy of Needs: A Retelling


V. Press is very very delighted to announce the launch of Hierarchy of Needs A Retelling, a collaborative pamphlet of poems by Charley Barnes and Claire Walker.

“This pamphlet is a reminder of the extraordinary paradoxes and dualities cultivated between the shaky coexistence of the natural world within the Anthropocene. We are drawn into other-worldly ecologies populated by ‘giddy’ ‘warriors’ ‘fenced in (for freedom)’ and ‘giants, balancing on toes’; yet also confronted with the harsh and tangible realities that confirm the mortal fragility of our environments, even those we create for ourselves through technology.  There is adept writing skill evident in these poems: fresh anthropomorphic voices propagate amongst lyrical lines that converge with direct, demanding declaratives; violent vivid images give way to mellow half-rhymes and assonance; form is executed with precision and also reworked into affecting challenge and experiment. Here lies the adroitness of a pamphlet that moves like rhizomes – with purpose, poise and intelligence.

“Re-working nature’s contradictions and vulnerabilities, and ultimately its needs and desires with this resolute energy, offers a striking parallel: as women writers we might be seen, but not always heard. For me then, this pamphlet is more than just an excellent example of eco-poetry; it is a sophisticated and spirited example of eco-feminism. This is a Mother Earth who nurtures, protects, provides but is also ‘bounty hunter’ with unmistakable, fierce needs of her own: unapologetically pursued and satisfied. ‘Something beautiful’.”

Katy Wareham Morris

“We do not exist without nature, though more and more these days, we seem to be expected to. In this book, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is used as a narrative to consider the entwining of both nature’s and our own human needs. The book is split into two sections, each headed with its own recreations of the original five-layered hierarchical pyramid. They feel like a catechism – questions that we must keep on asking ourselves.

“The poems are each beautiful and spared from unnecessary clutter – there is such gentleness and consideration to be gained from the reading. Nature is personified and within the poems there is an aching, a longing to be freed from our human bonds – to be able to answer the age-old call of the seasons without our interference.

“Some of the poems writhe with wonderful touches of the fairy tale. Some express nature’s desire to work in harmony with us as it did in days long past. Some stand in stark contrast to our modern, technology reliant world. Some convey a sense of eternal searching, of pain and grief. Some are piquant with our own bodies, loves, families and deaths. Under the current circumstances and the strange times we are living through, this really does feel like a needed book. We could all do with being a bit more tree.”

Jane Burn

Hierarchy of Needs is very structured, very inquisitive.

ISBN: 978-1-9161096-8-1

R.R.P. £6.50

A sample poem from the pamphlet can be enjoyed below.

BUY Hierarchy of Needs now, using the paypal link below. 

Hierarchy of Needs (including P&P/delivery options)


For U.K. delivery only, a special 'duet' prices is also available for Hierarchy of Needs pre-ordered at the same time as Claire Walker's V. Press pamphlet, Somewhere Between Rose and Black, shortlisted in Saboteur Awards 2018 Best Poetry Pamphlet category.

Pre-order Hierarchy of Needs Somewhere Between Rose and Black for £12, U.K. delivery only using the paypal link below.



For U.K. delivery only, a special 'duet' prices is also available for Hierarchy of Needs pre-ordered at the same time as Charley Barnes' V. Press pamphlet, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache.

Order Hierarchy of Needs A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache for £12, U.K. delivery only using the paypal link below.





For Agatha, who loved this place

I wake slow, see no need to rush,
in this, my centenary year.
I’ve earned this slowness,
have honed the art
of observation since I took root:
planted For Agatha, who loved this place.

My own potential realised,
I know all seasons of people,
have taken their stories down
and filled their lungs in return.

Mothers push their babies around
and I shade their tired eyes,
wish them unbroken sleep tonight.

Children come and go – grow –
race around my sturdy trunk,
build dens inside the hollow of my heart.
They weave up my branches, so light
I shoulder them so they might stretch
towards the sun.

I have seen whole family trees expand.
Generations of the same tribe
picnic together at my feet.
At times, this warms me
more than a summer day:
generations gabbling, together, alive.

Here, I witness life,
snap a twig of hair and carve a quill,
scribe everything into my parchment
to pass on. Collecting roots, truths to tell,
for Agatha, who loved this place.


Monday, 3 August 2020 - Zoom launch

Charley and Claire would love for friends, family and fellow writers to join them in celebrating the release of this new pamphlet on August 3, at an event held via Zoom. The event will also feature guest readers Ruth Stacey, Katy Wareham-Morris and Jane Burn, along with a Question and Answer session. The Facebook event page can be found here. Please note: Zoom details will be available closer to the time. The Zoom space will open at 7:15pm for a 7:30pm start.

VIDEO READINGS



Friday, 17 July 2020

Launching This Lexia & Other Languages

V. Press is very very delighted to launch This Lexia & Other Languages by Helen Kay.

“In these poems about the relationship between a mother and son, about dyslexia and language itself (‘the dangling hooks of “f”s and “t”s’), Helen Kay forges an idiom which is both tender and firm. Kay draws us into the experience of living in a society shaped around neurotypical expectations. The poems that result are angry and searching. But in feeling out the boundaries of language, they achieve a ‘seedling syntax’ which is alive and beautiful.” Will Harris

“These poems are quicksilver – deft, concise, witty and full of fresh ways of saying things.  With empathy, and sometimes anger, they skilfully lead the reader into a world of words that confounds expectation but contains its own very specific delights.” Judy Brown

“We are told ‘all shapes are made to fit’, but sometimes the world has a preordained notion of ‘shape’ that does not include people with dyslexia. In Helen Kay’s latest publication, she reflects on a ‘mother-son bond’, as they navigate a childhood where dyslexic can mean being ‘labelled “slow’’’. This Lexia & Other Languages will awaken you to their world, to ‘hear it, taste it, feel it’ in all its devastating complexity.” Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

This Lexia & Other Languages is very genuine and very human.

A sample poem from This Lexia & Other Languages can be enjoyed below.

ISBN: 978-1-9161096-9-8
32 pages
R.R.P. £6.50

BUY This Lexia & Other Languages NOW using the paypal link below. 


This Lexia & Other Languages (including P&P/delivery options)

Short Term Memory Loss

It starts with an        empty tight-lipped jug
or a foggy eviction        from my narrative.
Familiar names are        clinging to my tongue
I lose my spectacles        and wash my purse.
A slush of turnips        blackens in a pan.

Others fear dementia.        I was born misplacing
mid-stairs, purpose        waves goodbye. I float.
Quiz time. I parrot        an answer, claim its mine.
At night I lie awake        to rescue hunches
that it started with a ‘P’        or was it ‘K’?

Next day fills        with Mrs Malaprop
whotsit pen drives        brillig crib sheets.
Only the key things        cross the neural pathway:
the days that leaked        the saltiness of now
the dregs of pain        the scent of being loved.