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‘Windows’

On Thanksgiving evening, we had the pleasure of listening to the four very different voices of Konstandinos Mahoney, Maggie Butt, David Cooke and Isabel Bermudez. The title was a kind of unifier, but as often happens, a theme or two emerged from the reading and the introductions to each poem, which were powerful and moving and totally topical: one was the plight of the people who flee the horrors of war in their countries, only to find horrors of other kinds in the countries where they are hoping to find refuge. Even the lighter touch in the sketch of Konstandinos’ eccentric Aunt Alice and her thesp-like antics was tinged with sadness and the memory of the flight from a burning Smyrna. Maggie’s everlove was inspired by heartbreaking photographs of migrants by American photographer Mary Behrens (we watched a brief video of some of them, with voiceover by Behrens herself). The construction of her poems and words, sometimes amalgams of words, themselves mirroring doubt, fear, urgency. Maggie manages to be tender and brutally unsentimental at the same time. David took us on a journey in which we had to adjust to different scales, from ants to elephants, and then led us back to the most familiar of landscapes, a back garden. Isabel gave us glimpses of Colombia (but also of England) – powerfully evoking situations, places and people with the precision of her words, never in excess, always exact and essential. Again, a strong theme was that of being ‘foreign’, of belonging and yet not belonging. The second theme was nature, and the threat to it through climate change, present in the poems by all the wonderful readers.

But don’t just rely on my words…do buy the books and see for yourselves!

If you want to buy signed copies, it’s probably easier if you email me irena@in-words.co.uk and I can pass the request on to the poet/s in question, who can then get in touch with you.

For unsigned copies:

For Konstandinos Mahoney’s Tutti Frutti https://spmpublications.com/shop/tutti-frutti-konstandinos-mahoney.html

For Maggie Butt’s everlove https://www.maggiebutt.co.uk

For David Cooke’s Sicilian Elephants https://tworiverspress.com

For Isabel Bermudez’s Serenade www.paekakarikipress.com

Launch of John Barnie’s poetry collections, with Cinnamon Press

Last night a truly international audience of poetry lovers shared the experience of hearing John Barnie’s exceptional reading of poems from two of his collections published by Cinnamon Press. Cinnamon’s Jan Fortune introduced John and his poetry, and conducted the proceedings in her customary engaging and profound manner. It is a credit to her and to John that the reading was followed by a series of interesting and insightful questions and comments, which enlightened us further on John’s journey into poetry and language, his Welshness and many other interesting topics.

In Afterlives John responds to Welsh paintings in Peter Lord’s collection, with economical, often tongue-in-cheek and socially argute words, masterfully read. As a member of the audience has since commented, we were offered ‘…a kind of tridimensionality – the sitter’s, the artist’s and the poet’s, with his interpretation, in many cases, of the sitter’s possible thoughts.’

A Report to Alpha Centauri is dark, at time despairing and alway urgent, a vison of the slippery slope to humanity’s ultimate self destruction and the destruction of nature. John’s skill with, and love of, words from languages from different eras and places come across in the poems’ musical and rhythmic qualities, enhanced again by his extraordinary reading voice.

Both books, and all the volumes on Cinnamon’s exhaustive list can be purchased from cinnamonpress.com

Use the code AUTUMN20 to get a 20% discount on all books in any one basket.

Events

Thursday 20 January at 7.30 on Zoom

tall-lighthouse redux

tall-lighthouse celebrates its return to publishing poetry pamphlets by introducing poets Christopher Horton, Joshua Calladine-Jones, Mark Wynne and Sarah Shapiro.

After the High Window, it’s the turn of tall-lighthouse, in its own words ‘still publishing bloody good poetry‘. Here is some initial information about the publisher and the event:
tall-lighthouse is a Lewisham based poetry press and its current list includes poets from the UK, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the USA Canada and Europe.
The reading will have an international flavour as Sarah is based in Boston (USA) and Joshua in Prague.

tall-lighthouse has a reputation for publishing new talent, being the first in the UK to publish Helen Mort, Sarah Howe, Liz Berry, Adam O’Riordan, Rhian Edwards, Emily Berry, Kate Potts and many others. Many poets published by tall-lighthouse have gone on to full collections with
major poetry publishers in the UK. These include Sarah Howe, winner of the TSEliot prize in 2015 with her Chatto&Windus collection Loop of Jade; Helen Mort whose debut full collection Division Street (Chatto&Windus) was shortlisted for the TSEliot prize as was Ailbhe Darcy with her collection Insistence (Bloodaxe). Similarly Jay Bernard and Vidyan Ravinthiran
were both shortlisted for the 2020 TSEliot prize. Other tall-lighthouse poets have also been awarded important prizes.

I hope you can join us for this reading, which, as usual, is free by invitation. Further details a bit nearer the time. For a zoom link, please email irena@in-words.co.uk