tall-lighthouse redux

On Thursday 20th a collaboration between in-words and tall-lighthouse brought together four very different poets, whose innovative, unusual and interesting voices contrasted in the most stimulating way.

This was a great celebration of tall-lighthouse’s return to publishing pamphlets of ‘bloody good poetry’. It is owned and run by Les Robinson, who often acts also as mentor and editor, and you could tell that, despite the marked differences between the poets, the common theme was the depth of their empathy, skill and enthusiasm for their art. And that is probably also thanks to Les and his empathy, skill and enthusiasm.

For this event, Les also prepared and managed the powerpoint slides of the texts. For once, I felt I was part of the audience, I could sit back and simply enjoy the readings.

Christopher Horton read from Perfect Timing, the perfect title for his precise, yet playful and sensitive poems. “Christopher Horton’s mnany voices are equally at home in the city and in the wilds. Perfect Timing surprises with what often goes unnoticed.” Katrina Naomi.

Joshua Calladine-Jones read from Constructions [konstrtukce]. Based in Prague, his poems are experimental sequences assembled from snippets of online conversations, notes and fragments in incorrect English as used by Czech people during lockdown – somehow creating narratives from them.

Sarah Shapiro, born in Chcago and living in Boston, read from her first pamphlet, The Bullshit Cosmos (ignitionpress), and from Being Called Normal. Her poetry grows from a dialogue between her and the impersonal language of diagnostic assessments, and urges us to challenge the easy labelling of children and adults.

With Mark Wynne, we were treated to words and images. Frank Auerbach’s strong, sensuous paintings and drawings work as more than a mere inspiration for Mark’s pared-down verse in Frank & Stella. Both scrape away at what they find to be not essential “[…] to produce something distinctive and disorienting.” John Clegg.

The pamphlets can be ordered by emailing tall.lighthuse@yahoo.com

A big thank you to Les, Christopher, Joshua, Sarah, Mark and the audience.

‘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

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. For a zoom link, please email irena@in-words.co.uk

And here are the detail about the poets who will read on the night:

Joshua Calladine-Jones was born in Greater Manchester, England. He is the literary-critic-in-residence for Prague Writers’ Festival, and his work has appeared in a number of journals, including Freedom, The Stinging Fly, 3:AM, The Gravity of The Thing and Literární.cz. Constructions [Konstrukce] is Joshua’s debut pamphlet.
Discarding the dirty undergarments of English, Joshua Calladine-Jones offers a new taste: “Continuous like stars falling, flies in a glass of milk.” A slippery diving board for the undercurrents of language in a New Stone Age. Michael March

Christopher Horton studied English Literature and American Studies at University of Wales, Swansea, and subsequently taught in China before working as a Housing Officer and then as a Town Planner. His poems have appeared in Poetry London, Poetry Wales, Ambit, Iota, Magma . He has been a prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition, the South Downs Poetry Festival Poetry Prize and The Bridport Prize. Observing an urban world, human and animal – these poems pleasingly mark in word-music the juncture between the said and the unsaid. Gillian Clarke

Sarah Shapiro lives and works in Boston USA. Her poetry is widely published in magazines and on-line, and her debut pamphlet The Bullshit Cosmos was published by ignitionpress.
In this compelling pamphlet, Shapiro speaks back to the impersonal language of diagnostic evaluations as a ‘girl [once] silenced’ – by juxtaposing text taken from her own medical report with creative responses she illustrates the brilliance of her own mind. Mary Jean Chan

Mark Wynne lives in Bath. His poetry has been published in Magma, South Bank Poetry, The Moth and Ambit. Frank & Stella is his debut pamphlet.
Compassionate, humane, and austerely generous Mark Wynne’s poems are finely tuned machines. John Clegg
Reading these poems has been an emotional and intriguing experience […. ]. Frank & Stella is a wonderful addition to my shelves. Congratulations to Mark for such powerful and moving work. Angela Williams