Arachne 10

Arachne Press is celebrating 10 years as a small, independent publisher of award-winning short fiction, award winning poetry and (very) select non-fiction, for adults and children. And on Tuesday November 29, Arachne’s Cherry Potts co-hosted a reading to celebrate this amazing achievement and to launch recent collections – the most recent being the wonderful, evocative Routes by Rhiya Pau, British-born poet of Indian heritage, winner of the Eric Gregory Award 2022. The book celebrates and chronicles the long journey Rhiya’s family undertook over lands, languages and cultures to finally land in Britain 50 years ago. To quote Sarah Howe, the 2022 Eric Gregory Awards judge, “This is a collection in which routes and roots tug against one another…[…] This is a work of humane intelligence, formal experiment and linguistic verve that promises much.” And I want to add the word ‘moving’, ringing as it does absolutely true in its emotional universality.

This last sentence is also completely appropriate to the poetry of Claire Booker. Claire’s poetry collection, A Pocketful of Chalk, was published by Arachne Press in July 2022. In it light, sea and sky are always present, reminders of loss and sorrow while consoling and reaffirming. The title of the collection reflects Claire’s living environment, the wonderful South Downs.

Despite being certified as disabled with Ehlers-Danlos at the age of 16, Jennifer A McGowan has led several exciting and creative lives. Latterly, poetry saved her life when she nearly died from Covid, and some of her poems in How to be a Tarot Card (or a Teenager) (Arachne, October 2022) echo that time, while others wittily transport us backwards and forwards to different, and always fascinating, places.

And talking of different and fascinating places, what about Michelle Penn‘s dystopian island, the protagonist of her book-length poem, Paper Crusade, published by Arachne in June 2022. The poem, with its interesting format and fonts, but above all its fable- and nightmare-like characters – a veritable Tempest through the looking glass – truly transported us elsewhere.

All poems were beautifully and clearly read. If you want to revisit them, buy the books at

Many thanks to Cherry Potts for co-hosting (actually doing most of the work!) and congratulations to her for 10 years of great publishing. All Arachne publications have stunning covers, so much so that there will be an exhibition of them, and their production process, at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich in mid-late January. Well worth a visit!

And many thanks to the audience for turning up on the night of the England v Wales football match…

See you all in the New Year. Very best wishes and Seasons Greetings to you and yours.


Tuesday March 5 at West Greenwich Library, 7-8.30pm

The Birth of a Book: Shakespeare in an Age of Anxiety plus A Taste of 154 – readings of some of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, and modern responses to them

Local author and scholar Neville Grant will talk about the writing of his new book, Shakespeare in an Age of Anxiety (Greenwich Exchange, 2023), about what inspired him to delve into this well-explored subject and to succeed in finding a plethora of unknown, intriguing (and some amusing) facts about the Bard, and many parallels with goings on in the 21st Century.

154 is a poetry collection published by Live Canon. Each one of 154 modern poets was asked to respond to one of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets (not counting the ones inside his plays). We shall hear some of these inspired pairings, by and with Nick Eisen, Gillie Robic, Lorraine Mariner, NJ Hynes, Rosie Johnston and Doreen Hinchliffe.


Free as always, with plenty of refreshments – and food for thought!

Neville Grant, best known locally as former editor of the Westcombe News, is a professional author who has published many textbooks on language and literature used in countries around the world. His  latest book, Shakespeare in an Age  of Anxiety (Greenwich Exchange 2023), written for the general reader, celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio – the collection of his plays published seven years after his death. The book looks at how a grammar school boy made it in London’s theatreland, how he survived Tudor politics, and gives an appreciation of each of his works in the order in which they were written, so one can trace his development as a writer.