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Friday, 4 September 2015

A New Poetry Festival: Poetry in Presteigne 16-18 October

Rack Press is looking forward to taking part in the brand new Welsh poetry festival, Poetry in Presteigne over the weekend of 16-18 October. This new festival in Mid Wales is now open for booking and events include "Tango in Stanzas", poet Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch's collaboration with Tango dancer Peter Baldock; an evening with National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke; a reading by Paul Henry; poetry and blues with Hollow Log; and readings from poets published by Flarestack, Cinnamon, and Rack Press; and much else.  Roger Garfitt, Edward Storey, Jan Fortune, Steve Griffiths, Ros Hudis, Jacqui Rowe, Meredith Andrea, Fiona Owen, Susan Richardson, and John Barnie are some of the poets appearing across the weekend

Rack will be fielding poets Nicky Arscott and Anna Lewis whose new pamphlets appeared this summer (and which can be purchased online here) and Rack publisher Nicholas Murray will be talking about animal poetry with readings.

Book now!

The Radnor Forest, near Presteigne, Powys

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Poem of the Week: Nicky Arscott

This week's poem is taken from Nicky Arscott's Rack pamphlet, Soft Mutation, which can be ordered here.

Cheap Flights to Goa

The Israeli on her bodyboard again.
Alan licks his lips – fixed on the back and forth –
then misses his mouth with his straw.
Deeply embedded in cocktail hour
my toes clench sand – Alan’s horny old toes
attach too, like to the lining of a womb –
there are two types of person in this world: 
them who can, and them who couldn’t 
get a hard-on in a brothel, says Alan
sucking loudly. The Israeli girl is hiding 
from the army. But which one are you. 
The willing suspension of virility. 
The Arabian Sea is heaven. 
In a minute, a coconut will fall on Alan’s head –
killing him outright – and I will be unhappy
not to have got this sorted. The girl comes onto 
land, her lovely cheek still resting on the board. 
But which one are you, I say again – it is difficult 
to peel away our eyes: her hair it spreads out
blackly on the sand. The waiter brings another round, this time 
without umbrellas. A thwacking through the palms. 

The skinny boys are pulling in their nets.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Poem of the Week: Anna Lewis

This week's poem taken from a recent collection is from Anna Lewis's pamphlet published in July, The Blue Cell, a sequence of poems exploring the lives of a number of early medieval Welsh saints.  Melangell, who fled from Ireland to Powys to escape an unwanted marriage here shelters a hare from hunters.  Hares are a rarer sight than they were but they are still seen occasionally, and we sometimes see them near to the home of Rack Press in Powys.

The Blue Cell can be ordered here for immediate dispatch, £5 post-free.


Its heart was quick against her thigh,
then slowed.  She felt the hitching rhythm
of its ribs subside, kept her own breath 

as she heard the dogs pant close, 
their narrow bodies slit the bracken.  
Birds swung up from the slope

and marked the line of their approach;
the saplings shook, then from the trees 
poured horses, men in red and gold.  

And it was the same as the day 
she first stepped onto the sea,
handed herself to the waves 

and to the will of God: brash sunlight 
thrown back, the green earth 
tipping under her feet.  Not so much 

bravery, not so much faith 
as a small, dull light that scratched 
into life in her chest, then grew

until she could not see around its edge.  
Beyond, there was quiet.  The hare
dropped its head to its paws, and slept.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rack Poets at Ledbury and an Interview

Damian Walford Davies, AC Bevan and
SamanthaWynne-Rhydderch at a Rack reading in
Presteigne, Powys earlier this year
Thank you to the Poetry School for publishing an interview with Rack Press where we tell it like it is, we hope!

And don't forget 4th July at the Ledbury Poetry Festival where poets Nicky Arscott and Anna Lewis were due to launch their new collections, respectively Soft Mutation and The Blue Cell.  Unfortunately Anna can't be there for family reasons so AC Bevan will be reading with Nicky at lunchtime on that Saturday.  Do come along and hear two original and lively poets and the two new titles can now be ordered here online.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Talking about Edward Thomas 17 June

I will be talking to Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of a new biography of Edward Thomas, at an event at the London Review Bookshop on 17th June.

I leave you with a quotation from his fragment of autobiography The Childhood of Edward Thomas (1938) where he describes himself as “a citizen’s son of London in the ‘eighties of the nineteenth century".  Reading that book and the biography one realises how much this great celebrant of the English and Welsh countryside was a child of the south London suburbs (and explicitly saw himself as such).

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

New Pamphlet from David Harsent and Fiona Sampson

Launched today at the Wandsworth Heritage Festival in London at 7pm in Southfields Library, a new pamphlet by David Harsent and Fiona Sampson, Address Book is the outcome of a creative encounter between two leading British poets and the rich archival resources of Wandsworth Heritage Service.

Here are residents Florence Turtle, a book-buyer for the leading West End stores; the poet Edward Thomas; a teenager, Shirley Hitchings, and her poltergeist; and the poets Algernon Swinburne and Theodore Watts-Dunton.  Their addresses are the starting point for a series of fascinating and original poems.

Address Book is a collaboration between the London Borough of Wandsworth Heritage Service and the Roehampton Poetry Centre and is sponsored by the University of Roehampton and the Heritage Service of the Borough in which the university stands. The pamphlet has been produced for the Wandsworth Heritage Festival just opened and its authors are the Chair and the Director, respectively, of the University of Roehampton Poetry Centre.