‘Ladybird’ on London Review Bookshop website

lrb - ladybird

EVENT: We’re celebrating Carcanet’s New Poetries VII with a reunion event at the Bookshop on Tuesday 18 June, featuring poets Zohar AtkinsRowland BagnallIsabel GalleymoreLisa Kelly and Phoebe PowerBook tickets here. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be featuring a poem from the collection by each of the poets who’ll be reading – check back regularly for the next one.


Every autumn I forget they do this,
until they do –
hard-faced carapaces,
little mechanical legs across my bedroom ceiling
insinuating into warm gaps,

congregating under cornices,
black-eyed blotches staring me down.

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
Your house is on fire, and your children are gone

Occasionally, a maverick, lured by the mellow glow
of the bedside light, will lift its elytra,
like the doors on a Lamborghini
to reveal filmy black wings,

and fly towards my open mouth.

Ladybird, lazy bird fly out of bed
Your home is infested …

but I shrink back from scooping its crunchiness
into tissue, messing
with its reflex bleeding, yellow toxins oozing
out of its exoskeleton.

All except one and that’s little Ann

(The receptionist had a tattoo on her arm.
In its freckled baby belly, Always in my heart)

New Poetries VII’ is published by Carcanet, price £14.99. Zohar Atkins, Rowland Bagnall, Isabel Galleymore, Lisa Kelly and Phoebe Power will be reading from the collection at the Bookshop on Tuesday 18 June. Book tickets here.

PN Review Summer Launch 24 July at the Castlefield Gallery, Manchester

PN Review summer launch

Please join us for the Summer Launch of PN Review, with readings from contributors John Wilkinson, Lisa Kelly, Joe Carrick-Varty, Jennifer Edgecombe, Stav Poleg and Andy Croft.

Tickets can be booked here

Date And Time

Wed, 24 Jul 2019, 18:30


This event is free & refreshments will be served.


Castlefield Gallery, 2 Hewitt Street, 30 Cross Street, Manchester, M15 4GB

John Wilkinson was born in London and grew up on the Cornish coast and on Dartmoor. After university at Cambridge he trained as a psychiatric nurse and worked in mental health services and public health in the West Midlands, South Wales and London’s East End. In 2005 he moved to the United States and has held academic positions at the University of Notre Dame and at the University of Chicago where he is currently a Professor in the Department of English and Director of Creative Writing. Wilkinson has held Fulbright and National Humanities Center fellowships. His extensive publications include Selected Poems (Schedule of Unrest, 2014), and his most recent collection, My Reef My Manifest Array (2019).

Lisa Kelly is half-Danish and half-deaf. She is the Chair of Magma Poetryand co-edited issue 63, The Conversation Issue; and issue 69, The Deaf Issue. She is a regular host of poetry evenings at the Torriano Meeting House, London, and has an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from Lancaster University. Her pamphlets are Bloodhound (Hearing Eye, 2012) and Philip Levine’s Good Ear (Stonewood Press, 2018). She is currently a freelance journalist specialising in technology, and has worked as an actress, life model, Consumer Champion, waitress, sales assistant and envelope stuffer. She teaches creative writing and poetry in performance at the Torriano Meeting House. Her first full collection, A Map Towards Fluency, is published in June.

Jennifer Edgecombe grew up in Cornwall and now lives on the Kent coast. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Ambit, Caught By the River, Lighthouse, PN Review and elsewhere.

Stav Poleg‘s poetry has been published on both sides of the Atlantic, including in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Poetry London and Poetry Ireland Review. Her debut pamphlet, Lights, Camera, was published in 2017. She has recently completed work on the manuscript of her first full-length poetry collection. Her graphic-novel installation, Dear Penelope: Variations on an August Morning, created with artist Laura Gressani, was acquired by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. She serves on the editorial board of Magma Poetry and teaches at the Poetry School, London.

Joe Carrick-Varty won the 2018 New Poets Prize and his debut pamphlet Somewhere Far was published by The Poetry Business in June of this year.

Andy Croft has written and edited many books, including Red Letter Days, Comrade Heart, A Weapon in the Struggle, Red Sky at Night (with Adrian Mitchell) and After the Party. His books of poetry include Ghost Writer, 1948 (with Martin Rowson), Three Men on the Metro (with WN Herbert and Paul Summers) A Modern Don Juan (with NS Thompson et al), Letters to Randall Swingler and The Sailors of Ulm (forthcoming). He curates the T-junction international poetry festival in Middlesbrough, runs the Ripon Poetry Festival and edits Smokestack Books.

The event will begin at 18:30, refreshments will be provided and copies of PN Review available to buy. Tickets are free but please reserve them here. There is also a Facebook event. For any enquiries about the event please email jazmine@carcanet.co.uk.

Launch of issue one of Finished Creatures at the Crown Tavern

It was a special evening celebrating the launch of the beautifully produced Finished Creatures, issue one, at the Crown Tavern upstairs in the Apollo Room.

Publisher and editor, Jan Heritage, has done a marvellous job getting so many wonderful poems inside its stunning covers. Poets include Paul Stephenson, Susannah Hart, Philip Gross, L Kiew, Cheryl Moskowitz, and many more.

I am delighted to have two poems in and my second IKEA poem making an appearance! I’ve got a pamphlet’s worth but don’t think IKEA will be sponsoring me anytime soon…

Here’s a pic of Richard Price on the mic, reading his very moving poem, ‘The air that he breathes’.

The crowd was big and beautiful! Just how we like it…

finished creatures

Thanks to London Grip for Review of ‘Philip Levine’s Good Ear’

London Grip Poetry Review – Lisa Kelly

Julie Hogg is impressed by the unorthodox but skilfully crafted poetry of Lisa Kelly

Philip Levine’s Good Ear
Lisa Kelly
Stonewood Press
ISBN 9781910413296 

The title of this pocket volume, the seventh book in the Thumbprint series by Stonewood Press, caught my attention. Lisa Kelly has single-sided deafness from childhood mumps and since my son is partially sighted this shared variance of a sense intrigued me.

This is a hugely satisfying chapbook. I found the contents page similar to a selection box of artisan chocolates and so I dipped into the title poem, after Levine’ “Nightship”, an exploration into the complexity, or not, of what may be heard:

in what you hear – the three layers of sound: water crashing into
the hull & beneath that the steady beating of the engine & beneath
that the wind whispering “Ceuta” into your good ear.

As a stream of consciousness piece with long lines, the form of this poem delights me. In fact, the variety of form within this whole book delights me; each choice being perfect for each work. The momentum of the poems together, often jostling for attention with exuberance and attractive energy, is delightful too. Quirkily, the unpunctuated “Aphid Reproduction and Unpunctuated White Noise”, has punctuation solely demarcating each section. Even when poring over intricate familial observations (“Slant of Summer”), these poems travel over each page; free-spirited, carefree and resilient.

Back to the sweet index. Poems that explore hearing and its loss are compelling and vital:

How close, if notes are missed, 
Is melody to malady, 
                                                     (“How to Explain Melodious”) 

Bisect me: discover my left eardrum lined with rockwool 
                                                    (‘Ghost Heritage’), 

How many times has someone mistaken
my leaning in as an attempt to get amorous, 
                                                    (‘The Flesh Made Mobile’). 

The rhythm of “Deaf Dance” is infectious. In the way that Philip Levine’s poem asks us ‘know what work is?’ I wanted to know what deafness is and now I do, in a small beginning way.

Delving again, “Saltatorium” is particularly moreish, with wickedly playful realism and I relished the sensation of the sounds on my tongue: ‘O drear, O dreary, dreary dirge for this deer.’ Those mutes! Each line over five feet, this poem sprints breathlessly, resembling the fleeing, magnificent creature:

its formerly fine fetlock, fends off the dog howls,
fends off the fender of the four-by-four Ford, 

This work revels shamelessly in sibilance:

sometimes in a sensitive somewhat sensory
rush hour of solemnity sensed its shadow? 

Then, after these flowing alliterations, it becomes stilted by those mutes once more: ‘its ditch down’

In “Ø” (Kelly is half Danish) the pleasure of sounds is again savoured and shared from poet to reader, ardently:

Danish for Island
a new word
new world
to explore

my tongue
tastes the sound of Ø
touches its shores
its limits

The poet’s voice treats limits with respect, although always keen to wink and take a risk with freshness and vigour. “Aubade for an Artist” is a veritable, addictive earworm; a timeless lyrical poem, rhyming couplets in quatrains and refrain in the final stanza neatly wrapping up an evening with imagery so intoxicatingly precise:

the blunt edge, notched tip of a fish knife –
I thought, Can we possibly still our lives.

This appetizer of a collection hurtles, in a pleasingly unorthodox manner, engaging in a myriad of frequencies. It has longevity. I will return to it again and again, and it tantalizes for more.

London Launch of ‘Spark’ at Poetry Cafe Friday 18th January at 7pm

Spark: a Poetry Anthology Reading

Friday 18 January 2019, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

We asked 44 poets to write poems inspired by Muriel Spark’s 22 novels (2 poets per novel). The result was a striking anthology of poetry and art by some of today’s most provocative and creative practitioners. Readers at this event will be:

Simon Barraclough

Dzifa Benson

Lily Blacksell

Matthew Caley

Rishi Dastidar

Sasha Dugdale

Lisa Kelly

Drew Milne

Richard Price

Judy Brown

Anna Selby


Editors, Rob A. Mackenzie and Louise Peterkin, will MC the event and are happy to answer questions. Copies of the anthology will be on sale for £10. No previous knowledge of Muriel Spark’s work is required!

This is a free event.