Product Design meets Poetry and Prose

In a project called Out of the Woods, students on the Design Products MA at the Royal College of Arts, London, were asked to design a chair from American hardwood. The chairs were on display at the London 2012 Design Festival and then writers coordinated Tiffany Murray, an international fellow for the Telegraph Hay Festival were invited to create stories or poems about them. A free book called Out of the Woods, Adventures of Twelve Hardwood Chairs and containing the poetry and prose, has been issued by the RCA and can be accessed here

Shortlist for T S Eliot Prize for Poetry

Simon Armitage The Death of King Arthur (Faber)

Sean Borodale Bee Journal  (Jonathan Cape)

Gillian Clarke Ice (Carcanet)

Julia Copus The World’s Two Smallest Humans (Faber)

Paul Farley The Dark Film (Picador)

Jorie Graham P L A C E (Carcanet)

Kathleen Jamie The Overhaul (Picador)

Sharon Olds Stag’s Leap Jonathan (Cape)

Jacob Polley The Havocs (Picador)

Deryn Rees-Jones Burying the Wren (Seren)

For further information visit

The Poetry School: Poetry Pamphlet Competition

The Poetry School has moved online at Dedicated to the art of writing poetry, they have teamed up with Pighog Press to run a Poetry Pamphlet Competition. The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over writing poetry in English anywhere in the world. Initially entrants are invited to submit ten poems (or ten sides of poetry on A4, not more than 30 lines per side) for consideration by the judges.

First Prize: Publication by Pighog Press and 40 copies of the pamphlet

4 Runners up: a free place on a Poetry School activity

Judges: Julia Bird and Brendan Cleary

Closing date for initial entries: 31 January 2013

The judges will select a shortlist of up to twelve poets by 22 February 2013. Short-listed poets will be asked to submit complete pamphlet collections by 28 March 2013 for final judging. Shortlisted poets will also be invited to read at an event in Brighton in May 2013, when the winner will be announced.  For more details go to

Michael Blackburn in The Echo Room

Michael Blackburn lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln is featured in the relaunched poetry magazine, The Echo Room, with a long poem and an acknowledgement in the Editor’s introduction for his part in the revival of poetry in the UK since the 1980s. The Echo Room, edited by Brendan Cleary, was one of the most important magazines devoted to finding and promoting new poetic talent for over a decade. Alongside older poets such as Ken Smith it published new voices, including Simon Armitage, Geoff Hattersley, Judi Benson, Matthew Caley and Jackie Wills. This relaunched issue contains work by new poets such as Helen Mort, John Davies and Alex Brockhurst alongside some of the original crew. It’s a solid 80+ pages in A4 format and you can find further information at Pighog Press:


What is poetry?

For many people, their potential interest in poetry died at school. Matthew Arnold and Alexander Pope were the killers of my early interest in poetic form. Too young to understand the transient nature of language, I thought all poetry had to be like Sohrab and Rustum or the Rape of the Lock.  It’s like struggling with Shakespeare when you’re too young to access the layers beneath the words. Art always repays revisiting in later life.  Today the National Curriculum recognises more accessible poets like Carol Ann Duffy, Benjamin Zephaniah and Simon Armitage but poetry still seems low on many people profiles.

Or maybe we just don’t like to admit it. Is poetry in the closet?

We live in a digital age of user generated content where it’s never been easier to self promote as a writer or poet. Online there is a world of self-publishing without borders or boundaries which includes a mass of aspirant poetry. The questions raised by this epublishing phenomena are universal ones. What makes a poem? What turns a collection of words into poetry? The Alphabet Dances is a reflective place to explore questions like these.

Today poetry plays a larger role in my life.  I like word play. Alliteration is fun and constructing rhymes and rhythms is amusing. Recently I’ve discovered there’s poetry out there which works for me. I don’t have any answers to the question what makes a poem but there are some ideas I’m working on and Alphabet Dances is a place to bring them all together.