Poem by Poem: An interview with Annick Yerem, Editor at Sídhe Press 


At a time when many small poetry presses are going on indefinite hiatus or closing down altogether, it’s heartening to welcome a relative newcomer to the field. Sídhe Press published its first book in February of this year – Our Own Coordinates, an anthology of poems about dementia that is profound, tender, unflinching and courageous. This has been followed by Sarah Connor’s fine collection The Crow Gods and a second anthology, Glisk and Glimmer, on the theme of Light. Annick Yerem, the Editor-in-Chief of Sídhe Press, is a gifted poet in her own right, whose work has been widely published both online and in print.  Annick’s chapbook, St Eisenberg and the Sunshine Bus, was published in 2022 by Hedgehog Press. I was delighted when she agreed to an interview with me.

Continue reading

Democratising literature – an interview with Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure


Start exploring contemporary Zimbabwean writing and you will very quickly come across books published by Carnelian Heart. The imprint was established in April 2020 and already has an impressive list of around 30 titles, including fiction, memoir, short stories, and poetry in both English and Shona. It’s a testament to the vision, energy and creative talent of Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure, Carnelian Heart’s founder and editor. Warm and generous, with a smile that lights up  the space around her, Samantha is a fierce advocate for equality and the welfare of women and children. She is passionate in her support for under-represented voices, and extremely dedicated, often still at work well after midnight.

Continue reading

A ScrabbleFib

I continue to find Scrabblegrams challenging to write, but fun. Here’s an attempt to write a Scrabblegram that is also a Fib poem. It was inspired by a delightful cross-disciplinary lesson plan linking sunflowers, origami and the Fibonacci sequence, which I chanced upon while browsing the internet.

 My thanks as ever to Dave Cohen for his generous encouragement of my Scrabblegram experiments. For more on Scrabblegrams, and to read some exceptionally fine examples of the form, visit Dave’s site: https://davesscrabblegrams.com

Sunflower origami image credit: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/508203139176751737/

Beir Bua Press: A Valediction

I have a shelf of books with vivid, arresting covers adorned with a black swan – the logo of Beir Bua, an independent publisher of experimental poetry. Among them is my collection of essays From Fibs to Fractals: exploring mathematical forms in poetry, which was published in 2021. Working with Michelle Moloney King, the press’s founder and editor, was a joy. She fizzed with ideas, enthusiasm, and creative energy. A gifted poet in her own right, Michelle also designed all those gorgeous Beir Bua covers herself, including creating the artwork. 

Continue reading

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Shape and Surface as Constraint

Messages from the past take many forms: ancient structures, buildings, and artefacts; burial sites; rituals and symbolism; stories, poems and songs shared through generations; sculptures, paintings, works of art. 

Continue reading

Seasons and Landscapes: A fortune teller origami poem

When I was a child, my friends and I enjoyed crafting and playing with paper fortune-tellers, a form of origami made with square paper folded in a sequence of triangles. 

The illustration below is of my fortune teller poem Seasons and Landscapes in two dimensions. You can download a PDF version to print out and fold into shape here. Folding instructions are given here (or here if you prefer a video version).

A Penrose Stairs Poem

This poem was inspired by M. C. Escher’s lithograph Ascending and Descending (1960), which depicts figures on a staircase that appears to rise – or descend – in a continuous loop. This impossible construction is named the Penrose stairs, after Lionel and Roger Penrose.

The poem can in principle be read from almost any starting point, and in any direction. 

The Gym

‘We imagine we are climbing: every step is about 20 cm high, terribly exhausting and where does it get us? Nowhere; we don’t get one step further or higher.’ 

                                                 M. C. Escher, On Ascending and Descending, 1960.

When the news broke

When the news broke, we danced.
I danced beneath an alien sky.

Plants bloomed: I tasted guavas
firm and sharp upon my tongue.

Trees flung their roots into the air,
rivers reversed to flow uphill,

stars spun cartwheels, the moon 
embraced the sun and clouds

kissed the mountain when the 
news broke. Born in freedom, now

we owned our freedom. We clasped
our hands in prayer with the dead.

When the news broke, we sang.
I sang, softly, long forgotten songs.

‘When the news broke’ first appeared in L’Éphémère Review issue 11, August 2018. 

Double Mesostic

During a recent constraint-based creativity workshop, we tried our hand at writing a mesostic. If you don’t know what mesostics are, join the club; I hadn’t heard of them before either! A mesostic, I discovered, is similar to an acrostic in that it is a poem or piece of text containing a word or phrase that is read vertically through the horizontal lines. The difference is that in the case of a mesostic the vertical column of letters intersects somewhere within each line rather than at the beginning or end.

Just for fun, here’s a double mesostic that I wrote, inspired not only by the workshop but also a common occurrence in our household. Fill in the blank letters and then read downwards to reveal what’s missing.

Review: Jump Search by Lori Wike

Recently I’ve  been reading SuperInfinite, Katherine Rundell’s excellent biography of John Donne, and this in turn has led me to revisit Donne’s poetry. I recall vividly the thrill of discovery when I first read him as a teenager, delighting in his clever conceits and his command of metre, rhyme and form, as I sought to understand his meanings.

Continue reading