Friday, 29 July 2016

Disko Bay - news and reviews

  • Recently The Poetry School invited me to write a guest post for their blog about a poem from Disko Bay, describing how it moved from first drafts to publication. My account of the writing process behind 'The Survivors' can be read here.

Some reviews of Disko Bay have been published in the last few weeks. Here's a selection:
  • Theophilus Kwek considers the book in a round-up of titles nominated for the Forward Prizes (Felix Dennis Prize for First Collection) in The London Magazine: 'spare, supple lines serve as indispensable guides in the unfamiliar visual and mythic landscape'. (Read the full review here)
  • Martyn Crucefix reviews my collection for his excellent poetry blog (well worth following for his forthcoming reviews of other books on the shortlist): 'eco-poetry without shed loads of landscape description'. (Read the full review here)
Many thanks to both poets for the time they have taken to read and respond to my work.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

'Paint her to your own mind' - Shandy Hall

There's a blank page in Tristan Shandy, where Laurence Sterne invites his reader to recreate their ideal woman, to 'paint her to your own mind'. Such a gesture on the part of the author acknowledges that perceptions of beauty differ just as widely as the means of depiction might.

This spring the Laurence Sterne Trust challenged 147 writers, artists and composers to fill in the blank page with their own representations of beauty.

Now the results of this commission are on show at Shandy Hall in Coxwold, the home of Laurence Sterne Trust, until 30 September. All the works in 'Paint Her To Your Own Mind' are available to purchase by online auction, with funds going to the support the wonderful work of Shandy Hall. All artworks are anonymous, leaving the viewer to guess which artist created which page. Can you spot mine?

Friday, 1 July 2016

Gladstone's Library Shortlist

I am honoured to be on the shortlist for the 2017 Writers in Residence Award at Gladstone's Library. The book collection of the Victorian statesman William Ewart Gladstone is now the core of a remarkable residential library 'dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning ... in an age of distraction and easy solutions.' Read the full shortlist here.

The winners will be announced on Monday 3 October at the National Liberal Club in London when the four winning authors will read from their work. Tickets for the Writers in Residence 2017 launch event are priced at £10. To register your interest, please call 01244 532350 or email

Friday, 17 June 2016

The Polar Tombola comes to BALTIC Gateshead

What happens when a language disappears altogether? 

If you were asked to exclude just one word from your own vocabulary, what would you choose? 

Come to BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead on Saturday 18 July to answer these questions and puzzle out some new ones. The Astonishing Polar Tombola runs from noon to 3pm as part of the annual Artists' Book Market, an amazing weekend celebration of books organised by Theresa Easton. Over 40 national and regional artists will be displaying their work in the BALTIC galleries and artist-led workshops will be in progress for those who want to make a book themselves. Entry is free.

Image (c) Caspar Evans / Small Publishers Fair

The Polar Tombola welcomes players of all ages and languages. Learn a new word from an endangered Arctic language, and leave behind one of your own words in return. By playing the game you will take part in a movement to raise awareness of vulnerable languages, and your word could be included in the Anthology of Abandoned Words, published by Bird Editions in 2017.

The Polar Tombola was first performed at the Small Publishers Fair, London in 2015, and a Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England has allowed the project to tour. Look out for future events in London, Cambridge and Bristol over the following year. There's more information about the project in this post about the 2015 event.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Disko Bay shortlisted...

I'm delighted that Disko Bay has been shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.

The Forward Prizes were set up in 1992, and have been celebrating excellence in poetry ever since. It's an honour to see Disko Bay on this year's shortlist alongside poems and collections by writers I have admired since I started writing myself. A few names on the shortlist are new to me - but not for long, as I bought up all the available titles (some have not yet been published) in Blackwells this afternoon.

The Guardian has a good survey of the shortlist. It reports William Seighart, founder of the Forward Prizes, saying: 'What we think of as English is expanding all the time - and these poets are on the frontline of change, making homes for new words and dialects, contributing their acuteness of expression, their powers of noticing, to the endless redrafting of the language.' 

The award ceremony (billed as 'the poetry event of the year') is on 20 September 2016 at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Tickets available here.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

New book: Bill Jacklin Graphics

British artist Bill Jacklin RA is known for his 'urban portraits' of cities from Venice to Hong Kong, and of course New York - his home since the 1980s. This summer the artist returns to the city of his birth with an exhibition of paintings currently on show at Marlborough Fine Art in London. Meanwhile a retrospective at the Royal Academy (opens 3 June), charts Jacklin's printmaking career from the ground-breaking etchings of the 1960s to the dynamic monotypes of recent years. 

Bill Jacklin: Graphics, a new and authoritative collection of the artist's prints with an introduction by Jill Lloyd and an essay from me, is published by the Royal Academy to accompany the latter exhibition. 

On Saturday 4 June Bill Jacklin will discuss the ideas and techniques behind his work with me at an event organised by the Royal Academy. 

Photo of Bill Jacklin in his studio by Chris Craymer. See more of the shoot in Vanity Fair.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

"How To Say 'I Love You' In Greenlandic" News

'A book that is not only beautiful but full of joy, love and quiet intensity.' 
- Oliver Clark, Collinge and Clark Rare Books, London

I'm delighted to announce that How To Say 'I Love You' In Greenlandic: An Arctic Alphabet is being reissued by MIEL books. This reformatted and updated version of MIEL's popular pocket edition (first published 2014) will be available in October.

Want to read more? Here's a blog post on ice and alphabets written for MIEL back when the first pocket edition came out. Or an in-depth feature article on the people behind my story, published in the Independent. And Saradha Soobrayen, poet and librarian at the Poetry Library in London, reviews the first MIEL edition here.

MIEL's first edition of How To Say 'I Love You' In Greenlandic sold out quickly; guarantee your copy and support this amazing small press with a 2016 subscription. Can't wait until October? There are still copies of the original deluxe edition available.