Featured Fiction: ‘Aftermath’ by Jane Stemp

November 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Today’s featured fiction is an extract from ‘Aftermath’ by Jane Stemp, which appears in Unexplored Territory, poetry and fiction from Cultured Llama, edited by Maria C. McCarthy. If you want to read the rest of the story, buy the book by linking to its page here. Download a pdf of the the extract  from ‘Aftermath’ by clicking Aftermath extract Jane Stemp.

About Jane Stemp:

Jane Stemp was born in Lewisham in 1961, and grew up in Surrey. She studied English at Somerville College,Oxford, and librarianship at Aberystwyth. After marrying in 1999, she now lives with Robin and several thousand books in Somerset. Her present job is with the Navy in Hampshire.

Jane’s novels Waterbound and Secret songs were short-listed for the NASEN Children’s Book Award. Secret songs, partly inspired by her own experience of hearing loss, was also short-listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

When Jane is not writing or working she enjoys cooking historical recipes and singing – not, so far, simultaneously.

Featured poem – ‘Blithe Spirits’ by Maria C. McCarthy

November 29th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

‘Blithe Spirits’ appears in strange fruits by Maria C. McCarthy, published in memory of  Karen McAndrew. All profits from its sale go to Macmillan Cancer Support. £754 has been raised so far (June 2011 – November 2012). Copies are available at £8 plus p&p. To purchase, click here: strange fruits.

‘Blithe Spirits’ and Maria’s Foreword to strange fruits are also downloadable as a pdf here: Blithe spirits Maria C McCarthy.

Blithe spirits

Do women spirits glide ethereal

in chiffon, ectoplasm-green,

like in that Noel Coward film,

or do they haunt as when the angels came –

flannelette pyjamas; half-dressed

in bra and slip; safety pins clasping at

too-tight trousers – or well turned out

as for a viewing of the deceased?

 

Do they hobble round in slippers,

toes wrapped over toes,

or does the afterlife’s chiropodist

pumice, balm, remould, render them to dance

in six-inch high stilettos, forever bunionless?

 

Maria C. McCarthy

 

Maria’s Foreword to strange fruits is reproduced below:

 

Karen had little interest in my writing. I would tell her if I was taking a poetry class, doing a reading, but I never showed her my work, or talked about books with her. Our relationship was based on simple pleasures – cups and cups of tea, nattering about our families, ‘mooching’ around the charity shops of Rochester followed by a pub lunch.

 

I haven’t written a poem for Karen, but this collection opens with ‘Blithe Spirits’, which Karen would have liked. Karen’s blithe spirit will be wearing jeans, a brightly coloured top with a bit of a sparkle on it and colourful jewellery, all found in charity shops. She may not bother with footwear now; she was a size 9 and had trouble finding fashionable shoes. Maybe there is a plentiful supply of size 9s in the afterlife.

 

The collection closes with a prose piece, ‘Where the High Street meets Star Hill’, about our last outing together. May Karen be sitting in a cafe with an endless supply of tea, or in a pub, in good company, drinking Pernod and lemonade on ice from a tall glass.

“The Seal”, a poem from Hilda Sheehan’s forthcoming collection, ‘The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood’

November 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

This is the first of our posts featuring poems and selected passages of fiction from our authors. Today, ‘The Seal’, from Hilda Sheehan’s forthcoming poetry collection The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood, to be published in Spring 2013. The poem also appears in our anthology, Unexplored Territory.

Download the poem as a pdf here: The Seal Hilda Sheehan.

Read more about The Night My Sister Went to Hollywood , and order a  copyby clicking here.

Hilda Sheehan’s trajectory from raw talent to accomplished craftswoman has been breath-taking. Her poems are unsettling, dark, humorous, and poignant at once.  She has the astonishing ability to be poignant at her most bizarre and humorous. Hilda is a risky poet that reveals uncomfortable subtexts to do with mothering, family relationships, relationships between women, marriage and sex. This is a poet who can use bizarre, even surreal imagery, to clarify the natural. It is a poetry to be reckoned with; a poetry deserving of, and altogether ready to be, shared with a wider audience.

Wendy Klein (Cuba in the Blood, Cinnamon Press)

David Cooke reviews ‘strange fruits’ by Maria C. McCarthy

November 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

David Cooke’s review of strange fruits by Maria C. McCarthy appears on the poetry e-zine Message in a Bottle. David Cooke, like Maria C. McCarthy, is a second generation Irish poet. His latest collection Work Horses is available from Ward Wood Publishing.

Read David Cooke’s review at this link: http://www.messageinabottlepoetrymagazine.com/review-maria-macarthy-strange-fruits.php or download as a pdf Strange Fruits reviewed on MiB by David Cooke

strange fruits is available from Cultured Llama with all profits going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Over £750 has been raised so far.

Strange Fruits Maria C McCarthy

Nancy Gaffield introduces ‘Unexplored Territory’

November 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

 

Unexplored Territory, our first anthology of poetry and fiction, was launched on 15 November 2012 at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury. We were delighted that Nancy Gaffield, who has endorsed the book, gave an introductory speech before the readings. It is reproduced below. Nancy is the author of Tokaido Road, winner of the Aldeburgh Prize for first collection 2011. You can buy a copy of Unexplored Territory by clicking here.

I’d like to congratulate Maria McCarthy and Bob Carling on the publication of Unexplored Territory—Poetry and fiction from Cultured Llama, along with all of the writers whose work appears in this outstanding new anthology.

Maria tells me that the idea for the book began as a ‘sampler’ of the kind of writing (both poetry and fiction) that Cultured Llama publishes, so the idea is that the anthology would encourage readers to obtain the full collections. And you should—you must!

No theme was set—the sole criteria being good writing. Work could be published or unpublished; it contains both well-known authors and new names.  Its 17 contributors come from Kent, and further afield, with some writers having roots in other countries: the USA, Guyana, and Ireland. This makes for a diverse read, and yet the entries are connected in such a way that the whole flows seamlessly, each piece intent on offering a detailed observation of the unexplored territory of the human heart.  Hats off to Maria for that.

Now that the book is in print, I think you will agree too that the beautiful design [by Maggie Drury] is a worthy indication of the treasures inside.

What you will discover here is a cornucopia of fiction and poetry, a unique collection from an eclectic group of writers.  Compelling stuff:  the stories and poems attest to the elegance, eloquence and endurance of the personal voice.

Nancy Gaffield

author of Tokaido Road, winner of the Aldeburgh Prize for first collection 2011

 

 

New in November – The Strangest Thankyou, Unauthorised Person and Unexplored Territory

November 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Now published, two new poetry titles and an anthology of poetry and fiction. All books are available to buy from this website

The Strangest Thankyou, Richard Thomas’s debut poetry collection, embraces the magical and the mundane, the exotic and the everyday, the surreal rooted in reality. Grand poetic themes of love, death and great lives are cut with surprising twists and playful use of language, shape, form and imagery. The poet seeks ‘an array of wonder’ in “Dig” and spreads his ‘riches’ throughout The Strangest ­Thankyou. More details here.

Unauthorised Person by Philip Kane is a ‘concept album’ of individual poems, sequences, and visuals, threaded together by the central motif of the River Medway. This collection draws together poems written and images collected over 27 years, exploring the psycho­geography of the people and urban landscapes of the Medway Towns, where ‘chatham high street is paradise enough’ (“­johnnie writes a quatrain”). More details here.

Unexplored Territoryedited by Maria C. McCarthy, is the first anthology from Cultured Llama – poetry and fiction that take a slantwise look at worlds both real and imagined. More details here.

A dynamic range of new work by both established and emerging writers, this anthology offers numerous delights. The themes and preoccupations are wide-ranging.  Rooted in close observation, the poems and short fiction concern the ‘unexplored territory’ of person and place.  A must for anyone who likes good writing.

Nancy Gaffield, author of Tokaido Road, winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011

A poem by Luigi Marchini in response to ‘Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning’

November 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

This poem was written in response to the story ‘Ferry me Softly’ from Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning by Maggie Harris. It was read as part of the 7 Tales, 7 Poems, 7 Days and Nights events at the Canterbury Festival 2012. Read the poem below. or download The River Stour Luigi Marchini as a pdf

The River Stour

2002

Its source is some place near Lenham they say

but the boatman states Canterbury is its home,

this city that marks the crossing of 4 Roman roads.

 

Sarah holds her baby tight; a gust rides the river,

she muffles a cry as they pass under Kings Bridge

and remembers the last time she was here...

Sarah had sat with her mum, grabbing onto

her arm firmly as she skimmed

the water for flamingos and crocodiles.

She was happy then.

 

The boatman says something

but Sarah doesn’t hear

because she is still with her mum,

laughing.

 

They float past a house to the left

deserted, windowless,

black where a door should be

and, on the right, a giant tree which

clackles in the breeze;

a fetor like that of old rubbish

strewn carelessly

rises from the river,

merging with branches

of time that belong to the tree

and the memories hidden in the dark

of her old family home.

 

As they get off, Sarah kisses

her sleeping daughter.

 

2012

A different boatman now stares at her bald head

as if that’s all that’s wrong. He doesn’t know

that Sarah catches her daughter’s scent

in the wind as they float past the new housing complex

where her home once was nor that Sarah is wondering

how many Roman families died whilst

fording the river, building Watling Street.

 

As the wind blows stronger, Sarah senses

her daughter’s soul sift through the hole

in her coat pocket as if it were silt

and she watches as it skims the water;

feeling even emptier

she blows a kiss after it.

Luigi Marchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Unexplored Territory’ launch, 15 November 2012

November 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Cultured Llama’s first anthology of poetry and fiction Unexplored Territory will be launched on 15 November 2012, 6.00 – 7.45 pm at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury. Many of the contributors to the book will be reading their poems and stories and there will be refreshments available. Unexplored Territory launch Poster

Unexplored Territory, edited by Maria C. McCarthy,
poetry and fiction that take a slantwise look at worlds both real and imagined.

A dynamic range of new work by both established and emerging writers, this anthology offers numerous delights. The themes and preoccupations are wide-ranging.  Rooted in close observation, the poems and short fiction concern the ‘unexplored territory’ of person and place.  A must for anyone who likes good writing.

Nancy Gaffield, author of Tokaido Road, winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011

Contributors:

Jenny Cross
Maggie Drury
June ­English
Maggie Harris
Mark ­Holihan
Sarah ­Jenkin
Philip Kane
Luigi Marchini
Maria C. McCarthy
Rosemary McLeish
Gillian Moyes
Bethany W. Pope
Hilda Sheehan
Fiona Sinclair
Jane Stemp
Richard Thomas
Vicky Wilson

A Poem by Chris Hobday in response to ‘Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning’

November 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

This poem was written in response to the story ‘The Calypsonians of Ramsgate’ from Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning by Maggie Harris. It was read as part of the 7 Tales, 7 Poems, 7 Days and Nights events at the Canterbury Festival 2012. Read the poem below. or download Chris Hobday poem as a pdf.

Going for a song

If life was something you could breathe in and sing,

the world would be all a-tune and fine,

one long party from the crash of birth’s cymbal

to the coda’s brittle rattle and fade-out

that would, in the verses, teach the rest about

what lay behind each eye, each face, each symbol

and what truth was hidden there, between each line,

and every chorus would be open till two in the morning.

Chris Hobday

Poems by Eleanor Perry and Mark Holihan in response to ‘Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning’

November 1st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

‘The Wisdom of Hens’ by Eleanor Perry was written is response to the story ‘Samantha and the Cockerel’ from Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning by Maggie Harris. It was read at one of 7 Tales, 7 poems, 7 Days and Nights events during the Canterbury Festival 2012. You can download  Eleanor Perry The Wisdom of Hens as a pdf.

‘Things you can keep’ by Mark Holihan  was written is response to the story ‘Doing it like Jamie Oliver’ from Canterbury Tales on a Cockcrow Morning by Maggie Harris. It was read at one of 7 Tales, 7 poems, 7 Days and Nights events during the Canterbury Festival 2012. You can read the poem below, or download Mark Holihan Things you can keep as a pdf

Things you can keep 

It’s the small things you can keep:

a piece of soapstone carved like a peaceful mountain,

a jade rooster, a tiny dish of a thousand faces

– articles of loss from your mother’s home.

A sandalwood dragon-boat from your father,

old photos of places only half known in the bottom of a drawer.

These things are pieces of memories from a place where your

face and voice aren’t foreign.

But even there you would be alien.

You are the stranger on all sides.

Your friend is the seawater that caresses the

rough edges off all of the continents.

 

Your wife complains that she can only speak her mother’s

language like a child, and her child

doesn’t know it at all, would rather you

kept quiet in public.

And it has been a long time since you gave

a true opinion to a friend, wasn’t confused by a country that

holds not only your past, but the bones of your grandparents,

the very earth is ground from your aunties and uncles.

The faces smiling in those photos are the soil under new

highways, shopping malls, cities that are

stranger to you than this island with it’s seas washing away at

stony beaches you can walk, or perhaps call home.

 

Today you found a dead butterfly on the windowsill,

more fragile than paper or old silk,

too perfect to ignore so

you lift it with a piece of paper and a feather,

slide it in where those few small things are kept –

the a glass fronted cabinet in the corner.

For a moment you were afraid to open it

as though it held the very air of the past that will dissipate

with the smell of jasmine and sandalwood.

A block of Kwan Yin’s breath incense, still sits undisturbed

in a teakwood box where your mother put it.

That’s where this small, bright English butterfly comes to rest.

 

Mark Holihan

 

 

 

 

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