A celebration of everyday things with Mark Everard, and an interview with Bethany W. Pope

August 18th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Everard Front CoverThe Ecology of Everyday Things by Mark Everard is reviewed in Ecosystems News, Issue 13. The review is by Rosie Walls; she finds much to celebrate, and sees the book as a good way to communicate environmental concerns to ordinary people (i.e. those that may not be subscribers to Ecosystems News!).

Each ‘everyday thing’ has its own chapter. Here, not only is the importance and use of the ‘thing’ explained, the detail of its history, story, journey and culture is also referred to. For instance, he investigates the political significance of tea and its beneficial properties; the value of rice as a sign of deep respect; and the origin of cotton. The abundance of fascinating facts about ‘everyday things’ that pepper the text may, for some, make this quick and easy read and simply a reminder of what one already knows. However, in an era of serious concerns about people being disconnected from nature, many may find it enlightening with regard to our ecological reliance. In fact ‘The Ecology of Everyday Things’ might be a good resource for anyone trying to convince others of the importance of the environment to people.

The Ecology of Everyday Things costs £13 plus p&p.

4b SMALLBethany W.Pope is interviewed by Carly Holmes in Wales Arts Review. Bethany is a prolific writer, now on her sixth published book just four years after Cultured Llama published her debut poetry collection, A Radiance. Read all about her in Wales Arts Reviewand remember that we published her first!

A Radiance costs £10 plus p&p. Buy two books or more from this website, and postage and packing is free.


The Lake reviews There Are No Foreign Lands by Mark Holihan

August 17th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Front-MHS-ALTThe title of Mark Holihan’s first collection, There Are No Foreign Lands, is taken from Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.’ Maggie Harris reviews the collection in The Lake:

The power of these poems lie in their apparent lightness of touch, although poets will know that is no mean feat, like the illusion of ballet dancers making their bodies seem weightless; but so many phrases hold a universe of connections, like

thebroken webs of fat spiders slung with tiny, mummy-wrapped

 flies, moths and indecipherable shapes swaddled and forgotten .

I called you in Paris and I could hear the distance in your voice

as I stood waist-high in webs and thorns and memories of your childhood.

And it’s only in the morning, when I gently begin to wash the berries

that the spider emerges with deliberation and torpor, tottering on its long,

pin-thin legs stained scarlet, its mottled thorax soft as infant skin,

shuddering as it falls trying to climb the slippery sides of the enamel pail

to escape that autumn-cold heap of fragrant, bleeding fruit.


Here, in one short poem Holihan’s strengths come together, his powers of observation, love of the natural world, parental anxiety, artistry, and his awareness of time, (itself a powerful presence in these poems), knitted together as lightly, powerfully and tapestried as  a spiders web.

The Lake has also published ‘Things you can keep’ and ‘Broadstairs, UK, 11/11/08’ from There Are No Foreign LandsThe book costs £10 plus p&p, and can be purchased at the link: There Are No Foreign Lands. Buy two or more books from this website, and p&p is free.

A Blessin fir St Monans from John Brewster

August 17th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Bio pic 1‘It’s rare to find Scots poetry published in the South East of England’, writes the anonymous reviewer of John Brewster’s Automatic Writing, on the website of the Scots Language Centre/Centre for the Scots Leid. When some of the poems came to us for consideration, the musicality in both Scots and English came through, and we were delighted to publish John Brewster’s debut collection. Assistance came from Jane Stemp with proofing the Scots poems (beyond the skills of our poetry editor), and with approving the Scots glossary, which John had thoughtfully compiled.

The Scots Language Centre has posted ‘A Blessin for St Monans’:

Bairn o wave an sea-wind, nursed on star-milk,
cooried in wi blankets o pitch-black nicht;
we thank ye. Thank ye fir yer stany licht,
a caundle o canniness lit fir ilk
an ivery wan o us. Nae sultan’s silk
or maharajah’s satin cloot ti dicht
awa yer tears. Jist honest weave, fish-bricht;
stitched wi thraids o saut an saund an prayer whilk
rin lik a luver’s fingers throu yer hair.
St Monans, aince a holy man, a craw,
dreamin staundin-stane facin oot ti shore;
an aye a hame fir fishin fowk an lore.
But, in the beginnin, God’s bairn; a raw
cry fae Hivin: a blessin ti the puir.

If you prefer your poems in English, there is another St Monans poem by John Brewster on the Poetry Map of Scotland.

Julian Colton reviews Automatic Writing in Issue 27 of The Eildon Tree:

Real life situations are delivered in well crafted, subtle verse. Sometimes there is a preoccupation with extremes – death by suicide for example – and occasionally the narrative is lost in private meanings which are somewhat difficult to fathom. Still, Brewster writes with lyrical musicality, particularly in colloquial Fife Scots, and he comes at his subjects from unexpected angles – see Glass Eye for a glass-eyed view of a one-eyed man – that reward effort on the part of the reader in piecing it all together.


When I am not in his head

I am in the velvet box.


His head is not as forgiving

but it keeps me in place.


I have a friend beside me

who squirms at such confinement.

                    (Glass Eye)

Automatic Writing costs £10 plus p&p. Buy two or more books from this website and postage and packing is free.

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