The Cultured Llama Hour at Faversham Literary Festival

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Anna Maconochie, photo by Ben McLoughlin

Cultured Llama editor and author Maria C. McCarthy hosted an hour of readings by 7 authors at The Cultured Llama Hour, Faversham Literary Festival, in February 2019. The  audience was treated to a selection of Poems, Stories and Curious Things, and we were delighted to get some great photos by Ben McLoughlin. One of these, a photo of Anna Maconochie reading from Only the Visible Can Vanish, appeared in the Faversham News, alongside a picture of Will Self, under the title, ‘Big names star as thousands head to town’s literary festival’.

Some videos of the readings are on the Cultured Llama YouTube channel, including this of Stephen H. Morris reading from Do It Yourself: A History of Music in Medway

A forensic style in The Hospital by Ben Barton

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

The Hospital, by Ben Barton, is reviewed by Rachel Playforth in The Frogmore Papers 93:

Anyone who has ever spent time in hospital will instantly recognise the experience depicted in this collection, from the disrupted sleep to the bittersweet excitements of visiting hours: They leave me smiling/Tears desalinated, the sting removed (‘Friends’). The heavily medicated dreamscape that is the inpatient’s mental life is punctuated with terrible routine indignities and dehumanising red tape, each day filled with a new embarrassment (‘Two’). Ben Barton has an appropriately forensic style as he considers how our bodies can betray us but also fascinate: Limbs piled up like old books/An atlas of this distant body (‘Body Horror’). Ever present is the shadow of death, leavened by glimpses of new life, hope, and recovery, and the NHS staff to whom this book is dedicated.

Order Ben Barton’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p: The Hospital.

A rich and giddy tour of poems inspired by Spanish Art. The Other Guernica

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

The Other Guernica , by Derek Sellen, is reviewed by Fiona L. Bennett on The High Window:

The Other Guernica is a rich and giddying tour inspired by Spanish Art and artists and the poet’s own encounter with the country and its culture. Acute in its observation, surreal in its imaginative leap of thought this is a project that rewards the reader with poems fired by provocation, storytelling and the sumptuous power of visual description […]

The third section, ‘The Circling Bee – poems on art and artists’, hums with a thrilling register that brings the experience of the paintings to life in extraordinary ways. Here the deft turn of phrase that is one of the hallmarks of this collection, ‘Phoebus tailgates Mercury’ in ‘The Sky of Salamanca’ and ‘plates and nations butt together’ in ‘Still Life’, lifts us out of mere viewpoint and into a visceral encounter with the world and the work that is at one and the same moment hallucinatory and grounded.

Peter Stewart writes, in The Frogmore Papers 93:

Some of the poems I read on their own, trying to guess the period and theme of the paintings to which they referred; with others I Googled the works before reading the poems; and with some I simply read through the poems in sequence, as if it were any other book. I have revisited many as I’ve found out more about the artistic periods and works illustrated by the poems. At their best, the poems are as delicately allusive and mysterious as the visual works they reference.

Links to all the paintings

Order Derek Sellen’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p: The Other Guernica 

A breath between breaths. Family Likeness by Michael Curtis

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Janet Sutherland reviews Family Likeness by Michael Curtis in The Frogmore Papers 93.

In Family Likeness Michael Curtis brings alive his family history spanning the generations in poems which tell the truth that we’re a breath/between breaths honouring what we know and don’t know about our forebears, their lives, their work, their wars […] There is much to admire in the narratives in this collection and I particularly enjoyed ‘Twelve’ a long poem sequence in 24 stanzas, which charts the poet’s first twelve years in Liverpool Twelve.

Derek Sellen also lights on ‘the truth’ in his review of the collection, in The High Window:

Any harvesting of the past however needs to temper nostalgia with clear-sightedness and significantly the opening poem is titled ‘Truth’. This fine poem lays out some of the collection’s preoccupations: that the ‘whole truth’ is something worth the search even though our knowledge is inevitably imperfect and that we are ‘in parenthesis’ between past and future generations. The poem seems to me to qualify all that follows by stating both the value and the limitations of the attempt to understand our place in family history:

all the stories we think we are
begin and end with a sentence
that put us in parenthesis.

[…] It is evidence of the richness of the collection that each poem demands attention rather than being merely a component part of its section. Words and ideas illuminate one another across the volume and the same discerning and exact consciousness is always at work. It is not a book to read quickly. The poems are rarely difficult or obscure but they require intellectual as well as emotional engagement.

Order Michael Curtis’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p: Family Likeness

Unusual Places and London Calling reviewed in The Frogmore Papers

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Two Cultured Llama short story collections are reviewed in The Frogmore Papers 93. Charlotte Gann reviews Unusual Places by Louise Tondeur:

Derek Sellen and Louise Tondeur at Faversham Literary Festival. Photo by Ben McLoughlin

I found this short-story collection compelling. Louise Tondeur has a way of writing that catches the reader up, and carries her with her. I’m drawn in by a story that starts, for instance, Silence. I can hear…  Her writing seems generous, and her imagination boundless, while skilfully channeled in a collection that works well as a unified set. Yes, these stories take us to unusual places. But the people we encounter there are all-too familiar, if we allow ourselves to relax and recognise them. (Her open, good-natured style of writing helps a lot with this.) Isolated, bullied, brave and resourceful, they seem to me, simply, our most vulnerable selves: i.e. human. A writer of imagination, purpose and compassion.

Order Louise Tondeur’s story collection for £12 plus p&p in paperback, or £5.99 as an e-book: Unusual Places 

Jules Winchester reviews London Calling by Jeremy Page:

As well as relating to each story in the here and now, we are transported to a recognisable past world in London Calling, and to a potential future world seen through the eyes of the Professor of Language Death Studies in ‘Pravda’, worlds in which characters face significant social, as well as personal, changes with stoicism, pragmatism or optimism. The relevance of the stories to today’s world is enhanced by the masterful use of language and imagery in their telling, which impress and entertain in equal measure.

Order Jeremy Page’s collection for £12 plus p&p: London Calling 

Order two or more books and postage and packing is free.


Flood, The human desire to know where we are

April 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Flood, by Jessica Mookherjee, is reviewed in both The Journal and The High Window. Chrissy Banks writes in The Journal:

Mookherjee inhabits the place where fantasy, myth and magic mingles with everyday reality and where two cultures (at least) overlap.

Jessica Mookherjee at Faversham Literary Festival. Photo by Ben McLoughlin

In The High Window, Alison Jones writes:

In ‘1967’ we stand with an immigrant bride, scarlet clad and strange to her newfound place, “Her sari billows in English winds”.  The poem turns through the poignant parting of walking away, to the challenges of being from elsewhere “How quickly the shame sets in”  the sense of being on the margins, moved through places on the energies of tides beyond control echoes throughout the collection […]

As the waters surge to flood proportions and draw the collection to a close, I was left wondering, whether Mookherjee’s words speak of something greater, the human desire to know where we are, and who we belong to, without the danger of our histories unravelling everything we know.  In ‘Time Minus’ the man who holds the woman’s hand tells her:

“It is time to leave the past behind and

trust                                                  in your own velocity.

Love just does the work.”

Order Jessica Mookherjee’s debut poetry collection For £10 plus p&p: Flood

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