Confluence – captivated by Louise Tondeur’s stories; Michael Curtis at the height of his powers

January 9th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

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Confluence reviews are anonymous, so we are unable to namecheck the reviewers who give glowing accounts of Unusual Places, by Louise Tondeur, and Family Likeness, by Michael Curtis. The reviewer of Louise Tondeur’s stories writes:

‘Fragments Found in a Tunnel’ is one of the pieces of flash fiction that separates part one and part two of short stories. Immediately, you’re transported into the tunnel, and you’re stuck there with no escape. This is a terrifying piece that will make even the bravest of us hope desperately for a way out […] This is a fantastic collection of short stories and flash fiction. Tondeur is fantastic at captivating the reader and transporting them to new and unusual places.

​Read the full review here

Order Louise Tondeur’s collection for £12 plus p&p for the paperback, or £5.99 for the ebook (free postage and packing if you order two or more items from this website): Unusual Places


The reviewer of Michael Curtis’s poetry collection, Family Likeness , writes:

…Curtis, a writer who is in my opinion at the height of his powers, knows how to step back with the right amount of detachment and view the archive, knowing when to state his feelings and when to report what he and his immediate ancestors have experienced as he shows in the poem: ‘Nellie’: “Me? Well, I had to stay lyrical, tied to the pull of rhyming memory / with what can’t be seen / crooning to the you I /  never knew down / these accidental years / from an upstairs room”. […] This is history told in the best way, as someone once said of Eduardo Galeano: History told upwards from the bottom, from the street.

Order Michael Curtis’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p (free postage and packing if you order two or more items from this website): Family Likeness 


Poetry reviewed – The Other Guernica and The Hospital

November 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art, by Derek Sellen, is reviewed by Steve Xerri in The Poetry Shed. Xerri writes:

The balance, though, tends to come down on the side of the wryly amusing, the beautiful and the joyous in these paintings : what Sellen gives us in his responses to them is not a series of art-gallery selfies dominated by the poet but evocations of the work themselves – not, I repeat, superficial descriptions of, say, a painted quince or historic slaughter, not even a mere account of the process of transferring still life or teeming crowd scene to the canvas.

Read the full review here. Buy Derek Sellen’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p here:The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art

The Hospital, by Ben Barton is given a highly personal and heartfelt review on Confluence. Confluence’s reviewers are anonymous, so thank you, Anon.

Reading it for the first time in the park – vaguely grumpy after waking with a stiff neck – I found myself breathing in deep gulps of autumn air: kicking like a kid through the leaves. I’m not sick, I chanted softly. I’m not sick.

But the nursing homes stared back at me. And the sirens told me Medway Maritime was just a stone’s throw away. Someone is. Someone is.

And so, these poems evoke both compassion and fear. They flood through me until I feel the selfish pulse of healthy blood in my veins – the desperate affirmation of life. Fish and chips. Sex. A pounding race to the end of the street.

Read the full review here. Buy Ben Barton’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p:The Hospital 

Order two books or more from this website and postage and packing is free.

Look out for Events with Ben Barton and Derek Sellen. Coming up in February 2019, Words on Waves, Whitstable, and The Cultured Llama Hour at Faversham Literary Festival.


Unusual Places by Louise Tondeur, stories that fizz with modern morality

October 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Louise Tondeur’s short story collection, Unusual Places, is reviewed by Erinna Mettler on The Short Story. Mettler begins with some kind words for small publishers such as Cultured Llama: champions of the short form in a publishing world that often neglects the short story:

It’s not all doom and gloom, short story writers are thriving and, like all practitioners of under-represented art-forms, are finding a way through the short-sightedness of mainstream publishing. In the current climate the short story heroes are the small presses, the people who mail out lovingly produced short run paperbacks from their kitchen tables. One such press is Cultured Llama. […] They were kind enough to send me a copy of one of their newest titles, Unusual Places by Louise Tondeur.  Unusual Places begins with the foreword;

Grandma’s stories, ‘…would always start in the place where we were,’

Which illustrates perfectly the ability of short stories to connect us with a collective past and continuously add to it in the present. Tondeur’s short stories are very much in the oral tradition, they are made to be read aloud, shared around campfires and over warm drinks at Grandma’s fireside. This is not to say that they are old fashioned, far from it, they fizz with modern morality and the normalisation of previously silenced voices.

Mettler finds much to enjoy in Louise Tondeur’s use of ‘live writing’, with each story either written in or based on a place. She also mentions the authenticity of sex in the stories, plus the intriguing treatment of gender and sexuality:

There are few absolutes in Tondeur’s worlds. Several of the stories feature protagonists whose gender is not explicitly confirmed, either because the story is told in first or second person, and the narrator is simply ‘I’ (or you) or because no defining pronoun is mentioned. Sometimes this is resolved for the reader and sometimes not. It is immensely satisfying to read a book which deliberately plays with our expectations of gender and sexuality.

Read Erinna Mettler’s review here: The Short Story

Order Louise Tondeur’s for £12 plus p&p here: Unusual Places

Postage and packing is free if you order two or more books from this website.





New poetry – The Hospital by Ben Barton

October 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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We are proud to present our final publication of 2018, The Hospital, by Ben Barton. A film artist and poet, Ben Barton turns his ‘unflinching gaze’ on a long stay in hospital.

In The Hospital, Ben Barton offers slow observations of hospital life. A dead man’s phone rings; a slug encroaches through a gap in the window; a glimpse of the outside world is viewed through an X-ray held up to the light. In amongst the daily humiliations and the public spectacle of the sick and the dying, there are sparks of hope: a nip of whisky from another patient’s hip flask, the cries of a newborn from down the corridor, and one last meal, jab, swab before leaving.

978-1-9164128-2-8. Cultured Llama. PB. 203×127mm. 64pp. October 2018. Poetry. £10.00

We had so many endorsements for this collection, we couldn’t fit them all on the back page of the book. A couple appear below; you can read them all here:The Hospital

Turning an unflinching gaze on the experience of illness and a prolonged stay in hospital, The Hospital connects with the humanity, horror and grace under pressure of both patients and staff. In a beautiful collection that is not without humour, Ben Barton shows that his formidable poetry gifts were not allowed to lie idle in that hospital bed.

Patric Cunnane, poet and organiser of Dodo Modern Poets

Hard-hitting, sensual, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes in your face, these slant nuggets of hospital life are ‘birth and death served together in one meal’.

Graham Burchell, poet

Ben Barton will be launching The Hospital during the Folkestone Book Festival: 18 November, 6.00 – 8.00 p.m. at Steep Street Coffee House, Folkestone. More info on the Events page.

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

Postage and packing is free if you order two or more books from this website.

There is nothing fancy about cancer in The Year of the Crab by Gordon Meade

October 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Dominik Szczepaniak finds The Year of the Crab, by Gordon Meade, an ‘immersive’ book, which begs to be read as a whole. On the Dundee University Review of the Arts, Szczepaniak writes:

There are times when life throws us into trying situations that isolate us from the understanding of others. In 2014 Gordon Meade was diagnosed with cancer. In his 9th poetry collection he takes the reader on a full tour of the battlefield – from the diagnosis to the battle itself and finally, its positive verdict.

The book is immersive; it reads like a diary, full of Meade’s personal feelings and struggles. This is not a collection of complex, poetic language or convoluted metaphors (although that is not to say there are no powerful metaphors within) […]

I strongly believe that only few selected poems in the collection, if presented on their own, would make a great impact upon the reader. Combined, they create a story, something inherently private and cohesive. Meade, with an air of honesty and openness, conjures an atmosphere of pain, fear and sorrow, but also hope and appreciation. At times he expresses it through the description of a regular encounter at the hospital, but he also finds other means, such as nature or classical mythology. […]

‘There is nothing fancy about cancer’ – these words figure on the back cover of the book and stand to summarise the overall collection: a genuine and direct read. After reading a couple of poems, what’s not fancy becomes desired the most. For it’s not in the simple words that it’s found, but in the simple images that suddenly become powerful metaphors, brutal or hopeful. In this dichotomy Meade finds his reality; torn between living and dying, he craves comfort.

Order Gordon Meade’s latest poetry collection for £10 plus p&p here: The Year of the Crab

Two other poetry collections by Gordon Meade are available from Cultured Llama: Sounds of the Real World and Les Animots: A Human Bestiary, with images by Doug Robertson.

Postage and packing is free if you order two or more books from this website.

Flood by Jessica Mookherjee – a book of ferocious imaginings

October 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Flood, Jessica Mookherjee’s debut poetry collection, continues to garner praise in reviews by Brian Docherty, on London Grip,  and Abigail Ardelle Zammit, in The Ofi Press. Brian Docherty writes:

This is a book of ferocious imaginings, which builds on two earlier pamphlet collections. Good to see that so-called smaller presses are continuing the valuable work of bringing newer voices to the attention of the reading public.

Read the full review here.

Abigail Ardelle Zammit writes:

Flood sparks with striking metaphors, unexpected social realism and multicultural brilliance. Its verses can hold pain and trauma without losing their capacity to sing.

Read the full review in The Ofi Press

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

Postage and packing is free if you order two or more books from this website.

Derek Sellen is Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year

October 31st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Congratulations to Derek Sellen who is Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2018. Derek’s poetry collection, The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art, was named Poetry Kit book of the month in October, and the collection has attracted a great review, by Trevor Breedon, on Write Out Loud:

The poems, based on artworks from the 15th to the 21st century, are arranged in four sections; they cover individuals and relationships, war and violence, art and artists and place. There are brief notes and potted biographies and, best of all, links to images of many of the paintings on the publisher’s website. […]

Canterbury-based Sellen, who recently won the city’s international Poet of the Year competition, has produced a collection full of stark, powerful imagery. For many readers the chief pleasure might be found in the modern parallels and contemporary allusions he teases out of the artworks. Ultimately, however, the main source of satisfaction and achievement derives from the imaginative richness and dramatic economy of phrasing that is surely the verbal equivalent of the masterly brushstrokes of the paintings he writes about so well.

Order Derek Sellen’s poetry collection for £10 plus p&p: The Other Guernica: Poems Inspired by Spanish Art

A Powerful and rich collection, Flood by Jessica Mookherjee

September 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Jessica Mookherjee’s debut poetry collection, Flood, is reviewed in both The Frogmore Papers and Tears in the Fence.

In The Frogmore Papers, no. 92, Rachel Playforth writes:

This is a powerful and rich collection, with a perfect title. Mookherjee’s poems have momentum, ‘a lifetime of stories’ rushing to meet us on a tide of sensation, emotion and colour […] Sex, death, faith and doubt permeate the pages as fairy tales and myths from India, Wales and everywhere in between are rewritten in nightclubs and supermarkets, London parks and limousines. And if the reader needs a life raft, there is Mookherjee’s skilful use of repetition to cling on to, whether in poetic forms and in free verse where it acts as a mantra, echo or spell.

The current issue of The Frogmore Papers also has poems by Cultured Llama poets Michael Curtis and Rosie Jackson, who is the first runner up in The Frogmore Poetry Prize 2018.

In Tears in the Fence, no. 68, David Caddy writes:

The poems are filled with detail, inventive, musical, and the contours of a Bengali-Welsh woman gone walkabout in England. Mookherjee is at her best when she is boldest and takes risks in combining both elements of her cultural and feminist identity. The poem ‘Red’ covers a range of issues, such as the treatment of and violence towards Indian women, shaming, gender and menstruation, by suggestion and thus moves beyond testimony to provide wider hinterland for the reader. ‘The Milk’ similarly indicates a combination of dislocation and amusement, which makes the poem memorable.

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

Postage and packing is free if you order two or more books. So why not add in Michael Curtis’s Family Likeness or Rosie Jackson’s The Light Box. Or order all three!

London Calling tours London. Jeremy Page’s novella and stories

September 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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There is a thing going on of Cultured Llama books literally (and literarily) going on tour (see Unusual Places in unusual places). Jeremy Page’s London Calling and Other Stories has been spotted, on Twitter, on the top of a Routemaster bus in Piccadilly and in other London locations. Jeremy Page is well-known as the editor of The Frogmore Papers. Jeremy doesn’t ‘do’ social media, but @FrogmorePress has been taking the book out and about.

At the heart of Jeremy Page’s collection of long, short and flash fiction is the eponymous novella, London Calling, a comic tour-de-force set in a 1980s squat. Other stories feature a woman who remains in bed due to ennui, murder in a crime bookshop, and all the small resentments of a marriage condensed into two paragraphs. These are stories for our strange, unsettling times.

978-1-9164128-1-1. Cultured Llama. PB. 203×127mm. 152pp. September 2018. Short Stories. £12.00

In these clever, surprising stories, Page’s delicately delineated fictional characters struggle with marital micro-aggressions, the pathos of loss, and the mythical significance of a can of Special Brew. These are fictions which explore, with admirable poetic compression and superb control of imagery, the nature of reality; seemingly innocuous ‘realistic’ situations rapidly slide into alarming surreality. Language and meaning should be fixed and stable, but aren’t; miscommunication and misunderstanding cause the ground beneath characters’ feet to tilt, often alarmingly, leaving the reader both satisfied and unsettled. These are stories for our strange, unsettling times.

Catherine Smith, Writer, author of The Biting Point

Order for £12 plus p&p: London Calling and Other Stories

Post and packaging is free if you buy two or more books.

Our first ebooks, As Long as it Takes and Unusual Places

September 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

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Until now, Cultured Llama books have only been available in paperback. Not anymore! Our first two ebook publications are Unusual Places, a new story collection by Louise Tondeur, and As Long as it Takes, by Maria C. McCarthy, first published in paperback in 2014.

Grandma’s stories, ‘…would always start in the place where we were,’ and so it is with Unusual Places. Human remains are concealed in the Greenwich Tunnel in a world where London is a prison; a market is the setting for sexual and sensual awakenings; a professional picnicker finds love. Louise Tondeur’s stories skip along, rich with detail and musical prose, only to trip us up with turns and surprises: the unusual lurks in the most ordinary of places.

These are the stories you might feel surging around you as you walk down a crowded city street, every one its own world of tenderness, violence, absurdity and joy.

Joanne Limburg, author of Small Pieces, A Want of Kindness and The Woman Who Thought Too Much

Tondeur’s eye for detail is so precise, you might fear being in her presence, lest she see your secrets, too. What a tender, dark, nuanced book: a quiet storm.

Leone Ross, author of Come Let Us Sing Anyway, All the Blood is Red andOrange Laughter

The ebook costs £5.99 and is available from Cultured Llama and all the usual online retailers: Unusual Places

As Long as it Takes gives voice to the lost generation of Irish women who sailed to England to look for work in the middle of the twentieth century. Maura Flaherty and her daughters struggle with identity, belonging, love, sexuality and grief – and dilemmas such as whether to like punk or Elvis.

With no concessions to nostalgia or sentimentality, this deeply moving and beautifully written book, by a second-generation Irish writer, tells the interwoven stories of an immigrant family. Maria C. McCarthy skilfully weaves the historical and cultural significance of Anglo-Irish relations into a half-century of family life.

Maria C. McCarthy was the winner of the Society of Authors Tom-Gallon Trust Award 2015. The winning story, ‘More Katharine than Audrey’, appears in As Long as it Takes. Here are the judges’ remarks:

The writer weaves a sensual, tactile, restrained and ultimately very stylish story of loss cut through with make-belief. Because the writing is so clean, and the handling of pace so clever, the story is allowed to tell itself. It’s an unusual, rich and extremely satisfying picture of lives not lived, but ‘dreamed of’. Elanor Dymott

Impressively compressed. Aamer Hussein

The ebook costs £5.99 and is available from Cultured Llama and all the usual online retailers: As Long as it Takes