MSt alumna M J Holmes’ pamphlet “Dihedral” published by Live Canon

MSt alumna M J Holmes’ pamphlet “Dihedral” has been published by Live Canon.

From the announcement:

“Joint winner of the 2020 Live Canon Pamphlet Competition.

A Forward Prize nominee and Hawthornden Fellow, Mary-Jane has won the Bridport Poetry prize, the Bath Novella-in-Flash Prize, the Martin Starkie Poetry Prize, Dromineer Fiction Prize, the Reflex Fiction and Mslexia Flash prize as well as the Bedford Poetry competition. In 2020, she was shortlisted for the Beverley International Prize for Literature and longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. Mary-Jane’s debut poetry collection Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass is published by Pindrop Press.

Her work appears in anthologies including Best Small Fictions 2014/16/18 and Best Microfictions 2020 and in a variety of publications including Magma, Mslexia, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, The Lonely Crowd, and Prole. “

You can read about it and order it here.

MSt tutor James Womack’s long poem “Homunculus” published by Carcanet.

MSt tutor James Womack’s long poem Homunculus , based around the Elegies of the Roman poet Maximian, has been published by Carcanet Press.

From the announcement:

“Homunculus is a long poem from award-winning poet and translator James Womack, based around the Elegies of the Roman poet Maximian. The last of the Roman poets, Maximian wrote in the sixth century, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire; critics have called his Elegies ‘one of the strangest documents of the human mind’, and W.H. Auden singled him out as a ‘really remarkable poet’. Womack’s versioning of the Elegies shows how this harsh poem of sex and old age can speak to our own contemporary, collapsing world.”

‘This interpretation of the Elegies puts a modern spin on the serious nature of content, creating a rhythmic flow of references woven into the pacing of the poem […] Womack’s Homunculus is brutally, even indecently honest about the titular character’s feelings and thoughts.’

Allen Chiu, DURA Dundee

Praise for James Womack‘With an ear finely tuned to colloquial speech and a knack for deadpan delivery, Womack gives Vilas’ poems a thoroughly convincing new life in English’
Jennifer Barber, The Critical Flame
‘James Womack’s translations are immaculate distillations of Vilas… Vilas’ poems are long and decadent affairs, euphoric tales of drunken debauchery told through a first person narrative.’
Charlie Baylis, Stride Magazine
‘Vilas is an accomplished, freewheeling storyteller, forever leading his readers into unexpected byways…James Womack’s translations of these beguiling narrative poems, selected from two of Vilas’ collections published in 2000 and 2008, are so vivid, natural-seeming and alert to every nuance and shade of feeling that they scarcely register as translations at all.’
Paul Bailey, Literary Review
‘witty, nuanced, urbane’

Clark Allison, Stride Magazine

‘True to its title, On Trust: A Book of Lies explores the metamorphic landscapes of shifting allegiance and unstable epistemologies. Writing a cunning jazz line in one poem and a supple passage of lyric prose in the next, Womack matches limberness of method to his ambitious subject: the shifting instabilities of character, circumstance, and faith.’

Judges, Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for Second Collections 

‘This is a gorgeous book. The reader will find it either a seductive introduction or a thrilling reunion. James Womack’s translations are bristling with appropriate vigour.’
The Spokesman


  In James Womack’s ‘book of lies’, in the court of love and the erotic, where honesty may be a necessary contrivance, the speaker is both accuser and accused. The poems display a wry, mordant romanticism which manages to be at war with itself while keeping a keen eye on the imaginative opportunities. On Trust is a witty, eloquent, troubling collection.’
Sean O’Brien ‘The first half of On Trust is about a love affair, which is true to all the stumbles of falling in love. An actual affair? Or a vivid thought-experiment? It is both and neither. It is Schrödinger’s pussy. It is and it isn’t. ‘In your park, the wind pushes at an empty swing.’ Inventive, clever, funny, rueful, ironic, hypnotised by the erotic.’
Craig Raine ‘Technically adept, self-consciously ironic, and provocative about the nature of art and the role of the artist… Often I felt as if I was being taken aside and told a joke that’s ridiculously funny at the same time as being deadly serious. ‘
Heidi Williamson, Eyewear‘James Womack is another bright young poet… he is capable of lugubrious comic inventions such as ‘From the Literary Encyclopaedia’, which charts an experimental novelist’s doomed career, alongside ‘Tourism’, a clipped and chilly poem about the export of jihadis to the Middle East… on the evidence of Misprint Womack has scope, curiosity and a refreshing sense of not having foresuffered everything he encounters.’
Sean O’Brien, The Sunday Times  ‘In ‘Vladimir Mayakovsky’ and Other Poems the poet James Womack has put together the comprehensive selection of Mayakovsky’s poems I have long been waiting for. His fresh translation allows English readers to appreciate the non-aligned and passionate personality of the Russian poet. I recommend a few lines twice a day to protect against dry academic writing.’
The Times Higher Education Best Books of 2016

Read more and order from Carcanet

MSt alumna Phoebe Stuckes collection “Platinum Blonde” published by Bloodaxe Books

MSt alumna Phoebe Stuckes’ collection Platinum Blonde has been published by Bloodaxe Books.

From the announcement:

“Platinum Blonde is Phoebe Stuckes’ debut collection. Whether wildly or wryly funny, each poem presents an episode in the up-and-down life of the wise-cracking party girl. On the surface, this is a world of dancefloors and bathrooms, glitter and girls, love and disappointment, but beneath the laughter and antics these are self-questioning poems. Poems about self-belief, self-image, vulnerability and insecurity, loneliness, trauma and survival.

Phoebe Stuckes has been a winner of the Foyle Young Poets award four times and is a former Barbican Young Poet and Ledbury Poetry Festival young poet in residence. Her debut pamphlet, Gin & Tonic, was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award in 2017, and she won an Eric Gregory Award in 2019. Her poem ‘Thus I became a heart-eater’ from Platinum Blonde won the Poetry Society’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2019.

‘Phoebe [Stuckes], who is about to release her first book, Platinum Blonde, writes quietly unsettling poems about everything from gender stereotypes to explorations of selfhood in the age of hyperinformation.’ – James Patterson, i-D

‘The poems in Platinum Blonde are vulnerable, performative, and ardently female. Stuckes deftly balances violence and wit, self-consciousness and panache. She can turn a sentence on a dime: “This is how I want to die; in a boat, on fire / while Billie Holiday crawls out of a speaker.”  And “Having an affair / is just getting all dressed up to cut yourself.” Get yourself a bottle of gin, some photos of your exes, and settle into a velvet chaise longue to read. You’re going to love this book.’ – Kim Addonizio

‘Phoebe Stuckes’s Platinum Blonde is a relentless and relentlessly alive exploration of human interactions and very human desire, conveyed with a formal virtuosity and a real sense of the seduction of the imagination that is truly captivating.’ – Ahren Warner, Gregory Awards judge’s comment

‘I enjoyed the deadpan-ness of the voice and the ways in which it established stereotypes and beauty standards, yet, poem by poem, undermined and destroyed them.’ – Inua Ellams,  Gregory Awards judge’s comment

‘[‘Thus I became a heart-eater’] is a startling, iconic poem, and struck me to my core… I love the poem’s rebellion, its honesty, its self-disgust, its despair and its resilience. I have been that woman. I see that woman, and I will her on into her life.’ – Fiona Benson, Judge, Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2019

‘While most artists merely hold up a mirror to the world, Phoebe Stuckes is not afraid to shake the whole damn thing while doing so.’ – Phil Jupitus

‘”It’s a rough time to be young / or to care about anything” in these sharp poems of lovesickness and collapse. Gin & Tonic is a cool, tense network of desolate punchlines and defiant shrugs, all configured round a warm and worn-out heart.’ – Jack Underwood

‘From compelling monologues to blues pieces, every poem is charged with a savage humour, building a world where “getting dressed feels / like being stood up” and “crying in cabs / could be glamorous / if I did it correctly”.’ – Helen Mort, on Gin & Tonic”

MSt alumna Daisy Johnson’s novel “Sisters” reviewed in the Observer, New York Times.

MSt alumna Daisy Johnson’s novel Sisters was reviewed in the Observer, and in the New York Times.

From the Observer

“… Daisy Johnson is the demon offspring of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King, her work a dark torrent of nightmarish images, her gothic vision startlingly vivid and distinctive.”

From the New York Times;

“Sisters” is a gripping ordeal, a relentlessly macabre account of grief and guilt, identity and codependency, teenage girls and their mothers. “

MSt tutor Jenny Lewis’ collaboration “Let Me Tell You What I Saw” published by Seren Books


Let Me Tell You What I Saw ,a collaboration by Adnan Al-Sayegh, MSt tutor Jenny Lewis, and Ruba Abughaida is to be published by Seren Books

From the announcement:

Let Me Tell You What I Saw is the first ever publication as a dual-language (English/Arabic) text of substantial extracts from Adnan Al-Sayegh’s ground-breaking epic poem, Uruk’s Anthem, one of the longest poems ever written in Arabic literature, which gives voice to the profound despair of the Iraqi experience. This superb translation brings the eloquent original Arabic epic to a new readership.

Uruk’s Anthem has been described as beautiful, powerful and courageous and at the same time apocalyptic and terrifying in its unwavering scrutiny of, and opposition to, oppression and dictatorship wherever it occurs in the world. Fusing ancient Arabic and Sumerian poetic traditions with many innovative and experimental features of both Arabic and Western literature, Uruk’s Anthem might best be described as a modernist dream poem that frequently strays into nightmare; yet it is also imbued with a unique blend of history, mythology, tenderness, lyricism, humour and surrealism.

It took twelve years to write (1984-1996). During eight years of that time Adnan was forced to fight in the Iran-Iraq War. Many of his friends were killed and he spent eighteen months in an army detention centre, a disused stable and dynamite store, dangerously close to the border with Iran.

Parts of Uruk’s Anthem were adapted for the stage and performed in 1989 at the Academy of Fine Arts and in 1993 at the Rasheed Theatre in Baghdad where the play received wide acclaim but angered the government. Adnan fled the country with his family and sought asylum first in Amman, then Beirut and then Sweden, where extracts of Uruk’s Anthem, together with the poems of Adnan’s friend, the Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer, formed a play which was performed in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2014 as well as in Egypt 2007 and 2008. It was also performed in Morocco 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2014.

A smaller selection of extracts from Uruk’s Anthem (translated by Jenny Lewis and Ruba Abughaida) was published in English for the first time in Singing for Inanna (Mulfran Press, 2014) a first step towards Let Me Tell You What I Saw. This important, more comprehensive translation includes notes to the text and an introduction by Jenny Lewis, and translation notes by Jenny and by Ruba Abughaida.

“To see such a significant selection from this major work of world literature in this thrilling translation gives me great pleasure. This fine poet of terror and tenderness has found the translators he deserves.” – Leona Medlin

“The clarity and integrity of Adnan Al-Sayegh’s poems (in translation), combine unforgettably with the music of his native voice. Now his world-class poetry is at last reaching a wider audience in the English-speaking world. That Jenny Lewis’s own work is integral to that process is testimony to a rich and rewarding collaboration.”  – Lucy Hamilton

“It’s Iraq’s collective catastrophe poem. It’s a choir poem, a linguistic flux, a continuous surging of language between words and images…that flows out with the force of a thousand horsepower!” – Sherko Bekas (1940–2013) Kurdish poet and freedom fighter

“An epic phantasmagoria, Uruk’s Anthem is, nevertheless, often terrifyingly real, with the speaker both a witness to shattering events and also an active participant in trying to make sense of a world in chaos where the poem is the only place where the exile can be at home. At the heart of the book are ordinary people who love, lust, laugh and despair, but are in the grip of vast political, historical, and cosmic forces. Yet despite it all, Al-Sayegh’s monumental work refuses to submit, holding fervently to a belief in the power of poetry to reckon and redeem.” – Niall Munro, Director, Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre

MSt alumna Mariah Whelan’s poem “Viaduct” featured by Aesthetica

MSt alumna Mariah Whelan’s poem “Viaduct” was the featured poem of the day over at Aesthetica.

From the announcement: “the love i do to you is Whelan’s debut novel-in-sonnets. It tells the love story of ‘He’ and ‘She’. Once lovers and now something else, in this collection the poems roam across the UK, Europe, Japan and South Korea to explore the oldest of lyric subjects – love, desire, friendship and betrayal.”

Read the poem and about Mariah here.

MSt tutor Tina Pepler’s Royal Literary Fund podcast


MSt tutor Tina Pepler spoke with MSt tutor Jane Draycott for the Royal Literary Fund podcast series Writers Aloud.

“…about the responsibility to real lives when fictionalising traumatic experiences, how the internet can’t beat talking to people for stories you didn’t even know you were looking for, and working as a mentor with young people arriving in the UK from other cultures”
You can access the podcast here.

MSt alumna Madiha Bee’s poetry collection “The Lightworkers” published by Pinyon

MSt alumna Madiha Bee’s poetry collection The Lightworkers has been published by Pinyon Publishing.

“These are poems that will not just ‘awaken the soul’ but all the senses too. Madiha Bee’s playful and richly vivid illustrations illuminate a poetics of searching energy and sensuous, jewel-like invention: like the electric dreams in her poem ‘Gross National Happiness,’ the whole collection takes her reader on a journey through the heart of contemporary life in all its contradictory complexity.”—Jane Draycott, Oxford University