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

MSt alumna Phoebe Stucks wins Poetry Society’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2020

MSt alumna Phoebe Stucks has won the Poetry Society’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2020.

From the Poetry Society announcement:

“The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize is an annual prize for the best poem published in The Poetry Review written by a poet who doesn’t yet have a full collection. The winner is announced in the summer issue of The Poetry Review each year. 

The latest winner, chosen by Fiona Benson, is Phoebe Stuckes for her poem, ‘Thus I became a heart-eater’, which was published in The Poetry Review in the Winter 2019 issue.”