George Szirtes & Caroline Bird with music from ANDCHUCK, 14 October 2017

This is our annual collaborative event with the Manchester Literature Festival. The event takes place Saturday 14 October at 2.30-4.00 at:

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Promotional video from Jam Jar Productions

Jam Jar Productions kindly attended our last event at the Halle and filmed this lovely video for us, they’ll be joining us at the Whitworth in November too. Check it out, and thanks very much JJP!

 

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Workshop with James Sheard: 18 November 2017

The workshop is on Saturday 18 November at 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to reserve a place and for details of how to pay.

James Sheard

James Sheard was born in Cyprus in 1962, and spent his childhood abroad, mainly in Singapore and Germany. As an adult, he spent periods living in Hamburg and Helsinki. He is the author of two full collections of poetry: Scattering Eva (Jonathan Cape, 2005), shortlisted for both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glenn Dimplex Award for Poetry, and Dammtor (Jonathan Cape, 2010), as well as a pamphlet of poems, Hotel Mastbosch (Mews Press, 2003), which was awarded the Ictus Prize. His third collection – The Abandoned Settlements – deals with the literal and metaphorical abandoned places of one’s life, and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. He currently lives in Powys and is Lecturer in Creative Writing at Keele University

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James Sheard, Kayo Chingonyi & Rebecca Hurst with music from Chetham’s: 18 November 2017

Free reading at the Whitworth Art Gallery on Saturday 18 November at 2.30-4.00.

James Sheard

James Sheard was born in Cyprus in 1962, and spent his childhood abroad, mainly in Singapore and Germany. As an adult, he spent periods living in Hamburg and Helsinki. He is the author of two full collections of poetry: Scattering Eva (Jonathan Cape, 2005), shortlisted for both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glenn Dimplex Award for Poetry, and Dammtor (Jonathan Cape, 2010), as well as a pamphlet of poems, Hotel Mastbosch (Mews Press, 2003), which was awarded the Ictus Prize. His third collection – The Abandoned Settlements – deals with the literal and metaphorical abandoned places of one’s life, and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. He currently lives in Powys and is Lecturer in Creative Writing at Keele University

Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo Chingonyi (pronounced kai-o chin-gone-yee) is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and the author of two pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (Akashic, 2016). His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, was published in June 2017 by Chatto & Windus. As well as being widely published in journals and anthologies, Kayo has been invited to read from his work at venues and events across the UK and internationally. In 2012 he represented Zambia at Poetry Parnassus, a festival of world poets staged by The Southbank Centre as part of the London 2012 Festival.

He was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and shortlisted for the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize and has completed residencies with Kingston University, Cove Park, First Story, The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and Royal Holloway University of London in partnership with Counterpoints Arts. He was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016. He co-edited issue 62 of Magma Poetry and the Autumn 2016 edition of The Poetry Review.

Photo credit: Naomi Woddis

Rebecca Hurst

Rebecca Hurst is a doctoral student at the University of Manchester where she writes poetry and researches Soviet fairy tales. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Agenda, Aesthetica, The Clearing, and Magma Poetry. Her opera, After the Fall, written with composer Helgi Rafn Ingvarsson, premiered in May 2017. She is a member of the Voicings Collective; an ensemble that creates exploratory new music theatre.

Music from Chetham’s

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Hilda Sheehan, Malika Booker, Clare Shaw & Olivia Moore: 16 September 2017

Free reading at the Whitworth Art Gallery on Saturday 16 September at 2.30-4.00.

Hilda Sheehan

Hilda Sheehan’s debut collection is, The Night my Sister Went to Hollywood (Cultured Llama Press, 2013) She has also published a chapbook of prose poems, Frances and Martine (Dancing Girl, 2014) ‘Joyously funny … comic writing with a bite’ David Caddy, Tears in the Fence. The God Baby is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in September 2017. Hilda is the director of Poetry Swindon.

Malika Booker

Photograph by Siro Micheroli

Malika Booker is a British poet and multi-disciplinary artist of Guyanese and Grenadian Parentage. Breadfruit (pamphlet), (flippedeye, 2007) was recommended by the Poetry Society and her poetry collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press, 2013) was longlisted for the OCM Bocas prize and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre prize for first full collection (2014). She is published with the Poets Sharon Olds and Warsan Shire in The Penguin Modern Poet Series 3:Your Family: Your Body (2017). Malika has been the recipient of residencies from Millay Colony, Cove Park, The India International Centre and Kocevje through The Centre for Slovenian Literature.  She is a Fellow of both The Complete Works and Cave Canem and was inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Malika has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths University, was the Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow in Creative Writing at University of Leeds and is now an LHRI Fellow at that same university

Clare Shaw

Described by the Arvon Foundation as “one of the country’s most dynamic young poets”, Clare Shaw has two collections from Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), which attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem; and Head On (2012), which is, according to the Times Literary Supplement: “fierce … memorable and visceral”. Clare was born in Burnley in 1972, and her poetry finds its roots in place and an uncompromising voice. Often addressing political and personal conflict, it is fuelled by a strong conviction in the transformative and redemptive power of language.

Clare is Royal Literary Fellow at Huddersfield University, and a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust, The National Writer’s Centre of Wales, and the Arvon Foundation. She is also a mental health trainer, activist and author: recent publications include “Otis Doesn’t Scratch: talking to young children about self-injury” (PCCS Books, 2015); and “Our Encounters with Self-Harm” (2013).

Olivia Moore

Inline images 1After giving her first performance at the age of four, Olivia spent her childhood and teen years playing classical music before going on to explore the art of improvisation. She has performed at many of the UK’s biggest venues such as at the Lowry, Bridgwater Hall, The Barbican & Glastonbury Festival. She has appeared at the UK’s main Jazz festivals (including London, Manchester and Brecon) with her own Indian Style Jazz band “Unfurl”. She frequently collaborates abroad with Indian Tabla Player Mukesh Jhadav.

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Workshop with Clare Shaw: 16 September 2017

The workshop is on Saturday 16 September at 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to reserve a place and for details of how to pay.

Clare Shaw

Described by the Arvon Foundation as “one of the country’s most dynamic young poets”, Clare Shaw has two collections from Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), which attracted a Forward Prize Highly Commended for Best Single Poem; and Head On (2012), which is, according to the Times Literary Supplement: “fierce … memorable and visceral”. Clare was born in Burnley in 1972, and her poetry finds its roots in place and an uncompromising voice. Often addressing political and personal conflict, it is fuelled by a strong conviction in the transformative and redemptive power of language.

Clare is Royal Literary Fellow at Huddersfield University, and a regular tutor for the Poetry School, the Wordsworth Trust, The National Writer’s Centre of Wales, and the Arvon Foundation. She is also a mental health trainer, activist and author: recent publications include “Otis Doesn’t Scratch: talking to young children about self-injury” (PCCS Books, 2015); and “Our Encounters with Self-Harm” (2013).

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Competition Results 2017

The results are now in and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael Symmons Roberts for his excellent contribution to the success of the competition. We would also like to thank all those who entered.

The winning poems chosen by Michael Symmons Roberts*

*All poems entered into the competition, were delivered with no identifying details to Michael Symmons Roberts, who read every poem before making his decision.

Michael Symmons Roberts with Pam Thompson (3rd place), Sharon Black (1st place) and Ian McEwen (2nd place)

1st Prize:   ‘Post Op’ by Sharon Black
2nd Prize:  ‘Poem with this cow in it’ by Ian McEwen
3rd Prize:   ‘My Life As A Bat’ by Pam Thompson

Commended poems:

‘By the Statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras’ by Rory Brennan
‘Absences’ by Sharon Black
‘Mega-Death Calculator’ by David Wilson
‘The Slow Amble’ by Pat Borthwick
‘Literacy’ by Sam Burns

Michael Symmons Roberts’ comments about the competition

Poets & Players is one of the most significant and impressive poetry organisations in the country, the quality of the readings it puts on, its presence in the city is remarkable, so I’m delighted to be part of it in judging this competition. The standard was very high, I know judges always say this, but I’ve judged quite a few of these, there’s always a first sift where you move things out of the way and you think you can quickly establish these aren’t going to win, but the first sift really didn’t do much in terms of the fact that the quality was so high I was still left with a lot that were commanding serious attention.

The Poems

First Prize: ‘Post Op’ by Sharon Black

Post Op
(for Elizabeth)

I spotted you this morning
near Columba’s Bay – before the climb
towards the slate grey loch, just past
that split in machair where beach pushes through,
past the lambs going mental as they
race us to the fence posts, player numbers
painted on their backs, past fat pellets
of goose droppings and strewn button-top shells,
those smooth white spirals no bigger than tears
with gently wound mysteries –
in a hollow to the right, a sheep,
shaggy and wise, with high Finnish cheekbones
and an aquiline nose just like yours –
standing, staring straight at me
with two lambs suckling, one on either side like wings,
tails frantic as propellers: a light aircraft
flown in from the recovery ward
to watch our pilgrimage,
blessing each of us in turn as we
made our way to the pebbled bay
at the south of the island, the Atlantic
winking like a waggish aunt,
the mad scrabble for green serpentines
of which you are the queen.
I didn’t find a big one, not like yours, but a handful
of smaller, speckled stones like eggs
that I tucked inside my clothing
and carried back across the peaty scars
and the new wood bridge
to the sill of my hotel window with its perfect
view across the Sound.

Comments from judge Michael Symmons Roberts
1st Prize: ‘Post Op’ by Sharon Black

This is a quiet, tender poem that impressed me more with each re-reading. The title and dedication suggest what TS Eliot called ‘private words addressed to you in public’ – in this case a poem as charm or prayer for recovery and healing. It is deceptively simple – an account of a walk through a landscape – but the details are telling and wonderfully, intricately drawn.

Biographical note:

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of southern France. She is widely published and in 2016 won the Silver Wyvern Prize (Poetry on the Lake), the Prole Laureate Competition, was highly commended in Wigtown Poetry Competition and shortlisted in The London Magazine Poetry Prize. Her first collection, To Know Bedrock, was published by Pindrop Press in 2011. Her second, The Art of Egg, appeared with Two Ravens Press in 2015. www.sharonblack.co.uk

Second Prize: Ian McEwen

Poem with this cow in it

You know as well as I do the poor
cow’s a pretext, not the object
of attention. Sad, to lumber
unaware the uses you’ve been
put to. She tests one foot

patiently before another:
the wobble of a zen
balloon, a gas and shit
dirigible. The udder tide
migrates – to the parlour-

from the parlour- to the parlour –
soft as polyps, timed by the trickle
of a liquid clock. The cows
produce themselves along
the slurry path. In heaviness

that calls them to the artificial
suckle of relief they go –
blotchily, calmly, all together.
If she looks like the leader
it’s the flow behind her, she

was at the back when
the turn came. At this gate she
ponderously ponders as our host
the empty, forgone envelope.
We know who the loser is,

announced in backwards order.
The cows have voted with
their feet and left their
monuments around us.

Comments from judge Michael Symmons Roberts
2nd Prize: ‘Poem with this Cow in it’ by Ian McEwen

This poem caught my attention and held it from first reading. It begins with a playful title and a sleight of hand opening, but becomes surprisingly poignant. I was very struck by its linguistic inventiveness and wit.

Biographical note:

Ian McEwen’s poems have appeared widely in magazines including Poetry Wales, Shearsman, Long Poem Magazine, Rialto and Poetry Review. The Stammering Man was a winner in the Templar pamphlet competition 2010 and his collection Intermittent beings was published by Cinnamon in 2013. ‘Father lost lost’ was highly commended by the Forward Prize judges in the single poem category 2014. He is a board member of NAWE and a former board member of Magma. Ian has four children and lives in Bedford where he promotes the Ouse Muse open mic.

Third Prize: Pam Thompson

My Life As A Bat

A wish, to
……be a bat—ricocheting in a
………..cave, all caricature,
…..daring, some might say, devil, whose
………echolocation leads me to my prey.
….fierce, fiercer in flight,
………….ghost of an old world, gorging on twilight,
….haunting houses, yours,
………….infiltrating your study to spawn
….jelly-eyed babies on your laptop. My
………….kind laugh, cry and scream—
….listen. You pad to the window.
………….may even open it. There’s a
….new smell in the bedroom, not unfamiliar.
………….Ouch! We go for veins
………….plumped by sleep. I have very small teeth.
….remember. A wish some might think
………….strange but it’s not so silly,
….truth is, it would be fun to flit
………….under your half-open blind on a hot night, land,
….victorious in bed between the two of you like a
…………..weird forgotten child with waxen wings.
….X-ray vision I won’t have as a bat but I can smell
…………..your fear, see how guilty you look when, without
….Zopiclone she wakes, to a bizarre petting-zoo.

Comments from judge Michael Symmons Roberts
3rd Prize: ‘My Life As A Bat’ by Pam Thompson

This is a smart, witty poem with a real edge and a sting in the tail. It is formally ambitious and adept, built around an abecedarian structure, but manages to maintain its fluency and energy throughout.

Biographical note:

Pam Thompson lives in Leicester. Her publications include Show Date and Time, 2006, (Smith/Doorstop) and The Japan Quiz, (2008), Redbeck Press. Pam is one of the organisers of Word!, a spoken-word night at The Y theatre in Leicester. She has a PhD in creative writing which links the science of holography and writing poetry.

Information about the Competition

A total number of 341 poets took part in the competition submitting a total of 813 poems. 291 poets (152 women and 118 men, 21 indeterminate, eg just initials) submitted a total of 665 online poems. We offered both postal and online entry options, 50  poets chose to submit  a total of 148 poems by post from all over the UK and also a couple of entries from overseas. This was an excellent and encouraging number and the overall standard was very pleasing. 

We were delighted to welcome Michael Symmons Roberts as our judge, and offer our thanks and appreciation for his enthusiasm, professionalism and attention to detail. We received entries from all over the United Kingdom, also many from The Republic of Ireland. Overseas entries included: Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands,  USA , Denmark, Austria, Canada and Australia: a truly international event. 

All entries were clearly addressed and, without exception, appropriate payments included. Thank you to all our entrants for your help in this and for your interest in our competition.

Thank you to everyone involved in the organisation, promotion and success of the fifth Poets and Players Competition. Please look out for future announcements about the 2018 competition.

Videos of the winners performing their poems will be available shortly on our Youtube Channel.

Any feedback relating to any aspect of the competition is most welcome.

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