Jack Little



For Lucy

They put me out to sea, following the students
on their dinghies. Other adults bark orders
about unfamiliar ropes and sails.

Some kids dangle their fingers overboard,
the bravest allowing their boats to take them
towards a pointed rock on the half-horizon.

Some have tears encrusted around their eyes
borne from last night’s fear of this moment.

I sense their excitement as a dolphin
noses sadly beside our boat,
his tail not leaving the water’s protection.

I remember, all those years ago, when our own boat sank,
of the dull throb of shame when your dad sailed out to save us,
the neighbours laughing as they watched through their binoculars
from their bungalows on the loch’s edge-

today’s students are afraid of drowning
and one dolphin remains lost in his dance.




Jack Little (b. 1987) is a British-Mexican poet, editor and translator based in Mexico City. He is the author of Elsewhere (Eyewear, 2015) and is the founding editor of The Ofi Press. He was the poet in residence at The Heinrich Böll Cottage on Achill Island in the west of Ireland in July 2016. @JLittleMexico

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Emily Wilkinson



Emily Wilkinson is an interdisciplinary artist and poet based in Shrewsbury. She works with collage, words, writing, paint, textiles and bookmaking. Emily has exhibited in Shropshire and Scotland, and was artist in residence at Wenlock Books in 2014.  Website: https://emilywilkinson.net/


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Maureen Cullen





From cobbler shop to castle
I follow the Leven’s path

by a row of bilious bobbins
curfuffle of white feather

over sand, dent and hummock
the skitter-scuff of shingle

to a ridge bolstered by slate
wired for the cuff of the Clyde –

whipped on by clamouring gulls
clipped by whirligig cagoule

I take shelter at Levengrove
under crack and clack of wood

forge a foothold in root
cling to the cord of Alcluith.




Maureen Cullen has an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University. In 2016, she was published along with three other poets in Primers 1, a collaboration between Nine Arches Press and the Poetry School.

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Sue Wallace-Shaddad


Shark Bait

Hoisted high, I gape
mouth open, skywards.
My teeth flash white
instilling fear
in unprepared passers-by.
I could dive off
the fishmonger’s frontage
take a satisfying bite.
It is a sad end
to my glory days in the deep
but at least I am remembered
amongst the shrimp and bait.



Sue Wallace-Shaddad is Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society. She has had poems published in The Dawntreader, Ink Sweat and Tears, local anthologies and recently had a poem commended in the Poetry Space 2017 competition.
Note: written from a watercolour by Michele Webber

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Neil Young reviews ‘The Nagasaki Elder’ by Antony Owen



Antony Owen’s fifth collection, The Nagasaki Elder (V Press), is one of those compelling slim volumes that reminds you what poetry can do when it confronts the big themes of our times – or any times. Those themes don’t get any bigger than war, and its obscene effects on civilians sacrificed on the altar of geopolitical manoeuvres. What marks out Owen’s work as exceptional is the illuminating perspectives he brings to a subject that is already so well travelled, and with such agonising acuity, by poets stretching from Sassoon to Tony Harrison, and – more contemporaneously – Martin Malone.

It is rare now to find a poet so publicly committed to exploring this territory, and those who attempt it often do so in so didactic a manner that the poetry can easily be dismissed; but Owen is too agile a poet for such pitfalls. Each poem urges the reader on to the next, and in doing so he reanimates the micro-worlds of Nagasaki & Hiroshima, in its daily routines, its landscapes and natural environments, so vividly, that the eradication of such a vast and complex realm and its people – within minutes – strains believability.

From the outset, Owen displays a knack for lyrical twist that will be repeated throughout the collection. “On a playground where children vanished into black magic” he opens in ‘The queen of new Hiroshima’, and we are alerted to a world in which the real, the hyper-real and the otherworldly are inseparable. As a scene-setter, this poem could hardly be bettered, going straight for the political jugular as “we see empires/are realms of pot-bellied maggots in human thrones/stacked thirty foot high”. Elsewhere, it is his ability to ‘tell it slant’ – as Emily Dickinson exhorted poets – and hit the reader with an image from an unexpected angle that is most affecting. In ‘The last fare collector of Hiroshima’ “They found her fingers in a jelly of yen/her skin one with the standard issue fare-bag”.

Such graphic descriptions could risk wearying the reader, if overused, but Owen is quick with surprises. Variation of tone, form and movement of theme come together in a mosaic. He can grasp the fantastic – or fantastical – and tender in a breath: “Remember, my sister/we are made of beautiful atoms/ up there in the doll-eyed darkness”. And he has an unerring eye for reminding us that the past – especially this past – is contemporary, or, as Louis MacNeice put it “the future is the bride of what has been”. Owen moves seamlessly from harrowing, but often beautiful, evocations of Nagasaki and its people to the Luftwaffe bombing of home city of Coventry, and in doing so parallels the atrocities unleashed on civilian populations. In ‘Koventrieren’, he summons a word introduced to the German language to mean ‘to completely destroy a city from the air’, and honours his subject with memorably heart-rending lines: “If only you had laid him three yards to the left/you would both be arm in arm down High Street now”.

This sequence of poems is more than elegy, though. ‘A park near Chernobyl’, ‘Collateral damage’ and ‘Before the new bombs fall’ bring us up to date with the toxic extremities created very often, not by remote regimes, but elected western governments. We need only remind ourselves that not a few months ago our current Prime Minister Theresa May was cheered for boasting that yes, she would push the nuclear button, while her rival, Jeremy Corbyn, was decried for insisting the opposite.

When such a perverse, dehumanised version of public discourse becomes not only tolerable but the norm, we need all the dissenting, eloquent voices for humanity that we can get. Owen is at the forefront – a poet who, admirably, balks at the personalised meanderings of poets with little to say beyond their own orbits. Rather, he has immersed himself in the tough mental and emotional toil of getting to know Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and its people. He writes universally, but with an insider’s eye. In doing so, he has written a collection that is both timely and timeless.





The Nagasaki Elder by Antony Owen (V Press, £9.99)is available here: vpresspoetry

Neil Young  is co-founder of The Poets’ Republic magazine. His publications include the chapbooks: Lagan Voices, The Parting Glass – fourteen sonnets, and Jimmy Cagney’s Long-Lost Kid Half-Brother.

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Sean Magnus Martin







You look like a bird making the best
of a bad situation – someone stole
your legs and replaced them with
a pair of blue-grey stilts that seem
to have autonomy. A gust of wind
buffets white feathers and you teeter
but hold your balance, inclining
your head to the water.
That upturned bill you use to scythe
the surface in wide arcs, has exotic
elegance that looks amiss among
these redshanks and shelducks,
more akin to the sacred ibis.
So I picture you in antiquity, wading
beside the slave barge of a pharaoh,
a hieroglyph made manifest.





Sean Magnus Martin won the 2015 Battered Moons poetry competition. He was also published in Bath Spa University’s 2017 MA anthology, Plume. His first pamphlet Flood-Junk will be released with Against the Grain Press in May 2018

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Ceinwen Haydon





Through tantrum tears
and sun’s glare
I glance up the hill.

Hooves clomp and hammer
as down the slope he comes,
skids on the wet grass
and shambles to a heavy halt
behind the five-bar gate.

His screeching bray
thwarts my daft intentions.
His tail thumps my thigh
and his nose nuzzles my chest.
Then, hoof raised high,
he gently kicks
all my hectic nonsense
into the long dew-laden grass.




Ceinwen Haydon lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published on line and in print. She has just completed her MA in Creative Writing (Newcastle University). She believes everyone’s voice counts.

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