Poem Of The Week: 'Master Of Works' By Rennie Parker

Master of Works The parkland there, Sir Not obtrusive to the casual eye It’s artifice concealed in the approved English manner. Remark upon your left the small temple -Let us say, to Harmony or the Four Winds – Advise me on the image immured within – As if, Sir, the ancients themselves Did pour their blessings on your fine estate. You will find it an esteemed model As seen in the later volumes of Vitruvius. A humble façade, Sir, Should not be countenanced here; The correct gesture is worth an hundred lies. I…

Love Orange By Natasha Randall - A Review

Love Orange, by Natasha Randall, is an elegant, skillfully penned evisceration of life as we know it. A frank assessment of the pitfalls of modern American existence is constructed via precise, careful examination, and we would pity the doctor whose job it is to deliver the diagnosis. This compelling account of an ordinary American family is an outstanding debut novel, intrigue keeps you turning the pages: an image of a modern dystopia, painfully rooted in reality, beguiling and ultimately captivating.…

'As Though To Breathe Were Life' : Appius And Virginia By G.E. Trevelyan

Tennyson’s rejoinder to the comforts of domestic inertia jolts the imagination into action: Ulysses’ refusal to accept the torpid duty of his office at any price is embraced most fulsomely on his seaborne return from Troy – nothing matters beyond the tumultuous journey and the unyielding spirit. A similar revulsion to the blandishments of the status quo animates Virginia in G. E. Trevelyan’s forgotten novel of catastrophically misplaced ambition and cultural recalcitrance, and there is some irony in the fact of…

Poetry And The Addicted Serial Submitter

Back in 1967, the Milk Marketing Board ran a competition to promote their dairy products. Pictures had to be sent from entrants depicting the wholesome quality of milk, cheese and/or eggs. My dad, a milkman working for the Co-operative, brought an entry form home and at six years old, I set about producing my own masterpiece. In the end, I drew a picture of him going to work on a motorised egg underneath the borrowed heading ‘Go To Work On

An Interview With Heather Child: Author Of Everything About You And The Undoing Of Arlo Knott

In her debut novel, Everything About You, Heather Child writes about new technologies in a way that both celebrates their creation, but also warns about the potential dangers they may hold for our privacy, data security and even our free will: “It’s said that science is about understanding the world, while technology is about changing it. Since we are increasingly becoming supervisors in our own lives, with smart devices second-guessing our every need, I think it’s worth keeping an eye…

Review: Earthlings By Sayaka Murata

I don't think I'd be alone if I said that on finishing Sayaka Murata's novel, Earthlings, I was left quite speechless. It is the kind of book that needs you to pause, take a step back and then decide upon a response. The themes it deals with are largely dark, some clearly exaggerated for the purposes of fiction, but nonetheless relevant to the modern world. However, the approach does keep a distinct gap between reality and fiction, so the reader may…

Musical Motivation: Billy Reekie

Billy Reekie is a solo Scottish singer-songwriter, guitarist and musician who has enjoyed recent chart success with his first two singles “Don’t Come Around” and “Old Fashioned Way” . He has recently appeared on a major BBC TV show ‘Little Mix -The Search’ to great acclaim. His brand-new single “She” is out now. We caught up with him to find out what songs make him... Smile “Yeah 3x” By Chris Brown. I listened to this song every day before school.…

Review: The Hidden Hours By Sara Foster

It’s a long time since I romped through a book this quickly. Two sittings and only because bedtime came and went and I had to delay finishing it until I could sit up with a cup of tea in the morning. Sara Foster’s Hidden Hours is an exciting and engaging psychological thriller. To begin at the end with the powerful and heartfelt Afterword which, in part, explains the importance of books to the author who found them to be her salvation…

‘Fate Brings People Together No Matter How Far Apart They May Be’: We Are Animals By Tim Ewins

Fate is a concept indelibly ingrained into the human psyche, and one almost as mysterious as it is culturally pervasive. Carl Jung once said, ‘When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate’. Taking a more romantic and less clinically psychological stance on the topic, O. Henry said, ‘The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculatingly to meet and greet unknown fate’. Articulating his typically pragmatic approach, Marcus Aurelius tells us, ‘Accept the things to which…

Sam Mills: The Caring Art - An Interview With Liam Bishop

The writer and publisher, Sam Mills, swipes through pictures on her phone. "Look, here’s my dad playing crazy golf when we went to Littlehampton recently. It’s slightly surreal because he always wears his suit." Wearing his suit and a medical facemask while holding a putter is a surreal, sweet image of a man I feel like I’ve gotten to know through her memoirs, The Fragments of my Father: A Memoir of Madness, Love and Being a Carer (4th Estate). Mills is no…

Poem Of The Week: 'Snowdrop' By Ted Hughes

Snowdrop Now is the globe shrunk tight Round the mouse’s dulled wintering heart. Weasel and crow, as if moulded in brass, Move through an outer darkness Not in their right minds, With the other deaths. She, too, pursues her ends, Brutal as the stars of this month, Her pale head heavy as metal. The weather, for the arse end of November, might be a mizzly occlusion wrapped in a blanket of indifference, but there is a promise of something colder and more seasonally apt coming in over the hills.…

'When You Divide Death By Life You Find A Circle': Apeirogon, A Novel By Colum Mccann

Apeirogon is the name given to a shape with a countably infinite number of sides and this title reflects a strong current that ripples through this outstanding novel – that is, there are innumerable perspectives to every story. It is quite unlike anything I have read before, not only for its subject matter, but in how it is constructed, how it flows. For me, it is not a story with a definite starting point progressing to a defined ending, instead…

Musical Motivation: Taurie

Taurie is a multi-faceted, multi-talented star in the making. She embodies the diverse beauty and traditions of her Nigerian Native American heritage which also enrich and influence her music which encompasses many genres including pop, R&B, Hip-Hop and more. Add to that her musical versatility, playing no less than five musical instruments – piano, keyboard, acoustic guitar, electric bass and ukulele, as well as being a consummate singer, song writer, producer, choreographer and dancer. Still only 23, Taurie displays the…

Review: Keepsake By Kayleigh Campbell

Kayleigh Campbell’s Keepsake is number 7 in the list of work published by those producers of wonderfully presented pamphlets based in Marsden, UK, Maytree Press. The editor, David Coldwell, wanted to establish a poetry press specialising in beautiful pamphlets and anthologies, combining poetry with art through the use of unique covers featuring original paintings. With Campbell’s collection, they have teamed up with West Yorkshire artist Caroline Brown, using ‘Reverie’, an ethereal figurative painting of a young woman seeking ‘space for…

'No Regrets': The Undoing of Arlo Knott by Heather Child

Readers may be familiar with Heather Child’s debut novel, Everything About You, which presciently perceived new technologies, their potential moral tenebrities, and rendered such abstruse concepts such as “hyperreality” accessible to the everyday reader. Child’s new fiction, The Undoing of Arlo Knott, tackles new moral territory and builds upon her recurring theme of conflicting realities. The concept and ethics investigated on this occasion are more philosophical in nature, with a gentle detour into the sphere of quantum physics. It…

Review: The Assassin’s Cloak – An Anthology Of The World’s Greatest Diarists Edited By Irene And Alan Taylor

Gwendoline in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest says, ‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something interesting to read on the train’. One imagines that fictitious diary would be nothing less than amusing, even if its author’s judgment is a tad blurred! Leading an interesting life or keenly observing the machinations of others as they lead theirs, can be wonderful material for a diary. Likewise the authentic ruminations, cogitations or whimsies of any individual…

'Thick Like Cream; Perfect Like An Egg': Beneath The Trees Of Eden By Tim Binding

How much wishful thinking is insinuated into fiction is a question perhaps best answered by others. But in the case of Tim Binding’s new novel – a long symbolic excursion through the arterial heartland of England – one infers an authorial projection into a visionary kind of escapism, which may or may not embody a rejection of the wild social and political wind we are presently reaping. Beginning in an England of the late sixties, Beneath the Trees of Eden filters…

Review: On Chesil Beach By Ian McEwan

July, 1962. Dorset, England. A young couple, very much in love, have just got married in the peak of an English summer. Following their wedding night dinner, they both struggle to suppress their private fears for the night to come, which ultimately ends with devastating consequences. Ian McEwan is a writer I had heard about, but I had little interest in picking up his books, until I saw that Saoirse Ronan stars in the film adaption of On Chesil Beach. As per my…

Review: Daisy Jones & The Six By Taylor Jenkins Reid

C’mon now, honey Let yourself think about it Can you really live without it? Whenever I read a book I always pick a favourite quote that either sums up the book for me or really resonates with me, this was my pick for Daisy Jones & The Six, taken from one of their songs mentioned in the book called, ‘This Could Get Ugly’. The novel is an oral history, almost written as biography. Although there is some inspiration taken from the band Fleetwood Mac,…

Goole Revisited: Diary Of A Wild Urban Child

As a child in the sixties, I lived and played down Jefferson Street in the Port of Goole. Home was handily placed for an unpaid job as ball boy with the town’s football team at The Pleasure Grounds. We could hear the busy railway lines that ran from Kingston Upon Hull to Doncaster (the same route travelled by Larkin on Whitsun Weddings) and I could see Goole’s water towers from my attic bedroom window, iconic buildings that still grace the…

Into the Light: Sheaf (Digital) Poetry Festival 2020

Preoccupation with the pandemic need not excuse the government’s apparent unwillingness to engage with the emerging crisis in the Arts. If we think we can ignore the problem – as some do, on grounds that plays, books and exhibitions do not make an appreciable difference to the way we live – I would encourage distracted onlookers to divert their gaze to the wasteland that in no time at all will fill the space where theatres throve until early March of…

Review: Call Me By Your Name By André Aciman

André Aciman is a writer of stellar reputation, most famous for Call Me By Your Name and its companion book, Find Me. A master wordsmith, Aciman is a peerless stylist when it comes to pin-pointing loving and difficult emotions and giving them life through emotionally complex characters. Whilst his methods and stories may be somewhat unconventional and strange at times, it is no secret that these stories nevertheless hit home for romantics and poets alike. The original story of Call Me By

Review: Impermanence By Colin Bancroft

In the doctrines of Buddhism we are told that existence is transient and unpredictable. In the cycle of life nothing lasts, everything decays, and because of this impermanence, attachments to things may cause suffering; which is a bit of a shame really, because Colin Bancroft’s collection of poems is a thing of loveliness and I’d quite like to hang onto it for a while longer. I fully expect my copy of number 20 in the Maytree Press list of publications…

Review: Wish By Katerina Neocleous

The debut collection of Katerina Neocleous, aptly titled Wish, would grant an afternoon of delight for anyone lucky enough to have a copy. The poetic skill of the author and the care with which she crafts each piece, weaving imagery through words that evoked a range of emotions in this reviewer, was impressive. From ‘Burr’ to ‘First Dreams’ the words held my attention throughout, each poem a delight, each line a joy to read as we witness how complications within…

Musical Motivation: Sola Rosa

Sola Rosa is the brainchild of New Zealand musician, Andrew Spraggon. Creating an evolving infusion of funk, beats, electronic, jazz and soul has been the 20-plus year labour of love for this Auckland-based solo artist, who has produced a wealth of recordings since launching as an experimental recording project in 1999. With a new album, Chasing The Sun, out now, we caught up with him to find out what songs make him... Smile Roy Ayers – Everybody Loves The Sunshine This song just…

Know Your Enemy: Living Better By Alastair Campbell

Strange that until today I thought of Alastair Campbell as the smarmy advisor to Tony Blair and I pictured him more in terms of how he was portrayed in the excellent film,The Queen, than in real life. I rightly assumed intelligence but hadn’t thought of him much since he left the limelight, and certainly never thought of him as an author. Yet, when I picked up his book Living Better I discovered he has, in fact, already penned eleven non-fiction works…

Poem Of The Week: 'Night Rain' By Edward Lucie-Smith

Night Rain The rain falls in strings, beads To be counted. It wears Out the night and the rock; All things succumb to it. I cannot tell if time Is being washed away, Or if this is time, made Tangible as water. My fever has returned, Like an icy river. In bed alone, I am Dissolving. Flesh becomes Like the wet sacks out there, Abandoned in the dark Of the garden, lapsing Slowly into the earth. Overwhelmed by the kind of deluge that soddens everything to the core, including mood, Edward Lucie-Smith’s finely-tuned poem renders tone as…

Shirley Bassey - I Owe It All To You

Aged 83 years young, Dame Shirley Bassey has today released her 37th studio album. Entitled I Owe It All To You, it is a love letter to her fans as she bows out of recording after a truly incredible career. The words icon and legend are attributed to the Welsh diva, but they are words that simply do not do credit to the magnitude of her status. She is beyond legendary, and the sheer depth and breadth of her work…

Ólafur Arnalds - Some Kind Of Peace

Thirteen years ago Ólafur Arnalds released his debut album, Eulogy for Evolution. The post-rock influenced neo-classical compositions set the multi-instrumentalist from Mosfellsbær, Iceland on a musical journey that has seen him grow into one of the most celebrated neo-classicists of our time. While he also dabbled with electro and dance, it is for his soothing soundscapes that he is the most widely hailed. Therefore, it is little surprise that his fifth solo album - Some Kind of Peace

Kylie Minogue - Disco

Kylie Minogue really doesn't need any introduction. The iconic Aussie pocket rocket first found a place in hearts around the world as the girl next door on Neighbours. But Charlene is now a misty memory, and the innovative songstress has reinvented her sound faultlessly over the 33 years since the release of her debut single, 'Locomotion'. Having explored Country-Pop on her truly brilliant 2018 album Golden, lockdown and the period just prior saw Kylie reconnect with the sounds that shaped…