All entries for January 2005

January 28, 2005


Writing about web page

The new edition of Avocado is now available featuring new poetry. prose and reviews. Features included are as follows:

*'An Irishman in Coventry'-John Hewitt in the West Midlands.

*Interview with Julie Boden

*Michael Hulse on Matt Nunn

*Poems by Merryn Williams, Andy Brown and Paul Groves

For more details follow the link above which will take you to the Heaventree website and catalogue.

January 06, 2005

Call for Submissions – Welsh Women Poets

Writing about web page

I am currently looking for submissions of poetry from Welsh women writers, which will be published by Honno, the Welsh women’s press. The anthology will be entitled Mother, Mentors and Models. The title directs you to the themes of the anthology. Remember that the mothers, mentors and models of the anthology needn’t necessarily be people. A book could be your mentor. A place could be your mother. An political or philosophical idea could be your model. There is a variety of possibilties to be exploited here.

Feminism and Poetry

Feminist critic Sally Minogue writes of Victorian women poets as figures that ‘many a contemporary woman writer might have cause to envy’, since ‘the lives of Dickinson and Barrett Browning recall the privileges of Wordsworth with his upstairs room and his landing door to the garden allowing him an exit without recourse to the domestic activities of the ground floor’. In the twenty first century, women poets no longer retain any privileged status; instead women have more and more demands on their time, identities and bodies, while poetry itself has become a diminished form.

Hal Niedzviecki presents the problem of poetry with inevitable bluntness: ‘Can anyone say anything unique and new?’. He answers his own question frankly: ‘[…] of course not, these poets tell us, fusing their deadpan irony with a smoldering rage and a shrugged frustration’. Niedzviecki’s account visualizes the great poets of the past towering over contemporary writers much in the fashion of Bloom’s ‘The Anxiety of Influence’. Gilbert and Gubar have applied Bloom’s theory to female writers in ‘The Infection in the Sentence’:

We must begin by redefining Bloom’s seminal definitions of revisionary “anxiety of influence”. In doing so, we will have to trace the difficult paths by which nineteenth century women overcame their “anxiety of authorship”, repudiated patriarchal prescription and recovered or remembered their lost foremothers who could help them find their distinctive female power.

Women poets must trace the tactics of their precursors in order to face the omnipotence of the male literary tradition. Trihn T. Mihn Ha’s anxiety over the prejudice of the literary establishment in Woman,Native,Other seems very relevant; she suggests that ‘imputing race or sex to the creative act has long been a means by which the literary establishment cheapens and discredits the achievements of non-mainstream women writers'. This is proven to some extent by the choice of poet laureate; this public symbol remains a distant figure – the archetypal white, male poet writing to ‘address occasions squarely’, to discover ‘a kind of intelligence’.

Feminism has been vital in the support of women’s writing and the woman poet. In ‘Towards a Feminist Poetics’, Elaine Showalter suggests that feminist literary criticism is divided between feminist critique and gynocritics. The former is a movement that examines women’s literary history and that has been responsible for retaining forgotten texts, reprinting books by women who had fallen into relative oblivion. The latter is concerned with women writing now and it has been essential in the creation of a space for women to write from when society has been steeped in what Showalter calls 'myths of male primacy in theological, artistic and scientific creativity’. Showalter suggests that while the male writer has been associated with the figures of ‘priest, prophet, warrior, legislator or emperor’, women writers have been thought of in terms of Claudine Hermann’s phrase, voleuses de langue, thieves of language. Trihn T. Mihn-Ha wryly examines the male fear that ‘a learned woman robs man of his creativity, his activity, his culture, his language’.

Feminism strives against the anxiety and guilt that weighs so heavily on women writers, but in Is the Future Female?, Lynne Segal highlights that feminism is divided into two increasingly separate projects:

The first is one which stresses the basic differences between women and men, and asserts the moral and spiritual superiority of female experience The second project is one which stresses the social and economic disadvantages of women and seeks to change and improve women’s immediate situation.

January 05, 2005

The Heaventree Press

Writing about web page

HEAVENTREE is a new poetry press that already shows immense promise. ~The Guardian

The Heaventree Press, Winner of the Raymond Williams Prize for Community Publishing 2004 is a not-for-profit West Midlands based independent publisher, specialising in anthologies and pamphlets of new literature. Set up by local young poets as a community venture, Heaventree is dedicated to promoting arts in coventry and the surrounding area.


Heaventree began germinating in April 2002, after a conference at the University of Warwick called “The Crisis in Poetry Publishing.”
The ‘crisis,’ a word some of the debaters did not feel appropriate, was in poetry sales for new or unestablished writers. Most of these writers are published by small presses with low budgets for marketing. Sales were bad, many publishing houses relied on Arts Council funding for a few years, before disappearing. Poetry is unprofitable, but that's not a shock to anyone.

Poetry is everywhere. There are hundreds of magazines, events, many national and some international festivals, workshops all over the country and thousands of books of poetry coming out every year. But the flood of poetry has made it hard for commercial publishers to make a living out of poetry.

The backlash is that major publishing houses have closed off their lists to poetry, especially new poetry. Most major houses who continue to publish poets stick to the established names, effectively creating an elite core who will make it onto the shelves in major bookstores, while excluding others.

Meanwhile, the specialist poetry audience has slowly expanded as new readers come to love poetry, but the number of people who might read poetry occasionally, just for pleasure, has been dwindling. Is it a lack of media coverage, marketing finances, or similar business slang? Is it that poetry is all a waste of time? The Crisis debate did not provide an answer. They left that to the audience.

So why, in this apparently hostile climate, did we start a poetry press dedicated to new writing? Simple: if sales are falling, it doesn’t mean people no longer want poetry. It means they are not being given the poetry they want. Why should they pay more for poetry because commercial publishers want to make a profit?

Our solution is to give the poetry to the public, where we can, for as little as possible. We are doing our best to produce books and magazines at an affordable price, drawing in funding and subsidies. Where we do make some profit, we will channel the money back into providing more poetry, art, literature and music for Coventry and the West Midlands.


In December 2002 we received an initial start-up grant from The Prince’s Trust for our magazine, avocado , now a regular commercial product. The first issue came out in February 2003. Our first anthology, Phoenix New Writing, was published in July 2003, funded by The Phoenix Initiative, Coventry Council’s regeneration project. It has since won the Raymond Williams Community Publishing Prize for the excellence of its contents and production.

Other recent publications are Saffron Tea, an anthology of British South Asian poetry; Jungle, a short piece of fiction by David Dabydeen; Half Life: poems for Chernobyl by Mario Petrucci; I Have Crossed An Ocean, an anthology of international writing from the Coventry area; and the first volumes in a series of new poetry pamphlets. More details about the books are available on other parts of the website.

We have other projects lined up, or in progress, including working with the refugee communities in Coventry; piloting a series of creative writing workshops for local young people that will fuse poetry, music, animations and performance; organising a new Black Poetry Festival in the city. Again, please surf the website for more details on these and other projects.

We also run a regular open mic night at The Tin Angel café, Spon Street, in Coventry, on the first Tuesday of every month. It’s a good place to come and meet us and find out more about what we do. Bring your short stories, poetry, a guitar and a song, even a short stand-up routine, to share as well.


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