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NEW RELEASESSPARKSby Norah Hanson (Valley Press)INCARNATIONby Clare Pollard (Bloodaxe)SANTIAGOby Cheryl Follon (Bloodaxe)THE INSOMNIA POEMSby Grace Nichols (Bloodaxe)STRANGER, BABYby Emily Berry (Faber)TODAY THE BIRDS WILL SINGby Helen Burke (Valley Press)BASIC NEST ARCHITECTUREby Polly Atkin (Seren)HEAT SIGNATUREby Siobhán Campbell (Seren)ARTICLES OF WARby Marilyn Longstaff (Smokestack)LIBERTIESby Victoria Bean (Smokestack)LITTLE BLUE HUTby Nancy Charley (Smokestack)Void Studies by Rachael Boast (Picador)‘Needing to get under the skin of things is what engages me.’GOLD MEDAL County Durham-based poet Gillian Allnutt – a mslexia favourite who has performed at our events – is to receive the 2017 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Allnutt was recommended by the Poetry Medal Committee on the basis of her body of work, which includes collections Nantucket and the Angel, and Lintel, both of which were nominated for the T S Eliot Prize. Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy said of Allnutt: ‘Inher outlook, her imagination, her concerns and her lyric voiceshe is unique’. The Medal was created by King George V in 1933 and previous recipients have included Liz Lochhead, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin.MICHAEL MARKS Indie publisher the Emma Press has won the 2016 Michael Marks’ Publisher Award. The press has been shortlisted in previous years, and the win is recognition of its steady growth. The award judges called Emma Press ‘vibrant’ and ‘thoughtful’, and said it brings ‘a great energy and sense of endeavour’ to its work, which includes 33 poetry books, and another 17 due out this year. Emma Wright, the eponymous editor, said, ‘We are quite beside ourselves with joy.’ At the award ceremony, Wright took the opportunity to address diversity in publishing in her acceptance speech, saying that she started the press in part because she was ‘tired of waiting for otherwomen of colour to rise up the ranks and show me that it was possible... I quit my job and decided to be part of the change.’MYSTERY POEMS A number of hair salons in the Isle of Wight have received a cheering handwritten poem that starts ‘My best friend the robin / sings to me each day’. The poem is signed by Mark Jones (or M Jones, or Composer Mark Jones), and postmarked Lancashire. The mysterious poet has apparently been sending his poetry to different businesses around the UK (primarily hair salons) for the past couple of years – a lovely way to spread a bit of happiness.FINALLY We’re pleased to announce that 2012 mslexia Poetry Pamphlet winner Polly Atkin’s first full collection,Basic Nest Architecture is out now, published by mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Prize publisher Seren.‘concept album’ to some. It does rely on giving up much of what you expect of poetry. To getthe most from this work, you need to give yourself up to the subconscious. Or, as Boast puts it in ‘Found poem’, ‘Better to try your luck at being lost’. ❐HOW I DID ITOn beginnings: simply put, the crucible was about to break unless I did something with the contents; poetry was the flame placed underneath that crucible.On subject matter: poetry as an act of empathy – looking and looking until there’s an elementof becoming the thing lookedat. It’s not, therefore, the subject matter that’s significant but how it’s perceived and rendered.On engagement: you could say that empathy is the opposite of narcissism: the narcissist staresat himself, or herself, in a mirror; the poet goes through the mirror, Cocteau-style. Needing to get under the skin of things is what engages me.On craft challenge: whilst it’s impossible to eschew ‘self- expression’ altogether, I‘m gladto minimalise its claim on the work. Writing poetry can teach me how to put myself in the place of the other, whether that other is a person, an animal, a landscape, leaf-fall, river or weather. RACHAEL BOASTWHAT'S NEWPOETRYPOETRY REVIEW‘The book is merely a cover. Inside it the slow work of love’Review and interview by ALEX PRYCE 72 Mar/Apr/May 2017 mslexiaPoets from Pan Macmillan’s Picador imprint made up five of the ten collections on the 2016 T S Eliot Prize shortlist – including the winner Jacob Polley. The shortlist included several women poets, including Bristol-based Rachael Boast, who faced competition from 2016 Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo and previous Eliot Prize winner Alice Oswald.Void Studies is Suffolk-native Boast’s third collection. It isan accomplished follow up to Sidereal (2011) and Pilgrim’s Flower (2013). The ambition is to realise Arthur Rimbaud’s idea for études néantes – studies of nothing.As such, the poems convey no message, and hum with their meditative, almost surrealist, abstraction and their ‘slow work’. But even in their nothingness there are elements that flit between the studies. The colour of time permeates, doors recuras a frame, and rivers reflect and distort in the actual and mind’s eye.Boast prefers the unrhymed couplet. Often the lines run across each other, so each poem feels like the very form of the moment. There is something immediate in these instances, such as ‘Hiding your face in my neck / and hiding your hands in my hair // hiding your lips on my lips / to stop the words before I speak’.The highlight is the impressive 11-sonnet sequence ‘Poems of the lost poem’. It marks a decisive turn towards a more direct address throughout, as in ‘So: you would like to be the swallow / that comes to my window, watching me / talking around the edge of what I mean’.There is much musicality here along with a distinctive ‘sound’. In its relentless pursuit of Rimbaud’s task, the collection might come across as a divisive

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