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Claire Dyer’s poem ‘Raw Material’ is the winner of the 2022 SWWJ poetry prize

We are delighted to learn that Claire Dyer’s poem ‘Raw Material’ was the winner of the 2022 SWWJ poetry prize, announced on the 5th December at the society’s Christmas lunch event, where Claire was awarded the Elizabeth Longford Rose Bowl. A brilliant achievement!

The competition judge described ‘Raw Material’ as ‘A vivid expansive and aching poem with an unusual and striking command of language.’

We are the proud publisher of three of Claire Dyer’s poetry collections.

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New Poetry from Two Rivers Press, 2022 and 2023

Over the last decade Two Rivers Press has built a reputation for its high-quality poetry list of beautifully designed books with attractively various jackets. To celebrate this founding artistic aspect of our ethos, we have published an Illustrated Classics series of reissues: Tideway by Jane Draycott, Christina the Astonishing by Jane Draycott and Lesley Saunders, with artwork by our founder Peter Hay, and Peter Robinson’s English Nettles and Other Poems, illustrated by Sally Castle.

We are always delighted to publish first collections such as Katherine Meehan’s Dame Julie Andrews’s Botched Vocal Cord Surgery and Other Poems which explores loss in a range of oblique and wry modes. A number of poets are publishing their first Two Rivers Press book, such as Robin Thomas with his The Weather on the Moon, Alistair Noon, whose Paradise Takeaway is a travel poem about revisiting his family home in the UK, and Ruth O’Callaghan, whose Where Shadow Falls also has a distinctive leavening of wit and humour.

In James Peake’s second book, The Star in the Branches, and Kate Behrens’ fourth, Transitional Spaces, we find each extending the range of their warmly received previous collections. Other returning writers include This Thing of Blood & Love by Lesley Saunders, her fifth with us, Kate Noakes with her London-based poems and others in Goldhawk Road, Steven Matthews with his third collection, Some Other Where, his most wide ranging and searching to date, alongside Rosie Jackson’s passionate Love Leans over the Table. We’re also delighted to welcome the distinguished poet Tim Dooley to our list, publishing his latest collection Discoveries. Since releasing James Harpur’s The Examined Life in 2021, we have become his publisher and copies of his back catalogue (The White Silhouette, Oracle Bones, A Vision of Comets, Angels and Harvesters, and The Dark Age) are available to order through our website.

Continuing our support for translation, we feature Tim Dooley’s wonderful rendering of Philippe Jaccottet’s In Winter Light as well as a selection from the great Japanese poet Noriko Ibaragi, Your Own Sensitivity, which we hope to publish as translated by Andrew Houwen and Peter Robinson. And finally, to celebrate our poetry editor’s seventieth birthday in 2023, we publish Peter’s new collection, Retrieved Attachments. It is an enormous pleasure to be bringing out these beautiful and differently uplifting books, and we’re confident you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

2022
February: James Peake, The Star in the Branches & Lesley Saunders, This Thing of Blood & Love
April: Tim Dooley, Discoveries & Kate Behrens, Transitional Spaces
June: Jane Draycott and Lesley Saunders, Christina the Astonishing, Jane Draycott, Tideway & Peter Robinson, English Nettles and Other Poems
October: Robin Thomas, The Weather on the Moon & Philippe Jaccottet, In Winter Light trans. Tim Dooley

2023
February: Kate Noakes, Goldhawk Road & Peter Robinson, Retrieved Attachments
April: Steven Matthews, Some Other Where & Rosie Jackson, Love Leans over the Table
September: Alistair Noon, Paradise Takeaway & Ruth O’Callaghan, Where Shadow Falls
October: Katherine Meehan, Dame Julie Andrews’s Botched Vocal Cord Surgery and Other Poems & Noriko Ibaragi, Your Own Sensitivity: Selected Poems trans. Andrew Houwen and Peter Robinson

 

Further information about our poetry titles can be found on our poetry bookshop page here

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Poetry and Art: How an anecdote about Picasso led Conor Carville to write ‘Camouflage’

Poetry is often inspired by art, and poems inspire art in turn. This series of posts celebrates this special connection in the words of artists and poets who have been published by Two Rivers Press.

The germ of this sonnet came from an anecdote about Picasso. In 1939 he was walking in Paris in with Gertrude Stein when they saw a camouflaged truck for the first time, and were amazed by it visually. After it had passed Picasso is said to have turned to his friend and fellow modernist and said: ‘we did that’.

I suppose he saw some kind of relation between the flat fragmented forms of both his Cubism and her prose on the one hand, and the new techniques of war on the other. That got me going, and as I tried to describe the moment two other modernist paintings came to mind: Kasimir Malevich’s White Cross on a White ground, and le Douanier Rousseau’s ‘Tiger in a Tropical Storm’. Suddenly I had a poem!

Conor Carville, May 2022

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English Martyrs book coverConor Carville is a poet and critic from Armagh, N. Ireland. Camouflage appears in his collection English Martyrs, published by Two Rivers Press in 2019. He lives in South London with his wife and daughter.

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Poetry and Art: Tim Dooley on his poem ‘6 Panels’, written in response to Anni Albers’ artwork ‘Six Prayers’

Poetry is often inspired by art, and poems inspire art in turn. This series of posts celebrates this special connection in the words of artists and poets who have been published by Two Rivers Press.

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‘6 Panels’ was written in response to Anni Albers’ artwork ‘Six Prayers’, a textile commissioned by the Jewish Museum of New York as a holocaust memorial. This abstract pictorial weaving formed a central part of a major Albers exhibition at Tate Modern in the winter of 2018. I found the work very moving and returned to look at it on more than one occasion, before attempting to start a piece of writing suggested by it. My response was an attempt to use language in a partly pictorial way, interweaving various threads across the six columns of the poem so that its sections, while they could be read downwards vertically, would also resonate horizontally through associations or echoes. The threads I drew on were: notebook observations from the windows of the gallery directly behind the area where the work was exhibited; notes on the pattern and variations of the panels themselves; quotations from Albers on her work; materials used in the work, or colours associated with them; tools and materials necessary for survival and shelter in the wild (an Albers theme); prayers from a range of major religions; figures in solid geometry; mythical representations of the weaver. I don’t consider the resulting text as presenting any argument or underlying idea. It’s an attempt instead to create a harmonic structure out of disparate materials and a minor tribute to a major work.

Tim Dooley, May 2022

Discoveries Book Cover‘6 Panels’ appears in Tim Dooley’s new collection Discoveries, published April 2022.

Tim Dooley is a tutor for The Poetry School and a mentor for the prison charity, Koestler Arts. He was reviews and features editor of Poetry London between 2008 and 2018, a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster from 2016 to 2021 and a judge for the John Pollard International Poetry Competition at Trinity College Dublin in 2019 and 2020. He was previously a schoolteacher for many years. His poetry collections include the Poetry Book Society Recommendations: Tenderness (Smith Doorstop, 2003), Keeping Time (Salt, 2008), and Weemoed (Eyewear, 2017).

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Poetry and Art: Jenny Halstead writes about her monotype inspired by Oscar Wilde’s ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’

Poetry is often inspired by art, and poems inspire art in turn. This series of posts celebrates this special connection in the words of artists and poets who have been published by Two Rivers Press.

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An exhibition at Reading’s Turbine House in 2019 entitled In Reading Gaol by Reading Town, showcased artwork from Reading artists inspired by Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol. Jenny Halstead’s monotype is reproduced here, together with some creative context from the artist.

The Ballad was written after Oscar Wilde was released from a two-year sentence of hard labour, and was prompted principally by a hanging that had taken place in the Gaol during that time, which greatly affected both the poet and the other inmates.

My first thoughts turned to what the word ‘ballad’ typically suggested: a simple song, often with a memorable refrain conveying a moral, often expressed in combination with a mournful melody.

Monotype seemed the appropriate medium, given its immediacy as the product of a single pull without a printing press. My intention was to catch a precise moment on the stroke of eight, the victim alive one moment, dead the next, but the rope still swinging, with the horror of and end-of-life event set over against the haunting line: ‘nimble feet to dance upon the air’. The shapes on either side represent an inverted tent, ‘the little tent of blue that prisoners call the sky’. The whole conception is intended to look unrefined and brutal.

Jenny Halstead, February 2022

Jenny Halsteads artwork inspired by The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Jenny Halstead is a long-standing member of the Reading Guild of Artists and founder of the Whiteknights Studio Trail.

Also by Jenny Halstead: An Artist’s Year in the Harris Garden (2013), Silchester: Life on the Dig (2015, with Michael Fulford), The Art & History of Whiteknights (2020, Editor).

The Two Rivers Press edition of The Ballad of Reading Gaol is illustrated with imagery by Peter Hay.