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Christopher Meredith is a novelist and poet from Wales. Though he works mainly in English, one of his books for children is in Welsh and he also translates from Welsh into English. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of Glamorgan. His most recent collection of poems is The Meaning of Flight (Seren) and he has just completed a new novel, The Book of Idiots, which will be published in 2012. He is also involved with five artists in the project "Bog-Mawnog", responding to fire damage on a mountaintop in the Black Mountains in Powys. A booklet of Meredith's poems, Black Mountains, with images from the artists is being produced by Mulfran and there will also be an exhibition about the project in Brecknock Museum, 16th July to late September.

Toy Revolver

He loves its pointed symmetry
the lazy, opened hook of trigger
stock shaped to the palm
like a lover's hip,
opens it like unstoppering a flask
of magic that might spill.

He holds the chamber,
sectioned like fruit, close
to see each scoop and groove
each empty socket in the disc,
counts with a fingertip
six spaces for the dark seeds.

Interview and more poems behind cut )

Links to other poems and information

Breaking Wood - Christopher Meredith reading his own poem on YouTube.
What flight meant - a poem of Chris's featured on Jo Preston's writing blog.
Christopher Meredith's website
Seren, Christopher Meredith's publisher
Christopher Meredith's page on the Contemporary Writers website
A Woollen Line - the blog of Pip Woolf, who is involved with Meredith in the Bog-Mawnog project.
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Mike Thomas is a serving police officer in Cardiff. His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by Heinemann in 2010. It tells the dark but often comic story of Jacob Smith, a troubled and unorthodox policeman who uses his police notebook for the unauthorised purpose of chronicling his spiralling breakdown. Pocket Notebook was named one of the nine ‘Hot Books’ to watch out for at the 2009 London Book Fair and was on the 2010 Wales Book of the Year Long List.

In this excerpt, Jake has been suspended, and has no business being on patrol. But he goes anyway, into streets which he no longer sees in quite the same way as anyone else...

"What you've done here is just the start," I say, moving closer. "It's just a few small steps to a life of crime, boy. Possibly worse. You could end up as a threat to the security of the country. It's lucky I got to you so quickly. To nip it in the bud."
       "It's just spraying a wall..." one of them mutters, eyeing me with an odd expression.
       "Right", I say. "You've asked for it." I whip out the old Fixed Penalties, ask their names, addresses, dates of birth. The boxes of the pro forma aren't big enough for all the details but I write them down anyway. Fill in three of them as best I can, flip the top copy off each, hand one to each of the artistes.
       "What's this for?" Carrier Bag asks, looking at the chitty with a mystified expression.
       "A fine," I tell them. "For criminal damage."
       "But it's a parking ticket," he says, wrinkling his nose.
       "Don't be clever with me!" I yell, then clench my jaw as they look at each other; look at me. Start giggling. Cheeky little bastards.
       "Come on," Carrier Bag says to his chums. "Let's chip. This dude's a freak."
       My fingers toy with the mouse gun through the fabric of my cargos. I feel the muzzle, the trigger guard. The handle with its magazine of nine-millie bullets. "Laugh all you want, boys," I tell them as they shuffle towards the main drag. "You won't be laughing when you've got to find eighty quid each for those fines, yeah? Ha! Yeah? Are you listening to me?"
       They disappear around the corner. I hear screams of laughter. [...] Another small incident taken care of for the greater good. I pull out my cigar tin, select the half-smoked reefer, light it and take a long drag. I hold my breath, lean against the wall. Exhale. Nice. Very, very nice. Just chill and smoke and work out what you need to do next, Jake. I finish the spliff, stumble out of the alleyway.
       My face hurts and it takes a minute for me to realise I'm grinning uncontrollably. I really can't relax my cheeks or lips. Not to worry. Adds to the agreeable air. The smiling, helpful policeman. I nod at a couple more pensioners. Wave back at a bus full of primary school children, forget to stop waving even after the bus has driven off and it's just me shuffling down the street with my arm in the air.

Interview and links behind cut )

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Paul Henry is one of Wales’s leading poets. The author of five collections of verse, he has read at festivals across the UK and Europe, and also in India. Originally a songwriter, Henry has guest-edited Poetry Wales and is a popular Creative Writing tutor. He recently presented the 'Inspired' series of arts programmes for BBC Radio Wales. His Selected Poems, The Brittle Sea, was published by Seren in 2010.

Dodging the Waves

The gap between the railings was thirty-five years.
The boy's ghost held on as the high tide raged
and the girl beside him laughed when she too got drenched.
"Who turned all the fairy lights blue?" "Who cares?"

The sea slid back down its pebbly stairs.
"Here comes a big one! Don't let go!" "Never!
I'll never let go!"

                                And both held on to the white bar
before both let go, their laughter caught inside the wave.

Interview and more poems behind cut )
Links to other poems and information

Paul Henry's website There are several more poems online here.
Paul reading "Daylight Robbery" and "The Black Guitar" on YouTube
Seren, publisher of The Brittle Sea
A review of The Brittle Sea from this blog
A previous discussion of Henry's long poem "Penllain" on this blog

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Frank Dullaghan's collection On the Back of the Wind was published by Cinnamon in 2008 and is soon to be republished in an Italian translation. Frank, born in Dundalk, currently lives and works in Dubai and is working on another collection.

I pass hooded doorways, the opening mouth of the alley,
a slab of a wall with its back against the sky (the sky
with its fierce eyes). Here are passing places, portals,
touch-points, gaps in hedge or banked earth where the force
of the night is heavy.
                                        It is here I come on my father,
leaning over the wall of a bridge. I know him by the sweet smell
of his pipe, the smoke that softens the air between us.
He is listening, it seems, to the slap of the water
as if for some message, some resolution.
                                        He knows I am here but he says nothing,
keeps his back turned, as if to face me might change too much.

Interview, more poems and links behind cut )
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Geraldine Paine's collection The Go-Away Bird is available from the publisher, Lapwing Press of Belfast, at and I reviewed it here.  It contains her sequence "Leaden Hearts" , partly-found poems derived from convict tokens - these men and women, leaving their homes and families for transportation to the other side of the world, left tokens with last messages for loved ones:

There could be no flowers,
no grave, just this voice
left behind, barely heard.
Did he guess
family shame
would gouge out his name?
                                                       this you
                                                       see remember
                                                       me and bear me
                                                       in your mind Let
                                                       all the world say
                                                       what they whill
                                                       Don't prove To
                                                       me un kind

Interview and more poems behind cut )
Links to more poems and information

Geraldine's page on the PoetryPF site - some poems and biographical information.

Amazon UK's page for The Go-Away Bird

The Basil Bunting Poetry Award - here you can listen to Geraldine's commended poem "The Creek"

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Victor Tapner lives in Essex and is a freelance writer, having previously worked as a journalist on the Financial Times. He has published poems in many magazines and anthologies, and had success in several competitions – his poem Kalashnikov won the Cardiff International Poetry Competition in 2000. His first collection, Flatlands, has just been published by Salt and you can read more about it here

In one of my other interviews, the poet Paul Yandle spoke of how an early poem of Victor's, "Coffee Shop" had influenced him - "how delicate and beautiful it was, how the lines were perfectly weighted and balanced on top of the next and how such small details were made to become vibrant and massively affecting". Here's the poem:

Coffee Shop

Most evenings
he comes in
about this time.

an intelligent paper.

A seat
by the window,
facing in.

Jeans, jumper
and black brogues.
I like those.

I wipe the table,
sometimes twice.
When I lean over

with his cup
my apron tightens,
just a touch.

Most evenings
he comes in
about this time.

I always think
he won't.
And then he does.

More poems and interview )

Links to other poems

Victor Tapner's website

The Flatlands page on Salt's site.

Thames Idol, a poem from Flatlands, on the Essex Poetry Festival site.

Elizabeth Blackwell's Five Hundred Cuts, a third prizewinner in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, on the Academi website.
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Jim Mainland lives in Nibon, Shetland, and is a teacher. His collection of poems A Package of Measures was published by Pieces of Eight in 2000; he has also had work in many magazines and anthologies.

When Shetland Arts ran a project called Bards in the Bog, putting poems in public toilets to attract the world's most captive audience, Jim contributed this poem:


Watch this, watch my hands, look in my eyes:
this is viral, this is fiending, this is Celebrity Smash Your Face In,
I'm spooling tissue from an ear, I'm sawing her in half, no, really,
I'm vanishing your dosh, I'm giving it makeover, giving it bonus,
palming it, see, nothing in the box, check out
your divorce hell text tease sex tape, whoops,
gimme a tenner gimme your valuables this is a hammer this is an explosive
see the cleverdazzle off the mirrorgleam, moat me that you peasant!
over here, here, oy you, break-up Britain, toff off! watch this instead,
it's my way, it's bodies out of the hat, watch out, that's had your legs off,
this is brainsmear this is scorcher this is dying doing the job you loved this is
pure dead victim.
interview and more poems here )
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Paul Yandle was born in Caerphilly in 1982 and grew up in the small ex-mining village of Abertridwr. He studied Creative and Professional Writing at the University of Glamorgan, graduated with a First in 2005 and gained an MPhil in 2010 – the research element consisted of a dissertation called "Adventures in Imaginative Travel: A Study of Movement and Manoeuvres in the Poetry of Billy Collins". His poems have been published in The North, Iota, Envoi and Poetry Wales and he also has work in the competition prize-winners' anthology Out of Love (Leaf Books 2006). He works in a video store and is training to be a teacher.

Paul's website is here and you can find several of his poems there. His poem "Aging", published in Iota no 75 (2006), is here

interview and poems here )
sheenaghpugh: (Anthony Gormley's Another Place)
It's a prose writer this time, or mainly so, though her luminous, lyrical prose makes many poets look prosy to me. Ruth Lacey was born in 1962 in Sydney where she grew up. She earned her law degree from the University of Melbourne, and an M.Phil in writing from the University of Glamorgan in Wales, in 2006. For the last two decades, Ruth has been living in a small kibbutz in the Galilee region of Israel, and has worked as a legal adviser, community manager, freelance journalist, magazine editor and copywriter. Her short stories have been published in literary journals in the US, UK, Australia and Israel, including The Best of Carve Anthology, Voyage, Arc, Overland, and Verbsap. Ruth has just completed a new novel, and is working on a new story collection.
Interview, poem, short story and link to another story here )
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I'm hoping to do a series of interviews with writers, chosen for no better reason than that I like them, and this is the first.

After 15 years in the financial markets, Rosie Shepperd studied Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London, and is currently working on an MPhil in Poetry at the University of Glamorgan. She has had poems published in magazines such as Magma and The Rialto and won the 2007 Writer's Inc. Bursary. She also made the shortlist for the Manchester Poetry Prize with the poems online here

What I love about her poems is their exuberant playing with words and space, their way of using humour to say something dead serious, and their capacity to surprise, using umpteen voices while somehow always sounding like Rosie. If I had to choose one word to describe her voice, it would be the 19th-century coinage "slantendicular" - not just quirky but somehow subverting the norm, so that the aslant becomes the perpendicular.

interview and poems )


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