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Opera di Cera launch

Valley Press

Valley Press

Join us for the launch of Opera di Cera!

8th April, 7pm

The Horseshoe, Clerkenwell Close.

Click here for more information as well as the book.

Pocket Horizon, Valley Press.

Pocket Horizon, Valley Press.

Join us at the Cambridge Science Festival on Thursday, 20 March for a lively panel discussion with authors whose work involves equal portions of art and science.

How has scientific inquiry lead to literary works? Why is the literary presentation of science relevant to scientists and society?

A panel including Chris Beckett, Dave Clements, Laura Dietz, and Kelley Swain will skirt the ‘inspiring science!’ cliche to ask illuminating questions, including why scientists and historians who can communicate in any genre, and artists who can draw on any inspiration, choose to structure their work at the intersection of these fields.

The panel will be led by Dr. John Holmes, Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science.

The organisers thank the British Society for Literature and Science for its generous grant in support of the event.

Valley Press

Published by Valley Press

This title both is and is not what it sounds like – but who can resist such a thing?

I’ve been invited to present a 15-minute talk about creating my verse drama, Opera di Cera, at the Oxford-Globe Forum for Medicine and Drama in Practice, the theme of which, this year, is ‘Amputation and Body Parts’.

This is indeed very exciting, and also, hopefully a step in the right direction towards the possibility of Opera di Cera onstage.

The newly-opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe would be the best possible setting. Candlelight; waxworks; poems about candles and wax…and body parts…after all, I’d like to hold a performance in La Specola itself, but it would make for rather pricey tickets.

Opera di Cera is going to be published by Valley Press in the next few weeks!

You can already order it here.

Watch this space for news about the book launch: all welcome.

February with Venus



Join us at the Museum of London on Valentine’s Day to indulge in this ‘City of Seduction’, including poetry readings – sexy, sultry, stimulating…come find out…

If that isn’t enough of a night with Venus, and you’d like to explore her darker side, come to Bart’s Pathology Museum on 20th Feb. Anna Maerker will give a talk on the wax models of La Specola, Florence, and I will read from Opera di Cera.

It’s been an exciting month, with the pleasure of editing my two forthcoming poetry books: Opera di Cera is due out with Valley Press in Feb, and Atlantic is due out with Cinnamon Press in May. The anticipation of waiting for these books is delicious.

It was a special delight to receive a collection of bookmarks from the artist herself for my birthday – Badaude’s ‘Readwomen2014′ concept that has been a worldwide success – as well it should! It’s an honour to be included on the list.

As my creative writing tutor used to say, ‘Go forth, and write!’ – Or read…

January & Feburary 2014


In the London Science Museum. Photo by Marcos Avlonitis.

Happy New Year! I’m delighted to say it’s looking to be the busiest publishing year I’ve ever enjoyed, due several books being scheduled for 2014. There will be plenty on this blog about all of them in the coming months, so I’d like to mention several events which are happening soon. It would be great to see you there!


Pocket Horizon, our small poetry anthology of poems and artwork on the history of science and medicine, launched successfully in autumn 2013. We’re rolling out several events around the book this year, starting with an evening at Made in Greenwich art gallery.
There will be readings from all of the poets, as well as a Q & A with our artist, Cassie Herschel-Shorland. It promises to be a full and lively evening, with a musical piece, based on PH, being debuted, and guest poets contributing their own science-inspired poems.
The event is Wed 29 Jan, 7:30pm start: Tickets £5.
You can buy the anthology here:
My verse drama, Opera di Cera, a tale about anatomical wax models, is due to be published by Valley Press in the next few weeks!
It has been selected a Top Choice by Inpress Books: 
I’ll be reading from the Opera at Bart’s Pathology Museum in Feb.
Dr Anna Maerker, medical historian and advisor on the project, will be speaking about the history of the wax Venus.
The event is Thurs, 20 Feb, 18:30 – 21:00. Tickets £7.
I’m currently working with The Mustard Club to produce a project for radio based on Opera di Cera.
On 14 Feb I will be one of several poets reading romantic and/or salacious poems at the Museum of London’s Valentine’s Extravaganza.
The whole evening is £10 and runs from 7 – 10pm.
I hope to see you at some events, and thank you for reading!

Valley Press Tour


A tech-savvy reading off of Jamie’s smartphone from the proofs of ‘Opera di Cera’.

The formidable Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher, is currently in the middle of his Valley Press Tour, celebrating the publication of (nearly!) 50 books in 5 years. It’s truly an honour for Pocket Horizon to be part of this prestigious list, and I’m delighted that Opera di Cera will follow swiftly on the heels of these 50 books.

If you’re wondering what to get anyone for Christmas, by the way, the perfect gift is our small and beautifully formed anthology of science poetry and art, Pocket Horizon, which has an introduction by award-winning poet Don Paterson.

It was a delight to help kick off Jamie’s tour at the first date in London, where I had the pleasure of reading alongside VP poets Richard Barnett (Pocket Horizon) and Jo Brandon (Phobia) and Emma Press poets John Stone, Jacqueline Saphra, (both contributors to the Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse) and Rachel Piercey (The Flower and the Plough).


Richard reading from ‘Pocket Horizon’.

The Emma Press and Valley Press are ‘engaged’  in a creative, clever meeting of presses – they are sharing publicity, and selling each other’s books (though the respective publishers clarify that despite being friends and business partners, they are not, in fact, engaged in person)!

Marcos Avlonitis, who made the remarkable cover photography for Pocket Horizon was also present at the VP Tour date in London and has furnished us with some more brilliant photos – thank you, Marcos!


Kelley, Jo, Richard, Jamie, Emma, Jon, Rachel, Jacqueline.

Simon Barraclough reading from Neptune Blue.

Simon Barraclough reading from Neptune Blue.

Thank you to all who joined us for Wednesday night’s Science Museum ‘Lates,’ where we enjoyed a brilliant evening of science-inspired poetry in the Museum’s Science in the 18th Century Gallery.

Katie Maggs, our essential curator and contact at the Museum, said they have never had so many people through that gallery on a ‘Lates’ night as we did on Wednesday.

We held the reading at the far end of the Gallery, which has a marvellous mural on one wall of ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump‘ by Joseph Wright of Derby, a famous 18th-century painting which is used on many book covers and in many references to the ‘Age of Wonder’ (about which author Richard Holmes writes so well).

Richard Barnett reading from Pocket Horizon.

Richard Barnett reading from Pocket Horizon.

Simon Barraclough started us off with a fantastic reading from his ‘Planet Suite’ out of his book, Neptune Blue. He also told us about his next project, Sun Spots, which he’ll be working on in the coming year. Neptune Blue was published by Salt in 2011 and was just re-released in hardback this September.

We then had two readings of poems from Pocket Horizon, which is out now with Valley Press. It was a pleasure to have all of the contributors there, including our artist, Cassie, as well as Katie Maggs and her colleagues helping to show objects including an orrery, a canopic jar, and an artificial limb from the Science Museum’s collections.

So, how did Pocket Horizon come to be? A little bit of recent history may help set the scene:

This link is to Don Paterson reading his poem, ‘A Pocket Horizon,’ which he wrote for the Cambridge ‘Thresholds’ project.

Lorraine Mariner reading from Pocket Horizon.

Lorraine Mariner reading from Pocket Horizon.

The story of Don’s poem, and our anthology, is one that runs in parallel, or perhaps one might say it turns in a ‘widening gyre,’ and is down to a combination of serendipity and observation.


When I had the opportunity to meet Don and discuss our collaboration towards what would become Pocket Horizon (the anthology,) we met at the Whipple Museum, where we were given a ‘grand tour’ – as Don had never been to the Museum before. He knew that part of his ‘Thresholds’ residency required him to write a poem. I noticed that he was very keen on a particular object – the pocket horizon.

Eventually, we held the Masterclass workshop with Don and the contributing poets, all of whom are now published in Pocket Horizon.

When it came down to choose the title of the book, as Editor, I thought the name ‘pocket horizon’ would work well – it’s full of mystery, it lends itself to metaphor and poetical interpretation, and

- I thought Don might like it.

Dominic McLaughlin reading from Pocket Horizon.

Dominic McLaughlin reading from Pocket Horizon.

When he replied to my news that Valley Press would be publishing our book, it was with delight and surprise – he said he was writing about the pocket horizon, too!

(Gee, what do you know, I said…)

Though his poem is not part of our book (belonging to the Thresholds project, and our anthology being separate from that project,) I feel it completes the circle, as it were. And, frankly, it is a stunning poem. (It sounds to me as if it was recorded in the Whipple, too.)

So, thanks again, Don, for your generous introduction to our Pocket Horizon, for hosting our Masterclass back in January, and for writing your own poem, ‘A Pocket Horizon’.

Thanks to our contributors who read, including Sarah Westcott, Mick Delap, Lorraine Mariner, Malene Engelund, Dominic McLoughlin, and Richard Barnett -

Who also produced a brilliant podcast of all of the poets reading a selection of poems from PH, which you can listen to here.

Malene Engelund reading from Pocket Horizon.

Malene Engelund reading from Pocket Horizon.

And utmost thanks to our publisher, Jamie McGarry, who stayed on for the whole evening to sell our books, which he made sure are beautiful.

If you didn’t make it to the Museum, we’re planning more readings and events for 2014, including a poetry-reading-and-art-gallery-collaboration in Greenwich in January – so watch this space…

Sarah Westcott reading from Pocket Horizon.

Sarah Westcott reading from Pocket Horizon.

Mick Delap reading from Pocket Horizon.

Mick Delap reading from Pocket Horizon.

Sick City Talks 9 – ‘Pocket Horizon’.

I’m thrilled to announce that a poetry anthology I’ve edited, Pocket Horizon, published this month by Valley Press, will make its debut at the ‘Science Museum Lates‘ this coming Wednesday, 30th October. It’s a free event!

We’ll be holding three 30-minute slots with a poetry reading and object viewing in each. The first slot (19:30 – 20:00) will showcase Simon Barraclough, whose lovely book, Neptune Blue, engages with the planets. The second two readings (20:15 – 20:45, and 21:00 – 21:30) will feature the contributors of Pocket Horizon. Books and drinks will be available all evening.

Whether or not we have the pleasure of seeing you at the event, please do follow the link at the top to listen to a wonderful, 19-minute podcast featuring the poems, produced by, and thanks to, Dr Richard Barnett.

Finally, get ahold of the book here.

‘Neptune in your Pocket’

POCK cover 4 (final)A talented group of poets are pleased to take part in Science Museum Lates next Wednesday, 30th October, for the free, ‘Space’-themed evening.

Join Simon Barraclough, Lorraine Mariner, Mick Delap, Sarah Westcott, Richard Barnett, Dominic McLoughlin, Malene Engelund, and Kelley Swain to explore space and science through verse.

Find us in the Science in the 18th Century Gallery on the 3rd Floor for the following 30-minute readings:

19:30 – 20:00: Simon Barraclough, reading from ‘Neptune Blue’.

20:15 – 20:45: Poets reading from ‘Pocket Horizon’.

21:00 – 21:30: Poets reading from ‘Pocket Horizon’.

We’ll also have, for your viewing pleasure, several objects including an orrery, a canopic jar, and artificial limbs – come find out what these objects are, and how they relate to these books of poetry…

Wikicommons orrery detail

On 30th October, at Science Museum Lates, the contributors of Pocket Horizon will join with fellow poet Simon Barraclough for readings from our science-inspired books!

Neptune in your Pocket: Join the authors of Pocket Horizon and Neptune Blue for a reading of space-inspired poems, ranging from a servant’s wide-eyed view of a Grand Orrery to the disappointment of Pluto’s planetary demotion. Also get an intimate chance to see incredible objects from our astronomy collections that these poems touch on.

What could be better than hearing Lorraine Mariner read her poem about a Grand Orrery, but to do so whilst seeing one in motion? We’ll have objects from the Science Museum collections on display – so you can find out exactly what a Pocket Horizon is, and how it relates to our anthology…


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