Monday 23 October 2023

Birthday Special Offer On Owl Unbound


To celebrate the book's birthday, I am offering Owl Unbound for £5 including postage from my online shop at

That is £4.50 off and beats Amazon's price. If you want, I can sign it for you. This sale is for a limited period (ends 30th November). The Owl Unbound/Fool's Paradise bundle price is also reduced. 

So it's "Happy Birthday" to Owl Unbound and to you too. 

Tuesday 16 May 2023

Readings Coming Up

I have a couple of readings coming up to share with you - one on Zoom and one live. 

7pm - 8pm  25th May 
The first reading is on Zoom at Finding the Words organized by Explore York Libraries and Archives. I will be reading alongside Bethany Rivers and Emma Storr.

8pm 9th June
I will be the headline reader at Reading's Poetry Cafe, 21 South Street, Reading, RG1 4QU. The event is run by the Reading Stanza. In addition to my reading there will be am open mic. Tickets are available here: or on the door. They cost £5, £4 for open mics. 

Hope to see you at one of these events. 

Saturday 9 July 2022

Animating Fool's Paradise

I have joined forces with animator John L Wilkinson to create this: the first of a series of short videos of sections of Fool's Paradise. The other artist involved is my dead Czech friend Hannah Kodicek, who as I was writing the poem created a series of dynamic prints in response to my words and images. The videos are designed to work on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), hence the portrait format. More videos in the series will follow.

John also has a line in graphics about folklore etc. See for more


Tuesday 14 June 2022

“Can you tell me how you get invited to read at festivals please?”


A few days ago Helen Ivory posted this question on Facebook. There was a flurry of responses, none from a festival, nearly all saying they didn’t know the answer.

I wondered about replying as I am one of the three members on the Cheltenham Poetry Festival (CPF) management team, but I decided to write this blog post instead as I can give a longer and more considered reply.

The first thing to say is that this post is my personal take on the question and is limited to one poetry festival.

Considerations in booking poets

We book poets, who will be attractive to our audience or should I say audiences. We have a 10-day event this September in Cheltenham. The audience for this is different from that for the year-round online festival we run. We can be more adventurous with the online festival. But with both in-Cheltenham and online festivals we are looking for poets who can read their poetry in a way that reaches out and engages our audience.

There are other considerations when we book poets. The first is financial and of course is related to ticket sales. We don’t have a large budget and we have to make it balance at the end of the year/festival. It means we can’t book all the poets we would like. Sadly issues such as the size of the fee, costs of travel and accommodation, all play a part.

Does the poet’s work fit with the programme? We want our programme to be diverse, in all sorts of ways, in subject matter, poetry style and form, ethnicity, poet’s age etc. We usually have a minimum of two poets reading per event, do they complement each other, maybe they are dealing with the same theme but in different ways?

So how do we find poets?

Poets are constantly approaching us, far more poets than we have slots. A polite email is the best option, rather than messaging us. Do read any information we have on the website about when and how to apply.

We are also proactive in looking for poets. We read poetry books and magazines, go to poetry events especially online ones. If we find someone who excites us and fits what we are looking for, we may approach them or keep them in mind until we can.

The open mic slots at our online events are really important to us. Open mics is a way of performing at the Festival that is open to everyone, not just for newbies but also established published poets. We do sometimes offer a headline slot to someone, who has come to our attention via the open mc.

So what can you do to get a headline slot?

  • Have a published poetry book (not self-published)
  • Attend CPF events, it may not be possible to attend the in-Cheltenham Festival, but if you are interested in performing with CPF attend some of our online events
  • Learn how to communicate your poetry to an audience (open mics are great for this)
  • Take part in online events.
  • Talk to your publisher – CPF sometimes has publisher showcases, where a number of poets from one publisher read together.
  • By all means send us a polite enquiry email
  • Remember we are three volunteers with limited time, running a festival because we love poetry. Poets who give us hassle and/or extra work aren’t likely to be booked, or if booked won’t be booked again.

In conclusion

I hope this post helps. As a fellow poet I know how hard finding readings can be. Good luck.  

Cheltenham Poetry Festival website now has a "Take Part" page and  a dedicated contact form for poets to join a special mailing list. The page is here

Thursday 19 May 2022

Publication Nerves


It's the publication date for Fool's Paradise. I'm sending the preorders out this am and feeling horribly nervous as I do so.

This book means a lot to me for a number of reasons, not least because my late friend, Hannah, loved it so much. It's her artwork on the cover. We talked about publishing a limited edition of the poem illustrated by her prints, but she died before it could happen.

When I worry over the book and wondering whether I should have changed this word or whatever, I should remind myself that she believed in it and me. I should remind myself of Alison Brackenbury's and Fiona Sampson's words of approval on the back cover. Plus my publisher's excitement about the book. My insecurity is the reason I didn't publish anything for years, it's the reason I have such problems promoting my work and I must overcome it and I will.

Sunday 1 May 2022

Fool's Paradise coming out 19th May


I'm delighted to announce that my new poetry book Fool's Paradise will be published by Black Eyes Publishing on 19th May. 

I'm rubbish at bigging up my poetry, so I will let two great poets do it for me:

This is an extraordinary piece of writing: truly compelling.   Alison Brackenbury.

Fool’s Paradise is a dive into the uncanny: into that rich heritage of myth in which we find ourselves both far from home, and simultaneously at home.   Fiona Sampson

There's two special offers on the book at my bookshop  I am offering the book £2.50 off for preorders. Plus if you are interested in also getting Owl Unbound you can buy the two books at £20 (£2 off) plus free p&p. Or you can get the same deal on Fool's Paradise from my publishers Black Eyes Publishing. 

Fool's Paradise will be launched online at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival on 24th May at 7pm when I will be joined by Angela France, Ben Ray and Adam Horovitz. Get your free tickets here:

Friday 27 August 2021

Isabelle Kenyon - Promoting A Book


Isabelle Kenyon

I do not find self promotion very easy. In fact I cringe and procrastinate everytime I have to do it. Yes, I'm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the first more so than the others, but it is not enough. And my publishers have a right to expect me to do some book promo, afterall they have invested time and money into making my book a success and so should I (time at least).  So about six months ago I decided I would invest in some book promotion. 

I turned to Isabelle Kenyon to act as publicist for me, on the recommendation on Anna Saunders. Over 3 months Isabelle got me 7 reviews with more hopefully on the way, a spoken word event, a blog interview,  youtube feature, 2 radio appearances and a podcast appearance. 

I was delighted with Isabelle's hard work. Of course Isabelle has a great list of contacts, which would take me ages to achieve and then I would need the temerity to approach them. But Isabelle also gave me the confidence to relax and focus on what I was good at - reading at open mics and giving readings. 

If you are interested in using Isabelle's services, I recommend them - you can find out about them here: 

For people who are perhaps earlier in their writing journey and are experiencing financial difficulties there are still a few free places on a workshop Isabelle is leading for the Cheltenham Poetry Festival next Tuesday available here