Archive for the 'Publications' Category

Potcake chapbooks

November 18, 2018

Snakeskin poets seem to be spreading their wings everywhere these days, and the latest enterprise to feature several of them is the new series of Potcake Chapbooks, published by Samson Low.

These are neat little pocket-sized pamphlets, sixteen pages packed with poems, mostly witty, all featuring the snap and buzz of rhyme.

The first pamphlet, Tourists and Cannibals, is about travel; the second, Rogues and Roses is full of poems about love and sex. More titles are on the way.

Edited by Robin Helweg-Larsen, whose work will be familiar to Snakeskin readers, these modestly priced (£2.60) pamphlets are just the right size for slipping in with a Christmas card to spread seasonal good cheer.

Animals from Amazon

January 10, 2018

This is just a note to say that Animals Love Reading! can now be purchased from Amazon.

Click here for further details.


Animals Like Reading!

November 30, 2017

December Snakeskin (online tomorrow) will  not only contain the usual complement of varied and accomplished poems, but will also tell you all about a new print publication – ready just in time to be the ideal gift for the intelligent child’s Christmas stocking:


Animals Like Reading! is a slim booklet containing ten poems by George Simmers, each one illustrated by Bruce Bentzman.

Full details will be found in December Snakeskin, as will an essay by Mr Bentzman which considers his non-career as an artist.

Animals Like Reading! can be purchased here. The cost is £3.50 + postage.

Update December 1st:

December Snakeskin should have gone online first thing this morning, but my internet providers  have gone strange, so that I can’t upload at the moment. When they finally respond to my pleas for help the magazine will be going online.

Later Update:

The site is now up and running properly. The December issue is properly online.

Annie Fisher’s ‘Infinite in All Perfections’

December 12, 2016


The cover of Annie Fisher’s new Happenstance chapbook shows someone jumping for joy, and that’s more or less how you feel after reading it.
Many of the poems are anecdotes – the story of the girl who ran the sack race, but misunderstood the instructions and put the sack over her head:

Has she forgotten that hot afternoon?
The scratch and smell of a hessian sack,
speckled sunlight through rough rope weave,
surging voices, burning breath, the unseen crowd,
and a skinny brown-limbed girl
(must be a woman now)
all alone and leaping in the dark.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Statesman competitions

December 6, 2016

It’s a sad week for those who enjoy light verse and parody. The New Statesman has announced that it will no longer be setting Weekend Competitions. For over eighty years these comps have set a high standard for versifiers, wits and parodists, but now, apparently, there is not enough space in the magazine for a feature like this.

I doubt if I would be writing poetry today if it wasn’t for the New Statesman. As a young man I wrote rather intense verse; I knew what it meant, but most other readers would have found it puzzling. Certainly none of the editors I sent it to were interested. For a while I gave up writing poems.

I had always enjoyed the New Statesman competitions, though, and entered one that asked for one-liner jokes. One of mine was printed and I won a pound for it. I carried on, first with prose parodies, and then with verse  – which needed to be clear, funny and properly scanned. The first verse winner I had was this, from 1982; the setter asked for lyrical praise of some feature of the modern countryside: Read the rest of this entry »

Down with Poetry!

October 18, 2016


The proper kind of poetry
has resonance – it’s heavy.

Her verse is light, the critics said
she writes it on the bevvy.

This is part of Helena Nelson’s ‘Self-portrait as an Unsuitable Poem’, in her new collection Down With Poetry, which the postman brought to my door the other day, to my huge delight.
The book brings together her previous ‘unsuitable’ collections, and adds more to them. The term ‘unsuitable’ is inspired by a magazine’s rejection note many years ago: ‘Many thanks for the poems. These aren’t quite suitable…’ Helena has a keen ear for the intricacies of language, and realised that the editor wasn’t saying the poems were no good – just that they were ‘unsuitable’ – they didn’t fit the standard category of poems that get published. Maybe because they don’t make a show of taking themselves too seriously.
Helena’s ‘Unsuitables’ are sometimes rude about poetry and poets: Read the rest of this entry »

Alison Brackenbury reads

February 14, 2016

I very rarely go to poetry readings. In fact, I’m slightly nervous of them. I’ve sat squirming during embarrassing recitals, and I’ve sat depressed while mumblers fail to do justice to their work.

There was no danger of either of these happening last week, though, when Snakeskin poet Alison Brackenbury headed northwards to Leeds University, to read from her work.

Alison is a very good poet who first appeared in Snakeskin in 2001; , she is also an excellent reader. Her gentle voice is clear and light, and lets you hear the poem’s form without over-stressing it.

The poems I liked best were the ones about her grandfather’s First World War memories and the intriguing one that invited us to wonder what Sylvia Plath would have become had she survived. And the poem ‘And’, with its first line: ‘Sex is like Criccieth…’ She also let us hear ‘Skies’, the title poem of her new collection, which will be published at the end of March.


Alison writes about the new collection here:

Resolution: I must get to more poetry readings.

Preparing for the Book Fair

October 27, 2013

I’m getting the Book Fair issue together today, and it’s very enjoyable work.

We’ll have a very good (and very mixed) collection of poets showing off their wares in November, and the issue will make good reading.

I’m linking book covers to – just because most of the books are available there, and this is the easiest port of call for British readers.  On the other hand, prospective buyers in America and elsewhere might find their own branch of Amazon more convenient… Besides which,  as I’m well aware, Amazon is a problematic firm, and none of us like the way that its publishing might seems to be inexorably killing off small local bookshops.

Any suggestions of a better way?


‘Disclaimer’ by Tristan Moss

August 23, 2012

Disclaimer by Snakeskin poet Tristan Moss has just been published by Lapwing Publications of Belfast. It’s a slim pamphlet, containing couple of dozen poems, all of them fairly short. Several are just one sentence, twisting in an unexpected direction. Some are about a relationship, some about life’s oddness. These small poems often pack more punch than many longer efforts.

Here’s Vicissitude, a poem that appeared in Snakeskin a while ago.

part of me’s
one of those picturesque villages
that’s stayed the same
for strangers
who have no interest
in nearby places
that had to change.

If you like that one, try the pamphlet.

Update: The pamphlet is not easy to buy at the monent. The Lapwing website has something of an amateur feel, and has not been updated for a while. Nor have the publishers yet sent the details to Amazon. I am assured, however, that these things will be remedied, and that meanwhile you can email  to  make contact wth the publishers.

A new book from Fiona Sinclair

July 4, 2012

Snakeskin poet Fiona Sinclair has just published A Game of Hide and Seek (Indigo Dreams Press).

Fiona’s verse is tough, often earthy, and sometimes shocking. Here’s a sample that appeared in Snakeskin a couple of years back:

Self Portrait

Her father’s curls, which despite tantrums
at the hairdressers, mother kept shorn, citing
Julie Andrews and Twiggy as cropped haired
beauties. At 16, she entered a hair growing
contest with Rapunzel. But her adult locks were
neither curly nor straight and refused to learn new
styles painstakingly copied from magazines,
‘Lazy hair’ the stylist at Vidal Sassoon labelled it
like a teacher issuing a bad school report.
Now middle aged she owns £100 straighteners
powerful as industrial laundry irons. Nevertheless
needs conjurer’s props of hats and scarves to repel
damp that still spins her hair into candyfloss.
Her father’s skin too, waking up one morning
at 13 to find the acne fairy had paid out generously,
coating a glaze of grease over her face like candied fruit.
Class mates who had blossomed into Jenny Agutter
were entertained by her lunchtime application of
phlegm green mask followed by the monstrous
peeling of her face like a Roald Dahl witch.
At 30 her epidermis became hysterical, defending
itself from so much as a dirty look by throwing a
tough carapace over every  injury. Until her upper
body is littered with scars like botched tattoos.
For years she ignored her boyish breasts like a mental
double mastectomy. No attempts made with push up
bras to put them on display for fear of glimpsing
an extra bump.  Jumped as if touching another woman’s
when she brushed them with her hand. And like a
Victorian prude never looked at them. Then at 40
nature gave her a boob job confirming unfortunately
that she has her mother’s breasts. Attempts at self
examination find their touch loathsome as dead flesh.
Envies women who joyfully pet theirs like puppies,
because hers are a pair of time bombs waiting to go off.