Thursday, 9 July 2009

Poet in Residence: Christian Ward

Christian Ward's poetry has appeared in Iota, Other Poetry, The Warwick Review, Poetry Wales and The Kenyon Review. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2007 and was shortlisted for the 2007 Plough Prize. He was shortlisted for an Eric Gregory award this year. He has had several pamphlets published; most recently, Bone Transmissions, from US-based Maverick Duck Press (March 2009). He hopes to eventually have a full length collection of poetry published. You can visit Christian's deviantART page to see more of his work.

"Why I write poetry."

I write poetry for several reasons.

Firstly, I enjoy writing it. I find shaping an idea or image into a piece an exciting process and one that I relish every day.

Secondly, it is like caffeine to me. I feel compelled to write poetry every day. If I don’t, I go mad.

Thirdly, poetry is my way of leaving my mark on the world. I think it’s incredibly satisfying (and humbling) knowing I can write something that might have an effect on someone or on a group of people.

St Helier Estate

St Helier, London

People here have faces
like dimmer switches:

brightening when they
see the postman bringing

wage slips, benefit letters.
Darkening when they catch

a glimpse of the loan shark
barking outside the front door.

I pass a group of boys playing
football in the street. They stare

at me the way lions do in zoos:
faces hidden in dark, waiting

for a slip-up, the first opportunity
to ease a paw round the cold metal

bars that separates them from us
and taste what has been missing

from their lives since being imprisoned.

You can see more of Christian's poetry here. He will be reading at all four nights of the London Poetry Festival from 7th - 10th August 2009. Want to come along? If so, check this out!

Reminder: submissions to the London Poetry Pearl close on Sunday!

We just want to remind you all that because this year marks the Festival's fifth anniversary, an anthology called The London Poetry Pearl is being created to honour the occasion. Submissions are free and open to any poet from the United Kingdom. Submission guidelines and further information can be found here, but the deadline is this Sunday, 12th June -- so get your submissions in!

Remember to check out the London Poetry Festival blog for more information, or if you'd like to read at the event, drop me a line and a couple of poems to! You can also follow the festival on Twitter.

Poet in Residence: Aiko Harman

Aiko Harman is currently studying for an MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. She has a degree in English, Creative Writing and Mass Communications Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Aiko was Poet in Residence at Poets' Letter Magazine in March/April 2009 and has now been offered a Residency at the 5th London Poetry Festival 2009. Her first name means 'love' in Japanese and here is her love: poetry. Aiko's work has been recently published in Anon, Dash Literary Journal and the Glasgow Review. She also won the 2009 Grierson Verse Prize, awarded by the University of Edinburgh.

"Why I write poetry."

I've just turned 24 and I am a native of Los Angeles, California, in the United States. However, I'm currently living in Scotland while I pursue an MSc in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University. Prior to coming to Edinburgh, I was living in Sendai-city, Japan, where I taught English to Japanese high school students. My mother is Japanese, and many of our relatives still live in Sendai, so this opportunity was indelible for me. My experiences in Japan -- living on my own, getting acquainted with my new family, and being submerged completely in a new culture -- have made a huge mark on me, and I am more in tune and interested in representing my mixed Japanese-American heritage in my poetry today.
For me, poetry is an opportunity to share one's unique worldview. It is incredible how many different cultures and peoples there are in the world, and it seems so silly that quite often a person can spend his whole life in touch with only one culture. What a wealth of spirit and history gone to waste on account of a simple lack of exploring. So, as I become more and more involved in any community or culture, I hope to share a bit of my perspective via poetry, so that others might have an opportunity to see the world through my eyes. I am really inspired by Philip Larkin's poem 'The Importance of Elsewhere' (If you haven't seen it, I found it online here:
I think that, especially, from the viewpoint of 'elsewhere' one can gain a different perspective of one's own 'home', and likewise, the ability to see someone else's home in a new and unique way. As an American living in Japan or in the United Kingdom, I can see each country with new eyes, and perhaps, am able to notice more or different things than a local notices. I only hope I can write this 'elsewhere' vision into my poetry.


You, sweet lover of rivers,
sleep in the finest bed
beside your balcony at Miralrio.

I trade my diamond tiara
to keep you here.

A stream of guests to bide you.
A room of your own to muse.
A ravine laps at your quiet wisdom,
feeds you truths.

We babble in tongues that spring
from the well of our own lives:

I tell you, art has power
to grow within us: a living organism,
a child in the womb.

Remember the armchair—
remember the door of the ship
torn from its hinges
to accommodate my gift.
Remember me—
my furniture poesy.

You fill yourself with my invisible energy,
the shakti that only love can give a man
in struggle for self-fulfilment.

You sit beneath the tipa tree
and speak in visions.

Your words take root and feed me.
Your leaves and branches—
my womb, my balcony, my chair.

You draw faces in the shelters of furniture.
I wait en la barraca for your return.

Days are endless
since you went away.

I burn like a slow fuse.

You can see more of Aiko's poetry here. She will be reading at all four nights of the London Poetry Festival from 7th - 10th August 2009. Want to come along? If so, check this out!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Come to the Festival! Here's how.

WHERE?: Waterloo St John's Church, Waterloo, SE1 (opposite Waterloo Underground station)
WHEN?: 7th-10th August 09, 7.30pm-10.30pm
WHAT?: Four nights of poetry, spoken word, monologue and music.

FULL PRICE TICKET: £5 (per night)
WEEKEND TICKET (Friday and Saturday nights): £8
FESTIVAL TICKET (all four nights): £15

*Concessionary tickets are available to: Students, those not working, Members of the Poetry Society, Users of the National Poetry Library, Members of the Society of Authors, Members of the English PEN, members of London Poetry Festival Facebook Group and The National English Poetry Facebook Group. Poets in Residence and all performers except those reading at the Open Mic get in free!

Apart from a great night's entertainment? The Festival is totally not-for-profit, so trust us, we don't keep any of your ticket cost. 100% of all monies made from ticket sales go towards the hire of the venue. Every year, the London Poetry Festival runs at a loss, and part of the venue hire is paid for by our staff, all of whom are volunteers. Because the Festival does not have funding, sadly it's not possible for us to make it free at this time. So we hugely appreciate your support and do our best to put on a great weekend of entertainment!

If you have any questions whatsoever about how the Festival is run or financed, please do not hesitate to contact claire@onenightstanzas for further information!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The new London Poetry Festival Team!


Sharon Harriott has been involved with the London Poetry Festival for a long time, and was one of the Poets In Residence at the 4th Festival in 2008. She has now taken on the responsibility of Festival Public Relations Director.
Sharon is London born and bred. She studied journalism at University, and started her career on a teen magazine. Now a Film and Events PR Manager, she writes press releases on the latest film releases and works for Fun in the Foyer at major film launches.
You can read some of Sharon's poetry here, and email her at:


Claire Askew is a poet and editor based in Edinburgh, Scotland -- she was also one of the London Poetry Festival's 2008 Poets in Residence and has now come on board as Residency and Education Director. She has an MA in English Literature and an MSc in Creative Writing, both from the University of Edinburgh, and she is due to begin a literature PhD there in September 09.
Claire is the Editor in Chief of Read This Magazine, a monthly arts magazine for young writers, and she also runs a writing advice blog, One Night Stanzas. She recently started up Read This Press, a poetry pamphlet micropress, and she currently works as a Lecturer in English at Edinburgh's Telford College.
Email her at:


The London Poetry Festival was originally founded by Munayem Mayenin, a poet, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, songwriter, children’s writer, thinker, editor and Festival and Events Director who writes in all genres of creative writing including Philosophical and Sociological Studies.


Welcome to the new look London Poetry Festival!

(The 5th Annual London Poetry Festival: 7th - 10th August 2009)

Thanks for visiting the London Poetry Festival blog! If you're here, chances are you're interested in learning a little about our Festival -- maybe you want to come along, get in touch or just find out a little bit about us and what we do.

The London Poetry Festival is an annual four-day event designed to showcase the best contemporary writing the UK has to offer. It was founded in 2004 by writer, critic and editor Munayem Mayenin, but as of this year there's a brand new team behind the event, with Edinburgh-based poet and editor Claire Askew and London-based poet Sharon Harriott at the helm. We want to make the new-look, five-year anniversary London Poetry Festival the best there's ever been, and we're hoping it will pave the way for many successful years to come!

The London Poetry Festival is totally not-for-profit and all our staff are volunteers, working at and facilitating the Festival through a love of the written word and a genuine desire to promote the work of great poets, writers, artists and musicians.

We aim to provide a platform from which any poet can raise their voice and deliver their personal message -- we welcome young and emerging poets who have only just begun their journey into writing, but also experienced poets who have been producing and publishing work for many years.

The London Poetry Festival's four-night programme showcases an array of fantastic poetry, writing and music. We provide an extensive bookshop and merchandise table from which poets are welcome to sell their work and keep 100% of the takings. A small admission fee (more details here) is charged to cover our venue costs, but the Festival is not-for-profit and any profits made would be handed over to the poets themselves.

Each year the London Poetry Festival provides five poetry residencies for poets whose work has really caught our eye -- individuals we particularly want to support and encourage in taking their writing to a wider audience. (You can find details of these Residencies -- including information about this year's Poets in Residence as well as those from previous years -- here on the blog and at the London Poetry Festival website).

The London Poetry Festival also aims to liaise and work with arts and education projects and establishments across London and the UK to promote great poetry and seek out fantastic new writing.


Want to get on board and help support the Festival, help us spread the word or obtain special entry to our events (such as a Media Pass)? Get in touch with our PR Director Sharon Harriott:

Interested in reading at the Festival, getting more information on our poets or finding out more about our Residencies? Email our Residency and Education Director Claire Askew:

You can also email for more general enquiries.