Tag Archives: Lucy English

ATG Book Launch Chaucer Cameron and Cheryl Moskowitz


Against the Grain Press present In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron and Maternal Impression by Cheryl Moskowitz

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of being one of many (126 attendees), at this book launch. It was lovely to see people I know and spend a few hours listening to and celebrating poetry.

I have known about Chaucer’s pamphlet for a while and was able to celebrate the publishing contract with her (virtually, of course) in 2020, I saw her International Guest Reading and have heard many poems from this pamphlet. It is a difficult and necessary subject and I am delighted for her that ATG picked it for one of the 2021 Pamphlets.

This was such an amazing event, I am struggling to put my feelings into words. It will take a while for my mind (and heart) to settle. It was remarkable, a phenomenal reading of poems from four skilful poets. The subject matter of much of the work had my emotions staggering, I was prepared for In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered but I hadn’t readied myself for what I have just experienced. I don’t think I could have.

As far as Book Launches go, we all witnessed something so much more. I felt we had been churned by a rough sea voyage and sprinkled with the relief of a shower after a long, muddy trek. We were taken to some incredibly dark places and also bound to cherished, unconditional love.

I feel like I spent the afternoon in some sort of immersive performance piece. These books carry stories which are difficult to read. As humans it is always hard for us to be open to the truth of what we do to each other, our potential to harm and destroy. They are also mighty pamphlets brimming with monumental poems.

Abegail Morley introduced the event and Cheryl Moskowitz. Cheryl introduced us to her Guest Poet, Isabelle Baafi, who gave us an incredible reading from her pamphlet, Ripe which was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice: Spring 2021 Selections. I can see why it was selected.

“Ripe is a pamphlet which draws on the mundane to forge beauty, using sensual tones to deal with and address harsh subject matter. Baafi’s poems are great inventions in terms of their use of form. Throughout this book, her use of language is never laboured in its endeavour to draw the reader’s attention. […] Overall, Baafi’s poems often step outside the rational and waking consciousness in order to investigate other realms, be that paranoia, dream states etc. […] Through her lyric poems, prose poetry, erasures and much besides, Baafi offers us a complex world worth savouring, as she revels in language both sacred and profane. This is a pamphlet to enjoy and a poet to watch.”
— Nick Makoha and Mary Jean Chan, PBS Pamphlet Selectors

Her work is wonderful, powerful and honest. Stunning poems. Something special. Isabelle’s work spoke to Cheryl’s work well. And was a perfect set.


Cheryl Moskowitz shared work from Maternal Impression. Cheryl’s work was both enthralling and epic. She talked generously about the inspiration behind the poems and some of the places, narratives and people featured throughout her work. Cheryl also shared an astonishing film poem produced by her filmmaker son for ‘A Son Awake’.

“Every time I have heard Cheryl Moskowitz read “The Donner Party”, strange things have happened – a bell has rung with no-one at the door, candles have guttered in a church setting, and shivers always run down my spine. Moskowitz’s poetry summons spirits and spills beyond the words on the page into a mystical space where we are all connected in body and mind. These are poems that once read or heard, leave their mark. Mesmeric, soul-feeding, uneasy, I come back to them again and again for reassurance, admonishment, and recognition of what it is to hang onto the maternal in our collective journey. Maternal Impression is a call to arms – maternal arms – and all that implies in the Anthropocene. It has a beating heart that needs to be heard, felt, and heeded.” – Lisa Kelly

“Reading Maternal Impression is to have the feeling of walking on nails with bare feet, with the assurance of trust. I go tenderly where these fine poems take me, knowing they will advance my pleasure, my empowerment.” – Daljit Nagra 

Jessica Mookherjee introduced Chaucer Cameron, both poets spoke highly of their editing experience with ATG. Chaucer talked about an interview with Jeffrey Sugarman ‘Voicing our Silences‘ about the impact of prostitution and trauma on the body. Chaucer introduced Lucy English as her Guest Reader.

The Book of Hours

Burning Eye Books

This book has recently become a filmmaking project with 27 filmmakers involved. Lucy wanted to create it in three-dimensional form. You can discover more and watch here.

Lucy shared some of her Lockdown writing, after expressing how difficult creativity has been at this time. Her poetry was brilliant, cinematic, microscopic, the specific and this new work captured the feeling of being trapped well.

Chaucer Cameron read an epic set, strong, brave, vulnerable poems which hinge around characters in the industry, including Crystal. It is an incredible body of work and like nothing I’ve ever read. As Chaucer says ‘the characters have their own reasons for being in the industry and only they know where they stand at any given time‘.

In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered is part memoir/part fiction and is Chaucer’s debut pamphlet. The poems explore the impact of prostitution.  

“These poems ring out like gunshots in the night; they will wake you from your sleep. Yet despite its distilled directness, this book is lifted by both mystery and surprise. Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival.’  Jacqueline Saphra.  

Chaucer also shared a film poem made by Helen Dewbery ‘Hooked (with internal song)‘. Another amazing work.

Both poets spoke of their connections to each other having never met they discovered amongst other things, giving birth to their children in the same hospital.

Every reading was outstanding! I love being introduced to new-to-me poets and Isabelle Baafi and Cheryl Moskowitz are now both on my reading list. It was a joy to watch two new poetry films. ATG asked for our questions and plan to produce blog content with the Q&A. It was such a rich and full afternoon of content I am glad they didn’t add a Q&A on. As audience we were stunned and needed time to sit in the sensations we felt. I look forward to reading the Q&A from the ATG poets soon. Instead we heard extra poems from Cheryl and Chaucer.

There really are no words to express this Book Launch, those lucky enough to have been there, know.

BUY the books here.

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 16



You are more than halfway there!

logo-napowrimo As always, for the full post click the day.

Day Sixteen

Today’s featured participant is Katie Staten, who turned our dramatic prompt for Day Fifteen into an afterlife dialogue between Georgia O’Keefe and Sigmund Freud!

Our video resource for the day is this lovely animation of Lucy English’s poem, “Things I Found in the Hedge.” One wonderful thing I’ve learned in researching our videos for the month is that poetry seems very often to inspire filmmakers, painters, and musicians, just as movies, art, and music inspire poets. Art likes to make more of itself!

Today’s prompt takes its inspirations from Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno.” Fundamentally, this is a poem about a cat. It’s also a structurally very straightforward poem – every line begins the same way, and is about some aspect of the cat at issue. But from these seemingly simple ingredients, Smart constructs a poem that is luminously, joyously weird. Just as English’s poem listing things found in a hedge renders the familiar strange by making us focus on each, individual item in the hedge, Smart makes a humble housecat seem like the most wondrous thing in the world. Today, I challenge you to write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane.

Happy writing!



NaPo Process Notes


reminder sticky notes

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

I always get a little excited when I see a poet known to me featured in NaPoWriMo. I also like it when I read a prompt and instantly feel it is manageable, which considering I have just caught up with Day 15 and have written about the tragedy that befell Paris last night, I feel I need something lighter to get stuck into. Defamiliarizing the mundane – perfect.

I started with the participant’s site, what a wonderful idea Katie Staten had –an afterlife dialogue between Georgia O’Keefe and Sigmund Freud, a poem I can imagine before I read it!

I just love the title…

The Ghosts of Georgia O’Keeffe and Sigmund Freud Meet in New Mexico

It is a fine example of a Dramatic monologue and there are many lines that jump out at me.

No, I didn’t come here to talk about painting,
though I’d paint if I could.
I’d capture how the faraway horizon steals your words.

Beautiful. Thought provoking and the 2nd poem to make it to my resource document. I re-read it several times. Feeding off Staten’s words.

I then spent some time exploring the blog and reading other NaPo poems, I particularly like Bitextual – from Day 14. Very clever. I could have stayed longer, but needed to work through NaPo as I have more medical appointments later and am time poor. Katie’s blog is now on my Reader, so I can go back and indulge.

I was excited to watch the Lucy English animation. “Things I Found in the Hedge”
Kathryn L. Darnell (director, animation), Lucy English (writer, voice).

Watching this was a glorious experience and it is no surprise it won First Prize in Atticus Review’s Inaugural Videopoem Contest, 2018.

I am a fan of Lucy English’s work and this poem is a wonder. I felt like I didn’t want to come back out – like you do after a deep meditation. I spent some time just being.

I am surrounded by a world where art inspires poetry and poetry inspires art. Happy to be part of the movement.

I pulled myself back into the prompt and had a look at Christopher Smart’s poem from Jubilate Agno.

It is a long poem. You can listen to it here.

Jubilate Agno (Latin: “Rejoice in the Lamb”) is a religious poem by Christopher Smart, and was written between 1759 and 1763, during Smart’s confinement for insanity in St. Luke’s Hospital, Bethnal Green, London. The poem was first published in 1939, under the title Rejoice in the Lamb: A Song from Bedlam, edited by W. F. Stead from Smart’s manuscript, which Stead had discovered in a private library. – Wikipedia.

I am now going to take the prompt write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane and have a think, let it settle. I may end up writing about physio!


On Writing 

adult blank desk female

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I knew that I was going to use my Physiotherapy session as a basis, I originally thought I would list it and I may return to this after NaPo and do just that. It became a bit more than a list poem but within it actions were listed in chronological order.

I have already had 4 months of Physio and have now re-started since a re-referral, it takes a few weeks to work back through the system and everything has to be reassessed. It is certainly mundane after all these sessions. The poem is called Endfeel – which is what my physio is assessing constantly. Here’s a snippet.

She taps the laptop keys rapidly,

gives me her listening eye occasionally.