Deadline looms for the 37th Frogmore Poetry Prize

The deadline for entries to this year’s Prize (31 May) is fast approaching. Adjudicator Helena Nelson, poet, critic, publisher and founding editor of the renowned HappenStance press, will read all submissions. Full details at: www.frogmorepress.co.uk/frogmore-poetry-prize

Helena Nelson

The Prize was established in 1987 with a generous endowment from André Evans in his capacity as President of the Frogmore Foundation. John Rice, then Director of the New Metropole Arts Centre in Folkestone (and also a widely published poet in his own right) was persuaded to adjudicate, conditions of entry were drafted, and we were ready to roll. There may or may not have been a good reason for the decision to award the prize money in guineas rather than pounds sterling. This may or may not have been because 25 guineas sounded more desirable as booty than 25 pounds. Whatever the grounds, once the principle was established, it became a defining feature of the Prize, though the booty has multiplied tenfold over its thirty-seven years and now stands at a more impressive 250 guineas. Not that it has ever been about anything quite as vulgar as cash, albeit cash paid in guineas. Kudos, we hoped, would be the lure, and so it ultimately proved, with increasing numbers of submissions from poets whose names were recognised and whose work encountered in publications of note (though reputation counts for little when entries are judged anonymously, as they have been since the Prize’s inauguration).

David Satherley won that first Prize back in 1987, and Laura Jenner won last year. Between them there have been a series of notable winners, with John Latham and Howard Wright both winning twice, Caroline Price three times and Emily Wills on an astonishing four occasion! In every case, the Prize was awarded by a different adjudicator on each occasion, surely testament to the skill and craft of these poets. A selection of poems shortlisted for the Prize was published in The Frogmore Poetry Prize Anthology 1987–1991 and also in Decade: Ten Years of the Frogmore Poetry Prize. The 40th anniversary of the Prize in 2026 may prove to be the moment to bring its forty deserving winners together in one volume.

New Frogmore publication: Meridian: A Walk from Sussex to Yorkshire, by Matt Birch

Meridian: A Walk from Sussex to Yorkshire by Matt Birch was published by The Frogmore Press on 12 April and launched at a Needlewriters event in Lewes the next day. After years of curating, looking at and selling travel and nature-based memoirs, Matt developed a strong urge to go on a journey of his own, and in a parallel journey, write it up as a book. In July 2021, as COVID restrictions were being lifted, he chose his walk. Guided by the Greenwich Meridian, which passed through his hometown, the route was determined by an abstract concept rather than natural features and completed in stages over four seasons.

The book that emerged, the sumptuous, hybrid and unique Meridian, invites you to join him on his internal and external journey. Reflecting the rhythm of a long walk, his ‘snapshots’ alternate with short pieces of writing that meander through history, politics, nature, literature, music, etymology, prose and poetry, as he follows this line cutting through a cross-section of England. An insightful and intriguing, personal and whimsical exploration of the places encountered between two little-known coastal towns, and of what the experience ultimately meant for the author.

Meridian is available from Matt’s shop, Skylark in the Needlemakers, Lewes, or from The Frogmore Press. Email frogmorepress@gmail.com for details.

Frogmore begins a new century

Artwork by Eva Bodinet

The 101st edition of The Frogmore Papers (spring 2023) has been published and is now available from The Frogmore Press (£5.00, post free) or for Lewes residents from Skylark bookshop in the Needlemakers. With a distinctive cover by Paris-based artist Eva Bodinet, number 101 is another truly international edition, containing poetry from Ireland, the Philippines, the USA and most corners of the UK, prose from France and the USA and artwork by Ukrainian artist Marysya Rudska, as well as the usual reviews of recent poetry publications. Here’s a poem by Chicago-based poet Donna Pucciani, who makes a welcome return to the Papers with this issue.

Donna Pucciani

DIFFERENCE

It’s not the loss of morning light,
a gradual dimming done by autumn’s brush,
keeping the pink sky half-night
even at seven.

It’s the loss of birdsong.
I remember, as though it were just
yesterday, the sharp echoes
bouncing off bare April branches,
promising green and morning music
for the better half of the year,
when picking up the morning paper
becomes a bright cantata.

Now, silence is a burden
that gets heavier through the day,
then drags its leaden feet
through the weeks ahead, until
the deepening snow absorbs it
in the mummified corpse of winter.

I try to appreciate the difference
between music and the still breath
of nothingness at dawn,
which is its own music.
Absence is the fulness of zero,
when the mouths of a thousand flowers
leave behind only the memory of fragrance.

The architecture of longing
hangs in the early morning air,
suspended in space,
happy in its own emptiness,
for desire knows no death.

morphrog26 lands

The 26th edition of morphrog is now live at www.morphrog.com.

This is another truly international edition, featuring poetry from Canada (Gerald Seniuk), Germany (Aprilia Zank), Ireland (Edward Lee), Italy (Alex Josephy and Davide Trame) and the USA (James G Piatt and Nolo Segundo) alongside work by UK poets Liz Adams, Jenny Hockey, Angela Kirby, Gordon Scapens and J S Watts.

Clare Best on her new collection End of Season / Fine di stagione

Since 1994, when I first visited Cannero, on the northern shore of Lago Maggiore in Italy, I’ve been there in many different states of mind and health. I’ve been with family, with friends, on my own, through days of incessant storms, sparkling sun, cruel winds. I’ve swum in Cannero’s waters and hiked the surrounding hills at all times of year.

The better I know a place, the more difficult I find writing it; poems were slow to emerge, slower to reach a final state, until at last I had distilled a short collection I was happy with. End of Season was a winner in the Coast to Coast to Coast poetry competition 2020, and came out in a gorgeous handmade limited edition in 2021. There was soon a plan for some of the poems to be set to music, and for a bilingual edition of the poems to coincide with the premiere – in Cannero – of the song cycle composed by Amy Crankshaw (this took place a few weeks ago).

A series of creative processes has come to fruition this autumn with the Frogmore Press edition of End of Season / Fine di stagione. Italian versions of the poems are by Franca Mancinelli and John Taylor. The chapbook is designed by Katy Mawhood and printed on paper made from algae that would otherwise have clogged the Venice Lagoon.

And the whole tells the story of a long and intense love affair with Cannero, and with the idea of place.

Clare Best, October 2022

Copies of End of Season /Fine di stagione are available from Clare Best directly (email her at clarepbest@me.com) or from The Frogmore Press. Price £12 or 15 Euros.

ISBN 978-1-8380179-5-8

Adjudicator for Frogmore Prize 2023 announced

The 37th Frogmore Poetry Prize (2023) will be adjudicated by poet, critic, publisher and founder of HappenStance Press Helena Nelson. Helena’s latest collection, Pearls: The Complete Mr & Mrs Philpott Poems (2022) is reviewed in the latest edition (number 100) of The Frogmore Papers. She is also the author of the acclaimed How (Not) To Get Your Poetry Published (HappenStance, 2016), a book that collects the insights and useful ideas she has gathered over her many years in poetry publishing.

Helena Nelson. (Photo: Gerry Cambridge)

The deadline for submissions is 31 May 2023. Full details at:  http://www.frogmorepress.co.uk/frogmore-poetry-prize

This year’s Prize (2022), adjudicated by John Freeman, was won by Laura Jenner from County Antrim for her poem ‘Smoothing’. Runners-up were Elizabeth Best (Louisville, Kentucky) and John Lancaster (Totnes, Devon).

Lewes launch for the 100th Papers and Clare Best’s End of Season

28th September saw the launch of the 100th edition of The Frogmore Papers alongside Clare Best’s new bilingual Frogmore publication End of Season (Fine di Stagione) at the Elephant and Castle in Lewes.

From left: André Evans (co-founder of The Frogmore Press), Neil Gower (with original artwork for Frogmore Papers 100), Jeremy Page (holding first issue of The Frogmore Papers from 1983), Clare Best with her collection End of Season, Alexandra Loske (Managing Editor, with a copy of Frogmore’s 2019 anthology Pale Fire: New Writing on the Moon)

Frogmore Press Managing Editor Alexandra Loske welcomed a near capacity audience before handing over to Clare Best, who spoke about the background to her new work before reading a selection of the poems, which were delivered in both English and Italian. Frogmore Papers editor Jeremy Page then introduced the second part of the evening, with Frogmore co-founder André Evans reading his account of the Papers’ origins at the legendary Folkestone tea-rooms.

This was followed by readings from some of the more local contributors to the 100th edition: Stephen Bone (Newhaven), Neil Gower (Lewes/Berlin), Robin Houghton (Eastbourne), Wendy Klein (Lindfield), John O’Donoghue (Brighton), Peter Stewart (Lewes), Janet Sutherland (Lewes) and Margaret Wilmot (Selmeston).

This special issue of The Frogmore Papers is available post-free from The Frogmore Press, price £10.00. Clare Best’s End of Season is £12.00. Payment by cheque payable to The Frogmore Press, at 21 Mildmay Road, Lewes BN7 1PJ, or email frogmorepress@gmail.com for details of how to pay by BACS or PayPal.

Frogmore hits 100 not out

The Frogmore Papers have published their 100th edition in their fortieth year. Number one hundred includes poems by Simon Armitage, Dean Atta, Mike Barlow, John Freeman, Christine McNeill, Myra Schneider, Catherine Smith, Janet Sutherland and fifty-two other outstanding poets, including those shortlisted for this years’ 36th Frogmore Poetry Prize, which was won by County Antrim poet Laura Jenner. There is short fiction from D S Curran, Catherine Kelley, Denise McSheehy and Mike Lewis-Beck, artwork from Lydia McDonnell, and a look back to the Papers’ origins from Frogmore co-founder André Evans.

Neil Gower, who is also a contributor, has created stunning cover art for this celebratory issue.

Frogmore Papers No 100, with cover art by Neil Gower

And as part of their mission to ensure the enduring appreciation of the work of Frogmore poets who are no longer with us, this special edition of the Papers features an extended ‘from the archive’ section showcasing the work of Elizabeth Bartlett, Ruth Bidgood, James Brockway, Linda Chase, Sam Gardiner, Geoffrey Holloway, Judith Kazantzis, Matthew Mead, Peter Russell and Carole Satyamurti.

The Frogmore Papers number 100 will be launched at the Elephant & Castle, White Hill, Lewes on 28 September, alongside Clare Best’s new bilingual Frogmore publication End of Season. Doors 7.00 pm, readings from 7.30. All welcome.

This special issue is available post-free from The Frogmore Press, price £10.00. Payment by cheque payable to The Frogmore Press, at 21 Mildmay Road, Lewes BN7 1PJ, or email frogmorepress@gmail.com for details of how to pay by BACS or PayPal.

morphrog’s 25th number lands

morphrog 25, celebrating, as ever, ‘poetry in the extreme’, is now live at http://www.morphrog.com. This latest edition of Frogmore’s online journal includes work from Ella Walsworth-Bell, Ian Heffernan, Mark McDonnell, Heather Sager, Gordon Scapens, Ian C Smith and Rodney Wood and also features a gallery of photographs by the late Martin Kay, whose work has graced many previous editions.

morphrog now welcomes submissions of translations, short prose/flash fiction, photographs and other visual images and audio content, as well as poetry ‘in the extreme’ or otherwise. Visit www.morphrog.com for submission guidelines.

Results of 35th annual Frogmore Poetry Prize

The 35th Frogmore Poetry Prize has been won by Laura Jenner from Whitehouse, County Antrim, for her poem ‘Smoothing’. Adjudicator John Freeman writes: ‘‘Smoothing’ uses rhythm, syntax, discreet rhyme and unfolding webs of imagery to evoke the characters and hard lives of two particular women, and by extension a whole class of women they stand for. There is a controlled explosion, as it were, when the ‘coffin-shape’ of the ironing board in line 2 is detonated in the memorial plaques ‘about the size of an iron’ in the last lines. We’ve been on a rich and varied journey in between, as the poem ‘[brings] the centuries to face each other.’ ‘Smoothing’ is a very worthy winner of this year’s Frogmore Prize.

The first runner-up was Elizabeth Best, an American poet from Louisville, Kentucky, with ‘Veteran Mates’ and the second runner-up was John Lancaster from Totness, with ‘Sussed’. Other poets shortlisted were Sarah Barr (winner of the Prize in 2015), Annie Fisher, Stuart Henson, Neil Martin, Myra Schneider and Rolf Venner. All shortlisted poems will be published in the celebratory 100th edition of The Frogmore Papers in September.

Congratulations to all shortlisted poets, and thanks to all the poets who supported this year’s Frogmore Prize by entering.

Laura Jenner

SMOOTHING

Every time I trail out and unfold the ironing board,
the padded, collapsible coffin-shape, I recall how
Belle left school on Friday, starting Monday in the laundry,
recall her iron glide across the cloth, a grey liner bow
as it scythed through the lough, its hissing wake of starchy steam.
She sailed through infirmary bedding, the sheets of hotels.
smoothed the shirts of rich lawyers whose wives did damn all.
She had red hair, she informed me, the colour of rust.

At night, she returned to the drab house beside the Lagan,
and got into the bed she shared with two of her sisters –
the one who smoked Woodbines, the one who was Brethren.
Sundays, she told me, the strolled up past the park, dandering
around Rosetta, stately villas of wealthy spinsters,
fat trees, primped lawns, the higher green world of petty bourgeois.
The quality, she called them, but with irony in it,
dark and tangy she turned it, rich and meaty on her tongue.

The iron has little glamour, but pure functionality.
For this reason, every time I use the thing, I think of
my mother’s bed, whom I nearly did not know,
who bled so badly, they had to chuck out a good mattress,
she told me, after a stillbirth, before an infant death,
after three healthy deliveries, for which she thanked God,
for all mothers then were the poor bloody infantry,
and birth was like war, and some didn’t return, but died in its filth.

She cleaned nights in the Boys’ Home; she smuggled food to those
who had given back cheek, and were put to bed early.
She was soft like that; pure iron is soft really. Decades on,
she named them like a chaplet, burnishing each with her tongue.
Everything she washed by hand, natural fibres scrubbed and wrung.
At some point, my father had to remove her wedding ring
with a blade and liquid ether. She kept it in a drawer –
two halves that faced each other, like a moon both old and young.

I moved them together as I do now, bringing the centuries
to face each other. I walk the fine streets and they are still
gracious, and full of the worthies. And always those women,
occurring abundantly, not considered precious –
who let themselves in to wash floors and press clothes,
and I think of those others, now boxes of ash,
in the marl of the boneyard, beneath a metal plaque
about the size of an iron, bearing their one-word name.