Cult of the Spiny Hog – The Challenges

People who aren’t in our wee Cult don’t really get to hear about what actually happens when you are a member. Oh, they may know that you get to enter all of the competitions for ‘Free’ (once you have paid to join) and that you get all of the beautiful books and pamphlets we publish too, but I tend to skip over the Challenges somewhat.

Which is a little daft as I am proud that each month all of the members get to have a competition of their own and most of the time, choose the winner themselves too.

We have just had a vote to decide the winner of our May Challenge and Jenna Plewes won and will be invited to take a six month writing ‘trip’ as part of Sue Burge’s epic ‘Writing Cloud.‘ This is a wicked prize and I think a lot of people will be quite jealous of her (me included.)

Prior to that we had our April Challenge, which saw us have a Stickleback competition that will see John Gosnell and Debjani Chatterjee both have a micro-collection pamphlet published featuring their work and receive 100 copies of their printed pamphlet each. How cool is that? Both of their entries were brilliant and again, the members of the Cult chose the winner. I love that sort of thing.

As for June’s challenge, I’m judging that one and I love the idea as I’ve asked people to think of an advertising slogan that, like a song, triggers a memory, and uses that as a basis of a poem. I’ve already received a few entries and every day look forward to seeing what appears in my inbox. There is such a diversity of approach and wonderful collective talent in our wee Cult, I’m, err, lovin’ it.

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Nine Sticklebacks & A Happy New Year

One of the real pleasures of the first nine months of the Hedgehog Press has been the fact that we have got to create nine beautiful Sticklebacks filled by brilliant poets. The paper editions of the micro-collections are long gone, but the poetry lives on in our lovely downloadables – and best of all FREE – PDF editions.

So have a lovely New Year, and feel free to help yourself to one or to all HERE

If you like them, it is a tricky time of year for a lot of people and I would love it if you could spare a couple of bob for a foodbank local to you. Sadly they aren’t hard to find these days.

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When I grow-up, I want to be: Eye Flash Poetry (A Review of Sorts)

Two nights each week, I sit alone for an hour, often in the dark, in a primary school car park.

There are words I never thought I’d share on the interweb and no, please don’t call the Police, I’m harmless. As I sit there in my car, my daughter is inside the school learning martial arts, I just can’t face sitting on the school benches, trying to make conversation with other parents as our little angels beat each other up.

In a lot of ways it is a good thing. A couple of hours a week to just think without distractions. Phone goes off and I either scribble notes as things occur to me or read something. This week it was a little of both as, being preoccupied with dreaming-up ‘Arfur,’ ( our vaporware magazine, ‘A Restricted View From Under The Hedge’ – you can’t buy it in the shops, or anywhere else, come to that) it was nice to settle down to read somebody else’s debut magazine, as earlier in the day I’d received Issue One of the ‘Eye Flash Poetry Journal.’

But enough of my babble, to the magazine.

From opening the envelope, it is obvious that ‘Eye Flash’ is a beautifully produced, highly controlled poetry journal of the oldest school. Just holding it you instantly recognise the quality of the production.

Produced in pamphlet rather than perfect bound form, it is the simplest of designs throughout, the unlaminated cover feeling beautiful in your hand and the interior pages being of a nice weight and quality too.

Speaking of the cover, the design is classic and the image is of a painting by artist Kitty Cooper which is quite charming, perfectly matching the achingly modern yet classic style of the magazine itself.  I’m not sure if Ms. Cooper will be generally supplying the art for the covers, but looking at her work on Artfinder, if it were me she certainly would be.

Other than my swooning at the artist’s feet, the addition of a line from Daniel Bennet, cleverly taken from his poem ‘The Cormorant’, which appears in the magazine, fits the image perfectly and adds to the suspicion that a lot of thought has gone into the smallest of details with this production. This isn’t a line that would have been obvious as a contender to go with the painting, but works perfectly for entirely that reason.

Inside the covers, the spartan style continues. Poems are given lots of space to breathe on the page, fonts are classic serif and there are no kitchen sinks thrown into elongated editorials (must remember that if nothing else) just a short note from editor Charlotte Begg in which you feel every word has been weighed.

And that is the impression I get throughout the magazine. Charlotte knows exactly what she is doing and is doing it beautifully. Each of the nineteen poems would stand out in a lesser magazine, but there is a commonality of quality here where all of the poems have a certain ‘something’, that you can only wonder how many submissions Ms. Begg had to whittle down to find this many that are so very good. It reminds me of talking to a very good and experienced luthier and asking him how he knew when one of his guitars was ‘really good.’ He looked at me a little strange and told me that they are all ‘really good’ as he puts any where the wood doesn’t sing onto his fire.

As for the poetry itself, I am in love with Joanna Nissel’s magazine opener, ‘Perfect Happiness’, which is beautifully quirky and pulls at the threads of forgotten memories. Sometimes a short poem can say so much more than a long one, and that is the case here. Neil Richards’ ‘The Flood’ caught me too with its line about  Noah ‘Discreetly sewing souls into ants’, as did Jim Zola’s ‘Dusk’ opening with, ‘You become home to your wife’s sadness…’ which resonates horribly.

In truth I could quote from all of the poems, but that really isn’t the aim of this, and more to the point I wouldn’t want you to be distracted from clicking on the ‘Buy Me’ button, because this really is a magazine that you will want to read and to own. I should also say that it doesn’t just work in sodium-lit car parks outside schools (I know, I’ve just read it again a few times) it is a genuinely beautiful production which will happily see you through to the Winter edition quite nicely.

You can find out more and order a copy at the Eye Flash Poetry Web Site.


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