A selection of Stitch Translations from Poetry in Aldeburgh exhibition

In response to my prompt, on or as close as possible to 31 August 2018, at 8pm, poets drafted a poem at their chosen coast; each draft was given location, date and time as a title, and poets sent a few lines to me representing the essence of their writing. 

 One line of text was selected from each poet to create a litany of the coast around the UK and Ireland and beyond. For my residency as Artist in Residence at Poetry in Aldeburgh, the litany resulted in a concertina journal of 96 lines tracing the coasts of the UK, Ireland, and beyond.

 Each line of the litany was also translated into abstract works resulting in 48 stitched pieces for display.

The artworks were depicted in the order of the litany: the journey around the coast starts at the Pier Head in Liverpool, tours the coast of Northern Ireland, travels around Ireland including Galway, Kerry, Cork, and Wicklow before travelling to Wales, Somerset, Cornwall, along the south coast, west to east, and up the east coast to Whitby, and beyond to Scotland, east to west from Aberdeen to Loch Fyne, over to the Isle of Arran before returning to Southport and Crosby in Merseyside.

It was a pleasure to include four poets located outside of the UK (South of France, Geneva, Turkey, and California), at the time of writing

The slides show a selection of the 48 art works

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Coast to Coast to Coast: map, line, and stitch — poetry into stitch From Aldeburgh to Pier Head

Coast to Coast to Coast: map, line, and stitch. Stitch Translations— poetry into stitch       

Maria will give an illustrated talk about her project which was shown at the South Lookout at Poetry in Aldeburgh in November. The talk will be followed by a shared reading of the graphics piece created from the lines written at locations around the UK, Ireland, and beyond, and will conclude with some of Maria’s own recent work including that created as part of her residency at Aldeburgh. There will be an opportunity for questions, and a chance to see the 48 textile pieces. Copies of the limited edition concertina journal will be available for sale. 

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Results of second 'individual-poet' limited edition hand-stitched poetry journal

I’m delighted to announce the winners and runners-up of Coast to Coast to Coast’s second competition:

Maureen Boyle

Pam Thompson.

Susannah Violette

Finola Scott
Mara Adamitz Scrupe.

Lydia Harris and Isabelle Bermudez

Winners will receive limited edition hand-stitched copies of their journals at a launch in Liverpool next summer.

Previous winners earlier this year were, Jane Lovell and Rebecca Gethin

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The English River, a journey down the Thames in poems and photographs by Virginia Astley



The English River, a journey down the Thames in poems and photographs by Virginia Astley, 2018, 94pp, £12.00, Bloodaxe Books Ltd, Eastburn, South Park, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 IBS


Virginia Astley’s first collection is a journey both of the upper reaches of the Thames, and of an intimate relationship. Although many of the poems are personal, themes of loss and of a developing awareness of the self are universal.

This is my remembered landscape,

stored in my earliest self,
and all along, I have been re-winding, re-playing,
continuing this quiet exchange.   

                                    [‘I breathe as though I’ve been submerged 

                                      and am coming up for air’]


Music flows through this carefully formed and honed work in the way Virginia judges pace, tone and rhythm, and with references to aural effects perceived as music. In ‘Lammas Land’, ‘the lark cadenzas.’, in ‘I breathe as though I’ve been submerged and am coming up for air’, ‘…the bells can be heard / falling apart’, and in ‘Source’, the notes of a train are cited.  There are also direct references to music, for instance, ‘Chopin Opus 49’, the mention of which had me listening to the track as I read.

   Prayer, as with music, is both referenced directly, for instance in titles such as, ‘Sanctuary’, and in the content of poems, ‘there is the quiet of snow / and the quiet of church’ (‘I breathe as though I’ve been submerged and am coming up for air’). These motifs of prayer and music recur like echoes in a beautiful melody.

   The half-light of winter or early mornings is a frequent backdrop, ‘unable to sleep— the weir, the wind— / I’m walking the village before dawn,’ (‘Somewhere I’m not a blow-in’); ‘In the darkness you lie awake / hearing the front panes fret,…’, (‘Night Rain’). Virginia is sensitive to the fall and rise of light, and it’s these subdued parts of day and year that feature most in both poems and photographs.

   Intimacy is revealed through both memory and via dream references which Virginia uses skilfully, ‘I’m dreaming about you, / you’ve found me: at Michael’s / somehow trapped.’   (‘Old Songs’)

   Because of the quiet but passionate tone of the work, the more dramatic references in one of the pivotal poems placed at the centre of the collection are all the more arresting, ‘Your sister has married my ex, / the one I left for you;’, and, ‘But the last time I was in this house— / I can hardy speak— the last time, / was the day we buried you.’  (‘How did I ever think this would be OK?’), but even this poem is given space and quiet with use of em dashes and its gentle conversational tone. 

   These are quiet controlled poems inspiring a desire to visit the riverscape cited. Simplicity and an air of melancholy are complemented by photographs which enhance these qualities, photographs in which there’s no glare of sunlight, no dazzle. I highly recommendThe English River. It is best read and reread cover to cover, but each poem also stands alone, powerful in its own right, speaking directly of love and loss without succumbing to ornate or melodramatic language. I found myself breathing slowly as I read.

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Launch of Issue 4 of Coast to Coast to Coast: Liverpool, August 18th, 2018

Issue 4 of Coast to Coast to Coast launched in Falkner Square. Big thanks to Michael Allen for being part of our project and for sharing his wonderful space with us all.

The journal was first envisaged a few years ago as an original art piece which would combine distinctive, one-off pieces with contemporary poetry from both established poets we admired and strong work from emerging and ‘beginning’ poets.  Over the first year, Coast to Coast to Coast published poets from and sent journals all over the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe, to Mexico, India and The Emirates. Establishing a real community through the project has been one of the loveliest aspects of the project.

Our fourth launch marked our first birthday… we hope you enjoy photographs of our event and birthday cake. Thank you to our readers who purchase, and in some cases collect the journals. We sold out of Issue 1, and our Irish Issue, and have very few copies of Issue 4 remaining.

Here’s to our second year…

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Launch of Special Irish Edition at Belfast Book Festival, June 9th, 2018

Thanks to Maria McManus (, and Keith Acheson for ideas, invitation and welcome. It was a privilege to create journals for Belfast Book Festival and to hear so many of the poets, each with their distinctive voice and writerly concerns: John Mee, Heather Richardson, Stephanie Conn, Therese Kieran, Michael Farry, Annette Skade, Moyra Donaldson, Attracta Fahy, Paul Jeffcutt, Olive Broderick, Georgi Gill, Daragh Breen and Jane Robinson.

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a brief summary and photo memory of the launch of Issue 3, Falkner Square, April 7th 2018

The launch of Issue 3 at our new venue on Falkner square was a beautiful event introduced by Michael Allen who shared something of the history of the flat with its literary heritage. Carole Bromley, Pam Thompson, Michael Ferry, Rachael Smart, Mandy Macdonald, Peter Daniels, and Sandra Burnett read some of their work, and Michael and I read poems from those who couldn't make the launch*.

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Interview with Yvonne Reddick

Dr. Yvonne Reddick, born in Glasgow, has lived in Aberdeen, Berkshire and Kuwait. An award-winning poet and the author of three poetry pamphlets, Yvonne won a Northern Writers’ Award for poetry in 2016, was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon mentorship and a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2017, and has recently been awarded a Peggy Poole Award. Yvonne’s poems have appeared in magazines such as Stand and PN Review, and been translated into Greek and Swedish. She lives in Manchester and works as an academic researcher and lecturer. Her book on Ted Hughes’s environmentalism is published by Palgrave Macmillan. 

Originally published in The Honest Ulsterman

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Results of Coast to Coast to Coast Portfolio Competition

Michael and I have now completed our consideration of work submitted for Coast to Coast to Coast's first competition.

Many congratulations to the two poets who will have work published between hand stitched covers in limited edition journals, and to three poets each to have 2 poems in Issue 4 or Issue 5 of Coast to Coast to Coast. 

Runners up are:

Molly Vogel;

Russell Jones,

William Daunt

Winners are: 


Jane Lovell for her portfolio, Forbidden

Rebecca Gethin for her portfolio Messages

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Interview with Nuar Alsadir

Nuar Alsadir is a poet, writer, and psychoanalyst. She is the author of the poetry collections Fourth Person Singular (2017), a finalist for the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection in England and Ireland; and More Shadow Than Bird (Salt Publishing, 2012). Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Granta, The New York Times Magazine, BOMB, Slate, Grand Street, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry London, and the Poetry Review. Alsadir is a fellow at The New York Institute for the Humanities, on the faculty at New York University, and she works as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York.

Originally published in The Honest Ulsterman

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Interview with Zeina Hashem Beck

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet who won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize for her second collection, Louder than Hearts, about which Naomi Shihab Nye wrote, ‘Everything Arabic we treasure comes alive in these poems’. Zeina is also the author of two 2016 chapbooks: 3arabi Song, which was selected as winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and There Was and How Much There Was, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy. Zeina's first book, To Live in Autumn, focusing on Beirut, won the 2013 Backwaters Prize and was a runner-up for the 2014 Julie Suk Award.

Originally published in The Honest Ulsterman

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Coast to Coast to Coast: a new Poetry journal

We wanted to create a journal which was different to other poetry journals and magazines we admire and have subscribed to, and also wanted the journal to be a small piece of art in itself.

Coast to Coast to Coast will be launched at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool on Thursday August 17th where contributors to the journal, including Katharine Towers, John Foggin, Julie Hogg, and Will Daunt will read from their work. 

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