Contributing Editor at Poetry Wales

Some fabulous news! I feel so lucky to be about to commence… the first of three new roles as a contributing editor at the mighty Poetry Wales!! Really this is a dream come true as a Welsh poet come-editor of young and emerging writers.

Massive congratulations to fellow contributing editors-to-be, Marvin Thompson and Taylor Edmonds.

I’m already acquainted with the brilliant work of editor Jonathan Edwards and Jannat Ahmed at Poetry Wales, who I know are going to be great people to work with, and just… yes, buzzing!  Here’s my official quote (seeing as I’m not articulating myself so well right now 🙂

As a Welsh poet from a working-class background, I’m thrilled and honoured to take on the first of three Contributing Editor roles with Poetry Wales.

I think in part because of my background, and having several neurodiverse conditions, I’ve always been aware of the ways in which I haven’t ‘fit’. This not fitting consequently contributed to realising my potential as a poet later than I could have.

I’m really keen to see more diversity and representation at editorial level in poetry, and I’m very thankful to Poetry Wales for the opportunity to be part of this. I’m looking forward to reaching out to beckon in new voices, and to be an advocate for continuing the movement towards positive change that I’ve both seen, and been part of, in poetry over the last few years.

Thank you Magma!

Massive congratulations to Alexa Winik, the winner of the Magma Poetry Pamphlet competition 2020! It was amazing to be one of the ten shortlisted, for my pamphlet, The Cord, and to have my work published in Magma online, and receive the below feedback from judge, Mary Jean Chan (which is just so appreciated and lovely). I’m also buzzing to be 1 of 4 of the shortlisted who will have a poem in Magma issue 79 in print coming out early next year. Massive thanks again to Magma and Fiona Moore for an amazing opportunity, and to Mary Jean Chan for the wonderful, encouraging feedback!

Mary Jean Chan:
“These lyric poems are tender yet powerful domestic portraits, depicted with great attention to detail. There is humour and heartache here, and I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this pamphlet as I was choosing my shortlist. The final (and title) poem is breathtakingly gorgeous. As a long narrative piece, it sums up the whole pamphlet wonderfully and showcases Morris’ many poetic skills. There is much to admire in this vital pamphlet.”

Two Poems

Delighted to have two poems published on the mighty And Other Poems today. I love And Other Poems. It has such an extensive and amazing archive of poems and poets going back to 2012. They’ve generally closed for new work these days so I was excited to see a brief open window for submissions. Thank you to Josephine Corcoran.

Shortlisted in the Magma Poetry Pamphlet Competition

I’m absolutely overjoyed to be one of ten shortlisted in the Magma Poetry Pamphlet Competition judged by Mary Jean Chan. To make the shortlist out of I believe around 400 submissions is really such a boost and I’m so appreciative of this opportunity and the fact Mary Jean will give a little feedback on each of us. Thank you! 🙂

Mary Jean Chan’s general comment on the shortlist: “It was a joy and privilege to read through the longlisted pamphlets for the Magma Open Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2020. Those that ended up on my shortlist were ones that contained individual poems that merited multiple readings, poems that lingered in my mind after I had put them to one side. I was also looking for a sense of purpose and vision in these pamphlets, and many poets delivered just that. I’m sorry that there can only be one “winner”, but many of these pamphlets truly deserve to be published, read, and shared.”


Beautiful books…

Although busy, it’s been a lovely time recently with a lot of wonderful happenings. Here are some of them!

On Saturday, I went to the launch of The Language of Salt, a beautiful new anthology I’m very chuffed to be in from Fragmented Voices Press. I wasn’t reading so it was lovely to just sit back and listen to some amazing readings. If you are looking for a wonderful Christmas present on all things love – the sugar and salt of it – you can buy it here.

And this evening I’ve just enjoyed being part of the launch of The Untangling an Anthology by nine of us as Arvon Jerwood Mentees: three poets, three fiction and three playwrights. It’s been so nice to see the fruits of everyone’s work this year and mark a fond goodbye to a brilliant year with Arvon and working with a wonderful mentor, Hannah Lowe. The launch was mean to be in June but the pandemic put a stop to that and in the end we had to bite the Zoom bullet. But actually in was nice of Zoom and meant people like my sister, all the way over in Berlin, could be there with us. Congrats to all on a great showcase and thank you again to Arvon and Jerwood Arts.

October News…

If you see October, can you ask it where it’s gone? 😀 I can’t believe it’s morphed into November! This is always the busiest time of year for me but it feels like it more so than ever this year.

It’s been all go with Off the Shelf Festival of Words and various Hive related events including readings from Lauren Hollingsworth Smith and Georgie Woodhead with TS Eliot winning poet Roger Robinson, and Warda Yassin was crowned Sheffield’s new poet laureate (which is just brilliant news!) earlier this month – and it actually involved a live event, albeit at a very distanced Crucible Theatre. She’s also been shortlisted in the Women’s Poetry Prize. So proud of her and how she’s flying right not. Also her work on Hive’s Mixing Roots project.

I’ve been working away on lots of podcast content in between teaching, and designing and editing an anthology of poetry and fiction by the Sheffield Children in Care Council. It’s just back from the printers and I’m so pleased with how it’s turned out and all the work of the young people; many of whom, wouldn’t have called themselves writers not so long ago. I’ve been working with them on Zoom for the last few months and I’m going to miss them! They’ve written some brilliant work too, including some really powerful group pieces.  You can join us on Zoom for their launch on Thursday 12th Nov (link to follow). They really deserve your ears!

I’ll leave this here with a wonderful podcast I recently put together – Young, Gifted & Black, (in collaboration with REMA for Black History Month) showcasing the voices of up and coming local young poets of African heritage I have the pleasure of working with via Hive. They are: Taina Maneus, Verta Lune, Danae Wellington, Warda Yassin and Sile Sibanda. I hope you’ll bring joy to your ears by listening it >>

Hello Autumn

Good evening.. October is here and so quickly! It’s always one of the busiest times of year and despite lockdown, it’s still full-on. So, a few wee updates…

Next week I’m leading a workshop for Wakefield LitFest which I’m looking forward to. If you’re a young person 14-25 in the Wakefield region with a poetry itch to scratch, get in touch!

Also, the fantastic Birdlife Podcast is here! And let’s be honest, when don’t we need birdsong? I for one feel that the birds of spring were pure magic going into lockdown. Even if you’re not into birds, I would definitely recommend the poetry side. Dave the Dunnock is a must listen! I’ve got a poem about wrens on there too.

It’s Off the Shelf Festival of Words starting next week in Sheffield (except it’s everywhere because it’s mostly online!). Hive is involved with various young writer happening. You can find out more here.

Aurora Poetry Prize 2020

I’m just updating this post to say – I’m delighted to have been awarded first place in the Aurora Poetry Prize! Not really sure what to say so I won’t add anything else except, I’m so grateful to Writing East Midlands and to Helen Mort who judged and said lovely things about my work. Such a lovely boost. Thank you!

Lovely bit of news! I’ve been shortlisted for the Aurora Poetry Prize 2020 judged by Helen Mort. Really boosted to be in the top 10 considering they had 900 entries between poetry and fiction! I think they will announce the winners in early Sept.  In other news the brilliant Mixing Roots is back with Hive, led by three of the most inspirational young women I’m honoured to know – Warda Yassin, Danae Wellington & Sile Sibanda. If you are or know of, any young people of colour aged 14 to 21 in South Yorkshire, please send them our way or come through yourself! 🙂

Inventory of Small Pleasures (poem)

A while back, I mentioned I’d been asked to write a poem for the Small Pleasures project with Dina Sheffield. Along with 9 other poets, and 10 artists, this is the result of our creative doings:, a wonderful range of work exploring all things small and pleasurable during lockdown. As mine is quite long on the page, I’ve recorded an audio version here (so it’s accessible to my mum!) and anyone else who wants to listen. Thanks again to Jemima, Evelyn and all at Dina for the opportunity to turn something of lockdown into art!

Our Rotherham film poem commission

I’m so proud to have written this poem with Rotherham Young Writers celebrating Rotherham for Yorkshire Day 2020 commissioned by RMBC. And that it’s been made into a film by the brilliant John Slemenek at Studio Bokehgo.

The poem came together through poetry workshopping and note gathering with Rotherham Young Writers, and such were the reams everyone had to say about it, the full version of the poem (hopefully to be recorded soon!) was twice as long as what was possible for the film.

It’s been so lovely to see the emotional responses to the film and the pride people feel for Rotherham that’s reflected so beautifully in it. In recent years, it’s had a lot of bad press weighing it down, but it’s such an amazing town and people, with, as the poem says, so much heritage and natural beauty. Rotherham Young Writers and I are very proud to have represented it.

Thanks to RMBC Events team: Jane, Sarah and all for working with our vision for this poem and trusting us to do Rotherham proud!
We also must thank: Emma Sharpe (REMA), Jen Booth, Tair Rafiq and Karen Eynon for letting us pick their brains!