Editions is Agenda’s own publishing
which produces small, beautifully printed,
limited editions of an individual’s poems.
New, Recent and Forthcoming Poetry
from Agenda Editions:
Visit the online bookshop to place your order or contact Agenda Editions, Harts Cottage, Stonehurst Lane, Five Ashes, Mayfield, East Sussex TN20 6LL or email: email@example.com
New Statesman Review of Josephine Balmer's Letting Go & Paths of Survival
Josephine Balmer’s delicate yet powerful sequence traces the devastating impact of her mother’s sudden death. Employing Balmer’s characteristic blend of original poetry and classical versioning, Letting Go: Thirty Mourning Sonnets and two poems draws on a variety of sources and inspirations, from Virgil’s Georgics to Google’s Street View. Heartbreaking but ultimately healing, these poems re-enact the crushing pain – and final acceptance – of a bereavement that ‘feels like too little love. Or too much’.
Josephine Balmer: Biography
Josephine Balmer’s latest collections include The Paths of Survival (Shearsman, 2017), The Word for Sorrow (Salt, 2013) and Chasing Catullus: Poems, Translations & Transgressions (Bloodaxe, 2004). She has also translated Sappho, Classical Women Poets and Catullus, all for Bloodaxe. Her study of classical translation and poetic versioning, Piecing Together The Fragments, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. Single poems and translations have appeared in many publications including Agenda, Arion, Horizon, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, Long Poem Magazine, Modern Poetry in Translation, New Statesman, The Observer and The Wolf, and been anthologised widely as well as broadcast on many radio and TV programmes. She writes on poetry and translation for several newspapers and journals including TLS, New Statesman and The Times, for which she sets the daily Word Watch and weekly Literary Quiz. She studied Classics and Ancient History at University College, London, and was awarded a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing by the University of East Anglia. She lives on the edge of the Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, with her husband, the journalist Paul Dunn, and one dog.
Praise for Josephine Balmer:
On The Word for Sorrow:
‘Brilliant and original... Balmer’s meditations on the possibilities of connection and difference across the centuries [offer] the hope of genuine understanding and the peace of reconciliation’
Margaret Reynolds, The Times
‘Balmer has created a genre of her own: a kind of historical docupoem, a collage of voices in which authenticity is as important as art’
Kate Bingham, Poetry London
Josephine Balmer’s poetry moves beautifully...and indeed bravely’
‘These poems are proof of how the ancient myths and texts still live and work...Local, personal (in the best way) and connected...commonly human, reaching far back.’
On Chasing Catullus:
‘Wry, lyrical, invariably learned...a gripping read’
Edith Hall, TLS
‘Alchemy achieved in poetry’
Paschalis Nikolaou, The London Magazine
‘A moving and powerful sequence’
Glyn Pursglove, Acumen
On Catullus: Poems of Love and Hate:
Christina Patterson, The Independent
On Sappho: Poems and Fragments:
‘Balmer...modestly fulfils Boris Pasternak’s demand that “ideally translation too will be a work of art; sharing a common text, it will stand alongside the original, unrepeatable in its own right”’
Christopher Logue, Literary Review
Publication date: July 3rd 2017
Advance copies available from the Agenda Editions bookshop
Tony Conran: Three Symphonies (Agenda Editions 2016)
ISBN: 978-1-908527-25-7 Price £10 plus
p&p Publication date: June 2016 Available to purchase
from the Agenda Bookshop
Events to celebrate the
launch of Three Symphonies
The Conran Poetry Chorus will
perform selections from each of the Symphonies at the following events to
celebrate the launch of Tony Conran’s final volume of poetry:
Aberystwyth: Saturday 08 October 2016 7.30pm Y
Drwm, National Library of Wales, Penglais Road, Aberystwyth SY23
3BU Visit the news page for full details.
London: The Art Workers’
Guild, Queens Square, London, WC1N 3AT as the final event in a one day
colloquium of the David Jones Society ‘(Starlight Order)’.
March 11th 2017
Visit the news page for full details.
Visit Agenda Audio Recordings to
listen to extracts from:
Remembered’ performed at Another Festival, Caernarfon July 2015
In his final group of
symphonies, Conran explores life, love, theology, creation, creativity and even
historical themes using a wide range of poetic and imaginative techniques. The
three symphonies complement and contrast with each other and show the poet still
at the height of his imaginative power. The imagery draws on science, religion,
family life (in The Magi), work (in Fabrics), the poetic and creative experience
(in Everworlds); displaying humour, wonder and compassion for the human
In his perceptive introduction to the poetry
Jeremy Hooker writes: ‘Three Symphonies draws on their maker’s
life-story, but as part of the story of life itself, and with an objectivity
that subsumes personal emotion in a larger rendering of human experience in
relation to the natural and divine creation. What Conran enacts in these poems
is a sacred drama.’
Tony Conran, biographical
Tony Conran (1931-2013) was an
ambitious and accomplished poet, a daring Modernist, in the line of Pound,
Bunting, MacDiarmid and David Jones. An outstanding translator of Welsh
language poetry, he built on the radically different relationship between the
poet and society he found there to create a distinctive, powerful and humane
poetic vision. His many volumes of poetry include Blodeuwedd (Poetry
Wales Press 1988) Castles (Gomer 1993) and What Brings You Here So
Late (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch 2008). He was also a perceptive and often
challenging critic, a dramatist and an influential teacher at the University of
Bangor in North Wales.
Born in India, Tony Conran was
brought up in Liverpool and Colwyn Bay, worked for a short time in Chelmsford
before settling in Bangor. He was deeply interested in music – classical and
folk traditions; science – including botany, chemistry and geology; theology and
political theory. He translated Dante and Latin poets as well as Welsh poetry.
Other publications include Welsh Verse (Seren 1986), Peacemakers (Gomer 1997, translations of the poetry of
Waldo Williams), Frontiers in Anglo Welsh Poetry (University of Wales
Press 1997, critical essays).
Launch Event for Three Symphonies by Tony
The Conran Poetry Chorus performed in Bangor on
6th July in celebration of the publication of Three
Symphonies – the final unpublished volume of poetry of their founder and
inspiration, the late Tony Conran. An enthusiastic audience of poetry lovers
enjoyed a vibrant performance which included music by local musician and
composer Sioned Webb on harp, pipe and percussion. The readers were - actor
Dyfan Roberts, voice performers Sheila Brook and John Griffiths and Lesley
Conran who now directs the group.
Lesley Conran, Sheila Brook and Dyfan
‘Such moving, insightful lyrics in these lovely Letters to Akhmatova.... and what an ear Patricia McCarthy has for melody!’
Elaine Feinstein, Akhmatova’s translator and biographer
‘This is a work to relish. The details and understanding of the details are incredible, ringing true and alive in Patricia McCarthy’s descriptions, the format is easy and leads on and on with a real inevitability of telling and rhythm’. The pathos is there but it is encompassed in the truth of the details and is the first (of so many!) approaches to Akhmatova that rings of real personal commitment and love rather than an exercise in worship or a clinging to myth. I really think this is a truly valuable publication. My admiration!’
John F Deane, founder of Poetry Ireland and of The Dedalus Press
‘I have followed Patricia McCarthy’s work with great interest since the seventies. She is one of those rare poets that, like a good wine, improves with age. I think this is her best book so far.’
‘Taking her epigraph from an old Egyptian saying, “To speak of the dead is to make them live once again”, Patricia McCarthy’s Letters to Akhmatova addresses a tragedy the Western imagination still finds difficult to grasp. In ten poems and postscripts – the letters of the title – McCarthy communes with Akhmatova’s sprit and life, from the opening poem suggesting that ‘your spells/white-witching, could put the devil to rout’. This may seem like wishful-thinking, but as the bureaucrats of the Soviet killing-machine are gradually reduced to names on forgotten index cards, it is Requiem and Poem without a Hero that are written into our collective memory. In Rodin’s Shadow, McCarthy captured a familiar European artistic milieu. Letters to Akhmatova attempts something even more ambitious, a moving and urgently challenging recreation of an imagination defying the horrors of history.’
I am awe-struck by your long poem. It has such startling, accurate images, such lovely rhythms in its speech patterns, and repetitive echoes of images which unify the whole work (rather akin to the Four Quartets). Internalised images, classical allusions used to great effect, clever play on words, painterly colour – all offer so many layers and levels of meaning.
W S Milne
David Pollard displays an uncanny ability to let words collide so as to interrupt their sense, only then to renew their saying power somewhere beyond the limit of fixed speech. His artistry turns words—in his own words—into ‘glancing letters of illumination craning into the darkness’.
This is a remarkable and illuminating collection. It has already rewarded more than one reading and I am sure it will richly reward many more.
Glyn Pursglove in Acumen
Each of these poems stand alone as a finely constructed piece in its own right, but collectively Pollard’s book builds and offers great insight into some of the most influential artists throughout history. The depth of the verse is delightful, providing fresh perspectives on art and poetry. Self-Portraits is highly recommended read.
Mhairi Anton DURA
On Risk of Skin:
There are strong rhythmic echoes of the natural world, Keatsean influences throughout the poems… A difficult and beautiful collection. Any one of these poems merits the attention of at least six hundred words.
Beth McDonough for DURA
This is a nuanced, sparse and intense testimony from the bedside of a life coming to an end. Pared of all punctuation, shifting subtly from one impression or memory to another, the poems repay, and even demand, a number of re-readings.
Alasdair Paterson in Stride
Published by Agenda Editions 15th Dec 2014
Storysongs/Chantefables – French poems by Robert Desnos,
English versions by Timothy Adès, Illustrations by Cat Zaza
A charming bilingualbook for children and adults to sing to any tune. The brilliant French poet and surrealist Robert Desnos, 1900-45, wrote these thirty ‘Storysongs’ or 'Chantefables' in 1943, shortly before he was deported as a Resistant. They were quickly published, but he never saw them in print.
These little whimsies of the animal world have delighted generations of French children. Now at last they have been skilfully put into English by the translator-poet, Timothy Adès. This book is bilingual and is adorned with superb illustrations by the award-winning graphic artist Cat Zaza (Caterina Zandonella).
Hardback, full colour covers and illustrations
Price: £11, 12 euros
Available from the Agenda online bookshop or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Man Standing by Stuart Medland
This elegiac poetry collection is haunting, harrowing and uplifting. The personal subject matter expands beyond itself into the universal. Medland’s voice is gutsy, honed and he brings back to life his beloved father in this compelling sequence. He bravely exposes a way of dealing with the shock of a cancer diagnosis and proves the human spirit can shine through in the most difficult of times. The vignettes later in the book capturing an England that has almost vanished reminiscent of Larkin.
W S Milne
A primary school teacher in Norfolk for much of his life, Stuart Medland has always written for children and two collections of poems, Pine Cone & Harvest Mouse, published by Lark’s Press, are from these years.
Much of Stuart’s writing results from his passion for natural history and a forthcoming book, Rings in the Shingle, published by Brambleby Books, is a poetic celebration of the wildlife of the North Norfolk Coast inspired by his own photographic encounters. Ouzel on the Honister, a collection of poems culled from his many visits to the Lake District where he has a small cottage, is currently in preparation with Original Plus.
He is a regular contributor to Agenda and has had other individual poems published in Poetry Cornwall and Obsessed with Pipework.
Stuart has a grown-up son, Dan, and a daughter, Col, and has strong family connections with the West Country. He lives with his long-time partner, Beth, in the Norfolk village of Hindringham.
Last Man Standing is Stuart’s first major collection.
Horses Between Our Legs by Patricia McCarthy
Patricia McCarthy’s National Prize winning poem, ‘Clothes that escaped the Great War’ follows on from the wonderful poems written by poets like Owen and Sassoon about their war experience, to show the grief of the women who were left behind.
Vicki Feaver, Poetry Review
This is a terrific collection. Patricia McCarthy is an irresistible teller of unforgettable stories, of the ‘buckling cart’ carrying ‘clothes that escaped the Great War’, of the haunting relics of a requisitioned horse, ‘your hairs preserved in silent dandy brushes’. Her skilful poems recall, in urgent rhythms, the lost and brave, the galloping women of the Nursing Yeomanry, who ‘sat tall’, the ‘Munitionettes’ in ‘toxic fumes’: ‘Lilian, Mabel, Elsie, Pearl’.
Patricia McCarthy’s impressive new collection excavates fascinating new perspectives on the Great War. Whether writing about her own family history or well-known figures, her deft and delicate verse achieves the admirable task of rendering the personal universal, as well as offering a new sense of intimacy to wider historical conflicts. Sweeping through it all are the poet’s beloved horses – heartbreakingly requisitioned for active service in the war, as McCarthy fashions eloquent and poignant memorials to ‘each hoof, bone, sinew’. Above all, here are poems which achieve the rare distinction of standing both inside and outside time, as McCarthy observes of Franz Marc’s Blue Horse paintings, ‘in a future already their past’.
THE ECHOING COASTLINE by Byron Beynon
The Echoing Coastline is Byron Beynon’s seventh eclectic and engaging collection. The changing nuances of the bond between humankind and the natural world form the basis of these lyrical poems which sing in the ear long after they have been read. Thoughtful and observant, humane and cosmopolitan, they are concerned with Wales but look beyond Wales to a wider world, transforming the particular to the universal.
Byron Beynon was born in Swansea and brought up in Carmarthenshire. He has lived and worked in London, Cardiff, Norway, France and Australia. He has worked as a tutor at Swansea University where he has devised, introduced and taught several modules including “The Growth of Anglo Welsh Literature”; “The Pity of War”; “Landscape and Poetry”’, “Home from Home for Thomases”; “The Life and Poetry of Idris Davies”; and “In Two Fields”. He has also been involved in teaching BA Honours degree courses as well as taking Creative Writing workshops at the Dylan Thomas Centre.
He has read his work at a number of venues in Wales; also at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Hay Festival, Cork and the Swedenborg Hall in Bloomsbury, London. His work won an award in the Scottish International Open Poetry Competition and a sequence of his poems, inspired by the work of Vincent Van Gogh, appeared in a Painters and Poets exhibition in Harrow. His work has appeared in numerous publications in the UK, the US and elsewhere and his work has been widely anthologised.
Mexico by Gary Allen.
Mexico is a powerful, substantial new collection from Northern Irish poet, Gary Allen, described by Sebastian Barker as ‘one of the more urgent and accurate writers now writing. Mexico, the title, is also a theme – another country, another continent of the mind – that runs like a vein of gold through the collection. It provides a link between many of the poems, suggesting that, although we are alive in the actual moment, we also occupy, mentally, another plane of suffering and despair. From Ireland, across Europe, and farther afield, ‘Mexico’ explores, defines, and understands the loss and pain in each of us. As poet Medbh McGuckian says: ‘Unusual in their sensitivity to the particular vulnerability of women, these poems hover on the edge of despair, but also offer a valuable and much needed insight into the thwarted lives of the poor.’ Martin Mooney also praises the poems in this new collection which are ‘electrified when you least expect it by visceral epiphanies of love, sex, and death – like human memory itself. He summons up the textures of language and experience with impressive fluency.’
Gary Allen was born in Ballymena, Nr.Ireland. He has travelled and worked throughout Europe, settling in Holland for some years, before returning home. He is an award-winning poet, with eleven published collections, including, ‘Languages,’ Flambard Press, 2002, ‘Iscariot’s Dream,’ Agenda Editions, 2008, and, ‘Ha, Ha,’ Lagan Press, 2011. He has been widely published in literary magazines throughout Ireland, UK, mainland Europe, U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand. A selection of his poems was published in the anthology, ‘The New North,’ Wake Forest University Press, North Carolina, and in the UK by Salt Publishing. He has also published a novel, ‘Cillin,’ Black Mountain Press, 2005, and a collection of short stories, ‘Introductions,’ Lagan Press, 2005.
Due for Publication by Agenda Editions / Clutag Press
‘Rodin’s Shadow is a tour de force with its impressive energy, and the almost uncanny smell of the real that it gives off. And these women are real, that’s for sure. I love the way the sections feed off each other and there’s a powerful sense of accrual. There are changes in pace, changes in tempo, twists in diction, all of which ensure that the register is up, the momentum brightening; they never threaten the unity of the whole piece, however, and this makes for a page-turner. A highly ambitious, highly original and achieved book, full of passionate endeavour’...Tim Liardet
‘This collection is truly moving. The poems are energetic, exciting, demanding and rewarding. Patricia McCarthy is doing something unique here, using persona and art history to great effect. There is an energy to the language, and a half-wild experimentation that is uplifting and yet controlled. The shifting between rhyme and free verse is also exact and exacting. There is a fine labour manifest throughout and I find the whole a rich achievement’... John F. Deane
‘I am struck by the poignancy of this collection and particularly like the sense of place in many of the poems which pull off the rare trick of being deeply personal yet, through Patricia McCarthy’s deft poetic skill – the ethereal imagery, the subtle use of rhyme and line foregrounding – become at the same time universal. This collection is a tour de force, so assured poetically and dramatically. Sensual, atmospheric, engaging, highly moving at the end, with a wonderful sense of narrative drive, the work is of a consistently high quality’... Josephine Balmer
‘Hats off to Rodin’s Shadow. It is excellent: intense, oneiric, erotic, very poetic, very passionate, and deeply knowledgeable about its characters and background. An exhausting but thoroughly enjoyable exploration of the psychic territory of those brilliant, destroyed women. There is so much behind the writing, and there isn’t a single dud poem here’...Tony Roberts
‘These poems take Camille Claudel, Gwen John and Rose Beuret as starting points and muses, spinning out from their stories and emotions beautiful, lyrical poems, sometimes in an elegiac tone, sometimes even flooded with tragedy and regret, but also with a visceral, muscular hold on everyday reality, physical, outspoken and sustained through Patricia McCarthy’s inimitable, elegant style and polish’...Sue Roe
Order your copy now at the Agenda Online Bookshop
‘Sabbagh is a rare and gifted poet. He brings enormous pressure to bear on
his themes – love, existential meaning, the rage against darkness, an identity
finely tuned to both Beirut and the West – marshalling philosophy and literary
allusion with intelligence and elegance so that the reader is immersed in his
distinctive world in which ‘…sense has two meanings: / To make you see and to
make you see.’ (After Conrad’s Preface…). Waxed Mahogany has the
hallmarks of his previous two collections – an emotional intensity and vivid
honesty in constant dialogue with the metaphysical and analytical – but with an
increasingly assured voice and daring range; an extraordinary and exciting
Dr Jan Fortune
Editor, Cinnamon Press & Envoi
‘In Waxed Mahoghany you
will find poems written by an audacious young poet that cover the topics most
young poets write on: parents, elegies, lust and longing, mortality; but unlike
many published today, you will not find ordinary language in any of them.
Perhaps it comes from Sabbagh’s dual identity as Arab and Englishman, but one
hears echoes of Mahmoud Darwish, Nizar Qabbani, Fady Joudah in the poems’
alliterations, bold rhymes, surprising metaphors, richness in noun and verb.
Sabbagh writes with a refreshing, muscular formalism to challenge the pallid
‘free verse’ so much in vogue. A winner.’
Norbert Hirschhorn, MD, author of Monastery Of
Order your copy now at the Agenda Online Bookshop
Powerful and coherent….. a
singular voice in Irish poetry……things unsaid hovering at the edges of the poems
that give them a haunted and disturbing charge. Joseph Horgan’s poems resonate
particularly powerfully in the shifting culture of Ireland today with its
massive transformation in population and community. In the contemporary reality
we need poets who will sing homelessness and rootlessness. We should cherish
these voices which bring an aboriginal consciousness to the present moment.
I find in Joseph Horgan’s poems the cool
detachment and severed strength of the loner; the poems hover at times on the
verge of self-mockery. His sense of humour chuckles at his own endlessly active
intelligence. Joseph Horgan’s poetry is rich in strong, unusual qualities.
These poems sting like whiskey and imbibing them
it is easy to see why Horgan was garlanded with 2004’s Patrick Kavanagh
Billy Ramsell, The Stinging Fly
Brian Whelan, this astonishing
artist, is drawn to themes of the utmost profundity and yet treats them with a
whimsical originality that is surprisingly affecting. This is very strong art:
not for aesthetic wimps.
Beckett, Art historian and critic
‘Brian – keep the brush in your hand!’
In this compelling first
collection, Caroline Clark plays with languages and with language itself. Her
vision is pure and touched with the numinous. Her poems, delicate yet strong, at
times impressionistic, catch different lights, essences, tastes and colours –
all laid on carefully with a palette knife. Through time and place she leads the
reader to the centre of things in a sure, promising voice totally her own.
Jean Cassou’s The Madness of Amadis and other poems,
translated by Timothy Adès (£9.99)
(Bilingual edition: French and English on facing pages)
Jean Cassou, a war time Resistance leader in France, is still somewhat under-appreciated. These intriguing poems represent the body of Cassou’s work, following his famous 33 Sonnets of the Resistance (also translated by Timothy Adès), composed and memorised while Cassou was in prison, forbidden any writing materials.
‘Without strain, Adès creates
a perfect mirror for Cassou’s language’…
‘He has done the literate British a huge service’…
‘Cassou’s shade must be glowing’…
‘Ades’ sensitivity xrays the heart of every poem’.
A Woman Called Rose
and other poems
Published July 2011: Spanish poems translated by Arthur Terry who, just
before he died, sent a hand-written letter to William Cookson, expressing
a strong wish for Agenda Editions to bring this collection out. This has at
last been made possible by a generous grant from the estate of the late
Elizabeth Robertson, a lover of poetry.
Arthur Terry was part of the Belfast Writing Group which included such
well-known poets as Seamus Heaney, Philip Hobsbaum, Michael Longley,
James Simmons and Derek Mahon.
Price: £9 (plus P&P)
Order from: email@example.com
This long poem is a response to Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra, rendering in strong and urgent language Nietzsche’s call to a journey away from accepted norms and towards true self-realisation. By turns lyrical and acerbic, and deploying many different voices, the poem offers an imaginative engagement with the challenges posed by Nietzsche’s figure of Zarathustra. The cover illustration and the drawings placed throughout the book come from a complementary body of painting and sculpture in which the poet explores the nature of masks and effigies.
Published by Agenda Editions
East Sussex TN20 6TL
ISBN 978-0-902400-93-1 Price £10
Gary Allen: Iscariot’s Dream (£8.99)
This poignant, multi-layered collection – particularly relevant for our day in its treatment of treachery, and its detailed, graphic rendering of violence as something revolting, not to be mythologised – is the fourth collection by Gary Allen. It is ‘thronged with the undead’, living ghosts from classical mythology, from the Bible, and from the more recent ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Gary Allen, who was born in Ballymena, Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland, uses his childhood memories to give a gripping reality to this book. He has published three very well-received collections of poetry, the last of which, North of Nowhere, came from Lagan Press in 2006. He has also published a novel, Cillin (Black Mountain, 2005) and a collection of short stories, Introductions (Lagan Press, 2007).
‘A Courageous and stunning work’…
‘Six poems in, the reader is wrenched awake, and to the realisation: something
very brave is being done’…
Ailbhe Darcy in the monthly arts supplement
of The Newsletter
Jan Farquharson: No Dammed Tears(£8.99+£1 p&p)
Dante: The Divine Comedy, translated by Laurence Binyon, with La Vita Nuova, translated by D.G. Rossetti
(revised edition) (£10+£1 p&p)
Kenneth Cox: Collected Studies in the Use of English (£12+£1 p&p)
Agenda Editions presents
The Book of Hours
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Christine McNeill
and Patricia McCarthy
A fresh translation/version of this masterwork by Rilke particularly
relevant to our present day: a fine entrance to the rest of his poetry.
Rarely available in English.
£10.99 incl p & p
John Montague: A
Smile Between The Stones, translations
Sur La Dernière Lande by
Claude Esteban, who gained the first
Prix Goncourt ever
for poetry (usually awarded for prose). (£7.99+£1 p&p)
Desmond O'Grady: Kurdish
Poems of Love and Liberty (£9.99+£1 p&p)
Grey Gowrie: The
Domino Hymn – poems
from Harefield (£10+£1 p&p)
Steven O'Brien: Dark Hill Dreams ( £8.99 + £1 p&p ) (a first collection from this Irish/first Generation British poet).
For further details and to order, contact Agenda
Editions, The Wheelwrights, Fletching Street,
Mayfield, East Sussex TN20 6TL or email: firstname.lastname@example.org