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Tag Archives: Geraldine Clarkson

Mentoring and Critical Appraisals

The Tears in the Fence editors now offer more Mentoring and Critical Appraisals in poetry, drama, performance, scriptwriting and voice work.

Playwright, Performance Studies Lecturer, and poet, Louise Buchler is offering Mentoring in Scriptwriting and Verse Drama under the same scheme. She has more than twelve years of experience lecturing in Writing for both Stage and Screen. She made the shortlist for the National Theatre London’s Africa Playwriting Competition recognising her as one of the top twenty playwrights on the African continent. Her plays have been widely performed. Her poetry has been published in Tears in the Fence and various publications in South Africa. Louise is also available for Performance and Voice coaching. Please email Louise at

Poet, essayist and editor, David Caddy offers critical appraisals and mentoring in Poetry, Flash Fiction and Publication for other literary genres and projects. This involves taking a manuscript from first draft to publication, advising on where to send your work and the range of available options for a prospective poet and author.

Recent comments on their mentoring include:

‘The appraisals from David and Louise were thoughtful and precise. Their feedback ranged from specific matters of craft to the broader question of how I might take my writing forward. They responded to the work on its own terms and even picked up on recurring motifs and concerns I hadn’t been aware of myself.’ Phil Baber

‘David’s critical appraisals are immeasurably helpful. His work
towards my first full collection was immensely useful.’ Jessica Mookherjee

‘David’s close and perceptive reading of each poem, help with ordering and sequencing my pamphlet collections, and support with my first full collection has been enormous. I thoroughly recommend his critical and mentoring services.’ Geraldine Clarkson

For more details visit

Primers: Volume One Selected by Kathryn Maris and Jane Commane (Nine Arches Press)

Primers: Volume One Selected by Kathryn Maris and Jane Commane (Nine Arches Press)

This collaboration between the Poetry School and Nine Arches Press to find new voices in poetry collects together work from four poets, two of whom work through language and two do not. I like the idea of showcasing new and emerging poets in one book.

Primers: Volume One features introductions to each featured poet.
This is poor practice unless what is written is critically substantiated, and does not serve to limit the potential reading experience. It is far better to let the poems speak for themselves. In this case, there are some excellent poems on display, and they do not need any of the crassness offered in the introductions.

Geraldine Clarkson, widely published in a range of poetry journals, winner of the Poetry London and Ambit competitions, the Ver Poets Prize, the Magma Editors Prize and the Anne Born Prize in 2015, is surely almost an established poet. Here she ‘converts unspecified grief, salvation and joy into exhilarating, whimsical music by way of her dynamic and transformative imagination.’ I am not sure that Clarkson’s work can be so pigeon holed, as several of her poems, such as, ‘Podcarp’, ‘Camelament’, and ‘a young woman undressed me and’ with their distinct narrative voices are from a completely different ethos and tradition of poetry:

and raw: muhuuhu muhuuhu ph ph hmmmhu hm
she touched my lip with a shapely thumb
shhh, don’t fret. her voice like jinxed june breezes
in lime leaves. and then. her voice like rills rushing over flint
and dazzling in sunlight. we’ll get you undressed and then
we’ll see to that. just a moment now. and still
she continues to undress me

Maureen Cullen’s use of variant Scots dialect allows her to begin to work through language. The narrative voices though offer a limited range of focus and attention and are too reliant upon lived experience to elevate them beyond childhood and family memoir. These low-key poems are under-realised and a missed opportunity to extend or transcend the tradition. Katie Griffiths’ poetry far from being ‘steely and unsettling’ does at least offer a more angular approach and are less mundane. Sadly, they are intent on telling the reader and leave little for the imagination. Lucy Ingrams’ poems have been more worked upon and offer much greater rewards. The opening poem, ‘Signs’ shakes and rattles with voices working through language:

through wearing them naked as gooseflesh
still and looked for a text to hook yours to
red in the willow crowns plum in the birch
patterns of gnats looked for a language

larger than us tremor of catkins

It is this working through that is so evident in the work of Ingrams and Clarkson that makes their work and this Primers a joy to read.

David Caddy 18th July 2016

Tears in the Fence 57 is out!

Tears in the Fence 57 is out!

Tears in the Fence 57 is out! It is available from and features poetry and fiction by Sean Street, Elizabeth Welsh, Lou Wilford, Pansy Maurer-Alvarez, Ben Hickman, Karoline von Günderrode, Lori Jakiela, Paul Kareem Tayyar, Rosie Jackson, Isobel Armstrong, Steven Earnshaw, Sarah Miller, Paul Matthews, Alexandra Sashe, Susmita Bhattacharya, Claire Crowther, Alistair Noon, Mélisande Fitzsimons, Gerard Greenway, Adam Fieled, Jennifer Compton, Alison Lock, Kevin McCann, Dorothy Lehane, Andrew Shelley, Melinda Lovell, Peter Robinson, Tess Joyce, Tim Allen, Jaime Robles, Noel King,  Geraldine Clarkson, Gavin Selerie, Steve Spence, Eleanor Perry and many others.


The critical section includes selections from Letters From Andrew Crozier to Ian Brinton, Andrew Duncan on Fiona Sampson’s Beyond The Lyric, Chrissy Williams on Chris McCabe, Michael Grant On Writing, Laurie Duggan on Geraldine Monk’s Cusp, Jeremy Hilton on David Caddy, John Welch, Robert Hampson on Ben Hickman, Sheila Hamilton on Melissa Lee-Houghton, Lindsey Holland, Frances Spurrier on The Best of British Poetry, Mandy Pannett on Rocco Scotellaro, Ian Brinton on Donald Davie, Jay Ramsay on Norman Jope, Pauline Stainer, Michael Grant on Anthony Barnett, Ric Hool on Mario Petrucci, Richard Humphreys on Clive Wilmer, Ben Hickman on Wide Range Chapbooks, and regular columnists David Caddy, Rosie Jackson, Anthony Barnett and Ian Brinton.





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