Openings 39 available now!

Openings 39, the annual anthology of The Poetry Society of the Open University, is available now. This anthology includes 35 poems which have appeared in the Society’s workshop magazines during 2021. Members vote for the poems that they have enjoyed most. The most popular find themselves in the anthology. Themes and styles are as varied as ever, including poems on parenthood, childhood, memories of loved ones, art, classic cars, platonic love, a ghost ship, landmarks, ancestry and even an ode to an octopus.

This year’s contributors are: Alice Harrison; Nigel Kent; Denis Ahern; Jim Lindop; Kimberley Pulling; Polly Stretton; Rob Lowe; Hilary Mellon; Phil Craddock; Colin Rennie; Christine Frederick; Julie Anne Gilligan; Cate Cody; Judi Moore; Vicki Morley; David Dennis; Jane Avery; Kate Young; Julie Stamp; Lem Ibbotson; Karen MacFarlane; Barbara Cumbers; Sally James; K.J. Barrett; Ross McGivern; Adrian Green; Pru Bankes Price; Susan Jarvis Bryant; Sue Spiers; Katherine Rawlings; Jenny Hamlet; Tim Field; John Starbuck; Rosie Douglas; Dave Sinclair.

Thanks to Alice Harrison and Sue Spiers for putting this together.

Click here to obtain a copy.

A new collection by an OU Poet

We are delighted to announce that yet another OU Poet, Kate Young, is about to have her debut collection published: A Spark of Darkness.

Editor of Hedgehog Poetry Press, Mark Davidson, describes her poetry as having “a deceptively simple depth and truth that speaks of an old soul, but one that can almost divine the streams of common feeling that are cascading below the surface. A Spark in the Darkness is exactly that, a burgeoning brightness of life in a time of horror, sorrow and pain. Simply put, Kate Young is an observer as much as she is a witness and her debut collection is utterly compelling.”

Kate’s work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Some of her poems appeared in Liberté, égalité, fraternité, published by Hedgehog Press, she was placed 3rd in the Vernal Equinox Competition in 2021, won the Tiny Things competition from Stirling Makar and was commended in the 2022 Indigo Poetry Prize.

Congratulations Kate! We can’t wait to read it.

Two new collections from OU Poets members

This month sees the launch of two new collections by longstanding members of the Poetry Society of the Open University: In the Simmer Dim by Barbara Cumbers and Time Matters by Julie Anne Gilligan.

In the simmer dim is a collection of poems written as a result of Barbara Cumbers’ residency in Scalloway, Shetland, in November 2017, and of her several visits to the islands as a geologist. The title is the Shetland phrase for the nights in summer when the sun scarcely dips below the horizon before rising again. Barbara lives in London. Now retired, she earned her living as an information officer in the NHS and as a part-time lecturer in geology. She has had poems published in various magazines and small press anthologies. Her first collection, A gap in the rain, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016.

The intelligent and playful poems in Julie Anne Gilligan’s Time Matters, offer reflections on the subject of time from a range of perspectives and in diverse forms and styles. Julie’s poems have appeared in several anthologies, e-zines and journals. Her debut collection The Thickness of Blood was published in 2012. She holds several qualifications, including The Open University MA in Creative Writing (2018).

For more information regarding these exciting new publications, click here.

Time to Vote Again

Yes, it’s that time of the year again and the Saboteur Awards are up and running. For the second year in a row, one of our members, Nigel Kent, has been shortlisted for the Reviewer of Literature category.

He began a blog in August 2020 to help publicise debut collections of poets, published by small poetry presses which do not have the marketing budgets of major publishers. This blog features a two week cycle of drop ins and reviews. In week one the author of the collection reflects on a poem from the collection and in week two Nigel publishes his review.

Since starting the blog, it has attracted 10,000 views and approaching 4,000 visitors. Click here to check it out.

If you’d like to vote in the Saboteur Awards (and anyone can!) click here. He would love to have your support!

Competition success for OU poet, Kate Young!

Kate Young was one of two winners of Hedgehog Poetry Press’ Stickleback Competition and will see her micro collection published in the coming year.

She was also commended for her entry in Hedgehog Poetry’s prestigious A Slim Volume of One’s Own Competition and with fellow OU poets, Julie Anne Gilligan and Kimberley Pulling, was shortlisted in its January Challenge, ‘When the Blue Bell Tolls’.

That’s some start to the year!

Well done to all of them!

End of Year Successes for OU Poets

Today sees the publication of new OU Poets’ Society member, Patricia M. Osborne’s poetry conversation with Maureen Cullen, Sherry and Sparkly (Hedgehog Press, 2021). The pamphlet records their reminscences and reflections upon their common experiences, starting with growing up in the fifties and sixties. Click here to read Patricia reflecting upon a poem from this collection and here to read a review.

Patricia M. Osborne is a published novelist, poet and short story writer. Her short stories and her poems have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies, and the final instalment of her House of Grace family saga trilogy was published in March 2021. Taxus Baccata and The Montefiore Bride (pamphlet) were published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020. Click here to checkout her blog and to buy a copy of Sherry and Sparkly. All proceeds from copies bought directly from the poets will be donated to Cancer Research.

We also heard recently that Kate Young, no stranger to competition success, was shortlisted for the 2021 Waltham Forest Poetry Competition. The organisers received over one thousand entries from poets young and old from across the globe.

Congratulations to Patricia and Kate. What a way to end the year!

Dialect poems find a home

A collection of writing inspired by an online creative writing workshop, facilitated by Geraldine Green, is the perfect home for OUP member, Kathy Finney’s dialect poems. She admits to being ‘reet’ pleased that her poems are a feature of this beautiful anthology, published by the Quaker Tapestry Museum, which celebrates the environment, community, discourses and traditions which shape our sense of identity

If you want to read Kathy’s stunning poems then you can download the anthology for free from the Museum’s website. Click here.

Kathy Finney was born in Blackpool and is actively involved in preserving the folk traditions, history and dialect voices of her home county of Lancashire. She has a Master of Arts in Poetry & Creative Writing with the Open University in 2018. Her work has recently been shortlisted in a number of national competitions including ‘A Dialect Poetry Pamphlet’ competition 2020, run by Hedgehog Press, the ‘Frosted Fire First’ pamphlet competition 2021, run by Cheltenham Poetry Festival and the Lord Whisky Sanctuary poetry competition both in 2020 and 2021. Her work has also been published online at Words for the Wild and The Broken Spine, and in anthologies, including the Places of Poetry Anthology, Red Letter Openings, the Open University Poets 40th Anniversary Anthology. Kathy has now become a serial studier by day, poet by night and tweets @GradelyLass.

Anniversary anthology earns fabulous review

With three days to go to the official launch, Write Out Loud’s Rodney Wood reviews our fabulous celebratory publication, Red Letter Openings, the 40th Anniversary Anthology, capturing both its flavour and quality:

This is special all right; 40 years and still going with a wide range of styles. You can tell it has been put together by clever Open University students because it can be roughly split using the principle of thirds. One third is made up of poems about being an OU student and discovering poetry, one third about the experience of being a member of the Open University Poetry Society, and the final third saying “sod your theme My personal journey: poetry and the Open University. I’ll just write what I want”.

He goes on to explore many of the wonderful poems exploring the poets’ personal journeys with the Open University and with poetry.

To read the full review click here.

To purchase a copy of the Anthology click here.

Forty Years and Counting!!!

Saturday November 13th sees the official Zoom launch of the Society’s ‘Red Letter Openings, an anthology to celebrate its 40th Anniversary. It features contributions from current and former members documenting in verse their own personal journeys with poetry and the OU.

The introduction to the anthology compromises of fascinating insights into the early days of the Society by founder members Shirley Bell, Ted Griffin and Jim Lindop. Their reflections are followed with an overview from our archivist, Phil Craddock.

Here’s to the next 40 years. For details of how to purchase a copy click here. For details of membership click here.

The contributors: Denis Ahern; Jane Avery; Pru Bankes Price; K.J. Barrett; Liz Beber; Shirley Bell; Mark Bones; Ali Chakir; Sally Charnock; Cate Cody; Phil Craddock; Barbara Cumbers; Olivia Dawson; David Dennis; Tim Field; Kathy Finney; M.C. Gardner; Ginette Gibson; Julie Anne Gilligan; Adrian Green; E.F. Griffin; Jenny Hamlett; Alice Harrison; Lem Ibbotson; Sally James; Susan Jarvis Bryant; Eric Karoula; Nigel Kent; Jim Lindop; Robe Lowe; Mick Lyons; Karen McFarlane; Samantha Mansi; Ross McGivern; Hilary Mellon; Peter Meredith-Smith; Judi Moore; Vicki Morley; Nigel Pearce; Liz Power; Kimberley Pulling; Rebecca Pyne; Abigail Rowland; Dave Sinclair; Sue Spiers; Julie Stamp; Polly Stretton; Eve Stripp; Julie Stuart; Paul Williams; Rodney Wood; Kate Young.