Reviews Editor Vacancy – Apply by 30th November

Cadaverine Magazine is looking for a creative, committed individual with a strong interest in new releases to join their team as Reviews Editor.

Cadaverine is a non-profit online magazine that specialises in promoting the work of emerging writers under the age of 30 from all over the world. We believe in showcasing contemporary, innovative and original new writing from the next generation of literary talent.  Initially supported by Arts Council England, we offer support, a platform and a voice for young writers.

The role of the Reviews Editor is to source books to review, source review writers, read and respond to all submissions regarding reviews, manage all emails communications regarding reviews, provide editorial changes, manage the formatting and upload of reviews content to the website, and share reviews on social media. The ideal candidate will have strong editorial skills, an interest in the latest releases in Poetry and Fiction, the drive and commitment to work independently, and a strong interest in The Cadaverine’s mission to provide a platform for writers under 30. 

Cadaverine Reviews Editor Volunteer Job Description

All roles with The Cadaverine are voluntary and participants are expected to use their own resources to fulfil their role. You will be joining a team of talented volunteers spread all over the country.

To apply send your CV and covering letter to Lenni Sanders at thecadaverine@hotmail.com, with the subject line APPLICATION FOR REVIEWS EDITOR by Wednesday 30th October. 

Sam Buchan-Watts reviewed by Phoebe Power

            ‘We kept you at arm’s reach like a lit birthday cake’ (‘Matters Concerning God’). The first line of Sam Buchan-Watts’ pamphlet introduces us to a poetic identity, which, ‘moth-like’ (‘Narrow Contact Zone’) is both fascinated by and afraid of bright things. The poems are dotted with lights both natural and electric: hall-lights, neon, bonfires, moon. In ‘Study of two lamps and a painting’, lights are displaced from identifying surroundings, like the night-light left on while the ‘room or house it’s in can no longer be pictured’. With such a room forgotten, ‘glare’ equates to a troubling loss of memory: ‘was the TV just on a second ago?’ (‘Happens Again’).

            Several poems deal with visions and dreams, where what is seen is unreliable, displaced from reality and swiftly forgotten. In ‘The Days Go Just Like That’, the speaker sees a surreal medieval re-enactment, but when in the following poem he returns to find it again, ‘the dream of medieval jousting is just that’; it’s disappeared. Poems are often ways of re-visiting a memory, and here the speaker’s attempt ‘to hold the re-enacted scene in your mind as long as possible’ rewrites and inverts the previous poem – the sequel is called ‘The Days Just Go Like That’ [my ital.]. An experience is relived, but it’s never quite the same.

            The resulting undercurrent of anxiety takes place in a contemporary urban dream-dystopia redolent of work by the poet’s contemporaries already in print, Emily Berry, Rachael Allen, Sam Riviere and others: ‘gas station’, ‘Cineworld’, ‘the Centre’. But there is an interface here between this and a rural element, as in a truck of pigs on the road in Norfolk (‘Nose to Tail’). Animals take centre stage in a poem such as ‘The Dogs’, and are never far away in others, like the ‘air moody with bugs’ in ‘The Bridge’. ‘Cowcium’ is a fantastic poem about molluscs: taking its title from a brand of calcium supplement, the poem involves a speaker’s imagined conversation with shellfish where he explains how cows ‘brew a thing called milk for our consumption’. The mineral uniting human bone, cow and shell suggests an intimacy with molluscs distant from our actual interaction with them in the poem’s setting of the restaurant. The surprising image of ‘the pork base of my spine’ implies guilt at a meat-eating habit, while highlighting the overlap of our own bodies with the animal-stuff which makes them.

            There is plenty going on in this rich, interesting work, which rewards puzzling out. Prose shares space with stanzaic poems, and each are syntactically pulled taut, their images working hard. They are not poems to rush; sometimes polysyllables and long lines demand our time, and the tone is knowing and serious. These are not qualities all poets can use effectively, but Sam Buchan-Watts deserves to be read and read again.

 

 Sam Buchan-Watts' Faber New Poets 15 pamphlet is out now

The Secrets I Let Slip – reviewed by Elizabeth Gibson

A swirly and rather mysterious blue design graces the cover of Selina Nwulu’s début collection, and it is tempting to ponder whether the contents will be equally dreamy and enigmatic. They turn out to be quite the opposite: whatever subject Nwulu chooses to approach, she does so with clarity and power. And she explores many a subject, allowing the reader to build a multi-faceted profile of what appears to be an extremely interesting woman.

"…Nwulu has a gift for words, as well as for making the ordinary extraordinary…"

Said subjects include, to start with, the clash between her youth in Yorkshire and her African heritage, which leads to the exploration of ideas surrounding migration and belonging. In Homecoming – Pt I, Nwulu tells of a voyage to Nigeria in which the narrator feels keenly the sense of belonging to two places, yet none.

The language (my language?)

speaks in songs woven with

echoes and blood ties.

I am out of tune,

its meanings ducking out of my hands.

Nwulu also makes her opinions known on major issues including war, protests and Mediterranean migration troubles, the third starkly portrayed in the poem Cuppa:

the sea is bloated with people’s limbs

(…) their memories did not make it either

(…) watch how the bubbles float and pop.

Although Nwulu’s fiery words in the name of social justice leave a mark, her intimate, gentle portraits of daily existence also linger in the mind. One stand-out instance is the finale to Curriculum Vitae, a lamentation on how the narrator’s real skills and life experience will be overlooked at the job centre.

 I speak several languages, you know.

I can very nearly juggle with four balls.

(…) I make a mean chickpea stew.

I don’t think you care.

Another soft, bittersweet moment occurs in Hollow, in which the writer discusses motherhood frankly and sadly.

A mother can become hollow

(…) watching her daughter running

in the opposite direction

the cycle of motherhood

disintegrating…

Nwulu takes on the painful process of growing older in Friends, You Are Ageing Beautifully, in which she sighs, 'The first wrinkle has appeared – it looks like a snail has lurched/across my forehead and left a trail of its slime.' 

Along with cultural identity, activism, and day to day life, a fourth and final strand of poems weaves thought the collection: love and relationships. It is in these that some of the most intriguing imagery is found. In Foreign, the poet states, 'I watch the life we would have had/lose itself like sand in an egg timer'. Similarly, Catastrophe presents many a striking image of what would occur should the narrator venture to declare her love, for example:

The plagues of Egypt would return,

we’d wake covered in locusts and frogs and flies.

(…) Trees would throw their leaves at you,

their arthritic roots would gnarl in revulsion.

There can be no doubt that Nwulu has a gift with words, as well as for making the ordinary extraordinary, polarising issues approachable, and her own experiences relevant in some way or another to those who pick up this diverse and rewarding collection.

 

 The Secrets I Let Slip by Selina Nwulu is out now from Burning Eye Books


 

Faber New Poet 16 Rachel Cuzon – reviewed by Kyle Cooper

Poetry is how we say things we cannot normally say. A great deal in modern verse comes down to what lurks in the sub-text of a piece. In Rachel Curzon’s pamphlet, this external voice is talking about speechlessness. The narrators in Curzon’s pieces deal with self-expression within a power structure that often seems to repress them. The narrator in ‘Hydra’ says:

I find plenty to do every day

so why is it

 that the pages of my diary are white?

Censorship is a key theme; a painting of the mother is taken away – ‘draw a nice house, now, they told me’. The control over what can be said limits the narrator’s identity, not only is their diary blank, their own name is now ‘nothing but a sound. / It was always just a sound.’

"Poems twist out of what you might expect of them, hinting at the levels beneath them…"

The self-expression sought is restricted by normal power structures. Curzon explores the social restrictions on expression, examining religion, societal pressures and the patriarchy.  ‘Exhibit’ shows the problem of being ‘so very Good’. The narrator lives up to others’ expectations, and is awarded with haloes; on their head, throat, wrists, eyes and mouth, gagging and choking. The narrator is aware of the restrictions these place upon them, but celebrates them.

In ‘Master’, Curzon draws on her own experience as a schoolteacher to critique such power struggles. She draws on the different meanings of the word ‘master’ – a musician, a schoolteacher and the verb ‘to control’. The narrator finds themselves in a position of power, rather than subordinate; ‘I never used to like the sound of a cor anglais / but it has grown on me’. The angelic horn, once reviled, is now in tune with the heavy, baroque cathedrals of the school town. However, in winter, the pupils are banned from the pristine blank page of the snowy quad, and reject the narrator’s candy gifts, leading to their rage. Subverting the power structure merely reinforces it – Curzon reinvestigates this in light of the patriarchy in ‘Threats’.

One method of escape from this repressive structure is music –not the prescribed music of the ‘Master’, but something more linked to madness. In ‘Advice from Marianne Davis in which She Expounds upon the Perils of Mr Franklin’s Glass Armonica’, the narrator – who allegedly went mad from playing the strange instrument – concludes that proficiency on the armonica leads to a realisation that ‘there is nothing else but this / for all the life to come[…] safe encounters / with acceptable gentlemen’.

Another escape may be possible through motherhood; although this is also where speech is censored to the greatest extent. In ‘Ultrasound’ – both a baby scan and perhaps something more than sound – the narrator carries out an entire unspoken conversation about her four children-to-be. With the scanning instrument insider her, the narrator states ‘it is not every day that an opportunity rises to prove resistance’. The dynamic between speech, silence, motherhood and resistance becomes clearer here, but is never dragged screaming into the light. Perhaps this is the point – Curzon is giving us an idea of the problems of self-expression, but like an unborn child, these problems have not fully been realised.

This may account for the strange imagery attached to motherhood. For example, in ‘The Catch’ in which a mother saves her child; ‘my baby, my plaything’ and resuscitates it, and in the final poem ‘Happy Ending’, a further unsettling image is present, that of a baby abandoned in a tree. This child is finally saved – or reclaimed – by a mother-figure, who quietens them ‘saying, Now will you hush now will you?’ Silence is finally allowed only once the child has exhausted its emotions, and is allowed to return to its mother – perhaps the antithesis of the confiscated painting in ‘Hydra’.

In her debut collection, Curzon deals intelligently with themes of self-expression, power, and feminism and motherhood. Curzon’s style is nuanced and subtle – I feel there is a lot of ‘reading-in’ you can do with these poems, but they also work on an emotive level. There is a feeling of strangeness that comes from these poems. Poems twist out of what you might expect of them, hinting at the levels beneath them. The pieces share images and themes, creating a dialogue within the collection; maybe Curzon is attempting to create a nexus of power which does not censor female self-expression.

 

Buy Rachel Curzon's Faber New Poets pamphlet for £5 from Faber

The Emma Press Anthology of Aging – review by Elizabeth Gibson

Age: something to embrace or to dread? Something natural and beautiful or a monster that slowly eats away at us? The Emma Press Anthology of Age attempts to answer that question – perhaps one of the most fundamental to humanity – with a quietly powerful set of poems from a diverse selection of writers. We open with some evocative lines from Anja Konig:

Remember that old Nissan

back in Ithaca?

In Nel Mezzo, Konig  progresses to gently compare human ageing to the degradation of a vehicle, which may sound simple but plays out in a beautiful, abstract way. This sets the tone for the anthology as a whole: I found the poems quite elegant, with some obvious concepts cropping up frequently – after all, many clichés about age are perfectly true – but being dealt with in a less familiar way. Another example is Hugh Dunkerley's The Storm which puts a twist on the popular trope of speaking about life and death in terms of weather:

Trees he'd have known as a boy,

huge maples, soaring elms, split

or came toppling down in a roar of branches.

Many of the poems deal with the darker side of ageing: helplessness, memory loss, nostalgia. Some are written from the point of view of an older person themself, some from that of a younger relative or friend; some are bittersweet, some rather harrowing. The most painful are those that deal with loss of language or ability from dementia or a stroke. There is Robert Hamberger's Saying My Name:

My mother doesn't know me from Adam.

She's baffled by my face, wonders at my words.

I make no sense…

And the very next poem, Bridget McKenzie's Kennings:

My dictionary consists of

                        All we spoke of at breakfast

                        Often retold stories

                        Favoured objects

                        My childhood

                        The cat

                                    But there are always wild cards

Alchemilla mollis

            Goedemorgen.

 

A number of the poems I would describe as being more about death than ageing – although, of course, the two are pretty closely linked. A gorgeous example is Last Lights by Lynn Hoffman, which asks the reader to

Imagine a tiny glowing light,

a little flame that burns forever

 at the very place

where someone died.

(…) Can you see the flames that would burn on Omaha Beach?

(…) Or the hot Hebrew glow of Treblinka

(…) Or the surprised silent halo around Hiroshima?

The poem's ambiguous ending is chilling and guaranteed to linger in the mind. Another death-related poem is Nathan Curnow's Dead Penguins in which the narrator responds to his children's questions about death:

what does death look like? is it a triangle?

(…) My natural reaction has been to explain what life is, but that's been just as difficult. If someone asked if I was really living could I be sure that I was doing it?

Besides the unfortunate penguins there are many other references to the natural world peppered throughout the book. Nature can be reassuring, something that will never end, or can instead be a taunting memory of a happier youth. The former can be seen in one of my personal favourites from the anthology, Joan Lennon's Later:

            black feathered trees

            a touch of frippery

to soften old shoulders –

the long day

            paled to pink

though flame remembered

still…

And the latter in Doireann ní Ghríofa's Holding a Stranger's Hand:

You remember the foxgloves,

their lips pursed, like a sigh stifled, like a mother's blush.

The sun sank slow, painted our faces gold as honeysuckle.

On the whole I found the Anthology of Age very poignant. There is breathing space, however, with loud, angry poems alternating in a neat rhythm with soft, peaceful murmurs. Many facets of age are covered, generally with dignity and respect.

I will finish by highlighting my favourite poem from this anthology, Sandra Horn's On the Ferry. It crosses over several of the sphere mentioned: it describes the inconvenience of age, alludes perhaps to death, is deep-rooted in nature and the elements – and ultimately, like much of this anthology, sings of freedom and hope:

Oh, I am nudging threescore years and ten,

Slack-fleshed, stiff-jointed,

(…) But now I'm up there with the surfer – past him –

Riding the wind on strong and tireless arms.

 

The Emma Press Anthology of Age, edited by Sarah Hesketh, is out now 

Humfrey Coningsby – A review by Jeremy Wikeley

 

Humfrey Coningsby, whose reclining stone figure can be found in a church in Neen Sollars, Shropshire, was a sixteenth century gentleman, traveller and soldier. After several trips to the Levant, he set out on foot for Constantinople in 1610 and was never seen again. Jonathan Davidson (The Living Room, 1994; Early Train, 2011) has discovered Coningsby wandering through history. His new pamphlet follows him as he drifts between past and present, East and West, from English villages to the chambers of the Sultan’s daughter, over several seas and between numerous war zones.

"Coningsby is most readable at his extremes – powerful and powerless…"

It’s a clever conceit. In Coningsby, Jonathon Davidson has found a generous vehicle for his own observant, humorous and deftly unaffected talents, as well as a useful way into the past. The distant past is a difficult place for a poet but Davidson has a keen sense of the (un)importance of historical accuracy: 

        Whatever a sixteenth century gentleman would wear,

            that is what Coningsby is wearing beneath his doublet

            and hose. And then he is naked.

A poetic biography sinks or swims on the merit of its subject. Coningsby is a sentimental traveller in the Kinglake mould, in equal parts garrulous, ruthless, romantic and obscure. His resurrection here suggests that there is some life in this old trope yet, despite the various political and literary concerns which now cluster around the idea of dead Westerners abroad.   

Coningsby is at his most readable at his extremes – powerful and powerless – either as a disarmingly brutal English gentleman on a quixotic journey through Europe, casually running down peasants as he drives through Bohemia or else as a vulnerable traveller in an unforgiving world. Towards the end of the pamphlet Coningsby gets lost among crowds of modern refugees, appearing as an

oddity in his doublet and hose, his

ruff now sad plumage, and his boots

stained with tears…

Coningsby’s also a lover. ‘The Sultan’s daughter’ rescues him from the Bosporus and nurses him back to health before releasing him ‘from himself’, which sounds like an attractive prospect. These particular poems are among the most lyrical in the collection but, on balance, I found them the least convincing. The ‘soft touches’ and ‘apricots’ are part of a familiar constellation of associations. For all their wit and delicacy, the pieces can’t quite break out of their Orientalist trappings.

Davidson is better when he uses pastiches of the past to channel the frustrations of modern travel, from the fatalistic shrugs (‘like soil sliding down a hillside’) of the locals who cannot explain the lack of Wi-Fi in ‘Waiting for a Sign’ to the ‘one postcard’ that a grumpy Coningsby buys from Troy.

But Coningsby cannot escape the wider story of the Middle East. Here, he’s both a victim and a perpetrator. Coningsby appears in the Levant as violent Christian soldier but he soon becomes one body among countless others, first as a refugee, later a corpse. In retrospect, there is something brave about the way in which Davidson blurs those roles. The poems here bear witness rather than cast judgement.

Davidson’s fluid approach to history is good at bringing out the fact that the recent tragedies in the region are the fat end of a very long wedge of human suffering. This historical sense doesn’t preclude emotional impact. The excellent ‘We Have No Record’ is chillingly contemporary:

…ashes from a fire

blown across the borders, blown into

the controlled zones, the holding pens

 

the hangers and arrival halls of hell.

Very little is known about the real Humfrey Coningsby, a fact which Davidson revels in. But historians will also tell you that a glut of sources does not inhibit mystery. Which is a roundabout way of saying that, at twenty four poems, Humfrey Coningsby is just the right length for its subject matter. A good companion, Coningsby doesn’t overstay his welcome. 

Humfrey Coningsby by Jonathan Davidson is out now from Valley Press

Pangs! – Reviewed by Daniel Williams

 
This collection is a further example of the innovative production of Test Centre Press and the potential writers, such as Robert Herbert McClean, have to re-establish the relationship between form and content in contemporary poetry, creating works which are not only read but experienced.
 
   The binding of the collection resembles the form of a flip-up notebook, and this, combined with its landscape text, immediately alters our reading experience. The production of the book begins to bring its material and textual components into closer alignment, and provides a sense of the process which feeds into the poetry. The sharpness and spontaneity characteristic of the text, complete with rough edges of syntax or cancellations where words and phrases are scratched out, are features we may expect to discover in a writer’s personal journal; a peek at their work in progress.
 
 
 
   The way in which the poems are presented, both in their book form and in how they function on the page, can arguably be seen to reduce the distance between the way in which a writer begins to generate ideas and drafts, and the polished product which the public generally receives.
  
    Crossings out are employed frequently, but lend the poems an intriguing dualism; their placement has not been carried out at random nor as a superfluous gesture against tradition, but instead often allow two versions of the poem to appear on the page simultaneously.
 
   Through this the reader is given insight into the creative process of re-shaping and revision but also a further glimpse into the dynamics of our everyday communication; the tensions between what is said or remains unsaid, and what is sustained by being recorded, or is otherwise allowed to fade. They embody the uncertainty and frequent self-editing which we are pushed towards with a great honesty and openness. This relates not only to creative production, but also to the ways in which we establish an identity in the world we live in, and this theme remains at the heart of the collection.
 
   The poems vary in length but share continuous lines closer to a prose structure, which leave room not only for the original thought behind a particular poem but also for asides and interjections. Enjambment and traditional poetic forms are sacrificed, but the fluidity and lyricism of language use and potential shifts in voice and perspective allow the poet a full range of possibility. Through these sequences we see snap-shots of human tenderness and vulnerability, determined to surface from behind a gauze of social-media habits and technological advancements. McClean’s narrator, or one of his narrators, states:
 
‘I want to smash my mobile phone as is always the way in whatever season- with feigned embarrassment and in such trying times- and in such trying times.’
 
They frequently pose the question of what we leave behind as we take ever bigger strides.
 
   The language employed also destabilises our sense of a coherent narrative, capturing something of the fragmented project of this identity making, and how our thought patterns move from one thing to the next. The poet maintains an immense energy and virtuosity in moving between voices, ideas and images, and this strength and distinctiveness means the poems don’t always lend themselves to being easily scanned or interpreted, but this makes them even more worthy of pursuing. One minor criticism would be that the experiment in form could be pushed further, or vary more frequently as the collection goes on.
 
   However, they offer a fresh challenge, and I hope this experiment continues in further collections of the same strength and ambition.