We’re off over the Pennines for this double reading, entitled “Garlands and Detours” and hosted by Leeds Libraries and award-winning Yorkshire publisher Valley Press, based in sunny Scarborough. Anne Caldwell is launching her fourth collection, Alice and the North, a sequence of prose poems described as forming a love song to the North, while Matthew Hedley Stoppard will be reading from his second, The Garland King. There will also be an open mic section featuring 10 performers.
The lead character of Alice and the North journeys across the post-industrial landscapes and wild uplands of northern England, “straddling the territory between prose and poetry”.
Anne Caldwell is a writer and education specialist based in West Yorkshire. Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing for the Open University, she previously taught at The University of Bolton, recently gaining a PhD in prose poetry there, and she has worked for NAWE and the British Council, as Literature Programme Manager. Her poetry has appeared in a range of anthologies and journals in the UK and internationally, including The Rialto, Writing Women, The North, Poetry Wales and Stride. She has published three collections with Cinnamon Press, including 2016’s Painting the Spiral Staircase, and in 2019 she co-edited with Oz Hardwick The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry, featuring familiar names including Poet Laureate Simon Armitage alongside Inua Ellams, Carrie Etter, Jen Hadfield, Luke Kennard, Kim Moore, Helen Mort and George Szirtes.
Taking Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland Alice as inspiration, the lead character of Alice and the North journeys across the post-industrial landscapes and wild uplands of northern England, “straddling the territory between prose and poetry”, and needling the “titans” of Northern poetry, Ted Hughes and the aforementioned Armitage, as she goes. Fellow poet Alison Brackenbury says: “Anne Caldwell’s poems are intensely alive, flighty as young animals, powerful and varied as the sea.”
Matthew Hedley Stoppard was born in Derbyshire in 1985. After a brief career as a journalist, he now works as a librarian, and lives in Otley, just north of Leeds, with his wife and two sons. The Otley Town Poet, in fact, his work has been published by Cake and Magma, among others, and his debut solo collection, A Family Behind Glass, came out with Valley Press in 2013, and was included in the Guardian‘s Readers’ Books of the Year. The Garland King, hitting the shelves this month, is described as creating “an uncanny space where traditional customs and modern anxieties mix” – Morris dancers, for example, melt in the midst of a climate emergency in one of the pieces.