While the days have been getting colder, I’ve been down with a ‘thaw throat and hacking coff’. In between dodging the winter bugs though, I’ve had one or two small pieces of good news and a chance to catch up on a little reading.

Firstly, I was delighted to have two poems, (un)ugly toe and Meditation on/with/for a Buzz, published in Tears in the Fence, No.58, Winter 2013/14. After the Party, from Be[yond] was also published on Ink, Sweat and Tears on 25 November 2013. Meanwhile, my poem, Blue Infinities, was a winner in the Chester-based Zest’s four-line water-themed poem competition.

I’ve been slow getting into the Xmas spirit this year, but have been Slanted more into the mood by this seasonal pamphlet anthology from Ink, Sweat and Tears press. The twelve poems offer an impressive range of styles and variety of slanted festive narratives/viewpoints.

My favourites on initial readings might be different another year, another time, in another mood. But I particularly admired Luke Wright’s moving, ironic ‘Watch’, which says so much in so few crafted words. Moniza Alvi’s ‘Angels’ portrays the reality of Christmas for the elderly and ill, with striking opening and closing images. Andrea Holland’s ‘Spent’ is also full of beautiful details with a cracking, satisfying ending. And finally, the striking imagery and humour of George Szirtes’s sonnet ‘The Norwich Version’ of The Twelve Days of Christmas. This was a particularly fine closing poem for me personally, as its punchline is exactly what the Droitwich Arts Network chairman joked about doing for last year’s Twelve Days of Christmas art in shop windows project!

Another pamphlet I’ve enjoyed recently is Richie McCaffery’s Spinning Plates (Happenstance). These poems are brimming with beautiful, precise imagery, always combined with an emotional punch – like a spinning plate breaking inside.

This past week, I’ve also started dipping into two exciting Penned in The Margins collections, Oliver Dixon’s Human Form and Melissa Lee-Houghton’s Beautiful Girls. I’ve not read a collection from this press that I don’t like. Although I’m not far enough through either collection to pass proper comment yet, from what I’ve read so far, I anticipate both holding true to this statement. All of which is promising for the rest of my festive season and end of year reading!