The New River Press Yearbook
Year of the Propaganda Corrupted Plebiscites
The dynamic New River Press, founded by the husband and wife team of Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montogomery, is bringing modern poetry to a whole new audience. Their annual poetry yearbook comprises the work of truly current and brave new voices from all over the world. Read on for selections from the yearbook and more on some of the contributors
Robert Montgomery is best known for his billboard poems. Black and Blue Literary Journal has said of his work: “To encounter the work of Robert Montgomery is to make a tender encounter whose tenderness is enhanced by the public, communal quality of his work. To encounter his work is to have your body filled with a sad thunder and your head filled with a sad light. He is a complete artist and works in language, light, paper, space. He engages completely with the urban world with a translucent poetry. His work arrives at us through a kind of lucid social violence. No one has blended language, form and light in such a direct way.”
Greta Bellamacina published her first collection Kaleidoscope in 2011. In 2014, she was short-listed as the Young Poet Laureate of London. The next year, she edited A Collection of Contemporary British Love Poetry, a survey of British love poetry from Ted Hughes till now, featuring the work of Wendy Cope, Emily Berry, Annie Freud and Sam Riviere.Â She has been a writer-in-residence at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in LA. and Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine says Greta, â€œis garnering critical acclaim for her way with words and her ability to translate the classic poetic form into the contemporary creative landscape.” Greta’s new collection Perishing Tame is a dazzling and frank meditation on motherhood, female identity, ennui and love.Â Greta and her work have featured in The Guardian, The Times, The Evening Standard, Dazed & Confused, I-D Magazine, Interview Magazine, British Vogue, Elle , Wonderland, and Hunger Magazine. She has performed her poetry on CNN, BBC World News, BBC Radio 4 , BBC London, BBC Radio 2 with Jonathan Ross and BBC Radio 3 on The Verb poetry show.
Rosalind Jana is a poet, author, and journalist. Having studied English Literature at Oxford (writing her debut non-fiction book Notes on Being Teenage alongside her studies), she’s also written for places including British Vogue, BBC Radio 4, AnOther, Dazed, Broadly, Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, So it Goes, and Suitcase. Now in her early twenties, her first collection Branch and Vein has a poise and silvery assurance that belies her youth. A poem from the collection, Hollow, was highly commended by the Forward Prize 2018.
Afshan Shafi lives in Lahore and has studied English Literature and International Relations at the University of Buckingham. Her poems have regularly appeared in international poetry publications, such as Poetry Wales, Blackbox Manifold, Flag + Void, and others. They have also appeared in the anthology Smear: Poems for girls (edited by Greta Bellamacina), the upcoming anthology Halal if you hear me (edited by Fatima Asgher and Safia Elhillo) and The New River Press Year Book. In addition, her debut book of poems Odd Circles was published by Readings (Pakistan) in 2014. Afshan has served as a poetry editor for The Missing Slate and is a senior contributing editor at the Aleph Review an assistant editor at GoodTimes magazine.
This young poetesseâ€™s collection ofÂ poetry (with illustrations by Samya Arif, Ishita Basu Mallik and Marjan Baniasadi) titled Quiet Women is out soon. Vahni Capildeo has described the book as a collection of â€œvividness and beauty, sensual and bloody and lavender and fiery.â€
Lisa Luxx is a writer, performer, philosopher and activist of British Syrian heritage. Broadcasting on BBC Radio 4, VICE, TEDx, BBC Radio Leeds, ITV she has been heralded as one of the UK’s top four queer poets by Diva magazine. Winner of the 2018 Outspoken Prize for Performance Poetry, she was also shortlisted for the Peace Poetry Prize and Saboteur Awards Best Spoken Word Performer 2017.
Her work has been published in magazines, books and newspapers internationally, by the likes of: i-D, Tate Britain, The Daily Telegraph, The International Times, Tribe de Mama (US), The Numinous (US), The Sunday Times, Verve Poetry Press, Wasafiri, and Sage Press (India).
In 2017, Luxx released a collection of poems and essays called The 4th Brain; a journey for connection through sisterhood, internet and revolution. Dazed and Confused Magazine said of her work: “Her poems are sensitive and revolutionary – always kind, always fierce.”
London laureate Zia Ahmed recalls a childhood growing up in Cricklewood and Kilburn where poetry was common practice: “I have a vivid memory of being around seven, walking into a room where a group of Pakistani men sat around quoting poetry to each other, almost as a release for them after a day’s work.”
Spurred on by that same sense of catharsis, Zia describes the act of reading aloud his poems about being a young, working class, British, Pakistani, Muslim in London as “a release of tension. When you get on stage, that’s your space, your time.”
After watching a friend perform as part of the 16-25 year old Roundhouse Poetry Collective, Zia knew he had to join. Three terms and one fruitful year later, Zia had built himself a name on the spoken word circuit. “Spoken word is a springboard into so many different forms,” he says. “You start off with spoken word and can progress into music, stand up comedy, theatre.”
( From I-D magazine)
Barbara Polla began her career as a medical doctor and scientist working at Harvard and University Paris V RenÃ© Descartes. She is the author of hundreds of academic papers published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, The American Journal of Physiology and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA. She was a Liberal MP in her native Switzerland, fighting for the abolition of prisons and abortion rights. Today, she is a curator and owner of the innovative gallery Analix Forever in Geneva. She has written extensively on science, art, and gender in both French and English as well as several novels and various poetic prose.
Selections from the Yearbook
Seven Sisters- Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montgomery
â€œYou are beside me, winter trees, a comrade to the world, a home, the TV is playing war, we hope for peaceful sunlight.
A whole heart of blood, resting on a whole heart of bloodâ€
Home â€”by Zia Ahmed
â€œlooking for a shape that’s whole mera joota hai japani
home is where your heart is yeh patloon inglastani nah
home is where your heart lifts sar pae lal topi russi nah
home is where your a*se fits phir bhi dil hai nahâ€
Spines â€”by Rosalind Jana
â€œI don’t think this is what Woolf
meant when she talked of things
â€˜lit, half-way down the spineâ€™
designating the soul’s seat
somewhere beneath the shoulder –
The Unicorns of Punjab
â€”by Afshan Shafi
â€œImpression recorded by a street peddler:
a blue and pink beast
a fettle of oxygenâ€
The Unicorns of Punjab
â€”by Afshan Shafi