Guest Editor July/August – Keith Hutson

The next Readers’ Choice and Editor’s Choice poems will be selected from those published in July and August, and we are delighted that the latter will be chosen by Keith Hutson.



Keith Hutson has written for Coronation Street and for many well-known comedians. His poetry is widely-published both here and internationally. Keith’s debut pamphlet, Routines, was published in 2016 by Poetry Salzburg where he is now on the editorial board. Keith’s current pamphlet, Troupers, is published by smith doorstop and is a Laureate’s Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy with whom Keith now tours extensively. His debut full collection, Baldwin’s Catholic Geese, will be published by Bloodaxe in February 2019.

Keith delivers poetry and performance workshops to schools for the Prince’s Trust/Children and the Arts, and is poet-in-residence at the Square Chapel Theatre, Halifax, where he hosts a monthly poetry evening, WordPlay.

Planet-Shine – by Ian Harker


Those of you on higher ground will have noticed
how low the sun is. This is flat battery.
But the light has already started getting longer.
Not the streetlights. Not the indicator lights
making tiger stripes across tarmac – I mean
the real stuff, the kind that never moves.
This is the time when we start to get starry,
when everything is frost or fire
and you feel it under your feet –
your ears go and you’re in one of those still points
of the turning world. Rest assured
that between today and the roots digging in
there will be intimations: darkness at midday,
sunrise in a mirror – all that heat and all that distance,
and the new moon in the old moon’s arms.




Ian Harker’s first collection Rules of Survival was published in 2017 after he won the Templar Poetry Book & Poetry competition. His work has appeared in a variety of magazines and been placed in major competitions. He’s co-founder of Strix, which was shortlisted for Best Magazine in the 2018 Saboteur Awards, and he’s just completed a residency at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (without actually sleeping among the statues).

Couples – by Sally Michaelson


Abramovic and Ulay
divorced in the middle
after walking the Great Wall
from opposite ends.

John and Yoko
stayed in bed for a week
to make love not war
a performance of sorts.

Pietragalla and Derouault
danced love with their bodies,
more reliable than words
on stage and off.

Beauvoir had lovers in her room
overlooking Notre Dame,
Sartre met her later
au Café de Flore.

I wonder what couple we’d be
if you didn’t pull out of me
into your clothes
when the afternoon alarm rings?




Sally Michaelson is a conference interpreter in Brussels and her poems have been published in Lighthouse and Ink, Sweat and Tears.

A Good Executioner – by Gill Lambert


I think about you. Your little neck,
bloodless cheeks, the guilt
of your Motherhood,
a small ‘goodbye’ at dawn.

He was silent, barefoot,
bewildering. So you
never knew which side
he took you from.

I wonder about you. My hand
on your leg, mouth watering
at the thought of you.
The way you made me wait.




Gill Lambert is a teacher and poet from Yorkshire. She has been widely published online and in print and her pamphlet Uninvited Guests was published last year by Indigo Dreams. She runs the poetry night ‘Shaken in Sheeptown’ in Skipton.

Number Crunching, News & Mark Connors

We have completed the selection process for the last batch of poems, and I would once again like to thank Mark Connors for standing in as a guest co-editor while we firmed up a new permanent addition to the team. We are in the process of sending out all the responses as I write. The first new work will be posted this Friday 13th July, and it will be business as usual from then on.

We believe in transparency in the editorial process, and I thought I would publish some statistics for the period from 1st January 2017 up to 30th June 2018 (which obviously includes the brief period when the magazine was dormant).

Submissions received: 951
Poems received: 2,481

Number of submissions accepted: 136 (14.3% of those received)
Number of poems accepted: 147 (5.93% of those received)

Radio Show


Today on the Word Club Sunday Sessions radio show I join Mark Connors and Gill Lambert to talk about Algebra Of Owls, read some poetry from past contributors (including by new co-editor Alicia Fernández) and poetry stuff in general. I even read one of my own poems which happens about as often as hell freezes over. Some music, too  

Word Club Sunday Sessions – Paul Vaughan and Algebra of Owls

The Love and Loss of Poetry

It is a truism that all poetry is ultimately about love and loss, simply expressed in a myriad ways. And don’t I know it. Every month the Algebra of Owls inbox slowly fills with love and loss, spilling out from the screen, across the floor and down the stairs. I see it flow. It can seem heartless to send a rejection email in response to a poem about loss.

The book The Examined Life (How We Lose and Find Ourselves) by Stephen Grosz is a collection of anonymous vignettes about the patients of a psychotherapist, which slowly illuminates the many facets of loss and how in many ways we are all defined by it, one way or another.

I find this to be true. My own experience of psychotherapy many years ago was exactly that, the recognition of a loss that at the time I had no idea had even occurred, and my subsequent failure to grieve for it, or even know I needed to. How to do it. Without grief, as troubled as it is, we cannot forgive and remain haunted.

And so we write, in part. It’s hard. Harder than the algebra of owls.