Time to Vote – April/May Readers’ Choice Poem

To celebrate the return of AoO from its 7-day-expired-domain-name-wilderness, it’s time to select the winning Readers’ Choice poem for April and May by the usual democratic method.

The contenders are below. Please vote and make a poet happy. Results will be posted in a week’s time from now….

Together – by Stewart Carswell

Unpeople Stay in a Travelodge – by Helen Kay

Those Pyjamas – by Helen Freeman

Most Determined Daughter – by Gareth Writer-Davies

Blue – by Amelia Walker








Guest Editor Apr/May – Mike Farren

Delighted to announce that the April/May Editor’s Choice Poem will be selected by Mike Farren.


Phil Jackson-8091


Mike Farren is an academic publishing editor from Shipley. His poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House, The High Window, Strix, Algebra of Owls and Valley Press’s Anthology of Yorkshire Poetry. His pamphlet, ‘Pierrot and his Mother’ was published by Templar in 2017. In 2018 he was a ‘canto’ winner for Poem of the North and in 2019 he was runner-up in The Blue Nib’s Chapbook Contest, judged by Helen Mort. He is a member of Beehive Poets and Wharfedale Poets, is part of the Yaffle Press publishing team and co-hosts the Rhubarb open mic in Shipley. A further pamphlet, ‘All of the Moons’ is to be published in May 2019 by Yaffle.

Winners – Jan/Mar Poem Awards

The votes are all in and the poll-winning Readers’ Choice poem is…

Hearing Things – by Mat Riches

Mat will (eventually) receive the usual winner’s mug, and thanks to everyone who voted.

The Editor’s choice was selected by Rachel Bower and she picked out

A Place on the Sofa – by Lesley Burt

Rachel had these comments to make.

It was a pleasure to read this pile of wonderful poems as Guest Editor this month, but not an easy task to choose a winner! On first reading, I was struck by the range of form, as well as by recurring subjects and tropes, particularly running, keys in hands, the child’s perspective and coming to terms with the past. I was drawn to several poems before deciding on my winner.

I was struck by “Five-Year Survival”, for the intensity created by its patterns of repetition (I find it hard to resist a pantoum!). This poem is full of mystery and delicacy, and I didn’t want it to end. I also loved the ‘‘chemistry of cakes’ and ‘physics of flans’ in “Girl’s Education”: a seemingly simple poem which is layered with meaning. The violence simmering under “How You Will Identify My Body” and the ‘creamy breasts of pigeons’ which ‘turn crimson’ in “First Deaths” were also powerful. “August 1947” effectively captured the human aspects of a moment of great political upheaval, and this poem was a close contender for the winning spot.

The winning poem stood out on first reading, and got better every time I read it. By the third or fourth reading I was sure this was the one. “A Place on the Sofa” is an understated, taut account of a single moment in a girl’s family life. The poem skilfully enables the reader to share the perspective of the young girl, sent off to the kitchen by the grandma so that her brother can take her place on the sofa. I love the way that we look through the gap between the hinges with her, and share her rage at this injustice. The poem is tight: there are no wasted adjectives or articles, and the rage bristles against the tight tercets of the poem. The ending is also wonderful – the rage ‘rests in her diaphragm’, as in this restrained poem, and we wait for the day that it will finally be breathed out. This is a powerful poem about the moments that make us (and mark us), and the ways in which the personal and everyday are always political. Thank you!

Congratulations to both our winners.

Time to Vote – Jan/Mar Poem Awards

…and here we are again with four poems that have stood out from the crowd in terms of how our readers have responded to them. Please vote for your favourite, and the winning poet will receive the customary Algebra of Owls Prize mug, once I figure out how to pay for it.

August 1947

Hearing Things

If You Hold It To Your Ear

First Deaths

The poll will close with the announcement of the winning poem on 13th April.


Editorial – re submissions

We have finally completed the processing of all the submissions in the window ended 28th February, and are in the process of sending out all of the responses.

Work on long-listing the March submissions has begun. We expect selections to be made, and responses sent, around the end of this month.

The current submission window that opened on 1st April will run for a six week period through to 15th May. The window after will run from 16th May to 30th June.

See submission page of the website for further details.


Guest Editor Jan/March – Rachel Bower

Very pleased that our next Editor’s Choice poem (from those published this month and in January) will be picked by Rachel Bower.


Rachel lives in Sheffield with her three young children. She is the author of Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018) and Epistolarity and World Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), and edited the Verse Matters anthology with Helen Mort (Valley Press, 2018). She is currently a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, where she is researching the links between poets in Leeds and Nigeria in the 1950s and 60s. Rachel’s poems have featured in a number of magazines, including Stand, New Welsh Review, The Interpreter’s House, Frontier and Popshot Magazine. She has also been shortlisted for the London Magazine Poetry prize, and her poems have won several other prizes. Twitter @rachelebower Website: https://rachelbowerwrites.wordpress.com

Photo by Jan Bella