Thursday, October 23, 2014

book launch of the inside-out house

'The Inside-Out House' book launch took place in the lovely café of Waterstones, York. Many thanks to Benjamin Whitelaw and John Schofield who took photos throughout the evening. Dave at Waterstones introduced the evening:

Here's me reading from, and talking about, 'The Inside-Out House' at the start of the event:

Six local writers supported the event by reading or performing their own fiction. I really enjoyed all of the readings, and so did the rest of the audience!

Steve Toase...

Laura Munteanu...

Andy Humphrey...

Dai Parsons...

John Walford...

Helen Sant...

Also present was Helen Cadbury, who wrote one of the back cover testimonials

'The Inside-Out House' was the top-selling novel at Waterstones that day, even outselling 'Gone Girl'! Thanks again to everyone who attended, read, bought copies, and made the evening one to remember.

Monday, September 22, 2014

official online launch of my novel 'the inside-out house'

Today's the day!

We've got some champagne...

It's been lovely to see so many congratulatory comments on Facebook, and I have received more lovely comments on Twitter, by email and text, over the phone, and in person about my novel coming out. There's already been a review; thank you, Nina!

Many thanks go to Ronnie and Dawn at Indigo Dreams, who believed in my novel, to my mum (and dear dad), brothers Marc and Jon, and to Lea, to Joanna Pearl, who took time to read an early version, Pat Livingstone for being constantly encouraging, Liz Newman for her very insightful feedback, and special thanks go to Chris, who has been encouraging me to keep writing for very many years.

A thank you goes to Ian Hargreaves, who is a prize-winning photographer, for taking my author photo. More of Ian's work can be found here.

Thanks also to Anne Krisman, Helen Cadbury, Shanta Everington, and Steve Toase - all writers, reviewers, and educators - for their testimonials. Steve's testimonial is at the top of this webpage, and I'm delighted to post the whole of Anne's testimonial here:

       'A house like no other, with a mystery to tell. A teenager searching for her identity and looking for answers in her life. Both are drawn together in Joanna Ezekiel’s engrossing story set in the 1990s and inspired by the sculptor Rachel Whiteread’s intriguing concrete cast of a Victorian house.

The book explores many difficult life issues with a deft touch; growing up, moving on, teenage relationships, adults’ rules and racism. The key character Sam is a feisty but sensitive teenage girl, with the guts to stand up against bullies but unsure of her growing relationship with Jimi, who shares her fascination with the House. There are some colourful yet believable female characters, for example, Wendy the librarian, with her violet Mini car with its ‘Prince and the Purple Revolution’ banner and the deeply political Aunty Roo.

The novel moves towards a powerful conclusion, in a finely written dramatic scene that reflects the writer’s poetic ability to depict the layers behind the event.

This is a teenage novel that is something different, beginning with two young people’s shared fascination with an ‘inside-out house’ art work. This read will appeal to deep-thinking teenagers who don’t want to be stereotyped and put into boxes.' (Anne Krisman)
Now to the Prize Draw entries! Many thanks to those of you who took time to share photos of your favourite buildings.
Anne visited the Treaty of Versailles on her honeymoon. I can't think of a more romantic place to be!

Gill Learner's favourite building is Notre Dame la Grande, Poitiers, which is a rarity, as it is painted and patterned inside just as it would have been originally.

Now to Kath McCarron Humphrey. While it was raining and gloomy over here, Kath was on holiday, and she sent me a photo of the Hallgrímskirkja in Iceland! Imagine it with the Northern Lights behind it.

I went all old-fashioned for the Prize Draw, and pulled names out of a hat. The winner is...
Raychel, with a photo of the Acropolis in Greece!
Congratulations, Raychel, I'll be sending 'The Inside-Out House' to you very soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

anthology launch: how am i doing for time?

The monthly 'Poems, Prose, and Pints' event has been running in Harrogate for five years, which is no mean feat. I had a lovely evening as guest reader there a few years ago, and am now looking forward to reading their anthology, 'How am I doing for time?'

It is available from Amazon, and the launch of the anthology is this Wednesday, September 17 at the Tap and Spile, Harrogate. It's also been publicised in the local newspaper:

I wish Tim Ellis, Nicola Everill (who wrote the foreword) Robbie Burns (the amazing cover artist)and all the contributors the very best with the anthology.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

book promotion: ken champion's novella

I reviewed Ken Champion's short story collection and selected poems last month, and am pleased to announce that his new novella, 'The Dramaturgical Metaphor' is published by The Penniless Press, priced at 7.99. I'm looking forward to reading it! For more of Ken's work, have a look at his author site. Penniless Press are good at choosing covers that suit their authors' themes and images, and this book is no exception.

Friday, August 29, 2014

book review: fiona sinclair's write me into bed with casanova craft

Fiona Sinclair's new pamphlet is published by 'Original Plus' Publications, which I think is an apt description for the kind of writing that this publisher brings out, and Fiona's does not disappoint.  As in her previous collection, A Game of Hide and Seek (Indigo Dreams, 2012), Fiona writes with fearsome honesty abut expectations and appearances. Here, she takes us on a journey through internet dating:

'I search through my matches past Kray twin lookalikes,
married men wearing tell-tale dark glasses...'

(Internet dating)

These wry snapshots are interspersed with poems that poignantly explore the poet's relationships with both her parents, particularly her mother. Other poems look, with the same imaginative precision, at pets, proms, and clocks.

I particularly liked the realisations that the memories that stay longer in our minds are not necessarily the ones we expect to remember:

'For years, dreams familiar as TV repeats,
not of the boy, but the jilted A'levels.'

(Unfinished Business)

These are insightful and compassionate poems.

Fiona Sinclair, write me into bed with Casanova craft, Original Plus, Cumbria, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

publication of the inside-out house

'With 'The Inside-Out House' Joanna has elegantly written a humane story that fuses together poetry, family secrets, and magic in the urban landscape.' Steve Toase

To celebrate my novel, 'The Inside-Out House', being published next month, I'm offering one FREE copy in a prize draw.

The 'House' of the title is pretty much a main 'character' in the novel, so if you'd like a chance to enter the prize draw, and are 12 years old or over, send me your photo, (or a photo of your drawing or painting) of your own favourite building. You will then be automatically entered into the prize draw.

All photos will appear on my blog as a 'blog post special' on the publication date of 22nd September, so you'll be published, too!

My email is, or if you are already my friend on Facebook, you can contact me there. As I get a lot of spam emails, please send your work in the body of the email itself, rather than in an attachment, if you can, between now and the 20th September. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

book reviews: ken champion's urban narratives and cameo metro

I've been a fan of Ken Champion's work for quite a while now, and have enjoyed his collected stories and poems in these two publications. The titles and cover photos alone tell you quite a lot about his themes and images.

In Urban Narratives, the compelling descriptions of (mostly) urban landscapes - trains, cafes, parks, streets, graveyards, cinemas, plus kitchens and poetry readings - ground the restlessness and defiance of Ken's characters. This allows him to explore the themes of social mobility, death, relationships, and coping with the unexpected reactions of others:

'she, in a department store, disappearing, and him, unguarded, panicking, intellectually knowing that it was the child in him being left by mummy - no emotions are new'

There are thirty stories in this collection. Around half of them feature the recurring character of James Kent, a psychoanalyst who questions his choice of profession: these are interspersed with stories told from other points of view. My personal favourites were 'The Beat Years' and 'Educating Rita', which could both have had escapist endings for Chris, the narrator, but consciously didn't, which made them all the more authentic.

The beauty of a short story is that it doesn't have to tie up every loose end, and several of the stories contain coincidences that leave us wondering. They often contain hard truths:

'the equation being that if he looked fit and tanned then he wouldn't age, ergo, wouldn't die. It was a subject he'd never studied: the psychology of death.'
(Lay Preacher)

Cameo Metro contains new poems, and poems from Ken's previous collections, African Time (Tall Lighthouse, 2002), Cameo Poly (Tall Lighthouse, 2004), and But Black and White is Better (Tall Lighthouse, 2008). There are six sections, each on a different theme: City, African, Retro, Americana, Theatre, and Rewind. Ken is very good at writing about frustration and broken promises, often with dark humour, and this is a poet who understands the value of phrasing, especially how to use punctuation, line endings, and enjambment to increase tension.

I'm already looking forward to Ken's new publication.

Ken Champion, Urban Narratives, The Penniless Press, Preston, 2013.
Ken Champion, Cameo Metro, The Penniless Press, Preston, 2013.

Friday, August 08, 2014

book review: shanta everington's drowning in cherryade

This is an A6 size, fifteen page pamphlet, just right for slipping into a pocket or a handbag. The lively cover is pink and bubbly, contrasting with the mention of drowning. Many of the ten poems in this collection have been previously placed in competitions or published in respectable magazines.

Shanta is also a novelist for young adults, and as well as poems about family, relationships, and motherhood, she explores teenage friendships and crushes to show how private moments often take place in public:

'...I cut the others off

and wait till they walk out laughing, to take you to the counter.'

(Shrine to Justin)

Some of the titles, 'Old Dear', 'Girl's World,' also present us with everyday images that are subverted imaginatively in the poems:

'I make toffee apples of her cheeks,

her eyes a crinkly purple like fading bruises'

(Girl's World)

Bedouin Books is an American publisher, and from this British reviewer's perspective, there is a new vein of fresh poetic voices in the States at the moment, such as Alison Stine, Jordan Davis, and Edward Nudelman. Like these poets, Shanta takes situations that appear ordinary to the casual observer, and floods them with intensity and intimacy, often using longer lines and enjambment to keep us in the moment.
The poem 'Aquatic Alice', in fact, could be a fitting description of how Shanta's imagery look closely at the reality of a situation:

'... Be still. She

has something to say.'

(Aquatic Alice)

Shanta's poetry chapbook is this year's well-deserved winner of the Bedouin Books annual chapbook competition.

Shanta Everington, Drowning in Cherryade, Bedouin Books, Winconsin, 2014.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

recommended poetry collections

I've enjoyed reading these poetry collections recently:

Angela France, Hide, Nine Arches Press, 2013.
Oz Hardwick, An Escatological Bestiary, Dog Horn Publishing, 2013.
Sarah James, Be(yond), Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2013.
Steve Nash, Taking the Long Way Home, Stairwell Books, 2013.
Christopher Nosnibor, From Destinations Set, Clinicality Press, 2011.
Ian Parks, The Exile's House, Waterloo Press, 2012.
Miles Salter, Animals, Valley Press, 2012.
Angela Topping, Paper Patterns, Lapwing, 2012.

Thank you to all these poets who have worked so hard to give so much of themselves to their readers. Just to say also that I can't accept any books for review from now on, as I've fallen behind with the ones that I already have (these will appear in August). And if I've got hold of your book over the last few months I'll mention it in a new post later on this year.

Friday, June 27, 2014

book launch: don walls

If you're in York on Tuesday, July 8th, come along to the launch of the new book by York's Poet Laureate, Don Walls, published by the tireless Stairwell Books... I would book early, as Don is a very popular poet! I'm delighted to be among the cast of supporting writers and musicians.

Stairwell Books present:


Tuesday 8 July 2014

Don Walls

Somewhere Else

The Basement

City Screen, York

7.30 for 8 pm

£3 entry, book available at discount

Supported by Oz Hardwick, John Gilham, Philippa Blakey,

Dave Gough, Helen Sant and Joanna Ezekiel

Musical guests Toni Bunnell and Sarah Dean

Don Walls is York’s Poet Laureate. Please celebrate his latest collection.

Come early to grab a signed copy!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

book launch: andrew brown's skydive: leaping from the ledge

I always enjoy hearing Andrew Brown's stories, and as he is also from Essex, some of the locations he uses are familiar to me. I'm delighted to be supporting him at his York book launch next week: he has already had successful launches and readings in Harrogate. Here are more details:
Stairwell Books present:
Wednesday 25 June 2014

Skydive: Leaping from the Ledge...
by Andrew Brown

The Black Swan (home of the York Folk Festival)
Peasholme Green

7.30ish for 8 pm

£5 for book, music, readings

Supported by

Bob Horton and Katy Marshall (they're on......FIRE)
Mark Connors
Tim Ellis

and others, dependent on bribes. No, kidding.

Andrew Brown is well known for his stories: poignant, hilarious, spooky, edgy, always observant. Here, a range of tales, some new, some familiar, with a dash of poetry too.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

father's day 2014

My beloved father died nearly a year ago. Here is a link to my poem  'Dad is building' published in 'Iota' in 2004:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

book review: andy humphrey's a long way to fall

Andy Humphrey's first collection, 'A Long Way To Fall' was published by Lapwing Press,  in 2012.  Andy runs the monthly poetry event 'Speaker's Corner' in York, and he understands the value of an arresting start to a poem:

'They snatched me out of swirling sea'

(The Mariner's Return)

'It's the sugar I can't stand'


This 60-page collection is a good example of the importance of editing, redrafting, and not rushing into publication. Every poem has earned its place, and it feels like a collection that draws together different themes. Many poems are narrative poems, written in the first person, and a strong mythical thread, that encompasses past and present, runs throughout the collection:

'He didn't get as far as Valinor.
Instead, he put ashore at Birkenhead,
and discovered rock and roll.'

(I Know Where Gandalf Lives Now)

There are also poems that describe, with great imaginative precision, personal experiences involving love, travel, and loss:

'I tell you about the tea shop
with the higgledy-piggledy floor
where the waitress mixed up the Lapsang Souchong
and I sketched the flowery lady in the hat.'

(Bringing Back Poems)

I hope we won't have to wait for too long for Andy's second collection.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

poetry snapshots: claudia jessop

Love Poem, with Obsolete Technology


Rotary, manual,
the round drag of days,
the sliding feed of paper
round the cylinder, under the bar,
the bar like a horizon,
the paper like the sea.

The rubber stamp’s stamp,
the wrapping in brown paper
of precious weight
secured with string,
with thumb-pulled knots.

The circle of the postmark,
of the watchface,
of the dial.
The watermark’s grave echo.


This photograph in a frame, on a desk
will stabilise, set free.
You stand
against a backdrop of the sea.

But once I have written you down,
you will pose, eyes heavenward,
like a matinee idol,
publishing your smiles.
My poem of you
will create artificial conditions
as if for a fish to live
outside water, stretching breath
in raw air.

The small machines of words
will cut your perfect shape: you will look up,
right at me

not like one long gone, not like one
failing to be delivered,
leaving no mark.

Claudia Jessop lives in Hackney with her husband, son and daughter. She works in a library, runs poetry and reading groups for children, and conducts research into local history. Some of her articles have been published on the Hackney Society's website.
This year Cinnamon Press published her second collection, Looking For. Her first collection, also from Cinnamon, was This is the Woman Who (2009). She has published poetry in several magazines and has had poems and short stories placed in several competitions. You can hear her reading one of her poems at the Poetry Magazines website.
I'm very much looking forward to reading Claudia's new poetry collection, and couldn't resist posting a photo of the beautiful cover, which, I think, works very well with Claudia's beautiful poetry:



poetry snapshots: david cooke

I always enjoy reading new poems by David Cooke, and hope to see more from him in the future. We're very lucky to see one of his new poems, Pilgrims, here. Thanks, David! He has recently had poems published in The Cortland Review and London Grip Poetry Review, and on websites The Screech Owl and The Dock, with a forthcoming poem in the Irish Literary Review. David's excellent latest poetry collection, Work Horses, is available from Ward Wood Publishing, and he also has a page on the poetry pf site.


for Ziyad, Tamim & Rafiq

When the day has come,

you will make a journey

to the city of Mecca.

Each of you a pilgrim

dressed in white,

you will cast the stones

that set you free

from Shaitán, the evil one.

Circling the Ka’aba

you will feel around you

the crowd surging

like a river in spate;

and though it’s a distance

I cannot travel,

the scallop shells

on my school badge

made me a pilgrim too

like those who had tramped

to the far-flung shrine

of Santiago

de Compostela

Monday, March 31, 2014

poetry snapshots: shanta everington

Debut poetry chapbook from Shanta Everington
Shanta Everington’s debut poetry chapbook, Drowning in Cherryade, is published this month by US-based independent publisher, bedouin books, after winning their annual poetry chapbook competition.

Editor Michael D'Alessandro says, ‘Drowning in Cherryade conjures candy-colored scenes of youth mirrored in an examination of memories. Overwhelmed by first experiences, the poems are at once told with a resignedness to their outcomes, while maintaining a perspective of awkward fumbling for an anchor. This parallax affect helps complete the pictures presented here with a quick wit, a rooted voice and a few playful surprises.’
To Die For
Half a packet of raindrops and
as much ice cold water as
you can drink for your body
to warm up and burn. He
pinches half a millimetre
of flesh on my ribs and says,
You need to take better care
of yourself, my dear. I peer
through the veil of my fringe and
nod my head three millimetres,
picturing my picture in the papers.
I can be ready in a week. I peek
at the tick next to my name.
Next. My smiling eyes roll
down over the twigs of my toes
and all the way to the park where
I will perform a hundred star jumps
and remember how your skin
used to shine when you laughed.
For you understood it was important.
Shanta has an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from MMU and teaches Creative Writing with The Open University in London. In addition to Drowning in Cherryade, she has published three novels and two non-fiction books. Visit

York Literature Festival HUB 2018 event, Tuesday, 20th March

I'm looking forward to my first event for absolutely ages - at the York Literature Festival HUB. Many thanks to YLF and Valley...