Friday, 29 June 2018

Review ~ Poetry Pamphlets - Ten Poems from Russia and Eleven Poems about Football


With the current World Cup being played out in Russia, it seems particularly apt to feature two new poetry pamphlets from Candlestick Press.

Ten Poems from Russia

Published June 2018, priced £4.95
Selected and introduced by Boris Dralyuk
published in association with Pushkin Press


Poems that capture the drama and passion

of the Russian spirit


A previously unpublished poem by Marina Tsvetaeva sits at the heart of this thrilling new selection of poems from Russia. A sense of heady pageantry characterises a mother’s hopes for her daughter setting out into the world:

“Drink wine, ride troikas, sing loud in the bar-room,

be a blue-eyed gypsy, be a temptress.”

from ‘To Alya’ by Marina Tsvetaeva

We also find poems of love, and poems celebrating the beauty of birch-wood and steppe, alongside others that touch on the anguish of being a poet in times of political upheaval. The selection takes us to the heart of human experience with all the passion and drama of the Russian spirit.

This mini-anthology offers a fascinating snapshot of a vast and unique literary landscape and will inevitably leave readers wanting more. It is the first co-publication by Candlestick Press in association with Pushkin Press – a new collaboration that will see further titles published this year and next.


Boris Dralyuk was born in Odessa but has lived in Los Angeles since he was a child. He has translated Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry and Odessa Stories and also selected and introduced 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution, all for Pushkin Press.

Poems by Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov, Georgy Ivanov, Yuri Kazarnovsky, Mikhail Lermontov, Osip Mandelstam, Julia Nemirovskaya, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Pushkin and Marina Tsvetaeva.

My Thoughts about Ten Poems from Russia...

The only thing I took from school, apart from my excellent education, was a copy of Stolen Apples by the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. He once said in one of his verses that, a poet is more than a poet which certainly applies in this collection of Russian verse which have been beautifully translated so that their glorious content capture such a wealth of history and carry a huge sense of the sheer scale of the country and its people.

This poetry taster allows us a tantalising glimpse into the distinctive world of Russian poetry with glorious poems by some of the most remarkable Russian poets who have left their distinctive mark on the world of literature.

Here's one I liked..

from Prologue to Ruslan and Lyudmila by Alexander Pushkin(1977-1837) Translated by Peter France

"On the curved strand a green oak grows,
and on the green oak a golden chain
and on it round and round there goes
the cat of knowledge, night and day-
goes to the right, and sings a ditty
goes to the left, begins a tale.."

Even Jaffa approves of that one!


Eleven Poems about Football


Published June 2018, priced £4.95
Selected and introduced by Conor O'Callaghan
Poems in praise of the beautiful game

Football has accrued its fair share of sound-bites and foot-in-mouth moments. The poems in this anthology – published in time for the start of the World Cup – strike an altogether more subtle note and take us to the very heart of why a seemingly straightforward team sport arouses such passion and commands such lifelong devotion. 

There’s a poem capturing the romance of children playing street football until it’s almost too dark to see the ball, and another in which going to the match is a rite of passage for an immigrant boy seeking to belong. There’s also an extra (brand new) poem from the touchline written by editor Conor O’Callaghan. And, of course, there’s a poem depicting that iconic game played in no man’s land during the Christmas Truce: 

“All these boys want to hear today 

Is the final whistle. Let them walk away.” 

from ‘The Game: Christmas Day, 1914’ by Ian McMillan 

This mini-anthology demonstrates that the beautiful game is entirely worthy of the beautiful language of poetry.

Conor O’Callaghan is a poet and novelist. His memoir Red Mist: Roy Keane and the 2002 Irish World Cup Blues was published in 2005.

Poems by Simon Armitage, Tiffany Atkinson, Claire Crowther, Elaine Feeney, Miriam Gamble, Seamus Heaney, Gill Learner, Ian McMillan, Sean O’Brien, Conor O’Callaghan, George Szirtes and Sarah Wardle.

Cover illustration by Hugh Ribbans

My Thoughts about Eleven Poems about Football..

When I first saw this pamphlet I thought how strange that the ten poem format has been altered and such is my knowledge of football that it took a while for the penny to drop...of course, there are eleven players on a football team.

I never expected there to be so much poetry in football but then I suppose its not called the beautiful game for nothing and as the great Bill Shankly once said, "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that."

There's a fervour about football poetry which captures the very essence of the game and the stark beauty of watching and waiting and hoping for a win is shared, so lyrically, in this multifaceted  collection of verse.

Here's one I liked..

from Tinkerness - in memory of George Best by Miriam Gamble

"...Snow looms
in the grey sky of your maiden city on this cold
November afternoon, and they interrupt the run of the radio
as you have always interrupted plans..."

You don't have to be a football fan to appreciate the sentiment expressed in this fascinating collection of football poetry. There's such an expression of emotion; from wins and losses, hopes and failures, and hope soars as dreams explode, and yet, in the words of the poet, Sarah Wardle it's...."only a bloody ball..."


Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Cricket, London, Lesbian and Gay, Revenge, Babies and Fathers. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.


Connect: www.candlestickpress.co.uk

Twitter @PoetryCandle


Huge thanks to Kathy at Candlestick Press for my copies of Ten Poems about Russia


and Eleven Poems about Football.


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Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa and I appreciate your interest.