Orbis 170


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Orbis 170, Winter 2014

£5 (Overseas: £9/€12/$15); Subs: £17/4 pa (Overseas: £35/€42/$58)

Front cover artwork: ‘Church Street’ by Steve Williams;
back cover, detail from image: http://steve50wicks.wix.com/paintings

Of course you want to know what happened
on the road to
Ploubalay with Chrissy Banks,
though admittedly risking a peek over John Paul Davies’s shoulder into
Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom will makes you Perfectly Blue, Faye Boland warns.
Nobody, including Aidan Baker would classify it asThe Finest-Hour Syndrome. -
best stick to the Facts, provided by Fokkina McDonnell
because you never know just what will squeeze out of the Genie’s Bottle (Li C. Tien).
Or do you have an answer for Susan Lindsay:
Shall We Get Swept Away By Lunch-time?
Why not find out? Will you be attracted to the shining lights in this issue of Orbis,
along with a surprising number of moths…

Featured Poet

Mark Carson: Grogan’s Castle;

Incognito, Cumbria; Holy Week, Ronda

Agoraphobics, Cambridge; Night flight, Karachi


Poems from: Sue Burge: Seven Easy Steps to Working with Angels;

Luba Ostashevsky; The Fish; Jonathan Lewis:Walking to The Nutcracker; Benedict Newbery: Film Review by Vlad


Prose from: Ágnes Cserháti: Standing on the Corner; Charlotte Gringras: The Thief of Time; Mark Reece: Forced Exercise

Translation: Anita Marsh; Anthony Costello; Anthony Howell: Alain-Fournier, LaRonde

Past Master: Merryn Williams on W.H. Davies

Article: Reading Poetry Aloud by William Alderson

Reviews: Angelina Ayers, Maria Isakova Bennett, Clairr O’Connor, David Harmer,
Afric McGlinchey, Jennifer A. McGowan, D. A. Prince, David Troman
and Noel Williams

Orbis 170 contributors also include:

John Ashley; Nick Burbridge; Jennie Christian; Annemarie Cooper; Barbara Cumbers; Fiona Donaghy;
Richard George; Alice Harrison;
Liz Horrocks; Mary Lee; Jim Lindop; Richard Martin; Jean O’Brien;
Anita Ouellette; 
Edward Ragg; Rachel Spence; John Whitehouse; Alessio Zanelli


 March 24-28

The Absence of War

Liverpool Playhouse




Because you keep hearing about the pertinence of this play with a General Election looming, it may come as something of a surprise that it was written 22 years ago – even more so, inspired by Neil Kinnock’s failure to lead the Labour Party to victory.

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April 1

The Federation of Writers Scotland Easter Competition 2015

Poetry (any number of poems; maximum 40 lines each);

short stories (up to 2 stories: 1500-2000 words each);

flash fiction/mini-story (up to 500 words)

Entry fees: £3 per poem; £3 per flash fiction piece; £5 per short story.

For full rules and how to enter, email accclarke6@btopenworld.com

March 16 -21

The Three Lions



Liverpool Playhouse




As one of the characters says, I know nothing (or next to nothing) about politics and football… the 2018 World Cup bid was won by Russia, not

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Orbis 169




Orbis 169

Front cover artwork: ‘When The Forest Calls‘ byTheresa Tahara;
back cover, detail from image: http://theresa-tahara.artistwebsites.com/

Featured Poet
Maureen HillBering; Anna Christina; Glass; Bertha – Mrs Rochester

Poems from:Yvonne Baker:The taste of black moss; Simon Fletcher:Landscape;
John HartElation; Kate NorthHematocyte;Paul Stephenson:The Swell Speed of Mrs Jackson’s Knees

Prose from: Gail DendyBreath’s Journey; Ayelet McKenzieBroken Surfaces;
Luke MurphyThe Glass Cage

Translation: Michael SwanPetrarcha Canzoniere 272

Past Master: Dave Troman on Edgar Allan Poe

Article: Enda Coyle-GreeneOne Woman’s Voice – the poems of Sheila Wingfield

Reviews by:Angelina Ayers,Maria Isakova Bennett, Suzannah Evans,
David Harmer, 
Afric McGlinchey, Jennifer McGowan,
Clairr O’Connor, Lynne Taylor, D.A. Prince

Orbis 169 contributors also include:
Niamh Boyce; Séamas Carraher; Ross Cogan; Ian Colville; Stella Davis;
Siobhan Daffy; Eliza Dear; Marianne Dissard; Martin A. Egan; Margaret Gleave;
Cora Greenhill; 
Oz Hardwick; Chris Hardy; Gloria Keeley; Noel King;
Simon Leonard; Luke Palmer; 
Ali Pardoe; Kathleen M Quinlan;
Marilyn Ricci; Marg Roberts; Catherine Rockwood;
Phil Ruthen; Martha Street; Alec Taylor; Linda White 



March 16

Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition 2015

is for previously unpublished stories of up to 2,200 words by women writers.

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Neil Gunn

Neil_Gunn_Writing_Comp_LogoMarch 2
The Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2014/15
Organised by High Life Highland & The Neil Gunn Trust
Adult short story and poetry sections open to writers worldwide
Choice of 3 themes
Full details and entry forms at www.highlifehighland.com/neilgunn



Con O'Neill & Leanne Best in Educating Rita at Liverpool Playhouse (c) Stephen Vaughan #IMG_9017

February 6 – March 7


Educating Rita 

Liverpool Playhouse

Reviewed for Whatsonstage:


Image: Stephen Vaughan 


Imagine going to Hamlet, knowing next to nothing about the play, or Shakespeare, for that matter – can’t be done, not in these information rich days. Back in 1979, however, Willy Russell magically conjured up one such scene, one of many, with Rita experiencing Macbeth.


Though Educating Rita isknown for its comedy, in the world according to Frank, by his definition, and his actions and attitude, it is also a tragedy: a man who was a gifted poet, is doomed, after a brief renaissance, hell-bent on the path to self-destruction. Australia, in fact, in a jaunty conclusion which may seem an oddly happy ending. Leanne Best excels in this final scene but while she deals adroitly with an infatuated alcoholic, his apparently calm acceptance does not ring quite true. His petty jealousy has previously erupted in a comment about Mary Shelley, knowing Rita now fully understands the cruel allusion. Education leads you forward, offering choices, but also alienates; the risk of being marooned, between those left behind, and those at a level you still may not be able to attain.


OK, nitpicking, because right from the start, the audience is in for a treat. The set is damn near as breathtaking as the first view of the magnificent Picton Library: a tome lined, almost tomb like chamber; hidey hole for him, a whole new world for her. Dominated by a low, tilted circular ceiling cum screen, this is somewhat under-used; after a whizz through 1970s images, there’s just a close-up and details from a painting Rita admires.


Perhaps one of the most amazing things about this play and its long shelf life, you could say, is that given this solitary location, it is gripping, with remarkable, sparkling dialogue matched by first rate actors. Rita, passionate, determined, and goodness, so brave and funny, is a completely enchanting heroine. And genuinely so, embarking on her quest, and succeeding, against all the odds. It helps of course that she is so attractive, in her trendy clothes – yes, even for the 70s. Frank is stuck with his cardies, in a kind of monochrome uniform.


And for an erudite man, he should know a lot better as the roles shift, his mentor bewitched by her muse. Harking back to Pygmalion and Galatea, Rita is far more than raw material to be moulded, or indeed, owned. Initially, she feels she has not the mind or the language to express her feelings and thoughts, similarly, words can barely do justice to Leane Best’s performance – as if born to play this role. Meanwhile, Con O’Neill almost eradicates thoughts of Michael Caine though just as well he’s playing a drunk; at times, his voice is strained almost to the point of speechlessness.


There was of course, a standing ovation, for the actors, Willy Russell, the play, and for Liverpool – tickets have nearly sold out, so make sure of yours.




February 2


UK based women over 21


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Red Squirrel Press

January 31
Red Squirrel Press Annual James Kirkup Memorial Poetry Competition
& Annual Sara Park Memorial Short Story Competition

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