At the wonderful Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead - celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018 - we launched the first annual New River Press Poetry Yearbook: YEAR OF THE PROPAGANDA CORRUPTED PLEBISCITES. 

There were over a dozen performances to a full house of beautiful faces. Niall McDevitt gently rapped his bodhrán to score a haunting performance of his Grenfell elegy, Tower Of Babylon. Susan Fong read a poem by her 11-year old daughter Lily Cheifetz-Fong called TOO SERIOUS - a shocked genius child's denunciation of the war-ridden hypocritical world she has found herself a part of. Writer and prominent anti-war activist Jan Woolf read a suave and touching short story about Fidel Castro in his last days. Poet, journalist, and drummer of the Birmingham dream pop band Swim Deep Zack Ashley read I'm Selfish, a poem he described as coming from a dark time. Oscar Dunbar and some members from KHARTOUM played a rock and roll acoustic set.

The inimitable Miguel Cullen read some bangers from his new collection Paranoid Narcissism. Punk poet Kirsty Allison, editor of rebel arts mag Cold Lips, gave a fierce reading of two of her poems in the yearbook. Unable to find any water, she swigged from a bottle of Heaven Sake as she electrified the audience. Sophie Naufel had the packed house hanging on her every word with her a wry song Parasite. Poet, DJ, and producer James Massiah gave a cheeky and charming poem about the development of his relationship with sex growing up in a religious family. 

Robert Montgomery went nuclear with his anti-Trump, pro-Modernism Hammersmith Poem, which in Spring 2017 was blown up on four giant sheets of canvases wrapping a pillar of Hammersmith Town Hall, a forgotten classic of socialist Modernist architecture in Britain. Greta Bellamacina performed her iconic manifesto-poem Tomorrow's Women. The night was emceed by New River's own Heathcote Ruthven, who floundered around the stage like a unhinged priest joyfully proselytising incomprehensible causes. Drinks were generously provided by Heaven Sake, a purifying ambrosia, as refreshing as water and delicious as anything. The night was filmed by master documentarian Salam Rizk (a bit of a break from the usual war zones he films in). Videos forthcoming. Watch this space. 

A special mention must be given to counter cultural icon Michael Horowitz and poet Vanessa Vie, who gave an electrifying set of haikus and songs. Together they played kazoo and squealed some mind blowing renditions of three Haikus they contributed to the poetry yearbook: 

Sentinel Haiku - Vanessa Vie and Michael Horovitz

On the lookout post

Atop the fishmonger’s van

A single seagull


Accordion Haiku – Vanessa Vie

Sound of an accordion

Flying above the railway

Shadow of a crow


John Cage Nachtmusik – Michael Horovitz

Youths spatter big noise

revving engines hours on end

Sweet dreams sent packing


...and after Vanessa Vie read her poem GOING TO HEATHCOTE WILLIAM'S FUNERAL, the two of them sang a original song Sex in the Street. No doubt it will be an hit record soon. Together they have an energy that's had to beat. It was a wonderful performance.

Horowitz founded the legendary NEW DEPARTURES magazine in 1959, performed at the era defining INTERNATIONAL POETRY INCARNATION in 1965, edited CHILDREN OF ALBION: POETRY OF THE UNDERGROUND IN BRITAIN. His achievements are too many to list here, but you can read more about him on his Poetry Olympics page here

Towards the end the floor opened up for several impromptu performances of a startlingly high caliber. It was a magical evening. 

Thank you to Pentameter's Theatre, Leonie Scott-Matthews, Heaven Sake, Salam Rizk for filming it, everyone who performed, and everybody who came. 

Photos below by Dominic Morris - Follow him on Instagram here.

For more photos follow New River Press here and join our mailing list here for irregular poetry updates in our future days. 

Love to you all and goodbye 2017, 

NRP xxx

Robert Montgomery