Spring Raceme

Spring arrived paper brown through the letterbox today then emerged shiny green. ‘Raceme’ is a botanical term meaning a cluster of short-stalked flowers strung on a long stem. Think wisteria for example.

It also means an excellent publication of poetry, reviews and essays appearing in the spring and autumn. Raceme’s editors are Mathew Barton and Philip Lyons. Issue 6 was edited by Mathew and by Jeremy Mulford, who died last year, and who is remembered widely and fondly.

Spring 2019 is the seventh issue and weighs in at 140 well designed pages, with illustration. Among the many contributors to this issue are, Deborah Harvey, Fiona Hamilton, Alyson Hallet and Rachel Bentham, James Harpur, Penelope Shuttle, Philip Gross and Lesley Saunders, Paul Mathews, and myself.

Raceme is Bristol and West Country based but not Bristol-centric – so Deborah Harvey’s 1914 second hand dealer, and murderer, from Bristol, is universally terrifying. Hallett and Bentham inform us about Sarah Guppy, a Victorian engineer and inventor also from Bristol, who surely deserves to be much more widely known (including in Bristol). Perhaps Project Boast will achieve that, and for 29 women from all over the world.  There is, unsurprisingly, a lot of concern with nature, but certainly not only from the West Country. Almost immediately the issue is in ancient Greece, later in Bulgaria and Canada. There is a strong thread too of conversation between poets – literally, and in poems where we meet Cafavy, Frost and Bishop for example. 

It’s very fitting that Raceme has re-emerged this spring in Bristol to make a place where poets can talk to us and each other across the world and time. And like Sarah Guppy, it deserves to be much more widely known.

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