Poetry - The Staring Owl, our new poetry imprint

The Staring Owl Independent publisher The King’s England Press has announced the launch of a new poetry imprint, The Staring Owl, aimed at bringing together all its poetry titles into one unified list. 

"This is an idea which has been coming for quite some time,” said Steve Rudd, owner and founder of the business. "We began life in 1989 essentially as a publisher of local history and topography, reprinting Arthur Mee’s old county guidebooks, and other historical works on churches, railways, and folklore. We still do all these things, but since 1997, for the last 21 years, we’ve also had a thriving children’s poetry list under the Potty Poets imprint, and now we feel the time has come to do the same with the poetry list for grown-ups.

"It is a particularly appropriate time to do this, as our list for this spring includes three new books of poetry aimed at adult readers, We Are Not All Blessed With A Hat-Shaped Head, the eagerly anticipated new collection from Hull poet Matt Nicholson, Fifty, Grey, In Shades, the first poetry collection from top-selling children’s author Gez Walsh to be aimed at a grown-up audience, and The Maze, the first collection from poet and musician Tony Chapman. Each of these will be in our standard paperback poetry book format, and will retail at £7.95. Gradually, as existing poetry titles in our backlist are reprinted, they, too, will appear under the Staring Owl imprint.”

(Code: 9781909548817)
We Are Not All Blessed With A Hat-Shaped Headby Matt Nicholson
(2018) 9 inches x 7 inches, pbk., 81pp. 

Critical acclaim for Matt Nicholson’s work.

We are not all blessed with a hat-shaped head is a poised, yet humble stride between moments of harshness and beauty, laced with vivid and tangible snapshots of everything in between. Nicholson’s expert ability to bring those snapshots to life, on page and stage alike, has been well established over the years, but never more perfectly represented than in this collection. — Geneviève L. Walsh

From Lucifer sitting in a stolen yellow Lexus, to a blister on an allotment keeper's hand, this book will either make your stomach turn, or make the hairs on your neck stand up. More often than not it does both. It has that magical quality of being openly vulnerable, whilst also being laced with wry wit. Playfully sinister, morbidly uplifting, beautifully written- another stunning collection from one of my out-and-out favourite poets.

Matt Abbott

Matt Nicholson’s poems are a blend of the personal and the communal, the familiar and the curious. They disconcert, stroking your face gently with one hand and smacking you round the head with the other, but ultimately they steady and centre the reader with their reasoning. This collection is the life and the living.

Gill Lambert


Nicholson’s excellent second collection oscillates between moving personal poems of a quiet beauty and loud, visceral truths when he casts his perceptive eyes over society via our city streets and allotments.And through it all, we hear his big Hull heart beat on.

Mark Connors

(Code: 978 1 909548 98 5)
Gabriel's Trumpet: poems for the NHSby Steve Rudd (2019) 9 inces by 6 inches 45pp.
(Code: 978 1 909548 65 7 )
There And Back To See How Far It Isby Matt Nicholson
(2016) 9in x 6in., 80pp., pbk.,

Matt Nicholson was born in the year of decimalization, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, in the shadow of the city of Hull. He remained in Yorkshire for the best part ofhis first nine years before moving south with his family, in search of a promised land. While down south, he completed his education, worked for a living, fell in love and got married, and then, in 2013, he brought his wife and all their worldly possessions back to the East Riding. And, if you ask him on a good day, he will tell you that he is both pleased and proud to be home, in Hull and that he had only been There and Back to See How Far it is.

Matt Abbott, the poet whose work was recently featured in the Nationwide Building Society’s TV advertising campaign, said of Matt Nicholson:

"At times, these are bare, naked, bloodshot beat ballads. At other times they carry the lyrical realism of D. H. Lawrence. But the constant is Nicholson’s voice: visceral, poignant, unapologetic and demanding of your time. An outstanding début collection from one of the best new voices on the scene. This won’t feel out of place on my bookshelf.”Humber Sound Logo

(Code: 978 1 909548 66 4)
Changing Tides by Vicky Foster
(2016) 9in x 6in., pbk.

Vicky Foster has lived all her life in Hull, a city where the rivers can still stop the traffic, where waters can overrunthe streets and where festivals and nights out are held on piers and marinas. Living there, she has developed a great love for her city, but also the realisation that there are some things you can never control and that often the best thing to do is learn to ride the tides. Like the water, poetry has always been there for Vicky – but at the age of 18 she decided to put down her pen and go and find something to write about. In her unique poetic voice, Vicky shares with us vivid images of the many changes which life has washed up, in the years between then and now. Changing Tides is her first collection of poems.

"One of the most exciting new voices which Hull's City of Culture has allowed us to hear so far..." - Ian McMillan. 

Listen to Vicky Foster read her poem Why I Love Where I Live on BBC Radio 3's The Verb [19 mins 48 seconds into the replay]

Humber Sound Logo
(Code: 978 1 909548 77 0)
The Mazeby Tony Chapman
(2019) 9 in. x 6 in. pbk.,

Bob Dylan once memorably said, when a journalist asked him if he considered himself primarily as a poet or a songwriter, "If I can sing it, it’s a song. If I can’t, it’s a poem!” Coincidentally (or maybe not) Dylan is cited as a major influence by poet Tony Chapman, whose first collection this is. Tony Chapman is a true polymath: poet, singer, songwriter, painter, sculptor, and performer, playing piano and guitar. Born and raised on the South coast of England, in the Sussex hills behind Brighton, he now lives in Amsterdam.In a long and prolific career, during which he has travelled through many lands (and many jobs) he has written countless poems and songs and created many images. This new collection brings together the best of his work from the last three decades. 

(Code: 9781 909548 64 0 )
Fifty, Grey,inShades by Gez Walsh
(2018) 9in x 6in., pbk., 
(Code: 978-1-909548-69-5)
Mr Bowlly Regrets

by Deborah Tyler-Bennett

ISBN 978 1 909548 69 5 (2017) 9” x 6”,pbk.,

This collection has been reviewed by Alex Josephy in London Grip
Read the review here.

A new poetry collection by Deborah Tyler-Bennett is always an event, and this one promises to be a landmark.Those who already know and love her work will not be disappointed, and those to whom she is a new voice will be surprised and entertained by the breadth and quality of her insights and her poetic craft. The book is split into four broad sections – the first of which is firmly grounded in the author’s East Midlands roots – memories of Mansfield, and aged Aunties who comb the obituaries of the Sutton-in-Ashfield Chad in search of people they knew. Books of the Village - Diseworth and Kegworth, the next part, is inspired by the lads who never returned from Flanders to these tiny rural Leicestershire communities. Going South, the following section, takes us to the seedy world of Brighton and the South Coast. Finally, in a much more wide-ranging section of poems inspired by radio, films and TV, DeborahTyler-Bennett expands the themes of ennui and the vacuity of a society based on the uncritical mass consumption of popular culture.

This is also a book which hardens, and darkens, as you progress through each section. It is possibly her darkest book to date for the King’s England Press but in terms of coherence and consistency, it achieves a difficult balancing act – to contain both elegiac wistfulness with nostalgia, contemplation of the inevitable, and justifiable anger about what could be done better – make no mistake, this is also, politically,possibly, her most committed book, drawing parallels between Britain today and the 1930s, and it can, surely, only be a matter of time before this book, and its author, receive the recognition they truly deserve.


(Code: 978-1-909549-52-7)
Napoleon Solo Biscuits by Deborah Tyler-Bennett
(October 2015) 9 in x 6 in 72pp pbk.,

A new poetry collection from Deborah Tyler-Bennett, her first since Revudeville and once more she draws on her East Midlands roots. The landscape and the memories of the East Midlands can be found almost around everycorner in these poems – not only the physical landscape, but the interior one which is made upof families and memories. The dedications of some of the individual poems inthis collection give an indication that in this collection, DeborahTyler-Bennett is not only paying her dues, but also paying her respects. In this collection, the people and places arevery much her own, or at least of herown. Deborah Tyler-Bennett may well produce betterpoems in the future, and if she does, her many fans will look forward toreading them. But on mature consideration of this collection, we might at leastbe allowed to say that it represents possibly some of her finest work to date.

As reviewed in LONDON GRIP
(Code: 978 1 872438 55 9 )
Revudevilleby Deborah Tyler-Bennett
(2011) 9in x 6in, 72pp., pbk.
(Code: 978 1 872438 85 6)
Clark Gable in Mansfield by Deborah Tyler-Bennett
(2003) 64pp., A5, pbk.,
(Code: 978-1-909548-46-6)
Seventy BeatsPoems
by Philippa Crundwell
(2015) 9 in x 6 in, 102pp., pbk.

"There is a clarity in these poems, a fresh voice, unencumbered by the baggage of age.The writer looks you in the eye and tells how it is for her. Honest writing,moving writing.” - MICHAEL MORPURGO, OBE, acclaimed writer and former Children's Laureate

"Philippa Crundwell blends inner with outer landscapes, overlaying nature with moods - from contemplative sorrow to blind fury - from mountains to flocks of starlings...One to watch..." - ALI SPARKES, best-selling author of the SHAPESHIFTER series

"I’ve been really impressed on my first look by the breadth of subject matter and depth of maturity of Philippa’s poems. She shows a maturing beyond her years. And I particularly liked Land of Lost Gifts!" - PETER JAMES, international best-selling British writer.

Once in a while, a poet comes along whose work surprises you. This can be for a variety of reasons. Wordsworth and Coleridge, for instance, surprised their readers, on the publication of Lyrical Ballads in 1798, by their use of plain, simple, everyday language and simple, traditional forms. John Donne surprised his audience by his conversational tone and by "affecting the metaphysics” in what Dr Johnson later called "metaphors far fetched”. Philippa Crundwell’s first collection, Seventy Beats, stands out not least because of the astonishing range of her attempts at various voices and personaeother than her own. You might expect his from somebody like Browning or W. B. Yeats in his Celtic twilight years, assuming yet another of his masks, but to find it here in a writer not yet twenty years of age is nothing less than astonishing.This is a book which sets down a marker, a book which says here is a new voice, a book which introduces a name to watch out for in the future, one which, if the author doesgo on to fulfil the tremendous early potential contained in these pages, it will be impossible to ignore. You heard it here first, but if independent confirmation were needed, then there is the fact that she won the Ocado/Peace One Day UK-wide poetry competition in 2013 at the age of only 15, with her Poem For Peace.
(Code: 978-1-909548-53-4)
My Last Everything by Joel Duncan
(October 2015) 9 in x 6 in, 72pp., pbk.,

A new poetry collection from Joel Duncan: the first, in fact, from the critically-acclaimed Calderdale Young Poet Laureate, 2014-15. Joel Duncan began writing poems because he felt a need to explain the world, both to himself, and to his young peers. "Teenage” is often a word that arrives with its own bad rep and baggage. We all know, don’t we, that teenagers can’t bear to be surgically removed from their Iphones and never tidy their room, right? Some people wince at the very mention of the word, especially if it’s combined with that other contentious word, "poetry”. There’s something intensely introspective and personal running through these poems, though, which goes way beyond the stereotypical teenage caricature of "it’s not fair.” He’s a poet who is not afraid to hold up both himself, and the world as he sees it, to inspection, often with revealing results. One of the hallmarks of good poetry is its ability to open up the door and welcome you in, showing you the poet’s view of their internal landscape, with all its quirks and foibles, and then to surprise you by demonstrating the universality behind the experience. So, those who dismiss poetry about and by people under the age of twenty should maybe think again. This book is the first formal utterance by a fresh new voice, and it is a voice you will be hearing much more in the future.

One of the Yorkshire Post's "best five books", 12 February 2016

Yorkshire Post
(Code: 978-909548-62-6)
Fish Town: A Love Song  by Steve Rudd
(2016) 9 in x 6 in., pbk.,

Fish Town is Steve Rudd’s sixth collection of poetry and his first in the Humber Sound series.  The "Fish Town” in question being Hull, of course, his place of birth, his hometown, and the site where he first saw the light of day,  in  a prefab in Sweet Dews Grove, off Newbridge Road, in 1955.  Despite being born completely naked, and unable to walk or talk, he eventually overcame these difficulties and began writing poetry at school. Fortunately, none of that early work survives.

The main part of this book sees a series of thematically linked poems examining the author’s now-distant relationship with the East Riding (although he does still live in Yorkshire). The themes in question are mainly nostaliga, love, and loss, for places as much as people - in fact, in some cases, even more so. He points out that he believes strongly that each one of us makes up our own reality on the hoof, so his Hull might not be the same as your Hull, although of all the places he has lived, Hull is actually likely to be the one with the most common ground and shared experience. And it is a city which deserves its love songs.

The second section of the book is inspired by his love of old English, Anglo Saxon and old Norse poetry and sagas, and ends with two linked cycles of poems, Nocturnes and Maggots, which represent some of  his more recent work

Humber Sound Logo
(Code: 978 1 872438 14 6)
A Passing-Through Placeby J. D. Taylor
(1998) A5, pbk.,
(Code: 978-1-909548-54-1)
Gabardine Swine by Steve Rudd
(October 2015) 9 in x 6 in., 52pp., pbk., £5.99
(Code: 978 1 909548 37 4)
Hauntings: Poems and Stories by Steve Rudd
(2014) 9 inches x 6 inches 152pp pbk.,