My 2018 Bests


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I thought it would be nice to round up the year with what I’ve enjoyed in the arts from people to films, art exhibitions to poetry. So here goes, if you don’t feature, by the way, it’s not because I didn’t like your work, I’ve enjoyed countless books, films, events and exhibitions this year, so thank you for enriching my life!

Best Novel

A tough one, I’ve read many this year. The one that stuck out for me was The North Water, by Ian McGuire, published by Scribner. You can buy it here. This is a terrifying, dark story. I read it almost in one sitting it was so gripping, but more than just a fast, electrifying, gritty plot line is the style of writing, both elegant and satisfying. I’ve just lent it to my husband and am already itching to get it back and re read it.

Best Full Poetry Collection

Again, a tough one. But the collection I’ve just read, Girls are Coming Out of the Woods, by Tishani Doshi, published by Bloodaxe Books, is one that I will keep coming back to. In fact I have only just finished reading it and I am re reading it. You can read about it here. What did I like about it? Powerful, unapologetic poems on difficult subjects, told without prevention. It blew me away. Go read it, go!

Best Short Collection

It’s got to be Liz Berry’s The Republic of Motherhood published by Penguin. You can read about it here. If you’ve not heard of this collection you’re missing out. Liz Berry has a light touch and a wonderfully transportive style and these poems are doing what poetry does best, challenging perception through personal narrative. Brilliant, brilliant collection.

Best Film

Film is the medium I turn to when I need to unwind. I like films that are layered, interesting but also aesthetically pleasing. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri does all of these. It is dark, funny, brilliantly acted, brilliantly filmed. It’s moving and wonderful. Go watch it. Here’s an article about it in The Guardian.

Best Play

I saw Jess and Jo Forever at the wonderful Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, I reviewed it for The Stage. It was phenomenal, a true masterclass in gentle, humorous story telling. Great use of stage, great acting, there was nothing to fault. Bring hankies.

Best Art Exhibition

Another Scarborough experience. This was the Sylvia Pankhurst exhibition at Scarborough Art gallery. You can read about it here. The paintings are moving in their simplicity, and presented elegantly, with space to think. It’s something of a revelation, in the context of the suffragette movement, and made me think about the different ways in which we protest. I believe some of these paintings are now heading to The Tate, but it would be brilliant if you could go and support a small, but brilliant, art gallery in Scarborough!

Best Museum

The last time I was in Manchester was for the Northern Soul awards. While we were there I was dragged to the National Football Museum by my Derby County loving husband. I expected to be bored stiff, but it’s actually one of the best museums I’ve been to. It’s interactive, fun, interesting, historical and the staff were bending over backwards to present items and answer questions. A really great experience. Read about it here.

Most Admirable Poet

I’ve talked before about Antony Owen before, his work as a peace poet is something I admire so much. Here’s what I’ve written about him before: Antony Owen

Most Admirable TV Personality

David Attenborough, who is using his life to bring attention to the state the world is in. He could be enjoying a lazy retirement, but instead he’s out and physically spreading the message. I loves him. Read a bit about what he’s doing here.

Best Cookbook

I’m still in love with the Thug Kitchen books. Honestly, great recipes, lots of swearing. What’s not to love? Read about them here, mother forkers.

Best Cookery Blog

Less of a blog, more of a resource, I love drooling over the video recipes and have just bought their book: BOSH

Best Poetry Blog

Another tough one. Lots of poets blogging about poetry, about being a poet, about where the creative impulse comes from. Roy Marshall’s blog and website is one of those that covers everything and does it eloquently and thoughtfully. Read it here

Most Hardworking Editor

Has got to be the champion of the North: Helen Nugent. i watched her put together the Northern Soul Awards and am in awe of her abilities and stamina.

Best Instagram account to Follow 

There are many, but one of my favourites is natgeo – gorgeous pictures.

Best Twitter Account to Follow

Ian McMillan – worth following for his early morning strolls alone, as well as his gentle, friendly humour and passion for poetry. @IMcMillan

Best Poetry Magazine

I can’t really vote for Dream Catcher Magazine, being as I’m the editor. So I shall choose another fab magazine, this one is an online magazine which makes it accessible to all, something us poor poets appreciate! Ink Sweat & Tears are consistent in both quality and passion. Get yourself over there.

And that’s that. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.




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