Category Archives: Event

Hercules Editions at the Poetry Book Fair

Hercules Editions are delighted to once again have a stall at Free Verse, the Poetry Book Fair, which takes place at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL on Saturday 30th September from 11am-6pm. You’ll be able to buy our books, or come and talk to us about the press and our forthcoming projects.

We’re also thrilled to say that publisher Tamar Yoseloff will introduce a reading in the main space in the evening from the authors of two of our 2017 titles: Ruth Valentine’s Rubaiyat for the Martyrs of Two Wars and Jacqueline Saphra’s A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller. Come and see us, have a chat, buy a book, hear some poems, share a drink.



Hercules Winter Workshops announced

Hercules Editions are pleased to announce their winter workshops to tie in with the launch of recent titles – Rubaiyat for the Martyrs of Two Wars by Ruth Valentine and A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller by Jacqueline Saphra.

Saturday 21st October 2017
The rubai (rubaiyat is the plural) is a traditional Persian form, introduced (and adapted) into English by Edward Fitzgerald in the nineteenth century, and by other writers since. During this workshop, we’ll look at Persian (in translation) and English rubaiyat. We’ll consider what kind of subject matter may suit it, and practise some of the skills it needs. By the end, you’ll have at least one stand-alone rubai, and a short sequence: your own rubaiyat. If you want to start using traditional verse forms, or you just want to expand your repertoire, this workshop is for you.
10:30am – 4:30pm, The Poetry School 79-83 Lambeth Walk, London, SE11 6DX.
Please note The Poetry School is the venue only – bookings must be made in advance through Hercules Editions. Concessions are available for 60+, full time students and those in receipt of benefits. If booking a concessionary place please bring proof of status on the day.
Saturday 25th November 2017
The sonnet sequence is a beast of a thing:compulsive, addictive, thrilling, mind-bending, with a momentum all of its own. In this workshop you will face the beast head on, join forces with it, and begin to write a crown or heroic crown of sonnets. Is there a big theme you’d like to tackle in your writing? Here’s your chance to do it justice. Do you dread the blank page? With a sequence, one poem leads to another. Through looking at examples and writing exercises, this workshop will start you off on a journey that will keep your pen moving and your poetic mind inspired for a long, satisfying time.
10:30am – 4:30pm, The Poetry School 79-83 Lambeth Walk, London, SE11 6DX.
Please note The Poetry School is the venue only – bookings must be made in advance through Hercules Editions. Concessions are available for 60+, full time students and those in receipt of benefits. If booking a concessionary place please bring proof of status on the day.

Save £25 on the full price when you book for both workshops together.

A Bargain with the Light launch events

A Bargain with the Light is a tribute to one of the most extraordinary figures of the 20th century.

At its heart is a heroic crown of sonnets, accompanied by an introduction by the art historian Patricia Allmer, an essay by Jacqueline Saphra charting her journey through Miller’s story to the writing of the poems, and iconic photographs by and of Miller, courtesy of the Lee Miller Archives.

Monday 18th September

Join us for a very special launch event at the Cinema Museum, with a reading by the author, accompanied by images from the book.

6.30pm – 8.30pm

Readings at 7.15pm. Free drinks.



The Cinema Museum

2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road)



SE11 4TH




Saturday 23rd September

Join us for a book signing with author Jacqueline Saphra at the Imperial War Museum, where a major retrospective of Miller’s work was held in 2015.


The Imperial War Museum

Lambeth Road




The importance of the perfect pen: Sean O’Brien discusses his process as a poet

On 1st March, Hercules Editions (along with co-hosts Jill Abram and Waterstone’s Piccadilly) welcomed Hammersmith author Sean O’Brien to speak to a packed room of writers and readers about his process as a poet.

Jill and Tamar Yoseloff invited questions from the audience, and wanted to share some of Sean’s wisdom, particularly for those who couldn’t attend . . .

How do you approach writing for a deadline or commission?

Sean replied that such poems, written for an occasion, are a special case. There is always the concern that readers will feel the poet is simply doing it for the money (a comment which produced general laughter from the audience), or that the resulting poem doesn’t stem from true inspiration. But Sean mentioned that he likes deadlines: ‘fear is a good generator.’

Do you have any particular ‘rituals’ necessary for writing?

Sean told us that he rises very early, usually by 6am, and that his best writing time is between 6am and 11am. He commented that he is a ‘desk junky’, and needs to be harnessed to that location. On his desk he typically has a number of poems in progress to attend to. He also has a special kind of pen he likes to use (he produced one from his pocket to show the audience): ‘I use a UniPin fine line. I think it’s a drawing pen but I like it for writing – a strong black line. I get through a lot of them. At the moment I alternate between a .2 and a .3. They’re about £1.95. I buy them from Blackwells in Newcastle. But the quest for the ideal disposable pen is endless.’

How important is the first line?

Sean said that the first line must be interesting and arresting in itself. ‘If I’m not interested in the first line, the poem doesn’t run.’ He talked about the first line as being a run up into the poem, like a ski jump. It is often disposed of later, or repositioned as the poem goes through the drafting process.

Do you build up layers of music in your poems?

Sean commented that it varies according to the occasion. He’s interested in what he called ‘opportunistic rhyme’, accidental occurrence. He doesn’t go in for making lists of rhyming words, as some poets do, but he follows echoes and chimes that he hasn’t deliberately contrived. This happens naturally, because of the concentration you apply to the music in a poem. ‘The ear is going about its own work.’

Do you still seek feedback from other poets?

Sean mentioned that he still attends the Northern Poetry Workshop once a month. The group has been meeting in Newcastle for about 25 years, and regularly has 10-12 members. It’s a place to try out work on his fellow poets, who can point out tendencies the author isn’t always aware of. Sean mentioned a current workshop trend, which he is keen to discourage: ‘bobbism’ (the habit of listing three things in a poem, without a connective ‘and’).

Sean was then asked a question about word order, in relation to his poem ‘Jaguar’, which he’d read to us earlier in the evening.

He replied that he is always trying to keep the poem propulsive. He is interested in sentence structure, and how you keep the reader going through a long sentence (in the case of the poem in question, by opening with a declaration). ‘The carrier is the rhythm.’ The rhythm of English is a very simple binary – the way to get hold of it is to read poetry aloud, only then can you hear the cadence. ‘Rhyme is the great enforcer – it gives truth.’ Rhyme seduces us into thinking something has meaning. Sean also mentioned his interest in the second-person address – it helps the writer avoid the first person, which can often be confining or presumptuous. ‘You’ has universality.

The final question came from the poet Stephen Watts: Who are the poets who portray the world you wish you were in now?

Sean first mentioned Douglas Dunn, especially the work from his middle period. And he admires the ‘utopian spirit’ in Derek Mahon: ‘however grim the poem, the poem itself is a creative activity and adds to the store of what we have now.’ In that vein, He also referenced Zbigniew Herbert’s poems ‘The Envoy of Mr. Cogito’ and ‘Elegy Of Fortinbras’.

Report by Tamar Yoseloff

Sean O’Brien & David Harsent in conversation 14th November 2016


On Monday 14th November 2016, Hercules Editions and Travelling Through Bookshop invite you to a conversation between the TS Eliot and Forward Prize winning poets, Sean O’Brien and David Harsent.

They will be talking about the crucial role of place in their work, as well as other influences and themes. There will be an opportunity for questions from the audience and to meet the poets, who will be available to sign books after the event. The evening will be chaired by Tamar Yoseloff of Hercules Editions. Doors 6pm for a 6:30 start. Refreshments available

Travelling Through is located at 131 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7AE. Nearest tube: Waterloo. 

Tickets are £10, which includes a copy of Sean O’Brien’s latest chapbook Hammersmith and a glass of wine / beer / soft drink.

 Tickets are on a first come, first served basis and are available on the door on the night. Places can be reserved by contacting Travelling Through: (all reserved tickets must be collected by 6pm, or can be paid for by visiting the shop before the event). Spaces are limited, so please arrive early to avoid disappointment. Cards accepted by cash preferred.


trav thru
Travelling Through bookshop

Night and The City – a night to remember with Sean O’Brien and Andrew Pulver

We gathered on Monday (27/6/16) in one of our favourite London spots, the Cinema Museum in Kennington, for an event celebrating the enduring appeal of the great British noir classic, Jules Dassin’s Night and the City. The film, starting Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney, is a favourite of poet Sean O’Brien, the author of our recently published chapbook, Hammersmith. Dassin’s film, especially its iconic final scene set on Hammersmith Bridge, was an inspiration for O’Brien – Widmark is even name-checked in his poem!

Awaiting the film at the wonderful Cinema Museum
Awaiting the film at the wonderful Cinema Museum

Before we settled in to watch the feature, we were treated to the London premiere of Kate Sweeney’s lyrical animated short, Hammersmith, based on both O’Brien’s poem and Dassin’s film. Sweeney was on hand to introduce the film, and to say a few words about the process of collaborating with a poet. You can watch the film here:

Night&City talk video grab 002
Andrew Pulver (left) and Sean O’Brien in conversation

Then Sean and Guardian film critic Andrew Pulver took to the stage to discuss Night and the City and its shadowy depiction of post-war London, its extraordinary cast of characters (including some famous wrestlers of the period!) and why it is still worth watching. We then settled back and enjoyed seeing a rare 35mm print of the original British version (Hollywood made some changes before it was released in US – the American version is now the standard), expertly projected for us by Ronald Grant of the Cinema Museum.

Here’s a link to Andrew Pulver’s guide to the film:

And to Sean O’Brien’s Hammersmith:


Travels of Hercules

TravellingThru Workshop Reading IMG_3922
Tammy introducing the reading

Hercules Editions hosted a reading last Friday at the wonderful Travelling Through Bookshop, site of our recent series of Winter Writing Workshops. The poets who contributed with their enthusiasm and ideas read new work inspired by the sessions. Sue Rose and Claire Crowther, two of our Hercules authors / workshop leaders, were also on hand to read their work, and Tamar Yoseloff read for Hannah Lowe, who is currently on an author’s tour in New York. We also paid tribute to our friend, the poet Kenneth Hyam, who died in February, and who joined us last for our walking workshop back in October. A full report of the evening can be found here, from participating poet and Write Out Loud editor Greg Freeman:

Below: a slideshow of some of the readers

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