Headline: First Thursday Showcase with Amy Wack

Featuring Amy Wack, Abeer Ameer, SIMON BRINDLE, PAUL DEATON, stephen payne,Gemma Paine, Elizabeth parker, taz rahman, KATHERINE STANSFIELD, & CLAIRE WILLIAMSON. HOSTED BY RHIAN EDWARDS.

Date: SATURday 30th July
Time: 20:15
Venue: theatre
Price: £10.00 / £7.00


Amy Wack was the poetry editor of Seren for over 30 years. Not only did she kickstart the careers of many unknown poets, giving them their first publication break and turning them into household names; she also created First Thursday: New Poetry and Fiction at Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, Cardiff.

First Thursday provided a monthly showcase for guest authors, as well as a lively ‘open mic’ segment, where poets were often keen to catch the eye and the ear of the poetry editor, as well as road-testing new poetry.

Featuring a selection of First Thursday’s most loyal attendees, the First Thursday Showcase will also look at the life and times of editor Amy Wack, who has recently hung up her editorial boots to pursue her own literary career. Aptly hosted by Amy’s successor, one of the new poetry editors of Seren, the multi-award winning poet Rhian Edwards, whose own publishing career was launched by  Amy Wack and Seren Books.


Amy Wack was poetry editor at Seren for 30 years.

Abeer Ameer is a poet of Iraqi heritage who lives in Cardiff, Wales. She trained as a dentist in London developing an interest in the treatment of anxious patients and mindfulness.  Her poems are often inspired by stories of Iraq and include a range of personal and political themes. They have appeared widely online and in-print publications including: Acumen, Poetry Wales, Magma, Under the Radar, PlanetNew Welsh ReaderThe Rialto and The Poetry Review. Her debut poetry collection, Inhale/ Exile, was published by Seren in February 2021.

Simon Brindle will be reading from Heather Trickey (his late wife’s) first, and sadly last, collection I’m Sorry About the Mess. Heather’s book draws on themes of cancer in a pandemic, mental illness and spirituality – oh, and it’s funny too. Heather learned much of her poetry craft at First Thursday and forged great friendships there. Much to his surprise, Simon has started to write poems himself since Heather died in July 2021 and, since it has restarted after lockdowns, he is now a First Thursday regular.

Paul Deaton (left) was raised in Wales. A Watchful Astronomy (Seren, 2017) his debut collection, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and National Poetry Day selected title. He won a Society of Authors Award in 2019. Most recently he co-edited an anthology of running poems with Kim Moore & Ben Wilkinson. He works as a therapist and runs when he can.

Stephen Payne is Professor Emeritus at the University of Bath, where until September 2020 he taught and conducted research in Cognitive Science. He lives in Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan. His first full-length poetry collection, Pattern Beyond Chance, was published by HappenStance Press in 2015 and shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year. His second collection, The Windmill Proof (September 2021), and a pamphlet The Wax Argument & Other Thought Experiments (February 2022) were published by the same press.

Gemma Paine: Creativity is in my blood arriving from Danish Ancestors many years ago following the discovery a distant relative Folmer Bendtesen talent painter. Although its been a long time to seeking inspiration to be able to show my work. When I began to combine poetry and recycled fabric to make garments that told stories of the women who might have worn them. Successfully exhibited this work in various galleries in Wales. Storage space became a problem however I decided to concentrate writing using memory/ journeys and observation from the world around me as the subject matter. Prior to this I contributed to Butetown History & Arts Newsletter. At the time there where various venues to read at open mike events throughout Cardiff providing an outlet to express oneself. Sadly the pandemic arrived effecting so many peoples lives and confidence. However I have been more fortunate than many people finding on line and zoom outlets to express myself. One such workshop ‘Drawing The Word’ a joint project between Literature Wales & Disability Arts Cymru Produced an in house Poetry Pamphlet.

Elizabeth Parker grew up in a garden center in The Forest Of Dean. Her poetry has been published in various poetry journals including Magma, Agenda and Poetry Salzburg. She was a prizewinner in the 2016 Troubadour Prize. Following her 2016 pamphlet, Antinopolis, published by Eyewear, Elizabeth’s first full collection, In Her Shambles, was published by Seren in April 2018. She is a founding member of Bristol poetry quartet The Spoke and co-host of monthly Bristol poetry event Under The Red Guitar.

Taz Rahman judged the 2021 Poetry Wales Pamphlet Competition and has been published in Bad Lilies, Anthropocene, South Bank Poetry, Honest Ulsterman and Poetry Wales. He is the founder of the Youtube channel Just Another Poet. He has been in the 2021 Literature Wales ‘Representing Wales’ writer development programme.

Katherine Stansfield grew up in Cornwall and now lives in Cardiff. She has published two full length poetry collections and a pamphlet with Seren, the most recent of which is We Could Be Anywhere By Now which was selected by Wales Literature Exchange as a ‘Bookcase’ title: a book from Wales recommended for translation. Katherine is also a novelist: her historical crime series Cornish Mysteries has won the Holyer an Gof Fiction Prize and been shortlisted for the Winston Graham Memorial Prize. She co-writes a fantasy crime trilogy with her partner David Towsey, publishing as D. K. Fields. Photo credit: Two Cats In The Yard

Claire Williamson was Director of Studies for Metanoia Institute’s Masters in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, also for ten years. Her poems have won prizes, including in the Bridport Prize. Her latest collection is Visiting the Minotaur from Seren and before that Split Ends from Eyewear. Claire has written extensively with Welsh National Opera and has been involved with a dementia awareness project called Cradle for three years. Her doctoral studies explore representations of grief in various 21st Century novels. She lives in Chepstow. She has two daughters and a borderline border collie. Photo credit: Ruth Garner Photography

Rhian Edwards is a multi-award winning poet and the newly appointed poetry editor of Seren. Her first collection Clueless Dogs (Seren 2012) won Wales Book of the Year 2013, the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry 2013 and the People’s Choice 2013. It was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2012. Rhian’s second collection The Estate Agent’s Daughter (Seren 2020) was a National Poetry Day Recommended Read for 2020. Rhian has two pamphlets of poems Parade the Fib, (Tall-Lighthouse 2008), Poetry Book Society Choice for autumn 2008 and Brood (Seren 2017), a pamphlet of illustrated bird poems.