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Launch of ‘Coast to Coast to Coast’ issue 2

I’m back from an (almost) flying trip to Liverpool, a city about 300 miles north of where I live, for a five minute poetry reading – crazy or what? Except I wasn’t the only ‘poetry tourist’ there, and no wonder, as we were there for the launch of no ordinary magazine.

coast to coast to coast issue 2, number 16

Edited by Maria Isakova Bennett and Michael Brown, ‘Coast to Coast to Coast’ is a handmade journal and every one is unique. I’ve opened it up in the above photo so you can see the cover – Maria designs and creates the covers from tissue, tiny pieces of card, silk and tulle-type fabric and ribbon – each is hand-stitched and assembled. The cover theme for this issue is wintery and cool – the inner pages are printed on complementary paper (white with the whiter covers, cream for the creamer colour schemes). The whole look is so delicate and ethereal you almost don’t want to handle it!  Having made my little ‘Foot Wear’ pamphlet (a lot fewer pages and with a printed cover) and knowing the time it took, I can only boggle at the labour that’s gone into the making of these journals (150 copies!)

A bit of Liverpool love

I want to digress here for a moment – first of all to say how much fun the journey was. Travelling by Virgin Pendolino train was What Train Travel Should Be Like. Down here on the South coast we endure Southern Rail: constant cancellations, delays, replacement buses every weekend, slow, uncomfortable journeys in ancient and filthy carriages, expensive and utterly unreliable. So getting on a train that leaves and arrives ON TIME, is quiet, clean and FAST… and, thanks to Advance ticket fares, cheap… I’d simply forgotten any of this was possible!

And Liverpool? There’s such an energy to the place. Its history is on show everywhere.

Cunard building

From inside the Liver Building in Liverpool
Looking out at the Ice Fair from inside the Liver Building

We stayed in the Ropewalks part of town which is basically warehouses mostly converted to flats, hotels, clubs, bars and yet more bars.

Um, not actually where we stayed…

xmas liverpool

Liverpudlians take their entertainment (and shopping) seriously I think. Then there’s the Albert Dock, transformed beyond recognition since the 1980s and now home to the Tate Liverpool, the Maritime Museum and the striking Museum of Liverpool, which reminded me of the Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI Centre for Contemporary Arts in Rome – separated at birth?

Museum of Liverpool and Maxxi Rome
Museum of Liverpool and (bottom right) MAXXI Rome – some similarity, surely?

Albert Dock, Liverpool

Albert Dock, Liverpool

padlocks by the side of the Mersey in Liverpool
‘Love locks’ on the chain fence by the side of the Mersey

Back to the launch …

Within the same complex as the Museum of Liverpool is the Open Eye Gallery, a gallery of contemporary photography where the launch for ‘Coast to Coast to Coast’ took place on Tuesday evening. Writer-in-residence Pauline Rowe, who also has a poem in the magazine, co-hosted the event and introduced the current exhibition which we were invited to browse.

It was wonderful to hear readings from poets I knew of but had never met, and some I didn’t know of. I had a great chat with Charles Lauder Jr, and finally got to meet the great Fogginzo himself, John Foggin – naturally I was quick to remind him how he pipped me out of five hundred quid in the Plough competition a couple of years ago, but hey!

robin houghton & johnfoggin
Robin meets the great Fogginzo

I was sorry not to talk with Michael Brown, Maria’s co-editor, who I’ve since discovered with a little research is a fine poet (Roy Marshall has a good interview with him here on his blog) but perhaps our paths will cross again.

With so much good stuff in the magazine it’s hard to pick out the highlights. I loved David Coldwell’s ‘Winter’s Indifference’ and Martin Bewick’s ‘Ways’.  In the magazine I enjoyed moving contributions from Suzannah V. Evans and Pippa Little, as well as a funny prose poem from Paul Stephenson. Maria and Michael were thrilled to have had a submission from John Glenday, testament to how well the first edition of the magazine had been received, no doubt. His poem opens the magazine and Maria read it on the night.


So that was my great pre-Christmas adventure. My copy of the magazine is number 15, but I also bought number 55 which is equally beautiful, and I’d like to give it to one of my blog readers. If you’d like to have it, let me know in the comments and I’ll put all names into a hat and draw a winner. The only criterion I ask for is that you’ve posted a comment here over the last year, or that you’ve let me know in some other way that you read the blog. You know who you are! I’ll be doing the draw in a week or so.

Coast to Coast to Coast issue 2
This beautiful magazine (on the right) could be yours!


Published inBlogBooksEventsMags & BlogsPlacesReadings


  1. Peter Raynard Peter Raynard

    Well done, the issue looks great. Not been to Liverpool for many years. Merry Xmas Robin. Peter x

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Peter and the same to you! Rx

  2. Looks and sounds great! Charles also praising issue 3 and the delights of Liverpool at Saturday’s stanza meeting.

  3. Looks great Robin. I have a poem in Issue 3 and hope I can get to that launch. Pam x

  4. elly elly

    Thanks for sharing your adventure to Liverpool. Wonderful photos. Yes, please include me in the draw 🙂

    Merry Christmas, Robin.

    Elly x

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Elly, happy Christmas to you too 🙂

  5. Jill Fricker Jill Fricker

    Well, pop me in your hat, Robin! Looks fab, and I enjoyed the travelogue.

    As for Virgin trains . . . hmmm. . .since VirginCare have had the sleezy cheek to sue the NHS for being unsuccessful in their bid to win a children’s health care contract, all I can say is damn right they should provide decent trains with our money!!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      ha ha! well at least the staff seemed a lot happier than Southern rail bods, which is something…

  6. Jill Munro Jill Munro

    And me in the titfer too please! Enjoyed your blog as always … this mag looks wonderful. Nice to see something so crafted in this day and age. Happy Christmas Robin (which sounds like an image on a Christmas card!) xx

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Jill, Happy Christmas to you too! Rx

  7. Antony Mair Antony Mair

    What a great trip, Robin – I agree with you that these trips to strange parts of the country for five minutes of fame are actually a joy, though entirely bonkers financially! The mag looks quite extraordinary – what will the poetry world think of next? Pindaric odes on bits of Roman pottery? tweets converted into eighteenth century samplers? I am waiting for developments with interest! But the fact that they included something by you is enough of a validation…

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      ha ha! thanks Antony! Rx

  8. Ooo, please include me in the draw. The books look great.

  9. Great photos! And sounds like a wonderful event – well worth the trip! If I’m not too late, do please include me in the draw. Best wishes for 2018 x

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thanks Hilaire, will do.. and the same to you! Rx

  10. Do so wish I could have been there and met you among so many other people I am acquainted with. And the book is a treasure, a keepsake, a wonder (but I have a copy).

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Robin Houghton 2021