Adventures in Form

Tom Chivers (editor)

"Full of things to divert, entertain and provoke"

The Independent
poetry book society special commendation
the independent 50 best summer reads

Welcome to a strange new world in which a poem can be written using only one vowel, processed through computer code, collaged from film trailers, compiled from Facebook status updates, hidden inside a Sudoku puzzle, and even painted on sheep to demonstrate Quantum Theory. Discover a multitude of new and unusual poetic forms – from tweet to time-splice, and from skinny villanelle to breakbeat sonnet – in this inspiring and inventive anthology.

Welcome to a strange new world in which a poem can be written using only one vowel, processed through computer code, collaged from film trailers, compiled from Facebook status updates, hidden inside a Sudoku puzzle, and even painted on sheep to demonstrate Quantum Theory.

Discover a multitude of new and unusual poetic forms – from tweet to time-splice, and from skinny villanelle to breakbeat sonnet – in this inspiring and inventive anthology.

Adventures in Form features over ninety poems by forty-six contributors including Patience Agbabi, Christian Bök, Joe Dunthorne, Inua Ellams, Roddy Lumsden, Ian McMillan, Paul Muldoon, Ruth Padel and Hannah Silva. Edited and introduced by Tom Chivers.


“Full of things to divert, entertain and provoke”
Will Carr, The Independent 50 Best Summer Reads

Adventures in Form teems with life. It is the start of a new, healthier and more joyous way of looking at the poetic endeavour we live among. It’s essential reading right now.”
Katy Evans-Bush. Poetry Review

“The constraints we chafe against in the creation of ‘txt msg poMs’ may be unravelling, but the anthology’s long-term legacy will be its sense of gusto. Look at this as a pattern book of the possible; it enthuses, and that enthusiasm becomes contagious.’
Julia Bird, Poetry London

Adventures in Form raises fundamental questions, about the value of novelty to poetry, for example, about chance and choice, sense and nonsense, and about the concept of ‘voice’, in poetry, how it might be revitalised, channelled and challenged”
Poetry Book Society

“Tom Chivers has put together a “compendium” of poems in unusual forms: found poems, text poems, anagram poems, a poem composed of song titles, another of numbers. A fetching example is Paul Stephenson’s “Notes on Contributors”, which assembles biographical notes from the back of poetry magazines, but with the content omitted. […] We liked Valerie Laws’s haik-ewes, in which a word was written on the back of each of fourteen live sheep, who thus wrote haik-ewes as they moved. Ms Laws computes that 87 billion haik-ewes are possible. […] The most ingenious poem in the book is Nathan Penlington’s “annotated silence”, consisting of four symbols and their corresponding footnotes.”
James Cambell, Times Literary Supplement

Adventures in Form is arguably more transformative an anthology than American Hybrid in that it shows the ways in which poets are rearranging the cogs and gears of poetic structure. So often the poems in Adventures in Form reward rereading because they engage that dynamic Creeley identified: form as an extension of content, each in conversation with the other, even if only because they are trying to convert and divert one another … [W]e need poetry, especially a poetry like that of Adventures in Form, which neither surrenders language to the other media surrounding us, nor surrenders itself wholly to the rules of such media. The adventure’s an intervention, and on the other side of the encounter, you’re headed in an alternative direction, part of a different movement altogether.”
Lytton Smith, LA Review of Books

“one of the most eye-opening books of the decade”
Todd Swift, Eyewear

“[Adventures in Form] is a gem, gorgeous as always from Penned in the Margins, and ambitious. It’s stuffed full of sweets. The book is a joy. It’s full of discoveries. It marks a new era where poets of different kinds can work together on an acknowledged shared project, instead of dicing up the whole project of poetry into tiny bits.”
Katy Evans-Bush, Baroque in Hackney

Adventures in Form … is an exploration of the ways in which form makes poetry sing”
Hannah Rosefield, Annexe Magazine

Adventures in Form is a wonderful book. Like a literary equivalent of a pinterest board, it makes you want to have a go at creating your own versions of the poem as much as to stare and coo over them.”
Lucy Ayrton, Sabotage Reviews

“I would urge anyone writing poetry, or anything else, to read this – it is choc full of feats of poetic-form wonderment – experimental, refreshing, inspiring and thought-provoking. Get it while it’s hot!”
Lucy, Creative Writing student from Kingston University


Patience Agbabi was nominated one of the UK’s Next Generation poets in 2004. Her latest poetry collection is Bloodshot Monochrome (Canongate, 2008). She is currently completing a contemporary version of The Canterbury Tales for which she received a Grant for the Arts.

Simon Barraclough’s Los Alamos Mon Amour was shortlisted for the 2008 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Bonjour Tetris, a boxed mini-book of commissioned poems, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2010 and Neptune Blue, his second book from Salt Publishing, was released in 2011.

Christian Bök is the author not only of Crystallography (1994), a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, but also of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök teaches English at the University of Calgary.

Colette Bryce has published three collections with Picador, most recently Self-Portrait in the Dark (2008). She received the Cholmondeley Award in 2010. She works as a freelance editor.

Theodoros Chiotis studied at the universities of London and Oxford. He is currently researching model material for the teaching of digital literature for Oxford University Press. His academic work on modernist, postmodernist and digital literature is published widely, and he is contributing editor to a number of Greek and English-speaking literary journals.

Tom Chivers was born in 1983 in South London. His publications include How To Build A City (Salt Publishing, 2009) and The Terrors (Nine Arches Press, 2009). He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011.

Emily Critchley is the author of several critical articles — on poetry, philosophy and feminism — and several poetry chapbooks. Love / All That / & OK was published by Penned in the Margins in 2011. She was awarded the John Kinsella – Tracy Ryan Prize in 2004 and, jointly, the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry in 2011. She teaches at the University of Greenwich, London.

Rishi Dastidar was born in 1977, and educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics. He works as a copywriter at an advertising agency, is a graduate of the Faber Academy, and was a runner up in the 2011 Cardiff International Poetry Prize.

Joe Dunthorne was born and brought up in Swansea. His debut novel, Submarine, was translated in to thirteen languages and made into a film. His debut poetry pamphlet was published by Faber. His second novel, Wild Abandon, is out now.

Michael Egan is from Liverpool. His pamphlets are Folklores, After Stikklestad (Knives Forks and Spoons Press) and I Went to the Ship (Erbacce). His first collection Steak & Stations was published by Penned in the Margins in 2010.

Inua Ellams is an award-winning poet, playwright and performer. He has lived in Jos (Nigeria), Dublin (Ireland) and London, where he currently resides. He has published five books, of which the latest is Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars (Flipped Eye, 2011).

SJ Fowler is the author of three poetry collections, including Fights & Minimum Security Prison Dentistry. He edits the Maintenant interview series and is the poetry editor of 3:am Magazine and Lyrikline. His poetry has been commissioned by the Tate and London Sinfonietta, and he is a full-time employee of the British Museum.

Giles Goodland was born in Taunton, educated at the universities of Wales and California, has published books of poetry including A Spy in the House of Years (Leviathan, 2001), Capital (Salt, 2006), What the Things Sang (Shearsman, 2009), Gloss (Knives Forks and Spoons, 2011) and Dumb Messengers (Salt, forthcoming). He works in Oxford as a lexicographer and lives in London.

Kirsten Irving is one half of the team behind collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books and the submissions editor for cult handmade arts journal Fuselit. Kirsten’s pamphlet What To Do was released in 2011 by Happenstance and her debut collection Never Never Never Come Back will be published by Salt in late 2012.

Nathan Jones is an experimental poet and performer, and Creative Director of Mercy, an organisation which commissions work at the intersection of art, pop culture and language. Nathan’s work has appeared as performance, installation, one-to-one and film. His book Noah’s Ark, based on a film by Sam Meech, is published by Henningham Family Press.

Valerie Laws is a poet, crime-writer, playwright and sci-art specialist. Her tenth book All That Lives arises from pathology residencies in London and Newcastle. Awards include Wellcome Trust Arts Award and two Northern Writers’ Awards.

Ira Lightman makes public art in the North East (theSpennymoor Letters, the Prudhoe Glade, the Gatesheads) and lately Willenhall and Southampton. His books are Duetcetera (Shearsman, 2008), Mustard Tart as Lemon (Red Squirrel, 2011) and a whole raft of out of print chapbooks. He is a regular on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb.

Toby Litt was born in Bedford and grew up in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He has published nine novels and two books of short stories, in alphabetical order, from Adventures in Capitalism to King Death. He occasionally writes extremely formally restricted stories for Radio 3’s The Verb, and for fun.

Roddy Lumsden was born in St Andrews in 1966. He has published five collections of poetry, a number of chapbooks and a collection of trivia, as well as editing a generational anthology of British and Irish poets of the 1990s and 2000s, Identity Parade (Bloodaxe Books, 2010). He lives in London, and is Commissioning Editor for Salt Publishing.

Sophie Mayer is the author of The Private Parts of Girls (Salt, 2011), Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009) and the chapbook Kiss Off (Oystercatcher, 2011). She writes about film and culture for Sight & Sound, The F Word, Horizon Review and Hand + Star.

Chris McCabe‘s poetry collections are The Hutton Inquiry, Zeppelins and, most recently, THE RESTRUCTURE. He has recorded a CD with The Poetry Archive and written a play, Shad Thames, Broken Wharf, which is published by Penned in the Margins. He works as a Librarian at The Poetry Library, London, and often tutors for The Poetry School.

Ian McMillan has been a writer, performer and broadcaster for more than thirty years. He presents The Verb on Radio 3 and tours with The Ian McMillan Orchestra and the cartoonist Tony Husband. His latest pamphlet is This Lake Has Been Frozen: Lamps published by Smith/Doorstop.

Richard Moorhead lives in Cardiff.  His work has appeared in Anon, the Financial Times, Mimesis and the Horizon Review.  His pamphlet, The Reluctant Vegetarian (Oystercatcher Press) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Pamphlet Prize.

Paul Muldoon is the author of eleven collections of poetry ranging from New Weather (1973) to Maggot (2010). His next books are Songs and Sonnets (Enitharmon) and The Word on the Street (Faber).

Ruth Padel’s collections include Darwin – A Life in Poems, a lyric min-biography of her great-great-grandfather Charles Darwin, and The Mara Crossing, poems interwoven with prose on migration. She is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Zoological Society of London, and presents BBC4’s  Poetry Workshop.

Nathan Penlington is a writer, performer and obsessive. He has performed his work in venues as diverse as Tate Modern, Oxford Literary Festival and Chicago’s Drinking & Writing Festival, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 1, 3, and 4. He is currently developing an interactive live Choose Your Own Adventure documentary.

Andrew Philip was born in Aberdeen in 1975. His first collection is the multi-award nominated The Ambulance Box (Salt Publishing, 2009). He is now honing his second, for which he received a Creative Scotland writer’s bursary and which he hopes to publish in 2013.

Richard Price’s collections include Lucky Day, Greenfields and Small World. His novel The Island, written under the name R. J. Price, is about a father and a daughter who steal a car as an act of revenge.

Sam Riviere lives in Norwich, co-edits the anthology series Stop Sharpening Your Knives, and won an Eric Gregory Award in 2009. Faber published his pamphlet in 2010 as part of their New Poets scheme. His first collection with Faber is due in 2012.

Hannah Silva is an award-winning writer and theatre maker known for vocal acrobatics and linguistic experiments. She has performed internationally and throughout the UK including at Latitude Festival, London Word Festival and Edinburgh Fringe. She is currently touring her solo show Opposition.

Iain Sinclair has lived in Hackney since 1969. His books include Downriver, Dining on Stones, Lights out for the Territory, London Orbital and Edge of the Orison. He edited London: City of Disappearances in 2006. His most recent publications are  Hackney, That Rose Red Empire (2009) and Ghost Milk (2011).

Steve Spence lives in Plymouth where he helps to organise readings for the Language Club. His publications include A Curious Shipwreck (Shearsman, 2010; shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection) and Limits of Control (Penned in the Margins, 2011).

Paul Stephenson grew up in Cambridge, lives in London and works in the Netherlands. He has published poems in recent issues of Poetry London, The North, The Wolf and 14 Magazine, Smiths Knoll, Magma and Tears in the Fence. In 2011 he read at Ledbury Poetry Festival and was highly commended in the Bridport Prize.

Jon Stone was born in Derby and lives in Whitechapel. He is the co-creator of Sidekick Books and arts journal Fuselit, and his work has been anthologised in The Best British Poetry 2011 (Salt). He was highly commended in the National Poetry Competitions 2009 and a collection, School of Forgery, is due out from Salt in Spring 2012.

Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh in 1979. He is a member of live literature collective Aisle 16. He has published three collections with Penned in the Margins: Things To Do Before You Leave Town (2009), Twelve Nudes  (2010) and the e-book Hyakuretsu Kyaku (2011). His latest book is Emergency Window, due summer 2012.

George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He has published numerous books of poetry and translation, including Selected Poems (OUP, 1996) and New and Collected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2008). Reel (Bloodaxe, 2004) won the TS Eliot Prize. His most recent collection, shortlisted for the Eliot, is The Burning of the Books (Bloodaxe, 2009).

Chris Thorpe is from Manchester. He writes stage and radio plays and is a founding member of Unlimited Theatre. He also makes performance and live art with Third Angel, performs solo, and collaborates with companies such as Slung Low, mala voadora and Belarus Free Theatre. He has made two shows so far with Hannah Jane Walker, including The Oh Fuck Moment.

Claire Trévien’s pamphlet Low-Tide Lottery was published by Salt in 2011. She is the editor of Her first collection will be published by Penned in the Margins in 2013.

George Ttoouli teaches at Warwick University. He co-founded the Heaventree Press in 2002 and has worked at the Poetry Society. He co-edits blog Gists & Piths. In 2004 he received a Jerwood-Arvon Young Writing Apprenticeship to work on a novel, which he still hasn’t abandoned. His debut collection, Static Exile, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2009.

Tim Turnbull was born in North Yorkshire and lives in Scotland. His collections Caligula on Ice and Other Poems and Stranded in Sub-Atomica are available from Donut Press, along with other special editions.

Jack Underwood was born in Norwich in 1984. He recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College, where he teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His debut pamphlet was published by Faber in October 2009. He lives in Hackney.

Hannah Jane Walker is from Cambridge. She writes poems and runs workshops and produces projects. She studied at UEA and Newcastle. So far she has made two shows: a solo show about apology, This is just to say, and The Oh Fuck Moment  with Chris Thorpe. She is currently working on a new show about how to make and take apart a home.

Tim Wells has cultivated a laugh that’s more like a caress. He walks properly. He does not slouch, shuffle or stumble about. He knows that wide, floating trousers are only good for wearing on a veranda with a cocktail in your hand. He is published by Donut Press.

James Wilkes writes poems and scripts and has worked with scientists, artists and musicians investigating topics such as brain imaging, camouflage, radio and woodland. He is currently poet-in-residence at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL.

Chrissy Williams has published in magazines and anthologies including Best British Poetry 2011, Stop/Sharpening/Your/Knives, The Rialto, Horizon Review, Anon and Fuselit. A pamphlet of prose poems The Jam Trap came out at the start of 2012.

Tamar Yoseloff’s fourth collection is The City with Horns (Salt, 2011). She is the author of Marks, with the artist Linda Karshan,  and the editor of A Room to Live In: A Kettle’s Yard Anthology. Two recent collaborations incorporating poetry and image, Desire Paths (with Linda Karshan and Galerie Hein Elferink) and Formerly (with Vici MacDonald) are published in 2012.

Our price £9.99
RRP £9.99
208 pages
ISBN 9781908058010
Published 01.04.12
Cover design: Henry Simmonds


About the author

Tom Chivers was born in South London in 1983. His publications include How To Build A City (Salt Publishing, 2009), The Terrors (Nine Arches Press, 2009; shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets) and, as editor, the anthologies Generation Txt, City State: New London Poetry and Stress Fractures: Essays on Poetry (Penned in the Margins, 2006, 2009 & 2010). A regular reviewer for Poetry London, he presented a documentary about the poet Barry MacSweeney for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011.

Related news & blogs


Related titles

discover more BOOKS

Connect with us

Thank you for subscribing to our email newsletter, Marginal Notes
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.