In words of Granny Weatherwax, I Aten’t Ded. I mean, in terms of poetry it’s been pretty dead. In fact, I haven’t written any new poetry for eons. Well, a year or so. = EONS.
But I have gotten off my arse about a) attending a poetry evening/workshop (*waves at Sarah Tait*), and b) sending old stuff out to magazines/competitions. Surprisingly, the latter has produced results and that which remains was shortlisted for the 2018 Poets Meet Politics International Poetry Competition. Coming out in an anthology soonish.
Now I’ll just have to try and write some new things… If only work and life would stop being so stupidly busy and stressful at the moment…
I am delighted to have a poem included in the August 2015 issue of Cyclamens and Swords. This is a special issue on the theme of ‘relationships’ and contains verse from 52 poets, 10 short stories, and some gorgeous artwork from 7 artists.
You can find my poem ‘no turning back now’ in the middle of Page 3. This is a poem I wrote in September 2011, in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep (this was during the last six months before PhD submission so I was more than likely stressing myself to insomnia) – I know that because the post date on my locked poetry journal is 01.57! It’s a disjointed hymn to youthful earnestness and conviction that it’s always possible to get up and leave.
Because of the sheer size of the issue I haven’t had a chance to do more than skim the poetry and admire some of the artwork (the short stories are on the ‘to read’ list!). So here are some extremely selective and extremely subjective recommendations of verse that resonated.
On Page 1 I enjoyed
- Summer Storm, a haiku sequence by Adelaide B. Shaw (her haiku blog here) – I am supremely awful at haiku or any kind of structured poetry so greatly admire such skill in others. These were lovely and fresh.
- He Was an Artiste by Angelika Quirk – Women – even portraits of them – won’t be owned!
- Nina’s Five Husbands by Art Heifetz – This made me chuckle out loud, the ending is priceless. I also lost quite a bit of time at the author’s poetry blog: Polished Brass Poems
- While we wait by Ashwini Bhasi – A perfectly depicted moment
- Lear and White spot by Britta R Kollberg – First will delight any Shakespeare fan, and the second makes me think of Alexander The Great though I doubt that was the intention
- My Love For You and Multiverse by Christina Tang-Bernas – The first is lusciously visceral and the second is something every sci-fi (sci-fact!) fan has thought whilst cuddling to their loved one.
Page 2 yielded such gems as
- Crossing Conditions by Dawn McGuire – There was something about this mix of environmental and personal, that spoke to me at this particular point. Both dream-like and grounded.
- Joy, like a Purple Balloon by Diane Frank – The kind of joy and positivity I really needed
- War Children by Gila Landman – Poignant. We live in the world of sides.
- Four Corners by Helen Bar-Lev – I enjoyed the elemental imagery a lot!
Skimming through Page 3 I stopped at
- Reverie and Memory by Jessica Goody – Painful shades of loss
- Wedding Photo, Chi Nan Fu China Mission, December 7, 1897 and When Stella Saw Herb Skating by John B. Lee – Arresting imagery takes the reader to the past
- Speed Dating and Muriel and Robert by Johnmichael Simon – Gentle amusement at the vagaries of romance
- “Death stalks me with a flower between her teeth” by Laurice Gilbert – Won me over with a Buffy reference and kept me with the rather clever and literary musings on death
- Flight-Path Tel Aviv – Melbourne by Lilian Cohen – This one struck way too close for comfort
- Kelp by Lytton Bell – Love the wild meeting of sea and shore
- Being At Home, en Paris by Marian Kaplun Shapiro – Poetry that mixes languages always resonates with me. Also this reminds me of my own Paris poem. And the fact that sometime I probably should actually go there…
And finally on Page 4 the following caught my attention
- The Fight in Spain by Merridawn Duckler – Funny and poignant and ringing true. Also, what an awesome name this poet has!
- Obsession by Norma Ketzis – Well this is how to keep a man 😀 I know several who’d prefer it that way…
- About That Kiss by RC deWinter – Sensual yet self-possessed
I have been terribly amiss about updating this blog but if it makes you feel better, the same is true for all my blogs. Also applicable to such things as ‘catching up with emails’ or ‘maintaining social relations in general’. So there is that. For the last two weeks I’ve been on holiday in Finland, and the several weeks before that I was basically brain dead from work. However, I’ve taken receiving a third ‘good news item’ regarding poems as a sign to ‘post already goddammit’.
So I’m posting. Goddammit.
Good news item 1. I’ve got a poem (no turning back now) accepted to the Cyclamens and Swords. The August issue where it will be is due out soon and I shall pimp it properly then, together with the usual mini-review of poems that I enjoy.
Good news item 2. A fellow poet has asked me to join him to do a reading at the Margate’s Pie Factory Gallery at the end of August. I don’t know any of the details yet but I am very flattered and excited by this. A reading! In a gallery! *flails a bit* Information to follow once I have it!
Good news item 3. My poem Such Mercy got longlisted for the Canterbury Poet of the Year competition. My reaction upon receiving the email was a resounding HOLY CRAP! This means that it is one of the 36 poems that will definitely be in the published anthology. Out of the longlist, the judges will then select a shortlist of 14. I have no expectations regarding that whatsoever, the longlisting alone has made me wide-eyed with giddy disbelief 😀
This all has definitely motivated me to keep writing and sending stuff out to magazines and competitions. I’m due another submission blitz soon I think…
The summer issue of Londongrip New Poetry is out now. I’m very happy to have two poems included: Shaped Like Care and Resolute, and would like to thank the editor Michael Bartholomew-Biggs for some judicious editorial suggestions 🙂 Both poems are several years old so it’s great to see them out in the world.
- Shaped Like Care tends to cause a degree discomfort in the audience whenever I read it which frankly is the way I think it should be, given the theme. It is also one of those poems where the deliberate lack of any gender clues really bothers some people and I have on occasion been questioned about the gender of the ‘characters’ in it. Sometimes, answering with ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘whatever you want’ only seems to aggravate the person asking even more.
- Resolute is a rather personal poem and echoes the kind of melancholy introspection I almost always end up embroiled in when I go back to Finland.
The issue is full of some excellent poetry. Here are a some (quite a few actually!) personal favourites:
- Boyhood of Senesino by Stephen Bone – A layered poem about a double-edged fame of an Italian castrato with a great line-break that made me raise my eyebrows at first before resolving in a more family-friend manner *g* You’ll know what I mean.
- Rapture by Anthony Costello – There is something dark and claustrophobic about this that nicely captures the feeling of words crowding you
- Me and Kim Jong Un by Pam Job – Immensely relatable (that’s a word, dammit) to every writer. Made me smile.
- The Elders by Ajise Vincent – This becomes particularly painful in the context of the poet’s country.
- The Disappeared by Norbert Hirschhorn – Worth it for the first line alone, but it doesn’t let up after that. It hurts because it’s true.
- Salt by Genevieve Scanlan – This. This. I’ve read it like three times by now and just want to shake it at people and go THIS!
- A Filigree of Fog Rising by Ian C Smith – Starts kind of silly but ends up somewhere achy and vast.
- In Praise of Beaches by Maggie Butt – What the title says! This made me smile and determined to get my ass out of the house to walk on the beach next week!
Go read and enjoy!
I came across The Stare’s Nest by following one link to another link to a third, probably in the footsteps of some poet I liked and who had published there, and was most taken with their mission to publish “poems for a more hopeful world … as the antidote to the cynicism and suspicion”. And honestly, their openly left-leaning political stance appealed too, especially since the fucking UKIP won’t stop fucking sending me fucking election material (articulate poet, that’s me). This is both annoying and highly amusing, because they clearly haven’t cottoned onto the fact that as a filthy foreigner I’m not even eligible to vote in the General Elections. *eye-roll*
Anyway, I digress. It happens a lot.
The point of this post is to say that I am delighted to have On Walking Home At Night published as today’s poem in The Stare’s Nest. I wrote the poem almost four year’s ago and it’s one of the most literal poems I’ve done. I lived in Crumpsall, Manchester at the time which, while it had its charms and perks, wasn’t what one might call quaint. Or affluent. The poem traces my route home from the local tram stop and everything in it is as it happened on that particular night, from the local wolves to the neon flowers, and the indomitable spring crashing through it all like a freight train full of hope.