Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Friday, 17 October 2014

A sterling review of Imagined Sons in The Warwick Review

Here are my favourite passages from Sophie Cook's rich review:

"...she does not shy away from acknowledging, even embracing, a sense of unimaginably impressive self-awareness. Etter's remarkable achievement in Imagined Sons is that she is able to exhibit such a balance; she is pragmatic without seeming unattached, and both emotive and emotional without appearing too overtly sentimental." 

"Etter uses more vibrant though obscure imagery to explore the relationship between people, as reflected in aspects of their environment. [...] Etter's unusual choices for these book-long tropes are perhaps what gives them their potency. [...] There is an unrelenting brutality to Imagined Sons which gives the volume cohesiveness and distinction."

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Another positive review of Imagined Sons appears in Poetry London

Sarah Hesketh has written a nuanced review of Imagined Sons for the Autumn 2014 issue of Poetry London. Here is the final paragraph: "Etter creates a sustained narrative across the whole volume, layering the poems elegantly. The fact that these are prose poems probably made this sense of wholeness easier to achieve, but there are still moments of lovely, isolated imagery that make you want to pause. The answers in the catechisms give Etter an opportunity to be more fragmented and abstract in her descriptions and the final line in the book quotes Celan, a poet well known for taking the horrors of reality and presenting them in dense metaphor: 'It is time, Celan said, the stone made an effort to flower' ('A Birthmother's Catechism'); Etter has found fertility in a scenario of intense loss."

Monday, 8 September 2014

"Imagined Sons 9: Greek Salad" in The Forward Book of Poetry 2015

On my return from Illinois last week, I found The Forward Book of Poetry 2015 and my poem, "Imagined Sons 9: Greek Salad," among the Highly Commended Poems. It seems to me that there's more range in this edition of the Forward anthology, with the likes of Andrea Brady, Lee Harwood, Marianne Morris and Denise Riley alongside such usual suspects as David Harsent, Andrew Motion and Hugo Williams. I may have to take it with me on the train to Norwich today....

Friday, 5 September 2014

Pony League Baseball Starring Nathan Wallace (my nephew), 24 August 2014

A few days into my US visit, I saw my nephew Nathan, 9, play a game of Pony league baseball (akin to Little League, as I understand it). Here are a few choice photos. 

Watching the game and playing around, 
brother-in-law Reggie Wallace and his father 

My lovely sister Laura

My nephew Justin, 12, shows off his post-Icee blue tongue


Nathan at bat

The most exciting moment of the game (for me): 
Nathan sliding into home base. Go, Nathan!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Arielle Greenberg's Given (Wave Books, 2002)

Arielle Greenberg and I were on a delightful panel at AWP in Seattle: on poetry and desire. I'd read her poems here and there, but not read one of her books in toto, and now I regret the delay, as I've relished reading her first collection and now eagerly look forward to more. Here are some favourite passages:

We (the clown, the doll, the murderer and I) are in love.
With the moon.

She ascends: the sky purples, clouds, she rises, now grinning,
becoming a burning door. We love her still.

from "Afterwards, There  Will Be a Hallway"

I know thirst very well because I once belonged to that organization.

from "The Expert"

I've been teaching English at a two-year college and it isn't going well.
Every single one of my students is somehow a furious dolphin.

opening lines of "Teaching English at a Two-Year College"

To debate an aesthetic issue is to go shopping for a party
    dress. You cannot come over till you have something interesting.

last stanza of "Pathos: a ghazal"

The project that loves to hang its head out the car window and smell the ocean

from "A Proposal for a Longer Work 
(Preferring the Dunes)"

They were free to be startled by their bondage.

from "Startle"

there is us
& there is a valley & there is the tight song the air forgot

from "happy holy"

The people who sleep with their socks on,
the day is over to them, adoring and abandoned.
The inside of her long body is a yellow flower. 
Breathe here, in the small hole your life has made.

from "This Train"

I do love my breasts. they are so soft.
but I love my hair more. it's my rosetti.

from "The Teeth of Betty Page"

Night came, blue night. It knew all the terrible choices. It covered the girl like a shawl.


What a catastrophe! Nothing all over, blue shawls, oven mornings. The girl was in a fit, fit of smiles. What was in her pocket? What terrible jealousy was in her mouth?

Come, she said. Come choose the terrible choice.

from "The Girl"

To be a magician's assistant, you must first believe in the real as a Fact in itself. Without the real, there is no awe at its breakage. Lucy was trained in basic chemistry and liked large dogs. She was as real as they come.


"There is something magical about this realism," the audience exclaims, delighted, somewhat dopey on little paper cups of swirled ice cream served with tongue depressor spoons glued to the lids. "It's the chocolate," Lucy says flatly, removing the knife from between her teeth. "I invented it to make you happy."

from "The Secret History of Chocolate"

Are you male or just malnourished?

from "To My Beaux-Artsy Bedfellow"

We make marks, and in this way we are like the species of fish who leave their ink when they are frightened.

from "Berlin Series"

In front of the house, the townspeople have gathered for the nod-out into plush plush love, so easy and out.

from "Nostalgia, Cheryl, Is the Best Heroin"


Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Illinois Corn Festival, 23 August 2014

I timed my visit to my hometown to coincide with its annual corn festival and spent four hours there yesterday with my niece Ella.

 One of the two corn shucking tables

A pile of corn awaits shucking

 Ella with corn

Me with corn

A perhaps slightly more flattering photo of Ella, a sweet and spicy sixteen!

The next installment of my home visit photos will be of today's baseball game, in which my nephew Nathan Wallace plays second base &c.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

"Powerful writing of a high order": A new review of Imagined Sons in Stride

Here is the first paragraph, by poet and critic Steve Spence: "Carrie Etter's Imagined Sons may well turn out to be my poetry book of 2014. It comprises a series of scenarios where a mother who has given up her son when she was seventeen, imagined possible meetings at a later stage, envisaging alternative futures where their paths briefly cross again and recognition occurs or doesn't. This is powerful writing of a higher order and the fact that Etter often utilises the dream-like processes of surrealism allied to the quality of classical myth, in a very modern setting, enhances the intensity of the work and packs a powerful punch into the bargain." The full review appears here.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Housesteads and Hadrian's Wall, 31 July 2014

Housesteads is the oldest Roman fort in Britain, and Hadrian's Wall, a project ordered by the eponymous Roman emperor, extends from the east to the west coast of England. 

The remains of Housesteads 1

The remains of Housesteads 2

 This carved stone was found in Housesteads and depicts the genii cucullati
three spirits in hooded cloaks.

 Hadrian's Wall 1

Hadrian's Wall 2, zigzagging over the hills

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

"Intimate and Searing": Patricia Debney reviews Imagined Sons for Shearsman Review

Two days, two thoughtful reviews of Imagined Sons--I'd love to get used to this. The latest is Patricia Debney's review at the new Shearsman Review. Here's a passage: "Etter’s fundamental gift throughout Imagined Sons is her deft handling of tone; throughout, she employs the no-nonsense, matter-of-fact darkness that so often permeates bad dreams and their anxious attempts at normality. [...] It is a testament to the poet’s delicacy, restraint and invention that as readers we don’t run straight away from what, when stripped down, is so painful. Far from setting these wonderings firmly out of our experience, Etter’s writing compels and moves us: we too imagine the sons, and find there the immutable and worthwhile fact of being alive."