Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Crown Inn, Belfast, November 2014

The Crown Inn opened in 1826. I visited both nights I was in Belfast.









 The ceiling



My snug on the first night--all to myself!



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Gwendolyn Brooks Illinois Poet Laureate Award, 1986


A local poet had given me the wrong rules for the Illinois Poet Laureate Award, but Brooks bent them for me....




As I was living in a home for pregnant girls when I received this telegram, sadly I didn't attend the ceremony.

Friday, 31 October 2014

A new review and interview in Exeposé

A review of my reading at the Exeter Poetry Festival and an interview appear in Exeposé, the University of Exeter's online student magazine. You can read them here.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Helena Eriksson's Strata (Shearsman, 2014)

My student, the poet Wendy Klein loaned me this book; she and Jan Teeland translated it from Swedish, and it came out earlier this year from Shearsman Books. Here are some favourite passages from this book-length poem:


the riverbed, the flat stones comprise the place
for the final scene


                               Fiction is the junction

*

               This is no real city. They're just acting. It
is real in my memory

*

                             the way of working stays within the frames
                             the way of working defines the frames

*

meanings stitched into the embroideries. Out there on the fortress
What was expected of her

*

Cover the body

               "fluttering golden veil"


        touches every part of the body that isn't listening

*


They pass in the forest of figures, discover places once again, now without intensity. The sharpness or salinity of these discoveries, and even the radiance itself, has diminished. Nevertheless they send thin rays out over their hands. My body has begun to emit darkness.

*

after the winter illiteracy

*

I think of him where he stands with his
grammar    the whole night haunted by
suffixes

*

There was frost still lying over the ground, not even the dogs
were out     still longing for you when I
went     the membrane over everything or
the very sheen of the membrane

*

nothing that is left and nothing that
lies behind     only cupped hands and pairs of eyes

*

the darkening     remains
stinging silence no: speech
rises     remains

*

(the only relief is her gown
in her gown his and hollowed out)



You can purchase Strata directly from Shearsman's website here.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

More great reviews of Imagined Sons in Cape Times and Poetry Wales


A short review of Imagined Sons appeared in the South African newspaper, Cape Times, on 24 October, concluding that the poetry "haunt[s] the reader as that lost son haunts the mother." I'm most grateful to author Moira Richards for bringing my work to a new audience. 

In the new issue of Poetry Wales, Katy Evans-Bush comments, "It's one of the most universal untold stories, the giving up of a baby, and it comes at us here with the power of myth, as the narrator sees her missing son in every young man she encounters. The language is plain, unspectacular, and the most disturbing in its near-affectlessness." The review continues in this appreciative, thoughtful vein. I'm heartened by both reviews.
 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Around Prague 2, October 2014


Some more photos from last weekend in Prague--



These outrageous swan faucets are in the bathrooms of the art nouveau Cafe Imperial (with me smiling in the mirror).



If you have to have bars over your windows, 
why not have them in a funky design like this one?

 

The astronomical clock. A trip to Prague wouldn't be complete without a visit on the hour.

 

Prague Castle


 

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....