Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A wonderful blog review of Imagined Sons by Sarah James

In the long wait for magazine reviews, it's a pleasure to find reviews of Imagined Sons on personal blogs. Here's a wonderful new one by Sarah James (at the end of yesterday's post) that delights me.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Peter Riley's Greek Passages (2009)

In the quotations that follow, the slashes are not line breaks, but punctuation the author's inserted in prose poems, because that's how Peter Riley rolls in Greek Passages (Shearsman Books, 2009). As all the poems are untitled, know that each new passage comes from a separate poem.






Small chirruping cries, echoed along the coastal cliffs.

*

Our sustenance dragged across our fear....

*

The light of our souls downcast / onto the stones of the shore / Money, what have you done?

*

Wake into fallen dark / the labyrinth cut into the open

*

...when I / catch that music, / tuned to the distant hurt, the small voice.

*

I don't make a narrative, I / await an arrival, a song.

*

Coachloads arrive wanting to buy something / something redemptive, though it might not last. / / Up in the windy hills the rain / marginalises us, serving / every cell of the landscape.

*

Justice that survives in the tales while the actuality lies ten feet down a shaft grave. There was no justice.

*

The mind is a cold and lonely place, its doors locked. Outside in the moving air is where things happen.... / / The orange butterflies speckled black or brown, that vanished with the first rain.

*

But there is an immediacy, a smoking chimney, somebody looks up from the news. The singing is unstoppable. A gecko runs across the wall-o.

*

We are reduced to a single moment, a shout of denial, a syllable in the night. Then we are finished.

*

The clear picture, the better articulation, the linear spread. Lord it is lonesome among poor remnants of success, struggling to recognise the world.

*

The answering, the brightened heart, a refuge because a resource, and a resilience, a burgeoning, a dazzling sanity.

*

...look / at it there, the plurality shining in the night / seeking questions for its answers. 

*

...the secular complexity devolving on hope / the lyric of everyday....

*

Arriving at dawn in the foothills of Taigétos / the dark shapes becoming known, sense / unfolding from the eastward slopes, a little misty, beginning to breathe /

*

Whitethroated sea / discursive light / pale red wine holding / a gleam in the glass / Dionysiac calm

*

Conversing with the dead at another entrance to Hades, continuous with the sky.

*

And lyric redeems narrative, and hand in hand on the edge of the sand . . . / The small boat entering the harbour, turning the engine off, drifting to the quayside, carrying home, by the light of the moon.


Purchase Peter Riley's Greek Passages directly from the publisher, Shearsman Books, here.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Giving it away and other poetry matters

Imagined Sons is one of twenty titles in a giveaway by New Welsh Review. The reason? I'm a past NWR contributor; between reviews, poems and a short story, I've had more appearances in its pages than I can recall. Details of the competition, including how to enter, can be found here.

On another bookish matter, Josephine Corcoran came to my reading at Park Street Poets in Bristol on the 11th and brought her thirteen-year-old son, Johnny. I'm glad to hear my work appealed to him. Her account of the evening appears on her blog here.

On Wednesday I fly to the States for a mini book tour, with readings in Providence (April 26 at Ada Books), Claremont, New Hampshire (April 30 at River Valley Community College), and Cambridge, MA (May 1 at The Grolier Poetry Book Shop). Full details of these events are on my Readings & Events page, and I hope to post photos &c. from the trip as I go. Recommendations for sightseeing, restaurants and used bookstores in these areas are all most welcome!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Adoption birthdays

Today's my adoption birthday, the day my adoptive parents picked me up from the hospital and took me into their home. It often feels more important than my "real" birthday, as I think of the creative, loving environment I was brought up in and credit it for what I value most in myself. 

My new book, Imagined Sons, focuses on my other position in the "adoption triangle," the birthmother. I've given five readings from the book now, and at each one someone asks whether I've searched for my son. 

I finally managed to start the process last September. I learned that the agency I surrendered my son through had been absorbed into another agency and with some research discovered the right person to contact. We swapped emails, and she said I should get on the Illinois adoption registry and in the meantime she'd send me a letter. 

The letter never arrived. It says something about the degree of my fear that only yesterday, over six months after the initial exchange of emails, that I wrote again to say so. I received a prompt response saying the letter would be sent out at once (with apologies for the lapse), and I downloaded the forms I need to fill out to join the Illinois adoption registry. I'll fill them out this weekend and post them next week. 

So I wonder what day my son's adoption birthday is. His birthday's September 11th, but I know he was briefly in foster care before being adopted, so I have no idea what his adoption birthday would be. If I'd known my parents wouldn't make it to their seventies, I would have begun this search much earlier. All I can do now is remember today, remember them, and be oh so grateful I had them as long as I did.


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Mothering Sunday (UK)





Christmas 2010. Experience and Innocence. My mother, above, had lost her husband in March 2009 and was persisting sadly and hopefully. My niece Sara, below, is now ten and as easy and happy as she was then. 

In England, it's Mothering Sunday, reduced to 23 hours by the time change. I'm a little grateful for the shortening. I'm reckoning what I'd trade to have my mother back again for an hour, a week, a month, a year. Make me an offer....   
 

Imagined Sons launched at the West Barn, Bradford on Avon, 28 March 2014

Thanks to everyone who came and made it a wonderful night!




The launch viewed from outside the glass at the West Barn





My reading from Imagined Sons after an outstanding introduction by Claire Crowther





Blurry, but still great! Gerard Woodward, me and Tim Liardet, three of Bath Spa's faculty poets




Josephine Corcoran and Tania Hershman pose with their copies of Imagined Sons




Thanks to Reiss McGuinness for taking the photos.



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A wonderful review of Homecoming


My day has been made by this thoughtful review by poet and critic Pippa Little of my pamphlet, Homecoming (Dancing Girl, 2013), at Elsewhere: A Review of Contemporary Poetry.