Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Imagined Sons, second selection

Some readers will be aware that thirteen prose poems from my third collection, Imagined Sons (in progress), appeared in PN Review in its May-June 2007 issue. I'm pleased to say another sixteen appear in the new issue of The Republic of Letters, along with three poems from The Tethers. I strongly recommend the magazine--it abounds in both quality and variety, quite simply "a good read" wherever you begin. If you'd like to see the issue, John Sandoe Books in Chelsea stocks it.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Wales Book of the Year Longlist 2009

There's a proportionally high amount of poetry this year--exactly half the ten-book list, a consequence of Tiffany Atkinson's role on the judging panel, the quality of poetry submissions this year, or both. The poetry titles are Matthew Francis's Mandeville, Robert Minhinnick's King Driftwood, Sheenagh Pugh's Long-Haul Travellers, Zoe Skoulding's Remains of a Future City, and Samantha Wynne Rhydderch's Not in These Shoes. The other titles are Deborah Kay Davies' Grace, Tamar and Lazlo the Beautiful (a short-story collection), Joe Dunthorne's Submarine (a debut novel), Stephen May's TAG (novel), Dai Smith's Raymond Williams: A Warrior's Tale (biography), and Gee Willliams' Blood etc. (short-story collection). While I haven't read all the poetry titles, Mandeville and Remains of a Future City both deeply impressed me, and neither has received sufficient critical acclaim; I'm delighted they're on the list.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Deborah Digges, 1950-2009

I've long admired her precision and dexterity. This comes from her last book, Trapeze.

My Life's Calling 

My life's calling, setting fires.
Here in a hearth so huge
I can stand inside and shove
the wood around with my
bare hands while church bells
deal the hours down through
the chimney. No more
woodcutter, creel for the fire
or architect, the five staves
pitched like rifles over stone.
But to be mistro-elemental.
The flute of clay playing
my breath that riles the flames,
the fire risen to such dreaming
sung once from landlords' attics.
Sung once the broken lyres,
seasoned and green.
Even the few things I might save,
my mother's letters,
locks of my children's hair
here handed over like the keys
to a foreclosure, my robes
remanded, and furniture
dragged out into the yard,
my bedsheets hoisted up the pine,
whereby the house sets sail.
And I am standing on a cliff
above the sea, a paper light,
a lantern. No longer mine
to count the wrecks.
Who rode the ships in ringing,
marrying rock the waters
storm to break the door,
looked through the fire, beheld
a clearing there. This is what
you are. What you've come to.

Friday, 10 April 2009

An insightful review of Yet

There have been three reviews of Yet by poets who, I gather from their reviews, have read little experimental poetry. Trained in practical criticism to the exclusion of other ways of reading, it seems, the reviewers try hard to "decode" the poems rather than seeing how a poetics of consciousness might work. I don't fault them for that--it's partly a result of the gulf between mainstream and experimental British poetry.

Imagine my pleasure, then, on the occasion of Scott Thurston's more understanding review of Yet in Stride. I don't agree with all he says, but his appreciation of the Divinings as thinking through language in the lyric makes me hopeful that when Divining for Starters comes out at last, there will be some readers who enjoy it for what it is.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Current Issues

My poems are in the current issues of Bombay Gin, New Welsh Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Wales, The Republic of Letters and Stand, and are forthcoming in Angel Exhaust, The Iowa Review, Jewish Quarterly, Noon, Painted spoken, The Rialto, and Versal.

Additionally, my review of James Shea's Star in the Eye (Fence Books) is in this week's Times Literary Supplement. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Day 1's poem

Now taken down--I only post drafts for a couple days.

The roll begins...

...for those trying a poem a day for National Poetry Month--come one, come all!

1. me
2. Simon Reynolds, Bath Spa University
3. Jenny Martin, Bath Spa University
4. Alia Brinkman, Bath Spa University
5. James Evans, Bath Spa University
6. Cat Conway, London
7. Nik Jones
8. Don Kingfisher Campbell, California
9. Anonymous (who are you?)
10. Zoe Deleuil, London
11. Alan Summers, Bradford on Avon
12. GB (?)
13. Barbara, Victoria, Canada
14. Barbara Marsh, London
15. Karen Hoy, Bradford on Avon

That's the start--I'm sure there'll be more to come. I better go write my poem for today!