Tuesday 30 December 2008

Saturday 27 December 2008

Street Smarts in Kadıköy, 25 December 08

The other day I was window-browsing and saw

A stray cat had managed to sneak into the shop window and was blissed out on the comforts of carpeting and warmth!

Friday 26 December 2008

Istanbul: The Archeological Museum, 24 December 08

At the Archeological Museum, I found the sarcophagi the most interesting, perhaps on account of the juxtaposition between the scenes on them and death. The most effecting, for me, was the Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women; yesterday I drafted a poem about it.

I found this scene (it goes all the way around the sarcophagus, which is not always the case) curious--did the artist or owner imagine death as a return to youth?

a detail of the famous Alexander Sarcophagus

one length of the Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women

detail of the figure on the far right

the other length of the sarcophagus

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Poetry and difficulty

A third review of Yet has been published by Poetry Nottingham, written by Tim Love, and can be read here. I don't think of the work as so difficult because I don't mean for readers to use practical criticism to understand them, but to ride the accumulation of phrases and their connotations, suggestions, etc. I'm waiting/hoping for a review by a regular reader of experimental poetries to get a better idea of Yet's effectiveness with someone who is comfortable with that reading practice. Not to compare myself to him but to say something about the variety of reading practices, does anyone who enjoys Ashbery's work try to interpret every line?

Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace, the Harem

The women--most importantly the Sultan's mother and wives--and their maids live in the harem, as well as the children.

I want this bed for my own....

Such a ceiling! 

You can see more detail of any of these by clicking on the photo (that will enlarge it in another window).

Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace, the Selamlik

The Selamlik was the part of the palace reserved for the men. The Sultan often met with ambassadors here, held councils, etc.

dome interior

The Crystal Staircase, 1

The Crystal Staircase, 2
(the right side is covered because it's under renovation)

I can imagine drinking tea--lovely strong Turkish tea--in this room.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Istanbul: Dolmabahçe Palace, the approach

The Imperial Gate

The Swan Fountain

close up of the front of the palace

the palace greeter--the first stray cat photo I took, 
as this one looks like my childhood cat Pandora

Monday 22 December 2008

An entry for The Book of the Blindingly Obvious

"If, when you reach into the cage, your hamster falls on its back and starts shaking, it doesn't trust you yet."

from The Golden Guide to Hamsters
(with thanks to Matt)

Tuesday 16 December 2008

The American poetry magazine scene

Most UK poets don't realise how many more US magazines there are than in the UK. First, in the US most English departments have their own literary magazine, a practice that's rare in the UK. Second, the proliferation of creative writing programs has been accompanied by a proliferation of magazines and small presses founded by their graduates. Third, partly because of the greater influence of experimental and ethnic poetics on the mainstream, the range of poetries--the range simply within what's considered mainstream--is much, much broader. Consequently there's no "one" magazine that's It; there are a lot of Its, depending on your taste. In the UK I find that people feel they've made it once they've appeared in TLS, Poetry Review, or The Rialto (in descending order). Here's a starting list for comparably admired and desired magazines in the US, starting with the most esteemed:

American Poetry Review
The Atlantic Monthly
Boston Review
The Chicago Review
The Iowa Review
The Georgia Review
Hudson Review
New American Writing
The New Republic
The New Yorker
The Paris Review
The Southern Review
The Virginia Quarterly Review

These magazines publish comparably high quality poetry, are considered excellent places to publish, and are held in high esteem (still comparable in the quality of the work they publish to TLS and Poetry Review):

American Letters and Commentary
The Antioch Review
Barrow Street
Bombay Gin
Callaloo (black writers only)
Colorado Review
Denver Quarterly
Drunken Boat (online only)
The Gettysburg Review
Gulf Coast
Five Fingers Review
Five Points
Harvard Review
Hotel Amerika
Indiana Review
The Kenyon Review
Michigan Quarterly Review
The New England Review
Ninth Letter
Prairie Schooner
A Public Space
Seneca Review
Sewanee Review
Southwest Review
Tarpaulin Sky
The Threepenny Review
Western Humanities Review
The Yale Review
Zyzzyva (open only to US West Coast writers)

Also impressive, but less widely esteemed and/or of not quite the quality of the above:

Alaska Quarterly Review
Arts & Letters
Blackbird (online only)
Black Warrior Review
The Bloomsbury Review
Court Green
Free Verse (online only)
Green Mountains Review
HOW2 (online and women only)
The Massachusetts Review
Missouri Review
New Orleans Review
Northwest Review
Notre Dame Review
Quarterly West
Parthenon West Review
Slope (online only)
Sonora Review
Third Coast
Willow Springs

There are many more well produced, quality literary magazines besides: Calyx, Chattahoochee Review, Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Faultline, The Greensboro Review, Hanging Loose, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Literary Review, Many Mountains Moving, Mississippi Review, New Letters, The Seattle Review, Tampa Review, West Branch--and more.

These categories are blurred, to be sure; many of them seem to me to be on the fence between two. I'd be glad to hear from other American poets about their views on the most esteemed and highest quality journals; I haven't seen Canary, for one, so I'm unsure where to put it. I'll probably post a longer, revised list once I've been to the AWP.

Friday 12 December 2008

Say hello (please!)

Over the past few months I've been impressed to learn of the wide readership my blog has, especially among UK poets, but I always learn of it because someone's sent an email response to a post rather than posting a comment on the blog, or because someone mentions something from my blog at a reading or other event. May I persuade a few of you, at least, to say hello, introduce yourselves, say something about your interests? I'd love to generate more conversation here, and if we have a better sense of who's visiting, that might then suggest some topics of mutual interest.


Thursday 11 December 2008


This morning I rushed to my local shop and confirmed that the Catechism in the new issue of TLS is one that hasn't been sent anywhere else. And it's been beautifully printed, in spite of the lack of a proof. Whew.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Adventures in poetry publishing

I'll start with the purely good news first: "Over the Thames," the most recent poem to go into The Tethers (written September '07), has been accepted for the spring issue of Poetry London, suitably enough. I'm especially happy to see this poem accepted because I think of it as a second title poem; while there is a poem titled "The Tethers," "Over the Thames" uses the phrase in a different way that expands on its meaning.

This leaves me with six or seven unpublished poems in the collection. I feel rather sorry for them, the orphans, though it's not really their fault--most have been lost by magazines or accepted but never published, and one or two, like "Over the Thames," are recent enough that they've barely made it out the door (sometimes I sit on poems a long while before sending them out, sometimes I send them out more quickly than I think I want to admit here--but my usual practice is to live with the poem a while first).

Here we come to the mixed news. Each week I check out TLS's online contents page to see whether, at last, my review of Bang's Elegy has appeared, and today I saw that a poem I'd long assumed had been rejected (as I hadn't had a reply in months and months) was going to appear this Friday. (That's right: no acceptance letter, no proof.)

Another poem in TLS--what's the problem? Of course I'm delighted, but I think this may be a poem I, thinking it rejected, sent to Another Magazine. That's not all. The poem I sent to The Other Magazine last month was a replacement for a poem I'd sent and only realised it'd been accepted elsewhere when The Other Magazine accepted it. Are you following me? So it looks like I'm sending out work simultaneously and jerking The Other Magazine around, when really, in the first case, it was bad recordkeeping, and in the second, a reasonable assumption.

My only excuse is that all the poems involved are titled "A Birthmother's Catechism"....

Tuesday 9 December 2008

I want cats

but I'm not home enough to care for them properly--and I live to close to a busy street. So for now I enjoy my friends' cats and my parents' cats, who, bizarrely, like to try to sleep on the playpen's rails--

Luigi (l.) and Mario (r.)


I miss them.

"The Occupation of Iraq" on Delirious Hem's advent calendar

I'm on the calendar for the 8th.