Thursday 30 December 2010

Great Works' final issue

Peter Philpott's online magazine, Great Works, concludes publication with its current issue, number 16. I'm sorry to see it end, but its continued existence online will provide good reading for some time to come (as I always have catching up to do). Editor Peter Philpott was one of the first people in the UK to show an interest in my work in a poetics of consciousness and to ask to publish some of it, and I've always been grateful for that as well as for his encouragement of many another emerging poet.

So peruse issue 16, which includes interesting new work by Matt Bryden and Sophie Mayer, among numerous others.

Monday 20 December 2010


As I approach every birthday and New Year's Eve, I find myself reckoning the last year. Here's 2010 (well, the expurgated version for public consumption....):

This is the year I won the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award for my first book, The Tethers (Seren, 2009). I cannot explain why it has meant so much to me, but it has given me greater confidence (don't let the American exterior fool you).

This is the year that two of my nieces, Katelyn Etter and Josslyn Casperson, were lost to me. Their mothers, my sisters, had signed over their rights to the state on account of the fierce intimidation and pressurizing they received from state representatives (following my sisters' struggles with drug addiction), and their other parents decided to cut off contact with the entire Etter family, both around early autumn. I long to hear from my nieces but have no expectations.

This is the year the anthology I began working on in August 2007 was published by Shearsman Books, Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets, and widely reviewed as well as commented on in the Times Literary Supplement (3 times!) and on the London Review of Books blog. I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of truly positive reviews and only rarely disappointed by small-mindedness, when I thought the proportions would be reversed. Thanks again to all the contributors for their good work.

This is my first whole year without my father, but the lawsuit for medical malpractice against BroMenn Hospital drags on. I long for its settlement for the closure it will bring for my mother most of all, not to mention reimbursement for huge medical bills.

This is the year I was creatively devoted to my second book manuscript, Divining for Starters. After much work, feedback, and more work, I'm heartened by the result.

This is the year I had laser eye surgery. I began wearing contacts at the age of 15 and had to switch to glasses at 35 when my eyes would no longer tolerate the contacts. I've only had this new vision a matter of days, but I'm awed to see unaided for the first time in 26 years. It's--sorry, it's the right word--awesome!

An Uncollected Poem, "In the Last"

I've published numerous poems that I've decided not to include in books, because they didn't suit in terms of style, I didn't think they were good enough, or they didn't seem to work with a larger collection tonally or thematically. Some of them, though, I still like, and I stumbled across this one, "In the Last," in visiting The Poetry Library's magazine site today. The poem's set on the campus of the University of Essex, Colchester.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Divining for Starters' second blurb: Lee Ann Brown

"Carrie Etter’s wonderful new book, Divining for Starters graphs a crop of new forms, swerving from blanks to bliss. Taking the long view of time, Etter writes poems that can at once be a species of call and response (erotics of language), a particulate trace of how one writes, a 'True Story', a physics of animals eating, or a vigil for stillness. She tunes into some kind of new latinate downhome radio, or maps the milky way, post-pastoral in its graphology.

Memory is here, ('fireweed for acres') as are breathing trees, fields across the world - always with a immediacy - a sense that poems are appearing right before our eyes as we eagerly approach 'the entrancing right margin'."

Friday 17 December 2010

A day with owls, falcon, hawk--part one

Guinevere, a southern white-faced owl

Guinevere and I

An owl flying low toward us


Wednesday 15 December 2010

Amy De'Ath's first pamphlet, Erec & Enide

Section VII of "Poetry for Boys":

Down dampen sully unknown

because you ate the sunshine,

asunder among the porch-light

a tune to know, of history’s mesh

an epistolary flash of deer

young, always in fashion, in brave

pursuit, climbing down a piece

of fruit to get to the last boy in

town, who ate the town and

whipped his jacket up to the

wind and ripened on a cloud,

a compensating cloud in glut, and

he fell down, he fell upon those

vandals, he was a feat of sunshine.

Amy De'Ath

Erec & Enide

Salt Publishing, 2010

Salt Publishing's page for Erec & Enide, with links for purchasing, can be found here.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

"MFA vs. NYC"

Chad Harbach's detailed analysis of America's two literary cultures, that of the MFA programme and that of the New York publishing industry, makes for interesting and at times disconcerting reading.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Infinite Difference on the TLS Books of the Year 2010

Jeremy Noel-Tod writes in Friday's issue, "In the year that Rae Armantrout won the Pultizer Prize in Poetry, it was good to see the thinking Briton's woman poet represented by Carrie Etter's rich and intelligent anthology, Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets."


Friday 3 December 2010

Claire Crowther's Mollicle, second selection

What Else Can I Do?

Examine yourself, river.
Wind, you have collapsed
from your adrenalin rush.
Sun, you've flooded the vertical,
splashing reeds and palming
planes. Damaged oak,
you have no heart or gut,
your only organ, skin.
I cling to you tighter
than a striped-shell snail
to a fennel stalk.

Claire Crowther

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Claire Crowther's new pamphlet, Mollicle--first selection

Here's my first selection from Claire's new pamphlet,
Mollicle, published by Nine Arches Press. Tomorrow she'll be launching it in London alongside Matt Bryden with his prizewinning pamphlet, Night Porter (Templar, 2010), and me with my US chapbook, Divinations (Punch Press, 2010), now sold out but for the four copies I'm bringing to the event. For details of the reading, please see the Readings & Events page.

Self Portrait as Windscreen

Do you think I'm clear on every issue
just because I'm glass?
Have you heard yourself calling 'Claire,

Claire, Claire, Claire' when you're confused?
A name is lulling
when you aren't clear on every issue.

So your favourite phrase 'Let's be clear
on this one thing'
is the public face of 'Claire, Claire.'

I see you everywhere, using my nature,
hardened from soft,
imagining you're clear. Fired, made

to soften, harden again. We're laminated.
The crack that comes
won't shatter us or your calling.

Claire Crowther
Mollicle (Nine Arches, 2010)

Monday 29 November 2010

"The End of the Public University in England"

An astute short essay by James Vernon, Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. If you're concerned about the changes affecting higher education in the UK, I highly recommend reading this piece, as it is most articulate and informed about the situation.

Saturday 27 November 2010

Divining for Starters' first blurb: John Wilkinson

I'm delighted John Wilkinson, on reading the final proof of Divining for Starters, agreed to give me a blurb for it:

"Carrie Etter catches the drift and pushes it lightly into her courses. Lilting now, her courses swerve between the reaches of the American mid-West and the claggy ruts of England, and their erotics are those of skin and fold, of elegant runs and breaks. Carrie Etter's poems give the feel of pleasure; they take unpredictable turns. When all about would be stipulated, Divining for Starters points heedfully to the possible."

Friday 26 November 2010

Friday 19 November 2010

Tonight on Resonance 104.4 FM

I'll be on The London Fringe Show at 10 p.m. in honour of my winning the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award for The Tethers. I'll be reading a few poems as well as answering questions about the prize (presumably). You can listen online via Resonance's website.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Two more (last?) readings for Infinite Difference at Greenwich and UEA

There are two more readings from Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets forthcoming; I expect they'll be the last ones for some time.

On Friday, 17 December at 7 p.m., Sascha Akhtar, Emily Critchley, Frances Kruk, Rachel Lehrman, Sophie Mayer, Wendy Mulford, myself, and others to be confirmed will read at the University of Greenwich as part of their term-end student reading. Thus selected students will read in the first half, anthology contributors in the second. The reading is free. I'll post the exact location and an updated list of readers on the Infinite Difference page as soon as I have them.

On Tuesday, 22 February, at 7 p.m., Sascha Akhtar, Anne Blonstein, Rachel Lehrman, Wendy Mulford, Frances Presley, Anna Reckin, Lucy Sheerman, Harriet Tarlo, myself, and others to be confirmed will read in the Drama Studio at the University of East Anglia. The reading is free and open to the public.

Take down the dates! These will be great nights.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Jane Monson's Speaking without Tongues, second selection, and launch tonight in Cardiff

Tonight former student Jane Monson launches her first collection, Speaking without Tongues (consisting entirely of prose poems), while Alison Bielski launches her latest, one of our skylarks, at the Wales Millennium Centre at 7 p.m. The event is free--say hello if you join me!

Here's a second selection from Jane's collection.

Kierkegaard’s Chairs

When Kierkegaard was eight, his father made his son eavesdrop on the conversations of his dinner guests, then sit in each of their chairs after they had left. Nicknamed ‘the fork’ at home, because that was the object he named when asked what he’d like to be, the seated boy would be tested. The father wanted to hear each of the guest’s arguments and thoughts through the mouth of his son, as though the boy was not just one man, but as many as ten. Almost word for word, ‘the fork’ recounted what these men had said, men who were among the finest thinkers in the city. The tale is chilling somehow. Not least because his father at the same age, raised his fists to the desolate sky of Jutland Heath, and cursed God for his suffering and fate. Not least because of the son sitting in each of those chairs, their backs straight and high, rising behind him like headstones, while the words of others poured from his mouth, his father at the head of the table, testing his son like God. Not least because when asked why he wanted to be a fork, Kierkegaard answered: “Well, then I could spear anything I wanted on the dinner table.” And if he was chased? “Well then,” he’d responded, “then I’d spear you.”

Jane Monson
Cinnamon, 2010

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Matt Bryden's Night Porter, first selection

Winner in the 2010 Templar Poetry Pamphlet Competition, Night Porter is the first collection by one of my dearest friends, Matt Bryden. Here's the blurb for the pamphlet (which, I admit, I wrote): "Stemming from the poet's experience working in a Yorkshire hotel, Night Porter portrays life in the small hours among guests and staff, a life that steadily becomes more about witnessing the lives of others than the speaker's own. With each new glimpse into the interrelationships at the hotel, the mood deepens with new emotional tensions and an overriding sense of alienation. In this remarkable debut, Matt Bryden creates a compellingly layered portrait of ordinary lives." To purchase the pamphlet, please visit its page on Templar Poetry.

Here's the first poem I'd like to share:


I shake the box in my lap:
gold and black as, es, is, os, us
and consonants, in sections.
Over time, the ss have cross-pollinated the ws,
the 1s mixed into the Is, 0s interbred with the os,
the Cs, or rather the splintered Os,
jaggedly pressed into the felt of the Arrivals board.

In the hotel supplies catalogue,
alongside lecterns and whiteboards,
shower caps and reception bells,
a small box of numbers and letters: £85.

‘Not at those prices,’ says Anne.

Matt Bryden
Night Porter
Templar, 2010

Friday 12 November 2010

Jane Monson's Speaking without Tongues, first selection (Cinnamon, 2010)

Speaking without Tongues is the first collection of Jane Monson, a former student of mine from The Poetry School. In Spring 2005, I had one of my best teaching experiences giving a ten-week course on the prose poem at the BT Poetry Studio in London; one of the sixteen students, Jane was already knowledgeable and passionate about prose poetry, studying for a PhD that focused on the form. To learn more or order the book, please visit Cinnamon Press's page for it.


They would land in the middle of the plate, sometimes on top of the peas, spiders which had lost their grip on the light-shade and fallen. She grew up comparing the glue of a web to a cheap envelope. Her mother, at such dinners, would go red in the face and curse their life; the sound was of flies repeating themselves on a window-pane. The daughter would sit quietly, and ask for each fly to be caught. Be careful what you bloody well ask for, her mother once said, and shot the girl a look that landed in her stomach. She had no recollection of speaking aloud, but from that moment started to bite her lip whenever she had these thoughts. Teeth-marks began to form on her mouth, and more flies on the tongue of the mother.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

From This Bridge: Contemporary Turkish Women Poets, fourth selection

Broken Windows

we’re hopeful migrants
we pitch our tents in the open
now open your arms
a bird multiplies in air

we’re a raised voice
we rise with our eyelashes wet
put your arms around me
it’s love that rears the day

our eyes and brows cast down
walk now through roses, sweat
(windows broken
you can’t take me away from sorrow
it’s only for you that I cry)

a bird multiplies in air
my eyes overrun my eyes
I’d have been as mute as stone, but for you.

Leyla Şahin
Trans. George Messo
Conversation Paperpress, 2010

Monday 8 November 2010

They just keep on coming--Steven Waling's rave review of Infinite Difference

"This is an important anthology of often dizzingly innovative writing, going from the relatively straightforward poetry of Claire Crowther to the stranger shores of Caroline Bergvall's more conceptual verse....[T]his is a brave attempt to represent poetries that are often excluded from the usual conversations about the art form....New approaches to landscape, to the personal lyric, to the political, abound in this challenging and fascinating anthology."

Steven Waling in the current issue of The North

Saturday 6 November 2010

The Aldeburgh Prize shortlist's "lack of experimentation"

In this review essay in today's Guardian on the shortlisted books for the Aldeburgh first collection prize, John O'Donoghue notes "the lack of experimentation" and warmly mentions, from the Forward first collection prize shortlist, Steve Spence's A Curious Shipwreck. There's already a flurry of responses on the webpage, but the discussion quickly, predictably became unwieldy. Your thoughts would be most welcome here.

Robert Potts' "J. H. Prynne, A Poet for Our Times"

is an excellent review essay providing insight into Prynne's interests and methods.

Friday 5 November 2010

"The Verge of a Language"--another appreciative review of Infinite Difference

In The Brooklyn Rail, Barry Schwabsky reviews Infinite Difference alongside the American anthology, Gurlesque: The New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics, edited by Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg. In addition to appreciative reviews of both books, the essay also provides perceptive comments on the differences between American and British women's non-mainstream poetries.

From the Bridge: Contemporary Turkish Women Poets, third selection


Small homes between earth and sky
rooms murmuring, windows ajar
pots and pans, chairs, a worn out table
tiny habits, and stale tastes
a handful of dust, an afternoon shadow
and time sitting back on its corner seat

between walls known to each other
what possessions, what anguish, what little love
a fragment of salt picked from the sea, from the sun
a carefree feeling, a kiss, a laugh
whispers, vapour of flowers in the vase
and in the moments’ haste
the pervasive smell of death

a mass of souls between earth and sky
a goblet of rage, an ocean of grief
screams, pleas, profound silence
and through the veins of these small houses
pulsing and flowing
and flowing on
this longing for life

Ayten Mutlu
Trans. George Messo
Conversation Paperpress, 2010

Tuesday 2 November 2010

From the Bridge: Contemporary Turkish Women Poets, second selection

September in Demetevler Park II

The last swallows will leave this city
Boredom will stream out, old age
Tired from the weight of summer on its back
Demetevler Park
with its colored poles and benches will fade.

My shaky, incompetent steps
As if shamed by their womanhood
—really why when we walk alone
do we frown
and stare at the floor.

Zerrin Taşpınar
Trans. George Messo
Conversation Paperpress, 2010

Sunday 31 October 2010

From a new anthology of contemporary Turkish women poets, first selection

This is my first selection from the new anthology, From This Bridge: Contemporary Turkish Women Poets, edited and translated by George Messo. Thanks to the publisher for bringing this book to my attention and allowing me to reprint poems here.

The New Bremen Harmonica Players

Why does the streetlamp lighting wet asphalt
Bring to mind a far off city
Gothic cities
Weighed down by winter and foreignness
And hotel rooms
Growing narrower in the middle of the night

A language that cracks like a whip
A thousand assorted things
And festive lights that estrange you

--Am I so far away from my home
If I fall will someone pick me up
Or will they first ask my identity--
Cold droplets on your brow
And the calling card getting wet in your hand

You seek a familiar word in the hoardings
Walk on keep your strangeness unsensed
Your residence papers will do you no good
You’re in the city of your birth

Sennur Sezer
Trans. George Messo
Conversation Paperpress, 2010

Friday 29 October 2010

Saxtead Green Windmill, Suffolk, 25 October 2010

Click on an image to enlarge it. For some of the history of Saxtead Green Windmill, here's the Wikipedia entry.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Current Issues

I've a quirky dramatic monologue, "The Apprentice," in the new issue of The Rialto, and an altogether different poem, touching on the erotic, in the new Tears in the Fence, "Two, Post-Pastoral." Poems are also forthcoming in two new UK magazines, New Walk and Tellus, in addition to Court Green (US) and Poetry Ireland Review.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, 25 October 2010

Click on any image to see it enlarged. To learn about its history, read the Wikipedia entry here.

within the walls

from the outside

the view from the castle

Wednesday 20 October 2010

"Something Moved" by Ruth Larbey

I was captivated by this poem in a new Nine Arches pamphlet and thought (having gained permission from the publisher and the author) to share it here.

Something Moved

He smiled from inside the metal door.
I’ll see you at home he said, and
didn’t kiss me.

Listening carefully one day
something moved
and I felt hot with the first surge of what
it felt like to live branchlessly.

Now, whenever the day brightens
suddenly, like a tin-foil-flash,

I know the world is dark elsewhere.

Ruth Larbey

Thursday 14 October 2010

Tony Williams' The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt, 2009)

I've enjoyed and appreciated this first collection by Tony Williams--so much precision and vigor! It's just been shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

There are more grains of sand than there are
windows in the offices of hell.

from "Sand"

my county town, my botched Eden

from "The Matlock Elegies"

Over the river, up on the hill,
up past the circular house of the witch,
through the thin street to the top of the road,
where the track runs down, and the old house is.

first stanza of "Gawain and the Green Shade"

the dusty hope
that all large buildings squash and cherish

from "The Town of K., in the Province of M."

chandeliers in the halls of Hades

from "Pressure"

Their sparse dramas flee the rain and sicken
for lack of motile air amid the cooking smells and easy chairs,
surrounded by miles
and miles of friendless arable.

Everyone ends up on their own, prowling the concrete town
in their shapeless sweaters, rehearsing reasons for failure and for
Liberal but desperate, they pair off
with their reduced ambitions.

from "A Lowland Palsy"

The dark hides
in its own shadow, shoots its mouth, the dad
of a young family, breeds, and will not be told.

last sentence of "Reproductive Behaviour of the Dark"

Angel's-wing or fly's-head orchid; name
and name and name. But still the sense of doom.

from "Variations on a Form
by Gottfriend Benn and Babette Deutsch"

dreamscape hovering in a mind
of wet streets familiar but unwalkable.

from "The Triumph of Orthodoxy"

The water pools, deepens, and clears its dulcet throat.

from "Izaak Walton's Flight"

The green and rose casts of the glass,
the house and the singing flowers--
their songs, grandparents and their gloom
muddled among the folk you bring in, your lot,
and other, half-familiar powers--they sing to you
of age and agelessness, and dare you to repeat their song.
It will die in your throat.

from "The Flowers Singing"

Buy The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street direct from Salt Publishing.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Best American Poetry blog

Today Todd Swift mentions me as one of three "unexpected figures" in British poetry in his post on the Best American Poetry blog.

Monday 11 October 2010

Richard Caddel's Magpie Words: Selected Poems 1970-2000 (West House Books, 2002), second selection

As noted before, Blogger cannot replicate the original spacing of these poems, so for such detail please see the book itself.

What of memory, a
film not
wound on properly, cold

first stanza of "From Wreay Churchyard"

cursd critics . rubbed the stone clean .
weeds are dressing murmur .
absent in movement

from "Rigmarole: A Struck Bell"

A speech
at odds with itself, as

likely to
soak you as save you.

from "Rigmarole: Uncertain Time"

in its silence.

Light gone
from the dales
and stars
lock in.

from "Sweet Cicely"

The night is
calm, still--
the song of the moon

to the feet

from "Two Movements Which Begin
at the Head and End at the Feet"

blocked morning--I bite
my day and swing out
over sound, over

the past


buy your stars anyway

here gripping the stone of winter


And glibly on common way
over stubble the scarf the
waymark unstill

over sleepingsickness
over turf of the law hear
heartsong down morning


the blood root aloft there
in wind light--iridescent earth
warm and lime washed


an apple house in song
mother or summer or clear

blue edged with blood all
softened in winter wood mind

wandering each day of
esoteric signs--sound
gesture into the dirt lands.


salt caked robed in its rime
the paint the plaster the ship
the hope ever silent


light in showers foundered
our sound singing in
fruitless ache. Memory


all sound starmantles
all the half might
all that wasn't lost falling

from "Underwriter"

Young girls laugh in the lane, a word
like that giggle doesn't exist.
Out of a lexicon of reedy days
release this pavement of colour.


Here's a flower
we'd all forgotten, from a pot
marked nightmare. When we're

finally tired, we sleep like children. So
breathing it reaches at last
to an argued form of blessedness, a
silvered road deep to stars.


Then we wash down
those strange stars, and gardens
everywhere lose their quiet.


By starlight on a clear night
insects sing, a music apart
on margins we thrill to.

from "Writing in the Dark"

You can purchase Richard Caddel's Magpie Words directly from publisher West House Books.