Thursday 28 January 2010

Infinite Difference's first blurb

The first of two solicited blurbs has arrived, and I'm most pleased. It comes from Tony Lopez, Professor Emeritus of Poetry at Plymouth University and author of False Memory (Salt, 2003), among many other works.

"Here’s a new anthology with a job to do, which introduces a whole range of committed writing at the intersection of the personal and political. Here is the text of war, nature after ecological threat, ID in the information age, autobiography and displaced language turned into poetics, sexuality, anger and love. It’s a beautiful sampler, a way in, and a report from the front: very soon now it will be indispensable."

Tuesday 26 January 2010

New (happy) reviews of The Tethers

Two positive and thoughtful reviews of The Tethers have appeared, in The North (written by Carole Bromley) and Poetry Wales (written by Richard Gwyn). While the entire reviews are only available in print, brief excerpts appear on my permanent page for The Tethers.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Istanbul, city of culture

An appreciative article appears in today's Guardian about one of my favourite cities, Istanbul. See the blog archives from 2008 for some marvellous pictures.

Thursday 21 January 2010

Infinite Difference: it's coming!

We are in the home stretch now for Infinite Difference, the anthology of UK women's Other poetries I've been working on for Shearsman since August 2007. We is basically myself and Tony Frazer, editor and publisher of Shearsman Books, if you didn't know. If I had a pound for every email exchanged between us regarding the anthology, I'd be planning a long trip to India.

At this stage I'm anxiously waiting to hear from our blurbists, hoping they like the work, hoping they find my introduction more or less sound. Actually, I want them to love the book, to love it like I've come to love it, with its splendid range of poetries and intriguing, thoughtful poetic statements. In the meantime, postcards are being printed (hurrah!), I'm proofreading the authors' bios and statements (they've proofread their own poems already), and I'm planning the London launch on the tenth of March.

I'm starting to think I should have the launch videotaped, because it's looking more and more like An Event. Fifteen of twenty-five contributors have confirmed they'll read, another two have said maybe, and another (namely me) will be running the proceedings. Unfortunately it means that introductions will be almost as brief as possible and each reader has only 4-5 minutes, but still! Here's the current list: Sascha Akhtar, Isobel Armstrong, Caroline Bergvall, Andrea Brady, Emily Critchley, Claire Crowther, Catherine Hales (all the way from Berlin), Frances Kruk, Rachel Lehrman, Wendy Mulford, Redell Olson, Frances Presley, Sophie Robinson, Zoƫ Skoulding and Carol Watts. What a line up! It's as though I decided to produce a reading I'd really enjoy and then.... Wait, that's partly what this anthology is, the best women's non-Mainstream poetries I could find. I can hardly wait to hold the finished book.

Monday 18 January 2010

John Welch's pamphlet, Untold Wealth (Oystercatcher, 2008)

As I can't make it to London tomorrow to hear John Welch read, I decided I'd catch up with my Oystercatcher collection and read his pamphlet tonight. Here are some choice passages:

a barrenness of waiting buds


The difficult it is
Here, the original place?


Londonistan this
Othered I's
Home earth
To die in the land
'laid to rest'
But turn away here
How shallow are
The roots of understanding
As if powdered with their names
Gutterals I strove to utter
Ripening like a bed of fruit
I don't defend the process
Ashes that float across
This soft-voiced alien narrative
Dying in history's echo
Here they are in the post office
As if queuing at the end of empire


Arrival, as if you are
worshipping thresholds

As if signing, the
dust with our names


Being all potential is
A gathering-point of forces


I mean
The man's impossible dignity
Cornered in exile
Is what fails to disappear
The weaver of uncorrupted cloth


swan family their
bliss of extended necks


As if self were a city and we are all other
Just to be like that in the air
Abrupt as a bird's life and it is enough.

from "home ground"

Here flights of capital pigeons
They're turning turning on a depthless sky


I who went out walking
As if I had scarcely begun

from "untold wealth"

The pamphlet is available direct from the publisher. His recent books are published by Shearsman.

Monday 11 January 2010

Mulfran postscript

I am sorry to learn that one interpretation of the previous post was that I disliked my friend Maureen Jivani's book Insensible Heart, when I meant to suggest the contrary! Its taut poems, delicate in both their lyricism and rhythms, risk wider territory than most first collections, drawing on imagination as well as experience. (How's that for a recommendation?)

Sunday 10 January 2010

Mulfran, a new poetry press based in Cardiff

I write this more as a notice than a recommendation, as I've only read one of their works, Maureen Jivani's Insensible Heart, and that in manuscript, as Maureen is a friend. But it's a cause for celebration when a new poetry press starts up, especially one publishing first books and pamphlets, encouraging emerging poets, who need the support so desperately. I'll be watching and reading, and in the meantime, good luck Mulfran! Their website is located here.

Saturday 9 January 2010

Poetry Radio

Here is a podcast of my reading of Matt Bryden's poem, "In Passing," for WGLT's programme Poetry Radio. Matt Bryden's first book manuscript, Boxing the Compass, has been shortlisted for Salt Publishing's Crashaw Prize.

Friday 8 January 2010

Views of The Duomo's roof, January 2010

You can take an elevator to the Duomo's roof and walk on it extensively. Here are some photos I took when I did exactly that on the fourth. As always, clicking on a photo will enlarge it.

The fourteen-foot gilded Madonna statue atop the highest spire

the roof's centre

looking down...

view onto the Piazza del Duomo

Thursday 7 January 2010

The Duomo of Milan, January 2010

The front

A door

Close up of the door's sculpted surface

The Duomo's official website is here.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Milan at night, January 2010

The Duomo

Castello Sforzesco (Sforzesco Castle)
(and Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" was playing....)

entering Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II

Piazza del Duomo

To enlarge any photo, simply click on it.

Friday 1 January 2010

Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014)

If you go to Seren Books' website and join their free book club, you can purchase Imagined Sons for 20% off. Follow this link.

With readings (in chronological order): Seattle, WA; London; Plymouth; Bradford on Avon; Cheltenham; Bristol; Providence, RI; Claremont, NH; Cambridge, MA; Portsmouth; Cardiff; Oxford; Reading; Swansea; Ledbury; Nottingham; Norwich; Sheepwash; Exeter; Leicester; Chichester.

Advance praise for Imagined Sons

"In Imagined Sons Carrie Etter reflects on the experience of a birthmother who gave up her son when she was seventeen. In a series of haunting, psalm-like prose poems of enormous courage and insight, she describes possible encounters with this son now in his late teens, expressing how ‘sometimes the melancholy arrives before the remembering’. The series of ‘Birthmother’s Catechisms’ return to repeated, harrowing questions that yield different answers at different moments. This quite extraordinary book by a writer of great imagistic power and skill leaves a mark on the reader which is ineradicable. These are poems of the utmost importance."   --Bernard O'Donoghue

"Carrie Etter’s stellar new volume, Imagined Sons, folds the wrenching passion of displaced motherhood into a fascinating sequence of poems.  Etter writes with intelligence, imagination and style—and not a shred of sentiment.  Each poem packs a profound surprise as the birthmother’s vision of a son reappears in guises equally palpable and surreal.  Neither a memoir nor a narrative, the book opens lyric windows to interior experiences, and it rings with psychological truths.  This gifted poet defines poetry as she wrestles with ambiguity."   --Molly Peacock

Reviews of the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice, The Son (Oystercatcher, 2009), which provides the basis for Imagined Sons:

Peter Riley describes The Son as "quite startling--a serious work about loss through a terrific play of imaginative resource," while the selectors of the pamphlet choice remark, "There is something too, about how time moves, or how it doesn't, in a world akin to that nightmare in which you are running and running and your legs are jelly and you are getting nowhere. The fact that the poems in this collection are either prose poems, which can shuffle on the spot, rather than move along with a sense of narrative, or catechisms which go back and forth with different responses to the same question, adds to an overall feeling of being trapped. Indeed, these poems work by accretion, so the more you read, the more powerful that feeling becomes."

More positive reviews

"Carrie Etter's sparkling, serious beating-out of prose poetry and catechism continues in a finely judged sequence, grieving and honouring and surprising on every page. 'It is time' (Etter quotes Celan) 'the stone made an effort to flower'. And so this fine book, its respect, sadness and subject." --David Morley in Poetry Review

"The "Imagined Sons" poems are short dream-like stories, which hit exactly the right note, as suppressed emotion resurfaces in our dreams. There's a surrealist element to these stories, with a motif of a young man, familiar, but out-of-reach, the repetition of which builds up a powerful sense of longing.

The first and last poems - both in the catechism form - link the personal loss to the public loss of the 9/11 attacks. It's a risk, but it works, due in part to the understated nature of the poems; in fact, it succeeds in universalising an experience that might otherwise be intensely personal." --Alan Baker on his blog, Litterbug 

"What impresses me is how complex ideas have been made so enjoyable to read. The narratives are fluent, intriguing, somewhat surreal, and often humorous. They seem simple, yet strange, and are deeply affecting. They mine the deep pit of memory and expectation, and are haunted by what they don’t know, what isn’t said, what remains lost or unfathomable." --Rob A. MacKenzie, Sphinx 19 

This is a moving collection of texts: some are prosy and some are lyrical. It is not like anything else I have ever read: 

.......How did you let him go?

.......Who hangs a birdhouse from a sapling?

How that hurts!" --Helena Nelson, Sphinx 19

The Son evokes a birthmother's consciousness through two kinds of poems: Imagined Sons, prose poems which envision the now-grown son and birthmother in a moment of contact; and Birthmother's Catechisms, in which the same question--e.g., What day is today?, How did you let him go?--recurs with changing answers. Moreover, after Al Qaeda's attacks on the US in 2001, the anniversary of the son's birth becomes complicated by the fact that both occur on September 11th.

Poems in the pamphlet first appeared in Barrow Street, PN Review, The Republic of Letters, and The Times Literary Supplement, among other journals.