Wednesday 31 March 2010

Reading Claire Crowther's "Petra Genetrix" on Poetry Radio

A recording I made last year of Claire Crowther's poem "Petra Genetrix" was aired on WGLT's Poetry Radio last Thursday and can be heard here.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Transatlantic (Dis)connections

"I have been making, I think, a familiar literary-historical claim about American poets and the British past: a claim that has no place, as American poets too often have no place, for the British present. Yet its largely sociological explanations seem to me insufficient - though perhaps necessary - if we are trying to explain how these bodies of literature [ie British and American poetries] diverged. American poets who settle in Britain seem to write either in a wholly British line of influence (Eva Salzman, for example, or the late Michael Donaghy) or else in a line that seems, as yet, wholly American (though keep an eye on Carrie Etter)."

Stephen Burt, 'Transatlantic Disconnections, or, The Poetry of the Hypotenuse' (PN Review 190 (36.2): 20-29)

Thanks to Andrew Bailey for bringing this passage to my notice. I'd be glad to understand how the British influence has manifested in my poetry--any takers?

Monday 29 March 2010

A rave review

Thanks to Todd Swift, whom I read with at The Redroaster Coffeehouse in Brighton last week, for this rave review on his blog Eyewear.

Saturday 27 March 2010

National Poetry Month returns--come join me!

April is National Poetry Month in the States, and once again I'm going to try to write something every day (a practice called NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month). This time, though, as I'm amid a flash fiction project, I'm going to write either a poem, a section of a poem, or a flash fiction each day.

I'm also pleased to say that the current crop of five poetry MAs at Bath Spa have agreed to join me. If you want commit here as well, just respond under Comments and I'll happily add you to the list. You don't have to post your poems or prove anything, but a few times a month it'd be good to hear how it's going and its effects on your writing, on your process.

So, along for the ride are--

1. John Wheway, Bath
2. Graham Burchell, Dawlish (UK)
3. Daniel Vasili, Bath
4. Jodie Hollander, Bath
5. Louise Ellis, Bath
6. Linda Black, London
7. Dave Sealey, Bath
8. Jenny Martin, London
9. Dawn Trook, San Francisco
10. Libby Walkup, Fargo
11. Helen Pizzey
12. Peter Daniels, London
13. Cat Conway, London
14. Matt Bryden, Bath
15. Desmond Swords, Ireland
16. Cynthia Carpenter, Toronto
17. Catherine Daly, Los Angeles
18. Mary Leader, West Lafayette, Indiana
19. Jill Crammond Wickham
20. Robin Reagler, Houston, Texas
21. Carolee Sherwood, Albany, New York
22. Paul Schloss, Norwich
23. Uma Gowrishankar, India

Thursday 25 March 2010

Geoffrey Hill candidate for Oxford's Professor of Poetry

The article in The Independent overdoes the matter of violence in Hill's work with its header, "Is this the violent new face of poetry at Oxford?" Hill is hardly new, either. I was going to refer people who wanted to know more about Hill to the British Council's Contemporary Writers site, but shockingly there's no entry for him, though many lesser writers are included. Ironically there is an entry on the Academy of American Poets site--short, but a place to begin for the uninitiated, and here's a site at which to explore his work in depth.

Sunday 21 March 2010

i.m. Ai, 1947-2010

The poet Ai, whose powerful dramatic monologues I taught just earlier this month, died this past Friday, 19 March. I remember when I first encountered her work--I think it was in Killing Floor--I wrote a handful of knock-offs, I so wanted to capture that same sense of cruelty and vulnerability in everyday life. To learn more about her work and read some of her poems, please see her entry on the Poetry Foundation website.

Saturday 20 March 2010

A new online appearance at Litter

Alan Baker, editor of Leafe Books who so kindly published my pamphlet Yet a couple years ago, recently asked me for some poems for his online magazine, Litter, and they're now up here. I hope you enjoy them.

Monday 15 March 2010

Infinite Difference London launch, 10 March 2010

Gavin Selerie and Isobel Armstrong in conversation

Redell Olsen reading

Sascha Akhtar reading

We had such a crowd!

Thanks to Tony Frazer and Rachel McCarthy for the photos.

Saturday 13 March 2010

i.m. Henry Ross Etter, 26 September 1940-13 March 2009

This is Dad and Mom with my nephew Nathan as a newborn. What great hair!

Dad and Sandra on Sandra's second wedding day

Christmas 2005 at the Etter house: Bryan Perschall (seated) with son Alex (slumped out), Scott Cummings (on the phone) with daughter Sara (now artist extraordinare) next to Dad, looking with a big grin on it all, with Mom on the right with Austin and Katie's head visible at the bottom of the photo

You are dearly, wretchedly missed.

Friday 12 March 2010

Laurie Duggan on the launch of Infinite Difference

Click the title above to read Laurie Duggan's commentary on the launch of Infinite Difference on Wednesday in London.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Infinite Difference launches tonight in London!

Come to the Swedenborg Hall, London tonight for a launch like no other. From seven-thirty sharp, the following contributors to Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets will be reading:

Sascha Akhtar
Isobel Armstrong
Caroline Bergvall
Andrea Brady
Claire Crowther
Catherine Hales
Frances Kruk
Rachel Lehrman
Wendy Mulford
Redell Olsen
Frances Presley
Sophie Robinson
Lucy Sheerman
Zoƫ Skoulding
Harriet Tarlo

Arrive between 7 and 7:20 for a glass of bubbly before the readings begin, with each contributor reading 4-5 minutes. Copies of the anthology will cost a mere £10 on the night (normally £12.95)--as if you needed another reason to attend!

Sunday 7 March 2010

Sara's latest painting

My niece Sara, six, loves painting, and I love the results. By clicking on the image, you can enlarge it for more detail.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Infinite Difference, sampler no. 9: Elisabeth Bletsoe's "Birds from the Sherborne Missal"

Bletsoe's poetics statement is helpful here: "A missal contains the text and often the music to conduct the Christian Mass throughout the year and the one at Sherborne was created c. 1400 for the monks of the Benedictine abbey there. It is unique for its remarkable marginal series of naturalistic birds, most of which are native to the area and given their dialect names. Studying and writing about the birds allowed me to explore my favourite themes. I observed each bird in its real habitat around Sherborne or its outlying villages and then linked it back to the missal by means of religious iconography, imagery relating to books, pigments or methods of illumination and bird mythology, the latter often subverting the original Christian intention. I employed my version of the Japanese haibun as the roughly similar-sized blocks of text looked pleasing to me on the page and the haiku allowed for a brief word-sketch of the bird itself to literally 'illuminate' the whole."

Roddok, Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Becoming secretive & depressed in the later months, before the vigorous reassertion of autumn territory. Stakes & ties. Paths of observance newly laid through contusions of aster, sedum & verbena bonariensis, helmeted with bees; offertories yielding a roman tessera, three pebbles from Chesil Bank & a tennis ball. A smell of burning moxa. Sulphur being ground with mercury to form vermilion; glazed with madder, sealed. Red as a releaser (your fat cherry lips), the impossible fury of it all. Oscillograph of the throat, that bob bob bobbing thing. Boundaries constructed from scribbles of sound. Marginals encompass the crossing at North Road, where fifteen burials "very shallow & without coffins" marked the putative site of Swithun's chapel. Haunter of low places & diggings, befitting associations with early resurrection cults. A bird so hallowed such that, harming it, the offending hand would forever uncontrollably tremble. Bringer of fire from the chthonian levels, that our lives might blaze inches from shadow; burnt feathers colour of bright fame. Covering the bodies of the dead with leaves.

tweezing gray hairs
in the bathroom; outside a robin's
winter song

Elisabeth Bletsoe

The anthology is out now and can be ordered from the publisher, Shearsman Books, and The Book Depository in the UK and from The Book Depository or Small Press Distribution in the US.


Good news! Richard Owens of Damn the Caesars and Punch Press has asked to bring out a small letterpress chapbook/pamphlet of poems from the "Divining for Starters" series. I'll provide more details when I have them; I gather it will appear later this year. To read about the series, see my earlier post, or to read a selection, see Shearsman 60.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Infinite Difference, sampler no. 8: Sascha Akhtar's "The Sufi"

The Sufi

Surrender I, speak

a word for you

a pot on flame melts
before we eat glistening
like cherrywinter, like bootblack
I polish indefinitely

reach my dizzy head
in all its circumference, touch
choose a card
save sure till you mean it
I'll clock your time in true beads
tonight I see a crash
next morning wizard hollers

a crest-fallen face, a dust-rudder

who was there on this winters morn
I saw snow-devils whirling
& lost myself.

wine pour backwards.


Sascha Akhtar

The anthology is out now and can be ordered from the publisher, Shearsman Books, and The Book Depository in the UK and from The Book Depository or Small Press Distribution in the US.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Infinite Difference, sampler no. 7: Andrea Brady's "Still Hanging on Clinton's Second Visit"

Still Hanging on Clinton's Second Visit

Hope for running out on the flats, under
the overpass that chutes this abstract
into bread home delivery, buckled up
from your front porch to my front seat.

The hyphenated bridge lane where motor
boards a dream of expansive happiness,
dinosaurs trapped in oil pits, a future
to run into red and green eyes

and out till no man's land. Past the refinery
into outlaw verde, unowned hydrotropic
life unclinched by regularity, ownership,
by a loss that has never happened: one of the

kinds of possible losses. You sang this
national anthem, your life parenthesized
by flight into cinema and depiction:
the sun sets orangely, tempers cool

the boss goes nowhere and the land,
lived from, bossily patriotic. Your name
retrieved from the web, the collocation
with the smash given to know

the unknown, blood furls gradually
from the heads and is never less
parenthetical. Texts still bundled
in your pocket switch to discreet mode, rings

engage the natural world in decoration.
Above the concrete marshes, the stars
can't make their empty lines believable.
Stars to shadow by, chase out of manhattan

where that marsh is brown and the old worlds
creep around on stilts with eeling baskets.
Banality will never be obsolete, like the internal
combustion engine: even the tracks

of unbroken yellow too fleet for
the escape artist, a mimic pile-up loops
in place of persons, in a question of sovereignty.
No place unmandated, no stretch without

the service stations marked in bold on the route planner.
These four lanes a horn of plenty blow out at night
the endless hunting lament, a fictional
surplus for continents learning to recognise their bounds.

In the outlaw west the wedding party tips
their guns into starlight glasses, fill space
with pellets to celebrate the belly's axle; fire
falling down burns a noose free, ash and sand

to put fires out and secure a slipless exit. Was this
really what you wanted, to splurge on a rider
the whole real an advert break? Do go on so,
then breath undeterred in the breakbeat meter,

singing for freedom to misuse national space:
the free ride which is no freedom
when at the edge of disaster
you find yourself in the back seat of the patrol car,

the reel catapults into pitch black, and over all of us
who still live the stars
crash down from their heroic outlines
into vacancy

Andrea Brady

The anthology is out now and can be ordered from the publisher, Shearsman Books, and The Book Depository in the UK and from The Book Depository or Small Press Distribution in the US.