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