Monday 30 May 2011

Katherine Larson's Radial Symmetry,

the latest winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, is a rich and engaging first collection; my review of it appears in yesterday's Independent.

Friday 27 May 2011

Writing book reviews

Much of what these critics say about reviewing children's books applies to book reviewing generally, in my experience. If you're interested in getting into reviewing, I think you'll find this Guardian article helpful.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Want to read a book of poetry in translation this summer?

Modern Poetry in Translation has begun a wonderful project, where they'll send you one of their books received in exchange for a 100-word "poetry postcard" when you're finished. I don't review books in translation because of my weak knowledge of living foreign languages, so I'm particularly pleased to have an opportunity to read and respond to such a book without that concern. Join me?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Three new reviews of The Son (Oystercatcher, 2009)

are now up at Sphinx, a magazine wonderfully dedicated to pamphlet reviews. Here are my favourite passages:

"The events of 9/11 are alluded to only in poems dated five years before and after, but the questions posed by mingling notions of private and public loss give this 16-poem pamphlet an emotional range that many full collections get nowhere near."

"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

"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

To read the whole, go here.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Solva, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 4 May 2011

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Lime kilns along the shore

The bay

The entrance to town--I love the colours

Sunday 8 May 2011

Dinas Head, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2 May 2011

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The bay at Dinas Head

Looking out to the sea

Looking back at Newport


Sunday 1 May 2011

NaPoWriMo happily ends. And ends happily.

April is over, at last. From beginning to end, I was moving house, packing, cleaning, arranging, sorting, recycling, taking to the charity shop, tossing, lifting, carrying, giving away on Freecycle, selling on eBay, and so on. Though I rented a van on the 8th for the bulk of the move, I was going to and from, cleaning and moving, up through the 29th. But now it's done, and I've a week's holiday in Pembrokeshire, courtesy of a wonderful trade I made with a poetry student, doing everything I could toward helping her with her pamphlet in exchange for a week at her cottage. I'm hoping it was a good deal on both sides.

So doing NaPoWriMo this month was tough. For the first time I included haiku and senryu. It wasn't a conscious decision; after reading a friend's haiku book manuscript, I found haiku emerged almost daily. It was a real pleasure to be walking in my new city of Bath, see some detail in the landscape--purple wisteria two stories up the face of a Georgian terrace, a robin chattering away on a telephone wire, and have the image transform little by little into words, then a short poem. In May I mean to revisit my haiku and senryu manuscript, The Broken Kite, and see where it is and what it needs to be complete.

The other great pleasure of this attempt at NaPoWriMo was the number of responses I received here on the blog from others who'd joined me. It was great to hear from Charles, Jimmy, Alan, Karen, Linda, Jennifer, John, Aisling, Jim, Helen, Graham, Frank, Tony, Rob, Jenny, Hazel, Catherine, Joanne, Zara, Valerie, Aidan, Mike, Cat, and Kenny--thank you all so much for your posts! It was interesting and encouraging to hear about others' experiences with the challenge, and it heartened me every time somebody posted a new comment.

I think it's largely because of the active presence of the company this time that I finally did it: I got 30 poems in 30 days--there are even a few good ones. Thanks so much to all who joined me! Hurrah!