Wednesday 27 November 2013

Exteroceptive by Sarah Hayden (Wild Honey Press, 2013)

achingly precise

high humming seeming scatter

unfolding its rhythm


and shameless

somewhere        beneath it all

is the lodestone of a metronome

             comforting still

though a deep

meticulous burial has swallowed the thick


from "Optic"

...what he would be compelled to say

and only just manage to hold behind his teeth


what is this wetness we are straining at

snapping our leashes

on the bounceback

whyso urgent, fellow traveller?

from "Auditory"

your verti-vapour would undoubtedly turn me on (

or would--if i could only ignore your bit-champing amaneunsis)


this is the artist grouting only the most obvious angles of approach


mollescent, uncorsetted, i can only acknowledge participation

and stamp it full-righteous with customized rubber

from "[Proprio]"

1 when the tinfoil was folded back, this chicken was rendered rrruminant and too sad to eat. We rushed to remake it as a story. This, in a loud place and, lest any soldier falter, lubricated by prefatory laughter.

from "Olfactory"

of their snowdriven transmissions drag and stick moreishly

from "Haptic"

Exteroceptive is available from Wild Honey Press for €5. She also has a new pamphlet just out from Oystercatcher, System Without Issue

Monday 25 November 2013

Rhian Gallagher's Shift (Enitharmon, 2012)

I read with Rhian Gallagher on the King's Lynn Poetry Festival in September and this weekend finally found the time to read her second collection, Shift. Here are my favourite passages:

Not moving an inch,
myself to myself become a mystery.

last lines of "Under the Pines"

                                     Yet rain falling over the city
is like a hammer, a thousand pianos at the adagio.
I am equal to the wound of any blade.

from "The Gospel According to Longing"

...till the architecture seemed made of lights alone.

from "Becoming"

The mountains do not rescue us, or the light
or the tender microclimate of the bay below.
We have it all and are lost.

from "Crossroad"

The season bends.

from "Prospect Park"

A white wing blurs over lagoon and paddock,
flick of a magician's cloth.

from "The Big Dark"

Some days, blind to stone and wing,
more or less moving,
when I am picked up
by the scent again
and am shaken

margin of every elsewhere here.
The southerly boots in, flanked by coal-dark cloud
polar-particled, mean as.

from "Shore"

The sun
roaring in my head.

last words of "Sea Change"

The wind stirring above the range
and angel, a parachute with no body.

from "The High Country"

You can purchase Shift for directly from its publisher, Enitharmon Press, by going here.

Monday 18 November 2013

A student article on yours truly

Ben Franks, an undergraduate at Bath Spa University, has written a flattering article on me based on an interview we did, and it's up at his own Pie Magazine. Thanks, Ben, for the kindnesses therein!

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Head down, still moving

I haven't posted in over a month, and that's due to the start of the academic year at Bath Spa University. As some of you know, for some years I've been coordinating a class with over 200 students, the first-year core course in creative writing. I love the teaching part of it and despise the administrative. Well, I don't despise the administrative work--I just get frustrated with how many hours of my life it demands. 

While I've known for some time that the number of hours necessary to do the job well results in significantly less writing during the academic year and poorer health, I've persisted--until now. The heaviest amount of work for this class is at its beginning and end, and this year, a colleague will be taking over the module for the middle months, January through April. Thus I have been counting down the weeks to winter break not just for that three weeks' relief from teaching and constant emails, but also in anticipation of a more manageable workload in the new year. 

It's all the more heartening, during this time, when magazines come in the post bearing my poems. I have poems in the current issues of Ambit, New Walk, Poetry Wales and Shearsman and dip into them for a few minutes here and there. I see the names of other poets I know and smile, as though we've just waved to each other in passing.

The fantasy of more time is always there, yet most of us have to make a living and strike a balance between the work and the writing. This seems to be the recurring theme in the conversations I've been having with other writers lately, perhaps because with my own workload I am that much more desperate for possible solutions. Some people get up earlier in the morning. Others choose part- over full-time work, trading in greater financial security for more personal fulfillment (to oversimplify). I thought I made that choice, too, with a .7 contract (3 1/2 days a week), but the problem with academic contracts is that one always has to work far more hours than one is actually paid for to get the job done. 

On that note, I should return to my university inbox and tackle the latest urgency.