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Showing posts from March, 2010

New Shapcott

Thanks to Matthew Stewart (Rogue Strands) for drawing my attention to Ben Wilkinson's (Deconstructive Wasteland) comment on a recent Poets On Fire Forum thread: http://z11.invisionfree.com/Poets_On_Fire/index.php?showtopic=1891

I wanted to join in the discussion but since they aren't currently registering new members, the new collection I am looking forward to most of all this year is Jo Shapcott's 'Of Mutability' due out from Faber in July. Has anyone read any original work by her since 'My Life Asleep' in 1998? I can't wait to see what she's been up to...

Ordered

I'm looking forward to receiving New and Selected Poems 1974-2004 by Carl Dennis that includes work from his 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner Practical Gods, and Gary Snyder's No Nature: New and Selected Poems that includes work from his 1975 Pulitzer winner Turtle Island.

Relationships

As I see it, one area of common ground between poetry, person-centred counselling and Buddhism is the way they transcend the narrow confines of the self and embrace the transpersonal. Our relationships with one another are central to each of them.

It's been a long time since I've reflected on why I started writing poetry. The reasons are varied and complex, but one important factor was my sense of isolation. I was a frequently lonely young person who passionately wanted to communicate my burgeoning inner life and be heard by other people. I couldn't do that in any of my relationships, and at the time, I wasn't able to make relationships that could meet my needs.

Thus, poetry became in part a way of communicating meaningfully with other people; of expressing myself and finding people who would listen. It was a survival strategy of sorts. In the absence of satisfactory relationships, it was the best thing I could do.

According to person-centred theory, the self is social…

Review of Scattering Ashes on Rogue Strands

Waterloo Press has given my collection Waiting for the Sky to Fall a welcome pre-publication mention on its Facebook page.

There is also a link to Matthew Stewart's poetry blog Rogue Strands that includes a review of my pamphlet Scattering Ashes published by Waterloo Press in 2004.

Stewart, whose own work is due to be published by Happenstance, lives in Spain which means his blog is of particular interest to anyone interested in Spanish poetry.

Waterloo Press on Facebook

For anyone who doesn't read this blog on my Facebook page, you might be interested to know that Waterloo Press is now on Facebook.

In the last few years Waterloo Press has emerged as one of the U.K.'s most interesting and prolific small presses.

Just send them a friend request if you would like to keep up with events and publications and whatever else the impressive range of poets decide to share. There is also a news and views section to follow or contribute to.

Days of March

At the start of March I decided to write a diary poem by writing a 4-line poem for each day of the month.

I find it a useful form to work with, especially alongside work and parenting commitments.

Even so, there have been days when I haven't felt like writing anything, and I have retained those 'empty days' as creative gaps in the poem and all that they suggest.

I hope that by the end of the month the poem will be a curious and honest snapshot of my creative process, as well as documenting the consistencies and inconsistencies of my inner life at a certain point in time.

Below are two extracts.


Days of March

1st

Cycling home from work, I followed a pink grapefruit
rolling slowly down New England Road.
It kept reappearing from under the cars queueing at the lights.
Near the bottom of the hill I turned right, and lost sight of its progress.

5th

Poor, persistent words, nibbling away at the inscrutability of human experience.
Being is inarticulate, pre-verbal. An Everest of indifference, …

Poem of the Day

Here's a poem I read this morning by Jane Hirshfield.

Burlap

A person is full of sorrow
the way a burlap sack is full of stones or sand.
We say, "Hand me the sack,"
but we get the weight.
Heavier if left out in the rain.
To think that the stones or sand are the self is an error.
To think that grief is the self is an error.
Self carries grief as a pack mule carries the side bags,
being careful between the trees to leave extra room.
The mule is not the load of ropes and nails and axes.
The self is not the miner nor builder nor driver.
What would it be to take the bride
and leave behind the heavy dowry?
To let the thin-ribbed mule browse in tall grasses,
its long ears waggling like the tails of two happy dogs?


(Originally published in the magazine Runes and after in The Best American Poetry 2004.)

Reading Round-Up

I've just ordered Donald Hall's White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006, and I'm waiting to receive Edward Hirsch's Wild Gratitude. Somewhere in the post is also The Best American Poetry 2001, edited by one of my favourite poets Robert Hass.

On the go at home are The Best American Poetry 1991 and 2005, edited by Mark Strand and Paul Muldoon respectively. After those I think I'll probably want a break from big American anthologies and will hope to finish off Zbigniew Herbert's Collected Poems.

There is a also a mounting stack of non-poetry books by my bed. At the very bottom is a slim book called Introduction to Zen which I have been intending to re-read for a while. The eschewal of language explored within is beginning to feel more attractive.

Faber New Poets 2010

I have just come across the next quartet of young poets to benefit from Faber and Faber's New Poets programme.

Joe Dunthorne, Annie Katchinska, Sam Riviere and Tom Warner are the four lucky pre-first collection poets who have been invited to enter the inner sanctum of the poetry publishing establishment, where they will benefit from financial assistance, mentoring and pamphlet publication by Faber.

Interestingly, because of the lack of money this is something small press publishers have been doing for some time, and it is interesting to note that Faber is being supported by Arts Council England in this venture.

Following a quick Google, I've particularly enjoyed Joe Dunthorne's exuberant poem 'I am happy' which can be found on his impressive website. Clearly Dunthorne, who has also published a novel, is a multi-talented person who looks like his talent might take him in any number of directions. The poems I read by the other three I found competent and readable but un…

Edward Hirsch

A heads up: Carcanet is bringing out a selection of Edward Hirsch's work later this month. At last! Good work, Carcanet.