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Showing posts from April, 2010

i.m. Dermot Curley

Just as I finished writing my blog on 'Endings', I heard the news, belatedly, of the death of a very good friend who I had not seen for almost fifteen years.

On and off over the years I had tried unsuccessfully to make contact with him again. However in recent months, with the help of Facebook, I had been getting closer to re-establishing contact, until this morning when I made 'friends' with one of his relatives and discovered the news.

The news has left me shocked and saddened and full of happy memories together with him and his wife Natividad and their baby boy Benjamin.

Shortly after what turned out to be the last time I saw him, I wrote the following poem.


Peaches
for Dermot

You, in a cream cotton suit, carefully
coat the chicken in golden breadcrumbs
and lay it in a pan of lightly sizzling oil.
For the third night in a row you’ve gone

straight from work to your father’s,
helping him to operate the oven he’s never
had to open. Now you’re cooking
for me, still a little lost in …

Publishing Update

Waterloo Press has been in touch to confirm it's aiming to get 'Waiting for the Sky to Fall' out 'by 7 June'.

After unavoidable delays it will be a relief just to have it published. Some of the poems in the collection were written more than ten years ago so it has felt like a long process with a long overdue conclusion.

The collection also contains more recent work, but once it's out I'll be pleased to leave it behind to concentrate on another collection that reflects more accurately the sort of work I've been doing in recent years.

There are however plenty of off-cuts - the length of the book means that I can't include everything publishable written in the past 15 years. I'll look forward to seeing if they can fit into a second collection alongside more recent work that is noticeably less in the short set-piece lyrical tradition.

What's left to do now, it seems, is to confirm the design of the book. Waterloo Press chooses beautiful colours for…

Anxiety of Influence

This morning I got out the hand-written drafts of four different poems written in the past few months, to type and save on my computer. (How disappointing they looked without the original excitement that accompanied their inception!)

Reading through them I could see where they were influenced by my reading of Zbigniew Herbert at the time. Two were even unpunctuated and one was attempting an overt play of philosophical ideas which is pretty alien to my usual way of writing.

Transferring them to hard drive, I started to make some changes and realised they were now beginning to look and sound more like something by Donald Hall whose selected poems I've been reading for a fortnight and finished just yesterday.

The influence is probably less apparent to someone else, but it reminded me just how strongly newly-written poems can be shaped by poems that already exist.

The solitary nature of writing can encourage one to imagine that poems are created in a vacuum. In reality, a very meaningful…

Three Poems

At the moment I'm in the unusual position of having three poems on the go at the same time.

'Waking in Siena on Easter Sunday' is a title that's been in search of a poem for some time. I wanted to write something that collected some of my memories of the times I've visited Siena, but wasn't sure how to go about it until I read Kenneth Koch's poem 'To World War Two' in which he addresses the event in person. I have used this device and begun what reads like a long letter to the city.

One of the things I like about writing a longer poem is putting it aside when I'm not sure how to continue and waiting for a solution to suggest itself. I find this often takes the poem in a direction I hadn't anticipated or necessarily desired at the outset.

This element of surprise in the writing of a poem is something that readers generally aren't aware of. Many people believe poets are completely in control of their material and that a single word couldn&#…