Sunday, December 19, 2010

À propos my previous post on the complete withdrawal of state funding from the Humanities in UK Higher Education:

"This scholar, author of inumerable books, spent a good part of the second half of her life fighting to save the Humanities...she brought home the point, again and again, and in all media willing to hold out a microphone to her, that ancient languages were the basis of contemporary ideas, not only those of democracy but the very sense of what it means to be human, and that every “honnête homme” had to study that field to some degree."

Pierre Joris on the Hellenist & Greek scholar, Jacqueline de Romilly who has just passed away aged 97. The complete post is here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas present from Litter:

New work by Kathleen Bell, Adrian Buckner, Peter Dent, Rupert Loydell, Matt Merritt, Simon Perril and John Welch, plus a review of Kelvin Corcoran's new book.
I was privileged to be a guest reader at the Leicester launch of Matt Merrit's new collection, along with Marilyn Ricci and Malcolm Dewhirst. The event was held at The Looking Glass, a bar on the outskirts of Leciester city centre with a basement room complete with bar and small stage.

One of the pleasures of being involved in the poetry world is the sense of community which you feel at events like this, which was friendly and supportive. I don't have much experience of open-mic events, and I have heard bad reports, but this one was high quality, and included a contribtion from the excellent Mark Goodwin. Matt Merritt himself read very well, despite a cold, and I was glad to acquire a copy of his collection, which is full of measured, crafted verse, and which I'll try and review or have reviewed. In the meantime, here's a sample (the full poem is posted on Litter):

from 'Kilter'

...Silly to still be writing the same thing
years on, yet room, surely,
to hazard a different ending? Not happier,
maybe, but briefer and with better dialogue.

Read every book starting from the back
or work both ways towards the centre.
Be surprised by twists of plot or character

innovative use of unreliable narrators.
Live side by side with worse surprises.
Imagine a darkness that contains every colour.
Not everything that happens to you is fascinating.
First, remove all state funding from the humanities, and 50% from other subjects, creating a free market for Higher Education services. Then, invite your friends and business associates to the party:

"One of the world's largest publishers, Pearson, looks set to be given degree-awarding powers, as the government seeks to open up the university sector to more private providers" (BBC).

See more detail here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Leicester Shindig!

Monday 13th December 2010

The Looking Glass, 68-70 Braunstone Gate, Leicester

Readings from 7.30pm - FREE ENTRY

This is the Leicester launch of Matt Merritt's second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica

With readings from Matt Merritt & special guest poets:
Alan Baker (yes, it is I), Marilyn Ricci and Malcolm Dewhirst.

Matt Merritt’s second collection of poetry, published in November 2010, is hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica. His debut full collection, Troy Town, was published byArrowhead Press in 2008, and a chapbook, Making The Most Of The Light, by HappenStance in 2005. He studied history at Newcastle University and counts Anglo-Saxon and medieval Welsh poetry among his influences, as well as the likes of R.S.Thomas, Ted Hughes and John Ash. He was born in Leicester and lives nearby, works as a wildlife journalist, is an editor of Poets On Fire, and blogs at

Marilyn Ricci began to write seriously about fifteen years ago. It’s no good asking her to stop now, it’s compulsive. Her work has appeared in anthologies and many small press magazines. Her pamphlet: Rebuilding a Number 39 was published by Happenstance Press in 2008.

Alan Baker founded Leafe Press in 2000 and is now co-editor. He's edited Litter magazine since 2005. He has published several short collections, and has a new book forthcoming from Skysill Press: "Variations on Painting a Room: Poems 2000-2010".

Malcolm Dewhirst - A poet, writer and filmmaker based in Tamworth who is project director of Polesworth’s Poets Trail. Malcolm’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies; he is working on his first collection of poems. His films include Pollysworda and the film poem Yell!

Open mic slots also available, please sign up on the door.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

John Bloomberg-Rissman's "Flux, Clot and Froth" is now avaiable in book form. This is what I said about this epic work-in-progress back in January 2010:

"My Leafe Press henchman John Bloomberg-Rissman has just completed 'Flux, Clot & Froth' (FCF) part 2 of his on-going project, of which 'No Sounds of my Own Making' was part one. FCF, published on John's blog, would run to around 800 pages in book form. The work is an exercise in sampling, that is, borrowing text from other writers - or people in general - to make a kind of boundless poetry that interfaces with all aspects of contemporary life, via the texts that document it. It's an epic project - just check out the list of names he's borrowed from - but it's at the same time a light-hearted (and affectionate) spoof of the epic works of High Modernism. The whole project is called Zeitgeist Spam. Long may it continue!"

Well, here it is at last:


Meritage Press is delighted to announce its latest poetry release with a SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER!

Flux, Clot & Froth, Vol. 1
Poems by John Bloomberg-Rissman
ISBN-13: 978-0-9794119-9-1
Price: $29.00
Pages: 714

Flux, Clot & Froth, Vol. 2
Apparatus to Poems in Vol. 1 by John Bloomberg-Rissman
ISBN-13: 978-0-9826493-0-5
Price: $21.00
Pages: 242

Meritage Press Book Page:

Meritage Press is pleased to release Flux, Clot & Froth by John Bloomberg-Rissman, a two-volume project comprised of poems in Volume 1 and "Apparatus" or Notes to Poems in Volume 2. To celebrate this unique project, Meritage Press is offering a SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER with discounted pricing (see further below for details).

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: On 23 Nov 08, John Bloomberg-Rissman finished transforming his crazy stacks of later 20th- and early 21st-century Anglophone literature into organized shelves. Looking at those shelves, he decided to "unpack" them through a longish poem: "Find something from the 1st book on the 1st shelf. Follow that with something from the 1st book on the 2nd shelf. Etc etc. Intersperse whatever I like from whatever source appeals to me. Intersperse a number of Autopoetic recursions. Form: hay(na)ku. I expect this to go on for several months.” Several became many, and the result is an epic-length mixtape composed of thousands of algorithmically/intuitively-derived fully annotated oft-mangled bits of écriture/parole. Truman Capote once famously said of Jack Kerouac’s work, “This isn’t writing, it’s typing.” Had he lived he would have said of Flux, Clot & Froth, “This isn’t typing, it’s cutnpaste.” But, as Heinrich Heine (or Ferenc Molnár?) is reputed to have replied on his deathbed when asked if he wanted last rites, “Nah. Whether or not he exists, God will forgive me. It’s his job.” Volume 1 contains the poem. Volume 2 contains 2,700+ notes which source the approximately 4,000 texts Bloomberg-Rissman sampled.


“At the heart of infinity is the accumulative event. John Bloomberg-Rissman, poet of mixmastery, dis-complicates a vastness of textonality, meticulously cites each source, then honors the poundage of forebears by locating a fresh, consistently revealing work, flush with ripening seeds. Flux, Clot & Froth accomplishes with specificity a surprisingly large, clear, deeply felt ceremony of the new poem that gleams across patens that protect and honor poetic roots, both past and current. The poem earns traction by unearthing the connections among a dizzying array of source material to discover a transcendent work. Unhesitatingly brilliant, Flux, Clot & Froth speaks beyond itself as testament to a rigorous and unparalleled synthesis of attention and humility.”
Sheila E. Murphy

“An extreme example of what I’ve elsewhere called “othering” or, borrowing the phrase from John Cage, “writing through,” Bloomberg-Rissman’s Flux, Clot & Froth is a 700+ page magnum opus constructed (almost) entirely from words or sounds appropriated from 1000 other writers. That this is done without any sacrifice of coherence or feeling or intelligence & in a voice that remains unified & “personal” throughout is a testament to the communal nature of language & thought of which our individualities are a crucial if sometimes questioned part. While Bloomberg-Rissman is not alone in the pursuit of such an outcome, his beautifully wrought & linked three-line stanzas & other groupings present what may well remain a milestone of a new communal poetics.”
Jerome Rothenberg

Both volumes of Flux, Clot & Froth are now available for a combined price of $40.00, a 20% discount from regular retail price of $50.00. As part of this offer, there will be free shipping & handling (a $7.50 value) within the United States. To order, send a check made out to "Meritage Press" to

E. Tabios / Meritage
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574

This SPECIAL RELEASE OFFER will be good through Jan. 15, 2011.

For more information, including on international orders:

Monday, December 6, 2010

STUDENT PROTESTS: Sinister New Element

Police believe a new and sinister protest movement has aligned itself with student demonstrators. Senior officers believe that the inscrutable, white-clad protesters who have been sighted in every British city prove that greater surveillance powers are required by police. A Home Office spokesperson said "they have appeared in large numbers in the last ten days; their presence is provocative, and they have an uncanny ability to melt into the background when the things get heated. We have not yet ruled out possible links to Al Qaida..." (contd. p94)