Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Flying Goose, December 13th

Emily Hasler, Shaun Belcher, J. T. Welsch, & Adrian Slatcher

Brought to you by the Nottingham Poetry Series
& Nottingham Trent University

Entry is free, but donations (£3 suggested) are welcome.

December 13, 7:30 pm at

The Flying Goose Café
Beeston High Road
NG9 1EH.

The café sells tea, coffee, snacks, and cake.
Followed by an open reading: please feel free to bring a
poem for this winter evening

Saturday, November 26, 2011


an anthology edited by Rupert Loydell, pub. The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. ISBN: 978-1-97812-50-7. £9

On the back cover of this book, the editor, Rupert Loydell, explains the title:

"The poetry I want at the moment is smartarse: a whirlwind mix of comedy, fiction, collage, free association, confession, bravado, parataxis and storytelling. It uses or may use experimental or linguistically innovative techniques, be rooted in modernism or postmodernism, but maybe not so that you as a reader would notice."

In his introduction, Nicholas Rombes, expert on punk and professor of poetry at the University of Detroit Mercy, says: "Rupert Loydell ran the term by me in 2010, and without even having to think about it, I knew what it meant." Rombes cites the influence of the internet on young USA writers, which, he claims, has resulted in a "renewed attention to the vernacular", which, Rombes continues, involves attention to "the way people talk - their voices and language, and the rhythm and texture of their words, mediated through all manner of digital technologies".

Loydell has assembled fifteen writers who, as he sees it, embody the principles above. Whether they do or not, as a mirror of Loydell's current taste, this is certainly a lively mix, and the poets as a whole, are not lacking in "attitude" or irony. No-one here takes themselves too seriously. I liked this anthology. Loydell’s candid admission that the book is filled with poetry that he just happens to like is refreshing.

To read the rest of the review,click HERE.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Honicknowle Book of the Dead

The Honicknowle Book of the Dead by Kenny Knight

(Shearsman books), 106pp, £8.95 / $16 ISBN 9781848610170

In this book the world of suburban Plymouth is transfigured by the the imagination in a stream of anecdote, wit and invention reminiscent of the New York school. Kenny Knight's seemingly artless poems in fact combine a number of techniques that require considerable skill from the poet, and which achieve their effects without being in any way intrusive.

To read the rest of the review, click HERE

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Theodore Enslin 1925-2011

The given,
which has concerned us,
no longer strikes so deep.
Age is more adventurous:
That is its gift to us, and from us.
We might almost wish
that it were not so.
Old age is poised --
rarely takes that last flight
above the peaks
that youth tried to scale
in vain.

from "The Weather Within"

I was sorry to hear the news that Enslin passed away last weekend. I have blogged about him previously, and, as I said then, I admired him enormously. He went his own way, in an American tradition of independence, and his later work, analogous to musical composition, is outside of any fashion or trend, and is quite unlike anything else being written right now. His last book will be published posthumously by Skysill Press.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Violets' by C.J. Allen

New pamphlet by C.J. Allen now available from Derbyshire's very own Templar Poetry. Buy the collection here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Poets on the Great Recession

I was asked to contribute to "Poets on the Great Recession", a project run by the redoubtable Eileen Tabios.

Here's my contribution.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

More on the Pistol Tree Poems

Peter Hughes dropped me an email commenting on the pieces quoted below. This is what he said:

"I thought you might be interested to know something more about the passages you quoted. Leonardo da Vinci makes several appearances in the sequence, usually in non-obvious ways! So Len is there, experimenting with form & the random, dropping bits of molten lead into water, & seeing what happens. He recorded his thoughts in his notebooks, & the 'prawn' was something he saw in one of the shapes. He dropped them from just above the surface of the water: a height of just one inch (or pollice - 'thumb' & 'inch' in Italian). I got most of my details from Charles Nicholl's biography of Leonardo. Plus a few old art books. His fondness for bright red or pink leggings is also documented!

Simon & I gestured towards the deaths or anniversaries of a few musicians. The buccaneer loons' in that passage by Simon belonged to John Martyn, someone we both admired, who died at the end of January 2009. Some of Martyn's lyrics appear elsewhere.

The title - The Pistol Tree Poems - comes from a mishearing of "epistolary poems' on a dodgy phone line between the UK & Italy."

London Poems and Pistol Tree Poems

Last week I acquired "City State - New London Poetry" from Penned in the Margins, and last night I sat down and opened the book at random. This is what I read:

"when Pan the only dead god lost his long life
savings and took solace in his mortal position
started drinking cursing Wall Street took a breadknife
to Camberwell Green with a bag of those onions
little gaunt white bought a bag of Camberwell Green
and told himself the most Capricious joke
(look I'm dead!) took out his knife from the skein
of his crosshatched loins had an Arcadian smoke
he devised a new cogito fit for his state
it was ravenous drinking not thinking the first antic
verb really he was 'on' Camberwell Green far too alone
to imagine a field not Arcadian lush not a slick
of poured concrete does Pan have to moan
like a goat with his sibiliants spittling the screen
in panic from Wall Street to Camberwell Green?"

This is by one Ben Borek. I loved the verbal energy and musicality of this piece, the use of line-breaks ('his long life/savings') and the way it doesn't pause for breath, so that the scene it describes is half-hidden behind the wordplay. This poem manages to update the classical, not by heavy-handed juxtapositions with the present'-day, but by dropping in key words (Pan, Arcadian, panic, cogito) into a disjointed an fast-moving set of contemporary references. The poem is part of what could be described as a sonnet sequence, and they're all of this quality. I haven't investigated the rest of the anthology, but this is a good start.

I also acquired a copy of "The Pistol Tree Poems" by Peter Hughes and Simon Marsh. I'd seen some of these poems on Great Works, and enjoyed them, but wasn't sure what I'd make of a whole book-full. The poems alternate between the two poets, and each one is a response to the previous poem. Such exercises can end up being rather self-indulgent, but this one is saved by the skill of the two poets, as well as its humour and irreverence. I'm very much enjoying reading the poems at random, though whether I'll get to read all of them I don't know. Surrealism never really took hold in British poetry (with a few exceptions), but there's always been a strong tradition of nonsense poetry, from the rantings of Pistol to the poems of Edward Lear and Lewis Carol to the lyrics of John Lennon and Syd Barret. These poems are in that line:

"& as the Omniscient Mussel mused
On Len's pink tights & bristles
it recalled blobs of molten lead
dropped from a height of one thumb..."

(poem 51)

The above is from Peter Hughes, who has a slightly different tone to Simon Marsh, who tends to be more formal and lyrical:

"I can't pick out a single tune
he's slap looped
strut and pranced
in buccaneer loons
a deep wail syllable drawn
from his heart's clutter..."

(poem 52)

The poems are epistolary (excuse the pun) and drawn from the everyday:

"so tomorrow it's off to King's Lynn
1 to fit tow bar
2 to have Great Aunt Maisie splayed
3 investigate suede wall-art"

The poems manage some acerbic comments on current affairs ("...your internet history available
to entire herds of minor government voyeurs..."), but at the moment I'm enjoying reading it for the fun of it, and I'm sure I'll enjoy dipping into it for a long time:

"as many had foretold
aliens landed on Dartmoor
in teapots formed from many-coloured lights
& early Hillage solos"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Skysill Press has a nice new website. Click here to see it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Leafe Press poet CJ Allen has a new collection - "Violets" - out soon with publisher Templar Poetry. He is also featured on the "Poet a Month" slot for November on the Derbyshire Libraries blog, which you can read here.