Friday 24 November 2017

Are Rappers . . . Secret Oulipians?

As it's been getting darker and colder over the last few weeks, and the whole premise of leaving the house looks like a scam designed to entrap the dimmest and most ingenuous of suckers, I've been getting quietly addicted to the Vox Pop channel on Youtube, which deals with musical matters of a technical nature in a fun and informative way.  All of the micro-essays contained within are worth your time, but the video below - on rhyme in hip-hop - remains the stand-out, as it suggests an unexpected point of comparison between the most dextrous language-centred experimental formalists of the late 20th century, and the Oulipo.  (See what I did there?)  Honestly, it's really interesting viewing.  Oh, and a brief warning: for any poets who've not heard Kendrick Lamar's 'Rigormortis' before, be warned: it will most likely make you question the value of the entirety of your paltry literary oeuvre, and most if not all life-choices attendant thereon.  But I think an existential doom-spiral's a price worth paying.  Enjoy! 

S @ G&P

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Simon Turner - "A Lean Year", or "Why John Burnside's Thoughts on Contemporary Poetry are Almost Irredeemably Beef-Witted & Unwarranted"

Okay, so to give Burnside his due, his old man whingeing about the state of contemporary poetry (which you can read here, three entries down after Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Balls) is at variance with the usual script of "There's far too much poetry being published these days!", which we normally have to put up with from the embattled old guard.  But the sentiment underpinning his intervention - that the gatekeepers have effectively been sleeping on the job, letting the barbarians through - remains the same.  As many have pointed out on the twittersphere - is that the right term now? - 2017 has been something of a bumper year for poetry, particularly from smaller independent presses.  I, for one, have more than enough new poetry on my 'to read' list to last me at least for the next decade, and even then I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what's been published this year.  To describe it as 'lean' suggests either astonishing ignorance of the plethora that's available or, more likely, it's just the passive-aggressive growling of wounded supremacy.  Either way, it's neither helpful nor required.  Given that there are plenty of other contributors to the Staggers' end of year list who pretty comprehensively undercut Burnside's untenable claim - nice to see Andrew Marr giving Eyewear a heads-up, for example, whilst Neel Mukherjee's given me a good idea for a stocking-filler in the form of Brian Blanchfield's essays (because you can never have too many essays in your house) - I'd recommend you look to the positive in this instance. 
Anyway, that's more than enough time spent on a very silly outburst from a very boring poet.  Time to listen to some more Public Enemy and get really stuck into Fiends Fell from Tom Pickard.  TTFN! 

Thursday 26 October 2017

Simon Turner - Birmingham Jazz Incarnation DVD Extras (3)


Many thanks are due to the editors
of the following publications, where
some of these poems first appeared in print,
like derelict gulls atop monuments:
His Master’s Gaping Overcoat; Cloud Jazz;
Brass Tarpaulin; Bleach; Visible Cities;
Instruments of Twilight; Absolute Bus;
Spruce Cascade: Poems for Mouths and Lips.
Thanks, too, to the tireless Sally Figment,
the mistress & maker of Strangler’s Books,
a sax amid an army of trombones”,
where I read these crowded, musty poems
to the public for the very first time,
gloved in twilight & with visible knees.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Simon Turner - Birmingham Jazz Incarnation DVD Extras (2)

Bring Him a Magus With a Carnal Sheen

Wart apples leaning atop stupid autumn. Must you?
Do I lie to a bosky au pair, a withered girl? Selection
of poultry: a junta’s a year’s harm, an androgynous mackerel.
In truth, able leeches belong in brazier heaps, or I’ll lower my fedora.
Killer billows coiled in quiche tufts. Appalling
nukes allowed sand to blot the moon, a very busy bauble. Tarry
these dire, tiled seats. His knees flocked in osprey soup,
he vends a surly cummerbund to Luke, who’s shtupped
inverse heads at High King Thistle, where Trumbo hones
butternut ass-juice deep as a Theremin. But look!
Andy Riley, me & Amber, lacking balaclavas,
caught ruing Anne Hathaway’s Dantooine sneeze.
But look! Booze baulks at Hades, & Andy’s triangular suckers love
a strident guppy. These treats wither Saskia’s teasel hips
below wings of slutty interns, the rabble assumes.
Casks of dingoes froth with treason, crates of fistulae
inured in sodden wine. The witch canoodles lonely, half-suffering,
for the Myth Egg aping Mount Hovis is an instant ruminant.
A hymen schnitzel keys the mastermind’s mawkish
ova (they see it as if it were lingual: so thick & rowdy).
Thieves found anal steam on the ornaments. The burst hoops
allowed for tin oaths; & gunboats, I figured, meant office mosaics.
These eyes leaned sweating in the wind of hyssop’s gong.
Why, I’d damn her ASBO lute as a reek of drainage overgrowth.


This one's a simple matter of sonic extrapolation, filtered through an imagination that's unhealthily fixated on Star Wars, scatological humour, and soup.

Sunday 22 October 2017

Simon Turner - Birmingham Jazz Incarnation DVD Extras (1)


Having a sense of low light conditions
without access to a library,
the poem goes on under the right arm.
Tap water & bleach-blondes are high fashion today:
a light blue fabric, clear & flowery, appears in the structure.
This ancient city has never been made of such dirty wood.
In addition, the Jazz Band designs the Sally Army.
The sector’s money clips embrace but do not improve the darkness
(& it is black: black jacket – cut to the knee –
black gloves & black shading, with coils on the shoes).
A saxophone in his mouth, spirits in the air, flowers,
& trees, of course, crazy handles of the storm,
the only open mouth with an instrument.
I mean, is that the Lord and Creator,
the city itself (free newspapers, a number of
fountains, statues, bus stations, &c)?
This is not just a product of his music.
We wait for the end of the song.
The absolute path is difficult.


This variation was the product of online translation software, combined with a time-consuming - some might even be tempted to say 'obsessive' - constraint revolving around the official languages of the European Union. 

Friday 20 October 2017

Simon Turner's Birmingham Jazz Incarnation is here...

No, of course, not 'here' in a literal sense, but it has been published, and met its public for the first time at what I can only describe as an epoch-redefining event at the Birmingham Literature Festival on October 14th, where I read alongside Julia Bird and Jan Carson, two brilliant co-authors with the equally brilliant Emma Press, who have taken it upon themselves to publish my crazed Oulipian scribblings.
"And what is Birmingham Jazz Incarnation?" I hear you ask.  No, of course, not 'hear' in a literal sense, it's a figure of speech, but I can sense nonetheless through the digital ether that you're interested.  Birmingham Jazz Incarnation is a pamphlet, lavishly illustrated by Mark Andrew Webber, in which one of my poems is un- and remade through a variety of constraints, forms and procedures: one moment it's a sonnet, the next it's the contents page for an imaginary fictional tome from the 18th century; at other times it's a skipping rhyme, whilst in extremis it's reduced to little more than an alphabetical catalogue of its own constituent atoms.       
Over the next few days, to whet the appetites of those of you who didn't immediately leap to their Paypal accounts to bulk-buy this genuinely gorgeous artefact after reading that scintillating description, I will be posting some variations that didn't quite make the cut: DVD extras, if you will.  In the meantime, here's a video of Kojack, singing the praises of the industrial heartland which inspired me: