Thursday 31 December 2009

Nathan Thompson - One Poem

Possible Pieces for the New World Orchestra

Recently I have been making sketches – calculations in balance with the things we can choose to believe, red and plain as a crisp packet. I know that you appreciate company and trust, so please share this with me. Something must change. Transfers and postal orders can help us create it. I love you, more nakedly exposed than ever before.

everything in our power is
to choose to create it
this little room
filled with the scent of forgotten roses
ash tottering in a horizontal pile
and gone
                      can you tell the television is broken

30 August: I’m still waiting for your letter to tell me that what I’m doing is as freakishly beautiful as Frankenstein. Play your horn with a flute stuffed down it – a performance direction the equivalent of aural torture sex.

do you think they know you left me
as one ship crosses another in broad daylight
the furniture of our indifference

to hurt is to be a plant growing
                                                           evenings with Mahmood
for company      a sitar      that’s what I missed out

31 August: This should be cosmopolitan if it is to be truly all-encompassing and primeval. But the tax man has taken away the solitude of high piccolos and I shall have to rethink your cowbells in punk-style skiffle: washboards with an Irish accent, the hiss of missing teeth.

to continue      leaves are falling
whisky pains      suck this and
see if it blows      ideas birthing
later      spot the difference

how to incorporate everything
expression      criticism by all known
contemporary dead composers
into something coherent

I’ll need words      sonic
graphs in imaginary idioms
your language and mime
whatever’s in between
cheques and money orders payable

32 August: We’re in the future now. I imagine you dressed in a pink robot suit covering the essentials Zulu-style and I’m Michael Caine barking orders. It’s reasonable to feel you’re right when you’re dressed in red and your opponents have ‘incorrect weapons’. That’s how the hammer and sickle went wrong: ‘if you know where to shoot to find a heart and don’t mind...’

But something more visual is required to give this meaning. Here’s a picture I drew yesterday:

[small pig on a high-wire eating an Iraqi communist]

it isn’t easy      these lines
become the unstable nature of autopsy
Slinger: the horse is bolted
Hemingway: the hell it is

this is America for beginners
wild and cold as Alaska (is that really... I’m just not sure)
burning borealis separated
by an entire country or ocean

‘more tea?      the global economy may collapse but...’
what ‘s left      China aspires
and we’re living the dream      ISBN tenderness
to ease the joints      patterns we construct

In our musical instruments the world is richer, subtler, more complex than we imagine. White noise can’t be found. We hear portions, weights, textures and colours but ultimately we construct beyond our control. After all this, I hope you enjoy the string duet. We can surrender but what choice do we have.

Nathan Thompson is published by Shearsman, with pamphlets forthcoming from Oystercatcher and Skald.


Tuesday 29 December 2009

Peter Gillies & Rupert Loydell - Bill Viola

Bill Viola is not your Friend

I never thought I'd get the point
of performance art and film.
White walls made for paintings
are not cinema or tv screens
but this projected light brings tears.

Bill Viola is not your friend.
He's too busy filming life and death,
pouring water over the camera
and working out how silence sounds,
how still moving images can be.

I never thought I'd get the point
of watching videos in the dark
or tolerate reality recycled.
How long should we sit here waiting
for the creep of flesh onscreen?

Bill Viola is not your friend.
He's too intelligent and thoughtful,
explains his work too well.
Watch the man rise, catch breath
and fall; rise, catch breath, and fall.

"Being in a body we didn't own or know."

        © Rupert M Loydell

Bill Viola could be your Cousin

Pitch black at first. Not so low budget
as you might expect, better hold your breath
as his doomed giant lovers hold theirs.
One on each screen afloat,
they'll drown in all this slowed-down sincerity.

Bill Viola could be your cousin
and if you're convinced by his faith in video art
you will stand there like a pillar of salt,
seduced by his Old Testament gusto
and his play of underwater light.

Camera-shy or just a poor swimmer
he leaves his actors to fend for themselves.
They get to rise up from the waters of baptism
although some days, for sure, anything
could be preferable to water-logged transcendence.

Bill Viola could be your long lost cousin
with a film of your classmates in a High School stunt.
Now he says the ocean is a self without a shore
but when his weighty figures plunge down
does your neurotic fear of death truly disappear?

"By the time he felt comfortable enough to ask why,

he was in too deep."

        © Peter Gillies

3 of 3. There are more in the meatworld and in cyberspace; Stride has one, more expected at Shadowtrain, and there have been reports of the limited edition series showing up on people's doormats. Including one of the Editors' doormats.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Peter Gillies & Rupert Loydell - Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock is not your Friend

I know I shouldn't be thinking like this.
I mean it's all in the past and we've been
and moved on, but I find myself below glass
watching over and over the blur of a man
as black paint is flicked, poured and thrown.

Jackson Pollock is not your friend,
he works far too large for comfort,
makes too much mess in the lounge
and leaves drips everywhere in the toilet.
(Light olive with spots of dull umber.)

I know I shouldn't be thinking like this.
New ideas are great but up on the wall
they can suddenly seem old. And I can't
help but think of the drunk, brutish painter,
his one-sided fights with poets and friends.

Jackson Pollock is not your friend.
He wouldn't want to be one anyway,
would rather turn the jukebox up and down
pints at the bar before bragging about
his ongoing battle with colour and form.

"The stars are brilliant tonight."

        © Rupert M Loydell

Jackson Pollock could be your Cousin

That's no accident when a can of enamel
is neatly perforated to drip evenly across
miles of canvas tacked to a studio floor.
Quick drying paint goes on easily: no room
left for hesitation, no need for one to hang about.

Jackson Pollock could be your cousin
who stares at you tormentedly so you
stare back at him quizzically.
Perhaps he'll sell you a cheap one
small enough to take home in your hands.

Despite his threats of doing this or that
he tries to stay with his signature style:
pouring red, lavender, pale blue and yellow
interlaced with loops and contours of black Duco,
highlighted with trickles and spatters of silver.

Jackson Pollock could be your difficult cousin
who likes to be gently affectionate one day
and outrageously cruel the next. He knows
how to sulk, how to throw himself in the Hudson
then swim off in yet another drunken rage.

"But you should be getting something for your trouble."

"Help yourself. I should've probably thrown 'em
                                                                  all away a long time ago."

        © Peter Gillies

2 of 3. We like these. If anyone would like to contribute their own collaborations along these lines, we'd love to take a look.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Peter Gillies & Rupert Loydell - Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon is not your Friend

I never think to read
the safety information provided.
If we crash, we crash;
we'll try to get out fast
with all our limbs intact.

Francis Bacon is not your friend.
He'd smudge your face and pin you
to the floor or bed, pull open
wounds to admire their beauty,
paint them purple, red.

I never think to read
what the critics said,
prefer to trust the horse's mouth.
If he said that's how he saw it
then that's just how it is.

Francis Bacon is not your friend
He knows how time smears flesh
and memory, how chance predicts
the future and that paint can tell you
everything you'll ever need to know.

"Words frozen in my broken mouth."

        © Rupert M Loydell

Francis Bacon could be your Cousin

How self-confident and charming
with his sado-masochistic hair
and gambling smile. So much flannel
with his jutting jaw, fudging
any slack signs of remorse.

Francis Bacon could be your cousin
down at the Gargoyle Club, introducing
you to his obnoxious friends who insist
on discussing your indiscreet walk,
your feeble fear of painful carousing.

Embarrassingly worked up, camped out even,
how can you remain impartial to such threats?
How riveted we all are
by a wildlife sportsman in pads
ripped and splattered into decay.

Francis Bacon could be your Soho cousin
on condition you admire his medical plates,
agree to wear the X-rated goggles,
sit on his couch and snarl for him,
pose as a primate-pope for a day.

"Try not to flinch at what comes popping up out of the gloom."

        © Peter Gillies

This is part of a series of (very) limited edition pamphlets produced by Rupert and Peter along the theme of art and artistic vision. 1 of 3.

Sunday 20 December 2009

John Tucker - Two Poems

Blackbird Fly

Shot 1: garden fence post.
Enter flying blackbird, lands
on post, sings octave of C, ascending:
‘don’t rape mi for so li-ttle dough’.
Flies off.

Shot 2: different garden, brick wall.
Enter flying blackbird. Lands on wall.
Sings octave of C, ascending:
‘don’t rape mi for so li-ttle dough.’
Flies off.

Shot 3: different garden. Bird-table.
Enter flying blackbird. Lands
on table. Sings octave of C, ascending
‘don’t rape mi for so li-ttle dough -
and when you do make sure it’s slow;
and now begins the Fractured Know’.
Flies off.

Shot 4: empty road. Enter hopping
blackbird, dishevelled, dragging
a sack of cash, unable to fly.
Shuffling down the road, black bird
has lost voice, sold song and soul.
Only sound now, prison chain-gang
drag of loot
in bag
on concrete pavements.

Diet Theory

Language speaks mankind. It’s full of fossils,
coins, corruptions, ossifications; dead metaphors
that the brain is built of; ghost-vowels, consonantal

masses; kaleidoscopes of colour; word-shades,
word-frequencies. It’s worth billions of pounds.
Words like soul, truth, consciousness, love,

infinity, they were sacrosanct to the Romantics;
but are they simply differences in sound
combined with homogenised differences in idea?

Words like taste, intelligence, class, time, take
them off the menu too, for vowels are our souls,
for language speaks mankind.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Joshua Jones - One Poem

The Girls Downstairs

When the girls downstairs come to take me away they’re often very nice about it. Apologies follow their high heels spiking me like big needles into small babies.

When I say take me away, that’s not exactly what I mean: they tie me down to the bed with locks of their hair (which they usually set on fire at the end to release me) before convincing me that this time is the time they’ll just set me free. They never do.

Occasionally it is mild – manipulation, humiliation, threatening to disembowel me. Other times it gets pretty violent. One of them once made a knuckle-duster of lightbulbs, switched it on – each bulb a different colour – and punched me repeatedly until I passed out, vowing as I awoke to leave this place, get a job and meet new people who read magazines and talk about current affairs.

One girl, though, there’s something sad about her. I can almost sense affection in her torture. I dream of the night she’ll come while the others are sleeping, her hair perfectly messy , like a beautiful girl you met the night before in some bar where the jukebox always plays the wrong song waking up in your bed and smoking the last cigarette from the crumpled pack she finds on the floor.

Anyway, she’ll come, frantic, telling me to follow. We’ll run through the building in search of a way out. At the top of a staircase dark as a well, I’ll stop, nervous; but she’ll just smile and take my hand, beckoning.

The problem, of course, with dreaming is that you wake up. The further we get down the stairs, the more everything fades – like a rubber erasing multiple layers of scribbles. And morning is a frame without a photograph.

The strangest thing is that in moments of extreme despair and loneliness, when I search for scars as if looking for phantom limbs, there’s nothing there. It’s like trying to piece together the exact narrative progression of a dream you had once, years ago, as a kid.

Monday 14 December 2009

Myra Connell - Two Poems


Such small buttons. Who’d have thought it?
And the chain so delicate, the cartoon keys,
so small for this tough woman with the skirt stretched straight
across her legs, the bloody tights, brick shoes.

The solid hips are right. The faded face.
I have effaced myself, she’d say, if so she spoke.
Rules are locked inside my chest and buttoned tight away
like breasts. What’s beneath the fabric

I refuse to know.

The vegetable vendor

“The vegetable vendor raised her face: she was my grandmother.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, p 75.

Raise your face
from the piles of aubergines,
the onions, garlic bulbs. Look up.

My grandmother the vegetable seller,
who sat by her table in the market
plaiting into ropes the long leaves of the onions,
looked up and in her eyes I saw
the dining table, six chairs,
the tall-boy, dresser, all in matching oak,
carved flowers, which went with her from her father’s
to her husband’s house.

She had not been born to selling fruit.
Someone was at fault.

Friday 11 December 2009

A Reviewer’s Manifesto

The more I review, the more I feel like there’s got to be a reason for it. Time and again I hear the argument that reviewing doesn’t serve a purpose in terms of sales; only a few exalted locations provide a sales boost, or so I’ve heard – the right places perhaps being the London Review of Books, or the Times Literary Supplement, or perhaps the New Yorker and similar penthouse suites of today’s shiny ivory skyscrapers.

Still we persist. “Poetry is the opposite of money,” says David Morley (although I’m inclined to spell that statement, ‘Poh-tree iz tha oppozit of bling”), so there seems little point in jacking in reviewing if poetry doesn’t generate much in the way of sales in the first place. It must be about something else.

What ‘else’ is this? The 'debate'? A belief in the discussion of literature serving a purpose that supports the literary life, engages readers in further, (better, perhaps?) ways with the world of books than other, existing channels do? The chance to broaden someone’s horizons about what they’ve not yet read, and what reading a particular book might do?

Or is this simply a matter of intellectual display, a chance to show off one’s own knowledge? I’ve heard that said once or twice, I can’t remember where exactly, but probably in relation to, primarily, academic discussions of literature. Critical studies often tend to encourage comparative readings that, when negative, lead people to discredit a reviewer’s opinions on the grounds that they’re simply flexing their literary muscles for their own benefit. In other words, the reviewer is scene to be failing in some way, not the book, or the author.

You could say this about some of AA Gill’s restaurant reviews. They often meander endlessly on about the reviewer’s personal life, barely mentioning the restaurant at the end, especially when the meal and/or atmosphere haven't managed to impress him. Taken as a form of eating diary, that’s an acceptable response, to me, but reviews should have a certain degree of functionality, and justification, beyond interest in the reviewer’s life as validated by their exalted position in the mainstream press.

Arguably, I’d not say the same about Charlie Brooker’s television reviews. ‘Screen Burn’, while as stylised, in its own way, as Gill’s writing, always serves to offer solid justifications for the reviewer’s opinions, when (as they mostly are) the reactions are negative. And there are more jokes.

Taking further that idea of the functionality of a review, what is its purpose? As Jeremy Treglown put it at an event in May 2008, on the art of reviewing, “Honesty is important for the sake of readers.” Yes, but what’s the purpose of being honest, if the industry only likes a good review, and tries to make a bad review reflect, as much as possible, on the reputation of the reviewer, not the book? Is it for 'the readers'? And who are they?

Treglown went on to say that the review’s audience needs to be clear; they’re written for readers, not for publishers, or the author (as Lionel Shriver once argued as being the only person, apart from the reviewer, to whom any review mattered). They’re not written for publishers, for their publicity departments. They’re not written for people who aren’t interested in books either. Why would someone read a book review, unless they wanted to enrich their experience of reading literature in general (i.e. they read reviews of books they haven’t yet read themselves) or of a text they’ve particularly enjoyed (i.e. after they’ve read a book, as an act of building connections with other readers and widening their knowledge of a book)?

So this takes me a little closer to defining the purpose of reviewing. A review should be written for readers; it should inform the reader of the qualities of a text, according to that reviewer’s understanding of the book; the reviewer should, therefore be able to bring something to their particular reading of the text that isn’t facile, or obvious, that most readers of the review would have been able to say for themselves.

There are many types of review reader, but let's break them into two: a reader who has already read a book, and one that hasn't. In the case of readers who haven’t yet read the book, it's relatively easy to write a review in a way that provides something the reader can't do themselves: plot summaries, sweeping statements, limited analysis.

This explains why publishers send advance copies out as much as six months before publication to mainstream outlets. The mainstream tries to capture zeitgeist, be ahead on what’s hot in the current world of cultural output. The editors of these newspapers are second-guessing what the public might be interested in; going a step further you could say it reduces book selections to what the majority of target audiences are expected to be interested in.

This strikes poetry off the map, in most cases, excepting all but a handful of household names whose positions are made so by recurrent features in newspapers; hence a self-fulfilling category. (And also explains why mainstream media tread and retread the same ground over and over, with barely a nod to the margins; a condescending presupposition that readers worth reaching are idiots who buy their reading lists wholesale from newspapers.)

I could take a little diversion here, down the route of poetry publishing: only a handful of UK poetry publishers send out advance copies. Sending review copies out after a book is published means readers who are already interested in a book can decide its qualities for themselves; reviewing a poetry book two years after its publication date means more work for the reviewer to justify their opinion. So poetry publishing generally tends to hamstring itself in the first instance by not allowing the mainstream media to treat it as part of a zeitgeist. A vicious circle of resource shortages could be blamed, but, then again, those that can, do, maintaining a status quo of very limited selective tastes at the forefront of the public consciousness. (Though the more I talk about this, the more I feel like I belong in a shack in the woods. Maybe Simon has a spare room in his hut.)

So, returning to the former point about readers who read reviews to enrich their understanding of a particular text; it assumes a degree of foreknowledge in the reader, a hunger for more information and therefore the review has to be a cut above the rest. It can’t simply trot out obvious ideas, reiterate a story’s plot points, key themes in the poetry. It has to make associations, contextualise the work, stylistically entertain.

In conservative outlets this manifests as enlisted ‘experts’ who dissect a book in the context of a writer’s oeuvre, relate it to the contemporary (mainstream) field and tradition, and make high-sounding, definitive statements about the work. Stylistic elements might include: practical criticisms; a generally impersonal voice - and what else? Name-dropping; the kind of syntactical structure designed to be quoted on future editions of the book jackets, or the cover of the author’s next title; anecdotes about the reviewer’s last encounter with the author at an awards ceremony.

Yes, I’m sneering. That kind of reviewing has failed poetry, and leads to alienation of the reader. The ‘expert’, or to go a step further into Edward Said’s ‘cult of the expert’ (shit, I’m name-dropping now, but it’s OK, this is an essay, not a review) is both a way of endorsing a review, but also a way of suggesting a reader is not up to the task of having a valid opinion themselves about a title. Leave ‘common readers’ to post their comments on Amazon. Name-dropping is the worst crime, designed to highlight the reviewer’s superior intellect for making the connections. More often than not, it establishes boundaries and cliques between readerships and poetry circles.

This is not to be anti-intellectual, or anti-academic. If anything, people who hold a somewhat primitive understanding of the term 'intellectual', or bandy the word 'elitism' around without a nod to the importance of specialism and expertise, are as guilty of exclusivity and clique-building as intellectual people who do the same. But enough digression.

I've had many a conversation with Simon about the notion of popular writing attempting to divorce itself from tradition, to appear the first in its trend. David Kennedy's recent review of Voice Recognition, at Stride Magazine puts it well (and is provides a good round up of the last fifty years of poetry anthology introductions): there's "a dismissal of the recent past and a hailing of the present as a site of changes, shifts, trends or emergent groupings". This implies that the poetry has emerged from nowhere, rather than, as Virginia Woolf once demonstrated, rejecting the recent past in favour of a slightly more distant past - a kind of cultural leap-frogging.

So name-dropping can be used well. Comparisons an author under review and literary forebears, or contemporary counterparts, which are both given depth and justified within the context of a review's functional purpose, have to be valid. By the quality of these associations you can create a measure for the value of a review.

Taking this point a step further, what I can’t see being a problem, is if reviews adopt the best qualities of reviews targeting both types of readers. There’s nothing more boring than a mainstream review of a fresh-off-the-printer book that simply tells you what you want to know in a dull, conventional style. Just as there’s nothing worse than a reviewer appraising a book from two years ago that tries to set off every intellectual firework in their repertoire, thus making the review more about the reviewer than the book.

Now a leap further: ultimately, what’s needed is a kind of anti-review, in the sense that it takes the traditional points of reference for mainstream reviewing and turns them on their heads, while assimilating all the best qualities behind those conventions. And there is a need for a manifesto to achieve these aims.

We at Gists & Piths aim to please, though I notice, perhaps for my own troubles with the art of reviewing, or perhaps simple lethargy (before Simon interjects with an editorial comment, I’ll do it myself: I’m a sloth) our last proper review came on August 30th and my own participation in a review here was on August 6th.

So, a Reviewer’s Manifesto, which I will try to live up to over the coming months, or as long as it holds relevance for me:

1. The audience for a review must be defined, according to readers past, present and future, of the book under review.

2. The review must be functional, once the reader is defined, in order to serve, honestly, the review’s readers. The ultimate aim is to allow the reader to decide for themselves whether the book might be of value to them, or increased value to them.

3. In order to decide the reviewer’s degree of honesty in holding their opinions, the reader must know the reviewer’s biases, past and present, and possibly even future, in relation to the book, the book’s author, and the writing of the review.

4. The review must avoid highbrowing the reader in a way that becomes exclusive. This does not mean second-guessing the reader’s intelligence in a condescending fashion. It means making sufficiently diverse and detailed comparative associations between the book’s qualities and metaphors, other books or authors, other art forms, social phenomena &c., that the reader will at least feel some of the review’s descriptions are engaging and comprehensible, even without knowledge of the subject being compared to.

5. To this end, metaphor, of the best poetic kind, is highly encouraged. Lists, or multiple descriptions of the same point also, though with the proviso of point 6.

6. The review must not waffle. There’s nothing worse than waffle in any kind of writing.

7. The review must incorporate elements from writing modes that are not adopted by traditional reviews in order to overcome the stagnating neutrality of mainstream reviewing and to attract readers with and without an existing awareness of a book to the review itself. These elements can include: stylistic adoptions, such as tabloid headlines, football chants, political speeches; genre adoptions, e.g poetics, detective novel, fairytale conventions; structural oddities, such as menus, flashback techniques; personal anecdote that makes the reader engage better with the text; declared effects which impact on the writing of the review, e.g. attempting to imitate the style of the book, writing while under the influence, typing blindfolded, reading during a storm; or any other mode of writing that enhances the reader’s experience of reading the review, without hampering the review’s functionality.

8. The reviewer’s reputation, and the value of their reviews, will be manifested solely upon their ability to meet the points in this manifesto.

9. The contents of this manifesto will be reviewed from time to time, according to the aims of the manifesto. Should reviews produced to this order fail to entertain, then the manifesto will be adjusted, or thrown out.


Tuesday 8 December 2009

James McLaughlin - One Poem

South Atlantic

Let there be no thought of war today the trees are too beautiful the wind way too inexplicable on Sky Arts last night John Williams in Argentina was exquisite you could see it in the faces of the orchestra a wry smile here a tap of a bow there a knowing nod how music and nature come together in every tree I hear it like an oboe somewhere along the river bank I think it was Argentina great ships had assembled women got their tits out Hammy had to go to Southampton he was a welder they wanted a helicopter pad put on the Queen Elizabeth good money Hammy said working day and night they’ve got to get it down there the trees are too beautiful today let the ample light come to me imagine druids through the leaves and twigs every night a strange little man with glasses would be wheeled onto the news this little man was a symbol of distress today in the South Atlantic he would say as the trees refused to die and the morning air soaked in my lungs can you hear it Hammy in the wood pile on the dung heap today a ship was hit by a missile the injured were taken to the mother ship by helicopter the grim little man said there was talk of a call up some were up for it I wasn’t he had decided to go he said it would be an adventure I had him by the throat are you fucking mad I take this path everyday by the river through the woods it is well worn all you meet is silence and their dogs there is no greeting from the swans or the morning mist they said he was one of the lucky ones he had watched his hands melt in front of him he lay all night in a barn screaming the officer told him to shut the fuck up he was disturbing the others it was 20 below please let there be no thoughts of war today the trees are too beautiful the wind too inexplicable there through the trees and the half light everything is full of whispers inclinations I can see little men in blue wode dancing in a circle they are gathered round a camp fire I can see them quite clearly when it was all over the great ships came back women got their tits out Union Jacks flew and bands played Rule Britannia I can see a robin he has his new winter coat on he looks me straight in the eye it was darkness when Hammy returned there were no flags and no bands there was no celebration the bands were all silent there were only the lights of cranes to sing a lament for him and the dockers' silent whispers in Argentina last night John Williams took his guitar like a lover and played a melody so beautiful that it drifted like a gondola along the colonnades over voices and spirits it drifted like a heavy slow exocet missile out through the South Atlantic out over the vespers and spume it drifted up to the moon and around the great bear and on over through the darkness and beyond.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Kelly Kanayama - One Poem

The Virgin Mary Painter

By the time the Virgin Mary painter
came down with her guitar from Alaska,
Mrs. K had already been to see
Mr. Pacheco with the 1960’s walk-up
and ponytail who said in a past life,
she’d been a stage parent like Leopold Mozart
or Gypsy Rose Lee: he saw footlights,
a frightened prodigy in his third eye, a mother

crying in the other two. Her son had started
TV that year, shedding glasses and reserve
for jingles, close-ups, sports drinks
proffered by nameless cyclists. (In real life,
she told him on set, don’t ever
take drinks from strangers
                                                        A phone psychic
had already suggested Jesus. Mrs. K found

the painter instead at the Wellness Centre
for one night only, artwork in tow,
guitar blessedly put down after a ballad
on the magic of you. This picture
of the Virgin, said the painter, hid
a real healing heartbeat. The Virgin’s arms

held nothing but a background
too light to be sky. Mrs. K volunteered
to touch the canvas breast, felt blood
moving in her own fingertips.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Recent News...

What with all the poetry we've been publishing here lately, we've had a slew of interesting submissions. What with all the real life we've been doing also, we've a bit of a backlog - but we've some rather good stuff lined up in December.

But meanwhile, a small interlude to offload some of the interesting poetry events scooting about the country...

- The winner of the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation is... Professor Randall Couch for his translation of Gabriela Mistral's Madwomen.

"Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957) is one of the most important and enigmatic figures in Latin American literature of the last century. The Locas mujeres poems collected here are among her most complex and compelling, exploring facets of the self in extremis—poems marked by the wound of blazing catastrophe and its aftermath of mourning."

- We've been invited by the British Library Web Archiving Programme‏ to participate in their preservation project. I get the feeling, to do it right, we'd have to write to every contributor we've had and ask for permission to allow their work to be archived there, although we could quite easily add a T&C point in the submissions form to set a start date. It's quite a bit of work, so if you have any thoughts about this, we'd be grateful to hear it. I tihnk we'd end up sitting between Gillian Clarke and Give me a Break - Cyfle i Ddianc.

- bani haykal is blogging at a new location, with his misinterpret musings. Rather brilliantly voiced, in the editors' opinions (well, one editor, but the other is hermiting again - goad goad).

- John Tucker (two poems forthcoming on G&P) wrote recently to us announcing the Anon Project: "It’s a new artistic printing and distribution experiment centred on a website that has been seven years in the making. The idea is that people visit the website and are granted two things: currency and the vote. With currency one can submit work, which can be anything from concrete word-patterns, to newsflash, to flash fiction, to verse. With votes one votes for the work to be made available for nationwide (as yet) printing and distribution on snazzy, anonymous, A6 ‘throwaways’ which can come in seven colours." It's quite a weird sounding idea, with plans to circulate printed 'throwaways' in "public transport hives, bookstores, libraries, cafes". We like weird.

- Flarestack Poets, the new pamphlet imprint from Flarestack Presshave launched their first three pamphlets, the two winners of their Pamphlet Competition and an anthology of the best poems submitted: Selima Hill's Advice on Wearing Animal Prints, Cliff Forshaw's Wake, and Mr Barton isn't Paying edited by Editors & Judges, Meredith Andrea and Jacqui Rowe. The G&P Editors attending the launch event, so expect a little more on this soon.

- Speaking of Jacqui Rowe, she runs the very entertaining bi-monthly 'Poetry Bites' series at the Kitchen Garden Café in King's Heath, Birmingham. Upcoming 2010 events:
* 26th January: Michael McKimm
* 23rd March: Nine Arches Press
* 25th May: George Ttoouli (yes, yes, OK, but...)
* 27th July: Jane Routh and Mike Barlow

- Speaking of Nine Arches and pamphlets, the Editors also attended the launch of David Morley's The Night of the Day, published by Nine Arches earlier this month. We picked up our limited edition, slightly-larger-than-life copies, with silver cover fonts and black flyleaf, which, I believe, are now sold out (less than three weeks after publication!), but there's a cheap version available.

- And we've heard, thro' our divers network of spyes, that Richard Price may soon be appearing on the Verb, talking about poetry pamphlet publishing. As one of the key luminaries at the British Library behind the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets, it's something to look forward to.

- The last in Shearsman's 2009 Reading Series took place on Tuesday, 1 December at 7:30 pm, featuring Janet Sutherland & Alan Wearne. Click the names for details of the new collection that will be launched on the evening and for biographical details: Janet & Alan.

- And finally, also from the Poetry Society's press room, further details of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry have been released. You have to be a member to submit suggestions, it's UK only, and websites don't count, which seems a shame given how much new work is happening online in the UK.