Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rob Mackenzie's Cyclone Tour

Fellow Scottish blogger, Rob A. Mackenzie, is setting up a 'Cyclone blog tour' - a virtual book tour in support of his recently published (by Salt) poetry collection, The Opposite of Cabbage. I'm delighted to say that this blog is going to be a part of it.

I've been following Rob's blog Surroundings for as long as I've been blogging. In fact Rob's blog with it's comprehensive list of literary links was very much a guide for me when trying to get my head around the current poetry publishing scene.
Rob also kindly encouraged me in my writing back when I was far less sure of what I was doing. I've met him a couple of times now at Scotland's biggest poetry festival, StAnza, and he really is a very nice bloke.

But more importantly I've been following his poetry with interest since I purchased his now out of print Happenstance produced chapbook The Clown of Natural Sorrow. An excellent chapbook that I genuinely find myself drawn back to and enjoy re-reading. As the title suggests, these are very imaginative poems, witty with an interesting blend of literalism and surrealism that often remind me of Miroslav Holub, one of my favorite poets.

As part of the Cyclone blog tour I get to ask Rob three questions which can be about his new book, his thoughts on poetry, or even about his life and he will answer them on this blog. So I'm open to suggestions if there is anything anyone would like to know about Rob, put it in the comments or email me if you'd prefer.

The cyclone will reach here in a couple of weeks time!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just to say that my posts are probably going to be few and far between for the next wee while now that I'm nearly six months pregnant and generally feeling a bit weary.

I hoped to have a laptop by now to make things easier but instead I've got a new kitchen! I'm doing lots of reading though and have started keeping a kind of visual diary (inspired by The Faber Book of Diaries that I recently picked up in a charity shop) which I hope to draw on for poems in the future or even start working on some short stories.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Help save Salt Publishing

In recent years Salt has published some of the most exciting new poetry around but due to the current climate they're facing serious economic crisis. Here's a note by Salt director Chris Hamilton-Emery on how you can save Salt publishing -


1. Please buy just one book, right now.

We don't mind from where, you can buy it from us or from Amazon, your local shop
or megastore, online or offline. If you buy just one book now, you'll help to save Salt. Timing is absolutely everything here. We need cash now to stay afloat. If you love literature, help keep it alive. All it takes is just one book sale. Go to our online store (UK and International or USA) and help us keep going.

2. Share this note on your Facebook and MySpace profile.

Tell your friends. If we can spread the word about our cash crisis, we can hopefully find more sales and save our literary publishing. Remember it's just one book, that's all it takes to save us. Please do it now.

With my best wishes to everyone,
Chris Hamilton-Emery

Check out the website here. There are many exciting poetry books available, I've reviewed a couple of them on Amazon - Jane Holland's Camper Van Blues and Eleanor Rees' Andraste's Hair. I bought a few more recently that I've yet to review but thoroughly recommend: Luke Kennard's
The Harbour Beyond the Movie, Andrew Philip's The Ambulance Box, and Rob Mackenzie's The Opposite of Cabbage.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Poetry on the BBC

Just watched the Sylvia Plath episode of A Poet's Guide to Britain on BBC iplayer, it's excellent. Although Plath is not normally thought of as a landscape poet it's always been her nature poetry and how she manages to reflect her mental state in the landscape around her that that has interested me.
The main focus is on the Yorkshire moors and her Wuthering Heights poem though there is also mention of her other Yorkshire poems such as The Great Carbuncle and Hardcastle Crags. There are snippets of radio interviews with Plath and also footage of a tv interview with her mother, Aurelia Plath. Plenty great shots of the Yorkshire moors while Plath's poems are read, it's a really good programme, go watch it!

Rejection from Happenstance but there's light at the end of the tunnel!

Today I received a very detailed reply to my chapbook submission from Happenstance.
A rejection, yes, but an offer of re-submission and the possibility of working with me over a long period of time if I can see where she's coming from in her comments about my poems.
It's great just getting an editorial crit of a bunch of my poems, to be honest. I agree with around two-thirds of what she says though a couple of poems, if I followed her suggestions, would be completely unrecognisable to me so I just won't be sending those back to her. But for most of them I can definitely see her suggestions as improvement.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My reading of William Carlos Williams 'To a Poor Old Woman' is now online here thanks to Rachel's technical support team (i.e. her man!).

Monday, May 04, 2009

Last week Rachel challenged us to learn a poem by heart. So I picked William Carlos William's 'To a Poor Old Woman'. Yes I know it's a short one, lol.

Rachel, to her credit, picked 'Inversnaid' by tongue-twistery G.M. Hopkins. I love Hopkins, especially for his tongue-twisteryness, awkward wording and sprung rhythm but I wouldn't like to have to recite him. Rachel's recitation of 'Inversnaid' can be found here. If I could find my MP3 player I'd post my WCW recitation, but I'm still looking for it.

I adore 'To a Poor Old Woman'. I find myself wandering the streets muttering " they taste good to her, they taste good to her, they taste good to her". I did try to add a youtube reading of it to this post but it's not working! So here's the poem on the page instead:

To a Poor Old Woman
by William Carlos Williams

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

Friday, May 01, 2009

Great News - Carol Ann Duffy is to be our next Poet Laureate!

If anyone can make poetry exciting and relevant to 21st century Britain it's Ms Duffy. She's long been a familiar name on the school syllabus which means she's well know amongst the young folk. Her poetry, for the most part, is direct, accessible, at times controversial and generally very popular. She's the breath of fresh air we need.
Plus I can't wait to read her royal poems!