Thursday, April 29, 2010

I've never been able to write on demand, well I could but the result wouldn't be pretty or worth much. Unlike swiss, who seems to have little problem turning his daily life into poetic epiphanies, I sit on my reams of imagery waiting for the 'thing' that's going to give it substance and meaning. So that, probably laziness, and the endlessness of household chores are my excuses for not having any new poems to post at the moment.

I'm not much of a short story reader but lately I've been devouring Robin Jenkins' book of short stories -Lunderston Tales. It has to be an excellent writer who makes you look at people differently and even value them more than you did previous to reading their work. I love Robin Jenkins' stories, they make me laugh, give me insights into the life and thinking of people around me. They are literally about the people around me. Jenkins spent the last thirty years of his life living just outside of Dunoon, where I live. His fictional stories are based on real people and people I recognise. These people exist everywhere of course but luckily for me Jenkins' stories are very much based locally which means when I walk down town I imagine I could be living in one of his stories.

Incidentally, Brown's latest gaffe reads like it's straight out of a Robin Jenkins story! - 'The Pensioner and the Prime Minister'.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Very exciting news for Plath and Hughes fans - the British Library has recently published a cd of all Plath's recordings including interviews with Plath and Hughes not publicly available since the original broadcasts, a live recording of Plath reading 'Tulips', Plath describing her experiences of being an American woman in England as well as Plath and Hughes talking about how they met.

The Spoken Word CD is 73 minutes long and includes a booklet containing an introduction by the Plath scholar Peter Steinberg of the excellent Sylvia Plath info blog where you can read a review of the cd here. The cd can be purchased here.

A nearly eight minute podcast taster from the cd can be heard here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

With it being the holidays I've not had much of a chance to get into writing but I have been thinking a lot about poetry book covers and I'm curious to know how people decide on the cover picture or design for their book - whether they go for a nice picture that ties in with the theme of the book or maybe a striking picture that's more specific to the title of the collection, and what kind of covers people prefer when buying a book.

I really like the cover of Robin Robertson's The Wrecking Light. According to the inside cover it's a painting by Sam Morrow. It doesn't bear direct resemblance to the title and I don't think the apples are a reference to any particular poem but it is a beautiful picture. To me the black background conveys the darkness at the heart of many of the poems with the apples representing the fragile beauty and sensuality of nature which at times blends with human nature. And of course apples are a potent symbol of innocence, knowledge and sinfulness. I was planning on buying the book because I'd just heard Robertson read from it and really liked his poems but if I hadn't heard of the author or the poems and just saw the book in a bookshop I would definitely have picked it up for a look because of its cover and title.

I also really like the cover of Anne Sexton's All my Pretty Ones (notice a theme here of black backgrounds!!). The purple flower against the black seems darkly feminine which is one way you could characterise the poems, I'm afraid I don't know what the flower is so I can't really speculate on its significance.

I guess my preference is nature as a symbol against a dark background!