Monday, June 28, 2010

The poetry submission headache saga continues.
Remember when idiot me submitted a selection of poems for a poetry pamphlet competition which turned out to be a full-length collection competition instead? And remember how, when realising this, I emailed to withdraw my submission and submitted three of the poems elsewhere?
And then, bizarrely, how I got word that three of the poems that I had submitted to the full-length collection competition are going to be published in the up-coming Autumn anthology so I then had to write to all three editors whom I had submitted my poems to to with drawthem.
And despite this one of the editors emailed some time after to accept my poem for publication so I had to tell them again that I had withdrawn it.

Well today I flicked through facebook to discover that one of the other mags that I had submitted one of the three poems to has published it in their latest issue.
I give up.
If the anthology folk see it I'm sure they'll be well pee'd off.
The only thing that can happen now is for the third editor, whom I still haven't heard back from, to print my third poem in their mag!
Never thought I'd be complaining about getting poems published!

Anyway, I'm excited and super-pleased to have poems in this month's lovely issues of Poetry Scotland, Anon and Gutter Magazine!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

I've been reading Jane Holland's excellent series of workshops on redrafting poems at the Mslexia website. She quotes a suggestion from poet Sophie Mayer - "Feed work through Google Translation or Babelfish (sometimes multiple times) and rewrite from the new meanings that arise".
I thought it would be fun to translate and translate back my poem in the previous post through various languages on Babelfish -

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I think I like the Korean version best, or maybe the Russian 'I intrasonic oscillations along sea surface'!
A bit of fun but I think it could certainly be a useful way to get perhaps a slightly different perspective on a poem.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

I've bought quite a few poetry books / pamphlets over the last couple of years so I thought it was about time I started reading them through systematically and blogging a little about them. So I'm going to start with Jon Stone's Scarecrow's pamphlet which is published by Happenstance.
Jon was one of the poets I was lucky enough to read with in Edinburgh the other week and I've really enjoyed reading his pamphlet.

Language-wise his poems are sheer pleasure. The first thing I enjoy about reading a poem is the words, regardless of meaning. Just the sound, the syllables, the rhymes, the visual explosions of letters. And, to be honest, I don't really know what half of his poems are about but they are laced with and energised by words and phrases that I wish that I'd thought of.
Some examples:

"Nuggets of Zingiber, fire-packed rhizomes"

"banish hag-rodeo! Bring that curio"

"get me that jake root,
that stick of mouth gelignite, brute tongue number"

"that woodknuckle jump-lead, that sting in a knock"

"the furious ting, with the jaggery,
crystals of dust and the bunch of nodules"

"splinter and splice in my trinket teeth"

Now I tell you that all of these phrases come from just One poem. It's no wonder that it was commended in last year's National Poetry Competition. It's called 'Jake Root' and you can read it here (fourth poem down).

The intensity and playfulness of language makes these poems exciting to read, this is what the blurb at the back of the pamplet says:

"This is a poet who knows precisely what he's doing, even when half-intoxicated by language and illusion: Doctor Who meets Jenny Greenteeth; Perkin Warbeck visits the same pub as Nick Drake. Prophecies, spells and lies begin to take on the nature of truth, as the Scarecrow looks up and walks...".

I admit most of the contemporary culture references of a twenty-something Londoner are lost on me, but the fact that I enjoyed these surreal, word-wild poems so much despite not 'getting' them just shows how good they are. Don't be misled by the weird and out-there subject matter and wordage, these poems are very technically aware and many of them are written in traditional form. I'll be interested to watch how Stone develops his writing in his future collection/s.

Here are some more of my favourite phrases/lines from various poems in the pamphlet:

"Pulse a bird's blink"
"A man whose head's been Morris-danced into bandages"
"His mouth / is a forge and his laugh is ironmongery"
"the night is hot and hot with the breath of Boy"
"beauty that would make a shambles of you!
"how I prefer to be a night operator, / clot of shadow"
"the stony clank of my strides"
"My mother's smile is a set of rubber kitchen knives"
"Egon is 'wolf-handsome', 'young', 'a talent'"
"who is this wastral, hook-spined, puppet-limbed"

I could go on and on  but I might get done for copyright!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I want my old template back!!!!
So the night has come and gone and it feels good to have conquered my first proper poetry reading!
I was sick all day Saturday and really thought I might not make it through to Edinburgh after all my preparation and planning  but thankfully I stopped throwing up by Sunday morning.

I was first up to read which meant I could relax and enjoy all of the other readings. All that practice of reading my poems to the kitchen walls paid off. Once I started the nerves disappeared, I looked out over everybody's heads and read my poems as if I was in my own wee house. I actually really enjoyed it!!

Phillis Levin is a lovely, dainty woman, she and her husband had been staying at St. Andrew's and they kindly said that they enjoyed my St. Andrew's poems. Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving were up from London and they both read very well, plus there was David Kinloch, a very tall and prominant Scottish poet. It was a great variety of readings and lovely just to be there and get a chance to meet and chat to folk. Everyone was very friendly, especially the other poets which was nice because I was slightly afraid of them at first!! I came away with signed copies of Levin's latest collection May Day, Kinloch's Un-Tour-dEcosse and Stone's recently published Happenstance pamphlet Scarecrows. I also won a book of selected poems of Blake Morrison in the raffle! So plenty of reading to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Some great and funny advice on writing by the UK-born, Australian-bred and now living in Scotland poet, Kona MacPhee. I need to seriously apply nearly all of these points to myself!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

That's my poem and a short bio up at the Poetry At The... blog for the poetry reading next week, can't quite believe we're into June already!
I'm really looking forward to hearing Phillis Levin, I very much like what I've read of her work on-line and she's a wonderful reader of her poems (you can hear her read some of her poems here). Also reading will be David Kinloch who lectures in Creative Writing at Strathclyde uni, and Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving who are both editors of Fuselit magazine. So feeling a little nervous about reading in such good company!
I've read quite a few tips on-line on preparing for readings but I'd like to know your number one tip that you always keep in mind when doing a reading or what especially bugs you about poetry readings.

It'll also be nice just getting to Edinburgh for a change. Might get a chance to pop into the Scottish Poetry Library or a wander around the National Galleries. There's no chance of getting home because of the ferries which means a whole night in Edinburgh, child-free!!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

I picked up a copy of Palgrave's famous poetry anthology The Golden Treasury the other week from a local charity shop. It's in brilliant condition too, well it was before I started dog-earing the poems I like! So I'm reading my way through it and pleasantly enjoying Shakespeare's poems in particular, whom I never read enough of. I love this song from The Tempest which is of course an important reference point for Plath -

Full fathom five thy father lies:
of his bones are coral made;
those are pearls that were his eyes:
nothing of him that doth fade,
but doth suffer a sea-change
into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
hark! now I hear them, -
ding, dong, bell.

But even better than reading it is hearing it sung, so gorgeously -