Monday, January 27, 2014

Finally it has reached Dunoon!! -

I was asked to contribute a recent book reading list for the Poetry Foundation blog which you can read here. Mostly still mulling over the same books with the inclusion of W.S. Merwin's The Shadow of Sirius and Vicki Feaver's poetry. For those not on facebook or twitter you can hear a wonderful series of radio essays here by five different poets doing their own take of Rilke's Letter to a Young Poet. I so enjoyed them, especially (of course) Vicki Feaver's essay to a young woman poet which was amazing for me to hear and read (I was lucky enough to have seen her first draft of the essay). 

It's the end of my year as a Scottish New Writers Awardee and what a wonderful year it has been. I have two meetings left with Vicki Feaver and I'll be sad when they're over. As an end-of-year finale the Scottish Book Trust has put together a Showcase Event where all the 2013 award winners will do a short reading of their work in front of an audience which will include publishers as well as the new 2014 award winners. That's this Thursday (30th Jan) 7.30pm at Summerhall in Edinburgh if anyone is interested (it's free!).

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

I like to read a decent biography over the Christmas holidays. It's become a bit of a tradition, a midwinter escape into someone else's life. This Christmas I read A Lucid Dreamer: the Life of Peter Redgrove by Neil Roberts and Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness, a Biography by Edward Butscher.

I'd been drawn to the Redgrove biography for a while. His reputation for strange visionary poetry and his background in analytic psychology sounded irresistible. I hoped it would help me approach his poetry which I've yet to get a great deal out of. Interesting though it is there is sadly very little in the way of poetry analysis or the relation of individual poems to his life. It certainly doesn't hold back on the many personal details about his life and while I applaud the openness, I feel I probably know more about him than I really want to!
I thought it was about time I got around to reading Edward Butscher's biography of Sylvia Plath. His book was the very first full-length biography written about Plath - published in 1976, thirteen years after her death. I wasn't expecting a great deal from the book having read many more recent biographies of her but was greatly surprised and pleased at the attention given to her poems and her creative progress in the book. In fact I think it's an excellent analysis of her life and writing and his tackling of her poems is insightful and stands up as well as any of the later studies written with the benefit of historical distance.

I daresay any fan of Redgrove would be delighted to read the Neil Robert's biography, if and when I get into his poems I'll probably go back and re-read it and enjoy it more. I'd thoroughly recommend the Butscher biography for those actually interested in Plath's work, rather than just the tragic mythic tale.   

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!!

I read somewhere that 2014 is the year of the death of blogging. Whilst I don't think that's true - there are loads of regularly updated excellent poetry blogs out there - the role of blogging, for me, has changed over the last couple of years.

I initially set up this blog under a pseudonym as an outlet for my writing with the hope of meeting like-minded readers and writers and the hope of improving my writing. The results were far beyond my expectations. I found a creative community of people who inspired, encouraged and taught me so much. However because of magazines' stricter conceptions of 'publication' and not being able to post up  first drafts of poems, the blog has turned into an irregular newsy update on poetry publications etc.
I'm not sure of the future function of blogs like these as Facebook and Twitter have taken over the creative community aspect of blogging.

Anyway, my dream start to 2014 of having poems published in this month's Poetry magazine alongside such poets as Jane Hirshfield and Emily Berry has come true, much to my continuing utter amazement. You can read this month's mag here and listen to the podcast here where my poems are described as Homeric (!!!!!!) with reference being made to Yeats (!!!!!!!!). Always embarrassing hearing yourself read and I was pretty nervous but I'm so completely delighted at Don Share's and Lindsay Garbutt's
lovely comments on my poems. The rest of the year can sink into oblivion and it'll still be the best year ever!