Monday, 30 December 2013
Sunday, 29 December 2013
Saturday, 14 December 2013
Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Saturday, 23 November 2013
The second issue of Snow (ed Anthony Barnett) is out now containing material by George Oppen, John Hall, Peter Larkin, Sarah Kelly, JH Prynne and John Welch among others together with translations of work by Anne-Marie Albiach, Francis Ponge, Giuseppi Ungaretti and Osip Mandelstam. It’s not a regular publication though on the strength of the first two issues I’d hope it will be. Enquire at www.abar.net
Wednesday, 20 November 2013
Two new magazines from the Canterbury area: the fabulously designed ZONE (see www.zonepoetrymagazine.com) and Splinter (www.facebook.com/splintermag). A few years back it was hard to imagine productions like these appearing in this part of Kent. I used to think it was because of the proximity to London (big bands tend not to play here either) but Canterbury is no closer to the Wen than Brighton. Both mags have been out for a bit but will have launches soon. Splinter’s is for a new issue and will be held in London at the Betsy Trotwood, 7.30 on Tuesday November 26; the ZONE reading will take place in Canterbury at the Veg Box aka Free Range on November 29th (with readings and performances by Allen Fisher, Simon Smith, Sam Bailey and Juha Virtanen) at 7.30. There will be a further ZONE launch on December 12th in Keynes Lecture Theatre 5, University of Kent.
Saturday, 16 November 2013
It was a great pleasure to hear John James (above left, moderated by Simon Smith, right) talk about his work at the University of Kent on Thursday afternoon and then to read at the Veg Box aka Free Range Café in the evening after dinner at Café Mauresque. Sometime in the seventies or early eighties I picked up a copy of James’ Striking the Pavilion of Zero (1975) at Collected Works bookshop in Melbourne. His Salt Collected Poems came out in 2002 and there have been subsequent books like In Romsey Town (Equipage, 2011) and Cloud Breaking Sun (Oystercatcher, 2012). The poems take on board the energies of popular culture referencing various sources from The Who to Tricky: they’re alive and negotiating with what’s around them sharply, precisely, without condescension.
Thursday, 7 November 2013
On the weekend of Friday-Sunday November 1-3 at The Beacon in Hastings and again on the evening of Wednesday 6 at the Poetry Library in London, Nicholas Johnson’s Etruscan Books organised a series of readings and talks. I went to Hastings on Saturday afternoon for a session on the work of Andrew Crozier at which Johnson, Ian Brinton, Phillip Crozier, John Seed, Wendy Mulford, John Hall and John James read and spoke about Crozier’s work. Phillip, his artist brother, read an illuminating and detailed memoir of childhood on the south coast of Kent. Colin Still presented some rare footage of Crozier reading, apologising for the sound which, nonetheless, was clear enough for the duplicated texts to be unnecessary. At the Poetry Library four days later the focus was on the Etruscan imprint. The readers were John Hall, Nicholas Johnson, Stuart Montgomery, Helen Macdonald and Carlyle Reedy. John Seed was also involved in the presentation and (courtesy of Tom Pickard) a section of the Roy Fisher film Birmingham River was shown. It was good to meet Montgomery, who had run the Fulcrum imprint through the sixties and early seventies. These books were produced in editions of 3000 or so, a run unheard of since. But it meant that as a complete stranger to recent British poetry I could come across volumes by Basil Bunting and Roy Fisher in Melbourne’s Margareta Webber bookshop in the late sixties. It was a pleasure too to hear Carlyle Reedy for the first time. Etruscan has published her selected poems recently (2012) together with a song for Alaric (2013), her visual tribute to her friend Alaric Sumner who had been an early active force in the Gay Liberation movement (both books share the general title Epos). Etruscan, like Fulcrum before it, has a wonderful list of finely produced books, not least the two great selections of John Hall’s poems (the second of which, now out, is dated 2014). Above are shots of John Seed at The Beacon an hour or so before proceedings began, a blurry one of Nicholas Johnson at the Poetry Library, and another of Helen Macdonald at the same venue.
Monday, 28 October 2013
Writing poems about the First World War has been for some time a rite of passage for so many conservative and so-called ‘establishment’ poets. Yes, the centenary year is coming up, but just look at this lead page of Saturday’s Guardian review and you get the picture. Writing about important things is a way for these writers to guarantee their own importance. The late Seamus Heaney is a ring-in here acting as yet another good reference for the others. It’s almost a pity that time-travel isn’t possible. If it were maybe we could send this crew back to 1914.