Tuesday, 17 January 2017

U.K. poetry pamphlet competitions at Sphinx

If poetry pamphlets are your thing, Sphinx has become a point of reference for the U.K. scene: its website is absolutely jam-packed with reviews and features on chapbooks. Only last week, it published a comprehensive list of U.K. poetry pamphlet competitions (see here), all ready for your shiny new manuscript in 2017...

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Mary Evans Picture Library: Poems and Pictures

The publication of my poems feels like the wait for a bus: I stand alone, shivering, gloveless and miserable for what seems like an age until, all of a sudden, a whole load of them come along at the same time.

Following my four poems on Clear Poetry and two pieces at Good Dadhood earlier this week, I'm very happy to find the Mary Evans Picture Library are today featuring my poem Milko (first published in London Magazine) alongside a highly appropriate photo that reminds me of my suburban childhood.

My work has been published on their Poems and Pictures blog, which also houses a superb archive of verse by the likes of Pippa Little, Lorraine Mariner and Tamar Yoseloff, among many others, all combined in each case with a complementary picture. I'm grateful to Gill Stoker for her invitation to take part, but it's worth mentioning that this excellent project invites unsolicited submissions...

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Good Dadhood

Good Dadhood is an exciting new poetry project that's just been launched by Sharon Larkin. She explains the idea perfectly in her introduction:

Here, poets are going to be celebrating fathers – their own, their grandfathers, step-fathers, foster fathers.  Or someone else’s exemplary Dad. Or perhaps you are a Good Dad yourself – or are trying to be – and have already put your positive experiences of fatherhood into a poem, or now feel inspired to do so.

I'm delighted to be featuring today with two poems from my full collection manuscript (you can read them by following this link). An earlier version of Al Anochecer was originally published in The Next Review, while At Chipiona previously appeared in New Walk. Here they are on the internet for the first time!

While you've over at Good Dadhood, why not have a look at Sharon's submission guidelines? She's currently looking for more poets to form part of the project.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Clear Poetry

Amid the myriad of poetry e-zines that have emerged over the past few years, it's becoming more and more difficult for their creators to establish a clear editorial identity for them. That's why Ben Banyard's description of Clear Poetry is so refreshing:

"This blog is aimed at encouraging an appreciation of, and an engagement with, contemporary poetry. The poems you’ll find here are my personal choice and I feel that they are approachable, accessible and downright astonishing!"

You might disagree with his aesthetic, but it nails its colours to the mast from the off. My own views do very much align with his, so I'm pleased to report that I'm currently the Featured Poet at Clear Poetry with four poems that you can view by following this link. Moreover, while you're there, why not explore the treasure trove of verse in its archive, which includes the likes of Alison Brackenbury, Geoff Hattersley, Roy Marshall, etc, etc...?

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Annual update to the poetry blog list

Following my extremely subjective summary of the best U.K. poetry blogs of 2016, I've now dodged the festivities for long enough to spruce up the poetry blog list on Rogue Strands (to the right of this text). My intention is to provide constantly updating links to the most recent posts from these excellent bloggers, all to facilitate your poetry blog reading and enjoyment in 2017.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

The scaffolding of a poem

I've blogged previously about my admiration for Maggie O'Farrell's verse back in the 1990s, long before she became famous as a novelist. As a consequence, I was drawn to her piece in The Guardian today, titled My Writing Day.

I find that ideas and sparks for poems actually come from being kept from the act of writing by other obligations, so it's very interesting to see that her experiences chime in with mine in that respect. Moreover, she also explains that her current prose writing is still influenced by poetry classes taught by Michael Donaghy some twenty years ago. One key point stands out

"...you will need scaffolding to build your writing inside but must remember to take it down at the end."

That quote has stuck in my mind. I'll be recalling it from now on whenever I rework a draft.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Two contrasting views of Alice Oswald's poetry

I'm grateful to Stephen Payne on Facebook for pointing me towards an excellent discussion of the relative merits of Alice Oswald's poetry on the Poetry Foundation website (see here). Stephen's initial link was then accompanied by top-notch debate, but that's now unfortunately being lost in the mists of social media timelines.

There's no doubting Alice Oswald's standing in contemporary U.K. poetry, but it's also clear that her work elicits contrasting responses. As a result, I was especially drawn to the Poetry Foundation's "Curious Specimens" format, which juxtaposes two differing perspectives on her verse as explained in the introduction to the discussion:

"Editors’ note: “Curious Specimens” is the second of a series of exchanges in which we are bringing poets together to discuss new books. The format is as follows: each poet chooses a book he or she can wholeheartedly support and writes an eight-hundred-word review of it; the exchanges follow the completed reviews."

Moreover, the two critics in question - Cate Marvin and Joshua Mehigan - tackle Oswald's verse from an American viewpoint, which is extremely interesting, as they thus approach her poetry with very different baggage from that of U.K.-based reviewers.

My personal opinion tends to coincide with Joshua Mehigan's take on Alice Oswald's poetry. That might well in part be due to the fact that I have long admired his verse and aesthetic. Nevertheless, Marvin's stance is also thought-provoking. Perhaps the best consequence is that their discussion has taken me back to Oswalds work once more...