Wednesday, 19 September 2018

ISSNs for poetry magazines

The ISSN is an international code that's used to identify the title of serial publications (see here the British Library's explanation of the system). It's free to obtain and most poetry magazines have traditionally worn one.

An ISSN isn't related to legal deposit, but it does facilitate the presence of a magazine in libraries, which use it as a fundamental identifier. Moreover, an ISSN enables poets to register their publications in magazines with ALCS. This means that poets might well end up getting money indirectly for their poem even if the journal in question can't afford to pay its contributors directly.

All of the above brings me on to the crux of my post: several excellent new print-based poetry magazines have appeared in the past few years in the U.K. with a worrying trend of not displaying an ISSN. Is there some reason for this that goes over my head?

Friday, 14 September 2018

Fizzing alchemy, Raine Geoghegan's Apple Water:Povel Panni

Raine Geoghegan’s first pamphlet, Apple Water:Povel Panni, also happens to be the first collection to be published by The Hedgehog Press, so it’s worth mentioning from the outset that there are some very good production values on show here from the quality of paper through to the cover design and typesetting. All in all, it’s an excellent point of departure for both poet and publisher.

Moving on to the poetry itself, Apple Water:Povel Panni is remarkable in both conception and execution. The poems explore Romani history, employing conventional and contemporary English alongside Romani words, stirring in snippets of prose anecdotes and period photographs.

They could so easily have fallen into the trap of simulating a pastiche of some dialect or patois that once supposedly existed, but their success hinges on the poet’s conscious decision to break with the conventions of so-called authenticity. By doing so, she actually manages to make her poems far more authentic.

In other words, Geoghegan encounters a fresh perspective on Romani culture by creating a daring blend of cadences, meanings and sounds that implicitly represents her search for an expression of her own mixed identity. One such example is the poem Hotchiwitchi/Hedgehog, which begins as follows:

“to bake an ‘otchiwitchi,
roll it in the clay,
drop it in the embers of yer yog.

go and sing a song,
chase a sushi down the dron,
do a little jig, jog, jog.

when you open up the clay,
the spines will come away…”

Raine Geoghegan is unashamedly modern in her portrayal of the past. The blend of Romani and English could have seemed an insurmountable problem. Instead, it lends her work a fizzing alchemy that lifts it out of the ordinary. I very much look forward to seeing where she takes her poetry next.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

My reading at Poetry in Aldeburgh

Sixteen years after my first visit to the festival as a member of the audience, I can't quite believe that I'll be giving a reading myself at Poetry in Aldeburgh 2018.

I'll be appearing alongside Helena Nelson, Alison Brackenbury and Rosie Shepperd on Sunday 4th November at 1 p.m. in the Peter Pears Gallery in a slot titled "Poetry of Food and Cooking". Suffice to say, wine might also play a part at some point!

I'm very grateful to Paul Stephenson, The Poetry School and Poetry in Aldeburgh for this opportunity, and I'm also looking forward to attending lots of other top-notch readings during the festival. You can view the programme in full on the festival website here.

Monday, 3 September 2018

British Life in Poetry

British Life in Poetry is an exciting new project run by Matt Barnard, aiming to promote poetry in Britain by posting a weekly poem by a contemporary author writing in English. I'm delighted to report that my poem Sooner or Later from The Knives of Villalejo is being featured there this week. Matt Barnard introduces it as follows:

"A poem with the concentrated precision of a haiku and one which reminds us of the shadow that hovers in the background even on the sunniest of days..."

You can read my poem at British Life in Poetry by following this link. Why not browse the archive, which is already excellent, while you're there? 

Monday, 20 August 2018

Keith Hutson's Troupers

My OPOI review of Keith Hutson's pamphlet Troupers (Smith-Doorstep, 2018) is now up at Sphinx. Here's a snippet from its opening lines...

"There’s an argument (often touted by this reviewer) that the most universal texts are rooted in specifics, that they engage and involve us in a specific context to such an extent that we easily transpose their connotations, suggestions and conclusions to a whole host of elsewheres..."

...but you can read it in full here.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Jack Little reviews The Knives of Villalejo for Riggwelter Press

I'm delighted to report that Jack Little has written a lovely review of The Knives of Villalejo for Riggwelter Press. His excellent insights are reinforced by the facets of our lives that we share - both with an English childhood and upbringing, followed by adult lives in Hispanic surroundings - and he has some very interesting points to make, such as the following:

"...The reader feels as if he or she is on a journey with the poet, through the backstreets of his childhood to the present day as he navigates his sense of being the other in both of his home countries..." 

You can read the review in full over at Riggwelter Press by following this link.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

OPOI review of Miriam Gordis' Vinyl

My OPOI review of Miriam Gordis' pamphlet Vinyl (Eyewear Publishing, 2018) is now up at Sphinx and you can read it by following this link.

OPOI stands for "One Point Of Interest" and asks the reviewer to respond to a single aspect of the collection in question that especially interests them. It's an excellent concept, yet another Helena Nelson project to help pamphlets gain exposure. To get a fuller flavour of what I mean, why not browse the extensive OPOI archive while you're over at Sphinx?