Monday, 1 December 2014

The Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2014

2014 has offered further proof, if any were still needed, that poetry blogs are here to stay amid the maelstrom of social media. The quality of blogging has continued to improve, and the U.K. scene has developed organically. In other words, some blogs have tailed off, others have grown, while several newcomers are also worthy of note.

So, with the same proviso as last year that this is a subjective and partial selection, here are The Best U.K. Poetry Blogs of 2014 according to Rogue Strands.

Let's start with blogs that focus on reviews. In this respect, John Field's efforts at Poor Rude Lines remain a benchmark. His posts can't be continual, simply because so much work goes into them, but they're well worth the wait. Meanwhile, as mentioned a few weeks ago, Dave Coates over at Dave Poems has undoubtedly grown and developed as a reviewer without losing any of the thrust that makes him different. As for newcomers, Elsewhere has been an excellent addition. Run by Rob MacKenzie, it features regular reviews by guest critics. I've discovered a number of books via its posts.

And now on to poets' personal blogs, with the main criteria that they should go beyond mere self-promotion. The following tend to provide a mixture of reviews, interviews, news, features and comment on the poetry scene. My personal choices this year include several old favourites that I read regularly:

- Matt Merritt at Polyolbion (excellent clarity of prose)
- George Szirtes' blog (what a literary life)
- Ben Wilkinson at Deconstructive Wasteland (great reviews)
- Katy Evans-Bush at Baroque in Hackney (fun, erudite yet caustic if necessary)
- Fiona Moore at Displacement (spot-on analysis)
- Maria Taylor at Commonplace (real insights into a poetic life)
- Tim Love at Lit Refs (also check out his Lit Refs Reviews blog)
- Helen Mort at Poetry on the Brain (a unique spin-off from her PhD work)
- Kim Moore's blog (her Sunday Poem feature is a must-read in this household)
- Roy Marshall's blog (good on the process of writing and submitting)
- Robin Houghton at UK Poet Gal (bucketfuls of honesty)

There are also other blogs that have either developed or emerged in 2014. Anthony Wilson's project has long been on my reading list, but his work as Guest Blogger at the Aldeburgh Festival has been exemplary. It's taken his blog in a new direction and is highly recommended. From the U.S. via northern England, meanwhile, comes Edward Ferrari's Republic of Yorkshire. It's every bit as intriguing as it sounds! And last but not least, I've recently become a follower of Josephine Corcoran's poetry blog.

The above brings me on to a slight shift that's taken place. Josephine also used to run And Other Poems, which was a showcase of guest poets' work, as was Michelle McGrane's Peony Moon. Both have suspended operations this year, leaving very few blogs of their type on the U.K. scene apart from Abegail Morley's Poetry Shed. However, there has been a huge increase in the number of blogzines. I'm not going to detail them here, purely because I don't really see them as blogs. They're online poetry magazines with rolling content instead of numbered periodical issues.

On to my final section: publishers' blogs. Again, my aim is to dodge mere marketing tools and concentrate on content with insight into the graft that goes on in the background. I especially enjoy the following:

- Helena Nelson at HappenStance (I always learn something new from her weekly post)
- Charles Boyle at Sonofabook (CB Editions' new magaine is one of the most interesting ventures of 2015)
- Todd Swift at Eyewear (always good for a spicy opinion)

And that's it for another year! Apologies to anyone who feels left out in this very personal selection. All in all, it's been a superb year for poetry blogging. Never mind finding time to post on Rogue Strands, I'm struggling to keep up with reading all the excellent content that other U.K. poetry bloggers are producing. The standard is rising, year on year. Here's to an even better 2015!


  1. Dear Matthew (my brother's name!)

    An interesting bunch of choices. Reading poetry blogs is one of the best ways of wasting time that I can think of. It would be nice if some of the blogs mentioned attracted more comments.

    Best wishes from Simon R. Gladdish

  2. Chuffed ROY got a mention in your 2014 picks Matthew, cheers! Thanks for the post in general too, discovered a few new things. Poor Rude Lines look amazeballs.

    ^ Agree with Simon above. Have had, what? 3 comments on ROY since it started, any tips on how to encourage comments?

  3. Regarding comments, there's a definite quandry here. If you link to the post on Facebook, people will just comment quickly there instead of coming here to do so. However, if you don't use social media, you won't reach readers.

  4. Thank you so much for this considered view. Those of us who live outside London don't always know which blogs we should be trying to find. And I entirely agree with Matthew's point above: quite a quandary. I wonder whether Twitter links work better than FB in this respect?

  5. Hi Matthew,

    I seem to be having some problems posting my comment, apologies if i've posted twice. I just wanted to know if you could recommend any blogs that review poetry anthologies, like book clubs. There seem to be so many for Novels put for collections/anthologies it seems so sparse! Please help!


    1. Hi Georgina,

      Several of the blogs above do publish regular reviews of contemporary poetry. I especially recommend John Field's Poor Rude Lines as a point of departure.

      Best wishes,