Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Declan Ryan's poem at Wild Court

Over at Wild Court, Robert Selby's keen editorial eye continues to find excellent new work for his readers on a regular basis. The latest example is a poem by Declan Ryan (see here), which is ostensibly just about boxing but also reaches out beyond the sport in question to tackle wider human issues.

I've long admired Ryan's work and reviewed his previous pamphlet on Rogue Strands, so I'm especially pleased to see this piece by him, along with the news that his latest pamphlet, titled Fighters, Losers, is about to be published by Rory Waterman et al at New Walk Editions. I'm very much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy and reporting back...

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Fame in the poetry world

Fame in the poetry world has always been ephemeral. However, this shifting of trends has accelerated even more over the last few years, due to the internet in general and social media in particular. The flavour of the month has shifted to a week, day, hour and minute.

Here’s an example: back in the 1990s, Steven Blyth was a major figure in the poetry world. He was a Gregory Award winner with poems in all the top journals and a terrific first full collection, titled Baddy, which I still drop back into on a regular basis and will feature on Rogue Strands in the near future. Moreover, he also ran one of the best poetry mags around – Prop – where I discovered that there really were people writing in a similar aesthetic to myself.

Prop eventually ran out of steam, as did Blyth’s publisher, Peterloo Press. He’s since published with Shoestring and Smokestack, and continues to bring out high quality collections every few years, but he’s certainly not in fashion. Just try searching for him on Twitter, for instance.

When we’re feeling the online pressure of our peers’ relentless announcements of success after momentary success, Steven Blyth’s story is worth bearing in mind, not as an example of why it isn’t worth bothering with publication, but because he encapsulates a key reason why the opposite is true…

…thanks to his earlier books, Blyth has accumulated readers such as myself, readers who’ll keep his work alive and bring it to a new audience. If a poet garners a small band of appreciative followers, they’ve achieved something special, something they can treasure for the long haul. As is the internet’s wont, fame can do one, sharpish.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Writing poetry in silence?

I have to admit I'm always surprised when other poets tell me they write with music playing in the background. I find music imposes its own sounds, and doesn't allow the rhythm, cadence and melody of words to form in my head and then fall on to the page. In other words, I need silence to write poetry. What about you...?

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

A poem in Finished Creatures magazine

The last few years has seen the welcome emergence of a handful of print-based poetry magazines in the U.K., and now there's an additional name to add to that list: Finished Creatures.

Finished Creatures is one of the most startling new arrivals. Seldom have I seen such a stellar line-up for the first issue of a journal, which makes me even more pleased to have a poem in it myself. Moving on to the production values, meanwhile, they're top-notch, as is the typesetting and design. All in all, Jan Heritage, the editor, has done an amazing job, and I'll be keeping a close eye on the development of this exciting project over the coming months and years.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

And this morning...

And this morning I sit and savour Tom Duddy's poems yet again, their quiet resonance, their unassuming ability to reveal human truths, their delicate merging of cadence and meaning, and I yearn yet again for new poems by him that can never come, and I celebrate yet again the book in my hands that means I can still sit and savour Tom Duddy's poems...

Monday, 22 April 2019

A poem in Coming and Going

I'm delighted to report that one of my poems, Dad on the M25 after midnight, has been included in the new HappenStance anthology, Coming and Going. There'll be a more detailed post forthcoming once I get my hands on the copy that's anxiously waiting for me...

Monday, 15 April 2019

Mark Antony Owen's Subruria

Self-publication has long been a thing. Even the likes of Walt Whitman did it. However, the advent of the internet has facilitated the process even more, and a trickle has become a deluge, a deluge that often feels more therapeutic than artistic.

In the context of the above, I was especially surprised to discover Mark Antony Owen's poetry. His work displays a surefooted sense of cadence, hard-acquired technical knowledge of metre and a deft knack for narrative layering, accessibility combining with depth. It's also self-published.

Owen's made a conscious decision not to submit to journals or publishers. Instead, he's developed his own online project, titled Subruria, and it's well worth a browse.

A key issue is whether this choice is liberating, whether it enables him to fly on his own terms, finding a new audience via the freedom of the internet, or whether it's denying him editorial input, critical approval and access to readers who find their poets through more traditional means. Either way, his poetry's excellent, and I'll be following the development of Subruria with a keen eye.