Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Hannah Lowe

As mentioned in a previous post, Hannah Lowe's poems in Issue 70 of The Rialto really caught my eye, so I was interested to note that the same magazine's publishing arm have just brought out a pamphlet of her work, titled The Hitcher. That's another book to add to my lengthy shopping list! I'll be reporting back on it in due course, once I get the Prowein trade fair in Düsseldorf and other work commitments out of the way.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A title

Not for a poem in this case, but for my forthcoming pamphlet collection with Happenstance Press.

I could have taken one of the poems and applied that title to the book itself, while I also had the option of selecting a catchy snippet or turn of phrase from the innards of a stanza. Instead, I went back to the poetics of my work and to the experiences that laid its foundations. In doing so, I was very much reminded of a quote by Julio Cortázar that struck me immensely on first reading it some fifteen years ago and that has stayed with me ever since:

"Supe que nunca llegaría a la verdad me convencía de que país nuevo era vida nueva y que el amor se cambia como una camisa."

One possible translation might be as follows:

"I knew I'd never reach the invented truth...if I convinced myself that a new country was a new life and love is changed like a shirt."

Cortázar was referring to his move from Buenos Aires to Paris, to the fact that over the course of his journey between countries he remained the same person, just with the benefit of multiple perspectives, both on his origins and on his destination. I feel very much the same way when I write in both a U.K. and Spanish context.

But what is invented truth? Well, for me it's the grabbing of life, following by a transformation into poems. When writing the pamphlet, I've attempted to take so-called "experience" or "anecdote" and and turn it into verse, not fact, not fiction, not even faction, but poetry.

What's more, a key tool in the writing process is the manipulation of voice. Who is the "I" that runs through much of my book? In fact, a more pertinent question would be "who are the "I"s that run through it?" This playing with identities enables me to bounce poems between concave mirrors, distorting their points of departure so as to reach somewhere revealingly new.

In other words, my aim when writing poetry is to find myself "Inventing truth", my pamphlet's title.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Sphinx 16

Sphinx 16 is now live at the Happenstance Press website. Specialising in reviews of pamphlet poetry, Sphinx provides us with a real feel for the current state of play for this format in the U.K. publishing world.

The current issue continues with the intriguing idea of giving us three different reviews for each chapbook, and includes pieces by myself on Matt Bryden's Night Porter and Hilary Menos' Wheelbarrow Farm. I'm always keen to have the chance to compare and contrast critical opinions on a book, so Sphinx offers an ideal opportuntiy. I very much recommend a look at the current issue and a trawl through its extensive online archive.