Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Object lessons

Poems about objects have quite rightly found themselves a bad name over recent years, due in no small part to the vast number that are churned out by and for creative writing workshops. In other words, objects are an easy tool for tutors who are driving a session from a common point of departure.

As for myself, I'm fully aware that objects have always played a key role in my poetry, but perhaps even more so than usual over the past few months. However, I don't sit down to write a poem about objects, nor do I use them as a creative resource to mine as subject matter for verse. Instead, they form a crucial part of my exploration of axis moments and their landscape. When portraying a scene, an significant element is often the importance that characters invest in certain objects, lifting them beyond their everyday meaning. This transcendence is highly charged. It may be ridiculous, grotesque, melancholy or delicious, but it invariably provides the reader with a fresh emotional perspective, all played out via the role of objects.

I don't set out to use them, but they populate my poetry and my imagination just like the characters around them. As I grow older, I grow ever more aware of how our exaggerated attitude to certain objects reveals a lot about us. They teach us lessons about ourselves every day.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Enrique Sierra

Enrique Sierra, the guitarist for Radio Futura, died last Friday from complications following a second kidney transplant.

Radio Futura are one of the best groups in the history of Spanish popular music (they are certainly my favourites). Led by the brothers Santiago and Luis Auserón, they took elements of punk and latin sounds to create a fusion that became something new and specific to Iberia, all combined with brilliant lyrics that far surpass most contemporary Spanish verse! Enrique Sierra was very much in the background, but his contribution to their blending of influences shouldn't be underestimated.

This performance of 37 grados, from the terrific La Canción de Juan Perro album, shows Sierra alongside the brothers and in his element...

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Crystal Clear Creators

I met Jonathan and Maria Taylor, the driving forces behind Crystal Clear Creators, when they jointly organised (along with Nine Arches Press) the reading at which I launched Inventing Truth in Leicester last April. Their enthusiasm was clear from the start, as was the quality of their magazine, Hearing Voices. In fact, I was delighted when my first poems since my pamphlet appeared in Issue 4 a few months ago.

However, Crystal Clear Creators are now taking a further major step with their  "Crystal Pamphlets," a new series of individually-authored chapbooks, published 1 March 2012, by Roy Marshall, Charles G Lauder Jr, Aly Stoneman, Jessica Mayhew, Hannah Stevens and Andrew "Mulletproof" Graves. They look great, and you can see the covers on the Crystal Clear Creators website here. Of the six poets, I'm most familiar with Roy's work in magazines, and very much look forward to seeing how his verse shapes up in the format of a pamphlet.

The collections will be launched  on Friday 2nd March, 6-7.30pm, at De Montfort University, Leicester. I won't be able to make it there from Spain, but I wish all involved every success. This is another example of the emergence of a dynamic new paper-based poetry publisher in the U.K. - terrific news!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Paul Bentley's Largo

My review of Paul Bentley's Smith-Doorstep pamphlet, Largo, has just gone live over at Sphinx Review. You can find it here.

It was an especially difficult piece for me to write, as you'll notice when reading it. Reviewing presents numerous challenges that in turn can make me reflect on my own views and prejudices. I've always maintained that a review tells the reader as much about the reviewer as about the book in question, and I'm fully aware that I'm no exception! 

The accompanying reviews of the same book by Gill Andrews and Helena Nelson provide an excellent counterpoint to my own piece, backing me up and dismantling my arguments in equal measure.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Tom Duddy's recording of Left Bank

When reviewing Tom Duddy's excellent collection, The Hiding Place, a few weeks ago on this blog, I was struck by the subtle, unobtrusive musicality of his verse. That feeling was only reinforced for me when I followed a link that Nell from Happenstance Press posted on her Twitter feed to a wonderful recording of Duddy's reading of Left Bank, a stand-out poem from his book. You can hear it here.

Some poets swallow their lines, others over-egg effects. Duddy, meanwhile, just gets on with the task of bringing his verse alive, of reaching the audience. I cannot recommend this recording enough.