Saturday 14 July 2012

The importance of poetry blogs

There's no doubt that the role of poetry blogs is changing. In the current era of Twitter and Facebook, there are more immediate ways to reach and impact on people than via blogs. However, that very speed of "feeds" doesn't make blogs redundant. Instead, it alters and concentrates their focus.

What do I mean by this? For example, I have almost 100 Facebook "friends", nearly all of them from the poetry world. That figure might be lower than for the average user. Even so, just a few hours away from Facebook means I have to wade through dozens of posts to keep up. In other words, the drive of news feeds, while being a key advantage, also turns into a handicap, as significant contributions get lost in the onslaught of information.

Blogs, meanwhile, allow users and readers to catch up at their leisure every few days or weeks. I fully understand that status updates and tweets have their place (some poets also use them in intriguingly creative ways), and have very much replaced blogs in terms of communicating immediacy, but that has cleared the way for poetry blogs to focus on what they are good at: 200 to 400-word posts - be they reviews, news or articles - that need space to develop arguments.

I find the format of a blog is ideal in terms of the content that I can offer - with a bit of luck, Rogue Strands will be around for some time to come!

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Tasting Notes

Not long after last year's publication of Inventing Truth, I met up for lunch with my editor at HappenStance, Helena Nelson. We talked about my day job as the blender and export manager for a winery down in Extremadura, Spain, and she encouraged me to write about it. I recall discussing the minefields and pitfalls inherent in a subject and genre with such potential for kitsch when brought together. However, I drove back home that day in a blur of thought as to just how I could meet the challenge.

As part of my job, I write the back labels, advertising copy, website and tasting notes for all my co-operative's products. The wine world has a linguistic shorthand that's packed with hyperbole and clichés, and so in my poetry I decided to play about with them from an insider's perspective.

The first consequence was a set of four poems that I sent to Helena Nelson for some feedback. After all, she had been the initial catalyst for my creative process. Her reply was a shock - they were the basis for a chapbook that she'd like to publish!

In the months that followed, I fleshed out my ideas, building a manuscript that suddenly, with a tweak here and there, took off. The result is Tasting Notes, my second HappenStance pamphlet, due in September. I'll be giving a number of readings (and tastings!) to launch it. Dates and venues in due course... 

Monday 9 July 2012

My second Happenstance pamphlet

Following on from last year's Inventing Truth, HappenStance Press will be publishing my second pamphlet this September. I'm now putting the finishing touches to a manuscript that has taken me completely by surprise in the way it arose and then reached fruition. Suffice to say, I'm pretty excited as I read through and see how it's come to life. More details to follow over the coming days and weeks...