Thursday 25 July 2013

John Field at Aldeburgh

I read yesterday that John Field will be appearing at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival (see here). This is excellent news, as he's been selected as the festival's Guest Blogger on the back of his terrific work over at Poor Rude Lines during the past year. Field's emergence underlines that poetry blogging can have a serious backbone and play a key role in the U.K. poetry world.

Field will be discussing the work of a number of pamphleteers who'll be reading at the festival, and I was delighted to notice that Richie McCaffery, whose chapbook I so enjoyed last year, is among them. All in all, Aldeburgh can boast a superb line-up once more!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Different heats

Having fled 42-degree heat in Extremadura, I've encountered sweltering Sussex. Different heats, different ways of dealing with them (few two-hour siestas are to be had in Blighty!) and different ways of expressing them.

For example, Larkin's "Long lion days" could only be about a British heat wave: summer days don't start with a "white haze" over in Spain. The light in both countries varies dramatically in tone, although you could argue the "hammer of heat" has a similar effect!

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Matt Merritt's new collection

Matt Merritt's new collection, The Elephant Tests, is now out from Nine Arches Press. I'm really looking to getting hold of a copy and will report back on Rogue Strands in due course. In the meantime, here's a link to one of the poems from the book on Ink, Sweat and Tears. It certainly whets my appetite!

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Sold out!

Inventing Truth, my first HappenStance pamphlet, has now officially sold out. While I'm delighted at this success, I also feel the melancholy of a parent when their child flies the nest!

In any case, I do have a few copies left in my possession, and I'ĺl be selling them at future readings to be announced in due course. What's more, Tasting Notes is still available via the HappenStance website or with bottles of wine included from Bat and Bottle. Just follow the links to the right of this post

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Rooted memories, Angela France's Hide

Angela France's poetry is in tune, not just in musical terms but with its physical setting. Her verse is anchored in specifics throughout Hide (Nine Arches Press, 2013), her third collection.

Gloucestershire is brought to life via the personification of elements (for example, the "wind sobs") and contextualised strands of memories that are rooted in their surroundings, previous generations often still present, as in Homecoming and this extract from Family Visits:

"Quiet now.It's their turn to visit;
the old aunts and uncles,the great
and grand parents. They visit as we did...

...They don't speak,
don't change position, only nod
or gesture at a picture, a fireplace,
or a vase of flowers, seeding."

Families have an origin and a sense of belonging  - there's no mushy generalisation in this collection, nor any meek acceptance of globalisation - and that feeling is reinforced in The Visit...

..."They lean together to whisper

lineage, connections; which daughter, whose son, what cousin
is parent to the child who holds her grandmother's hand..."

Via the act of writing, France is commemorating her Gloucestershire upbringing, transforming it into poetry. Her Döppelganger, for instance, "hoards memory", while Hoard finds her collecting apples, berries and mushrooms in the autumn so as to withstand the winter. Metaphors are implicit, bonds between humans and nature are explicit.

The ghosts of previous generations, meanwhile, are mirrored by the ghosts of memories as expressed through objects in Forgotten Trails:

"They trail behind me, ghostly
outlines in a fading contrail,
skittering on sharp turns,
stretching thin when I travel fast..."

Reading back through this review, I've noticed how it picks up on several different strands that run through Hide, all of which interweave in gorgeous patternings. The poems start conversations among themselves, enriching each other. Apparent simplicity and clarity are rendered half-hidden by such comparisons, reflecting the complex nature of the relationship between memory and place.

As a consequence, Angela France's collection not only brings immediate rewards - its depth satisfies more and more on rereading. I enjoyed it immensely.