A QUESTION OF SIGHT AND SOUND The tapping of a blind woman’s stick on the ice.When she sings the sound rises from the belly of hunger.When she sees the future she covers her eyes and howls. A xylophone of icycles on a rusted bridge, a bass drum of cloud.A glimmer of moonlight on the coldestContinue reading “A QUESTION OF SIGHT AND SOUND AND THREE OTHER NEW PIECES THAT MUST SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES”
I’ve noticed several times recently that a critical review of a book has provoked outraged responses from the horde of poets on social media. Today there was an outpouring of support for a person whose poetry collection had been demolished by a national newspaper reviewer. The poet in question went so far as to thankContinue reading “REVIEWERS DON’T HAVE TO BE KIND TO YOU. IF YOU GET A BAD ONE, GET OVER IT!”
A strange thing, trying to capture one’s own slow dying, as Matthew Sweeney did in Shadow of the Owl, now published posthumously by Bloodaxe. Sweeney’s been one of my favourite poets for years – exuberant, playful, accomplished, with a depth of understanding that connects with me at least. He enjoys playing with an alternative reality,Continue reading “SHADOW OF THE OWL, MATTHEW SWEENEY”
(In the north of Kazakhstan the mutation of genomes caused by nuclear testing will go on for at least ten generations. Babies will continue to be born with major deformities and with severe illnesses. The suicide rate in rural villages near the site not far from Semipalatansk, now called Semey, increases year by year. It’sContinue reading “THE MAN IN THE MARKET SELLS SHADOWS”
In a vague attempt to tidy up boxes in the garage from when we last moved I found a blue, pocket-sized, hardback book, a bit battered around the spine but otherwise OK – Ten Twentieth Century Poets, edited by M Wollman. It was only when I opened it and saw my name and the date,Continue reading “WHAT’S THE FIRST POETRY BOOK YOU READ?”
MOVING HOUSE The house has had enough of the neighbours,enough of their creepy net-curtain twitchingenough of the way they complain about cars parked on the road outside their houseof the way they moan about young peoplesitting on the green, chatting under the willows,smoking or kissing, kicking a ball or riding bikes.The house is sick ofContinue reading “MOVING HOUSE AND TWO OTHER POEMS”
MAN BY A POND Damsel-flies flutterby the pond where the oxygen levelis dropping. An argumentput an end to it. Turning, she saidI didn’t want this, I didn’t want itto end like this. Whiskered batsare waking in ancient walls,hollows of trees. Afternoon’s deep.Geese head south, flying low, callingacross the sky. Whiskered batsmake no noise, don’t goContinue reading “TWO POEMS ON INSIGNIFICANCE”
It’s a hundred years since Paul Celan was born, fifty since he drowned himself in the Seine. And forty-eight years since I bought the now battered copy of his Selected Poems translated for the Penguin Modern European Poets series by Michael Hamburger and Christopher Middleton. Some of the poems are circled, some have lines underlined,Continue reading “PAUL CELAN: WHAT SURVIVES?”
Well, to answer the question in the title. Not to poets. Or not to many anyway. Unless you count the ‘in kind’ bit of having your book published. Or getting the equivalent of five ‘value’ Jaffa Cakes and a couple of cans of Diet Coke in travel expenses for a 200-mile round-trip. We’ve all beenContinue reading “THE MONEY IN POETRY. WHERE DOES IT GO?”
I don’t quite know what the Nobel Prize For Literature is about. Except, of course, most of us could put the £725,000 (or thereabouts) that comes with the acceptance lecture to good use. Anyway, congratulations to Louise Gluck. It’s good to see any poet’s work celebrated. Beyond that, it was interesting to read of herContinue reading “AND SO, CONGRATULATIONS, LOUISE GLUCK”
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