Last week I had the pleasure of attending, for one evening only, the Swindon poetry festival. I was there to read from the ‘Double Bill’ anthology (Red Squirrel Press.) The reading, organised by the anthology’s editor Andy Jackson, saw poets who were able to attend reading their own poem as well as one or two others of their choice.
In addition to my poem ‘Guinness’ I chose to read Isobel Dixon’s poem about Fred Astaire because I loved its dancing rhythm, and also Helen Mort’s poem ‘Sheffield by Almodovar’ about the Spanish director and screenwriter, which I enjoyed for the seeming ease with which it unfolds, and for the fact that it is a ‘rewind’ poem with the action happening in reverse. It was good to meet up with friends including Alison Brackenbury, Jo Bell (the festival’s poet in residence,) and David Clark who very generously gave me a copy of his brand new, and beautifully produced, Ninearches collection, ‘Arc‘. You can read some poems from Arc by clicking this link.
Their was a large and appreciative audience in attendance and after the Double Bill event we were treated to a reading from Kei Miller. I had not seem Kei read before, and by the end of his reading I felt it had been well worth the two hundred mile round trip to Swindon. Kei read both from his Forward Prize winning collection ‘The Cartographer Tries to Map a way to Zion’, but also from his 2010 book of poems ‘A Light Song of Light’ which, Kei explained, was written in the aftermath of his mother’s death. I can see how Kei’s latest book warranted so much attention, being an ‘insiders’ view of colonial legacy which utilises a dialog between two cultures to explore Jamaica’s recent history. ‘The Cartographer..’ is a vibrant and vitally important book for many reasons. But during the reading I found myself most effected by the beautiful, timeless lyrical elegies from ‘A Light Song of Light, and I am going to order the book later today.
Also this week the latest edition of the excellent online magazine Antiphon was published. It includes my poem ‘The Faithless Husband’ , which was inspired by Lorca’s fantastic poem ‘The Faithless Wife’ . Antiphon is packed with good poems from the UK and America, and you can also hear recordings of some of the poems (including mine) here.
In other news my friend the poet John Foggin, whose work and thoughts were recently featured here (see ‘Stocktaking’ post) has featured some poems and a few thoughts on the nature of ‘home’ on his ‘Great Fogginzo’ website. You can read John’s ‘cobweb’ here.
The latest issue of the excellent magazine ‘The Interpreter’s House’ has arrived. Along with the usual high quality selection of poetry and prose (124 pages and all for only £5) there are some poetry book and pamphlet reviews including my own take on Richard Skinner’s Smokestack Books pamphlet, ‘Terrace’.
I’m looking forward to reading with Maria Taylor and Jo Bell at Writers in the Bath, Sheffield, next week, and I’ll also be reading a couple of poems before Martin Malone reads from his new Shoestring Press collection ‘Cur’ at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop, Oxford. Then, on the 24th of this month, I’ll be in Palmers Green, North London where there will also be readings from three more (distinguished) poets and music from the Helios Consort.
Finally, a new anthology from Michael O’Mara books, ‘The Emergency Poet, An Anti-stress Poetry Anthology’ has arrived.
This picture doesn’t really do justice to the book, a lovely hardback. It’s a brilliantly conceived collection compiled by Deborah Alma, ‘ the world’s first and only emergency poet, who travels to schools, libraries, festivals and other events in her 1970s ambulance to offer consultations and prescribe poems as cures for various maladies.’ The collection is designed to lift your mood and offer poetic help whenever it may be needed. Arranged by spiritual ailment, the sections include a range of verse, new and old, and includes work from W.B Yeats and Shakespeare as well as contemporary writers such as Wendy Pratt, Penelope Shuttle, Myra Schneider and yours truly. It is quite a surreal experience to see my little poem ‘Instant Karma’ from ‘The Sun Bathers’ opposite one from Rainer Maria Rilke! I spent a very relaxing afternoon having a preliminary look through the book, and suggest it might make a lovely gift for a friend who needs a little poetry ‘lift’ – let’s face it, who doesn’t! The anthology is available on-line, and if you are in the UK may I recommend you purchase a copy from WH Smiths where it is currently available for the ridiculously low price of £6.99.