Hi, this is a chatty post, somewhat in the style of my friend Kim Moore, and is therefore longer than usual.
It’s been a good week for me, as I’ll explain, although not so good for the thirty Greenpeace protesters of various nationalities still being held in prison in Russia. In case you missed it, the protesters boat was boarded by armed forces and they have been detained on charges of piracy. The Greenpeace members (and a cameraman) were in the arctic to protest against drilling for oil, their point being that where there is drilling and shipping there will be spillage. One of the protesters is the brother of a friend, and she is understandably worried and frightened at the situation. I would have expected this to be a high priority news item, but yet again my instincts for what is news have been proved wrong by the lack of coverage. Needless to say, I hope this situation is resolved and the detainees released as soon as possible, although the larger questions related to the preservation and protection of the Arctic will of course remain.
This week I read at the Lumen in north London with Deborah Tyler-Bennett.
The Lumen readings are in a beautiful church with a large stained glass window erected in 1966.
Deborah has a new book out with Shoestring press entitled ‘Kinda Keats.’ This collection was largely written as a result of Deborah being a resident writer at Keats House, Hampstead in the summer of 2010. The title is a play on the Kinks album ‘Kinda Kinks,’ and in the title poem the Kinks own Ray Davis is spotted by Deborah and friend on the heath after a workshop.
The collection cleverly and deftly blends Deborah’s obvious immersion in the life of the poet and her absorption of the ambiance of the house and its surroundings during her residency with more modern references. This makes the work immediate and vibrant, with the various narrative strands and historical and biographical details skilfully interwoven. Deborah also has a keen eye for and knowledge of period fashion, and her skills of description evoke the texture and colour of garments. Take this from the opening poem,
‘Keats Magic Coat.’
Buttons blink from acorn’s to ducks’ eyes
to spangled poppy-heads, their troubled dreaming.
Lapels: kingfisher flash: fresh-moulted hen feathers.
Fabric: stiff white wastes old Gods grumble in;
then, just as sudden, misted Autumn’s
Let’s not wax too poetic.
Garment soon stale soaked as poverty, thin-
lining sewer splashed, sweating Peterloo’s spilt blood,
that story dark as Newgate’s Knocker.
It was hugely enjoyable listening to Deborah read, and I was relaxed and comfortable when it came to my turn. The open mike section of the evening was of a very high standard, and Deborah and I both read again before the end of the evening.
Other events this week- my eight year old son decided to take my book to school to show his teacher, and she chose a the poem ‘Blackbird in Winter’ and read it to the class. As a result three little girls told Alex that they would like to buy a copy. I’ve had to explain that, due the adult nature of the book, I can’t accept any of their pocket-money!
The Rialto magazine has arrived, and although I haven’t had time to look at it closely, I did very much enjoy a poem by Sarah Davis called ‘The Blue Sky’.
Last week the aforementioned Kim Moore (nominated for a Michael Marks
award for the brilliant If We Could Speak Like Wolves) posted a poem of mine on her blog, and this week the excellent Antiphon online magazine has kindly featured a poem from ‘The Sun Bathers’ in their Exhibition space ,together with illustration by editor Rosemary Badcoe.
Incidentally I’d like to thank everyone who has bought the book so far. I’ve already almost sold the batch of forty I bought from my publisher and will need to order some more.
Finally a poem I had forgotten has come back into my inbox and with it the news that it was selected for an anthology, ‘Double Bill: poems inspired by popular culture’, due out in 2014 from Red Squirrel Press. Submitted poems
had to be ten lines long and be related to a particular product or advert, from a list including Guinness, ( a subject close to my heart although rarely tasted due to its propensity to increase my weight,) Fairy Liquid, Domestos, Hovis PG Tips and a few others I can’t recall. The best poems for each product/theme as judged by the editors at Red Squirrel Press were selected and my Guinness poem ‘The Black Stuff’ was selected to represent the Liffey water. I understand the anthology will include work from George Szirtes, Adam Horovitz, Luke Wright, Simon Barraclough, Sheenagh Pugh and others.