Keith Hutson poet, Uncategorized

Featured Poet, Keith Hutson

I’ve found that in poetry one often meets friends of friends who become friends.

Keith Hutson has recently become the submissions editor for Hinterland which was set up by Rebecca Bird, who I used to meet up with to talk about poetry when she was studying in Leicester a few years ago.

Rebecca  originally set up Hinterland magazine with Ian Parks, who I had the pleasure of interviewing on here in August 2013. I will always be grateful to Ian for kindly offering to read through the manuscript of my book before it was published. He was very encouraging and made several useful suggestions, not least pointing out that the giant in the film ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ was in fact Talos and not Achilles as I had written in my poem.

Back to Keith. His work has recently featured on the blogs (or cobwebs, as John would have it) of my friends John Foggin and Kim Moore, although I didn’t know that Keith knew either when he said hello to me at a reading in Manchester a few weeks ago and asked if I would like to read at a poetry night he hosts in the Square Chapel in Halifax.

Keith has many strings to his bow, having run a landscape garden business for many years as well as writing scripts for Coronation Street and material for several comedians including the late great Les Dawson.

Keith currently delivers poetry and performance workshops to schools in the Calderdale area as part of a Prince’s Trust initiative. He is a keen runner, and as I mentioned in my last post, Keith and his partner Fiona keep a small herd of sheep on the slopes of the valley above Halifax.

I have only recently discovered Keith’s work but have already become an admirer of his skill and economy. The poems of his that I have read combine acute observation with gentle humour and understated elegance. I look forward to seeing a collection from him in the future. Keith has kindly agreed to let me feature the three excellent poems below.

History

That chap in the crowd, about to toss
his top hat rafters-high and shout
as, pristine and colossal
under steam, the locomotive
heaves and billows
from the shed: who was he?

Owner, backer, engineer,
or just a gent who had to let astonishment
escape, straight up, before he blew
– buttons, lungs and limbs –
in utter wonder
at the coming of an age?

Previously published in Prole magazine

Journeyman

Half-hidden in the fog,
grey and trembling
like the shredded remnant
of a sail, he bent
to open up his battered case
on grandma’s step.
I gripped her hand.

Shell-shock, or gas, sweetheart,
she told me afterwards.
I always buy from him –
what’s a duster after all
he did for us?
I nodded solemnly –
grateful he’d gone away.

Previously published in The Rialto

 The Gloves Are Off

 Do not be fooled: they’re looking
like a pair of proper loafers
on the bench, but never
do they fully disengage.
The cheeky left may loll, skew-whiff,
across the napping hammer
of the right, but these are bruisers,
built to stay in shape,
perpetually flexed,
ready to fly, put on a show,
and elevate a scrap
to craft.

No one’s watching: slip
the rascals on, and feel them float
your hands up to your head,
like helium. Now you’ll bend a bit,
perform a fidget-jig, call
it your Ali-shuffle, laugh out loud,
then try a jab accompanied
by the customary hmmnph!
and swagger. That’s the way –
get in! You just can’t help yourself!
Soon you’ll want a skipping rope,
a heavy bag, a chin.

Previously published in Hark.

 

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In the middle

Living, as I do, near the centre of England (draw two axis lines through a map of the country and I’ll be sitting writing this where the two lines intersect) allows me to roam to the north, east, south and west, work and life commitments permitting, with relative ease.  Our house is a hundred miles from London and a hundred miles from Leeds.

It has occurred to me that I should try and get myself booked for more readings.  In an effort to get out more (I really should) I’ve approached one or two people who run spoken word events, including Staffordshire poet laureate Gary Longden, who runs Poetry Alight in Lichfield where I’m pleased to say I’ll be next Tuesday evening.

I decided to be more proactive in asking to read, since,  although I’m fortunate enough to have received requests for poems from magazine editors recently, I have seldom been invited and could probably sit here in the middle of England waiting forever to be asked.

Notable exceptions have included invitations to support Pete and Ann Sansom at Word! In Leicester in 2014, and to read at the Midsummer poetry festival in Sheffield with A.B Jackson and Nia Davies last year.

My two favourite invitations have come from Poets and Players at the fabulous John Ryland’s Library in Manchester, where I read a few weeks ago, and from Keith Hutson, editor, with Rebecca Bird, of online magazine Hinterland.

Keith, who runs Wordplay at the Square Chapel in Halifax, is a modest and kind man as well as a superb poet (I’ll be featuring three of his poems here next week, one of which is in the current issue of The Rialto) and his invitation included the option of staying at his smallholding near Halifax, which I gladly accepted.

Keith’s cottage nestles near the top of the valley, the fields on both sides and above and below slanting at forty degree angles. Keith and his partner Fiona keep a flock of sheep whose sole purpose is to keep the grass short on the steep slopes. Behind the cottage, past the odd Millstone grit boulder, Keith has planted fruit trees, whose fruit, when in season, the lucky sheep pluck and munch straight from the branch.

I took the opportunity of stopping at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on the way up to Halifax. There is too much to say about this wonderful (free to visit) park here, but if you haven’t been, do go. The highlight for me was this Henry Moore. Here is one of a series of photographs I took, but I think that the emotional and/or spiritual impact of this sculpture set in the landscape can only be experienced by visiting.

P1020185

The Square Chapel is a beautiful Grade II listed Georgian Chapel, the oldest of its kind in the country having been built in 1772. It was saved from demolition in 1918 by a small group of volunteers (I can only imagine some planners where intent on sweeping away the old in order to build something more ‘modern’ at the time) and is in the process of renovation and development which will include an extension linking it to the magnificent Piece Hall.

square-chapel

Keith’s other guest poets included James Caruth, winner of the Poetry Business completion, and Lucy Burnett who’s Leaf Graffiti was published by Carcanet in 2013 who both read brilliantly.

The audience was friendly and attentive, the open mike included a cracking Yorkshire dialect poem from Andy Smith, and it was good to have a chat with everyone and to be given a short tour of the chapel. I also received a pint of locally brewed stout on the house! It was a great pleasure to see John Foggin, wearer of fine waistcoats and leather jackets, who I met some years ago in Sheffield, and to hear him read a very moving and beautifully made poem about cutting his father in law’s hair.

P1020231
I awoke the next morning to the falling snow, (not an unusual site in this part of the world in March but a treat for me,) and after borrowing a pair of wellies and going out with Keith to feed the flock, headed back, sad to be leaving the north, but pleased, once more, to be close enough to spend time with some warm, generous and welcoming people and to briefly experience some of its geographical, historical and cultural riches.

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A roundup of recent events

I had the pleasure of seeing my friend Zaffar Kunial read at Spire Writes in Chesterfield back in December. He is a truly brilliant poet who has recently been awarded the Wordsworth Trust residency.
I’m looking forward to reading at Spire, hosted by Helen Mort, in February.

Maria Taylor has chosen her books of the year and said good things about mine. She has posted a poem from The Sun Bathers which you can read here.

My review of Matt Merritt’s The Elephant Tests is up on the excellent Hinterland along with some fine new poems by Martin Malone and others.

My poem ‘Meat is Murder’ was awarded 2nd prize in the Allan Sillitoe competition.

I’ve been working on translations of Eugenio Montale, and also returned to translating some poems by the contemporary Italian poet Andrea Inglese that I first looked at a couple of years ago. The new versions are published in Litter magazine and you can read them if you click this link.

My tendonitis has eased up a little and I’m returning to the keyboard to type up a batch of new poems.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

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Some reasons to love on-line poetry sites

I feel lucky to be living in the age of on line poetry sites and blogs that regularly feature poetry.

These sites include fabulous magazines such as Antiphon and the newly established Hinterland, as well as daily or weekly poem sites such as the long established Ink Sweat and Tears (which also features reviews) Abigail Morley’s Poetry Shed and Josephine Corcoran’s andotherpoems – I’m lucky enough to have a poem on the excellent site today which you can read by clicking this link.

All of the above have been thoughtfully designed, well laid out and organised by people who invest their time to conceive, set up, run and maintain them.

I am aware of the huge amount of effort involved in reading and responding to submissions and none of the people who run the sites are motivated by profit but instead by a genuine wish  to share the poetry they enjoy and to support the poets who submit to them.

The medium seems ideally suited to the brevity of poetry and the reader has the chance to scroll through poems or lists of poems and stop when something attracts the eye. Also, biographies and links are often posted with the poems enabling readers to find out more if they wish.

There is the potential to expand the audience for poetry via social media posts, and to perhaps brighten or make more interesting the day of followers or subscribers who might receive pleasant and or stimulating surprises in their otherwise potentially dull inboxes.

Instant feedback is another benefit. Admiration for a poem can often be expressed in comments or ‘likes,’ and links quickly made with other social media. I’m sure innovations and interesting new ways of delivering poetry such as John Challis’ e-mail poetry project IN will flourish in the years to come.

Poets submitting to online sites and journals also enjoy the generally quicker turnaround times between submission and publishing. There is also very often friendly and professional e-mail correspondence with editors. One further benefit of these sites is hat they may be more democratic and perhaps less elitist
than some of the larger print magazines, taking work from both ‘unknown’ and ‘established’ poets.

I enjoy print magazines; long may they thrive and attract subscribers. Some, such as Magma, have a good online presence. But for the reasons I’ve mentioned above, the sharing of poetry via the internet is an exciting and life enhancing aspect of the contemporary poetry scene for readers and writers alike.