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Poets who blog

The Spring edition of Poetry News (the newspaper of the UK Poetry Society) features an article by Robin Houghton about blogging based on interviews with seven poets who also write blogs- Sarah Westcott, Abegail Morley, Josephine Corcoran, John Field, Anthony Wilson, George Szirtes and me.

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Winter 2014 copy of Poetry News

Robin has selected poet bloggers who use their posts for a variety of reasons and she’s done a good job of collating the answers.  Here are a few reasons the interviewees have given to the question ‘why blog?’

George Szirtes says it is a “space to work out some thoughts.. to act as something of a diary…to talk about poets I like.”

John Field writes ‘intelligent, in-depth poetry book reviews’ because he feels poetry is “poorly represented” and that his reviews give exposure that might lead to  book sales.

I’m sure most people reading this will have, at some point, visited Josephine Corcoran’s  marvellous rolling anthology  ‘And Other Poems’. Josephine also has a personal blog which gives some insight into her experiences in the poetry world.

Anthony Wilson uses his highly popular blog to explore his thoughts and describes  the space as – “a chance to see what I actually think about something.”

I particularly like this from Sarah Westcott  (a fine poet I whose work featured on here last year)  – “it gives a sense of permanence… a record of life.”

Abegail Morley (who is kindly featuring two poems from  my 2012 pamphlet ‘Gopagilla’ on her ‘Poetry Shed’  at the moment ) says that she uses it as a means of sharing other’s work and that this ‘feeds’ her own writing.

My own reasons for writing this blog echo, to some extent, all of those given above. I was inspired to start by Matt Merritt’s Polyolbion, which combined interviews with shorter pieces highlighting poetry books and links to poets work. From early on I also wanted it reflect my experience, to provide a resource for other writers (I’ll blow my own trumpet here- Robin describes it as a ‘rich resource’) and I’m glad that the positive feedback I have received indicates that some of the articles  are proving useful in the way I intended.

Tune in for more fascinating interviews with UK poet/ editors in the coming weeks!

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Featured poet; Sarah Westcott

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One of the joys of attending poetry events such as the Free Verse Poetry Fair (see previous post) is that such gatherings provide the opportunity to meet other poets and discover something of their work.
Last week I found myself seated at a pub table with a group of poets that included Sarah Westcott, and in the course of our brief, amiable discussion, we discovered that we had both had our poems printed on beer mats that very week (please see previous post again.) Such is the small world of poetry.

I like to use this blog to share and promote work I like, and Sarah’s caught my eye for its concision, its dense and precise imagery, bold choice of unusual language and for its emotional power.
Sarah has kindly provided the three poems here, including one previously unpublished piece.

Sarah Westcott’s debut pamphlet Inklings (Flipped Eye) was a winner of the Venture Poetry Award and the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for Winter 2013. Her poems have been published in Poetry Review, Magma and Poetry Wales, on beermats, and a poem is forthcoming in The Best British Poetry 2014. Sarah lives with her family on the London/Kent borders and earns a living as a newspaper journalist. Her interests include pug dogs and running marathons.

Messenger

We found her in the shadow
of the gas drum;
a pleat of otherness
pinched from her dominion.

Maw like a whale,
head slit to gill air,
a dark scythe
at our feet.

We willed her wings to open
her form take shape,
conflate to airy spaces.
A new crescent moon.

We picked the whole contraption up,
brindled, tawny, creamy throat;
she spilled over our hands
into awe.

Her claws were shriven,
her eyes the eyes
of something fallen,
the weight unbearable

so we sent her onwards,
to beat at the heels
of a young god’s sandals,
set her away, windward.

Previously published in Poetry Review, spring 2014.

The Cannots

They are afraid of dolls.
Their genitals are dry.

They are drawn to mountains and motorways.
There have no fear of flying.

Their temper cannot be lost – it is chained
like a dear dog.

They think the Bible is valiant.
They mourn Patrick Moore.

They cannot come, or hiccup,
but convincingly fake both.

They can see through our clothes, into our guts,
read what we are made of.

They are always on the surface of the sea –
they cannot get wet.

They cannot drown either: they loiter
on the inter-tidal zone.

They use onions or pepper to cry
when watching soap operas or weddings.

Their feet are always very pretty,
soles soft as a new-born.

They learn white lies, learn to tell them like a joke.
If they win a race it is not deliberate.

They make vigilant life-guards and paramedics.
They like to think about magic.

Music does not work
but their singing voices are always astounding.

They think Mystic Meg is a hoot.
They love the way starfish can grow back a limb.

They remember every birth,
find the vanishing point in shop windows,

walk over hot coals, and pray
they might, one day, burn.

Vegetable

they call you,
hair fanned over hospital corners,

but what sort of vegetable
grows perfect crescents of keratin

after years of gnawing,
or swells with the moon,

bleeds bright
every twenty-eight days?

I soap your hands and paint your nails
deepest beetroot red.

Previously published in Magma 55