Issue 1 of New Walk magazine is out; a new literary magazine that Rob Mackenzie told me about and to which I almost submitted some poems (maybe I'll be in time to try for issue 2?). Anyway, it looks like another excellent collection of poetry and reviews -- short stories as well, I think -- to join a growing list of reputable literary magazines. I'll point you to Rob Mackenzie, who'll tell you far more about it than I can before I've got hold of my own copy. If you're familiar with poetry, I hope you'll buy it. If not, why not give this new magazine a go, if only to support the use of paper for very important things? Heh.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
You remember me recommending Peony Moon? These poets' blogs are fast becoming my favourite things on the Internet. This one may well give you a lump in the throat. It's written by Mairi Sharratt from Edinburgh, a poet in her own right, and looks to be a wonderful and varied read. As usual, the dominant obsession is poetry. The latest post, a second installment by Rob A. Mackenzie, continues his journey 'from poetry reading school boy to a man with a first collection'. Go and read, and meanwhile, I am off to see if I can find the first part...
Friday, 17 September 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
I went to a Jonsi gig on Monday night, here in sunny Boscombe. It was spectacular; he is spectacular -- everything he touches turns to gold, seemingly -- and a real enigma in the pop/rock music world. I'm going to blog properly about my impressions of the gig (promises, promises - ed) just as soon as I've managed to form coherent, ordered thoughts. There's so much to say and so few words to say it with.
For now -- and for those who aren't already fans of his band Sigur Ros (why not?!) -- here are a few links you should check out. Then make sure you go and Youtube some stuff.
By the way, what do you think about my new imaginary 'ed'? He hasn't been around for long, but I think he can stay (of course I can, you need me - ed).
The winner of the inaugural Seamus Heaney Centre Prize is Sian Hughes' 'The Missing', published by Salt. It's a fantastic book and the prize is well-deserved, even if I was betting on Andrew Philip's 'The Ambulance Box', which was just narrowly pipped to the post.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
I bought it today: the new collection by everyone's favourite 'poetry celebrity.' That's not to talk down Seamus Heaney, an experienced poet with an immense arsenal of skills and one of the few poets I have loved and followed since my GCSE days (when he was in the textbook!). I can't think of a living writer more deserving of his status. For me, picking up one of his books is like picking up the new Pearl Jam album.
I was just a kid. Where other writers seemed to be 'clever', 'intelligent' and 'worthy of analysis', Heaney swung at all those and followed through, reaching me where it mattered: the heart. In his poetry I found strong evocation, intelligence and emotion, all inexplicably knotted together. There are writers I read in order to learn how to write. Heaney I read just to remember how to love living. And I still don't know how the heck he does it.
Consider these lines from 'Miracle', which asks us to consider:
Not the one who takes up his bed and walks
But the ones who have known him all along
And carry him in --
Being disabled (and having a faith) myself, I'm already interested in the surface subject matter. But the poem might stand for a number of things; it never narrows itself down to mere metaphor ('this' is 'that'). For a while now, I've been thinking about how a poet might write effective 'Christian' poetry in today's plural, cynical society. And I think -- without wishing to speculate about Heaney's spirituality -- that this poem might go a long way towards it. We are asked to consider not the one cared for, but the carers; not the one who has -- or lacks -- a measure of his own faith (that old theological bone of contention!) but the ones who had faith on his behalf. So in a way, it's a sort of an affront to outdated theology, yet using a single feather instead of the whole chook. It's also a powerful, delicate poem about friendship; quite a thing at a time when even writers can be hell-bent on irony and cynicism. It -- and the whole collection, really -- reminds me that one doesn't have to resort to that in order to be effective.
Can you tell I liked it?
So as usual, even if you think 'well, I did read a poem once, and it didn't make me puke', give it a go. Though just to warn you: it's published by Faber and Faber, so you might find the corrugated front sleeve a bit abrasive for toilet paper.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
On the latest Magma blog, Rob Mackenzie is asking about poets and self-promotion. Having published a grand total of three poems so far in my 'poetic career', this is something that I only think about occassionally, lest it become too intimidating. It's a really interesting discussion, if only because everyone who wants a readership needs to say 'Here I am.' The Internet offers us a platform, and there are both good/appropriate and bad/'clumsy' ways to use it. That's the intimidating bit. I'm a 'poet' -- in a way -- and I blog. Is what I'm doing self-promotion? Maybe it is. Is it bad, embarrassing self-promotion? So that I'm not crippled with fear (you're already crippled with Spina bifida - ed) I'd prefer to think that all I'm promoting here is poetry. Poetry as an artform, a craft, and just a rollicking great thing. I'm constantly humbled and slightly scared by efforts made in the 'poetic Internet world' by writers I love and respect, but if I can just write some things that a small number of people enjoy reading -- whilst never claiming to be an expert -- that'll do, I think.
Do pick up Magma 48, by the way.
*steps down off soapbox*