Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New Press in Nottingham!

Skysill Press has published its first title, "Anxiety Chant" by Aaron Tieger. Price at £4/$6 and available from the press's website.

Tieger is an American poet, based in Massachusetts, and he lists as his prime influences, Richard Cadell, William Corbett and Robert Creeley, which should give you some idea about his poetry. Here's a sample from "Anxiety Chant":


Caffeine leaves
system leaving
me empty
as living
rooms across
this town
and others
of boxes and lives
in yellow trucks
and yellow light
coats the empty
room and the last
few boxes
sit empty
in the last light
of a living room.

It's fine work, and I can add it to my collection of Tieger pamphlets which have given me a lot of pleasure. I wouldn't say Tieger was minimalist, but he's very sparing in his use of words; layout and white space are significant, and of course, sound is an important factor. This astringency seems to be an American trait, comparitively rare in British poets.

Congratulations to Sam Ward on this new venture.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

'At the Emptying of Dustbins' by Alistair Noon

Oystercatcher Press has announced the publication of Alistair Noon's first book of poetry, At the Emptying of Dustbins which is now available from the Norfolk-based press which specialises in contemporary, cutting-edge poetry. I'm very pleased to hear this, as I've admired Alistair's work for some time. He has several top-class reviews and articles on Litter, as well as poetry, and translations from German.

Peter Hughes says:

"Alistair Noon's writing is characterised by a worldly intelligence, striking verbal dexterity and a technical accomplishment by no means common in today's poetry world. He is a writer to keep a eye on over the next few years."

At the Emptying of Dustbins is available from Oystercatcher Press for £4, inclusive of UK postage. Readers from outside the U.K. can order by PayPal, if preferred, through the publisher's website. Orders to Europe costs £4.50, whilst orders from ouside Europe will cost £5.00 to cover postage.

Click here for the press's website

Orders sent by post should be addressed to:
Oystercatcher Press, 4 Coastguard Cottages,
Old Hunstanton, Norfolk PE36 6EL U.K.
with cheques made out to Peter Hughes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gaza On My Mind

you are strongly encouraged to post it, print it, stick it on the walls of your city, and share it by any means with the biggest number of people you may know.

please do mention/tag/link the author and/or his blog (Kerblog) when it is possible.

The author is Mazen Kerbaj, blogger and citizen of Beirut.

Secret, Solitary, a Spy

In a recent blog post, Kathz talks about how she won a prize in a poetry competition, and of the experience of attending the prizegiving. Kath says of her poetry-writing: " I've spent most of my life trying to conceal this embarrassing little habit."

Why would someone say that? I mean someone who appreciates and understands poetry, and has learnt the craft of writing it?

Of course, I know why. I've said and thought it myself, as have several poets I know. One reason I think is that the public perception of poetry is still conditioned, after 200 years, by Romanticism, with its notion of the (largely male) poet as a being apart, which obscured the idea of poetry as a craft, and replaced it with the idea that poems were the result of a tortured or particularly sensitive soul. Naturally, it's rather embarrassing to be associated with that notion now.

But there's something else. It's common for writers to lead double-lives, maintaining a career and domestic life that is entirely separate to their poetic activities. Wallace Stevens is a classic example of this, as a successful businessmen who preferred not to discuss his poetry, and certainly kept it out if his office. Stevens famously wrote "I have no life except in poetry". In his introduction to a selected poems of Stevens, John Burnside discusses this statement, and further quotes a letter of Stevens in which he writes: "I certainly do not exist from nine to six, when I am at the office... There is no everyday Wallace, apart from the one at work, and that one is tedious.- At night I strut my individual state once more".

For myself I can say that no-one at the IT company I work for - and I've known some colleagues for many years - has any idea that I've got anything to do with poetry (unless they read this blog, which is unlikely). And I want to keep it that way. I'm not comparing myself with Wallace Stevens - it seems likely that the mental processes which produce major art are essentially the same as those that produce minor art. I'd agree with Burnside when he says, speaking of Stevens' double life, "It is a life every poet leads to a greater or lesser extent. Or, rather, it is the discipline poets must master in order to sustain that mysterious entity, a private life".

Of course, the notion of a private life is becoming more and more marginalised in our culture, but that's a discussion for another day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Todd Swift runs a lively blog which is always worth checking out. Each Friday Todd features a different poet. This Friday it's your's truly. Take a look, and while you're there have browse round.

Thanks to Todd for the feature and the kind words.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

There's a beautiful and moving poem by Mahmoud Darwish on Pierre Joris's blog - a testament to how poetry can be written in such times and places.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The sight of one of the world's most powerful militaries bombarding some of the poorest and most desperate people on the planet makes me wonder if Craig Murray may be right to compare the treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli state to the crimes of Hitler and Stalin.

To counter the distorted view through the window of the West's media outlets, here's an account of life at the receiving end: Gaza Blog.