Poetry-related posts

THE SUMMER OF BLUE

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The poetry window has shut again.   

Some of the coincidences that occurred during the reading period were extremely strange.   

This always happens, but I forget.    

Who would expect, for example, to find more than one poem featuring a walrus?  

Also several poems about promises. The word 'promise' popped up all over the place (a lovely word, when you think about it).

Dusk, too. A lot of dusk. And silk.

As far as colour went, it was the summer of blue. Many shades of blue, more than one poem being entirely about blueness. Payne's Grey did once put a look in, but blue was overwhelmingly the colour of choice.

'Heft' is, as I think I have said before, definitely the new 'shard', and clouds find themselves shrouding the sun quite a bit. 

I am a little sensitive to shrouds at the moment, though I don't think I've ever actually seen one. 

Dead bodies are sometimes wrapped in sheets, but we don't (I don't) refer to these as shrouds. 

The only shrouds I can find on eBay are connected with gas nozzles. However, on Amazon I have tracked down a 'Premier Disposable Shroud with Plain Collar, White, Adult'. How extraordinary. Only ten left in stock.

There weren't as many envelopes as usual – 97 sets of poems, when there are usually at least 120. But I figure people have picked up the fact that things are difficult here at the moment. 

However, reading the poems was a pleasure. Real poems, of which there were many, are not written lightly, and they were not read lightly. I copied out three, so I could keep them and reflect. But images and phrases from others linger, as well as some of the lovely letters that came with the poems.

It is a privilege being trusted with people's poems. I remain convinced that writing them is a good thing, good for the spirit (if not the shroud). and some of that invariably rubs off on the reader.

The work of words is ancient and uplifting. How glad I am to be part of that fellowship. 


Recent Comments
Guest — Hilary Menos
Sending you hugs from the S of France. Saw Annie yesterday - I think she's going to send you a photo. I like her collection. H xx... Read More
Sunday, 30 July 2017 22:23
Guest — Tristan Moss
Hi Nell, Could I ask, what exactly do you mean by 'real poems'. Surely all poems are real. Do you mean poems about real things/co... Read More
Monday, 31 July 2017 17:21
Guest — Nell
Fair enough, Tristan. I don't always think poems are real poems, though I respect their right to be called just that. I'm inclined... Read More
Monday, 31 July 2017 17:38
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HOW TO BAKE A POETRY PAMPHLET

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First, get the recipe from the author. 

It will look much like a Contents list, but with no indication of quantities or baking temperature.

But at least it's a place to start.

Here, for example, in Will Harris's debut, are the ingredients:

Object
Mother's Country
Halo 2
Self-Portrait in Front of a Small Mirror
Naming
Bee Glue
Justine
Identity
Yellow
With Cornflowers
From 'The Ark' I
Cured
From The Other Side of Shooter's Hill
From 'The Ark' II
Something
Allegory
Imagine a Forest

But what's the method? And will the ingredients work?

At least some of the contents promise a recognisable cake. First collections nearly always have something autobiographical that fits into the sense of 'self'. Because when you publish, it's a public statement – if not about who you are, at least about who you may be. It's personal, even if the poems aren't.

In Will Harris's Contents, you can see, fourth in the list, a self-portrait. Almost all poets have one, though not always explicitly titled. This one is in prose; part of the mixture. You can see 'Identity' too, and 'Mother's Country' which has to be a bit of heritage stuff. Most poetry cakes have some heritage.

And 'Naming' of course. Poetry gives things names, then sometimes takes them away again. I often think about Gill McEvoy's poem 'Difference'. It was in a pamphlet baked back in 2007, her first collection, Uncertain Days. The poet is in a plane, looking down at the grass at the edge of the runway – 'white clover in the grass, / a bee, a clump of yellow bedstraw, / a small brown butterfly'. All at once, the airport itself is 'a place where species are defined / by difference'. The poet wants 'to be out there', on her 'hands and knees, / naming things'.

Poets name things. At first for themselves; later (sometimes) for other people.

The name of the publication is part of that. All This Is Implied. Great name. Doesn't sound like anything I've baked (or consumed) before.

Having said which, when it comes to first collections, no two poetry cakes are ever the same. Each is radically different from the next. Sometimes difference is the defining ingredient.

'Will Harris'? Not much difference there. It's such an ordinary-sounding name. A white-caucasian-empire-building name. But he's not. A Victoria Sponge this is not.

All This Is Implied took a good while. The author is a thinker and a craftsman. He's been experimenting for years, putting things into words, trying them out, breaking them up, putting them back together again. And he's been working on prose style as well. He writes excellent prose (not all poets do). Blogging about one of the ingredients ('Justine'), he says: 'I think about writing as a way of addressing race, gender, history which might embrace mixedness and confusion ....'

Will Harris is a fellow of The Complete Works III. He self-defines as BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic). He doesn't 'play the race card' lightly. As he says himself in an essay on this subject, ' the race card is not something the non-white person can choose to play. It is what is done to you'. Do read that whole essay, and watch the YouTube film at the end. There is a context here.

So yes – this debut pamphlet does 'embrace mixedness and confusion', though the complete confection is anything but confused. Numbered among the ingredients are: games, humour, mischief, love, and form – even rhyme. It's not confused: it's fused.

The end product has come out pretty well, in fact. It's hot off the press. Want to try a slice? 


Cake in waiting
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HOT CROSS PAMPHLETS

My last blog entry dealt with the ‘post-pamphlet process’. I’m mid-pamphlet this week so thought I’d share a bit of that too, rather than writing about hot cross buns. (I may write about the first stage one day, and even the buns, but not today.)

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Guest — Brigid Sivill
Wow! - what a long, carefully thought out process. It helps also to see what is important when submitting pamphlet material. Tha... Read More
Monday, 17 April 2017 08:30
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PUFFING AND PANTING AND PAMPHLETS

So we have two new pamphlets at last!

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POETRY AND FLOUR

Photograph of packet of Allison's Very Strong White Bread Flour. The packet is green,with the text detail in large white circle in the middle. There is a graphic of an old windmill and Allinson is in large red cursive letters.When baking poems, you should use strong flour, which is made from hard words. This produces the right kind of dough for lyric work produced at high temperatures, because it has a high fluten and bard core content.

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Guest — Clare Best
I love this! Hooray. Recipes to follow?! X
Sunday, 19 March 2017 08:36
Guest — Rosie Miles
This is completely fabulous. Like some of the best poems, I don't understand every word (not being a strong flour baker), but not ... Read More
Sunday, 19 March 2017 08:47
Guest — Annie Fisher
This is great! Any suggestions for poets with syllabic disease who might be allergic to fluten?
Sunday, 19 March 2017 09:18
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The Rhyme Ambush

You find yourself thinking in such predictable ways—predictable even to yourself.

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Marcia Menter
...which leads me to codswallop, which wallops without alluding to walloping or cods. Thence back to rollmops, and it's too early ... Read More
Sunday, 12 March 2017 13:54
Bob Horne
Where I'm from a collop was a disc of battered potato (and a real treat). But then, we couldn't afford meat. Or shoes. Just books.... Read More
Monday, 13 March 2017 11:43
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