May 2010

LXV are a new independent bookshop in London. I’ve never been there. I don’t like London. But they seem to want to do things differently, with some success. So they ran a small poetry competition and, I heard yesterday, I came second.

I wrote a poem specifically for this competition, “Concrete Poetry”, although it came out of notes I’d had hanging around for a while. The judge, Ann Drysdale, wrote: “The internal assonances dissolve in the mouth like butterscotch (dismal clinker; huddled in fug) and the image in the penultimate line is exquisite.” (She also had some critical notes, which were fair enough, in fact – suggesting to me I’ve not quite finished this poem, so I was lucky to succeed with it).

It looks like there’ll be an anthology of the submissions, too. So, of course, I’m going to suggest you check out LXV:

I’ve been lucky lately with publication: although I have to say it’s partly down to determination, keeping the work out there as much as I can. In the last few days, though, Orbis have taken “Presumably butterflies”, which is a slightly odd poem in that it covers pretty much the same ground as a poem I wrote many years ago on my Dad’s death. That poem was quite sentimental, and primarily driven by a desire to commemorate him rather than to write a decent piece. Out of the blue, quite recently, “Presumably butterflies” arrived and offered me a much better slant and a much better poem – so it’s taken 15 years for the original impulse to mature into a proper piece of work.

 Assent have taken “The Fire Hand” (one of my poems based on Kim Phuc’s life: there are now three out there) and “Thirst” which is an unusual poem for me, as it’s a (kind of) dramatic monologue, which I’m not particularly good at.

Interpreter’s House  have taken “St Anthony Road”, a poem originally written several years ago, although it’s gone through many mutations, and also is about my father. He’s a subject I seem not to be able to let go off. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Helen Farish’s “Intimates” contains a strong sense of her exploring her relationship with her father, as if trying to understand it better; and I guess we “older” poets find ourselves reflecting on lost parents more as we discover ourselves in their shoes.

And a European ezine I came across more or less by accident, Danse Macabre, have published a little imagist fairy-tale poem, “Three Roses”, which was a bit of an experiment and I’m not entirely sure it works, but at least someone liked it. See:

On Wednesday we arranged a small launch event for the Cinnamon Press anthology “The Visitors”, at Blackwells in Sheffield. A little over twenty people turned up, and seemed to have a very good time. I’d managed to get generous permission from several of the contributors to have their work read, and three contributors read their own work. Here’s the programme:

Reader Author Piece
Tricia Durdey   Welcome
Kate Rutter Anne Caldwell Walk in the Park, You can say what you like to the dead
Angelina Ayers Aisling Tempany Five of us Together, Prydferth
Fay Musselwhite Marcus Smith 58 Dead in England, Driving around
Lorna Festa Margaret Wilmot The New Café
Kate Rutter Diana Gittins Repulsive II, Hale New Moon Bopp
Fay Musselwhite Judith Watts Smiling Torso/Laughing Buttocks
Noel Williams Annie Bien Beneath night, Heart
Will Kemp Will Kemp Wolf, The Painters who studied clouds
Tricia Durdey Tricia Durdey The Visitors
Noel Williams Noel Williams Return to High Force, Snow on the Edge


Thanks to everyone who took part or came along to support us. And particular thanks to Blackwells, and Sarah, Angelina and Beverley for hosting the event. Go along there and buy a couple of books!