Last week was bookended by opera. On Monday I sent composer Philip Sunderland the second full draft of the libretto for our March 2016 collaboration The Glass Knight, and on Friday I experienced the closest thing to secular transfiguration at the opening night of Longborough Festival Opera‘s magnificent Tristan und Isolde. Continue reading
For some people modernism ends with The Waste Land and a handful of extracts from the Cantos, after which poetry returns to its proper course via the Movement, Hughes, Heaney, the New Generation and onwards to today’s dominant voices.
The counter-position is that modernism never went away, and that (often at a distance from literary London) it produced some of the most powerful work of the past century: MacDiarmid in Scotland, Bunting in Northumbria, Hill & Prynne in their different orbits around Cambridge. Continue reading
The Cheltenham Poetry Festival started in earnest yesterday. In a spectacular piece of bad timing, I spent the day on a flight to the US for my day-job and will be out of the country for most of the festival before heading to Cheltenham on Sunday 3rd May for our latest Rewiring History live event followed by a joint reading with Claire Trévien. Which means I’m going to miss out on some fantastic poetry in the intervening 10 days. Continue reading
The longer I spend in poetry’s experimental borderlands in pursuit of linguistic monsters and verbal wizardry, the greater the importance of making regular visits back to the lyric mainstream to remember that skilled, nuanced, exciting poems aren’t the sole preserve of any single tradition. Here’s a wonderful dramatic monologue from Jessica Traynor’s collection Liffey Swim, reproduced here by kind permission of the author. Continue reading
Over the past few years Peter Hughes has been publishing versions of Petrarch’s sonnets in concentrated pamphlet-sized bundles from a range of different small presses. I’ve been immersed in these for several weeks now with increasing enjoyment and admiration. I took Snowclone Detritus (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press, 2013) on a recent work trip to America and had already decided to post a close reading of one of the poems when, yesterday morning, the just-published complete collection from Reality Street, Quite Frankly: After Petrarch’s Sonnets, dropped through the letterbox as the first installment of the 2015 Reality Street supporter scheme. Continue reading
Ten: The New Wave is the successor to 2010’s Ten: New Poets, both books being a response to the Arts Council’s Free Verse Report’s 2005 finding that “less than 1% of poetry published by major presses in the UK [was] by black and Asian poets”. According to Fiona Moore’s write-up of the panel discussion at the book’s launch, the situation has since improved but is still materially and embarrassingly short of being representative (and, speaking as a straight, white, able-bodied man, yet another example of the over-privileging of people like me in the UK poetry world). Ten: The New Wave is a further step towards rebalancing this. It’s also hands-down the best poetry anthology of 2014 so far. Continue reading
For the past week or so I’ve been revisiting work by the poets who’ll be reading in Oxford three weeks today on Sunday 5th October (doors open 6.30 for 7pm start; £5/£4 concs; The Jericho Tavern, Walton St, Oxford).
We have a fantastic mix of readers and poetic traditions. Here’s a quick overview: Continue reading
On Sunday 5th October the Jericho Tavern in Oxford will play host to a fantastic evening of poetry. Building on the success of last year’s event we’ll once again have six of the most exciting contemporary poets representing a vibrant mix of poetic styles and traditions, established names and rising stars. Continue reading
Andrea Brady’s Cut from the Rushes is really two collections in one: a reissue of 2005’s Embrace and a new volume, Presenting. It’s also the most thrilling, visceral, challenging, uncomfortable and darkly-beautiful book I’ve read since… [I can’t finish this sentence because I can’t think of a suitable comparison: Cut from the Rushes is in a category of its own, and is simply stunning]. Continue reading