Sunday, 19 October 2014

judy brown at Conti

reponse to david perman

letter to acumen from david perman

Buy this

Buy this – it’s terrific:

Julie Maclean’s latest collection, inspired by a research intensive to Scandinavia with Deakin University, was published in October and is available from Poetry Salzburg as part of its pamphlet series with samples of poems from the collection here:
Reviwed here:
The launch in Oz will be at;

Sun Nov 9 at 3pm 
Paton Books 
3/329  Pakington Street

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Guernsey Int Lit Fest

Guernsey International Literary Festival must have some of the best prizes in the country. The first three get cash but they and another three plus winners of certain categories such as school, Channel Islands residency also get their poems on pop up posters at the airport which will be moved to places round the island during the year plus all those then get their poems on the buses for the year.

And that’s not all. The winning three poems also get a painting based on their work by professional artists and this year the art teachers involved in schools on the island decided that art students would also interpret their poems so in a gallery they had around 10 paintings based on a poet’s work.

The four days of the Festival are packed with lectures, workshops, music and film. Well worth a visit next year.

It also has Herm Island aka Paradise three miles of its coast.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


from Preston Poets' Newsletter


A tentative glimpse of Spring so welcome to this quarter’s Newsletter with the hope that there will be sufficient poetry and poetry events to keep everyone happy.

Linda France will certainly be happy. She is the winner of the 2013 National Poetry Competition with her poem entitled Bernard and Corinthe. It is the account of an erotic encounter between a repressed man and a flower. The first two verses:

if a curtain is always a velvet curtain
onto some peepshow he never opens,

it’s a shock to find himself, sheltering
from the storm in a greenhouse.

The reason for mentioning this is not the actual poem. Some people have criticized it, others like it, mostly ( as far as I can find ) people don’t seem to care one way or the other.

What I am concerned about is the subject matter. For the last few years the National Poetry Prize has been won with poems about Clothes from the Great War, Virginia Woolf, a Robin, something about time past, a father, something about looking through a window.

This is the National Poetry Prize. Presumably this means that this is how the state of British poetry is seen as viewed from the rest of the world and somewhere there’s a quote suggesting that poetry reflects the underlying state of a nation. I just can’t find that quote, if anyone knows it could they let me know.

So, on an earth that has Climate Change, Peak Oil, water shortage, food shortage, wars, the list goes on, the concerns of British poetry revolve around flowers and Robins.

Perhaps I should put some parameters on that paragraph. There are poets who write about such global matters but they are not those being taken up by what can be termed the Poetry Establishment. I’m not talking about the really top poets like Carol Anne Duffy or Simon Armitage but the ones below that level who have been to the same Universities and share the same beliefs in terms of poetical values and also control the purse strings and access to the publishing houses.

Did I enter the National Poetry Competition? Yes. Is this sour grapes? Maybe. Is there any truth in these thoughts? I think so, how about you.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Never mind the controversy ( if there is one ) over the winning poem in the National Poetry Prize there is an even greater one in the realms of our local poetry scene.

It involves the question of whether applause should be encouraged, or not, after each poem in a reading by a poet.

My feeling is that it depends on the length of the poems and the nature of the poems. It can be a bit distracting if every 8 line poem is clapped by the audience, it can disrupt the flow of the delivery of the poet. But, conversely, if a poet has delivered a rather wonderful poem which touches people then they have every right to let their feelings show in a response to the poet.

One of the worst experiences in reading and listening is where there is a cold stillness in the air after each poem. No one dares cough or talk or fidget between poems. The poet can’t tell whether they should alter their tone or change the poems as they are getting no feedback. Everyone is stuck in this 10 minutes of sterility waiting for it to end.

Applaud away as far as I’m concerned, make a point to a friend, have a drink, adjust your seat. Just be quiet when the poet is actually reading.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

When I was away in Lincolnshire on family matters for a month I thought it might be an idea to have a look into the history of the local boy who made good. And I mean good. In the radio show on Preston fm  I played a recording of him as he read ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ recorded in the 1890s. If you get the chance have a listen to the podcast. It’s fascinating. The following notes are from the script for the programme.

Which is the give away to the fact it is Alfred, Lord Tennyson I was looking into. Now I bet when I wrote Alfred Tennyson the image that sprang to mind was of a man in his 40s or 50s with a massive beard, lined face, cloak and a wide brimmed hat – someone at the very pinnacle of Victorian Society. And when that recording was made he was.

But that eminent man was once a boy and he was a boy in a very remote part of Lincolnshire. In fact the village of Somersby is very remote even now. So, let’s get rid of the hat and beard and view a face that was, when he was in his 20s, according to the sketches that exist a very handsome and dashing sort of face. He was also immensely strong. One of the local sports was throwing a crowbar and he could beat all comers. His party piece, when there was a gathering on the Rectory lawn, was to pick up a Shetland pony and carry it round.

And on the subject of animals it should be mentioned that he cared passionately about them and delighted in springing the traps that gamekeepers had set. He was so good at animal and bird calls that an owl became his constant companion.

But it wasn’t all nature and sport. He was often found tramping the lanes and reading in the sort of snow that was around when I was there. On one occasion he was so immersed in his book that he failed to hear the Louth coach coming up behind him. He was eventually roused from his reverie by a shout from the coachman and looking up saw a horse’s muzzle protruding over his shoulder as if it too was immersed in the book.

At this point I went out and recorded some observations in Somersby itself. If you get the chance to listen I hope you enjoy the show.

Monday, 17 February 2014

some events

from Preston Poets' Newsletter:

..... but March is more promising with the Huddersfield Literature Festival taking place between the 6th and 16th with Lemn Sissay alongside authors like Joanne Harris.

Between the 7th and 16th at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick guests include Blake Morrison, Don Paterson and Melvyn Bragg. The full programme for this event is amazing with a diverse selection of talks and guests. Here’s one that took my fancy. It’s by Katie Waldgrave and is entitled The Poets’ Daughters and is about the lifelong friendship between Dora Wordsworth and Sara Coleridge.

From the 20 to the 31st is the York Literature Festival and includes Roger McGough. Just down the road from the 28th to the 30th is the Otley Word Feast which has the delightfully sounding Sonnets and Scones on the 29th and A Terribly Sedate and Right Proper Poetry Reading on the same day.

Those are the most local events I could find that one can dip in and out of. But what if one wants something more structured to help oneself on a one to one or group basis. I’ve been on an Arvon Residential course back in 2007 not for poetry but for script writing. However Simon Armitage was the course tutor with his partner Sue Roberts, a drama producer at the BBC and editor of the Verb. Apart from some useful technical advice the main thing I got from the week was some writerly friends who I still keep in contact with. For £500 ( then ) that’s a lot of money. So you need to know what you want.

There are all sorts of courses - for instance local weekends such as at Weetwood Hall, Leeds where Alison Chisholm is explaining ‘All you need to know about Writing Competitions’ from the 14-16th March, no price for this as yet. There is a 4 day writing retreat in Mungrisdale, Cumbria with Grevel Lindop for £199 from the 9th to the 12th May.

If you want to combine a summer holiday with a writing course there are loads of choices. This seems to be the business to be in. How about a week in Alicante for a week long poetry course from the 24th to the 31st of May run by ( the very influential ) Ann Sansom. That will knock you back 750 Euros. Which, if you’ve got the money, isn’t a bad deal.

To sum up: there’s probably some course out there that will suit you. It depends on the cost and what you want out of it. And don’t forget that some of these places, especially the Arvon ones, give grants to those on a small income.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

In Praise of Bureaucracy

Just recently one of the members of our local Poetry Society said that they were not going to bother coming to the meetings any more as they were fed up with the half hour spent prior to the main part of the meeting.

This half hour is taken up with what might be called Business where stuff like notifications of poetry comps, guest speakers, finance ( occasionally ), information about various internal or external tasks that need to be done is shared with members.

It goes almost without saying that some of this is a bit boring and most societies have two or three people who like the sound of their own voice or want to push their own agenda.

But the crucial point here is that the Society has now been active for over 60 years. This didn’t happen by accident.

There have been countless other attempts to start other poetry groups in this area. Some have been quite successful in what they achieved but all have fallen by the wayside because they relied on one or two people to do everything. There seems to have been an expectation by the majority of poets that things would happen – a sort of 60’s counter culture where it’s a bit heavy to be involved with Organisation, Man.

Very wrong. A good committee makes things easy. We’ve had a good committee for decades and the experience of this shows that the quality and quantity of the poetry actually increases.