Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sunday Poem – Jennifer Copley

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For those of you who aren’t on my facebook, this weekend has been a mix of loveliness and trauma, in that order.  The loveliness came in the form of my friend Manon, who got married to Dylan.  Manon looked really beautiful and didn’t leave the dancefloor all night at the party in the evening.  And I mean, she didn’t leave the dancefloor at all.  She is Hardcore.  The other nice thing was that Manon had lots of nice friends as well – we were sat on a table with two lovely couples – John is a poet and was on one of the writing courses that I went on at Ty Newydd about four or five years ago – I haven’t seen him since then so it was great to catch up.  We’d both been asked to write a poem for the wedding and they were both very different, but I think they went down really well.  Anyway, I danced all night, or most of the night anyway – no alcohol as it doesn’t seem to be agreeing with me lately and the DJ played three Rolling Stones songs so I was happy.

In the middle of the night, I was woken up by a really loud crash and I jumped out of bed, ran to the bathroom and found Chris lying on the floor, completely unconscious, his face covered in blood.  I picked up his head and put it in my lap and said ‘Chris, Chris’ and he didn’t answer me, and I honestly, for those ten seconds or so when he was unconscious, and it must have only been seconds, although it felt like longer, I thought he was dead, and it was like my insides just fell away, and I felt completely alone, as if I’d not noticed that I wasn’t alone until he wasn’t there.  He was all floppy, and his eyes were kind of rolling in his head.

Then he made a groaning noise and I was so relieved that he was alive and I realised he must have fallen over, hit his head and knocked himself out.  He kept saying ‘I want to go to sleep, I’m tired’ and I kept talking to him, keeping him awake.  Then he said he was too hot, and his skin was all clammy, so I wet a towel and wiped his face and head because I thought at least that will wake him up more.  He gradually started to be more coherent, and then I was able to ring the reception of the hotel, who then rang for paramedics, who were there in about ten minutes.

They were amazing – really calm, professional, not fazed at all by the blood -well of course they’re not, but I was fighting down this panic the whole time.  Chris said he could remember feeling dizzy and then nothing else – apparently it’s quite common for men to faint when they get up to go to the toilet in the night, because all the blood rushes from their heads to their bladders – or something like that.

Anyway, Chris had put his teeth through his bottom lip, ripped the skin that joins your lower lip to your gum and chipped half of one front tooth, but apart from that he is ok physically.  We are both still really shocked – I keep thinking about the way his face looked on the floor when he was unconscious – horrible horrible experience.

Anyway, he is cheering himself up by telling people about it and getting some sympathy, which is unusual for him, as he is usually very stoical, doesn’t complain and doesn’t really get attention ever for being ill.  We have been very nice to each other all day today – something happening like this makes you realise what is important in life.

Anyway, we are safely back in Barrow now – I’m writing this having had only four hours sleep, as we were in A and E in Wrexham for four hours so there will probably be even more mistakes than usual.

Tomorrow its Swan Lake and Clem of the Clough in a Carlisle primary school and Tuesday is the dreaded tax return, and the rest of the week will be finishing off my last remaining tasks for the Poetry Business Advanced Writing School on Saturday.  On Sunday I’ll be with the junior band and  a friend from music college running an all day workshop for the kids – so I’m really looking forward to that.

And here is today’s Sunday Poem!  I needed something to cheer me up today and luckily I have the first poem from Jennifer Copley’s new collection ‘Mr Trickfeather’ out with Like This Press.  The pamphlet is a beautiful object in its own right, with brown covers, ripped black tissue paper inside covers and tiny illustrations by Jenny’s husband Martin Copley to go with each prose poem in the pamphlet. The pamphlet is a sequence about this strange character called ‘Mr TrickFeather’ and his assorted associates and daughters and it is funny, clever and moving, often at the same time.

Jenny is my co tutor on the Abott’s Hall Residential Course on the 11th Feb (see tab for details).  She is a widely published poet and has various collections out including ‘Beans in Snow’ published in 2009 by Smokestack

http://www.smokestack-books.co.uk/

and ‘Living Daylights’ published by the rather wonderful Happenstance Press http://www.happenstancepress.com/

Helena Nelson, the editor of Happenstance, also does a rather excellent blog.

Jenny is a very good friend of mine and lives about five minutes drive away from me and I’ve been enjoying the various poetry things that we’ve started doing together.  She was one of the first poets who really encouraged me when I started out, I mean really encouraged me.  When we did a workshop together at Grange Over Sands a woman turned up who said that Jenny had been the person who had encouraged her when she was starting out writing as well – which tells you a little of the sort of person she is – very generous to new writers.

She is also a really interesting poet because she is constantly re-evaluating and changing.  No collection is ever the same, or even nearly the same.  Her last two pamphlets have both been extended sequences but on very different subjects.  She is definitely quite a dark poet, but her poetry will make you laugh out loud as well and you will hear the influence of fairytales and myth telling even in this very small extract that I’m putting up today.  If you would like to buy Mr Trickfeather you can get it from Like This Press at http://www.likethispress.co.uk

This is the first two poems  from Mr Trickfeather- if you want to find out what happens to him next and his daughters – you know what to do!  I obviously haven’t been able to put up Martin’s fab drawing that accompanies this poem either.

If you would like more information about Jenny her website is http://www.jennifercopley.co.uk

Mr Samuel Trickfeather by Jennifer Copley

Once upon a time when the earth was flat there lived a man
who was so afraid of falling off the edge that he tied himself to
the doorknob of his front door and never went anywhere but
home.  He hoed his peas and potatoes but ate them raw because
he could not reach his cooking pot, slept on the doorstep
because he could not reach his bed, shaved his beard in his
reflection in the water butt.  He was a happy man, sang like a
crazy bird all day long, prayed with his daughters in the warm
evenings, thanking God for sturdy zinc walls and the strength
of Rumalia Best Nylon Rope.

Mr Trickfeather’s daughters,

Pearl and Precious, were not afraid of the edge of the earth and
wandered freely.  Both refused to tie themselves down to any
man, laughing their gap-toothed smiles in the faces of would-be
suitors.  Pearl was large and fat with crinkles everywhere.
Precious was slender as the crescent moon.  Their father was
ashamed that his line would die with them, hurled rotten
potatoes if they tried to reform him.  He could always spot the
scissors in their pockets.

Estuary: A Confluence of Art and Poetry, Poem and A Pint, Wordsworth Trust and Residential Course

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Evening All – Just a bit of information about some  poetry events coming up –

On the 9th of February we have the wonderful Tony Curtis  coming to read at Poem and A Pint at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston, start time 7.30pm.  Please check the website http://www.apoemandapint.co.uk

11-13th February – Our residential course is taking place at Abbot Hall, Grange over Sands.  There are only four places left on this course so if you’ve been thinking about coming I would book sooner rather than later.  Please check the tab ‘Residential Course-Abbot Hall’ for more information about the type of things we will be doing.

14th February – A celebratory reading for the launch of Estuary: A Confluence of Art and Poetry with readings by myself, Agnes Marton and Rachel McGladdery.  This is a really beautiful book and I’m looking forward to the reading.  The Abbot Hall hotel are offering discounted extra nights for writing course participants, and the reading is the night after the course finishes – just saying…

16th February – David Morley is coming to do a workshop at the Wordsworth Trust!  I only just booked on and there were very few places left – so again, if you’ve been thinking about it and not doing it – get your self in gear!

 

EstuaryCumbriaFinalEvening everyone – information about a reading that I’m taking part in on February 14th, 2013 to celebrate the launch of a beautiful anthology called ‘Estuary – A Confluence of Art and Poetry”.  This reading is at Abbot Hall Hotel the day after the residential course that I’m running with Jennifer Copley – it would be lovely to see some course participants there – it’s completely free to get in and it’s a beautiful book.

 

Estuary: A Confluence of Art & Poetry
Published by Moon and Mountain, 2012

Art Editor: Harriette Lawler
Poetry Editor: Agnes Marton



“An estuary is that part of the mouth or lower course of a river in which the river’s current meets the sea’s tide. An abundance of nutrient-rich food is found in this biome. Estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth, creating habitats for 1000s of species to live, feed, and reproduce. 26 artists and 57 poets from around the world have come together in this 120 page, full color book to create an estuary of images and words, art and poetry flowing together.”

Moon and Mountain's website: http://www.moonandmountain.org/Estuary.html

The book may be previewed and purchased at:

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3683608 (hardcover)
http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3811083 (softcover)

Sunday Poem – Jill Abram

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Evening everybody.  I’ve been away again!  This time I’ve been staying in Hebden Bridge with my two lovely friends, David Tait and David Thom at the House of David and David.  On Saturday I ran a workshop for Leeds Writers Circle called ‘Starting To Publish’.  It’s my favourite workshop to run because I love sending submissions to poetry magazines, I love poetry magazines, and I like trying to pass this enthusiasm on.  I ran the workshop last year at Ledbury, and the lovely Hilary Hares, one of the participants, got in touch afterwards to say that she’d had a poem published after sending some out so I’m waiting with baited breath to see if any of the Leeds Writers follow it up and start submitting.  It was lovely to see some old friends as well – the rather wonderful David Agnew, Peter White and Ian Harker, who I haven’t seen for a while – and what a wonderful thing Leeds Writers Circle have going – long may it continue – they have regular workshops for members, manuscript evenings and a competition – definately worth looking up if you are in the Leeds area.

I’m running the workshop again for Lancaster Spotlight soon – see the ‘Readings and Workshops’ tab for more details!

I’m now safely back in Barrow and starting to think that I’m getting far too used to going around the country visiting friends – my jobs this week will be: finishing the poem for Manon Ceridwen’s wedding  which is this Saturday(!), reading at the Penning Perfumes event at the Kraak Space in Manchester on Wednesday – Martin Kratz has kindly agreed to meet me at the train station so I don’t even have to worry about working out where the venue is.  Next Monday, I’m running a poetry workshop on Swan Lake for a Year 4 class in a Carlisle school – so tomorrow, I’ll be planning that with a sense of urgency and slight panic.

When I checked the blog stats this morning in my usual self-obsessed way, I noticed that there are lots of hits on Andrew Forster’s poem ‘Damselflies’.  In my usually sharp, quick-witted way, I have attributed this to the fact that not only is it a wonderful poem, but it is also one of the poems that has been plagiarised by Christian Ward.  Helen Mort and Tim Dooley have also had their poems plagiarised as well as an American writer called Paisley Rekdal.

I’ve been in contact with Andrew to check he doesn’t mind me blogging about this – I felt that I had to say something because of the interest and traffic to the site because of it.  Andrew has said that he would like to deal with it quietly and through his publisher and that he has received a full apology from Christian Ward and a full acknowledgement.

I felt it was fair to warn Andrew that he might have got it from this blog – however Andrew’s poem has appeared online elsewhere, as well as in his collection ‘Territory’ so there are numerous sources which it seems pointless to speculate about.  It was strange that when I was notified by an acquaintance about this, I felt very upset – almost culpable, because the poem appeared here – I also know this is illogical.

Someone has posted the link to the plagiarised version of the poem underneath Andrew’s poem – Who ever posted the link has also suggested that I should feel angry – I don’t, really.  I feel protective of Andrew, who I know is a very private person who will not enjoy the attention this will bring, and I still feel sorry for CW – despite his ill-advised comments, despite his serial plagiarising.  He has harmed himself much more than anyone else, and I don’t really want to add to any of that.  I’ve had some bad experiences, like everybody else, but feeling as happy as I do now, I can’t imagine anything more awful than having most of the poetry world pissed off with me…

On to more happier subjects – I stayed with Jill Abram last week and she showed me some of her poems (well lots of them actually) and I’ve decided to give you two poems for the price of one because they are small poems, and because they are both acts of homage in different ways to other artists, which seems relevant to what I’ve just been discussing, and because I’m a slacker and didn’t post one last week!

One is a poem about Hugh Masekela, who is one of my favourite trumpet players, and the other is an example of how poets can use other poems in a positive way.  Jill has taken the spirit and scaffolding of the famous William Carlos Williams ‘Plums’ poem and written her own response to it.  This poem made me laugh out loud when I read it – and the Hugh Masekela poem is touching in its simplicity, and I think manages to sum up a whole personality in just a few words.

Jill is the Director of ‘Malika’s Poetry Kitchen’ in London which is a writer’s collective founded in 2001 by Malika Booker which emphasises craft, community and development.  She won the inaugral PoetryPulse.com competition and is the Wham Bam Poetry Slam champion and was a semi-finalist in the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam thi syear.  She has been published in the Loose Muse anthologies, Ariadne’s Thread and at http://greatbritishbardoff.blogspot.co.uk.  She has recently been collaborating with musician Julian Bardock and they have plans in the pipeline for further performances together at festivals.  She is originally from Manchester, but now lives in Brixton and is a regular on the Spoken word scene since 2008.

Brief Encounter – Jill Abram

Hugh Masakela hugged me
backstage at the Barbican.

I’d held out my hand
for a short shake

but he opened his arms
inviting an embrace.

This is just to say – Jill Abram

I found your poem
most amusing
and so I laughed;

I did not realise
it was meant to be
moving – a deep

emotional and spiritual
experience which you
actually lived through.

Forgive me
but it was
very funny.

Living the Dream – the T.S.Eliot Readings

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Last weekend I had a go at Living The Dream  – I decided to swan off to London to go to the T.S.Eliot readings.  By splitting the train journey up, I got a return train ticket to London for 48 quid – unfortunately this involved me having about twenty different tickets. 

My friend Jill Abram, who I met on a Second Light course in August, offered to put me up for the night, and was also very keen to go to the readings.  When it turned out the readings were the same weekend as her birthday, it was deemed necessary to go to a spa hotel the night before.  Well I couldn’t not go, could I?

So Saturday afternoon saw me having a swim in the swimming pool (first time in years) and then a massage, and then a meal, meeting Jill’s other lovely friends on the  way… and then Sunday morning we went to a butterfly park.  I didn’t mention that I used to be scared of butterflies – I didn’t realy want to admit to this – but when I got in there, and realised that they were big as birds – literally – and not particularly shy – I realised I would have to come clean – unfortunately before I could I ran like a big baby when one fluttered into my face.

Anyway, after that, it was a drive back to Jill’s, a quick change and then off to the T.S.Eliot readings – I was so excited when we arrived and saw lots of people milling around the bar.  It’s so different to a normal poetry reading – the main difference being, there is an audience of 2,000.  It reminded me of being in the butterfly park and the poets were like the butterflys – I spotted Ruth Padel (we were ordering a drink at the same time), spoke to lovely Michael Symmons Roberts, who was my tutor at MMU and a lovely, lovey chap – I saw Paul Stephenson who is on the Poetry Business Writing School with me – but I didn’t say hello because he’d disappeared by the time I’d finished my conversation – Jo Bell and Martin Malone, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Malika Booker – Jill gave them a lift back – I love their energy and passion for poetry…and lots of others – long conversation with Zaffar Kunial and lots of other people that I’m sure I’ve forgotten about temporarily.

And then the readings!  I travelled down to London on the train with Sharon Olds as my firm favourite – I loved her book ‘Stags Leap’ – sometimes I felt sick when I was reading it – such raw grief, yet not raw in an uncontrolled way – but so honest, brutally honest, yet without any bitterness, and she must be a better person than me, because I think bitterness would definately creep into my poems about my husband leaving me for another woman, even fifteen years after the event.   Anyway, on the way down, I read Jorie Graham – and really enjoyed that as well – because of her long lines, there is a strange sensation of trying to hang on to the idea, or concept at the beginning of the line. 

And then Kathleen Jamie and Jacob Polley read, and became my favourites – Jacob got the only spontaneous round of applause of the evening.  But Sharon Olds is so lovely in person – she has this grace and calmness which she carries with her.  So I am glad she won, and the whole night was wonderful.  I think I might be addicted to going now though – which could turn out expensive!

Anyway, living the dream for the weekend, meant walking back from the train station in Barrow on Sunday, and being attacked, yes, attacked, by a random hail storm.  All my neighbours were standing on the doorsteps laughing at it and at me, trudging down the street. 

And living the dream also has meant being absolutely worn out this week – I’ve had ten entries to get ready for the Music Festival in Ulverston this week and a workshop to plan for Leeds Writer’s Circle about Starting to Publish in magazines.  I’m now worrying about whether I’m going to be able to get over there though through all the snow…

and now I REALLY need to send my poem in for the ‘Penning Perfumes’ event – I’m a day late, and I REALLY need to finish the poem for my friend’s wedding – and I keep getting distracted by the new issue of Poetry London, which has a fantastic poem by Ian Duhig on the very first page, which I keep going back too…

Sunday Poem – Gaia Holmes

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Hello everybody! Today I’ve been reading John Burnside’s ‘A Hunt in the Forest’ and sorting out all my poems, with the view to starting to work on the manuscript for my first collection.  I’ve been wafting about saying ‘I’m not really ready yet to start on it’ without actually having the courage to look and see what I’ve got.  It turns out I’ve been hoarding poems – counting the stuff in the pamphlet, I’ve got about 70 so this has given me the bit of confidence I need to start putting something together. 

As well as doing that, I’ve started on an article that I’m writing for Artemis AND watched Watership Down AND did the food shopping…unfortunately this approach means that I’ve not got any job finished – but the night is young!

The first Sunday Poem of 2013 – and I thought I would put up a poem that will hopefully make us all take ourselves a little less seriously.  I met Gaia Holmes at a reading organised in mid-december last year by Ian Parks.  I really enjoyed her reading, but in particular this poem, which had the audience laughing out loud.  The poem recounts the tribulations of going to a poetry workshop – now, as you all may know, I am obsessed with poetry workshops, I love them, but there are good poetry workshops and then there are bad poetry workshops….

Gaia Holmes lives in Halifax, UK. She is a part time creative writing lecturer at the University of Huddersfield and free-lance writer who works with schools, libraries and other community groups throughout the West Yorkshire region. In her spare time Gaia is a DJ for Phoenix FM, Calderdale’s community radio station. She plays accordion with the band ‘Crow Hill Stompers’. Her 2nd poetry collection, Lifting the Piano with one hand is due out with Comma Press in Spring 2013.

Here is Gaia’s poem

Murdering My Darlings – Gaia Holmes 

Following your advice
I have removed all excessive,
ornamental language from this poem.
The reader will no longer find
the small orgasmic palpitations
of humming bird’s wings
in the seventh stanza
or cherry stones
spat out like rabbit hearts
in the second line. 

I have also removed the scent
that permeated this verse,
the perfumes that you said
stank of clichés.
Now this poem smells
of the empty, anesthetic void
of doctors’ waiting rooms.
This poem reeks of service stations,
slack cement and indifference.

 I have erased all references
to fruit, philosophers
and obscure alcoholic drinks
and replaced them
with more accessible imagery
such as broken bus shelters,
abandoned shopping trolleys,
dogs and mackintoshes.

You hinted that my poem ‘tries too hard’.
You will be pleased to note
that this revised version
doesn’t try at all.
I have also applied your wise advice
regarding structure
and altered all the line 

breaks.

And though I trust and value
your suggestions,
though I know that
your constructive criticism
will make this a better poem
I’m afraid I have to leave the thin scientist
eating rice with a pair of tweezers
in the final verse.
I have to leave spilt wine, a broken topaz choker
and blood stains on the bed sheets.
I have to leave the old woman
who keeps the moon
in a bowl like a goldfish
radiating amber light across the page

Highlights of 2012

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By now, most people have already done their 2012 round ups.  However, I’ve been in Leicester for the week before Christmas, and then North Wales for the week after Christmas, and I’ve finally got back to Barrow today.

At first I thought maybe I’d missed the boat on 2012 round ups, but then I figured, I would do a highlights one, and cheer everybody up who has had to go back to work – not counting myself – I don’t go back till Tuesday – huzzah! And I thought I would go by month, so as not to miss anything –

January
I can’t remember anything that happened in January, other than that I found out I’d got a job  I’d applied for which leads us on to….

February and March
I started a ten week poetry project in a north-west prison with Tony Walsh, on behalf of Apples and Snakes.  This was probably the highlight of my year actually – I learnt so much about myself, and had lots of preconceptions overturned – realised I would love to work in a prison in the future.

April
The women’s poetry festival at Grasmere!  I was asked to take part in a panel discussion event, and did a reading.   I met the lovely, lovely Jane Hirshfield and kind of fell in love with her/her poetry/both.

May
I found out I’d won the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition in May!  Very exciting month of editing, and then a launch for all four winners at Grasmere – which is very close to where I live, and I found out what lovely friends I have in the poetry world, as they all turned out in force.  Best day of the year.

June
I read at Manky Poets in June and was forced on to the kareoke afterwards to sing Dolly Parton, but even that cannot beat the wonderful Poetry Parnassus.  The couple of days I managed to spend in London being a buddy for three international poets (one of whom I didn’t find in the wonderful, organised chaos)  has started me off exploring translated poetry this year, which to my shame, I hadn’t got round to until going to this event and having my eyes opened.  The poetry publisher Arc have been a wonderful place to start.

July
The highlight of July has to be the opportunity to be Young Poet-in-Residence at Ledbury.  Amazing experience and free tickets to the events – hearing Kay Ryan read was great.

August
In August, I went to Fermoy in Ireland, after being one of the winners of the Fermoy International Poetry Competition.  I was flown over and cried on the plane on the way home because I didn’t want to leave.  I met some very special people over there including but not limited to! Jan Glass, Ita Dempsey, Gene Barry
And then I went on a course with the Second Light Network and the people I met there were lovely too – Hilda Sheehan, Jill Abram

September
I went part-time at work in September – a massive step for me.  September was still busy – I started a Writing School course at the Poetry Business, read at Lancaster Spotlight and Poetry Wivenhoe and had a great day at the Inpress Poetry Day in London – the sun shone and Ita Dempsey was over from Ireland, and we managed to find each other, only to discover we were both wearing the same outfits we were wearing the last time we’d met!  Spooky or what?  And before you suggest it, we had both washed and changed in the meantime

October
I ran a workshop and did a reading with Jennifer Copley on National Poetry Day which also happened to be my birthday, went to the Lancaster Litfest All Day Poetry Shindig, and heard the wonderful William Letford read and drove all the way to Sheffield to hear Sharon Olds read.

November
November was mainly about playing the trumpet in Phantom of the Opera – lots of people since then have asked me what part I played – obviously my updates about this had the delusion of grandeur – I was sitting off stage playing the trumpet – but I really enjoyed the whole experience.   My sister was playing French Horn so we had a great time playing together and the Lakes school put on a fab production.  Fiona Sampson came to read for us at A Poem and A Pint which was great and I got to meet her very cute puppy.

December
I read at Carol Ann Duffy and Friends event at the Royal Exchange – which was a real privilage.  I took the junior band carolling, which could have been horrendous, but was really enjoyable – a highlight in fact!

So there you go – that was my 2012.  Somewhere in there, but I don’t know which months, I got some lovely reviews, but the thing that sets 2012 apart for me is the people that I’ve met.  I’ve made some wonderful friends – some of whom I’ve mentioned here – but what about the others…Carola Luther, Andrew Forster….

This year, one of my closest friends David Tait, is off to start a new life in China which is sad for me, but exciting for him, and my other best friend Manon Ceridwen is getting married.

I’m gallivanting off to Swindon, Leicester, Leeds, Lancaster and Manchester so far in 2013 to run workshops or do readings, and of course in February I’m the tutor on a residential course for the first time.  So I’ve got a lot to look forward to, and a lot of new things to learn, a big pile of books to read, a first collection to finish…

Tomorrow is the first Sunday poem of the year – something else to look forward to!  I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year and I hope to meet some of you in the ‘real’ world as well as the virtual

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Here is a great post by Abegaiil Morley. She has asked lots of poets to recommend their favourite reads of the year – I’ve already got my reading list for 2013 sorted from this. Wish I’d thought of this idea!

The Poetry Shed

poetry bookshelf

Top titles for me….

 
Sharon Olds – One Secret Thing (Cape): I love this book for its wisdom. In the hands of a lesser poet, it could have been vindictive or bitter. It is not a comfortable read, but is well worth it.

John Burnside – Black Cat Bone: (Cape) After reading this, I’ve hunted down more of his poetry. Love its mystery and musicality.

Carola Luther – Herd: (The Wordsworth Trust) Carola was the Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust last year. I’ve always loved her work, but really enjoyed the new direction that she takes in this pamphlet.

Ian Parks – The Cavafy Varations: (Rack Press) Cavafy is one of my favourite poets and I think Ian has done a great job with his variations. Would have been quite happy if the pamphlet was twice the length, which is always a good sign!

Kim Moore

Poetry

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