2015 Roundup Year in Review

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2015 was the year of The Knowledge for me, as well as a spate of film-poems, collaborations, and trips to new places. Here’s a brief look back at the salient moments from each month.

January: Nine Years of Love

I reflect on nine years since the birth and death of our son, in the year when my maternal grandfather and spiritual teacher also pass on. The conclusion is simply this: our world is in need of love.

February: Namesake (Film-Poem Online)

A paean to my namesake/nemesis, this bit of machinima plays with identity in the digital age using parallax techniques. It was both painstaking and fun to make.

March: Sneak Peek at The Knowledge

Excitement builds as Nine Arches Press publishes a few poems from the book online.

April: The Knowledge Arrives

I drive up to Milton Keynes to receive my first batch of author copies of the book. A surreal and wonderful moment on many levels.

May: Reading and Workshop at Walt Whitman Birthplace

I delight in setting foot in New York for the first time (!) to give a half-day workshop and evening reading at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.

June: "Mnemosyne's Tango: Poetry, Film, and the Dance of Memory"

A brief essay in which I lay out what fascinates me most about the film-poem genre.

July: Ledbury Poetry Festival

I take in Ledbury, catching up with poets like George Wallace, George Szirtes, and Daniel Sluman in various cafes and pubs.

August: The Essence of Instinct (Film-Poem Online)

Hot on the heels of the release of Google's new Deep Dream technology, I give it a try as the basis for a new film-poem.

September: Letting the Robin out of the Bag

Nine Arches Press puts my poem "Robin" on their promotional canvas bag. Beautifully done, it becomes the basis for a few Christmas presents this year.

October: World Literature Today Does The Knowledge

Piotr Florczyk takes a deep dive into The Knowledge, and comes up with a few pearls.

November: The Knowledge Goes Pining for the Fjords

Abby E. Murray sucks the marrow from this book. To know even one reader has read the book this carefully--let alone a poet I admire as much as Abby--is a rare privilege indeed.

December: Two Poems, and a Review of The Knowledge, in Poetry Salzburg Review

Ian Watson gives a ringing endorsement of The Knowledge, concluding, "The problem with The Knowledge is that there are just too many striking images, too many poems to cite. Just go out and buy it."


Roll on 2016!

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Reaching the Next Generation with Poetry

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Edwin in the RainI never thought of myself as a children’s poet.

Yet it was thanks to Dr. Seuss that I began to delight in language itself, and I believe this early contact was crucial to my subsequent love affair with poetry. The tradition continues today, with excellent children’s poetry books coming out in print like In the Land of the Giants by George Szirtes (Salt, 2012). Yet I wonder if reaching children where we increasingly find them — affixed to the glow of a touch-screen device, with the whole of the Internet just a tap away — can be just as effective to instil a love of words and sounds.

As I explained at the award ceremony for our film-poem “Buttons”, this was part of the impetus for the film’s creation. Video has taken on a new life online. The next generation is growing up on YouTube in the same way that we grew up on radio and television.

Our film-poem was a labour of love — both in its conception as a collaboration between my pianist wife Valerie and me, and in its dedication to our young nephew in Australia. The response that night in the Purcell room, and the following day during an interview and screening of this and other children’s film-poems at the Southbank Centre, as well as the reverberations throughout social media as parent-friends pulled their children close to watch it together — has been heartening indeed.

Continuing in this spirit, I have decided to make a storybook version of the poem available to download for free on both iOS and Android devices. My hope is that parents will be able to read the poem and watch the film with their children in the same way that I turned the dog-eared pages of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish with my own mum so long ago.

You can download the book and watch the film right here.

Download for iOS/MacDownload for Android


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Troubadour Poetry Prize Reading

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OwlI made my way to Earls Court on Monday night, to participate in a very special installation of Coffee-House Poetry wherein I was awarded one of twenty commendations in the 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Prize. These were selected, along with first, second, and third prize, by George Szirtes and Deryn Rees-Jones from more than 3,300 entries this year.

Particularly special for me that evening was being asked to also read the third-place poem by Tim Nolan of Minnesota. I found his poem, “Red Wing Correctional Facility”, about teaching poetry to young men in prison, very moving, and was honoured to be able to lend it my voice that night on my countryman’s behalf.

In second place, Mona Arshi’s “Bad Day at the Office” was a funny and affecting surrealist romp through the domestic details of a very bad day indeed. To accept her first-place award, Hideko Sueoka joined us from Tokyo. Even as her poem, “Owl”, deconstructed the sounds of English, gradually reassembling them into the language of owls, so too did Hideko herself seem to transfigure before us.

It was a great pleasure to hear Deryn Rees-Jones and George Szirtes read their own work in the second half. As George was reading, I was reflecting on our Transatlantic Poetry broadcast in August, and thinking how nice it was to be able to hear him read without having to worry myself with any of the technical details. At that moment, one of the stage lights blew. In any case, it was a pleasure to shake his hand — something not possible over the Internet.

Congratulations to everyone involved, and to Anne-Marie Fyfe for seven years running of this notable international poetry competition and the delicious evening that goes with it.

Read all of the prize-winning poems at Coffee-House Poetry.

<a href="https://soundcloud.com/peakepoetics/still-life-with-bougainvillea" target="_blank">Click to hear an audio recording of the commended poem "Still Life with Bougainvillea"</a>

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Hanging Out with Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes on Air

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I just finished “hanging out” with Jane Hirshfield, George Szirtes, and about a hundred new poetry-loving friends.

As part of the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series, George and Jane were able to join me from their homes, read some of their newer work, and answer questions from viewers — all online, using their laptops and a web browser.

I love how this format gives space for the poetry, sparks interesting conversation, and makes such an intimate experience global. Best of all, the entire broadcast is already available to watch (and watch again) at your leisure.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jfJ_lGfs4M">Click here to watch the video</a>

Click here for the latest news and updates from the Transatlantic Poetry community

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Ranting About Transatlantic Poetry

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Ireland-based The Ranting Beast interviewed me recently about the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series. I talk a bit about how the idea came to me, the perfectly imperfect nature of the very first broadcast, and what we are doing to make future broadcasts engaging and memorable. You can read the full interview here.

I am particularly excited about our upcoming broadcast in August, featuring Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes, two well-known poets who are also translators, scholars, and deeply thoughtful people. It should be a wonderful evening. In case you need one, here is a personal invitation to join us:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jaq9NCXuWns"><img src="http://www.peakepro.com/files/2013/07/hirshfield-szirtes-spash-300x168.jpg" alt="Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes on August 14th" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-4663" /></a>

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An Interview and Two Readings (Busy Week!)

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Books by Mackenzie and PhilipI recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scottish poets Rob A. Mackenzie and Andrew Philip for the Huffington Post UK. We conducted the interview using email, passing around batches of questions so that they we could bounce off one other’s ideas and create a conversation. It was the next best thing to sharing a table at a coffee shop with them both, and the results make for an an enjoyable read: “Music, Memory and Subversion: Two Scottish Poets’ Second Books“.

Andrew will also be featured on July 10th as part of the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series, paired with California poet Michelle Bitting. The response to that initiative has been extremely positive so far, with poetry lovers on both sides of the pond eager to tune in these very special kinds of readings that could only happen in this century. To sign up to attend this reading, as well as a reading on August 14th with Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes, be sure to join the rapidly-growing Transatlantic Poetry Community on Google+.

Michelle Bitting and Andrew Philip // Transatlantic Poetry on Air

 

Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes // Transatlantic Poetry on Air

Click here for the latest news and updates from the Transatlantic Poetry community

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