Upcoming Readings: Ledbury, Leicester, London

The summer and autumn months are looking good for poetry.

I will be giving a variety of readings, in a variety of different formats, at various locations throughout the UK, between now and the end of October.

Ledbury 2015 Ledbury Poetry Festival, July 4th, 15:40 — 16:00

I will be reading from The Knowledge as part of the “20 Minutes With…” series at Ledbury Poetry Festival. This is one of Britain’s best-loved poetry festivals, and I’m excited to attend. More»

Hohensalzburg Castle The Saison Poetry Library at London’s Southbank Centre, August 5th 20:00 — 21:30

I will be reading from The Silence Teacher alongside fellow UK-based poets published by Poetry Salzburg. More»

shindig Leicester Shindig, September 21st 19:30 — 21:00

An ensemble reading and open mic in this much-loved Midlands reading series produced by Nine Arches Press and Crystal Clear Creators. More»

Jazz-Poetry Rhyme and Rhythm Jazz-Poetry Club in London, October 2nd 20:00 — 22:00

I’m very excited to perform poetry in collaboration with the London jazz band Special Edition (Louis Cennamo, Barry Parfitt, Tim Stephens and Graham Pike). Hosted by Allen Ashley and Sarah Doyle, with open mic slots available. More»

Hope to see you there!


New Poetry-Film Essay Online

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 20.52.07

The film-poem genre has attracted considerable interest from various disciplines, and is beginning to gain astute critical insight as an emerging artistic form.

One excellent vehicle is the German-based Poetryfilmkanal website. I was delighted to be asked to write an essay for them about the fascination of the film-poem. The relationship between art and memory has always fascinated me personally, and in this piece I regard memory as a kind of aesthetic glue holding the two genres in relationship to one another. 

You can read the full essay, “Mnemosyne’s Tango: Poetry, Film, and the Dance of Memory” at the Poetryfilmkanal website.


Writing with Integrity

What stories are ours to tell?

The Atlantic’s response to a young white male poet contemplating hanging up his pen because of these categories in which he finds himself makes the fine point that guilt is never a good reason to stop making and sharing one’s art.

Yet a fresh spate of plagiarism allegations in the poetry world, combined with the recent furore over racially transgressive conceptual poetry, has me contemplating authenticity, integrity, and the implications of what we write.

I dig into all of this in a new article for HuffPost Books.

For me personally, it comes down to this:

  • Write what is yours to write
  • Credit your sources
  • Engage both heart and mind
  • Consider the wider implications
  • And, as Ezra Pound said, “Make it new!”

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the article.


Valerie Morton Does The Knowledge

British poet Valerie Morton takes a close look at The Knowledge in a guest review on the website of Canadian poet E.E. Nobbs. How fittingly trans-Atlantic is that?

She calls the book, “strange”, “quirky”, and “honest”, and remarks, “What impresses me greatly is the author’s humanity, which I found very moving.”

Morton draws out themes of loss and culture shock in the first section of the book. Reflecting on the “difficult” middle section, she concludes, “the fact that America has been at war for most of its existence makes this section particularly enlightening.” About the London poems, she praises “such watchfulness and perception that I felt … invited to look at the city of my birth through new eyes.”

Finally, as a fellow poet, she seems to have a favourite:

Every poem in this unique collection is worth a special mention, but I cannot leave the book without showcasing one that holds particular significance for all poets  —  ‘Nocturne with Writer’s Block’  —  where Robert Peake explores the two ‘selves’ of a poet with surprising honesty and produces an extraordinary piece of work on the secret life of writer’s block.

Finally, she praises the “beautifully produced and bound” object that is the book itself, concluding that, “It seems to tell you to be ready for anything and everything  —  a new kind of knowledge  —  dip your own eyes in and you will not be disappointed.”

You can read the full review on the website of E.E. Nobbs.


Interviewed in The Poetry Shed

“I saw something nasty in the wood shed.”
-Aunt Ada, “Cold Comfort Farm”

A ShedThere’s nothing nasty in Abegail Morley’s Poetry Shed. I know becaus she recently invited me in for an interview.

We talked about the editorial process leading up to publication of The Knowledge, how the editor Jane and I worked together, and what it was like to finally see the finished product. The publication process can be a bit of a mystery to some, so thanks to Abegail for asking about this side of things and shedding some light on what was involved in bringing this book into the world.

You can read the full interview at The Poetry Shed.


The Knowledge Gets a Grip (and a Shearing)

London GripD A Prince takes firm hold of The Knowledge, examining constituent parts and unifying threads, in a new review for London Grip.

She calls it “complex”, full of “subtle questioning”, which is what she likes best. She also praises the new format of the Nine Arches book itself, concluding, “Peake is lucky with his publisher  —  and they are lucky to have him on their list.” I do feel lucky indeed.

You can read the full review on London Grip.

Whereas Prince found the middle section least in tune with the rest, Geoff Sawers hacks away at the final section of the book in a brief write-up for Shearsman Review. He tempers his dislike of the London poems with the idea that, “Poetry is not about averages; it’s more like the High Jump, where your best one counts.” “Last Gasp”, for him, is that one that counts, and “soars”.

As reviews and comments roll in, both in public and private, it would seem that I have written a book that is one part a kind of poetry anthology penned by my multiple selves, one part Rorschach test for its readership. Some days it feels like everyone’s an editor (and they don’t always agree), yet on a more positive note, it would seem that there is truly something for everyone in this book.

What do you think? If you’ve been provoked by The Knowledge, I’d love to read your thoughts in a user review on Goodreads or Amazon.


So Long, Mannahatta!

“New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town! / The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down.”
-“On The Town”, sung by Frank Sinatra

So a book tour that began in the medieval English village of Much Wenlock ends in New York.

We capped off a feasting-our-senses-through-Manhattan city break with a trip to Walt Whitman’s birthplace on Long Island. I gave my “Tactics for Sneaky Poets” workshop to a receptive and talented local group, and was given a private tour of the house and very room where Uncle Walt was born, before taking to the stage.

What a pleasure and privilege it was to read with Peter Cole, who drew parallels between Whitman’s transcendentalist philosophy and ancient Jewish mysticism. He read poems from the depths of his own multitudes as well. Afterward, we answered questions from the audience about translation, displacement, and the necessity of the creative act.

I also marked the fourth anniversary of moving to England while here, surrounded by New Yorkers and ancient Egyptian artefacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York feels in many ways like a midpoint — both geographically and culturally — between my native rural California and adopted London. Yet it is entirely its own place as well. I will be sorry to say goodbye.

I won’t be sorry to get back to a radiator I can control, however, as all the apartment buildings seem to keep them on full-tilt until the end of May. As the street below is waking up, the cast-iron pipes beside my bed are banging furiously, transforming our tiny West Village apartment into a dry sauna.

Val and I have stripped off completely, lounging around like Adam and Eve. We have tasted The Big Apple. I have a feeling we will be back for more.