The Essence of Instinct (Film-Poem Online)

<a href="https://vimeo.com/135297786"><img src="http://www.robertpeake.com/files/2015/08/0196-300x169.jpg" alt="0196" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-7197" /><br />Click here to watch</a>

 

The Essence of Instinct

for Charles Darwin

That summer you were alone
with your thoughts, which is to say
you were never alone.

Nuage. Vapours. The Narwhal.
Collecting iridescent bugs
in your barely-visible net.

Cataloguing, by sputtering candle
the endless lists, ink darkening
the corner of your mouth.

Your armament of facts
was nothing much to her, as she
tested your reflexes with a pin.

Birdwatching. Beetles. Pheasant
blood-ruffled, shot-riddled,
a black stone’s coup de grâce.

Once there was no pattern,
the crochet unpicked by needles,
coloured threads, broken limbs.

Pricked, you bleed like a prism,
dividing light from light
through the aperture of pain.

All at once, the peacock
opens his eyes, and the threads
pull tight, stitching you in.

Process Notes

Continue reading…


Help with Your Summer Reading List

Trifecta!

[UPDATE: this offer has now come to an end.]

In celebration of summer, I am making a special offer available that should be particularly enticing to international readers.

Purchase The Silence Teacher and The Knowledge together and you will get instant access to download the e-book In Pieces free of charge as well as … wait for it … free shipping on both physical books (yes, including international orders).

If you already have one or more of these books, this is a great way to introduce them to a friend. I am also happy to sign and/or personalise the books — just make note of what you want with the order.

I have a limited stock, though, and summer is on the wane — so do place an order soon if you’re interested.


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.