To my knowledge, the T.S. Eliot prize shortlist has never included someone in Eliot’s own circumstances — that is, an American-born poet living in the UK. Yet there are many of us out here, and many worth knowing more about.
I have therefore complied a list of Five Expat Poets to Watch in 2016.
Seek them out, enjoy their work, and raise a cup of tea to the special (poetic) relationship.
View the complete list here.
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!
Following on from last year’s success, I will again be offering a limited number of one-to-one “Poetry Surgeries” through the UK Poetry Society in St. Albans, Hertfordshire on Sunday, January 31st. This is a great way to get new perspectives and reinvigorate your writing for the coming year.
Valerie Morton, author of two full-length collections of poetry, had this to say about our time together:
Having never done a ‘poetry surgery’ before I was a little apprehensive, but Robert Peake immediately put me at ease. He had done a lot of work on the poems I had sent in advance and helped me to look at them with new eyes. His thoughts and ideas helped me free up my language and inspired me to be braver with the material I had. I felt I was getting into a bit of a rut with my writing but I left this surgery feeling uplifted and encouraged to be unafraid to experiment more. It was one of the best value hours I have spent with a poet who I trust and whose own work I admire. It certainly helps lift a writer’s block.
These one-hour sessions take place in a central location in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, near to parking, train, and bus links. Last time, all sessions sold out, and this time there are fewer sessions available. So, if you or someone you know in Southeast England might be interested, please do have a look at The Poetry Society website to book your place.
Here’s to a year full of great writing ahead!
If you like ekphrastic and prompt-driven poetry, Visual Verse is a goldmine discovery. Each month, they post a new intriguing image, and publish scores of written responses from all over the world.
To kick off 2016, Preti from Visual Verse emailed me to ask if I would write a poem in response to their image as a commission to sort of prime the pump. Do ducks swim? I was delighted to complete the challenge: 50-500 words written within one hour of viewing the image.
You can check out the image, and my poetic response, on the Visual Verse website.
I have once again compiled a list of five British poets who I think out to be more widely known on both sides of the Atlantic.
In this article, I also give a few tips of the hat to individuals and organisations who are making a difference by breaking down barriers geographic and otherwise in the poetry world.
Get your five for the year right here.
Nine Arches Press in collaboration with Leeds Ebooks has done an excellent job bringing The Knowledge into an all-digital format. If you got a Kindle, iPad or tablet for Christmas, or have been holding off reading The Knowledge due to international shipping costs, now is your chance to get it for a song.
The e-book is on special offer for less than three quid (five bucks) throughout the twelve days of Christmas.
If you have a Kindle, you can download it directly from the Kindle Store. Even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it on the Kindle app for your iPad or Android tablet.
I have a long list of e-book pet peeves, but this version has been expertly done. The table of contents is hyperlinked, font sizes can be adjusted to taste, and — best of all — it wraps long lines of poetry correctly with hanging indents. Apart from the formatting, you might also enjoy the contents.
Let it snow ones and zeroes!
Download The Knowledge e-book (US)
Download The Knowledge e-book (UK)