My copies of Poetry Salzburg Review 28 arrived today, with its signature surrealist cover holding nearly 200 pages of enticing poetry and reviews.
Among them are two new poems from me — “The Computer Programmer’s Wife”, to which I expect many a beleaguered techno-spouse might relate, and the off-kilter Anglophonic lament “Getting On With It”. I am also looking forward to mining out new nuggets from familiar names like Piotr Florcyzik, Kim Moore, and Rob A. Mackenzie.
The review of The Knowledge is a ringing endorsement (I had to sit down) from Ian Watson which concludes, “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.”
Along the way, he points out poems that take up topics that teachers will often advise beginning writers to steer clear from, such as common birds or writers’ block — and notes how these poems succeed, almost defiantly, anyway. He points out my preoccupation with fleeting detail, and calls the work, “erudite, urbane and at times intriguingly evasive.”
If you’re at all intrigued by any of this, you can order your copy of Poetry Salzburg Review 28 directly from their website, or better yet subscribe.
I have had poems coerced into handmade paper via letterpress printing techniques, laser printed on broadsides sheets, and even hung like advertisements in shop windows. I am really excited, though, to have a poem on a tote bag.
Not just any tote bag — a concrete interpretation of my poem “Robin”, beautifully designed by Jane Commane, on a classy natural canvas bag. It comes free with a subscription to the Nine Arches Poetry Book Club — itself an excellent idea that gets you six fine single-author poetry collections hot off the press, discounts on other books, and special invitations. Gift wrap available. Really, I hope they made enough bags!
I also like the idea that using this tote instead of a plastic bag might help a scruffy robin survive the long winter of our global mass-consumption.
As they say in the UK: “Bagsy!” And in my native California: “Totes amazeballs!” You get the idea. I’m exited.
Bag your six books
Eleanor Franzen, managing editor of Quadrapheme, has picked The Knowledge as one of their best books in April. Particularly notable is that it makes their cut alongside four accomplished prose writers. (Take that, cruelest month.)
Quadrapheme is a totally independent literature review site, which receives no funding from either publishers or the British Arts Council, so ostensibly they say what they like (and don’t) as they please. Franzen notes the collection’s, “mindfulness of the human place within a network of relationships in the natural world, the consequences and responsibilities of agency.”
The whole site is crisp, smart, and well worth revisiting.
Good things happen on Twitter.
I have Gail Borrow to thank for introducing me (and my work) to Rachel Stirling via this recent tweet exchange.
I scrambled an electronic review copy of my forthcoming book The Knowledge, and she read deeply into the poems.
The poet moves from couplet through the numbered stanzas to free verse, and back again, with confidence and grace. The pace is impressive, largely because the poems are a joy of enjambment. … The work is elegant and strong. If it is silk then it is silk over steel.
You can read Rachel’s full review, and many equally astute others, on stirlingwriter.com.
Also, if you write reviews in print or online and would like to peruse your own copy of The Knowledge, please do get in touch.
Abegail Morley has kindly featured me today on her excellent website The Poetry Shed.
I was lucky enough to catch her attention at the Troubadour Poetry Prize Reading last year, and not long after that she invited me to read at the Royal Academy as part of the Ekphrasis project. It has been a pleasure to get to know Abegail — one of those people diligently and unassumingly going about the business of doing good things in the world of poetry.
She mentions the history of our acquaintance, along with a lovely nod to Transatlantic Poetry on Air, and reprints two of my poems on her site.
Do check it out, and the many other interesting poets she has featured over the years. You’ll no doubt want to find your way back to the Shed again soon.
My friend the Scottish poet Andrew Philip wrote a review of The Silence Teacher that I just discovered tonight. His perspective is one I greatly respect — not only because I hold him in such high esteem as a poet, but because he, too, has walked grief’s road after losing an infant son.
It must have therefore been as hard in some ways for him to read the collection as it was for me to write it. Yet I can also think of no one better equipped to understand, from the inside out, the difficult task of attempting to make art, and thereby make meaning, from such loss.
There were many dark nights of self-doubt for me. These poems often felt simultaneously necessary and impossible to write. Grief is such difficult terrain to navigate honestly without fears of self-indulgence. Yet Andrew himself has done this masterfully, and I rate his own poems about his son among the most moving I have read.
It is therefore greatly affirming to see him write that The Silence Teacher represents “the kind of volume I wish I had written” since, through his support, encouragement, and fine example, in a way he did.
You can read the full review here.