“Jellied Eels” in The Creel

The Creel Book Cover Did you know that hundreds of contemporary poets have written about eels? Me either, until this delightfully odd little anthology popped through my mail slot.

When Luke Thompson put out the call on Twitter, I responded with “Jellied Eels”, and he must have liked it. The poem appears on p. 70, flanked on all sides by sleek, lithe, and lovely poems all around.

I’m told Guillemot Press have made a limited run. So, catch one quick if you can.

You can also watch the film-poem we made of “Jellied Eels” online.

 


On “Reading Dostoevsky in the John Lewis Café, Welwyn Garden City”

Making an example of oneself isn’t always easy. Making an example of one’s poetry even less so.

Nevertheless, I took a stab at explaining some of the process behind writing the poem “Reading Dostoevsky in the John Lewis Café, Welwyn Garden City” in a new post on the Nine Arches Press blog. The poem appears toward the end of my new collection, Cyclone.

You can read the poem, and notes — on sincerity, irony, and class — as part of their “in conversation series”.


Two Poems in Poetry Salzburg Review 32

Poetry Salzburg has been good to me and my work, including publishing The Silence Teacher in 2013. The two poems that appear in the latest issue represent the fifth time they have accepted work (including poems and reviews) for publication. I am truly grateful.

Grateful, also, for two excellent new poems by Abegail Morley, and an astute survey of her recent work by William Bedford. As always, beneath an enticingly surreal cover rests a trove of delights. You can order issue 32 from the website.

Here is a quick snap of the two poems in situ. The first one will also appear in Cyclone, which comes out next week.


1990 (Poem Online)

There was a point at which the analog world was overtaken by the digital, and I was right there, stumbling through puberty from childhood to adolescence.

I can’t resist ekphrasis. So when Gill Stoker of the Mary Evans Picture Gallery sent me a few pictures from the collection and request to (poetically) respond, I gravitated toward a stock image that summed up this formative time.

You can read the poem “1990” on the Gallery’s “Poems and Pictures” blog.


How to be a Poet

I received my contributor’s copy of what I suspect will be a very important book — for me, surely — and perhaps for others. How to be a Poet strikes me as not only “a twenty-first century guide to writing well”, but also a guide to living well as a writer.

I also quite like the alternative title proposed in the introduction: “A Poem-Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy.” After all, we contain multitudes.

It features the wisdom of two of my favourite poetry people: Jo Bell and Jane Commane, interspersed with excellent guest contributions by Mona Arshi, Jonathan Davidson, Clive Birnie, and many other well-known names in UK poetry. I thought I’d spend a moment or two thumbing through it on the couch when it arrived. I couldn’t put it down.

My own essay represents a manifesto of sorts — again, not about how to write, but how to be as a writer in this mad, mad world. It is called “Making Peace with Poetry”.

If you’re writing poems, or have secretly wanted to, know someone who writes, or are just curious to lift the curtain on the writing life — I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

The book is available from Nine Arches Press, with options for international shipping.


Poem of the Month, Dugdale Centre

I have had the pleasure of giving two readings at the Dugdale Centre in Enfield: a straight reading last year for the Enfield Poets, and a poetry-and-jazz collaboration evening in 2015. It is a wonderful venue, and I was delighted to contribute my new poem “Ancestral Memory” as part of their poem-of-the-month programme.

If you find yourself near Enfield in North London, do have a look in the window for the poster-sized print. Otherwise, you can read the poem from this photograph (with thanks to Anthony Fisher for taking it).