The Essence of Instinct (Film-Poem Online)

<a href="https://vimeo.com/135297786"><img src="https://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

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Silk Road British Poetry Readings on Air

As I mentioned earlier, I have been organising poetry readings for the poets included in the British poetry special feature I edited for Silk Road Review 10. The twist is that both of these readings will be conducted virtually and available globally, using Google+ Hangouts on Air. The dusts has settled, the dates (and stars) have finally aligned, and I am happy to announce two excellent lineups for these events. Save the dates!

Sunday, October 13th at 8PM BST / 3PM EDT / noon PDT
Featuring Patience Agbabi, Katy Evans-Bush, Isabel Galleymore, Chris McCabe, Andrew Philip, Paul Stephenson, and Claire Trévien
Silk Road British Poetry Reading on Air, Part I

Saturday, October 19th at 8PM BST / 3PM EDT / noon PDT
Featuring Liz Berry, Fiona Benson, Markie Burnhope, Abi Curtis, Helen Ivory, Ira Lightman, Rob A. Mackenzie, and Esther Morgan
Silk Road British Poetry Reading on Air

Click here for the latest news and updates from the Transatlantic Poetry community


An Interview and Two Readings (Busy Week!)

Books by Mackenzie and PhilipI recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scottish poets Rob A. Mackenzie and Andrew Philip for the Huffington Post UK. We conducted the interview using email, passing around batches of questions so that they we could bounce off one other’s ideas and create a conversation. It was the next best thing to sharing a table at a coffee shop with them both, and the results make for an an enjoyable read: “Music, Memory and Subversion: Two Scottish Poets’ Second Books“.

Andrew will also be featured on July 10th as part of the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series, paired with California poet Michelle Bitting. The response to that initiative has been extremely positive so far, with poetry lovers on both sides of the pond eager to tune in these very special kinds of readings that could only happen in this century. To sign up to attend this reading, as well as a reading on August 14th with Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes, be sure to join the rapidly-growing Transatlantic Poetry Community on Google+.

Michelle Bitting and Andrew Philip // Transatlantic Poetry on Air

 

Jane Hirshfield and George Szirtes // Transatlantic Poetry on Air

Click here for the latest news and updates from the Transatlantic Poetry community


Transatlantic Poetry Readings On Air

Transatlantic Poetry CommunityIf, like me, you are thrilled by the idea of being invited into the homes of remarkable poets thousands of miles apart to hear them read their best work, then you, my friend, are living in the right era. That time is now.

Since the early days of the Internet, I have been fascinated by the possibilities for making and sharing art. When my alma mater began broadcasting their Lunch Poems series at the turn of the century, I was delighted. It meant that not only could residents of Berkeley come to campus to hear free, live readings by world-class poets on their lunch hour, but that anyone could tune in from anywhere in the world. Still, the poets had to come to campus to read their poems.

In 2009, I interviewed Scottish poet Andrew Philip over Skype from my home in California as part of a “virtual book tour” for the launch of his first collection. Using screen capture technology, I was able to record our conversation and upload it for others to see. It was thrilling to connect across such a distance. However, producing the video was cumbersome, and was only available after the fact, not as a live broadcast.

This is why I was so excited to be contacted by Google back in April to hear about their celebrations of US National Poetry Month through a series of readings using Google+ Hangouts On Air. I was sadly unable to participate due to work commitments, but recalled the conversation when the British Poetry Special Feature from Silk Road Review that I edited came out earlier this month.

I wanted to celebrate the issue and bring the British poets together for a reading. However, they come from all over the UK, and travel to London can be difficult and costly. Plus, so much of the intent of the publication was to share the work of these poets with readers in the US.

Then it occurred to me that the reading need not be physical. So, with the support of the poets, Google, and Pacific University (sponsors of Silk Road Review), we are in the final stages of selecting dates for a very special poetry reading to be broadcast worldwide using Google+ Hangouts On Air. Continue reading…


The Democratization of Poetry

The Magna Carta

One of my poems, “Recipe for the Broken“, is a finalist for inclusion in the Goodreads July newsletter. The newsletter is sent by email to over two million members of this social networking website for book lovers. As far as I know, that is a far greater circulation than even the most popular literary journals in print can boast. Apart from the exciting opportunity to reach a wider audience, I also decided to submit a poem as a kind of participant-observer in my ongoing informal research into alternative modes of publishing.

The contest goes like this: poets submit a single poem on the website, and from scores of submissions an editorial team picks six finalists to go on to a round of open voting. You can read the finalist poems for this month here and vote here. You need to be a member of Goodreads and also the ¡POETRY! group on Goodreads in order to vote. Voting ends, in this case, at midnight on July 2nd. Only the first-place poem is published in the email newsletter.

This is one example of the ongoing democratization of poetry — not only because it involves voting, but because it involves more generally the dissolution of intermediaries between author and reader. Laura Miller has a compelling argument for why similar trends, like the rise of self-publishing, are not necessarily such a good thing. As the intermediary “gatekeepers” — editors and publishers — are increasingly circumvented, the burden of discovering good writing shifts to the already overwhelmed and distracted reader.
Continue reading…


Search Is Weird (A Found Poem)

This is just bizarre. I was browsing through my site statistics, looking at the search terms people use to get here: poets, poetics, php — reasonable stuff. Then once in awhile a phrase would pop out that has nothing to do with this site. I’m sure the searchers were as disappointed as I am amused. I jotted down a few of them, then realized I could arrange them into a kind of found poem. Each line links to the page that came up in the search for that phrase, and if you hover over the link you can see how the linked page placed in Google for that phrase (as of writing this, anyway).

i hate billy collins
smoking out
emotional poems on 911
poems with the word fairy in them
does popularity matter?

Indeed.