Archive | April, 2010

Some work I’ve done recently

28 Apr

Before you even look at this I have to say the amount of work I did here was 0.001% of the whole total that was put into this broadcast, and most of it was done by people far more experience and exceptionally more talented by myself.  I drank beer and made the odd comment.  However, I am quite proud.


This week I have been…

26 Apr

pretty stumped for blog ideas.  Therefore I am afraid you are mainly going to be subjected to a list of my poetry related activity over the past fortnight.

I have been reading Method Men by David Briggs, published by Salt.  I had never heard of Briggs before, and was sent his first collection as part of my subscription to the Salt’s Poetry Bank.  From the very first poem I was enjoying his work.  I particular admire his ability to simply, but effectively writing from the point of view of his younger self, perfectly capturing family life.

I have also been reading Sylvia Plath’s journals.  An American feminist press, Fat Gold Watch, currently has a call for submissions for an anthology in response to Plath’s life and work.  However it is with the strict caveat that it must not be about her suicide.  This means that Fat Gold Watch will hopefully do justice to Plath the woman, mother, poet, wife and daughter, seeing her as a whole person, rather than just the sum of one action.

I have been listening to the last two Scottish Poetry Library Podcasts, in which there is some great modern folk and a brilliant rendition of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner (not all of it!).

Poetry in Unusual Places: Part 9

18 Apr

It has been a while since I have been able to post any poetry in unusual places, but I think this will more than make up for it.

For a while in my home the work of Slavoj Zizek, has been held in high regard, while at the same time acknowledging that he is a man who is quite possibly slightly mad.

Zizek is a charismatic philosopher and cultural commentator, having also contributed to the fields of psychoanalysis as well as political and film theory.  One of the things that makes Zizek so remarkable as a thinker is his ability to link things that would appear to others unrelated.  His political thinking although complicated and dense is made easier to understand by the fact that he continually references western culture.  In one memorable film he uses a scene from Batman, in the Christian Bale era, to explain the flaws at the heart of liberalism.

Zizek disliked the culture in his native Slovenia as he felt it was far to influenced by the Communist Government.  He consequently rejected it’s literature and read only work written in English.  As a consequence Zizek’s writings are littered not only with reference to film, crime fiction and other culture, but also poetry.

It may not appear strange to many that a cultural commentator would quote poetry, however, in the four years at University when I was reading Media and Cultural Studies there was not one mention of poetry.  We watched a lot of The Simpson’s (which is almost compulsory when discussing postmodernism), a few good spaghetti westerns (gender studies), documentary films from the 1930’s (something to do with studying documentary films)  and read a lot of Raymond Chandler when studying Crime Fiction.  But never, ever as part of the reading of Cultural Studies, did we look at poetries part in our culture.

Thank you Slavoj.

If any other readers have found poetry in unusual places feel free to let me know

The Rejection Club?

10 Apr

Trying to become a poet is not an easy thing.  It involves a lot of hard work, a lot of criticism, a lot of getting it wrong, a lot of learning from your mistakes, and most of all a lot of rejection.  I have been writing seriously for just over two years now, and one of the things that I have discovered is that even poets who I admire get rejections.  It does not necessarily get easier, you just accept it more.

So how do we cope with rejection?  One idea that I have come up with is to start a rejection club.  The basic idea is that anyone who is a member of the club has to be so for a year.  In that year every member keeps evidence of their rejections.  At the end of the year, the poet with the most rejections is bought a prize, a drink by every other member or a meal by the whole group, by way of commiserating with their bad luck.   There will also be a prize for the publication who has given a member the best rejection letter, and the worst.

If there is enough interest in this idea I will set it up.  There is no need for the club to be limited to the Edinburgh area.  The plan I have means that it can be set up anywhere in the world.  Geography is no limit to rejection.


10 Apr

If Carlsberg made poetry magazines…
Well, it certainly wouldn’t be making Popshot, as let’s face it, Carlsberg just isn’t that good a lager.  I was very excited this week to receive my gratis copy of Popshot, partly because is is a very beautifully made magazine, but mainly because I am in it.

This issue was on the theme of Liberate, and my poem The Toad Burps, was accepted.  What made me doubly excited is that every poem is illustrated.  It is always interesting to see how different art forms can feed off each other and I am extremely pleased with the talented  James Majowski’s interpretation of my work.

I was pleased also to find a poem by Helen Mort in this edition.  I first came across Helen’s work when reading the 10th Anniversary Anthology of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, and I very much enjoyed her piece Poem for Ben.

This week I have listened to Suckers!  Poets and Parasites, a BBC Radio 4 production looking at the relationship between poetry and blood sucking insects.

This week I have been…

2 Apr

Listening to BBC Radio 7’s adaptation of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Many more intelligent and better educated people than me have written about Paradise Lost and so I am not going to attempt any analysis.  However I would urge anyone who is interested in this to listen.  A fifteen minute episode is played every night at 9pm.  There are forty one episodes in total, but there will also be an omnibus every Sunday at 8pm.  Also don’t forget the BBC’s excellent Listen Again service with the iPlayer.  iMairi recommends.

I have also been reading Gutter 02.  Gutter is a new magazine on the block, and one so far which I have been enjoying.  I have not finished it yet, but I would particularly recommend Art Divided an enjoyable and macabre short story by Anneliese Mackintosh.