Monday, 30 June 2008

On the Overeducated

Nathan Hamilton of eggbox publishing recently posted on his blog a response to Chris Hamilton-Emery's new direction for Salt, as described here, which in turn became the impetus for a classic piece of provocative belligerence from Todd "I have shown integrity and conviction" Swift over on his blog. Phew!

One part of Nathan's post in particular drew my attention. Hamilton-Emery says this:
"… poetry belongs to you, not to the poet or the critic or merely the privileged and overeducated, not teachers or academics or editors..."
To which Nathan replies:
"And, further, I can’t let this one go: is it really possible to be ‘overeducated’? What kind of strange nonsense is that? Is he pulling our legs? Can you actually have that much education that it eventually becomes a bad thing?"
It is an interesting concept, isn't it? I've heard the phrase bandied about before, very often as part of a general argument (diatribe, if I'm to be unfriendly) equating intellectualism to elitism. But I do think there is some weight to the idea. It references, I suppose, formal education rather than all kinds of learning, and this perhaps leads us to the idea that too much regulation of anything is a bad thing. Formal education, particularly at University level, teaches specific ways of acquiring and using knowledge. Moreover, it is centered around the acquisition and use of knowledge as a means of responding to whatever the world throws at you. Just as growing up in a rough area with a poor education might burden a person with limited methods of resolving conflicts and solving problems, so might formal education, with its emphasis firmly and rightly on the intellect, lead to a propensity to respond to all manner of impetus in the same way.

The principle target of Private Eye's 'Pseuds' Corner' is not, after all, stupid or uneducated people trying to be something they aren't; it is educated people applying the full force of their intellect to banalities - in other words, making a lot of bluster over nothing. This has the effect of making intellectualism seem, as it well can be, like a mere exercise in being intellectual, rather than the application of a tool for the purposes of uncovering meaning. This is what I understand the criticism of 'overeducated' to be, that a person has, through absorption into academia, become more interested in the game of intellectualism, in the simple delights of applying the intellect, than in what it actually achieves.

Which is exactly the nature of the criticism most often directed at the poetry world from those who consider themselves outside it, though the view is expressed in a manner of different ways. Poetry is self-absorbed, if not interested in itself then interested in games of the intellect and written principally with intellectual gamesters in mind.

I don't agree with this view. But I don't feel that it is a completely unreasonable one to form based on some of the evidence. Most of the major British poetry journals tend to publish criticism in a format that has more in common with the essay mode of writing than a review of a film, novel or computer game. The trouble with the essay mode is that it assumes substance - so all poetry considered in this fashion automatically makes the leap to 'high' art - and that it discusses the mechanics of the accomplishment more than it does the effect. It skips the part which tells the reader why on earth they should be interested in the subject. When a review does make the effort to communicate some sense of an emotive response, there is often a whiff of Pseuds' Corner about it, partly because a high register is almost always inappropriate for declaring excitement or emotional transformation. So we end up with reviews that oscillate between oddly cold intimations of technical achievement, often expressed in quite foggy terms:

"This technique is an impressive expression of loss, of the desire to become what is missing."
Charles Bainbridge on Ciaran Carson in The Guardian
And sheer silliness:

"His genius is in creating poetry for anyone with the slightest lingering wish for the beauty that can still infuse life. How he liberates us!"

Judy Gahagen on ‘Human Nature’ by Lance Lee, in Ambit

Somewhere along the line, all trace of genuine enthusiasm - and what else indicates an affair of the heart - is lost. I wouldn't suggest that the reasons for this, if anyone is with me so far, have to do with pretension or establishment politics. Nor do I suggest that I or some new generation are poised to wash the old order away, or indeed that there is no place for intellectualism in reviews. But its dominance makes me sympathise with anyone who has dipped a toe in contemporary poetry and fled, howling.

It may be that poetry compels more of an intellectual response. It could also be that poets, particularly those with a literature degree or two, are prone to over-analysing. Nathan's original post, for example, seems to me to give disproportionate consideration to what is ultimately a piece of marketing. "Who is this 'you'?" he asks, in response to Hamilton-Emery's "poetry belongs to you". Obviously it is the same 'you' that is addressed in all the other advertisements you see on the tube, in shop windows, on TV, on the Internet and in magazines every day. The advertising industry long ago cottoned on to the idea that people want to feel a product was specially designed with them in mind. That isn't to suggest Hamilton-Emery is being cynical - I'm sure he is sincere - but we often appropriate phrases and concepts we see elsewhere when writing in a similar mode.

And here am I giving even more disproportionate consideration to a phrase that really just means 'big-headed Guardian readers with degrees'. So there we are. Overeducation in action.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Review: 'Inextinguishable' by James W. Wood

What is inextinguishable in James Wood's third chapbook? The Carl Nielsen quote on the inside cover, repeated in the final poem, suggests two things: music and life. The majority of Wood's poems, however, don't take their cue from that at all; instead what is inextinguishable is loss, pain, memory. Music and life are instead defiant forces, life in particular easily doused. This seems pointedly clear in Catherine Wheel:

"in that silence, only trees
and blackness and your mind
like a firework, wheeling crazily

in the middle of that sunless wood
where you stopped the car, full of pills ..."

While the immutability of suffering is succinctly reviewed in Self-Help:

"Her failure was not a path to the future,
her pain was not discovery. It was failure,
it was pain."

Raw stuff, and to the point. Inextinguishable has an I.M. dedication to Robert Anderson Wood, while another of its poems, The Craws, is in turn I.M. Alexander Wood. Though only two of the poems deal directly with death, it is foreshadowed in many of the others through bleak contemplation of lost opportunities and time passing, most pertinently in Afternoon Nap, in which the protagonist's ambiguous loss of consciousness is preceded by lines like "knowing that this day was done, or wasted" and "He should have written letters/but didn't". Time is played with here the same way it is in Simon Armitage's 2006 poem Evening, and again in After She Leaves where the 'after' could be anything from a few moments to decades.

As with his last collection, The Theory of Everything, Wood's lucidity is one of his greatest strengths. Contemporary poetry is flooded with collections that intellectualise death, seeking new profundity in its wilderness. Wood doesn't pursue the same holy grail; his responses are often surprising in their ordinariness and bitter honesty. Take this from The Craws:

"... You were
no prize-winner, sportsman or great thinker,

just a man like any other; and one
whose life asks us for little grieving."

Try reading that out at a funeral.

Wood's poems have here been paired up with the work of fourteen young artists from Edinburgh College of Art's Illustration Department, part of Knucker Press' self-appointed mission to publish collaborations "where word and image are mutually enriching". The layout is very effective, with the exception of a page which appears to be at too low a resolution. Many of the illustrations, however, are disappointingly literal, depicting the very scene or character the poem describes. The ones that work best are Toby Cook's not-quite-realist interpretation of Down the Drain and Genevieve Ryan's collage-esque The Craws, which swallows the poem in its sky, while it seems an odd choice to relegate Anna Kriger and Marc Noble's pieces to the contents page and back cover respectively when these do the best job of matching Wood's bristlingly dark tone.

Buy Inextinguishable from Knucker Press

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Fantastical Reality Radio Show!

Kayla from Foxes! mentioned at the FOX launch a new project she's been working on with friends - The Fantastical Reality Radio Show. A celebration of the everyday sounds we encounter, from the making of a cup of tea to the patchwork of noises you go past on your way to work every day, it's got such gems as the Lost Biro Finder and a tribute to the Sutherland Road bus stop. How can you resist?

Official site is here:

Myspace here:

First live show is 27 June - have a gander about and enjoy the loveliest jingles known to man or fox.

Here's the official line in case I've ballsed up my description:

The Fantastical Reality Radio Show aims to draw listeners into an entertaining exploration of ordinary audio. Based on using the immediate situation or vicinity as a basis for artmaking, the aim of the show is to change how we consider familiar sounds.

In a world where we have never been more visually literate, banal or commonplace subject matter has assumed a sophisticated visual language, but mundane sounds remain largely unconsidered. The constant, unfolding soundscape that is all around us is generally considered a nuisance or not considered at all. The Fantastical Reality Radio Show wants to introduce various ways of approaching or reconsidering everyday sounds and to involve other people in this consideration.

Ranging from the 'Top Annoying Domestic Noise Chart' to games like 'Imitating household noises using just your voice', the radio show will excavate immediate situations for audio intrigue. Playfully collapsing the borders between what is normally considered to make ‘boring’ or ‘interesting’ listening, The Fantastical Reality Radio Show is intentionally affirmative and builds on the artists’ former experience of working on participatory projects.

Building on the ideas of John Cage, the idea of 'the banal' and arts practises concerned with the idea of 'The Everyday,' the show is affirmative and celebratory, while at the same time challenging and questioning perceptions of what is/isn't interesting or worthy of our listening attention. Five shows in total will be recorded over the next couple of months and listeners will be able to submit their views, audio clips, images and opinions via email and via the Myspace page. At the EXPO, Mundane Appreciation will be out in full force with roving investigators, an interviewing desk and a Game Show area where visitors will be able to join in and become a part of the show.

The impulse to make this work is the result of the deep enthusiasm for everyday materials and processes shared by Felicity Ford, Kayla Bell and Claudia Figueiredo, the artists behind this exciting project.

Fuselit: Fox Launch: The Report

On 14th June Fuselit had its second ever launch party (the first was for Nude and took place in Edinburgh) downstairs at the Betsey Trotwood. The performers were James Midgley, W.N. Herbert, David Floyd, Mark Wagstaff, Barnaby Tidman and then Cliff, Kirsty and myself, accompanied by the bands Foxes! and What Are Birds (who are really just Kirsty and me again, plus our part-time drummer and guitarist). I was also compering. Funnily enough, I did a reading last night with bluechrome poets Leah Fritz and Ruth O'Callaghan, compered by Ruth O'Callaghan, and she said that she didn't like reading at her own events as it seemed very egotistical. I tend to think of it more as mucking in, which is the same reason Kirsty and I have traditionally put our own work in Fuselit. It's always seemed as much of an artistic collaboration as a magazine (it's certainly not much of a publicity machine) and you've got to show you're willing to do what you're asking others to do.

Here's David Floyd reading next to the slide projection screen. All the performances followed the pecha kucha format, which means David and others were up for exactly 6 minutes 40 seconds, accompanied by 20 slides that showed for 20 seconds each. As far as I know, no other poetry night has been done like this. David is a seasoned performer and was already a seasoned performer back when I was starting University some five or six years ago. He has impeccable comic timing. In both his manner of reading and the poems themselves, he makes an art out of a certain kind of awkwardness.

Here's Kirsty. It's worth noting at this point that all the photography in this post was done with a lomo camera. Lomography is an anti-digital movement that cherishes the sort of 'mistakes' we used to make all the time before digital cameras - ie. blurriness, oversaturation, poor lighting - and holds them up as just another way of taking interesting pictures. Although in this case it's resulted in our pictures being consistently dark, I like the idea very much. In a review I recently wrote of Nigel McLoughlin's Dissonances I made special note (as is my wont) of how the collection played with the idea of discordance in poetry - to put it another way, how imperfections, inconsistency, disunification of tone and imagery isn't necessarily bad, but rather, another tool in the poet's or artist's metaphysical toolbox. Advertisers and visual artists latched onto the idea ages ago - see, for example, how sigur ros' logo, at least on their latest LP, has the appearance of being dashed off in pencil. Human beings love imperfection. Don't let your beauty magazines tell you any different!

So that is why these shots are all dark. Obvious, really. To the left is Cliff, and you can just about make out, up on the slide projector screen, his picture of the fox cub Foxleigh fighting Death manifested as a giant wooden yamaraja puppet. This is the first of a three part series (the last is a game that you can play on the Fox CD). Cliff suffered a nasty fall the week before the event, which caused his arm to be paralysed for a short period of time. As a result, he only did half a set, explaining that the real rules of pecha kucha state that you must do 3 minutes 20 seconds and 10 slideshow images for each functioning arm.

Here's Mark Wagstaff reading an abridged version of his short story Pin-Up. The performers are literally fading into the background! As well as the slide projector screen, we had two monitor screens in the cellar alcoves, so people could sit down and watch the slides change on the screens whilst listening to the poet over the PA system. The original idea of the show was to displace the centre of performance, by which I mean 'do an event where people don't all have to stare in the same direction'. Personally, I find that although I want to go to poetry events to support poets, most poets on stage either struggle to fill the space or adopt the 'slam poet' approach of pretending they're stand-up comedians. I've never overcome this obstacle myself; most of the few readings I've done have been in 'reading from pieces of paper' mode and the only time I tried to really 'perform' (at Nathan Pennlington and Tim Wells' Shortfuse) I just embarrassed myself with a lamentable impression of Rimbaud/Rambo. Ugh. So the pecha kucha format was in part an attempt to make the poetry performance about something more than a person standing on stage and talking.

It's Foxes! Frankly, it was pretty awesome to have a band as good as this at our event, but a tad ambitious. Getting the drumkit down as well as all the equipment for slide projection was a nightmare and left me very flustered on the night. I also didn't realise how long the song-checking would take. Our start time was 7pm, but the next three quarters of an hour were spent setting up band equipment and making sure the levels were right, while poets and audience drifted in and out, waiting for us to start! It was worth it for Foxes! though.

And here's What Are Birds. I think this is actually what lomography is all about. Not sure what happened but it looks pretty. We finished the night off with a loose five song set, the first time the four of us had played together in a year and the last time we'll play together for who knows how long, since our guitarist, Ed, is off back to the states to carve out a new life for himself. Good luck, Ed, and thanks for playing guitar for us!

Hopefully this won't be the last Fuselit event we do, but it was an awful lot of work and it'll be a few months at least before Aquarium is ready to be launched. In the mean time, watch out for myself and Kirsty at a small handful of other upcoming events, like The Shuffle at the Poetry Cafe in July and August and The Moon in June, this Friday at the Betsey.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Collectable Poet Top Trumps 4: Ted Hughes

Well, we had to get to him sooner or later so it might as well be sooner. Ted Hughes is, to my mind, an overrated poet. And by that I mean I imagine (wrongly) that it would make my own partiality to his work much more meaningful if he weren't so damned popular. Why can't the rest of you stick with your Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon, poets who I have some respect but little affection for, and leave the burly Yorkshireman for me to champion? Not that I could do anything close to the job of the hundreds of scholars, journalists and enthusiasts who have waxed lyrical about him.

In lieu of this being a surprising choice, however, here are some controversial opinions regarding Mr. Hughes:
  • His best collection is River. I say this having barely blinked at Rain-charm for the Duchy and Birthday Letters and only lightly dipped into some of the other volumes, but River is his most consistently excellent and keenly focused volume.
  • The principle reason Crow is so good is not because it is a crucible of mythology, religion, mysticism and experience but because it's an extremely liberating collection. Poetry has a tendency to get itself tangled up in unspoken arbitrary rules depending on the fashions of the time and you don't even notice how closely most contemporary verse follows these rules until you read something that disregards them. The poems in Crow were probably written in a very disciplined manner, but they read like a mischievous urchin, a fox and a fearless bear ran amok with Hughes' writing hand.
  • Hughes' childrens' books are among his best work and not just The Iron Man. Moon-Whales is particularly superb.
Now I do have a degree in English literature and I could, if I were so inclined, attempt to back up my assertions with serious arguments, but sometimes I feel it's good enough just to plant the seeds of (minor) dissent.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Where is the Fox launch party report?

We launched Fuselit: Fox on Saturday at the Betsey Trotwood in Clerkenwell, with a show that featured two live bands, as well as poets like James Midgley, W.N. Herbert and David Floyd performing pecha kucha sets - that is, accompanied by a slideshow of precise length.

However, owing to an accident involving Fuselit's only digital camera and the indoor giant lily pond at Kew Gardens some weeks back, the event was photographed using an analogue camera, in the increasingly popular lomography style. This means we have to wait for the pictures to come back from the science lab, or the government, or whoever it is develops the film in this futuristic digital age.

Once that task is completed, viewers of Cut Out & Keep can read first-hand about how I panicked my way through the night and forgot the names of almost everyone and everything. Stay tuned!

Monday, 16 June 2008

A review of The Mighty Boosh 3 in the style (albeit very, very roughly) of a Luke Kennard poem


I loved The Mighty Boosh series 1. "It's set in a zoo," I used to tell people, as if that was all the information they needed to make an astute, well-informed judgement. Sometimes I would add: "The main characters are zookeepers."

The Mighty Boosh 3 is not set in a zoo but in a second hand shop. It does, however, feature Bob Fossil, the disturbed head zookeeper who does not know the names of any of the animals, and Bollo the gorilla, who no longer acts like a gorilla to any significant extent. To be frank, I would say that the series is all the poorer for not being set in a zoo, principally because the zoo setting was conducive to animal-based characters and counter-conducive to Shoreditch-based characters, of which there are far too many in The Mighty Boosh 3.

In fact, I wonder if The Mighty Boosh 3 is actually set in a Universe where everyone is from Shoreditch. "That's an idiotic notion," you might say. "A far simpler and more obvious explanation would be that it is merely set in Shoreditch." All well and good, but I would have thought that on an average day in Shoreditch you would probably have a far greater number of people who weren't from Shoreditch wandering around, perhaps looking for the way out or writing poems about Brick Lane.


I have several criticisms to make, most of which I formulated in the midst of watching the series on DVD, immediately voicing them out loud to my companion.

"They are rolling out the same characters from the last two series," I said, "but not giving them anything new to do. See: Noel Fielding's Hitcher lingers threateningly, does the shuddering Cockney accent and copiously relieves himself. The Moon turns up twice every episode for a short, surreal monologue. The disembodied Tony Harrison creeps slowly but surely towards his 'This is an outrage' catchphrase."


The second criticism I made, some time later, was this:

"The relationship between Vince and Howard has gone wrong."

"What do you mean?" my companion asked, obligingly.

Vince and Howard are the main characters in The Mighty Boosh. Vince is a vain and pretentious simpleton who is extremely fashion-conscious. Howard is an untrendy jazz enthusiast who sees himself as living 'outside the box', destined for greater things, but is all too often revealed to be shallow and foolish.

I explain that in the first series their relationship was finely balanced. Howard tended to be more frustrated, while Vince tended to exude a more positive attitude. While Vince was more popular and a great deal jammier, Howard was usually the 'leader', the instigator of their various quests and undoubtedly the more intelligent. Vince was 'cool'; Howard was 'hip'. They were both losers because they were both working in a zoo, failing to live up to the image each had of himself. The zoo was what kept them together; outside of the zoo, they had no mutual interests. They hated each other's music.

By the time we get to The Mighty Boosh 3, however, that balance has been distorted. Vince and Howard have now been friends since childhood. They are in a band together, despite their incompatible musical tastes. Vince is no longer a loser but a style icon, loved by everyone. Howard has become the butt of almost every humiliating joke in the series, and his only friend apart from Vince is a blind jazz man. When he makes a nervous speech at his own birthday party, a crowd made up entirely of spider-jeaned Shoreditchers stand and gawp at him, aghast at his uncoolness.

For some reason, none of this clueless mob are mown down with advanced weaponry. Instead, Howard's blind jazz friend has his head lopped off by an angry shaman.

"I hate everyone in this except Howard," my companion said.


Naboo and Bollo are the most featured characters in the series after Howard and Vince. They are fairly pointless. All they do is take drugs and humiliate Howard. This is a shame, because Naboo was one of the best elements of the first series, where he would turn up only occasionally to bestow wisdom and temporary powers upon the hapless protagonists.

The principle joke where Naboo is concerned is that he is supposed to be a mystic shaman but talks like an eleven year old with a slight lisp trying to play the archangel Gabriel in a school nativity play. Unfortunately, this joke no longer functions when Naboo is given too many lines.

You become numb to it.

Well, I certainly did.


The Mighty Boosh 3
is a comedy series. By the time the DVD had finished, however, I had only laughed twice. Once was when Noel Fielding's golden shaman drug dealer briefly discusses spaghetti hoops. I cannot for the life of me remember the second occasion.

In the extras on the series 1 DVD, there is footage of a signing session with the stars of The Mighty Boosh. One fan is shown in a very excitable mood. He moves like he's accidentally stepped in a puddle of electrified water.

"By God, it is the best, funniest series ever, ever, ever," he tells Noel Fielding, who plays Vince.

Noel Fielding looks slightly scared, but must have since come to the fan's point of view. The Mighty Boosh 3 is surely a series for people who think the Boosh can do no wrong. Or else it has somehow become taken over - possessed, if you will - by the editor of the NME and other depressingly trendy types, perhaps wielding Fielding as their human puppet. What other explanation is there for Vince's newfound social invulnerability and the gratuitous cameo appearance of pastier-than-thou indie band The Horrors?

What other explanation is there for anything?

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fuselit: Fox Preview

The 12th issue of Fuselit, Fox is on sale now. Here is what it looks like:

And here is a little of what is contained within:

No Sons of Liberty

But he did not RSVP.
This was December, glittering cold.

His valise was lady-like. His pockets deep
and bulging with poachlings.

A cough of words
under his breath: no condition

for a Harbour party.
Had he tried to warn us in our sleep?

He was a wolf, but we were not his sheep.
We were foxes,

flicking our thin black wrists
over the map-man’s politics.

For fun, gekkered in the boxing ring.
Our vixens, two years American-

Brahmin, for fun, wore Wampum beads.
Did he know us, our wolf-cousin,

from some transatlantic dream? We
could not place his accent.

True, we ought to have handcuffed and stuffed
him. Asked his name

in the very least.
We ought to have checked our awe

and affection, and served him
Boston Tea. And we would have,

in a heartbeat,
had he only RSVP’d.


The Man and the Head Cold

Delirious and squinty, giggling with sickness, think nothing to telling stories, toss consequence like food aid – who lands on their feet? who lands on their back? Cast bones best of five, pick fox meat from hen’s teeth, swap futures for superstars and retards. And the lesson to learn, is “Yir aw fucked an wunderful”.

Take a lemsip and rest. Fall back in line. From evolution. To the alphabet.




Screenshot from Foxleigh battles Death in all Its forms part 3 (Death manifested as charred seraphim piloted pedal powered gyrocopter), a game by CLIFF HAMMETT

Monday, 9 June 2008

Feature: Maija Haavisto

When you think of 24-year-olds publishing books you tend to arrive at the image of the literary wunderkind, a media-friendly superstar-in-the-making whom the literary establishment (or significant powers within it) have already adopted as their heir. Sometimes, as in the cases of Luke Kennard and Adam Thirlwell, the exaltation they generate is almost proportionate to their talents. The principle function of the books themselves, however, is nothing worthier than to showcase their writing talent.

When you think of a person with disabilities publishing a book, you might think of 'inspirational' autobiographies or volumes of risible poe
try that in themselves demonstrate a heroic overcoming of an illness.

Maija Haavisto fulfils neither of these stereotypes. Since 2000 she has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) , sometimes called ME, a debilitating disorder that leads to muscle pain, joint pain, cognitive difficulties and severe exhaustion, and is so poorly understood, both by the public and by medical professionals, that until recently it was sarcastically dubbed 'yuppie flu' and considered to be a type of hypochondria.

Despite being kicked out of her home at 16 and spending the intervening years in and out of hospital, working with doctors who were unsure as to how to properly treat her condition and facing a demoralising battle against a government that refused to pay out disabili
ty allowance for a disorder they don't believe exists, Maija continued to pursue her interests in writing, art and medicine, supporting herself by working as a freelance technology journalist. She has now written and published a book, Reviving the Broken Marionette: Treatments for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia.

As you can tell from the title, this is no Surviving x: My Story-type affair, but a painstakingly researched medical volume addressing a subject which very few other books have dealt with and featuring analysis of over 250 treatments, including experimental therapies.

It's an astonishing feat for a young writer who has not only had to learn to cope with an illness herself but hasn't been provided with any research grants or similar monetary luxuries that British institutions like to lavish on able-bodied graduates.

But that's not the only reason Fuselit: Cut Out and Keep wanted to run a feature on her. Maija is also a writer of short stories and poetry, matters which are at the heart of our raison d'etre, and a multi-competition-winning ASCII artist (pictures created using, as you might expect, ASCII text only).

Here are links to some of her pieces:
Digital Gardening

And here is Vulpix, from her ASCII Pokedex, which I thought was appropriate since we're launching Fox this weekend.

/ / ,' `.
,+._ ./...\_ / ,.. \
| `.`+' `-' .' ,.| |
| |( , ,.`, | `-',,........_ __......_
\ |..`/,-' '"""' `""'" _,.---"-, .-+-' _.-""`--._
."| /"\`. ,-' / .',' ,-' \
.'-' |`-' | `./ / / / / ,.-' |
j`v+" `----" ,' ,'./ .' / | ___|
| | _,','j | / L _.-"' `--.
\ `.-' j | L F \-' \
\ .-. ,' | L . / ,' __.. `
\ `.| _/_ ' \ | / ,' ," `. '
`. ' `-. `.__| | / ,' | |
`"-,. `----' `-.' .' _,.--"""'" --. ,'
| ,. `. ,-' `. _'
/| / \' __.._ \'
_...--...' +,..-----' \-----._,-' \ |
,' | / \ \ | j |
/| / | j , | ,._ `. -' /
\\' _`.__ | | _L |-----\ `. \ `._ _,'
""`"' "`"---'""`._`-._,-' `. `. `--'
"`--.......____:. _ / \
`-----.. `>-.....`,-' \
`|" `. ` . \ |
`._`..' `-"'
"' mh

Further links:

Reviving the Broken Marionette: Treatments for CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia
Maija's website
Maija's deviantart

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Congratulations Hannah!

FuseLit gives a big congratulations to erstwhile contributor Hannah Eisemann-Renyard, who was announced as one of the winners of the latest Happenstance short story competition! The results can be seen here at the Happenstance website!

Here's a lovely marmoset to celebrate!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Collectable Poet Top Trumps 3: Gertrude Stein

As experimental as she was prolific, Gertrude Stein's cascades of repetition were downright sexy in places. A comfortable upbringing in a wealthy family makes for a low score on the colourful background, though Stein was later known to be a vocal political protester. We also gave her quite a low eccentricity rating as, other than her quirky statements about various fascist leaders, Gertrude was a fairly shrewd woman (she certainly knew about art investments!) and, together with Alice B Toklas, provided sociable gatherings in Paris. Shame 'Poety Friends' wasn't extended to artists in general. Gerty would've won that one hands down by getting on the blower to Pablo and co.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Mark Wagstaff joins the bill for FOX launch!

Mark Wagstaff, a multiple FuseLiteer whose novel The Canal is forthcoming from Mighty Erudite, has confirmed he is joining the pecha kucha party at the FOX launch on 14 June. To find out more about Mark, visit

FuseLit cryptic poetry crossword!

As interactive crossword compiler software currently goes for about £35, we at FuseLit have taken the graph paper, black rollerball and Tippex approach to puzzlebuilding. Just print off and ponder!

Apologies in advance for the sheer tenuousness of some clues. Otherwise, have fun!


1 Another name for 12 across (5)

5 In a sticky situation with line breaks? (10)

8 Ted Hughes is pretty smug about this character (4)

11 Shocking haircut for Mr May? (4,1,5)

12 Flying Scottish bovine? Must be the season (5)

13 This Beat seems excited, then disinterested! (5)

17 See 27 across. (3,6,5)

21 According to his surname, this poet is a clever guy. Perhaps something to do with the grass (7)

23 Harry Mathews discusses maoism in his French past (8)

25 See 28 across. (5,6)

26 See 9 down (5,3,5)

27 (and 17 across) The colour of an inept wizard, according to Herbert (3,6,5)

28 (and 25 across) Put the bird with the blooms for this New Zealand poet (5,6)

30 (and 14 down) Ascertain whether this New Generation poet is adept at the use of raincoats (4,7)

31 (7 down) This poet found initial controversy with the Roman five (4,8)

32 Up Pompeii's Nauseous wrote this kind of poem that started a stink (3)

33 That's it. We're banning The Raven! (9)


2 This San Franciscan's most famous non-poetic work had a lot in common with tarmac (7)

3 Pound's secret language leads to surprised words (6)

4 (and 20 across) Stein really loved her remote control (6,7)

6 See 18 down (7,6)

7 See 31 across (4,8)

9 (and 26 down) A Christmas song related to “Rockferry” artist? (5,3,5)

10 A saint who eats rusks will give you a scouse poet (4,6)

14 See 30 across (4,7)

15 Frank O'Hara's favourite meal (5)

16 Come on Ms Turner! Even you can write formal poetry! (7)

18 (and 6 down) Sounds almost like this devil was into custard and body modification (7,6)

19 See 26 across (3,5)

20 See 4 down (6,7)

22 French poet sounds bad-ass (7)

24 A basic drive that's sick gives a rural poetic style (5)

26 (and 19 down) He took us to Donjong Heights. Not as dull as his name would suggest (3,5)

29 First name of the poet who wanted to die a young man's death (5)