Wednesday, 24 March 2010

K reads at The Hold on Sunday

If you're in the area, I'm reading at The Hold on Sunday 28 March, 7.30pm-11.30pm at Oliver's Bar, 9 Nevada Street, Greenwich. Nearest stations Greenwich and Cutty Sark (DLR).

The event features poetry and music from South London poetry collective Clinic, Gareth Jones, Jacqueline Saphra, Jude Cowan, Retta Bowen, Malene Engelund and Roddy Lumsden.

It'll be a belter.

Matt Nunn: Sounds in the Grass review

I've uploaded a review of Matt Nunn's third book, Sounds in the Grass, to Irregular Features. It's published by Nine Arches Press and quite different to a lot of the poetry books I've been reading. Definitely worth a look!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Unusual versus Not Unusual

It totally occurred to me today, while listening to the cross examination of a company director accused of VAT fraud, that 'unusual' is not the opposite of 'not unusual'. In fact, both phrases are often used to mean the same thing. The cross-examiner thought he had his witness well and truly stitched up, however. He'd just said aloud that it was 'not unusual' for phones to be shipped before the proper paperwork was filled in, whilst in his witness statement he said that the incident in question was 'unusual'. In both cases, he clearly meant that such things happened, though not frequently. The witness struggled to explain the apparent contradiction, which is what happens, of course, if you don't think carefully about the stock phrases you reach for almost instinctively.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Direct Red by Gabriel Weston, 100 word review

There’s an inner conflict that takes place when reading this book - the compulsion to keep reading versus the instinct to recoil at all the grisly details. It’s a semi-fictionalised memoir by a surgeon, relativly short, and written in such a clean, spare (surgical?) style that you can’t help but believe wholly in its authenticity. The balance of humanity and compassion to resolute clear-headedness is pitch-perfect. When dealing with tragedy, misery and waste, Weston is neither sentimental nor cold. Triumph is always muted and there is disdain (without self-righteousness) for pompousity and needless blundering. Eye-opening stuff.

Any Last Words?

Just uploaded a new short article by Kirsty to Irregular Features. One of the things she often focuses on when we're discussing editing poems (either our own or ones submitted to us) is the endings, and so I asked her to write an article setting out her thoughts on how poems should end. Definitely worth a read, especially if you're thinking of submitting something to Fuselit.

That link again.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Alphabetised Energies - a Newcastle AV A to Z

This would be the write-up equivalent of Pecha Kucha, only I don't have a picture for everything and they're aren't twenty items. Nonetheless, here goes a snappy overview what I caught of the Newcastle part of last week's energy themed AV festival:

All Art Is, Is Rhythm: Exhibition at Newcastle University of six contemporary artists, featuring a colour changing painting, copper coils and one hell of a lot little teddy bears (pictured). The highlight though was Felix Hess' It's in the Air, a floor covered with delicate paper flags, which turned with the air flows around the room.

Coal Fired Computing: Outside the Discovery museum, a showman's steam engine burns 1.5 tons of coal to power a computer system cycling through the legal and medical records of coal miners. Blackened lungs inflate each time the database locates a record of lung disease. The link between coal and computing might seem oblique, but 70% of power in India and China (where the bulk of computer components are made) is coal, mainly from unregulated mines.

condemned_bulbes: Also in the Discovery Musuem, a set a large bulbs hung from the ceiling, flickering and crackling.

Crossroads: Montage film of nuclear tests with music by Patrick Gleesona and Terry Riley. Eerily relaxing. I kept phasing in and out of sleep.

Datarama: Set in the awesomely informal Star and Shadow Cinema, a set of short presentations on subjects such as ducks, TV remotes and the potentially murderous potential of Stephen Fry's twitter feed.

Feral Trade Cafe: Utilising the surplus freight potential of tourism and culturally funded travel, Feral Trade brought me the most delicious breakfast I have ever tasted (poached egg, yoghurt and zatar on pita) and some great hot chocolate too. Oh yes, and space for reflection on the nature of trading networks, informal exchange, traceability yadayadayada.

Jenny Holzer: Many installations where records of abuse and torture from the war in Iraq were fed through long LED displays. The presence of a table of (human?) bones felt, if anything, like a counterbalance for the work's gaudiness.

Maker Faire: Purportedly 'the world's premiere event for DIY technology and craft' the highlight for me was the arcade machine played by slapping a manikin's bottom.

Resonator: A workshop of sound experiments, themed on the overlap between technology and mysticism. Sound produced steam, a speaker twirling on a chain, a taut string read by a sensor. And a free cup of tea.

Space Against Itself:
An intense shifting soundscape inside the Tyne Bridge North Tower. Like many sound installations which respond to the audience, it was barely discernible that your movements made a difference, but the sound itself worked incredibly well.

Sound Seam: A visually impressive set of colourful trumpets hung from all parts of the rooms; the sonic elements of the installation were interesting but not quite as striking.

Untitled (Strange Bird): A roadside billboard showing a patch of cloudy sky and a single, out of focus bird in the lower part. Most people passed it by without a single look, and the simple fact of this created a feeling of a private space out on the street.

Zilvinas Kempinas: A long string of tape running around the room buffeted by fans, forming a changing line surrounding the room. Simple and effective.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I thoroughly recommend catching Little Bulb Theatre's Sporadical between now and Saturday at the Battersea Arts Centre. It's on for an hour from 9.30 each evening and staged as a 'family reunion' - all guests wear name stickers and are welcomed in as if they were members of the extended Welles-Ferry clan. You're then handed drinks, snacks and a questionnaire and invited to join in a sing-a-long before the four actors set about staging the history of the Welles-Ferrys through the medium of 'folk opera' (with plenty more interactive bits). There's a mermaid, a shipwreck, a runaway bride and lots of prop puppetry. The songs are great too.

Originally commissioned for the 2009 Forest Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, it's got great write-ups from The Guardian, among others. K and I thought it was bloody amazing.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Californication Season 2, 100 word review

Hooray! A series documenting the lives of affluent Californians who spend all their time doing drugs and shagging! David Duchovny’s protagonist keeps running into beautiful women who immediately want to sleep with him, while the rest of the cast fall over themselves to be as shockingly frank as possible, ransacking the Viz profanisaurus for sexual slang. Most shocking of all is that parts of it are actually very funny or very tender, and about 60% of it is watchable! It is, however, deeply unsexy, unless you think lines like “What are you doing?” “Assuming the posish” are a turn-on.

Tomb Raider Anniversary, 100 word review

If you, like me, cooled to Tomb Raider at around the turn of the century, when each consecutive game seemed to contain less and less new ideas, then 2007’s Anniversary is your way back in. The pop culture analysts have long since moved on to fresher territory and Lara is back to doing what she does best: navigating giant, three-dimensional puzzle blocks cleverly disguised as beautiful exotic ruins. In this respect, TR is better than ever. The controls are also hugely improved, although the combat is still fairly dull, the camera still problematic and the occasional section infuriatingly fiddly.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Fuselit TILT out now!

I can't believe I'm saying this out loud, but, well, for a while now, I've had this feeling that...

TILT is out!

Woooo! What a relief it is to get past all the goofery and finally be able to post an entry that doesn't begin, "Yeah, so apologies for the delay..."

So what are you in for? Allow me to elaborate...

Tilt is Fuselit's 15th issue. The cover is 'jugshi tsasho' handmade paper from Bhutan, which has a subtle 'woody' smell/effect, while the illustration is based on marble-rolling maze games. Drop through the holes and you'll find poetry and prose by :

Sally Clark • Nicelle Davis • Joe Dunthorne • Suzanna Fitzpatrick • Richard Halperin • Katherine Horrex • Nicholas Liu • Jory M. Mickelson • Sian Moore • Gabrielle Nolan • John Osbourne • Phylinda Reynolds • Gabriel Ricard • Noel Sloboda

There's also illustrations from:

Kellysue Boyd • Alex Rafael & R-FL • Cathy Bryant • Trisha Zion

The CD features the ricocheting audio delights of Irish poet Ronan Murphy, whose lilting delivery bounces off 'Under Milk Wood' and tickles the ear something lovely, as well as high-scoring electro-pop from Absent Professor, which pings off the heady days of console gaming in the 90s for inspiration.

This issue's bonus booklet, Dr Fulminare's Bardgames, is composed entirely by Fuselit's editors, under the instructions of the demanding alchemist himself, and features an array of poems generated by the rules and stipulations of familiar tabletop games. These include Battleships, Dominoes, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble.

We daresay that you could tip the globe this way and that and never rattle free a selection of treats that light up your scoreboard like this one!

Submissions-wise, JACK now has a deadline of 31 March 2010, so if you have a yearning to write about male birds, car-lifting equipment or any other variant on the theme, please get your work to us before then.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Jonathan Crane boxtoy


Boo! Number 2 in my promotional boxtoys series is Jonathan Crane, aka. The Scarecrow! Unsurprisingly, Scarecrows features a few poems about its namesake. There's Kuebiko from Japanese mythology, a contemporary take on Nathanial Hawthorne's Feathertop and then this fellow, one of Batman's nemeses, who features in the poem Henching for Jonathan Crane.


As you can see, it's a little more complicated than Christina. He comes with a scythe, two crows and a wonky hat. Putting him together can be a little tricky, so here's some tips:

1) Do all the cutting before you start folding and do all the folding before you start glueing.

2) Keep the scissors on hand to trim little bits here and there for a better fit.

3) When cutting the holes out from the centre of his cape and hat brim, pinch the paper in the very middle to give the scissors something to get their teeth into.


You can download the net from here. Cut along the thick black lines, fold along the dotted ones.

Don't forget also that you can buy the poetry pamphlet he features in from here for £4.00.

X-Factor #202, 100 word review

Peter David is a witty, intelligent writer who has armed himself with a first rate gang of dysfunctional (ex)superheroes. Add in the central premise of the team being a detective agency for other superheroes, and X-Factor should be top-notch. The trouble is often with the endings to arcs, as in this issue. All sleuthing is dropped in favour of a punch-up and a series of humiliating incidents which make the team look like hopeless bumblers. Bing Casino, meanwhile, is yet another X-Factor artist punching above his weight - detailed shading failing to cover for mediocre composition.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Porn & Pong, 100 word review


Intriguing look at the narrative of sexual content in video games against the backdrop of wider Western culture and its changing attitude to pornography via video recorders, reality TV, Prince and Will & Grace, among others. Porn & Pong is light on penetrating analysis but very approachable and well researched, although sometimes Brown seems too ready to read significance into sales figures, stating them as if they prove a point (other than the obvious ‘sex sells’). The proofing is a little sloppy, while too much space is afforded to the execrable Leisure Suit Larry games and Dead or Alive’s bouncing boob technology.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Global Poetry System

If you get the chance, check out the Poetry Library's Global Poetry System. An interactive tool that enables you to search and add poetry by geographical location. Suggest your favourites and track down new gems around the world!

The Private Press: Lynchpins

The Private Press do the most fantastic anthologies of poetry, with a number based around the work of director David Lynch. If you're not acquainted with his work, it's bizarre, gothic, terrifying, surreal and grotesque, not to mention weirdly sexy.

Already out are the collections 'A Slice of Cherry Pie' (based on cult series Twin Peaks) and 'We Don't Stop Here' (based on Mulholland Drive), and this year should see the release of 'Deep River Apartments'. a collection based on the chilling and dyfunctional mystery Blue Velvet.

Currently the first two are sold out, but they promise more soon!

Make friends with the Private Press on Facebook.

Dream Jobs & Reality: Poetry in the Workplace

Just uploaded a new article to Irregular Features - Chrissy Williams discussing her new job at the Poetry Library. If you think this means she gets to spend all day stamping books, click that link right now and enlighten yourself!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Transformers #4, 100 word review

After a decent start, the last two issues of Mike Costa and Don Figueroa’s new Transformers series floundered - characters talked and moved around but did little to establish themselves as sufficiently interesting, while the plot lacked direction. Transformers #4 shows serious improvement in the characterisation department. Thundercracker, a Decepticon, is particularly well drawn, but Hot Rod, Swindle, Prowl and Ultra Magnus also shine. The plot (Transformers as hapless castaways trying to construct a raft while avoiding the natives) is still ponderous, but it’s heartening to see that Costa can cover for this by writing a convincing array of clashing personalities.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

What Are Birds play Suffering Jukebox tonight!

Me and Jon, aka What Are Birds, are playing a set at 7.30 (we're on first) at Suffering Jukebox, an evening hosted by Declan Ryan of Days of Roses fame, at the 3 Blind Mice, Shoreditch, tonight. There'll be a raft of other splendid bands, including:

The Shingles (Teleri, Dec, Phil, Louis and Rory )

Charly Morris (of Le Tetsuo)

Mr Dupret Factory (Rich Trow)

Book of Birds (Robert McCracken)!/bookofbirds?ref=ts

MC: Christopher Horton

For those of you on Facebook, it's here.

For those of you not on Facebook, who haven't been to the 3 Blind Mice before, it's at 5 Ravey Street (nearest tubes Liverpool Street and Old Street) and a map can be found here. Look for a big number 5 and go through the mysterious door beneath it.

Hope to see you there!

The Bombing of Poems over Warsaw

Just thought I'd draw attention to this book launch event. The book documents an intervention last year, where poems by contemporary Polish and Chilean poets were dropped over Warsaw. Its part of a series of interventions covering cities which were destroyed in WW2.

Thursday, 4 March, 6 o'clock till 9.Ben Pimlot Lecture Theatre
Goldsmiths, New Cross.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Sydenham Radio Interview this Thursday

Kirsty will be taking part in a poetry reading and interview with Sydenham Radio between 8 and 9pm on Thursday 4 March. The show will look at spring, love, new beginnings and similar themes, which K will probably interpret as a cross between the sex, the outbreak of war and The Wicker Man. Who knows?

Tune in here!