Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ethiopian Poetry Event!

This Sunday 15 July at 4pm, join us at the Ethiopian Community in Britain, 2A Lithos Road, London NW3 6EF for a celebration of Ethiopian poetry!

Hot on the heels of triumphant performances at Poetry Parnassus, a second chance to see the fantastic Lemn Sissay and Bewketu Seyum, as well as many other fantastic performers. Jon and me are joining in the fun too.

Hope to see you there!

Back in early June, I launched School of Forgery alongside John Clegg's Antler, also out from Salt. Owing to an unfortunate concatenation of events, John arrived at the launch with very few copies of his book, and I gallantly deferred the chance to take home my own so that he might sell as many as possible on the night.

Earlier this week my own copy finally turned up, and while I'd say I'm probably too close to John now for a full review to be carried out with the requisite lack of bias, I did want to take a moment to say how much I like Antler and how, even against the backdrop of a steady flow of distinctive and excellent poetry volumes onto my exhausted bookshelves, it stands out as a genuinely characterful debut.

As the blurb hints at, Clegg mixes "genuine and imaginary anthropology", and the join between those aspects of his work that are essentially tall tales or fabulation and those that the results of diligent research is practically invisible. So too is the transition between tightly controlled traditional form and ranging free verse, the former being done so softly and unostentatiously. A quick march through some of the titles (Moss, Nightgrass, Wounded Musk Ox, Kayaks, Meteor, Dill, Mosquito) reads like a sort of ingredients list - words as ancient elements, boiled down tinctures, excavated knucklebones and panned nuggets, bottled and labelled for cautious use in the creation of spells and medicines. Plus there's the over-arching sensation of the poet's joyous obsessiveness, like a child collecting shells or insects, in everything he writes about.

So yeah, yeah, I recommend it.

I have a new poem, Terrifying Angels, in the latest issue of Poetry Review. Following the departure of Fiona Sampson, who helmed the magazine for a number of years, the magazine is entering a phase of having guest editors at least until some time in 2013. I have to say, it already feels much fresher for it. This issue, edited by the estimable George Szirtes (he and I have briefly been on bad terms in the past but I've always admired both his poetry and his dedication to the cause), is themed around branching out to include poetries not comfortably included within the 'mainstream' bracket, hence the subtitle: 'mapping the delta'. Szirtes' introduction reflects my own feelings about where how I'd like to see future dialogues progress:

"But I know where the less explored areas are. They are less explored maybe because they seem more difficult, more the possession of one particular tribe ... I admire much about these 'tribes' and wanted to invite writers to open them up through a sense of shareable enthusiasm, to tell us why they matter and to show us not so much the fascination of the difficult, but the fascination of poetry as a whole: the full delta."

As well as some very good articles by Emily Critchley, Daljit Nagra and Adam Piette, there's a rich crop of poetry presented, incorporating a wider-than-usual variety of styles. It's always great to see poets we've published in (and first discovered through) Fuselit hitting the big time, so I'm particularly pleased that poems by Christian Ward and Joe Dresner have been included.

With the next two issues being edited by Charles Boyle of CB Editions, and Bernadine Evaristo respectively, I'm feeling very optimistic about the future of Britain's flagship poetry journal.