Tuesday 21 May 2013

The State of UK Poetry .. again

Salt's decision to no longer publish new single-author poetry books has helped precipitate a wider ranging discussion. I've little to add to the debate other than agreeing that the growth of the Creative Writing sector is happening faster than the rest of the UK poetry world can cope with. Here are some articles that are worth a read

  • Why is poetry not popular? ("Poetry is not popular, and in its current form, it can’t be. While the novel performs every aspect of its story-telling function, from reading in the airport to studying it at university, poetry has become a marginalised aspect of its original purpose" - the Judge)
  • So. Farewell then / Salt poetry books ... ("A free-market capitalist system is no less bizarre, in its dealings with literature, than any old-style communist regime that favoured socialist realism and sent other forms underground" - Charles Boyle)
  • The Health of Poetry ("We seem to be moving towards a model where people are kept ‘emerging’ for as long as possible – preserved in a kind of hopeful limbo, where they can gain lots of encouragement and support, but also spend lots of money on mentors and Arvon courses and MAs and competition fees and retreats" - Clare Pollard).
    ("When Arts Council England made its last round of funding decisions, support for writer development was massively increased at the same time that presses like Arc, Enitharmon and Flambard were told their annual funding was to be scrapped … Print on demand isn’t compatible with promoting poetry to a wider readership" - Neil Astley)
  • Ripples on a smooth sea, or storm in a teacup? (Adrian Slatcher)
  • Mapping Poetic Emergence 1.0 (an "attempt to describe some of the significant stages which are usually observable during the process of poetic emergence.")

Thursday 16 May 2013

Raiding the Loft

There was only one box of mine left in my parents' loft when I rummaged this week. Inside were some certificates, maths worksheets, pictures/postcards, computer game archives, and a few personal belongings. Nothing literary at all, though I've used some of it as source material.

I found three pictures of Quixote. I can't recall him ever being a theme. Maybe I just liked the paintings.

Here's a front cover of a computing magazine, and a review of my game. The review begins "Cricket is one of those rare finds - a decent simulation game that conjures up a feel of the real thing. It even has some of the tedium of a 5 day test match". Fair enough.

I wrote the assembler code with a pen initially (the code here controls the bowled ball's trajectory, I think), and sometimes hand- assembled it to produce the machine code.

I designed the graphics pixel by pixel. The pictures here show some frames of a moving bat - in those days, you could only use colour by going lo-res, making the pictures blocky.

Here's my first self-employed tax form - quite a lot of money in those days.

I used to spend some nights in a London house where somebody collected ducks. I don't think I ever contributed.

I went through a phase when I knew some (ex) art and/or performance students. Here's some art by me

And I collected art by others. This is the design for an art project where the student decided to make their mother's house visible from as far away as possible by putting the divorced father's swivelling shaving mirror in an upstairs window. I also borrowed their postcards if their fathers sent them messages from South Tunisia.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Miscellaneous lit quotes

I've been clearing out my mailbox (1000s of posts). Here are some lit-related fragments -

  • From "New Walk", issue 3
    Patrick McGuinness: The real issue for me is that the poetry reviewing culture is so poor - the only reviews you see are positive, exercises in approval and rubber-stamping

    Philip Morre: But you're hardly a noted practitioner of the scrutineering review yourself, are you?

    Patrick McGuinness: Since you ask, perhaps not, but I've written some reviews that were evaluative rather than just log-rolling, I think. I even sent a negative (commissioned) review to Poetry Review a couple of years ago, was thanked profusely by the editor for my honesty and told that it was exactly the sort of review she was after. A few months later it was dropped, and I was told by the same editor that it was for my own sake sake, that I might regret it, etc.
  • 2011 rates -
    New Yorker $460/36-line-poem
    Paris Review $75/poem
    Ploughshares $25/page
    Poetry $10/line
  • Burnett's edition includes "all of Larkin's poems whose texts are accessible." These texts, meticulously checked against primary sources, are offered under four rubrics:
    • the four volumes published in Larkin's lifetime "preserved as collections" (117 poems);
    • other poems published in the poet's lifetime but not included in any collection (36 poems in order of publication date);
    • poems not published in the poet's lifetime (403 poems in chronological order determined by the date on which Larkin stopped working on each poem);
    • and undated or approximately dated poems (10 poems).
  • "As the pseudonymous Harvey Porlock noted, 'Reading reviews of modern poetry is like attending prize-giving in a small, caring primary school: everyone has done terribly well, it's all absolutely marvellous'"
  • We fray into the future, rarely wrought/ Save in the tapestries of afterthought - Richard Wilbur