Monday 31 March 2014

Blogstats 2007-2014

This blog's been going for 7 years. The graphs show the stats during that time. My article blog has been going for about 5 years, and is as popular as my main and reviews blogs combined - 100,000 hits so far. I suspect that's because it's a honeypot as far as literary searches are concerned. Top searches that lead to the articles are for "avant garde poetry", "metaphor uses like or as", "language poetry examples", "short metaphors", and "nel mezzo del cammin". Top pages are

Translating Dante's La Commedia Divina13187
Child narrators in adult fiction9431
Getting Poetry published in the UK8373
Metaphor and Simile7188

Thursday 27 March 2014

CB1: Ann Drysdale and Caroline Gilfillan

I must have passed the Cambridge Royal Hotel over 10,000 times to and from work, but I've never gone in. All that changed on 27/3/2014 when CB1's poetry evening was there as a one-off. If I don't go to poetry events, poetry events will come to me. From my seat at the venue I photographed my workplace just beyond the hotel's carpark, the reflected chandelier adding some class to a dreary block of offices.

CB1 consistently presents a broad range of poets - some university-based, some from further afield. About 40 people usually attend. Ann Drysdale (from Wales) and Caroline Gilfillan are both seasoned, impressive performers. I'd not come across Caroline Gilfillan before. She mostly read from her poetic biography of the Samuel Pepys, who lived in interesting times (and was a Cambridge student). She also read a "mirror poem" (the first and last line the same, and so on).

I've read 2 books by Ann Drysdale and I read some poems of hers on the Eratosphere forums, so I knew what to expect - humane; never a dull moment. I learnt both from the content and the delivery. She's equally adept at comic, thoughtful and sad pieces, with entertaining inter-poem talk. She read poems about spreading her husband's ashes from various types of containers (tobacco tins, camera film tubes) in Paris, etc, which were all the more moving for having an edge of humour. Her prose introduction to her piece about babies' dummies was a work in its own right. I prefer her poetry to much of Wendy Cope's later works, partly perhaps because of its more open and conciliatory attitude to death.

As a bonus, Mary McLean from the poetry group I attend contributed to the Open Mic session.

Monday 17 March 2014

States of Independence - Roy Marshall, Rory Waterman and e-lit

I went to 2 events -

Sunbathers, Tonight the Summer's Over

I listened to readings by Rory Waterman and Roy Marshall, who've both had books out recently. They're both personable family people with lively senses of humour (though the latter doesn't come out in their poetry as much as one might expect). They complement each other well - at times their styles overlap, though they've taken different routes to poetry (Roy was a "delivery driver, gardener and coronary care nurse, amongst other occupations"; "Dr Waterman lectures in English Literature and Creative Writing", and his father was a poet). I'm not a very patient poetry listener, but I could have handled more from both of them. Rory read the poems that I most like from his book - "Navigating", "Family Business", "To Help the Birds through Winter" etc. Roy gave us some poems from his book, which I bought (the first print run's already sold out!).

They're both active on the poetry scene, the kind of people whose success restores one's confidence in poetry's meritocratic claims. Rory co-edits "New Walk" and has appeared in some prestigious places recently (Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, the Financial Times). I see Roy's name in many of the publications (paper and Web) that I read. The Acknowledgements page of his recent book mentions over 20 publications, and it's worth keeping eyes on his blog.

Reading and Publishing Digital Literature

David Devanny and David Boyes talked about electronic literature. Amongst the points they made were -

  • Some people exclude plain e-books from electronic literature, insisting that there be some random/game/choice element, or some use of the WWW.
  • Language as Gameplay: toward a vocabulary for describing works of electronic literature by Brian Kim Stefans was recommended
  • Stud Poetry by Marko Niemi was shown. It's a commonly shown example
  • Money - the "games model" (offering 3 chapters free, for example) works better for fiction than poetry
  • Amazon claim that people buy more paper books after they've got a Kindle
  • Poets aren't likely to be good coders and artists too, so collaborations are likely
  • Readers might not get the most from works unless they look at the code
  • Hypertext might not be dead but in itself it's not the answer
  • Each interesting new work might almost be a new genre - i.e. necessarily avant-garde
  • See Electronic Literature Collection 1 and Electronic Literature Collection 2 for examples
  • David Boyes is putting together Blast 2014

Wednesday 5 March 2014

What Happenstance debut poets do next

Having read Matthew Stewart's From pamphlet to full collection post and re-read my Career paths post I was interested to see the fate of poets who'd had debut pamphlet publications with HappenStance. Here's a list of people who've continued publishing elsewhere (apologies for any omissions)

AuthorHappenStance publicationSubsequent books (poetry unless otherwise stated)
Patricia Ace"First Blood", 2006"Fabulous Beast" (Freight books, 2013)
Clare Best"Treasure Ground", 2010"Excisions" (Waterloo Press, 2011)
"Breastless" (Pighog, 2011) (pamphlet)
Anne Caldwell"Slug Language", 2008"Talking with the Dead" (Cinnamon Press, 2011)
Niall Campbell"After the Creel Fleet", 2012"Moontide" (Bloodaxe, 2014)
Rose Cook"Everyday Festival", 2009"Taking Flight" (Oversteps, 2009)
"Notes from a Bright Field" (Cultured Llama, 2013)
Peter Daniels"Mr Luczinski makes a move", 2011"Counting Eggs" (Mulfran Press, 2012)
"Vladislav Khodasevich:Selected Poems" (Angel Classics, 2013) translations
Kirsten Irving"What to do", 2011"Never Never Never Come Back" (Salt, 2012)
Gregory Leadbetter"The Body in the Well", 2007"Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) theory
Eleanor Livingstone"The Last King of Fife", 2005"Even the Sea" (Red Squirrel Press, 2012)
Tim Love"Moving Parts", 2010"By all means" (Nine Arches Press, 2012) stories
Rob Mackenzie"The Clown of Natural Sorrow", 2003"The Opposite of Cabbage" (Salt, 2009)
"Fleck and the Bank" (Salt, 2012) (pamphlet)
"The Good News" (Salt, 2013)
Richie McCaffery"Spinning Plates", 2012 "Ballast Flint", (Cromarty Arts Trust, 2013)
"Cairn" (Nine Arches Press, 2014)
Gill McEvoy"Uncertain Days", 2006"The Plucking Shed" (Cinnamon Press, 2010)
"Rise" (Cinnamon Press, 2013)
Matt Merritt"Making the Most of the Light", 2005"Troy Town" (Arrowhead Press, 2008)
"Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica" (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
"The Elephant Tests" (Nine Arches Press, 2013)
Andrew Philip"Tonguefire", 2005 "The Ambulance Box" (Salt, 2009)
"The North End of the Possible" (Salt, 2013)
Jon Stone"Scarecrows", 2010"School of Forgery" (Salt, 2012)

Conclusions? Well, unsurprisingly the young poets fare better, though Peter Daniels is no slouch. It's a shame that "Salt" is no longer an option.