Sunday 20 June 2021

2 poetry hatchet jobs

  • "Bad and ungenerous reviews are necessarily more subjective than positive and generous reviews, because as with any other manifestation of ill will, the bad reviewer is indulging in an egotistical display of some state of mind that is supposed to enhance the reviewer's status at the expense of the subject of the review" (Jane Smiley)
  • "one cannot review a bad book without showing off" (Auden)

Yet there must be more to reviewing than appreciating the books you like, and being silent about the others. In Hatchet jobs: Agony for the author but bliss for us to read John Walsh writes "The best hatchet jobs are wholesale demolitions, performed without any judicious weighing of strengths and weaknesses, and carried off with murderous glee." I don't know how good the review articles in "Areté 22" (2006) are, but neither have much judicious weighing. Adam Thirwell in "On Bad Poetry" quotes extensively from Daljit Nagra while Craig Raine takes on Don Paterson.

"On Bad Poetry" by Adam Thirwell

  • His method is a cute amalgam of e e cummings and Dylan Thomas. From cummings, Nagra has inherited a habit of inverting words' grammatical status ... From Thomas he has borrowed obscurity
  • it is not enough simply to allude to another poem ... as if the borrowing will confer significance
  • I am not sure if it would be possible to write a more obscure sentence. It would certainly not be possible to write an uglier sentence. Nor would it be possible to discover a sentence which is more over-written. The reader of Daljit Nagra longs for a verb to be left alone, for it just to be simple. But no verb is left unturned.
  • The sentimental is Nagra's constant mode
  • This is Nagra's favourite style - in which word order is inverted, where adjectives and verbs are unexpected. It is meant to represent an outsider's freedom with English - but it simply sounds clumsy
  • As always, the situation is clear but the language is not

"Little Big Man: The Poetry of Don Paterson" by Craig Raine

  • The two great, natural enemies of poetry are exaggeration and euphemism
  • Paterson is serious - if not literal - about his melodramatic, metaphorical scenario. Alas. There is no ironic gap between the actuality and the image
  • exaggeration, a kind of immodesty that relies on no one calling your bluff ... Why would anyone credit this baloney, unless you were Jeanette Winterson? ...The absurd paper currency of runaway poetic inflation
  • That last line is a minor miracle of ugliness. You want to take it to Lourdes.
  • The tendency to exaggeration is endemic in Paterson's poetry and not restricted to the subjects of love and sex. This is partly cultural. Paterson comes from a culture that prizes the anecdote and the exaggeration that goes with it.

Thursday 17 June 2021

A prose/poetry submission schedule for Jul-Dec 2021

The second half of the year seems to have fewer competition and magazine-window opportunities for me. I'll update them as the year progresses. Here they are -

Wednesday 2 June 2021

"Acumen 100"

Acumen has reached a milestone. I've been in it a few times - poems, articles and letters. The poems are more accessible than in most other magazines. I've always admired the reviews, and the articles can be instructional - this issue has articles on Ihor Pavlyuk as well as Denise Levertov. Here are some points that caught my eye -

  • Levertov's "The Rainwalkers" is quoted from by Fred Beake - "An old man whose black face/ shines golden-brown as wet pebbles/ under the streetlamp is walking/ two mongrel dogs of dis-/ proportionate size, in the rain,/ in the relaxed early-evening avenue". She "learned to move away from the metrical while writing with precise controlled musical phrasing, related very closely to the breath and its movements", though I don't understand the line-breaks in the quote.
  • Elaine Jarvest Miller's "How important it was" is a poem about jigsaws as therapy and a source of analogy. I've written such pieces too. Importantly this poem begins with "When I offer you the jigsaws in their faded boxes,/ I won't tell you when I bought them". I should try to add more interest to my analogy-poems in this way.
  • John Miles' "Pandemic Pantoum" is a neat idea - no doubt used before, but fun.
  • Gordon Scapens' "The Weight of Time" ends with "Time will tell you/ when it's time", which I like
  • Jeremy Young's "The Temptations of Boars Hill" looks like prose
  • Shanta Acharya poem has "If we accept the world as a gift,/ not take the gifts of the world for granted,// we may still learn to cherish what we have, thankful for things we never had, never needed" sounds too pat to me. Several other poems have similar pearls of wisdom
  • Sean Hewitt uses "Short, powerfully propulsive lines whose ending cut against the grain of the syntax" - Edmund Prestwich

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Some UK Magazine news

  • The Alchemy Spoon is a magazine that's particularly interested in poems from new phase poets. These are poets who have come late to poetry, often following retirement, or a life-change. See "Body" is their next theme
  • The Friday poem has interviews, articles, reviews and the odd poem. See
  • Northern Gravy is a new UK magazine (funded by ACE, etc) that pays £100 for publication. It welcomes Fiction, Young Adult and poetry. See
  • Dust, a Cambridge-based poetry magazine, has several theme-based issues per year. See
  • Tamarind magazine wants science-related prose (articles and stories) by 30th June for their next issue. See
  • Acumen's 100th issue is out (Alison Brackenbury, Martin Crucefix, Mimi Khalvati, Roger McGough, etc. 238 pages!). See