Charmless and Interesting: Robert Archambeau on Conceptual Poetry

August 3, 2013

There’s a thought-provoking article article on the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog, by Robert Archambeau: What Conceptual Poetry Lacks And What It’s Got. In case you, like me, were wondering what he means by conceptual poetry, it turns out to be very similar to the more familiar (ahem) concept of conceptual art, i.e. work in which […]

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‘The Whitsun Weddings’: In the Midst of Life We Are in Death

July 17, 2013

‘The Whitsun Weddings’ is usually regarded as one of Philip Larkin’s brighter poems: a beautiful evocation of romantic love, with newlyweds riding the train to London against a backdrop of town and country scenes. The visual detail is gorgeous, like a succession of paintings by Constable, Lowry and Beryl Cook. In the context of Larkin’s […]

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Machi Tawara at Ledbury Festival

July 12, 2013

When I edited Magma 34 I was thrilled to publish the first translations in the UK of tanka by Machi Tawara. Tawara is a superstar in her native Japan – her first book, Salad Anniversary, sold over 2.5 million copies and she’s a familiar face to TV audiences as well as poetry readers. This Sunday […]

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Reading at the Magma 55 Launch – Monday 25 February

February 21, 2013

My poem ‘The Future’ is published in issue 55 of Magma Poetry, out now. I’ll be reading it at the launch next Monday 25th February, at The Troubadour, with other readers including Penelope Shuttle and Clare Pollard. Tim Kindberg and Karen McCarthy Woolf have a great theme for the issue – The Soul and the […]

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Reading at The Shuffle, Saturday 26th January

January 24, 2013

This Saturday 26th January I’ll be reading some of my poems at The Shuffle, hosted by Jacqueline Saphra at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. There will be ‘feature sets’ from Peter Armstrong, Fran Lock and Anne Berkeley. Rowena Knight and I will be reading shorter sets, and a ‘short star turn’ has just been […]

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“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care”

January 17, 2013

As an absorbing evocation of Shakespeare’s life in London, Charles Nicholl’s The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street is up there with Peter Ackroyd’s biography and James Shapiro’s 1599. Starting with the one surviving fragment of Shakespeare’s recorded speech, from a testimony in a civil court, Nicholl ferrets out a mind-boggling array of facts, inferences and […]

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The Four Subjects of Lyric Poetry

August 10, 2012

a short but comprehensive summary of subjects for lyric poetry. I went out into the woods today and it made me feel, you know, sort of religious. We’re not getting any younger. It sure is cold and lonely (a) without you, honey, or (b) with you, honey. Sadness seems but the other side of the […]

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Farewell to Magma

April 23, 2012

After eight very enjoyable years as a member of the editorial board of Magma Poetry magazine, I’ve recently handed in my resignation. I’ve had a wonderful time – among other things I edited Magma 34 and recorded an audio edition of the issue at the Poetry Library, attended lots of Magma readings at the Troubadour […]

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Nancy Gaffield, ‘Nihonbashi’

October 16, 2011

Inside, the edo-jin stir ashes to a dogged glow. A pair of curs sniff the bridgehead and the rat that passed there, now wallowing unreachable in river silt. They turn their backsides to our Hiro as he slips out of sight. The old town droops into silence and the rains begin. (Full poem online at […]

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Nancy Gaffield, Tokaido Road

October 13, 2011

I’ve just finished Nancy Gaffield’s superb Tokaido Road – 55 poems based on Hiroshige’s series of woodblock prints Fifty-three Stages of the Tokaido. I read it first without looking at the prints, to see how the poems work on their own (very well). Now I’m going to read it again, looking at the pictures. For […]

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