Review – Brian Henry, Maggie Sawkins (Magma 28)

by Mark McGuinness on 23 May, 2006

Here’s my review of [tag]Brian Henry[/tag]‘s Graft and [tag]Maggie Sawkins[/tag]‘ Charcot’s Pet, which appeared in Magma 28.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

sarah November 1, 2006 at 4:07 pm

i am a creative writing student at hull university and i found myself intriuged by ‘is blogging the new poetry?’ can anyone give me more information? how does having a blog effect publication? how do writers get involved in creating a blog?


Mark McGuinness November 2, 2006 at 8:54 am

Hi Sarah, good question.

I don’t think there is a linear relationship between blogging and getting published as a poet. You could write a fantastic blog but unless your poems are of a high enough standard, it won’t help you much. And of course poets have been getting published for centuries without the help of blogs.

But supposing your work is either good or on the way to becoming good, I think blogging can do several things that might help you and reward you as a poet:

1. Connect with other poets online. If you look at my list of poetry links, you’ll see several blogs by poets, most of whom I haven’t met but have conversed with online via comments like this and e-mail. And for those I have met, blogging and reading each others’ blogs can be a good way of staying in touch and keeping up with each other’s work.

2. Get feedback. Like all writers, poets love feedback – and blogging is a great way to get some. Every comment left shows that someone has read and appreciated (or argued with!) something you have written.

3. Raise your profile. OK this one’s debatable at the moment, given the number of poets who have never heard of blogging, but it’s becoming more common to find poets blogging, and it can be a good way of (a) getting your opinions out there and (b) highlighting your offline publications.

E.g. I doubt whether anyone is likely to commission me to write an article about a translation of Basho that was published years ago, but I really enjoyed writing it for this blog, and getting positive responses from readers. ( ). Equally, I’m not well-known enough for anyone to be following my every publication, so blogging my recently published poems and articles on this blog helps me highlight them for others and keep track of them myself.

4. Writing practice. After the rigours of versification where every syllable counts, it can be quite liberating to write something informal like a blog, and bring a new dimension to your writing voice.

5. A ‘digital scrapbook’. David Armano used this term to describe his excellent blog Logic + Emotion ( and I think it’s a nice description of the way you accumulate a record of your reading, writing and ideas over time, which could be useful for your other writing.

6. Writing when you ‘don’t have time’. If I’d been asked to write an article about blogging and poetry this morning, I would have said I don’t have time – but your comment has elicited a mini-article from me in a gap between doing other things (I didn’t realise I had so much to say!) which could well form a future article. I might even write a blog post about it! :-)

Re how to start blogging, I would recommend Wordpress software (its free and fantastic). You can either download it (from and host it on your own webspace or the easier option is to sign up for a free blog at where they host it for you.  I’m going to add an introduction to blogging for artists and writers to my Wishful Thinking blog in the Books + Links section ( but for now I’d recommend Darren Rowse’s blogging for beginners series (


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