November 27, 2014

December Snakeskin will be arriving a couple of days late – on the 3rd or 4th of the month.

The editor is taking a short break in London.

The 100 Years War

November 25, 2014

The stage production The 100 Years War, which presents war poetry from 1914 to today, is currently touring Britain.

It includes some of the Holocaust poems translated by Thomas Land which have appeared in Snakeskin over the past few years.

Details of dates and venues can be found by clicking here.

Hurry, though, the tour’s nearly over. I’ve only just found out about the performance not far from me a couple of weeks ago.

Should we forget?

November 19, 2014

Snakeskin has recently received an email from someone whose verse we published several years ago.
The poems are light and witty, and slightly naughty. The poet has now moved on, and now has ‘a position which doesn’t benefit from having this poetry come up’ in Google searches. She has asked us to remove the poems.
I’d like readers’ opinions on this.
On the one hand, we hardly want to cause the poor lady distress if her early work is causing her embarrassment.
On the other hand, it might make matters worse if we replaced the poems in their Snakeskin editions with a notice saying that they had been removed because of inappropriate content. I’m sure people would imagine the poems to be far more outlandish than they are.
Or we could, I suppose, cut not only the poems, but also all references to them in the index pages of the issues in which they appear. But this seems to me a bit like falsifying the historical record. And it will not, of course, affect copies that are archived in various places.
This is one instance of what seems to be a growing problem. When poems were printed only on paper, the author could suppress them fairly easily by not allowing reprints. But what appears on the Internet stays on the Internet. Even when the editor and sole proprietor of Snakeskin passes on to a better world and his site disappears, those archived copies (at the British library and elsewhere) will remain.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that we have a right for our past to be forgotten by Google (though most of those availing themselves of this right seem to be petty criminals.)
So in this case, what should we do?


October 30, 2014

It’s been fun getting the November Snakeskin together (we shall be online on Saturday).

One of the poems included is by Annie Fisher. She told me it had been published elsewhere, and asked if I minded.

When I heard about the collection it had appeared in, I certainly didn’t mind. It’s a new collection from Happenstance press, based on a theme that has maybe appeared too seldom in English verse: Chocolate.


Blame Montezuma is edited by Helena Nelson, and I think I counted ten Snakeskin contributors among its list of contributors.

A box of chocolates is always a welcome Christmas gift, but this year you can enhance it by pairing it with the book of poems. A brilliant idea.

Details are at:


October 10, 2014


Every February, the brilliant Jessy Randall takes over the editorial controls at Snakeskin for a special themed issue.

Next February, she will be filling the magazine with MONSTERS.

As always, the theme is open to interpretation, but the more monstery your poems, the better.
Send up to 6 poems to No attachments, please. Simultaneous submissions are fine.
Jessy likes to sort things out in advance, so the deadline is December 1. Expect a response by December 15.

National Poetry Day

September 29, 2014

October Snakeskin will probably be a day late, appearing on the 2nd of the month.

It’s been pointed out to me, though, that this is reasonably appropriate, since the 2nd is National Poetry Day.

Here is a poem about NPD that I wrote a few years ago:

National Poetry Day

The Head was ambitious and nobody’s fool,
A big man, efficient, and proud of his school.

At the start of the term, as he sorted his post,
The item of mail that intrigued him the most

Was a piece puffing National Poetry Day,
Including a list of the poets who’d stay

And workshop and somehow persuade the whole school
That poets were groovy and poems were cool.

“Here’s status,” the Head thought. “It’s not to be missed.”
The one problem, though, was the names on the list;

Though doubtless they wrote quite respectable stuff,
Not one of them, frankly, was famous enough.

His school deserved more; his ambition took wing,
And so he decided to do his own thing.

With his usual flair, and with chutzpah exquisite,
He invited the whole English canon to visit.

Geoffrey Chaucer came first, on an equable horse,
And Spenser, and Marlowe, and Shakespeare, of course

(Who was grabbed by the teachers of English, imploring
“Do come and persuade the Year Nines you’re not boring.”)

Keats arrived coughing, Kipling marched vigorously;
Matthew Arnold began to inspect the school rigorously -

Which delighted the Head, who with pride and elation
Showed the bards of the ages today’s education.

Vaughan was ecstatic, though Clough was more sceptical.
Dowson puked up in a litter receptacle.

Coleridge sneaked off to discover the rates
Of an unshaven person outside the school gates;

Soon he’d sunk in a private and picturesque dream,
While Auden was ogling the basketball team.

Plath lectured the girls: “Get ahead! Go insane!”
Algernon Swinburne cried: “Bring back the cane!”

Dylan Thomas soon found the head’s cupboard of booze,
And Swift was disdainfully sniffing the loos.

And then the Head twigged, with a horrified jolt,
That something had sparked a Romantic revolt.

Shelley’d gathered the students out in the main quad,
And roused them to rise against school, Head, and God.

Byron soon joined him, and started to speak.
(He showed his best profile, and quoted from Greek.)

The bards of the thirties were equally Red,
And Milton explained how to chop off a head.

Decadents undermined all the foundations.
Surrealists threw lobsters and rancid carnations.

Pre-Raphaelites attacked the technology rooms,
And the First World War poets trudged off to their dooms,

Sidney with gallantry led a great charge in
(Tennyson cheering them on from the margin).

The Deputy Head, who was rather a dope,
Got precisely impaled on a couplet by Pope

(Who, while not so Romantic, was never the chap
To run from a fight or keep out of a scrap).

Then the whole solid edifice started to shake
As it was prophetically blasted by Blake.

Soon the School was destroyed. Eliot paced through the waste,
And reflected with sorrow and learning and taste,

Which he fused in a poem, an excellent thing,
Though rather obscure and extremely right-wing.

He gave this to the Head, who just threw it aside
As he knelt by the wreck of his school, and he cried

Salty tears that went fizz as they hit the school’s ashes.
He said words that I’d better imply by mere dashes:

“——– Poets! ——– Poetry – rhyme and free verse!
Let them wilt in the face of a Headmaster’s curse!

“Let poetry wither! How sweet it would be
If all of the world were as normal as me!”

Spam alert

August 29, 2014

Most annoyingly, someone has hijacked the email address.

It is being used to send out spam messages, apparently from a lady seeking a friend – but actually linking to a site that my ISP recognises as malware.

Please be careful with any strange messages apparently coming from Snakeskin.

I don’t think, though, that the spammers have got at my address book. They are sending the messages out randomly. many go to non-existent addresses, as I learn from the ‘could not deliver’ messages clogging my inbox.

It’s a pain. I’ll see if anything can be done to stop it.

Something new

February 1, 2014



February Snakeskin is up and running, and it’s quite a change from the usual offering. Jessy Randall has taken on the Guest Editor stint again, and this time she has filled the zine with graphic surprises, in a Poetry Comics special.

Next month we’ll be back to business as usual again. Please send your poems to



All sorted

December 14, 2013

December Snakeskin is now properly online at as usual, and all is well.

While there was a problem with the domain name, mail sent to the did not reach me. If you sent poems during the first week or so of this month, and have had no acknowledgement, please send them again.

Because of the disruption, I am making the December Snakeskin a double number, running through January as well.

February will be the special Poetry Comics number, guest-edited by Jessy Randall (for which the deadline is already closed).

In March we will continue with business as usual.

It never rains…

December 11, 2013

Back from hospital, I finished getting the December issue belatedly together, and put it online, only to find that the address does not work. The firm that provides the address is proving elusive (or at least, I can’t get past the receptionist) but I shall persevere.Meanwhile,  the December issue can be found online at this rather ungainly address:

And a damn good collection of poems it is, too.


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