So many! So short! So good

November 1, 2019

The editorial inbox for November Snakeskin has been the fullest in the magazine’s history. There was a cornucopia of short verse to choose from.

This made the task of editing the hardest it’s ever been. From the hundreds of poems submitted, there were a very large number with merit, a solid phalanx of the worthy. How to choose?

I had started with the idea that I would present an issue with just twenty poems. That idea went by the board. A lot more squeezed in, and there are still poems that I regret not using.

Were the poems I chose ‘the best’? That’s always a bit subjective. They were the ones that struck a chord with me. Many because of what they were saying, some because of their use of words or their use of form. Some because they were funny.

Many thanks to everyone who sent us poems. I’ll try to write a note to all who offered poems, but it’s going to take a while.

Meanwhile – enjoy the issue.

(By the way, the next two Snakeskins will be standard issues. Any length, any subject, any style. Send your poems to the usual address.)


Wrappers

October 21, 2019

There has recently been something of a craze, on Instagram and elsewhere, for wrapper rhymes – that is, short poem written on the wrappers of sweets and other food.

It began , apparently, with the discovery that Ted Hughes, a fan of Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, had taken to writing short pieces in praise of them on the wrappers.

To have swallowed a crocodile
Would make anybody smile

But to swallow a Caramel Wafer
is safer

Someone who has taken to the craze with gusto is Helena Nelson. I’ve just received Branded, a nicely published pamphlet, containing over thirty of the pieces she has written on wrappers. She must have spent a fortune on confectionery, it strikes me – but then, I reflect, money spent on chocolate is rarely money wasted.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 2019

October 13, 2019

I scan the faces on the train.
Did she vote Leave? Was he Remain?
But each one’s in a private world,
And gives no hint what thoughts are curled
And dreaming darkly in their brains.
British people packed in trains
Will by instinct always take
Some pains to make their masks opaque.
That grumpy-looking man for sure
Seems a Leaver caricature,
Whilst she there with the hardback book
Has maybe a Remainer look.
Or maybe doesn’t – I can not
Do more than guess who voted what.
Nor can I know what made them choose,
And how far they’re impelled by views
Perhaps known to themselves alone
And incoherent as my own.

Read the rest of this entry »

Short poems for November

October 10, 2019

November Snakeskin will be a Short Poems special issue. Any subject, any style – but nothing over nine lines.

Send your minuscule efforts to editor@snakeskin.org.uk


‘Environs’ deadline

August 20, 2019

A reminder that the deadline for the ‘Environs’ issue of Snakeskin is August 23rd.

Tristan tells me that he already has a good number of very good contributions, but last-minute arrivals will be welcomed.

Send your poems to tristanmoss@hotmail.co.uk


Enshrined Inside Me

August 16, 2019

Back in 2012, Bruce Bentzman published a collection of his Snakeskin essays. In those days he called them ‘Suburban Soliloquies’.

Since then he has had many adventures and experiences, and these are chronicled in the successor volume, just published. Enshrined Inside Me takes him away from the suburbs and into urban retirement, and then, rather unexpectedly to Wales, where he now lives.

The presiding spirit of this collection is Bruce’s late wife Barbara (‘my more significant other’, he has always called her). Barbara was British and had family in Wales, so she took Bruce away from his American roots to Cardiff, a city which he has found most congenial. The book’s last essays speak of the months leading up to Barbara’s death, and of Bruce’s grief.

Those who have enjoyed Bruce’s essays over the years will welcome the opportunity to have them collected in book form.

Enshrined Inside Me can be ordered by clicking here.


‘Environs’ Special issue

July 25, 2019

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September Snakeskin will be a special issue on the theme of ‘Environs’, guest-edited by Tristan Moss. Tristan writes:

Environs will be the theme for the September edition of Snakeskin. Please interpret broadly.

Poems could be about the environs of a town or a city: for example, greenbelts, housing estates, rubbish tips, wastelands, nature reserves or parks. Or could be about the environs of a pub, school, workplace, allotment, shed, farm or space shuttle. Or you might want to write a poem about the virtual environs of a video game or website. Some argue that we now live in a global village, so by this measure the whole world could be seen as our environs.


Poems might show how an area’s environs have changed. Or they might show the effect of change on you (or other people); or the effect you or others have had on an area’s environs.

These poems should have a strong sense of place, with well chosen specific details, but there may be exceptions to this, too.

I welcome all forms of poetry, from traditional ones to experimental ones
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Send your poems to Tristan at tristanmoss@hotmail.co.uk before August 23rd.

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January Snakeskin

December 30, 2018

A happy and prosperous New Year to all our readers!

January Snakeskin will come online on January 3rd.


The Lesser Mortal

November 26, 2018


There ought to be more poems about science. We’re living through a remarkable age of discovery about the universe, and of speculation about its nature and origins. We can see almost to the beginning of time and almost to the very heart of the elementary particles. Shouldn’t poets be explorers of such  great subjects?

Of course, it’s actually useless to dictate what poets ought to write about, since the good poems are those that have to be written, coming from the themes that truly grip the poet. So most poets will continue to write mournfully of love and death and maybe of Mr Trump and Brexit.

Still, it seems a missed opportunity. So I was glad to receive a pamphlet from Happenstance (beautifully produced as all their pamphlets are). It’s The Lesser Mortal by Geoff Lander. Its twenty-one poems are all light-hearted verse reflections on the history of science, neatly expressing some of the big stories of post-Einstein discovery.

Geoff Lander has appeared in Snakeskin. Here’s an  example of his work, a jolly explanation of the periodic table. If you like this, you’ll enjoy The Lesser Mortal.


Potcake chapbooks

November 18, 2018

Snakeskin poets seem to be spreading their wings everywhere these days, and the latest enterprise to feature several of them is the new series of Potcake Chapbooks, published by Samson Low.

These are neat little pocket-sized pamphlets, sixteen pages packed with poems, mostly witty, all featuring the snap and buzz of rhyme.

The first pamphlet, Tourists and Cannibals, is about travel; the second, Rogues and Roses is full of poems about love and sex. More titles are on the way.

Edited by Robin Helweg-Larsen, whose work will be familiar to Snakeskin readers, these modestly priced (£2.60) pamphlets are just the right size for slipping in with a Christmas card to spread seasonal good cheer.