January Snakeskin is online

January 1, 2017

It’s online, but in a bit of a rush, because I’m off to a big (and I mean big) New Year’s lunch.

No time to notify poets properly at the moment – will do so later.

Happy New Year to all!


New Year cheer

December 30, 2016

A pair in a garden;
Sin God wouldn’t pardon.
So humans had gloom
Until death as their doom.
With just one small smidgen
Of joy, from religion,
Which decreed: ‘Go belabour
Your heathenish neighbour.’
Great empires arose,
And each one of those,
Whether Aztec or Greek,
Liked to slaughter the weak;
In turn each went ker-flop.
When the Romans were top,
The Christians appeared
(Who were sexually weird).
Long ages went Dark
And life wasn’t a lark.
The Renaissance was jolly,
But soon melancholy
Dark factories and mills
Bred new social ills.
Through centuries more
We’ve had misery and war
And depression and slump.
And now we’ve got Trump!

Cheerful best wishes for 2017!


Annie Fisher’s ‘Infinite in All Perfections’

December 12, 2016

infinite-in-all

The cover of Annie Fisher’s new Happenstance chapbook shows someone jumping for joy, and that’s more or less how you feel after reading it.
Many of the poems are anecdotes – the story of the girl who ran the sack race, but misunderstood the instructions and put the sack over her head:

Has she forgotten that hot afternoon?
The scratch and smell of a hessian sack,
speckled sunlight through rough rope weave,
surging voices, burning breath, the unseen crowd,
and a skinny brown-limbed girl
(must be a woman now)
all alone and leaping in the dark.

Read the rest of this entry »


New Statesman competitions

December 6, 2016

It’s a sad week for those who enjoy light verse and parody. The New Statesman has announced that it will no longer be setting Weekend Competitions. For over eighty years these comps have set a high standard for versifiers, wits and parodists, but now, apparently, there is not enough space in the magazine for a feature like this.

I doubt if I would be writing poetry today if it wasn’t for the New Statesman. As a young man I wrote rather intense verse; I knew what it meant, but most other readers would have found it puzzling. Certainly none of the editors I sent it to were interested. For a while I gave up writing poems.

I had always enjoyed the New Statesman competitions, though, and entered one that asked for one-liner jokes. One of mine was printed and I won a pound for it. I carried on, first with prose parodies, and then with verse  – which needed to be clear, funny and properly scanned. The first verse winner I had was this, from 1982; the setter asked for lyrical praise of some feature of the modern countryside: Read the rest of this entry »


December

December 1, 2016

Well, it’s been something of a rush, because I’ve been away on holiday, and have had to do most of the magazine-assembling today – but the December issue is now online.
And a very good issue it is, too.


Bruce

November 3, 2016

Regular readers who have been following the story of Bruce Bentzman’s struggles with the bureaucracy of the UK’s immigration system will be pleased to know that he has now received a visa giving him leave to remain in his beloved Cardiff.


November Snakeskin

November 1, 2016

November Snakeskin is now online.

As the editor I know I’m biased, but I reckon it’s a very good and very varied issue.

Last month in the Politics issue I asked for seriousness rather than satire. This month, to balance that, we’ve got a thoroughly scurrilous and ribald set of poems by Brian Allgar, tracing the career and crimes of a fairly vile politician.
Among the bustle of other excellent poets, please take a look at the work of Annie Fisher, whose pamphlet Infinite in All Perfections is published today by Happenstance.
I’m also very glad to have a new (translated) contribution by K.M. Payne, who was a key presence in the early days of Snakeskin. He did a Rimbaud and gave up poetry for quite a few years, but now seems to be drifting back, which is excellent news. He is, of course, my  co-author of the huge and absurd poetical hypertext project The Maze of Mirrors.
My own contribution this month is a bad-tempered snarl at those who campaign for academic safe places, where they will hear no opinions that contradict their own. Snakeskin believes that universities, like poems, should be intellectually unsafe spaces, where the assumption should be that assumptions are there to be challenged.


A Horror for Hallowe’en

October 31, 2016

The Ghosts of BHS

Thank God this night of Halloween the doors are firmly locked
so trick-and-treaters access to the spirit world is blocked.
For there, within the Centre, from the eastern entrance railing
you can hear the ghostly unemployed of BHS awailing.
Awailing in great choruses and gnashing bloody teeth
“Oh Philip Green, this Halloween, come here to Bexleyheath!”.

From whirling knives above their heads and from their imprecation,
it seems their wish for Philip Green involves evisceration
For there within the darkened mall you hear the spirits railing
against his asset-stripping and his ‘great’ prowess – retailing!
Come hither good Sir Philip we’ve a very special wreath
signed by all your jobless fans: “Good riddance! Bexleyheath.”
Geoff Lander


February Snakeskin: Maths!

October 23, 2016

Once again Jessy Randall will guest-edit the February 2017 issue of Snakeskin. (You can find out more about Jessy at:http://personalwebs.coloradocollege.edu/~jrandall/ )

This year the theme will be NUMBERS / MATHEMATICS. As always, the theme is open to interpretation.

Send up to five poems to jessyrandall@yahoo.com. No attachments, please, except in the case of visual poems (please send jpegs). Simultaneous submissions are fine. The deadline is December 1. Expect a response by December 15.

jessy2015a

Jessy Randall
(Photo by Wendy Lovell)

Down with Poetry!

October 18, 2016

downwith

The proper kind of poetry
has resonance – it’s heavy.

Her verse is light, the critics said
she writes it on the bevvy.

This is part of Helena Nelson’s ‘Self-portrait as an Unsuitable Poem’, in her new collection Down With Poetry, which the postman brought to my door the other day, to my huge delight.
The book brings together her previous ‘unsuitable’ collections, and adds more to them. The term ‘unsuitable’ is inspired by a magazine’s rejection note many years ago: ‘Many thanks for the poems. These aren’t quite suitable…’ Helena has a keen ear for the intricacies of language, and realised that the editor wasn’t saying the poems were no good – just that they were ‘unsuitable’ – they didn’t fit the standard category of poems that get published. Maybe because they don’t make a show of taking themselves too seriously.
Helena’s ‘Unsuitables’ are sometimes rude about poetry and poets: Read the rest of this entry »