‘Breathe’: May Snakeskin is online

May 3, 2021

Many thanks to Rosie Miles for her work in putting together the May issue.

Twenty-six poems about breathing are now online at the usual address. You’ll also find Rosie’s thoughts on editing, which may give you an insight into the sort of choices that editors have to make. She explains why it’s useful to send editors not just one poem at a time, but three or four. As she says:

Often it’s helpful to send more than one.  As an Editor I want to get a feel for your writing, your style.  That’s not impossible from one poem alone, but that one poem has really got to stand out and do a lot of work to make the shortlist. 

Where I disagre is where she says that it is helpful to send a bio, a note explaining who you are, where you’re from and what you’ve published. Notes like this helped Rosie get an idea of the poets, but for me they get in the way. I’m interested in the poems and only the poems. Where you live, or what age or colour or gender you are don’t really interest me. Nor does a list of your previous publications in magazines, however prestigious. Only the poems ought to count.

Rosie doesn’t quite agree, but that’s the point of having occasional guest-editors. They shake things up a bit, and offer a different perspective. And this month Rosie has done an excellent job.


Last chance for Breathing

April 3, 2021

A reminder that the deadline for May’s special issue is Monday April 5th.

The topic is BREATHE, and the guest editor is Rosie Miles. Send your poem to:
info@rosiemilespoet.com

But before you do that, take a look at the extremely miscellaneous but uniformly excellent verses in April Snakeskin, which went online a couple of days ago.


Short

March 14, 2021

I’ve recently been sent two volumes of short poetry. Both enjoyable, but very unlike.

Max Gutmann’s Rewriting History collects a large number of vigorous short pieces written in two forms associated with the comically biographical – the clerihew and the double dactyl. If you don’t know what a clerihew is, Max explains:

A clerihew
Makes you aware o’ who
Humphrey Davy was. Or Sir Christopher Wren. Or anyone else you might be hazy about.
Usually in a way Davy or Wren wouldn’t be too crazy about.

He illustrates the Double Dactyl (sometimes known as a Higgledy-Piggledy) thus:

Jokery Folkery
Higgledy Piggledies
Called Double Dactyls by scholars, I think –

Offer biography
Pseudo-historical
(Meaning the data
Are likely to stink).

If you like Max’s explanations, you’ll like his collection (for details contact him at: info.maxgutmann@gmail.com ).

Mark Rutter’s poems belong to a different short poem tradition. That of minimal modernism, with nods to the concrete poetry of that remarkable creator Ian Hamilton Finlay. He offers Finlay an epitaph:

LAY
FIN

Some of his poems are shorter than that, and sometimes I don’t get the point. The word ‘mouseleaks’ by itself on a page perhaps means more to him than it does to me. Sometimes there is clever wordplay:

when philosophers fight
sophisticuffs

or

the anti-christ
turns wine into water

Sometimes they are not jokey. I liked this one:

an open space
of gorse and heather

A pink orchid
with spotted leaves
Once seen
reveals another.

You can get Mark’s collection from Amazon for £5

.


May Snakeskin: BREATHE

March 3, 2021

Rosie Miles will be the guest editor of the May issue. She explains:

Topic for May 2021 Snakeskin: BREATHE

Guest edited by Rosie Miles

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

I can’t breathe!”

Allow yourself to breathe. Let the wine breathe. Take time to breathe. Breathe a sigh of relief.

Who has breathed their last? Who can barely breathe? Who is still struggling to breathe?

What is it like to breathe again? What (new) spirit breathes among us?

Breathe energy, breathe fear, breathe courage, breathe air, breathe hope, breathe peace, breathe deeply, breathe freely.

What are you/we breathing new life into?

Breathe it all in.

Please respond to the theme as imaginatively and expansively and arrestingly as only poets can!

  1. Send up to four poems to Rosie Miles (info@rosiemilespoet.com) in one single word.docx or pdf attachment.
  2. Please start each poem on a new page.
  3. Your document should be named ‘BREATHE_Yourname’.
  4. Likewise please put ‘BREATHE Yourname’ in the Subject Line of your email.
  5. A brief “Hello”/introductory note in your email is welcome.
  6. Deadline Monday 5th April 2021.
  7. Poets whose poems are being included in the May 2021 edition of Snakeskin will be notified at the end of the month.

Another Snakeskin Zoom meeting

March 3, 2021

The January meeting was most enjoyable, and there will be a new one on Thursday March 18th, at 7.00 p.m. (London time).

Six or seven Snakeskin poets will be reading from their work, so that we can all put faces and voices to the names we see on our screens.

I have sent an email to my list of attendees from the previous meeting. The list may not be complete, though, and maybe others would like to attend. If you have not received an email, and would like to join in, please send a note to simmersgeorge@yahoo.co.uk.


March Snakeskin will be USEFUL

February 1, 2021

February Snakeskin is now online, and is the usual cornucopia of various verses. You’ll enjoy it.

The important news is that next month Snakeskin will consist entirely of USEFUL POETRY.

Too often the unimaginative and the semi-literate decry poetry as useless. We shall prove them wrong with an issue of verse with a real-world practical purpose. Expect rhymed recipes, mnemonics, advice to the lovelorn, counselling for the obese, and so forth. Submissions are requested.


Two new collections

January 28, 2021

I’ve recently received two very enjoyable collections by Snakeskin poets.
David Callin is from the Isle of Man, and Always, as its title suggest, a pamphlet full of appreciation of what will endure – though many poems, looking back, communicate vividly a sense of what has not endured, even on his home island, where change comes more slowly than on the mainland. ‘Lost Pubs of Douglas’ for example, is a hymn of nostalgia for boozers past. ‘First Lessons in Wendish’ regrets languages that have disappeared.
David Callin likes old films. There is an affectionate tribute to the great Douglas Fairbanks, and he shares my delight in the great train movies of the 1930s:
I would like to go
On an old-fashioned sleeper,
caught up in some
intrigue of caper,

dodging the
unkind intentions
of chaps with guns
and cops with truncheons.

Perhaps the poems of his that I like best though, are those with a taste of the uncanny. Click here to read ‘Witches’, which appeared in Snakeskin a couple of years back.
Always is published by Dreich Chapbooks, price £5.

Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones by Pamela Sumners is a much heftier volume – 190 pages of idiosyncratic and original poems.
It is a book that takes you to unexpected places. Click here for a sample, the remarkable series of poems: The Patient in Room 327 has Too Much and Too Little Time on her Hands .That sequence was her first appearance in Snakeskin. Her poems are for people who want to be challenged. The ones I found most remarkable were those about her mother’s incarceration in an institution, such as ‘Bryce’, and ‘My Mother’s Guest Room.’ Some of these poems can be painful to read. Pamela Sumners does not avoid tough subjects. She deserves to be read.
Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones is published by Uncollected Press at $15


Launched!

January 15, 2021

Yes, Old and Bookish is now well and truly launched.

A big crowd gathered yesterday evening to join in the celebration (which also acted as Snakeskin’s twenty-fifth birthday party). The editor was especially glad to meet Snakeskin contributors whose work he had enjoyed for years, but whose faces had until now been unknown to him.

The editor also thoroughly enjoyed reading his poems. His inner ham actor hasn’t had enough outings lately, and this was fun.

The congregation’s comments were very positive, and there was considerable support for future events, where other Snakeskin poets will read their work.

Something else that was mooted was a Snakeskin anthology, showcasing the best of our twenty-five years. It’ll be hard work putting this together, but with luck it will hit the bookstores before next Christmas.

Keep an eye on this blog for further details of these two projects.

For more information on Old and Bookish, please click here.


A Zooming Booklaunch

January 7, 2021

In this month’s Snakeskin we announce a special event. As part of the celebrations of our twenty-fifth anniversary, we are holding a Zooming online launch for the editor’s new collection, ‘ Old and Bookish’. This will be on Thursday January 14th at 7 p.m. (London time).

For details of the collection, click here.

Over its long history, we’ve never had a get-together for Snakeskin poets and supporters before, so this is a
long-overdue opportunity for us all to put faces to names, as well as a chance to celebrate. If you are interested in joining in, please drop an email to simmersgeorge@yahoo.co.uk, and your name will be added to the Zoom invitation list.


Season’s Greetings

December 24, 2020

This poem from Susan Jarvis Bryant slid into in Snakeskin‘s inbox today. Too late for December’s magazine, of course, and it’ll be out of date by the time January’s arrives – so we’re delighted to say that she has allowed us to share it with you on this blog:

Bah Humbug!

‘Tis the night before Christmas; it pains me to say –
The North Pole’s on lockdown. St. Nick’s sold his sleigh.
The elves have been furloughed; they’re living in dread.
The toy factory’s folded and Rudolph is dead.

The threat Santa poses is now existential.
His starry-night jaunts are declared non-essential.
He’ll sully the chimneys, leave germs on lit trees;
They’ve cancelled his yuletide killing sprees.

Be warned, the “new normal” is gift-less and grim;
Kris Kringle’s gone bust and he’s hitting the gin.
He’s near suicidal with no HO HO HO
In scarlet pajamas with nowhere to go.

‘Tis the night before Christmas and who gives a damn.
The season is missing the bearded main man.
Since Santa’s accused of the worst type of vice,
He’s not fit to judge who is naughty or nice.

The saddest of all is his “stimulus check” –
So meager it won’t buy a present or deck
His bleak, barren hall with one bough of green holly,
Resuscitate Rudolph or bring back our jolly!