Grenfell Tower

August 7, 2017

Snakeskin has received this letter from poet Rip Bulkeley, who is compiling an anthology about the appalling fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington.

Dear poet,

As you may have heard, Eyewear have agreed to publish an anthology of poems in response to the Grenfell Tower atrocity, working title Dark Bones. Poets are invited to submit ONE poem, max 50 lines including title, in ANY LANGUAGE, by 15 September 2017, to this email address. The poem should be in an attached file in Word format. My postal address, for anyone without email, is at the end of this message.

The main purpose of the anthology is to bring together poems which have already been written in diverse forms and languages across Britain in an act of artistic solidarity which may increase their impact. There have already been several other such responses in the creative arts. Any money raised after meeting the costs of production will be donated to a housing action group in London; which group remains TBD.

The anthology will not be confined to authors in Britain or the English language. Submissions have already been received and others are promised from around the world. Nor does every poem need to address the destruction of Grenfell Tower directly. Submissions pertinent to or foreshadowing the event have also been received and will be reviewed with all the others. Variety of form, angle, device, diction, and especially title will be welcome.

Several distinguished poets have already sent contributions, and others are forthcoming.

The time of year is not helpful for such a venture. I would be grateful, therefore, if you felt able to recirculate this announcement yourself as you think fit. An A4 poster (thumbnail below) is available for bookshops, cafes, pubs etc.

Thank you for your attention,
Rip Bulkeley
38 Lonsdale Road
Oxford
OX2 7EW
U.K.

Send your poems to Rip, not to Snakeskin. Note his email address below.

I have to say, I think it’s quite a challenge – writing about the fire without lapsing into mere hysterical rage, about the scale of the calamity and the shabby response of the authorities.

grenfell

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April (No fooling)

April 1, 2017

The Short Poems issue went online today.

This one has been fun to edit, though it’s been a lot of work. Snakeskin’s readership has grown recently, and so have the number of submissions. Choosing is getting difficult.

I’ve always liked to include a wild card or two in an edition of Snakeskin. An unpolished poem with a bit of punch, a poem by a newcomer whose voice is distinctive even though not quite formed yet. this gets difficult when I have  a mass of accomplished poems to choose between.

If your short poems  weren’t selected for this month’s issue, please don’t feel grim and sad about it. You’re in good company. Plenty of poems that in other years might have made the cut had to be set aside this time. Don’t be discouraged. Send some more, and maybe they’ll be just what we need next time.

 


Thanks, Jessy

January 31, 2017

Thanks to Jessy Randall for guest-editing the February issue of Snakeskin, on the theme of Maths and Numbers.

It’s meant that I’ve had a nice easy January, with nothing much to do, except set up the poems she chose, decorated by images from an ancient Maths book.

Life will get busy again now, with a general edition coming up in March and a new special issue in April…


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.