June Snakeskin

May 31, 2018

I’ve been putting the June issue together – and it’s a good one.

I’m away from home at the moment, though, so publication will be a little late – maybe on June 5th or 6th.

Watch this space for further news.

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Work

April 30, 2018

The WORK issue is on its way. I hope it will be online tomorrow, all being well. All not being well, it will arrive on Wednesday at the latest.

In terms of numbers of submissions, this has been the most successful special issue ever, I think.  At first I didn’t receive many WORK offerings, but then they arrived and arrived and arrived.

Choosing has been difficult. the main criterion is whether or not it’s a good poem, but I’ve also borne in mind the need for varied subject matter; this issue will present many many kinds of work. I’ve also had a tendency to prefer poems that seem to come from the writer’s own experience, rather than those in which a job is merely imagined – though one or two of those have crept in.

I’m still selecting, rejecting, wondering, making difficult choices. Editing can be hard work. The results of my labour will be online soon.


Aunt Margaret’s Pudding

April 17, 2018

249auntmarg

Dot was Alison Brackenbury’s grandmother; she was ‘small as a wren and with the same fierce energy’. Before her marriage (to a shepherd descended from a long line of shepherds) she worked as a cook; later, her talent for cakes and puddings nurtured her family.
Alison Brackenbury’s new book, Aunt Margaret’s Pudding, is a joy. It interweaves poems remembering Dot and other members of her family with the recipes her grandmother wrote in a battered black notebook. The poems linger lovingly on small recollections. Many celebrate  the part that food played in the lives of this family, never rich, always well cared for. Life in rural Lincolnshire meant hard work:

She knitted, hemmed. She lit, at dawn,
slow coppers, pounded dolly pegs
into the snarling sheets, tramped down
three miles to school, the youngest kept
in jolting pram to save his legs.
She scoured the sink. Sometimes she slept.

Through the book we get a sense of Alison Brackenbury rediscovering her family. She tells us her own memories and family stories, and even more than this she lets us get close to Dot by sharing her recipes for cakes and puddings.
These are simple but delicious. Dot mostly just wrote a list of ingredients – she knew the method, so did not need to remind herself of that. Alison Brackenbury helps out today’s cook-reader by providing her own expanded, slightly modernised versions, with clear instructions.
And very good they are, too. On the day I got the book I had a go at Quaker Oat Scones. The recipe made six scones, and Marion and I demolished the plateful in minutes. Yesterday I made Raspberry Buns.
I am something of a fan of the Bake-Off on TV, and have discovered that the programme can be made even more enjoyable if you eat cake while watching it. The same is true of Alison Brackenbury’s poems; they are even better when accompanied by a Raspberry Bun.
The book is published by Happenstance, to their usual high standard.

Update:

Yesterday the family came for lunch, and I baked Aunt Margaret’s Pudding. Delicious!

Aunt Margaret's Pudding


WORK

April 11, 2018

A reminder – May Snakeskin will be a special issue on the subject of Work.
Please send us poems (in a style of your choice) about jobs (your own or someone else’s.
We’d like to hear about hard work and soft jobs, about rewarding labour, about easy skives and about work of mind-numbing tedium.
We hope to include as many different types of work as we can, so please send your version to editor@snakeskin.org.uk within the next couple of weeks.


Snakeskin 250

April 1, 2018

Our 250th edition is now online!

I remember how excited I got when we reached our fiftieth edition, our hundredth, our two hundredth… At 250 I’ve grown, not exactly blasé – more accepting that this is the thing I do, and those issue numbers are going to keep on rising until I’m halted in my tracks by death, dementia or debility. Which I hope will be not too soon.

The 250th issue is one I’m especially pleased with – good poems, and varied as anything.

But another Snakeskin tradition is technical problems. This morning my email is playing up. I can’t send messages to the poets whose work has been selected. With luck I’ll be able to fix this soon. In the meantime – apologies.

Update: Email is now working again, the return to smooth operation as unexplained as the original malfunction. these are deep mysteries.


T.S. Eliot’s advice

February 18, 2018

In 1935 a woman sent the poems of a fifteen-year-old to T.S. Eliot for comment. He replied that they seemed ‘what one would expect from a precocious child of fifteen’. As to the young poet’s future, he replied:

Anything is possible. The poems have no serious intrinsic merit, but are able enough to make the girl’s future development seem interesting. I am glad that there are still young people who at that age are writing in regular metres. I think that she should be encouraged to practice in difficult set forms such as the sonnet and the sestina, to read good poetry, but very little contemporary poetry, and to keep away from competitions and prizes.

This is sensible. I think that in future,  whenever anyone applies to Snakeskin for advice (and people sometimes do), I shall refer them to these sentences of Eliot’s.


February Snakeskin needs Portrait poems

January 12, 2018

portrait

February Snakeskin will be a theme issue, whose subject is

Portraits.

In other words, we’d like poems describing a person (or pair of people, or I suppose a group portrait could work nicely, too.) The descriptions could be factual-physical, or metaphorical, or spiritual, or whatever you think works best.

I think we’ll restrict it to humans, rather than having pet portraits. (Though a pet, obviously, could be a crucial part of a human portrait.)

Some poets may have photos or drawings of the subject to go with the poems. If so, let us know, but don’t send the picture in the first instance. We’ll ask for them if we reckon your poem suits our purposes.

Send your poems to editor@snakeskin.org.uk.


Animals from Amazon

January 10, 2018

This is just a note to say that Animals Love Reading! can now be purchased from Amazon.

Click here for further details.

animalscover2


Proof positive that Animals Like Reading

December 6, 2017

My little poetry booklet Animals Like Reading! is selling like hotcakes.

The most interesting response so far has been this picture from poet Jayne Osborn, which shows her pet corn snake Leo casting an expert eye over an official letter. leo reads

There are so many literate animals that I haven’t yet versified. Clearly there’s scope for a second volume.

Full details of the booklet can be found here: http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk/animalslike.html

 


Animals Like Reading!

November 30, 2017

December Snakeskin (online tomorrow) will  not only contain the usual complement of varied and accomplished poems, but will also tell you all about a new print publication – ready just in time to be the ideal gift for the intelligent child’s Christmas stocking:

animalscover2

Animals Like Reading! is a slim booklet containing ten poems by George Simmers, each one illustrated by Bruce Bentzman.

Full details will be found in December Snakeskin, as will an essay by Mr Bentzman which considers his non-career as an artist.

Animals Like Reading! can be purchased here. The cost is £3.50 + postage.

Update December 1st:

December Snakeskin should have gone online first thing this morning, but my internet providers  have gone strange, so that I can’t upload at the moment. When they finally respond to my pleas for help the magazine will be going online.

Later Update:

The site is now up and running properly. The December issue is properly online.