A poem from Ukraine

June 2, 2022

Snakeskin receives poems from all over the world, and this month we were sent a batch from Vyacheslav Konoval, who explains:

I am a resident of Kyiv. 
Ukraine is a war-standing with Russian occupants.
I have written the poems. I would like to share it with You.

The poems were not selected for June Snakeskin, but I thought that I would share one here with you:

Occupier, You are a weak ignoramus!

Occupier, You are a weak ignoramus,
You can’t take freedom away from the people.
Without chivalry will not become famous,
in the looting feeling the smell of fecal.

Occupier, bastard,
You rape the flowering of Ukrainian women,
beastly and perverted Your look on Your face plastered,
the war grabbed all bravery and good man.

Occupiers, run away,
there is still time,
Armed Forces of Ukraine
will cook from Russians the lime.


In case you haven’t noticed…

June 2, 2022

Snakeskin is back in business, with the June issue now online, and bulging with poems…


124.Voices for Ukraine

May 1, 2022

Each month Bruce Bentzman offers Snakeskin an essay about events in his life. There is no May issue of Snakeskin, but he has sent us this account of a memorable concert in Cardiff – so here it is.

There is nothing I need to repeat here about the unfolding history of Russia invading Ukraine. It is covered everywhere in the news. President Vladimir Putin has brought 20th century war and genocide into 21st century Europe, where we should know better, when we should have read our histories.

I noticed the blue posters appearing in The Hayes. “Voices for Ukraine” the posters announced. “An afternoon with stars of the opera world.” There was a long list of talent, and a notice: “All proceeds to the DEC Ukraine Appeal”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back again

April 23, 2022

Crisis over – mostly.

Snakeskin has a new webspace provider afte the death of Extendnet. The current issue is back online, plus a very skeletal selection of other files.

Over the next week or so we shall be reassembling the whole archive of twenty-six years of poetry. But as I said earlier, there will be no May issue.

This sort of thing has happened before during our long history. It’s deeply annoying, but is part of the digital life. We’re sort of used to it.

Our correspondent Bruce Bentzman is among those annoyed that there will be no May issue. He has an essay lined up for us, and it is a topical one. So we’ve decided that, instead of keeping it till June, we shall publish it as a post in this blog towards the end of the month. Look out for it.


What’s happened to Snakeskin?

April 18, 2022

Snakeskin is offline at the moment.

There is a problem with our Internet provider that we hope will be resolved soon.

Snakeskin will be back in business as soon as possible.

UPDATE:
The Internet firm providing us with webspace (Extendnet) seems to have perished. Phone dead, not answering emails, a bulk of negative comment online.

Snakeskin is temporarily homeless. We shall return, but there will be no May issue. If you’ve sent poems, and told they will be considered for May, they will now be considered for the June snakeskin – which will definitely occur.

Meanwhile the editor will be engaged in finding a new home, uploading twenty-five years of back content and getting everything shipshape to welcome everyone again.


Old Man in a Pub

April 5, 2022

On Monday morning I set myself the task of verse reportage. I visited The Cherry Tree, the Wetherspoons pub in central Huddersfield,  determined to write about whatever I saw there.

What I saw was an old man drinking alone, with his back to a large screen that silently delivered Sky News.


An old man sits, his beer in front of him,
Alone in Wetherspoons; his face is grim,
I search it for some clue what’s brought him here,
To sit sad and self-medicate on beer.
His eyes are pale and now and then he fingers
His glass, then slowly sips, and slowly lingers
That pint so it will last an hour or so.
He sometimes strokes his cheek but mostly, though,
He’s very still, just staring straight ahead.

Behind him, on a silent screen, the dead
Of Bucha are displayed, and captions tell
Of stark atrocious actions going well
Beyond war’s normal horrors: rape, and looting,
And soldiers quite undisciplined, and shooting
Of hostages and random children, and
The brutal desecration of a land.

The old man’s eyes stare straight ahead, the screen
Is right behind him, its hard truths unseen.
Perhaps he sits there so he does not see.
And yet, that there could be such cruelty
Would not, I sense, have come as much surprise
To that old man with disappointed eyes.


Time Snakeskin

March 1, 2022

Our Time issue went online this morning.

It was a popular subject, and our postbag of submissions was the biggest ever. Many thanks to all who sent their work. We could have filled two issues with good stuff.

What surprised and delighted me was the range of approaches to the subject. Snakeskin poets are good. In fact I think that now, in our twenty-seventh year, they are better than ever.

No more theme issues for a while. But do keep the poems rolling in to the usual address…


about TIME

February 9, 2022

A reminder that March Snakeskin will be a special issue on the subject of TIME.

Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of the subject – human ageing, space time, time’s arrow,time and memory, time and the generations, the sensation of time passing… And so on.

We’re especially looking for work with an individual slant this month. Send your poems to the usual address.


Nightingales: an addendum

January 12, 2022

Mr Bentzman has asked me to add an addendum to his essay this week:

According to my brother-in-law, Malcolm, far wiser than me in British ornithology, as poetic as it might have been to identify the singing birds in my essay as nightingales, these are, unfortunately, on the decline. The birds I heard were almost certainly robins. Indeed, it is very likely that Vera Lynn was actually singing about a robin in Berkeley Square. Robins are drawn to areas where there are street lights.

I have happily made the addition, and am quite happy to acept that the birds Mr B heard were not nightingales. There are not many of them about these days.

Hovever, I must contradict him to insist that Vera Lynn, and even more so Judy Campbell, who first introduced the song, in the revue New Faces, knew exactly what they were singing about. The whole point of Eric Maschwitz’s lyric is that the song of a nightingale in an urban setting is something so rare as to be miraculous – as miraculous as love, in fact. Maschwitz wrote a nightingale and he meant a nightingale.


January Snakeskin

January 2, 2022

Just a day late, after all.

January Snakeskin is now online. A very full and varied issue.

We’re especially glad to include three poems by Alison Brackenbury, as a preview of her new book Thorpeness, which will be published by Carcanet in February.

January Snakeskin contains a first announcement of the special theme issue planned for March. Fuller details will follow on this blog soon.