Aunt Margaret’s Pudding

April 17, 2018

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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

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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.

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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.


Love is in the air…

October 31, 2017

The November LOVE special issue is nearly ready – it will probably go online late this evening. I’m delighted to say that we’ve got a wide range of different approaches to the subject, from the romantic to the sardonic, the regretful to the passionate.

December and January will be straight non-theme issues. And after that – well, we’ll see.


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