Archive for March, 2011

Talking of Cats

March 13, 2011

There is a certain amount of (quite proper) fuss being made at the moment about the rediscovery of some early poems by Angela Carter, whose novels and stories become more and more certainly key texts of the late twentieth century.

My mind is on cats at the moment – so here’s one of her pieces:


With the spring coming, my cat is beginning to bud.
sprouting nipples all along her long white breast,
this long-legged, adolescent she.
And in the strange
country fitfully lit by the inward-turning suns
of her yellow
eyes, such alien trees shake out moist leaf
and the seed-crusted ferns uncoil with a slow blindness
in the rich fruit-cake of her dark recesses
where the wrinkled
intuitions her summer roses stir and tremble
in their sleep
for spring is coming, and the fat buds bulge.

Bentzman in Gettysburg, Staunton and Monticello

March 12, 2011

More reports have come in from Bruce and Barbara on their cross-continental journey.
First stop was Gettysburg:

Battle of Gettysburg (Image: Wikipedia)

I have this sacred spot entirely to myself, the ground Chamberlain and his Maine volunteers held against a larger force. From here he launched his desperate charge with bayonets when the ammunition was nearly gone. I see the ground slope away from where I sit. Below the Alabamians were trying to charge up. They were defeated.

It is a cold day, a solid overcast, the sky entirely grey. When I was last here it was in a sweltering summer’s day and all I cared about was getting out of the heat. I remember little of that visit… How odd that in all the time I’ve been writing this, I’ve been entirely alone. No other visitors, except a squirrel. Heavy rains are expected to arrive tonight.

Then they headed south: Read the rest of this entry »

Bentzman Begins his Journey

March 9, 2011

Bruce has begun his cross-continental journey to the Pacific and back. He writes:

Ms Keogh and I have arrive to the Hampton Inn at Gettysburg. We rely on Hampton Inns being reliably clean and comfortable.

During the long dull drive along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Ms Keogh talked about how it was that others suggested this or that travel guide. This is something Ms Keogh and I share, we do not want to follow in another’s footsteps. Our adventure requires us to take risks and make our own discoveries. She asked me why do other people go to so much trouble as to seek advice, make reservations, allow others to serve as guides. I suggested it was because they feared discomfort and disappointment. We both agreed those elements were necessary contributions to any adventure.

The adventure has not yet begun. So far we’ve only seen the narrow strip of highway that entered our headlights and the interior of a hotel room much like all the others. The morning will bring something new, so I should get to sleep and wake early to greet it.

Helena Nelson on Poetry Competitions

March 7, 2011

Anyone who goes in for poetry competitions (especially those that make you pay a hefty fee for participating) will find Helena Nelson’s latest Happenstance blog post well worth reading.

Dogs and Cats

March 2, 2011

Diva and Bill

Dogs and cats may not be human, but they are family. They matter to us. They deserve some poetry.

We looked for dog and cat poems on the internet, and most were appallingly soppy. We know that the readers and writers of Snakeskin can do much better.

Our May number will therefore be a special issue on the theme of Cats and Dogs.  We’re aiming way beyond Hallmark sentimentality. Not that we’re barring emotion – far from it – but we’re looking for poems rooted in the reality of these fascinating animals.

Send your poems (singly, or in batches of up to six) to uk. The deadline is 15th April.

The photo above is of my Labrador, Bill (on the right) with his friend Diva, a rather beautiful Boxer cross.  Theirt battle over that stick deserves a twelve-book epic, at the very least.