Archive for April, 2018

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.

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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.