Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

‘Breathe’: May Snakeskin is online

May 3, 2021

Many thanks to Rosie Miles for her work in putting together the May issue.

Twenty-six poems about breathing are now online at the usual address. You’ll also find Rosie’s thoughts on editing, which may give you an insight into the sort of choices that editors have to make. She explains why it’s useful to send editors not just one poem at a time, but three or four. As she says:

Often it’s helpful to send more than one.  As an Editor I want to get a feel for your writing, your style.  That’s not impossible from one poem alone, but that one poem has really got to stand out and do a lot of work to make the shortlist. 

Where I disagre is where she says that it is helpful to send a bio, a note explaining who you are, where you’re from and what you’ve published. Notes like this helped Rosie get an idea of the poets, but for me they get in the way. I’m interested in the poems and only the poems. Where you live, or what age or colour or gender you are don’t really interest me. Nor does a list of your previous publications in magazines, however prestigious. Only the poems ought to count.

Rosie doesn’t quite agree, but that’s the point of having occasional guest-editors. They shake things up a bit, and offer a different perspective. And this month Rosie has done an excellent job.

Short

March 14, 2021

I’ve recently been sent two volumes of short poetry. Both enjoyable, but very unlike.

Max Gutmann’s Rewriting History collects a large number of vigorous short pieces written in two forms associated with the comically biographical – the clerihew and the double dactyl. If you don’t know what a clerihew is, Max explains:

A clerihew
Makes you aware o’ who
Humphrey Davy was. Or Sir Christopher Wren. Or anyone else you might be hazy about.
Usually in a way Davy or Wren wouldn’t be too crazy about.

He illustrates the Double Dactyl (sometimes known as a Higgledy-Piggledy) thus:

Jokery Folkery
Higgledy Piggledies
Called Double Dactyls by scholars, I think –

Offer biography
Pseudo-historical
(Meaning the data
Are likely to stink).

If you like Max’s explanations, you’ll like his collection (for details contact him at: info.maxgutmann@gmail.com ).

Mark Rutter’s poems belong to a different short poem tradition. That of minimal modernism, with nods to the concrete poetry of that remarkable creator Ian Hamilton Finlay. He offers Finlay an epitaph:

LAY
FIN

Some of his poems are shorter than that, and sometimes I don’t get the point. The word ‘mouseleaks’ by itself on a page perhaps means more to him than it does to me. Sometimes there is clever wordplay:

when philosophers fight
sophisticuffs

or

the anti-christ
turns wine into water

Sometimes they are not jokey. I liked this one:

an open space
of gorse and heather

A pink orchid
with spotted leaves
Once seen
reveals another.

You can get Mark’s collection from Amazon for £5

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March Snakeskin will be USEFUL

February 1, 2021

February Snakeskin is now online, and is the usual cornucopia of various verses. You’ll enjoy it.

The important news is that next month Snakeskin will consist entirely of USEFUL POETRY.

Too often the unimaginative and the semi-literate decry poetry as useless. We shall prove them wrong with an issue of verse with a real-world practical purpose. Expect rhymed recipes, mnemonics, advice to the lovelorn, counselling for the obese, and so forth. Submissions are requested.

Two new collections

January 28, 2021

I’ve recently received two very enjoyable collections by Snakeskin poets.
David Callin is from the Isle of Man, and Always, as its title suggest, a pamphlet full of appreciation of what will endure – though many poems, looking back, communicate vividly a sense of what has not endured, even on his home island, where change comes more slowly than on the mainland. ‘Lost Pubs of Douglas’ for example, is a hymn of nostalgia for boozers past. ‘First Lessons in Wendish’ regrets languages that have disappeared.
David Callin likes old films. There is an affectionate tribute to the great Douglas Fairbanks, and he shares my delight in the great train movies of the 1930s:
I would like to go
On an old-fashioned sleeper,
caught up in some
intrigue of caper,

dodging the
unkind intentions
of chaps with guns
and cops with truncheons.

Perhaps the poems of his that I like best though, are those with a taste of the uncanny. Click here to read ‘Witches’, which appeared in Snakeskin a couple of years back.
Always is published by Dreich Chapbooks, price £5.

Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones by Pamela Sumners is a much heftier volume – 190 pages of idiosyncratic and original poems.
It is a book that takes you to unexpected places. Click here for a sample, the remarkable series of poems: The Patient in Room 327 has Too Much and Too Little Time on her Hands .That sequence was her first appearance in Snakeskin. Her poems are for people who want to be challenged. The ones I found most remarkable were those about her mother’s incarceration in an institution, such as ‘Bryce’, and ‘My Mother’s Guest Room.’ Some of these poems can be painful to read. Pamela Sumners does not avoid tough subjects. She deserves to be read.
Ragpicking Ezekiel’s Bones is published by Uncollected Press at $15

Launched!

January 15, 2021

Yes, Old and Bookish is now well and truly launched.

A big crowd gathered yesterday evening to join in the celebration (which also acted as Snakeskin’s twenty-fifth birthday party). The editor was especially glad to meet Snakeskin contributors whose work he had enjoyed for years, but whose faces had until now been unknown to him.

The editor also thoroughly enjoyed reading his poems. His inner ham actor hasn’t had enough outings lately, and this was fun.

The congregation’s comments were very positive, and there was considerable support for future events, where other Snakeskin poets will read their work.

Something else that was mooted was a Snakeskin anthology, showcasing the best of our twenty-five years. It’ll be hard work putting this together, but with luck it will hit the bookstores before next Christmas.

Keep an eye on this blog for further details of these two projects.

For more information on Old and Bookish, please click here.

A Zooming Booklaunch

January 7, 2021

In this month’s Snakeskin we announce a special event. As part of the celebrations of our twenty-fifth anniversary, we are holding a Zooming online launch for the editor’s new collection, ‘ Old and Bookish’. This will be on Thursday January 14th at 7 p.m. (London time).

For details of the collection, click here.

Over its long history, we’ve never had a get-together for Snakeskin poets and supporters before, so this is a
long-overdue opportunity for us all to put faces to names, as well as a chance to celebrate. If you are interested in joining in, please drop an email to simmersgeorge@yahoo.co.uk, and your name will be added to the Zoom invitation list.

The Cryptids are Coming!

October 19, 2020

It’ll be here soon – November Snakeskin, full of the strangest creatures you can imagine.

Guest-edited by Jessy Randall, this will be quite unlike any other issue of the webzine. Make sure you check it out on November 1st. Expect the unexpected.

Tim’s Blog

October 12, 2020

Tim Taylor is a fellow member of the Holme Valley Poets, and has a blog at: timwordsblog.wordpress.com .

He sometimes invites others to contribute guest poems, and today he offers a niche for a poem of mine, The Test. I wrote this thinking about the disparity between the huge faceless authority of the exam boards, and the vulnerability of children.

In many ways I approve of examinations – if only because when at school I generally did better in exams than in routine schoolwork. But the exam boards take themselves so seriously these days, and have too much power. Schools are forced to tailor their curricula and teach to the test, in order to get the results that will keep OFSTED at bay.

But whatever you think of exams, do take a look at Tim’s hospitable blog.

Double Dactyls

October 1, 2020

October Snakeskin is full of good things, but its most noticeable feature is a Festival of Double Dactyls, featuring the work of several excellent versifiers. For those of you who don’t know the Double-Dee, this Wikipedia page gives a good summary. But if you go to October Snakeskin and plunge in, you’ll get the idea pretty quickly.

The Double-Dactyl really must be the jolliest of light-verse forms (I much prefer it to the limerick). Here’s one I wrote a very long time ago:

Chungalow Bungalow
Hans Christian Anderson
Wrote of sweet mermaids who
Grace the sea-bed.

When people asked him for
Gynaecological
Details he stammered and
Went very red.

If you’ve any double-dactyls of your own, why not add them to the comments section of this post?

Meanwhile, today (October 1st) is National Poetry Day, an annual occasion which I celebrated in verse a while back. You can read the poem here.

Cryptozoology

September 1, 2020

September Snakeskin is now online, containing not only a bumper crop of new poems, but also news of our next special issue.

November Snakeskin will guest-edited by Jessie Randall, and will contain poems devoted to the subject of Cryptozoology (which is, for the uninitiated, the study of beasts that are mythical or legendary.

Here is Jessie’s call for submissions:


CALL FOR CRYPTOZOOLOGY POEMS

The November, 2020 issue of  Snakeskin will be a theme issue on cryptids such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Jersey Devil, and others. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cryptids for a fairly comprehensive list of cryptids.
Send up to five poems to jessyrandall@yahoo.com. Put your poems in the body of the email, please – no attachments. Simultaneous submissions are fine. The deadline is October 1, and you can expect a response by October 15.

Here is G.F. Watts’s 1885 painting of a Minotaur, staring from his prison and considering the inequalities of life and destiny. Jessie is hoping to receive poems as rich and moving as this painting. (And maybe some clever and witty ones as well.)