Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

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.)

Jane Blanchard’s ‘In and Out of Season’

August 3, 2020

I’m delighted to have received my copy of this new book by Snakeskin poet Jane Blanchard. She’s often observational and witty. Here’s a brief taste of her work:

Breviary

Ten days into
A writers’ conference,
I think that monks
Did right by silence.

Yes, I definitely get the point of that one.

Alack

July 30, 2020

So, scanning this and conscious of a lack,
You scratch your nut and ask why this sad sack
Scrawls in unstylish tortuous convolutions,
Odd phrasings and absurd circumlocutions.
You’ll justly ask why I so shun normality;
Is this just wilful paradoxicality?
I know, stylistic quirks can bring confusion,
But I am battling hard against inclusion
Of various words that must not find admission,
As in that Froggy book, La Disparition.
Adair, translating this for Brits (Hard graft!)
Would call it just A Void. His skilful craft
Astounds, as struggling with his constraint,
With chutzpah, but more stubborn than a saint,
Adair triumphs. I wish I had a part
Of his command of odd Oulipian art.

July 7th, 2020

July 7, 2020

Pubs have grown strange. No longer are you able
To jostle at the bar, but are directed
Towards a lonely disinfected table
Where gloved hands bring the drinks that you’ve selected.
The bar staff gamely take to new-learned tasks
Some bossily, but others with more tact.
It’s disconcerting seeing them wear masks;
You’d be put off, except for one sweet fact…

There is no music! The loud thumping rock
That’s been the soundtrack to our evenings out
Has been switched off, because high-decibel schlock
Makes drinkers shout, and so spread germs about.
No racket now will murder conversations –
Even this virus has its compensations.

July 4, 2020

July 4, 2020

Our post-lockdown hairdressers
Wear defensive screens
Styled rather like what Dan Dare wore
When fighting Treens.

Now twelve weeks of abundant growth
Fall round my stylist’s feet.
Soon my unruly mop’s quite tamed,
Like the Mekon’s battle fleet.

Shorn and tidied up at last,
I too am like Dan Dare
Venturing into the future
With well-behaved hair.

Back to Life

June 29, 2020

Dry your tears. Snakeskin is back online. The firm that looks after the site tells me that there were ‘issues’ with the server. These now seem to be resolved.

Make sure you take a look at the SHORT POEMS issue, which will arrive on July 1st. There’s some brilliant stuff in it.

A Fable

June 13, 2020

In a distant country, years ago
A cruel illness made a slow
But nasty progress through the land
And threatened to get out of hand.
The king and his advisors, shaken,
Declared firm measures must be taken
To stop the plague from taking hold.
They issued diktats firm and bold.
No citizen must ever roam,
But all must always stay at home,
And must stay six long feet apart,
Even from the darlings of their heart.

But, fearing he’d be disobeyed,
The king said: ‘Make the plebs afraid.’
His men drew graphs and uttered lectures
About how wickedly infectious
The illness was, and they so hyped
It up that almost no-one griped –
No, most were most obedient, fleeing
The touch of any human being.
They washed their hands obsessively
And took delight especially
In letting the police force know
If any deviant dared to go
To visit with his family.
The plebs deplored this, virtuously.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Deal’ by Annie Fisher

May 26, 2020

Four years ago this blog enthusiastically reviewed Infinite in All Perfections by Snakeskin poet Annie Fisher. The Deal, her follow-up pamphlet, also published by Happenstance, is even better.

Typically, Annie’s are poems that contain lives; sometimes content that might fill a whole novel is compressed into a few lines. The father-daughter relationship in ‘Perhaps’, for example, or the childhood of ‘In Hiding’.

Annie Fisher is drawn to writing about people whose lives are unsatisfactory, like the anorexic girl of ‘Ghost’:

She watches
as her shadow on the ground
grows more obese
with every passing hour.

Or the man whose whole life is a catalogue of disappointments:

Let-downs ambushed him throughout his life –
the taste of fresh-perked coffee; aubergines;
live albums; picnics; Camembert; his wife.

Several poems are about childhood: some, I, think, about her own childhood, and her relationship with her father. ‘His Face in my Mirror’ was in Snakeskin a few years ago:

The little lazy eye he gave to me
Winks back unmistakably.
Try all you like, it seems to say
You can’t escape your DNA.

For me, the sign of a good poetry book is that when reviewing it I want to keep on quoting and quoting. That’s the case with The Deal. The language is so clear, and yet so rich, and a few lines can suggest a world of implications.

But I’ll stop now, and just tell you to do yourself a favour and buy a copy. The title poem is especially beautiful.

You can order The Deal at: https://www.happenstancepress.com/index.php/shop/product/47801-the-deal-%E2%88%92-annie-fisher

The Old Man Reads a Review of Recent Poetry Books

May 25, 2020

This Guardian critic does not give much cred
To poets who are male and white and dead.

Which leaves me feeling very slightly wan,
Since I am white and male, and getting on.

The Young British Poets

April 1, 2020

In April Snakeskin, Sharon Phillips has rather a good poem (‘Looking Good’) which references a seventies book, The Young British Poets, edited by Jeremy Robson.

Here is a scan of the book’s cover. I wonder how many of the poets readers can recognise. I think I score half a dozen definites, plus a couple of possibles.

No prizes – but how many can you identify?