Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

In case you haven’t noticed…

June 2, 2022

Snakeskin is back in business, with the June issue now online, and bulging with poems…

Old Man in a Pub

April 5, 2022

On Monday morning I set myself the task of verse reportage. I visited The Cherry Tree, the Wetherspoons pub in central Huddersfield,  determined to write about whatever I saw there.

What I saw was an old man drinking alone, with his back to a large screen that silently delivered Sky News.


An old man sits, his beer in front of him,
Alone in Wetherspoons; his face is grim,
I search it for some clue what’s brought him here,
To sit sad and self-medicate on beer.
His eyes are pale and now and then he fingers
His glass, then slowly sips, and slowly lingers
That pint so it will last an hour or so.
He sometimes strokes his cheek but mostly, though,
He’s very still, just staring straight ahead.

Behind him, on a silent screen, the dead
Of Bucha are displayed, and captions tell
Of stark atrocious actions going well
Beyond war’s normal horrors: rape, and looting,
And soldiers quite undisciplined, and shooting
Of hostages and random children, and
The brutal desecration of a land.

The old man’s eyes stare straight ahead, the screen
Is right behind him, its hard truths unseen.
Perhaps he sits there so he does not see.
And yet, that there could be such cruelty
Would not, I sense, have come as much surprise
To that old man with disappointed eyes.

Time Snakeskin

March 1, 2022

Our Time issue went online this morning.

It was a popular subject, and our postbag of submissions was the biggest ever. Many thanks to all who sent their work. We could have filled two issues with good stuff.

What surprised and delighted me was the range of approaches to the subject. Snakeskin poets are good. In fact I think that now, in our twenty-seventh year, they are better than ever.

No more theme issues for a while. But do keep the poems rolling in to the usual address…

about TIME

February 9, 2022

A reminder that March Snakeskin will be a special issue on the subject of TIME.

Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of the subject – human ageing, space time, time’s arrow,time and memory, time and the generations, the sensation of time passing… And so on.

We’re especially looking for work with an individual slant this month. Send your poems to the usual address.

January Snakeskin

January 2, 2022

Just a day late, after all.

January Snakeskin is now online. A very full and varied issue.

We’re especially glad to include three poems by Alison Brackenbury, as a preview of her new book Thorpeness, which will be published by Carcanet in February.

January Snakeskin contains a first announcement of the special theme issue planned for March. Fuller details will follow on this blog soon.

Susan de Sola

November 1, 2021

I am very sad indeed to hear that Susan de Sola, whose witty poems livened many issues of Snakeskin, has died.

Here is my favourite among her Snakeskin poems:

Punks

Ellipsis signals… hesitation, and exclamation, excitation!
To balance loads, a comma tows. To rehash — we hire a dash.
Capitals Lead and Emphasize, dwarfing letters half their size.
The sweet and small apostrophe averts plural catastrophes.

Punctilious, the blunt full stop is grammar’s tireless traffic cop.
The brackets (sanitation guys) enclose just what a phrase denies.
Quotation marks with tongs suspend the words you do not “comprehend”.
Should you desire to inquire, mark with question’s twisty gyre.
For heavy lifting take in hand a squat & muscled ampersand.
@ points to a virtual place, oils the wheels of cyberspace.

Humble marks of punctuation serve in every situation.
Every stroke, or well-struck key compounds their abject slavery.
Unpaid labourers for the word, couriers and serfs unheard;
If un-tethered from their master, it may intimate disaster.
If gathered in a restive mob, they will disdain to do their job.
Collectively a motley crew, they go on strike, and shout @()&! you!

We shall miss her greatly. Our thoughts are with her family.

On National Poetry Day

October 7, 2021

October 7th. Today is National Poetry Day, they tell me. I wrote a poem on that subject a long long time ago, and haven’t much more to say about it.
But then pretty well every day is Poetry Day here at Snakeskin headquarters, though some days are more poetic than others.
A good day was a Saturday last month when I was sniffing round Huddersfield’s open market as usual; Saturday is secondhand day, and there’s always at least one treasure to be found. As it happened, I had not come across much of interest that day, till I encountered a stall with a small pile of books. Mostly railways and military, as I recall, but there was also 33 Poems by Radnóti Miklós . It was a dual-language edition, published in Budapest, the Hungarian facing the English. I knew the name, of course (though slightly anglicised as Miklós Radnóti).
For years, Thomas Land sent translations to Snakeskin of poems from the Hungarian Holocaust, and Radnóti was one of the most treasured poets in his canon.
The book was cheap, and I bought it without looking far into it. It was only when I got home that I saw that the translator was Thomas Ország-Land – our Tom, by his more Hungarian name.
The book had been published in 1992, three years before Snakeskin was even born. Many of the translations appeared again in Thomas’s 2009 Snakeskin e-chapbook, Deathmarch – where there is indeed an acknowledgement to this little volume, a reference I had quite forgotten.
It reminds me of how much I miss Thomas, and his monthly submissions of versions, sometimes lyrical, often horrific, of translations recalling the poets of Jewish Hungary (many of whom had been killed during the war years).
Snakeskin is happy to frequently publish poems that are light, or humorous, or dealing with ephemeral issues. We like to think we cover the whole range of poetry (apart from the pretentious). But the poems Thomas sent us, reminders of the greatest crime of the twentieth century, were there each month to remind us of the worst facts of life, and of the role of the poet in speaking up in times of horror.
I miss him indeed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry goes live – in Holmfirth at least

September 4, 2021

I moaned recently that in this part of the world at least, live poetry events just did not seem to be happening yet. Well, at least one public reading will be happening soon.

At the Holmfirth Arts Festival (September 17th-19th) there will be a live reading from Escape: Writing out of Lockdown, the collection the Holmfirth Writers’ Group has compiled from what they have written to cheer themselves up during the past miserable months. It will happen on September 19th at Holmfirth Technical College.

Read the rest of this entry »

Short Poems

September 2, 2021

The new Snakeskin is online, packed with short poems. Nothing over ten lines, I said (and note sadly that some good poets are actually unable to count accurately. Never mind.)

The editorial inbox bulged this month. I had plenty to choose from, and found myself reluctantly rejecting some competent pieces that would definitely have made it had competition been less tough.

I was particularly pleased by the quality of the serious short poems submitted. Don’t worry, we have clerihews and double dactyls in the mix for those who, like me, enjoy those classic comic forms. But the ones that stood out while I was editing were the shorties that made a poignant or disturbing point with economy. There are some very good ones. And I’ll make sure we have another short poems special issue soon.

Never Enough Already

August 19, 2021

I’m delighted to hear that Snakeskin poet Jane Blanchard’s new collection, Never Enough Already, is now published, and on sale.

Jane Blanchard’s neatly-crafted verse focuses on daily life, marriage, family, travel, gardens and social conventions. But there is much wry wit, from raccoons to royals, and deft use of such forms as haiku, villanelles and sonnets to make for a pleasingly thoughtful and varied collection. — Jerome Betts, editor of Lighten Up Online