Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

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.)

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.

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