Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

Annie Fisher’s ‘Infinite in All Perfections’

December 12, 2016

infinite-in-all

The cover of Annie Fisher’s new Happenstance chapbook shows someone jumping for joy, and that’s more or less how you feel after reading it.
Many of the poems are anecdotes – the story of the girl who ran the sack race, but misunderstood the instructions and put the sack over her head:

Has she forgotten that hot afternoon?
The scratch and smell of a hessian sack,
speckled sunlight through rough rope weave,
surging voices, burning breath, the unseen crowd,
and a skinny brown-limbed girl
(must be a woman now)
all alone and leaping in the dark.

Read the rest of this entry »

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New Statesman competitions

December 6, 2016

It’s a sad week for those who enjoy light verse and parody. The New Statesman has announced that it will no longer be setting Weekend Competitions. For over eighty years these comps have set a high standard for versifiers, wits and parodists, but now, apparently, there is not enough space in the magazine for a feature like this.

I doubt if I would be writing poetry today if it wasn’t for the New Statesman. As a young man I wrote rather intense verse; I knew what it meant, but most other readers would have found it puzzling. Certainly none of the editors I sent it to were interested. For a while I gave up writing poems.

I had always enjoyed the New Statesman competitions, though, and entered one that asked for one-liner jokes. One of mine was printed and I won a pound for it. I carried on, first with prose parodies, and then with verse  – which needed to be clear, funny and properly scanned. The first verse winner I had was this, from 1982; the setter asked for lyrical praise of some feature of the modern countryside: Read the rest of this entry »

November Snakeskin

November 1, 2016

November Snakeskin is now online.

As the editor I know I’m biased, but I reckon it’s a very good and very varied issue.

Last month in the Politics issue I asked for seriousness rather than satire. This month, to balance that, we’ve got a thoroughly scurrilous and ribald set of poems by Brian Allgar, tracing the career and crimes of a fairly vile politician.
Among the bustle of other excellent poets, please take a look at the work of Annie Fisher, whose pamphlet Infinite in All Perfections is published today by Happenstance.
I’m also very glad to have a new (translated) contribution by K.M. Payne, who was a key presence in the early days of Snakeskin. He did a Rimbaud and gave up poetry for quite a few years, but now seems to be drifting back, which is excellent news. He is, of course, my  co-author of the huge and absurd poetical hypertext project The Maze of Mirrors.
My own contribution this month is a bad-tempered snarl at those who campaign for academic safe places, where they will hear no opinions that contradict their own. Snakeskin believes that universities, like poems, should be intellectually unsafe spaces, where the assumption should be that assumptions are there to be challenged.

A Horror for Hallowe’en

October 31, 2016

The Ghosts of BHS

Thank God this night of Halloween the doors are firmly locked
so trick-and-treaters access to the spirit world is blocked.
For there, within the Centre, from the eastern entrance railing
you can hear the ghostly unemployed of BHS awailing.
Awailing in great choruses and gnashing bloody teeth
“Oh Philip Green, this Halloween, come here to Bexleyheath!”.

From whirling knives above their heads and from their imprecation,
it seems their wish for Philip Green involves evisceration
For there within the darkened mall you hear the spirits railing
against his asset-stripping and his ‘great’ prowess – retailing!
Come hither good Sir Philip we’ve a very special wreath
signed by all your jobless fans: “Good riddance! Bexleyheath.”
Geoff Lander

February Snakeskin: Maths!

October 23, 2016

Once again Jessy Randall will guest-edit the February 2017 issue of Snakeskin. (You can find out more about Jessy at:http://personalwebs.coloradocollege.edu/~jrandall/ )

This year the theme will be NUMBERS / MATHEMATICS. As always, the theme is open to interpretation.

Send up to five poems to jessyrandall@yahoo.com. No attachments, please, except in the case of visual poems (please send jpegs). Simultaneous submissions are fine. The deadline is December 1. Expect a response by December 15.

jessy2015a

Jessy Randall
(Photo by Wendy Lovell)

Down with Poetry!

October 18, 2016

downwith

The proper kind of poetry
has resonance – it’s heavy.

Her verse is light, the critics said
she writes it on the bevvy.

This is part of Helena Nelson’s ‘Self-portrait as an Unsuitable Poem’, in her new collection Down With Poetry, which the postman brought to my door the other day, to my huge delight.
The book brings together her previous ‘unsuitable’ collections, and adds more to them. The term ‘unsuitable’ is inspired by a magazine’s rejection note many years ago: ‘Many thanks for the poems. These aren’t quite suitable…’ Helena has a keen ear for the intricacies of language, and realised that the editor wasn’t saying the poems were no good – just that they were ‘unsuitable’ – they didn’t fit the standard category of poems that get published. Maybe because they don’t make a show of taking themselves too seriously.
Helena’s ‘Unsuitables’ are sometimes rude about poetry and poets: Read the rest of this entry »

Thomas Land – review and interview

July 29, 2016

 

Thomas Ország Land

Thomas Ország-Land

Over the past years, Thomas Land’s poetry has made regular appearances in Snakeskin. We have been especially pleased to publish his translations of Hungarian poets who died in or survived the Holocaust.

Admirers of his work will want to read the interview with Thomas recently published on the Penniless Press website, together with a review of his Snakeskin pamphlet Reading for the Rush hour.

The review and interview can be found at: http://www.pennilesspress.co.uk/NRB/reading_for_rush_hour.htm

Geoffrey Hill (1932 – 2016)

July 2, 2016

Geoffrey Hill died this week. He was a great poet, but one who saw it almost a duty to be difficult. It was a good thing for public toilets should be accessible, he thought, but not poetry, which should always be at the cutting edge of sensibility, forever questioning the received ideas and self-images of the age.(A typical Hill poem will begin to challenge  itself half way through.)

He was also one of the best critics of the age. I had the privilege of hearing him lecture at Oxford a few years ago. I described the event on my other blog: https://greatwarfiction.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/geoffrey-hill-at-oxford/

He was like no other poet.

A refugee from Baghdad

June 21, 2016

Then one day, men with serious moustaches came knocking on our door. Would my father care to join them for a little chat? Mum’s face grew ashen as the hours passed slowly and Dad hadn’t returned. I knew something was wrong, but no one, not my mother, nor my grandmother, would tell me why Dad was suddenly taken away.

In today’s Guardian newspaper, Snakeskin poet Hassan Abdulrazzak writes about his childhood in Baghdad, and the reasons why his family became refugees, eventually settling in England: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/20/baghdad-refugee-saddam-iraq-hassan-abdulrazzak

The experience of leaving Iraq has also been described in his poems, for example in  ‘The Shadow of their Former Selves’, which appeared in Snakeskin back in 2001: http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk/67form~1.htm

Hassan’s play, Love, Bombs and Apples is at the Arcola theatre, London until 25 June 2016.

Orlando

June 15, 2016

His mind a toxic bubbling mess
of envy, spite and righteousness,
dark self-disgust and wounded pride,
he tries to ease the pain inside
by, from a harsh and ancient creed,
selecting parts that match his need.
There is no kind of crazy hate
the Internet won’t validate,
so he absorbs the oratory
of men as rancorous as he
and, desperate, grabs at the excuse
to turn his bitter feelings loose,
to try to ease his tortured brain
by making others share his pain.
Young people dancing do not guess
the sight of them gives him distress;
they cause him hurt by having fun.
Omar Mateen buys a gun.