Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

A Poem with a Moral

August 13, 2020

Samantha Finch was sweet and nice
And followed government advice.
Her story, in this time of virus,
Should warn us, and perhaps inspire us.
Samantha met a man called Jim;
He fancied her; she fancied him.
He would have asked her out to dine,
And things might then have turned out fine,
But in those days fear of Corona
Forced each pub- and restaurant-owner
To shut their doors to all who might
Have plans for a romantic night.

Read the rest of this entry »

Snorkelman

June 10, 2020

Over the long, long years of its existence, Snakeskin has inspired many of its readers to creativity. Quite frequently we hear of this directly, through feedback. Mostly, probably, we don’t.

It is pleasing to hear of an artwork created as direct response to a Snakeskin poem. Artist Shirley Blacoe read ‘Snorkelscape’ by her friend Seth Crook in the June number, and produced this rather splendid picture:

‘That Man Again’ by Shirley Blacoe

The image has now been added to the poem in June Snakeskin.

The poets identified

April 21, 2020

Sharon Phillips has kindly sent me this key to identifying those promising young poets of 1971 pictured on the book cover featured in the previous post:

Here’s the cover again:

Judging by the responses, both on the blog and in private emails, we all did pretty poorly at identifying them.

I spotted Heaney, of course, and Tony Harrison and Michael Longley. I was also right about Douglas Dunn and Ian Hamilton, and made a guess at Hugo Williams. I really should have got Brian Patten, and probably Peter Dale. Several others I made wildly wrong guesses about.

The picture that surprises me is Jon Stallworthy. Not only was he a good poet, but I met him, memorably. In 2010 I was fortunate indeed that he was the external examiner for my Ph.D. The Ph.D. viva can be a formidable process, but I thoroughly enjoyed mine. Jon Stallworthy asked some searching questions, but showed an enthusiastic interest in my answers, and shared his own insights into the matters I had investigated (The Representation of the Soldier in Great War Prose Literature, 1914-1930). Of course, when I met him, it was thirty-nine years after that picture was taken for the cover of the 1974 book, and he had changed considerably.

And now it’s forty-nine years since the book was published, and just to see the cover raises all sorts of questions (quite apart from the question raised in Sharon’s poem, about the apparent scarcity of women poets at that time). There are questions about time, and fame, and success, and the fashions in verse. Some of those young poets of 1974 are now revered; others are forgotten. Several probably left poetry and went on to other careers. Too many of them have died.

And that’s the way it goes.

The Lesser Mortal

November 26, 2018


There ought to be more poems about science. We’re living through a remarkable age of discovery about the universe, and of speculation about its nature and origins. We can see almost to the beginning of time and almost to the very heart of the elementary particles. Shouldn’t poets be explorers of such  great subjects?

Of course, it’s actually useless to dictate what poets ought to write about, since the good poems are those that have to be written, coming from the themes that truly grip the poet. So most poets will continue to write mournfully of love and death and maybe of Mr Trump and Brexit.

Still, it seems a missed opportunity. So I was glad to receive a pamphlet from Happenstance (beautifully produced as all their pamphlets are). It’s The Lesser Mortal by Geoff Lander. Its twenty-one poems are all light-hearted verse reflections on the history of science, neatly expressing some of the big stories of post-Einstein discovery.

Geoff Lander has appeared in Snakeskin. Here’s an  example of his work, a jolly explanation of the periodic table. If you like this, you’ll enjoy The Lesser Mortal.

On the subject of Libraries…

October 31, 2018

The special November Snakeskin on the theme of Libraries and Bookshops has been a pleasure to edit. A nice variety of approaches, and plenty of warm feeling for these vital but threatened institutions of our culture. the zine should be going online late this evening.

UK readers who are concerned about the erosion of library services might like to consider signing this petition asking the government to ring-fence library spending. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742

Bookshops and Libraries

October 2, 2018

The November issue of Snakeskin will be one of our theme numbers. The subject is

BOOKSHOPS AND
LIBRARIES

Both of these sometimes look like endangered species these days, but we don’t just want elegies. Tell us about your favourite library, or the bookshop whose owner glared at you. Or the library where you learned the facts of life, or the bookshop where you learned the secret of love. Or whatever. Deadline 27th October.

Barbara Keogh

June 27, 2018

Readers of Bruce Bentzman’s essays in Snakeskin will be saddened to know that Bruce’s wife, Barbara, whom he so often mentioned, died  in Cardiff last week. This notice will appear in the South Wales Echo:

Barbara Anne Keogh: Barbara, aged 65, passed away at UHW on Sunday 17th June 2018, her husband and family by her side.
Barbara was a mid-level practitioner of medicine specializing in the care of women.  She was also an artist and an active supporter of local culture.
She is survived by her husband Bruce Bentzman, her two children Benita and Marcus, and four grandchildren.
She will be interred at the Natural Burial Meadow, St Nicholas CF5 6SF on Friday 6th July at 11 a.m. ¶ No flowers please, but if you wish, donations may be made to www.forgetmenotchorus.com. [This is a Cardiff based charity.  For those of you living in the United States, an alternative charity would be https://www.plannedparenthood.org/.  Those living in other countries, use your imagination.]
Any enquiries to Green Willow Funerals, 31-33 St Isan Road, Cardiff CF14 4LU – Tel :02920 755555 .

Archive

June 26, 2018

I’d let the Snakeskin archive get into a terrible state, but a plea from a poet has finally induced me to clean it up.

It’s working fairly well now, but if you notice any problems or gaps, please do let me know.

June Snakeskin

May 31, 2018

I’ve been putting the June issue together – and it’s a good one.

I’m away from home at the moment, though, so publication will be a little late – maybe on June 5th or 6th.

Watch this space for further news.

Work

April 30, 2018

The WORK issue is on its way. I hope it will be online tomorrow, all being well. All not being well, it will arrive on Wednesday at the latest.

In terms of numbers of submissions, this has been the most successful special issue ever, I think.  At first I didn’t receive many WORK offerings, but then they arrived and arrived and arrived.

Choosing has been difficult. the main criterion is whether or not it’s a good poem, but I’ve also borne in mind the need for varied subject matter; this issue will present many many kinds of work. I’ve also had a tendency to prefer poems that seem to come from the writer’s own experience, rather than those in which a job is merely imagined – though one or two of those have crept in.

I’m still selecting, rejecting, wondering, making difficult choices. Editing can be hard work. The results of my labour will be online soon.