Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

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.

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Aunt Margaret’s Pudding

April 17, 2018

249auntmarg

Dot was Alison Brackenbury’s grandmother; she was ‘small as a wren and with the same fierce energy’. Before her marriage (to a shepherd descended from a long line of shepherds) she worked as a cook; later, her talent for cakes and puddings nurtured her family.
Alison Brackenbury’s new book, Aunt Margaret’s Pudding, is a joy. It interweaves poems remembering Dot and other members of her family with the recipes her grandmother wrote in a battered black notebook. The poems linger lovingly on small recollections. Many celebrate  the part that food played in the lives of this family, never rich, always well cared for. Life in rural Lincolnshire meant hard work:

She knitted, hemmed. She lit, at dawn,
slow coppers, pounded dolly pegs
into the snarling sheets, tramped down
three miles to school, the youngest kept
in jolting pram to save his legs.
She scoured the sink. Sometimes she slept.

Through the book we get a sense of Alison Brackenbury rediscovering her family. She tells us her own memories and family stories, and even more than this she lets us get close to Dot by sharing her recipes for cakes and puddings.
These are simple but delicious. Dot mostly just wrote a list of ingredients – she knew the method, so did not need to remind herself of that. Alison Brackenbury helps out today’s cook-reader by providing her own expanded, slightly modernised versions, with clear instructions.
And very good they are, too. On the day I got the book I had a go at Quaker Oat Scones. The recipe made six scones, and Marion and I demolished the plateful in minutes. Yesterday I made Raspberry Buns.
I am something of a fan of the Bake-Off on TV, and have discovered that the programme can be made even more enjoyable if you eat cake while watching it. The same is true of Alison Brackenbury’s poems; they are even better when accompanied by a Raspberry Bun.
The book is published by Happenstance, to their usual high standard.

Update:

Yesterday the family came for lunch, and I baked Aunt Margaret’s Pudding. Delicious!

Aunt Margaret's Pudding

Love is in the air…

October 31, 2017

The November LOVE special issue is nearly ready – it will probably go online late this evening. I’m delighted to say that we’ve got a wide range of different approaches to the subject, from the romantic to the sardonic, the regretful to the passionate.

December and January will be straight non-theme issues. And after that – well, we’ll see.

April (No fooling)

April 1, 2017

The Short Poems issue went online today.

This one has been fun to edit, though it’s been a lot of work. Snakeskin’s readership has grown recently, and so have the number of submissions. Choosing is getting difficult.

I’ve always liked to include a wild card or two in an edition of Snakeskin. An unpolished poem with a bit of punch, a poem by a newcomer whose voice is distinctive even though not quite formed yet. this gets difficult when I have  a mass of accomplished poems to choose between.

If your short poems  weren’t selected for this month’s issue, please don’t feel grim and sad about it. You’re in good company. Plenty of poems that in other years might have made the cut had to be set aside this time. Don’t be discouraged. Send some more, and maybe they’ll be just what we need next time.

 

Thanks, Jessy

January 31, 2017

Thanks to Jessy Randall for guest-editing the February issue of Snakeskin, on the theme of Maths and Numbers.

It’s meant that I’ve had a nice easy January, with nothing much to do, except set up the poems she chose, decorated by images from an ancient Maths book.

Life will get busy again now, with a general edition coming up in March and a new special issue in April…

January Snakeskin is online

January 1, 2017

It’s online, but in a bit of a rush, because I’m off to a big (and I mean big) New Year’s lunch.

No time to notify poets properly at the moment – will do so later.

Happy New Year to all!

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 »

December

December 1, 2016

Well, it’s been something of a rush, because I’ve been away on holiday, and have had to do most of the magazine-assembling today – but the December issue is now online.
And a very good issue it is, too.

Bruce

November 3, 2016

Regular readers who have been following the story of Bruce Bentzman’s struggles with the bureaucracy of the UK’s immigration system will be pleased to know that he has now received a visa giving him leave to remain in his beloved Cardiff.

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