Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

October Snakeskin – Politics

September 7, 2016

A reminder:
October Snakeskin will be one of our theme issues, and its topic will be Politics.
I set this challenge because we live in odd political times, when old certainties seem to be shifting and new possibilities can seem very disconcerting.
I ought to tell you that I am not especially fond of some kinds of political poems. I don’t much like the sort that are expressions of resentment and negativity, or attempts to get easy laughs from obvious targets. Wit and satire are welcome, but I’d like to get beyond stock attitudes.
What am I hoping for? Poems that intelligently describe modern life and conflicts, poems that describe the political process, poems that observe where we are today politically, poems of analysis and poems that point positively to a future. It’s a big ask, I know, but some excellent examples are already coming in.

Please send your poems to editor@snakeskin.org.uk, preferably before September 26th.

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

Snakeskin is moving

April 12, 2016

For several years Snakeskin has nestled fairly happily on the web servers of Virgin media. The webspace came with a package of telephone, broadband and cable television, and has suited me fairly well.

Recently, though, Virgin sent a message saying that they will no longer offer webspace. Didn’t make them enough money, I suppose. They offered to transfer me to a ridiculously pricey package with another firm, but I have found a better deal, and got us a new domain name. The Snakeskin files can now be found at www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk .

You can still type in the old http://www.snakeskin.org.uk and you will be redirected to the new site without problems. If you have links or bookmarks pointing to http://www.simmers1.webspace.virginmedia.com however, these will become outdated soon – so please update them.

The new site is working pretty well, but one or two things need adjusting. And I definitely need to sort out the archive page, plus one or two others that have fallen into disrepair.

Please do let me know if you have any problems with the new site.

March Snakeskin

March 1, 2016

The March issue is on its way.

As well as the usual array of poems, this contains the first of our new (and probably irregular) series of e-chapbooks. Reading for Rush Hour is a downloadable .pdf file of poems by Thomas Land.

Thomas is a regular contributor to Snakeskin, of course, and we are proud to have published many of his translations from the Hungarian, mostly of poets whose lives were affected by the Holocaust. This chapbook is a selection of his original poems, and gives an engaging picture of his poetic character and concerns.

We have a couple of other possible chapbooks lines up, but suggestions for future publications will be welcomed by the editor.

‘An homage’?

February 4, 2016

Snakeskin has writers and readers from all over the world. We only print poems in English, but English, of course, is a variable language. It has its dialects, its slangs and its local peculiarities, And is all the richer for it. Sometimes this variety throws up interesting issues.

I’ve received, for example, a couple of questioning notes about a phrase in Daniel M. Shapiro’s poem in the February issue. Daniel writes:

We whispered, unplugged,
an homage to Wicked Lester days.

‘Surely that should be “a homage”? ‘  my correspondents suggest.

That’s what I thought, too. Or maybe, I wondered, Daniel meant the French word, ‘hommage’, with the emphasis on the second syllable. It’s a term used by film critics when one director steals an idea from another. And, being unaspirated, it takes ‘an’.

I checked with Daniel and guest-editor Jessy Randall. Both are from Philadelphia, and say that ‘an homage’ (with the stress on ‘hom’) is standard pronunciation in those parts. Other Americans don’t recognise the phenomenon, but that seems to be how they say it in Philadelphia.

Despite Daniel’s generously offering to allow the change, I decided to keep the ‘an’. This is how he hears the poem spoken, after all, and that matters.

I very rarely suggest changes to the language of poems submitted to Snakeskin. I correct spellings and tidy punctuation where necessary, but don’t go further than that. If the poem doesn’t work for me as submitted, I generally just say ‘No thanks.’ The main exceptions come (and there are no more than two or three instances a year) when I can see a good shorter poem struggling to escape from a longer one. Sometimes, for example, I might say that I would print the poem except for the last verse which added nothing to an otherwise interesting piece. Or once, I said that I would be interested in printing a poem if the poet removed all the adjectives that were clogging up the lines. But such occasions are rare.

I’m English, and yes, my ear is attuned to the English way of speaking. In twenty years of Snakeskin, though, I’ve got used to other dialects and accents. Sometimes I’m offered a poem that rhymes perfectly if you say it in an Australian accent, but not in a British one. No worries. I can cope with that, and expect my readers to.

Daniel’s ‘an homage’, though, reminds me that the language is more various than I’d supposed. If that’s his way of speaking, then that’s how the poem should read.

Except.

Do readers, coming across that phrase, and thinking it odd, get their attention directed away from the poem to a detail that has little relation to what the poem is saying? If it’s distracting, should it be standardised? What do you think?

 

 

Friends

January 31, 2016

Snakeskin has many friends, but one of the best is Jessy Randall, who once a year takes over editorial responsibilities and gives your usual editor a holiday.

This month Jessy has collated an issue on the theme of Friends. It is now online, and well worth taking a look at.

While you’re investigating the magazine, take a look at the Plans page, and see what we have in store for April…

New year, new Snakeskin

December 30, 2015

January Snakeskin is online a little early, because I’ll be away from home tomorrow, celebrating the new year as only Oxford knows how.

I’m very pleased with the January issue. And plotting what will happen next in the Snakeskin saga.

February, of course, is the month when Jessy Randall takes over as guest editor. She has already sent me her selection of poems on the theme of friendship, so if you’ve missed that boat, you’ve missed it.

March will be an all-purpose issue. Just send me plenty of poems, any subject, any style. April, though, may be rather different…

 

Allen Ginsberg’s Christmas Howl

December 22, 2015

Ommm.

I have seen the best teeth of my generation broken upon the crust of a neighbour’s mince pie.

I have seen men struggling through aisles laden with tinsel, buying chocolates uglier than sphincters and enduring carols.

I have seen ecstatic visions of Noddy Holder and of King Wenceslas naked upon a reindeer.

For it is Christmas.

Therefore I rejoice.

I rejoice in the truths that will emerge in shallow Yuletide arguments.

I rejoice in television specials, for mindlessness opens gates into nirvana.

I rejoice in gifts of underwear.

I rejoice in the mother cooking resentfully, and in the drunken aunt.

And in the farting vegan who refuses turkey.

In these I rejoice.

Ommm.

A pair of Limericks

June 14, 2015

Today’s poetical post is a pairing called Two Perverse Limericks.
The limerick is a splendid form – compact and zinging. I like it even more when another constraint is added to its rules, so these are two formal experiments. Square limericks have been around for a while, but I think apocopated ones are my own invention.

Two Perverse Limericks
1.
This one is a Square Limerick. The rule is that the words on the left hand side of the poem repeat the words of the first line, while the last line repeats the words going down the left-hand side. This is as near as I’ve got to a successful one:

A person from old Bangalore –
Person? No! Frankly call him a bore! –
From noon to night sings
Old B-sides by Wings
Bangalore bore sings Wings evermore.

2.
This one is an apocopated limerick. Apocopation cuts off the last syllable of the word you’re rhyming with, and you rhyme with what’s left. Confused? The poem should make it clear. As I say, this kind of limerick is my own invention. I doubt it’ll catch on.

The poet cried: “Look! Bluebells glistening!
And are those fairy footsteps? Do listen!”
But his eight-year-old daughter
Replied with a snort:
“Wossat? Dad, are you taking the piss?”

Poem 2

June 11, 2015

Here’s poem number two. It’s from a collection I wrote for my grand-daughter, Alice, and is based on a postcard bought at the British Library, which shows a sleeping hippopotamus.

hippo

Poem for Alice

Oh happy is the hippo who is fast asleep.
His snoring is enormous but his dreams are deep.

He dreams he’s young and handsome and he’s living in a palace
And he loves a perfect princess who’s as beautiful as Alice.

In his dream he’s light and lively; he can dance and he can leap.
So don’t disturb a hippo who is happily asleep.