Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

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 »

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.

‘The Deal’ by Annie Fisher

May 26, 2020

Four years ago this blog enthusiastically reviewed Infinite in All Perfections by Snakeskin poet Annie Fisher. The Deal, her follow-up pamphlet, also published by Happenstance, is even better.

Typically, Annie’s are poems that contain lives; sometimes content that might fill a whole novel is compressed into a few lines. The father-daughter relationship in ‘Perhaps’, for example, or the childhood of ‘In Hiding’.

Annie Fisher is drawn to writing about people whose lives are unsatisfactory, like the anorexic girl of ‘Ghost’:

She watches
as her shadow on the ground
grows more obese
with every passing hour.

Or the man whose whole life is a catalogue of disappointments:

Let-downs ambushed him throughout his life –
the taste of fresh-perked coffee; aubergines;
live albums; picnics; Camembert; his wife.

Several poems are about childhood: some, I, think, about her own childhood, and her relationship with her father. ‘His Face in my Mirror’ was in Snakeskin a few years ago:

The little lazy eye he gave to me
Winks back unmistakably.
Try all you like, it seems to say
You can’t escape your DNA.

For me, the sign of a good poetry book is that when reviewing it I want to keep on quoting and quoting. That’s the case with The Deal. The language is so clear, and yet so rich, and a few lines can suggest a world of implications.

But I’ll stop now, and just tell you to do yourself a favour and buy a copy. The title poem is especially beautiful.

You can order The Deal at: https://www.happenstancepress.com/index.php/shop/product/47801-the-deal-%E2%88%92-annie-fisher

The Young British Poets

April 1, 2020

In April Snakeskin, Sharon Phillips has rather a good poem (‘Looking Good’) which references a seventies book, The Young British Poets, edited by Jeremy Robson.

Here is a scan of the book’s cover. I wonder how many of the poets readers can recognise. I think I score half a dozen definites, plus a couple of possibles.

No prizes – but how many can you identify?

Poetry in a Plague Year

March 12, 2020

As the unpleasant Covid-19 virus spreads, Snakeskin has been sent a pair of poems commenting on it. We thought we’d share them with you.

From America, Laura Johnson has sent us this Bop (I’ll explain what a Bop is later):

Bop: Crazy

An unknown illness from the distant East
crawls across our unsuspecting globe,
something like a cold virus, at least
like the very worst gunky-lung sort of cold,
somewhat like the flu we already know
though Trump’s in trouble for saying so.

The coronavirus is making us crazy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Potcake chapbooks

November 18, 2018

Snakeskin poets seem to be spreading their wings everywhere these days, and the latest enterprise to feature several of them is the new series of Potcake Chapbooks, published by Samson Low.

These are neat little pocket-sized pamphlets, sixteen pages packed with poems, mostly witty, all featuring the snap and buzz of rhyme.

The first pamphlet, Tourists and Cannibals, is about travel; the second, Rogues and Roses is full of poems about love and sex. More titles are on the way.

Edited by Robin Helweg-Larsen, whose work will be familiar to Snakeskin readers, these modestly priced (£2.60) pamphlets are just the right size for slipping in with a Christmas card to spread seasonal good cheer.


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

WORK

April 11, 2018

A reminder – May Snakeskin will be a special issue on the subject of Work.
Please send us poems (in a style of your choice) about jobs (your own or someone else’s.
We’d like to hear about hard work and soft jobs, about rewarding labour, about easy skives and about work of mind-numbing tedium.
We hope to include as many different types of work as we can, so please send your version to editor@snakeskin.org.uk within the next couple of weeks.

Snakeskin 250

April 1, 2018

Our 250th edition is now online!

I remember how excited I got when we reached our fiftieth edition, our hundredth, our two hundredth… At 250 I’ve grown, not exactly blasé – more accepting that this is the thing I do, and those issue numbers are going to keep on rising until I’m halted in my tracks by death, dementia or debility. Which I hope will be not too soon.

The 250th issue is one I’m especially pleased with – good poems, and varied as anything.

But another Snakeskin tradition is technical problems. This morning my email is playing up. I can’t send messages to the poets whose work has been selected. With luck I’ll be able to fix this soon. In the meantime – apologies.

Update: Email is now working again, the return to smooth operation as unexplained as the original malfunction. these are deep mysteries.

T.S. Eliot’s advice

February 18, 2018

In 1935 a woman sent the poems of a fifteen-year-old to T.S. Eliot for comment. He replied that they seemed ‘what one would expect from a precocious child of fifteen’. As to the young poet’s future, he replied:

Anything is possible. The poems have no serious intrinsic merit, but are able enough to make the girl’s future development seem interesting. I am glad that there are still young people who at that age are writing in regular metres. I think that she should be encouraged to practice in difficult set forms such as the sonnet and the sestina, to read good poetry, but very little contemporary poetry, and to keep away from competitions and prizes.

This is sensible. I think that in future,  whenever anyone applies to Snakeskin for advice (and people sometimes do), I shall refer them to these sentences of Eliot’s.