Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Back again

April 23, 2022

Crisis over – mostly.

Snakeskin has a new webspace provider afte the death of Extendnet. The current issue is back online, plus a very skeletal selection of other files.

Over the next week or so we shall be reassembling the whole archive of twenty-six years of poetry. But as I said earlier, there will be no May issue.

This sort of thing has happened before during our long history. It’s deeply annoying, but is part of the digital life. We’re sort of used to it.

Our correspondent Bruce Bentzman is among those annoyed that there will be no May issue. He has an essay lined up for us, and it is a topical one. So we’ve decided that, instead of keeping it till June, we shall publish it as a post in this blog towards the end of the month. Look out for it.

Old Man in a Pub

April 5, 2022

On Monday morning I set myself the task of verse reportage. I visited The Cherry Tree, the Wetherspoons pub in central Huddersfield,  determined to write about whatever I saw there.

What I saw was an old man drinking alone, with his back to a large screen that silently delivered Sky News.


An old man sits, his beer in front of him,
Alone in Wetherspoons; his face is grim,
I search it for some clue what’s brought him here,
To sit sad and self-medicate on beer.
His eyes are pale and now and then he fingers
His glass, then slowly sips, and slowly lingers
That pint so it will last an hour or so.
He sometimes strokes his cheek but mostly, though,
He’s very still, just staring straight ahead.

Behind him, on a silent screen, the dead
Of Bucha are displayed, and captions tell
Of stark atrocious actions going well
Beyond war’s normal horrors: rape, and looting,
And soldiers quite undisciplined, and shooting
Of hostages and random children, and
The brutal desecration of a land.

The old man’s eyes stare straight ahead, the screen
Is right behind him, its hard truths unseen.
Perhaps he sits there so he does not see.
And yet, that there could be such cruelty
Would not, I sense, have come as much surprise
To that old man with disappointed eyes.

Time Snakeskin

March 1, 2022

Our Time issue went online this morning.

It was a popular subject, and our postbag of submissions was the biggest ever. Many thanks to all who sent their work. We could have filled two issues with good stuff.

What surprised and delighted me was the range of approaches to the subject. Snakeskin poets are good. In fact I think that now, in our twenty-seventh year, they are better than ever.

No more theme issues for a while. But do keep the poems rolling in to the usual address…

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