Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

The Music Issue – and Thoughts on Frames of Reference

May 1, 2023

Many thanks to Jessy Randall and Dan Shapiro for guest-editing our May Music issue.

Jessy has been guest-editing issues for a long while now. Hunt through the Snakeskin archive and you’ll find some – the Alphabetical Issue, for example, or the Monsters one.

I like occasionally turning over the zine to someone else, because I am aware that as an editor I have prejudices and preferences – and there is a danger of being predictable, getting in a rut.

Jessy has an aesthetic that is different from mine, and she finds different sources of poetry.

This is particularly true of the Music issue. I have never taken much interest in pop music later than Harry Roy and his Orchestra, so many of Jessy’s choices were puzzling to me. In fact, there is one group of very short pieces, by Nate Logan, that I find quite impenetrable, though I suppose they mean a good deal to fans of pop. I’ll take Jessy’s word for it, anyway.

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Music for Maytime

March 2, 2023

A reminder that May Snakeskin will be a special issue devoted to the theme of music. It will be guest-edited by Jessy Randall and Daniel M. Shapiro. They explain:

We want poems about pop music, R&B, punk, classical, ska, reggae, glitch hop, trance, the violin lessons your grandma paid for, the time you auditioned for Pippin, the air guitar contest your friend convinced you to enter, choir practice at church, family singalongs, watching Solid Gold on TV… (Note: one of the two of us wanted to limit the theme to stage musicals, so keep that in mind – seriously, send poems about stage musicals. Please!)
Send up to five poems to and Put your poems in the body of the email, please – no attachments (unless it’s a visual poem or something that needs special formatting). Simultaneous submissions are fine. The deadline is March 15, and you can expect a response by early April.

Meanwhile, poems are also requested (any subject, any style, but nothing too tedious, please) for April Snakeskin – to be sent to the usual address.

Tristan Moss’s ‘The Cold War’

August 21, 2022

Here’s a short poem of Tristan Moss’s that I like very much:

The Sea

After my father died,
I’d hear a phrase
or notice a walk
And think of him.

It was like
hearing a gull
in a landlocked place.

This condenses a lot of the qualities of Tristan’s best poetry into a small space. It is about what he has noticed; it has a striking comparison, and it has a last line that makes you think: ‘Yes, that’s exactly right – and I’d never have thought of that.

It is also, like many of the poems in his new pamphlet A Cold War, about his parents, and sometimes painful memories. Many of the twenty-odd poems in this pamphlet gives us a glimpse of their lives, their conflicts, and what they meant to the poet. The reader can jigsaw these into a bigger picture.

The pamphlet is published by Lapwing, and can be bought from their site (Click here.)

An interview with Tristan can be found here.

His poems have often appeared in Snakeskin, of course, including this one, which is also in the pamphlet, and is a nexample of how so many of his poems go beyond the clever to speak of something tender and true.:

One of my Mother’s Last Meals

I threw away the loose
browning leaves and eased
apart the fresh interlocking
ones from the lettuce’s heart,
rinsed them under the tap
and dressed with oil and white
wine vinegar. And was surprised
but happy that while we talked
about when she was young
and I was a boy, she finished
them all.

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.

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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:

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?