Thursday, 29 December 2011

New Year live poetry Worcester England

Our first event for 2012 is poetry at the Lamb and Flag, the Tything in Worcester featuring the likes of Pat Winslow and Susanne Ehrhardt - this event is free but importantly please note that it takes place on the 4th January.

It starts at 8pm and is run by Templar poetry. There will be books for sale.

More information is available on Templar and the poets here

Monday, 26 December 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011

Willliam Butler Yeats tweet poetry

W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) has an uncanny gift for prophecy. This Irish poet, politician and playwright dabbled in the occult and automatic writing (of which more later perhaps). 
And what rough beast its hour come round at last Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born

The full poem is here.

The second coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

If you want to know something more about gyres, the theory of cycles that influenced Yeats, you can find it here

Thomas Hardy tweet poetry

Hardy (1840 – 1928) - architect, novelist, fiddle player, poet - never gives up on hope. 
An aged thrush frail gaunt and small In blast-beruffled plume Had chosen thus to fling his soul Upon the growing gloom

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

You can find out more background here

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Visual poetry

Poem Flow is an app that turns poems into "a gentle reading animation".

An instant multimedia effect that allows you see the poem differently as it quietly reads itself to you. Twenty poems come with the app and you can add additional poems cheaply. Sample poems are from the western tradition canon e.g. Dover beach. The product is American in origin.

Your own poetry next? Are you already doing this?

More on the app here

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Imtiaz Dharker tweet poetry

Born in Lahore in 1954, Imtiaz Dharker is a Scottish Muslim, poet, artist and documentary film-maker. She grew up in Glasgow and now divides her time between London and Mumbai. She writes in English. She has written three books of poetry, conceived as sequences of poems and drawings.

Photo Imtiaz  Dharker © Image:

This tweet poetry At the Lahore Karhai is from a poem about food, place, migration and home. 

we’re truckers of another kind looking hopefully years away from Sialkot and Chandigarh for the taste of our mothers hand in the cooking

You can find the full poem here and it is from Imtiaz's book I Speak for the Devil Publisher: Penguin Books India, 2003 ISBN: 014-303089-2. She also has a great website detailing her many activities here

Monday, 12 December 2011

Brooklyn's Jazz Cafe Presents Sunday Spoken Open Mic, Dallas, USA

Every Sunday Night Brooklyn's Jazz Cafe in Association. Sign up starts at 6:30. FREE PARKING. FREE ADMISSION. FREE SPEECH.

What more could you ask for? What is the weather like in Texas this time of year...

Find the jazz cafe at 1701 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75215. This event winds up on the 25th March 2012 to be replaced I am sure by something equally exciting so you should probably go anyway if you are reading this in the future.

More information here

Mash poetry

It isn't new but it can feel it.

Its ancestry can be traced back to the cut and paste technique but unlike its intelligent older brother sound art, mash poetry is visceral and proud of it.

British poet Adrian Henri might have been the first in New fast automatic daffodils.


I wandered lonely as
that floats on high o'er vales and hills
The Daffodil is generously dimensioned to accommodate four
adult passengers
10,000 saw I at a glance
Nodding their new anatomically shaped heads in sprightly
Beside the lake beneath the trees
in three bright modern colours
red, blue and pigskin.


A newer take on the form is to video mash poets with repeats and jumps. Try it and let us know...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Truth and beauty

Does a poem have to be true? Walter Scott said of his own poem Lay of the last minstrel that he had never seen Melrose Abbey by moonlight - although one of its climactic sequences describes just that (and that moment of imagination spawned a tourist industry in the Scottish Borders).

Scholars have spent an equal amount of time considering Lesbia's sparrow:

He never flew out of her lap,
but, hopping about here and there,
only chirping to his lady, alone....

Do sparrows do this?

The only answer is of course that they do when they are Lesbia's.

Monday, 5 December 2011

More on Bob Cobbing

An original recording from 1972,  a selection of Bob Cobbing's sound poems and interview with Charles Amirkhanian recorded in Cobbing’s home. Bob Cobbing (1920 - 2002) was a British sound, visual, concrete and performance poet and a central figure in what has been described as the British Poetry Revival.

Bob Cobbing in Stockholm

Here for the recording You will have to register first.

A glorious minute from Cris Cheek

Cris Cheek is a British poet, artist, interdisciplinary performer and academic currently resident at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, USA. Born in London in 1955, he lived and worked in the UK until the early 1990s. One early influence was working alongside Bob Cobbing at the Poetry Society and the Writers Forum group of poets who met with regularity there.

cris cheek  and press play for the minute excerpt from Rooftop Fog.

Peter Bennet tweet poetry - more

Cannot resist more from Peter Bennet. This is culled from the new and selected works in Goblin Lawn. Gorgeous stuff. 
Let me affirm that what I have not done Remains a plant so valueless That I have never learned its shape or name

Look for the poem Ha-ha.

The cover of 'Goblin Lawn'

More on Flambard Press here

Note the Eric Ravilious woodcut on the front cover btw - a Sussexman (by birth? but certainly inclination)

Sunday, 4 December 2011 Issue 3 coming soon

Submissions are now closed for Issue 3. We will be getting in touch with you soon if you have been successful.

Issue 3 is out in January. Thanks for your support.

(In the meantime, please feel free to browse Issue 1 and Issue 2.)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Poetry Foundation app

Not a creative tool but perhaps a useful searchable database. And it is free. You can explore poetry on your phone or tablet. From Shakespeare to César Vallejo to Neruda and Heather McHugh, this app turns your phone into a mobile poetry library:

Features include:

  • Shake and go to find new poems to fit any mood.
  • Search based on line snippets.
  • Extensive database

More information here and here

Monday, 28 November 2011

Toothpaste poetry

No. Not poetry about toothpaste.

Poetry you just squeeze out.

Doesn't sound very enticing? But sometimes it has to be done. At worst you will have something to edit later.

Or to take the paste analogy a little further, why not:

  1. Mix up some stuff already written.
  2. Write a minty Sort macro.
  3. Press between thumbs and see what happens.
Don't forget to floss.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Salt Modern Voices: London England 28th November 2011

The second of two Salt Modern Voices readings at The Compass, Islington, takes place on 28th November at 7.30pm. Featuring's very own Shaun Belcher alongside Mark Burnhope and Emily Hasler.

More information here

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Cafe Writers Poetry Competition £1900 Prizes DEADLINE 30 November 2011

We don't usually advertise poetry competitions but this is a good one and it is judged by Pascale Petit.

Last and only call btw as it ends on the 30th November - don't worry, you can enter online.

More information here

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Riddle me, riddle me, rot-tot-tote!
A little wee man, in a red red coat!
A staff in his hand, and a stone in his throat;
If you'll tell me this riddle, I'll give you a groat.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Salt Modern Voices: London 14th November 2011

The first of two readings at The Compass, Islington, takes place on 14th November at 7.30pm. More details on the second with our very own Shaun Belcher to follow.

More information here and still time to drop in.

Why does nobody tell me these things a bit earlier?

Last call for Issue 3 2011

It is nearly that time.

We are calling for poetry (4 poems or less), images and reviews (literary and technical) for Issue 3 2011. Deadline for copy is November 30th 2011. So that is 2 weeks or so.

Thank you to all who have already submitted, we will be in touch shortly after the deadline passes.

It promises to be a bumper issue.

Abdullah al Ryami tweet poetry

Abdullah al Ryami is an Omani theatrical director, poet and cultural commentator. Born in 1965, he spent his early life in Cairo, where his father had settled after to escape persecution after the Omani uprising.

This tweet poetry is from a translation of the original poem by Sarah Maguire: 
the minute I touch it I trespass into the property of strangers the minute I sit down on a rock it sprouts wings and flies off

You can find the full poem here't_Give_Birth! and more poems by Abdullah al Ryami at the Poetry Translation Centre here

Friday, 11 November 2011

Robotic tweet poetry

This time it is for you to fill in the words...and Marvim Gainsbug will recite them. "It should come as no surprise, but Twitter can compose existential nihilistic poetry."

Marvim Gainsbug is software based on Twitter that composes and plays songs in real time interpreted by Marvim's distinctive voice. All the components are defined by the tweet poetry itself. The idea was developed by Jeraman and Filipe Calegario using Sphinx4, FreeTTS and Twitter4j libraries.

Better still come up with something yourself and let us know.

More information here:

Browning's avatars

Forgive me if you have heard this one before.

In style, Robert Browning (born 1812 in England and died in Italy in 1889) owes something to Shakespeare's bad characters - especially I would guess Don John in Much ado about nothing. And the speech (iambic pentameter rhymed couplets) of this poet avatar the Duke of Ferrara is meant to be read aloud. What fun you could have had declaiming this poem with its sexy hints of infidelity, jealousy and murder in a Victorian drawing room crowded with chairs, stuffed animals and drapes of plush fabric.

The need to speak it aloud is clear when you consider that the collection from which it comes is Browning's 1842 Dramatic Lyrics. It may be of interest that the collection itself was part of a self-published series called Bells and pomegranates.

My last Duchess

That's my last Duchess' painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

More on the story behind the story here

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

no man's land # 6 - Launch Reading 28th November Berlin, Germany

no man’s land launches Issue # 6 with a bilingual reading featuring authors Zehra Çirak, Michael Roes and Daniela Seel.

Turkish-born Zehra Çirak is the current recipient of the Chamisso Prize for writing in German as a second language, along with many other awards. Described as a “poet of the foreign”, Michael Roes is a novelist, anthropologist and filmmaker. Daniela Seel, publisher of Berlin’s KookBooks, is also an experimental poet.

This event takes places at St Georges English Bookshop, Wörther Str. 27, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg  from 20:00 - 23:30 on the 28th November 2011.

More at and information on KOOKbooks

Sunday, 6 November 2011

T.S. Eliot tweet poetry

This poem has an almost magical hold and perhaps a world record for inspiration to artists per line length. It is of course a dramatic monologue just like Browning's and meant to be read aloud like his.

Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot 1888 – 1965 was a banker (briefly), playwright, literary critic, and poet. This poem was first published in Chicago. Eliot was an American who became a British citizen. 

I grow old I grow old I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled shall I part my hair behind do I dare to eat a peach

Prufrock is another attractive avatar or character that allows the poet a freedom and experimental lightness. How much he is an imagination of Eliot in old age? And how accurate that vision?

Find the full poem here:

Yeats' life as a woman

Yeats' Crazy Jane avatar appears in poems ranging from the late 1920s until his very last collected work. She is literally a descent. Naughty (what's the difference between a solid man and a coxcomb?), sexy and maybe mad; and he puts her through it.

She can says things he can't say.

Crazy Jane talks with the Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

'A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.' 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The 5th of November

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

Black-and-white drawing

If you are letting off a firework today anywhere in the world, you may say this poem.

Poetry that commemorates political activism in England in 1605. (Wrapped up a bit with Halloween.)

Poetic avatars

Avatar or voice? It takes a long time for a poet to find his or her voice.

Sometimes it never happens.


Sometimes poets take on personas - like computer avatars. And assume that personality for individual poems (Browning springs to mind with My last duchess et al.) or a series of poems or some poets even return to that character again and again like Yeat's Crazy Jane.

Usually a poet's voice is a character too. How they come across in poetry is not how they are in real life - thank goodness. However later when the poet is dead, the two can conflate. Now some think of Sylvia Plath for example as neurotic or even mad thanks to her later poems and the Bell Jar; when she most often appeared as driven and organised to her peers.

If you are struggling to find your voice, assuming an avatar can help - just as it frees one up in gameplay. The avatar or characters you assume will probably be the building blocks of your ultimate voice.

So it is worth exploring. And you may find that you encounter these characters again and again just like WBY.


btw avatar as a word has a lovely origin in Hindu religion where it means a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, more literally translated as incarnation or appearance.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Heroic couplets and their more prosaic day to day existence

Why do couplets seem less heroic than they used to? Well, like all verse forms, over-familiarity, lack of understanding and especially a strong association with a particular point in history have taken their toll.

Originally the verse form was made widely acceptable by poets including Geoffrey Chaucer at that interesting period of English language development. The one that sealed the southern business variation he used as the choice of the educated and the court itself. The Knight's Tale (part of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales) sampled below is written in couplets, iambic pentameter and end-rhymed. The closed rhyme allows us to consider this as a direct antecedent of the heroic couplet but it is freer in form.

The pillers did their business and cure,
After the battle and discomfiture.
And so befell, that in the tas they found,
Through girt with many a grievous bloody wound,
Two younge knightes ligging by and by
Both in one armes, wrought full richely:
Of whiche two, Arcita hight that one,
And he that other highte Palamon.
Not fully quick, nor fully dead they were,
But by their coat-armour, and by their gear,
The heralds knew them well in special,
As those that weren of the blood royal
Of Thebes, and of sistren two y-born.
Out of the tas the pillers have them torn,
And have them carried soft unto the tent
Of Theseus, and he full soon them sent
To Athens, for to dwellen in prison
Perpetually, he n'olde no ranson.

So far so good (and I missing out the joys of Shakespear, Donne, Keats and so much more) but really it is our association of the heroic couplet as the verse form default of Dryden and Pope and the 18th century love of form that drove and sealed the nail in its coffin. In spite of the fact that neither used the form like this themselves - for example, an extract of Alexander Pope's poem the Rape of the Lock is playful with its couplets and its in this cynical view of the lady dressing

The Tortoise here and Elephant unite,
Transformed to combs, the speckled, and the white.
Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.
Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms;
The fair each moment rises in her charms,
Repairs her smiles, awakens ev'ry grace,
And calls forth all the wonders of her face;
Sees by degrees a purer blush arise,
And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes.
The busy Sylphs surround their darling care,
These set the head, and those divide the hair,
Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown:
And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own.

But the form fell foul. It became a poetic tic for classical translations and epics which as time moved further from the wit and economy of Dryden and Pope's political and court commentary to imitators telling another big story - all set to the de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum of iambic pentameter.

Heroic couplets became tangled with the literally heroic and then after the onset of the 20th century and its wars got brushed up alongside Walter Scott, Rupert Brooke and anyone else who had the misfortune to turn their writing eye on gallantry (however cynically).

Interesting what can happen to a poetic form.

Monday, 31 October 2011

4 week countdown to deadline

Thank you to all who have already sent contributions to poetandgeek Issue 3 our Winter edition.

The call for poetry (4 poems or less), images and reviews (literary and technical) runs until the actual deadline for copy which is November 30th 2011.

We will respond to all contributors after the deadline. Thank you!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Droneshift 2011 San Francisco USA

Primal verse in drone form.

Droneshift is a collaborative concert of improvised drone music. It will be held on the 10th December at The Lab, 2948 16th Street, San Francisco, CA from 20:00 - 23:00. It is organised by Matt Davignon.

Between 15 and 25 musicians including:

Sebastian Krawczuk - Bass
J. Lee - Tamboura
Tim Perkis - Synth & Electric Razor
Bill Leikam - Conch
David Leikam - Moog
Mark Soden - Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Ferrara Brain Pan - Bass Clarinet
Joe McMahon - Spiral Didgeridoo & Ipad
Suki O'Kane - Shruti Box & Accordian
Todd Elliott - Eigenharp Tau controller

will gather to contribute to a continuous 2 hour drone, each adding here and there, and weaving sounds together to create a performance.

Find out more here:

More on Matt Davignon here:

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Nests by the chestnuts

In the recent big wind, I took shelter in one of my favourite hedgerows.

Tempted to crawl right inside like a badger, I got on my hands and knees and started to brush softly at the dying back long grass and briars. Of course, I took a thorn. And my hand bled like black bramble juice.

The drops drew my eye to an interlaced layer of lichen caught up between the beaten grass and fireweed. I drew it out with my good hand. It was a nest. A nest like a whisper. Made of moss with a structure of the lichen that hangs in our trees here.

Once I could see them, the hedgerow berm of grass was studded with these dreams of home. Every two or three metres, another variation. And in some, the feathers from the small bird who had created this haven.

All blown out by the wind like dead leaves.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Omani poetry

Folk poetry origins - ballad and song - can be traced to the voice of ordinary people. Oman`s rich culture and its seafaring traditions are an inspiration for their poets throughout the ages. Its influence is felt in the work of modern Omani poets including Abdulhamid al Dawhani, Hilala al Hamdaniya and Ahmed bin Hilal Al-Abri. And its subject matter is still grounded in the the life of the everyday Omani.

The cultural history of Oman is not unaffected by other cultures. Portuguese explorers arrived in Oman and occupied Muscat for a 140-year period, between 1508 and 1648. And remnants of their colonial architectural style still remain. The Portuguese were evicted through indigenous revolt, but a century later, in 1741, forces from Yemen combined and took over led by an ancestor of the current ruling sultans. The Persians invaded briefly in the late 1740s, but Oman has been self-governing ever since.

Sa‘ida Khatir Bint al-Farsi is an Omani poet and academic born in 1956 who uses literature as a window into society and the forces — economic, political, and religious — that transform it.  Writing poetry, Sa‘ida says, has helped her understand Oman's progress since her own childhood.  Women access to the public sphere has been enhanced, as Sultan Qaboos’ massive development program stresseded the education of all citizens, female and male.  Sa‘ida quotes one of the Sultan’s most famous public statements: “We will educate our children, even if  we have to do it under the shade of trees.”

Other female Omani writers and poets include Tahirah bint Abdalkhaliq Al-lawatia, Ushra Khalfan Al-Wahybi, Badriyya Ash- Shahhi, the author of the first Omani novel, Zuwayna Khalfan At-Twayya and Rafia At-Talai.

Find out more in the book Modern poetry and prose of Oman 1970-2000 by Barbara Michalak-Pikulska (hard to get hold of - let me know if you are successful) and here

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Free Poets Collective FARMTOBER 22nd October 2011 Connecticut, USA

Join the poets, authors and musicians from Rhode Island, Mass., and Connecticut on the farm. This event takes place at Fort Hill Farms, 260 Quaddick Rd, Thompson, CT on the 22nd October between 1 and 4pm.

Featuring Joyce Heon and Joan Kantor, and an invitational open mic , David Cassarino, Ryk McIntyre, Douglas Bishop, Andrea Barton, and Melissa Guillet - our hostess- and music from Gale Gardiner, J-Cherry, The Conduit, and Licia Sky.

Tables/booths for merchandise will be available too.

Come here come here come HEAR!

More information on the event here and Free Poets Collective here