Thursday, 24 February 2011

Donne tweet poetry 
I am two fools I know For loving and for saying so In whining poetry But where's that wise man that would not be I If she would not deny

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Poetry publishing and technology in 1985/Any plan will do blog

"I remember very clearly putting letraset onto an Ian McMillan/Martyn Wiley cover on a desk in Huddersfield Polytechnic library, and feeling a definite move up in the technological world when I acquired a set square and cutting board." Read the full article by Peter Sansom on the very congenial blogspot Any Plan Will Do "a fanzine about all sorts of technology and local democracy" available here

Also find an article on PAC-LAN - a version of the classic video game PACMAN in which human players ran around a real world game maze formed by the buildings of Lancaster University... Excellent stuff.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Ghazal primer

A ghazal is a love song originally Persian that deals in love gone bad, star-crossed lovers, separation (and sometimes the pleasures of drinking in such circumstances). A little bit of the courtly love troubadour. It can be dedicated to a man or a woman. In essence, a ghazal is an articulation of  the agony of loss or separation but love's beauty in spite of that pain.

In its strictest form, the ghazal has:
·         5 or more couplets.
·         Each couplet's second line uses the same word or phrase ends with the repetition of a refrain of one or a few words, so a ghazal's rhyme scheme is aa ba ca and so on.
·         Lines must be complete in themselves.
·         The poem maintains its metre throughout.
·         Each couplet is complete in itself but a theme can run throughout the ghazal.
·         Sometimes the poet namechecks him or herself (in the last couplet).

 Well-known examples can be found in many languages and in the works of Muhammad Iqbal, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Hardy, Adrienne Rich and W.S Merwin. Orhan Parmuk's work The museum of innocence (2009) might be considered a prose ghazal.

Here is a rather happy version from Mimi Khalvati which you can also listen to  here An altogether more painful but less formulaic version by Federico Garcia Lorca can be found here. Gacela is the Spanish for ghazal, if you prefer to hear it sung

  Gacela del amor desesperado

La noche no quiere venir
para que tú no vengas
ni yo pueda ir.

La noche no quiere venir
pero yo iré
aunque un sol de alacranes me coma la sien,
pero tú vendrás
con la lengua quemada por lluvia de sal.

El día no quiere venir
para que tú no vengas
ni yo pueda ir.

El dia no, no quiere venir
pero yo iré
entregando a los sapos mi mordido clavel,
pero tú vendrás
por las turbias cloacas de la oscuridad.

Ni la noche ni el día quieren venir
para que por ti muera
y tú mueras por mí,
para que tú mueras por mí...

Ni la noche ni el día quieren venir
para que por ti muera
y tú mueras por mí,
para que tú mueras por mí,
para que yo muera por ti...

Friday, 18 February 2011

Auction chant as poetic form

Does auction chant qualify as a form of poetry?

I think the clue is in the word chant. Derived from the French word to sing, chants form the basis of the most elemental expressions; ranging from playground and football chants, hardcore punk to battle cries and liturgy.  Auctioneer chant, like poetry, has formal rules and uses rhythm and repetition among other techniques to command attention; it is a kind of performance technique.

At its simplest, auctioneers speak using a rhythmic repetition of numbers and "filler words" - usually active verbs make, go, bid - spoken by an auctioneer as the auction progresses.  "One pound, one pound I have, make two pounds, two pounds". Of course, the talk will be the sweeter and slower where there are more valuable things to sell: we have all seen or read about the drama of an expensive vase or painting going under the hammer. The chant itself is a learned skill and you can go to auctioneer school; for example, the modestly titled World Champion College of Auctioneering in Bakersfield, California ( or train in one week at the in Mankato, Minnesota (which has the endearing claim that their "students are of all ages, men and women, from all states, Canada and the world"). There are competitions for the best calling such as the National Auctioneers Association in the US and far from being unintelligible, clarity of chant is one of the criteria used for judging.  The fastest calling, and therefore the most difficult for outsiders to understand, is to be found at car auctions (125 to 175 cars per hour), commodity and livestock markets; the average household auction sells 60 items per hour on average.

"Rhythm is as important as speed in developing an effective chant. Auctioneers will adjust their speed, depending on the bidding experience level of their crowd, and the numbers of a good chant will be readily understood," says Joseph Keefhaver lately of the National Auctioneers Association. Sounds almost like a poet working a room at a gig to me.

Of course, auctioneers aim for a sound that is their own and they will be able to maintain it uniformly throughout a whole auction but perhaps that is not so dissimilar to a ballad specialist or the recitation style of the Compline.

Poets recording online can learn something from the intense chant preparation of auctioneers. Is there a performance school just for poets? I'd like to hear from you; especially if you are not just the slam end of performance.

I remember a great chant poem performed at Larry's Bar, Columbus, Ohio by Charles Ciccarello when the repeated words White Jeep, howled and tugged at the very walls of the room...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tennyson Mariana tweet poetry 

WITH blackest moss the flower-plots Were thickly crusted one and all The rusted nails fell from the knots That held the pear to gable-wall

The beginning of the poem Mariana, one of the sexiest poems that Tennyson ever wrote and of course the Sisters of Mercy did a great version of it too (minus an a...


Call for poetry, reviews and essays...

Call for poetry (no more than 120 lines), images and reviews (literary and technical) for Issue 1 due Spring 2011. Deadline for copy is March 30th 2011.

Essays, by prior discussion with the Editor only, send an outline of your ideas marked FAO Bridget Khursheed. Please note that editorial policy values the experimental, fresh and thoughtful in language and form; don't send us an ode to your i-pod. Having said that we love poets who surprise us with their use of traditional form and welcome dialect poems and translations.

Contact for submissions and all other enquiries is poetandgeek at

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Spoken word radio seeks submissions: Radio Wildfire

Another opportunity to get your voice heard online, the UK's Radio Wildfire, a small independent radio station bringing you an eclectic mix of original spoken word, literature, discussion, and writing is on the look out for work from new and up-and-coming poets.

Submission guidelines can be found here...

The next live transmission on Radio Wildfire is on Monday 7th March 20.00 - 22.00 UK time but check out the streaming loop broadcast to get a feel.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Gerard Manley Hopkins tweet poetry 
I caught this morning morning's minion kingdom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon in his riding Of the rolling level underneath

More on the full poem The Windhover at

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Poetry Writing Software - Poet's Pad

Poet's Pad the iPhone and iPad Poem Writing App is coming to Windows. Danté Varnado Moore promises the version will arrive by March 1st 2011 and so at last a chance for the non iPhone poet to give it a try.

Demo of its features can be found here.

We would be delighted to hear from you if you are using this app already.

Monday, 7 February 2011

goblin market tweet 
Morning and evening Maids heard the goblins cry Come buy our orchard fruits Come buy come buy Plump unpecked cherries Swart-headed mulberry


Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti was written in 1859 and published 1862. The book was dedicated To MY MOTHER In all reverence and love I inscribe this book. Listen to Goblin Market:

Christina Rossetti also wrote In the bleak midwinter.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Computer works 01: Diana Syder's String

Diana Syder is a poet and artist and her book String (Smith/Doorstop Books 2007) is still a rare thing. The result of a residency in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Sheffield, funded by an award from the Leverhulme Trust.

Coming from a programming background, we might define string as, a sequence of characters (a data type storing a sequence of data values) and this book contains a poem on Boolean logic. Just the fact of that is enough to delight a programmer! Boole's inspiration is also the poet's

If a great idea is a pin of light
or a highlight placed carefully in the pupil,
it makes of our heads some racing,
slight-rigged thing with sails skin-tight....

and is much more pleasing to think of
than molecules hauling luke-warm cargoes
through plasma in the sticky dark;
noradrenalin, acetylcholine, gamma aminobutyric acid -
even their names are supertankers
that cannot manoeuvre quickly.

Boolean logic Diana Syder

Having spent a lot of time whipping cards in and out of computers, the observational poem Look Inside a Computer is less evocative for me.

But of course this is not the only card up Syder's sleeve, her string is superstring theory - the idea that the smallest entities in the universe are made up of strings (rather than points) which vibrate at resonant frequencies. And to simplify, differently scaled resonance would effect a variety of fundamental forces. This idea would imply the existence of perhaps up to ten dimensions to work theoretically.

These poems inspire a real Donne-like excitement at the world of computing and physics; still recommended. Look forward to pointing out a few more informatic-informed works in the future...

String, Smith/Doorstop Books £7.95 available from: Smith/Doorstop Books, Bank St., Arts, 32-40 Bank St, Sheffield S1 2DS or Amazon etc.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Sound art/poetry: Mark Greenwood performance London February 5th 2011

Mark Greenwood will be performing at [performancespace] on February 5th 2011. For more details go to:

Mark first came to poetandgeek's attention (thank you Cris Cheek!) with the project, Parallel Plymouth.

Working in association with Plymouth Arts Centre, he took a series of walks around Plymouth investigating myths, histories and monuments as well as systems for writing poetry. By dissecting the systems of structuring language and using the rules and influences he applies to his text-based work Greenwood, in collaboration with i-DAT, has created a generative software that "writes" or executes poetry.

The software, Greenwood 2.0, generates new poems, which can be viewed on the large public i-DAT Greenscreen situated on the front of the Portland Square Building, University of Plymouth. The software and the poetry are further influenced by its environment through data feeds from sensors such as movement of people, CO2 levels, online search engines and through its own evolving generative system.

More on the project:

You can still hear some of the results here:

Mark Greenwood's current website

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Ginsberg twitter howl 
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,