Tuesday, 31 May 2011

What is a makar?

A makar is a term from Scottish literature for a poet or bard, often historically associated with a royal court.

File:The Bard.jpg

Most recently the term has been variously and geographically awarded to Magi Gibson, Valerie Gillies, Edwin Morgan, Stewart Conn, Liz Lochhead, Ron Butlin and Sheena Blackhall.

Its meaning is similar to the Greek term ποιητής (poiētēs): both poet and maker. And it implies a poet who knows how to create or craft tautly weighted, often formal poetry with intricate or involved diction, word play and rhythms. Sounds delightfully geeky to me.

It is usually applied to poets writing in Scots but not always. William Dunbar for instance referred to the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, as a makar.

If you know an overlooked makar, please let us know...

Sheena Blackhall's Wittins

If you have never imagined what might happen when 38 poets sailed across Loch Katrine once home to Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake and now "the City of Glasgow's water supply", don't worry Sheena Blackhall has.

In 2009 Sheena Blackhall was appointed the first Makar for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Sheena Blackhall

Sheena Blackhall is a Nor' Aest scriever, illustrator, tradeetional ballant sangster an shenachie or, you might say, a poet, novelist, short story writer, illustrator, traditional story teller and singer. Author of 76 poetry pamphlets, and many other works, she co-edits the Doric resource Elphinstone Kist, and works to promote writing in Doric, Scots culture and language in the North East.

Try Wittins; A Selection of poems by Sheena Blackhall published by diehard publishers, 91-93 Main Street Callander Scotland FK17 8BQ ISBN 978-0946230-82-2 , September 201 compiled with an introduction by Sally Evans, editor of Poetry Scotland, and a foreword by Joy Hendry, editor of Chapman Magazine.

diehard poetry is a series of books published at Kings Bookshop Callander (formerly Old Grindles Bookshop, Edinburgh); contact via http://www.desktopsallye.com/. Wittins was launched at the Callander Poetry Weekend, one of the revolutionary diehard metallic bindings series. These are sewn opening flat, Trip-to-Jerusalem style bookbinding and, cheekily, a nod to the e-reader in a metallic finish.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Poetry Trust's poetry channel

Some great treats here amongst the archived podcasts of the poetry channel: John Glenday on Grain, Imtiaz Dharker on swear words and lullabies, Seamus Heaney, Lars Gustafsson...

The Poetry Trust (which runs it) describes itself as one of the UK’s flagship poetry organisations, it runs the popular Aldeburgh Poetry festival ( 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 4 - 6 November 2011) but still missed out on UK Arts Council funding. So catch it while you can...

For the poetry channel archive go here: http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/poetry-channel/archive/
For the Poetry Trust and its many offerings http://www.thepoetrytrust.org/

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Gawain poet tweet poetry

Gawain and the Green Knight is written by an anonymous poet but it maintains an attitude and dialect that ties it to Lancashire in England at a time when the region supported a ducal court. It is supposed that the poem was written for its discerning aristocracy but the jokes - that even God won't go into the Wirral, for example - can raise a smile even today.


The language is difficult but worth prising apart. And the poet uses the very grammar to come to his assistance,  intricate complicated clausal sentences for example when Gawain is trying to avoid the Lady's advances. Middle English is in some ways like a computer program that you love to hate - but oh how much you learn and what things you can do when you understand it.

I have slightly adapted the above to fit the tweet but it comes from the end of Gawain's journey when he hears the axe with which he is about to be beheaded being sharpened by the Green Knight. It is an eerie passage.

In full, it runs as follows:

þene herde he of þat hy3e hil in a harde roche
        2200bi3onde þe broke in a bonk a wonder breme noyse
        2201quat hit clatered in þe clyff as hit cleue schulde
        2202as one vpon a gryndelston hade grounden a syþe
        2203what hit wharred and whette as water at a mulne
        2204what hit rusched and ronge rawþe to here.
        2205þenne bi godde quoþ gawayn þat here at I trowe
        2206is ryched at þe reuerence me renk to mete

Gawain thinks he is about to die:

A very strange noise came from the rock in the high hill over the burn clattering against the cliff like it might break them apart, like a scythe on a grindstone whetting, and it whirred like water through the mill wheel, rushed and rung and evil to hear. 'My God,' said Gawain, 'that mortal is getting the gear ready that will kill me when we meet.

Front Cover

If you get the chance to go to Danebridge in the Peak District, you can find your own way to the Green Chapel. I would recommend it. Who knows what you will find there...

More on Gawain here: http://books.google.com/books?id=utiWYyWMEl4C.

Once you start reading this poem, you may find you never stop.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Poets from more than a third of the world's countries visit poetandgeek.com

Australia Tunisia Sweden United States Brazil Bangladesh Spain Singapore Russia Canada France China Mauritius United Kingdom Iran Mexico Austria Malaysia Belarus Netherlands Suriname Serbia Turkey Cambodia Ireland Denmark South Africa Belgium South Korea Ukraine India Italy Yemen Isle of Man Philippines Czech Republic Finland Germany Uzbekistan Indonesia Greece...

And counting! If you are from a country not mentioned on the list, tell us what you want to see here - we look forward to welcoming you.

Friday, 20 May 2011

5e Cabaret Noches de poesia au MTL Fringe Juin 2011

This event takes place on 11th June until 19th June 2011. Featured artists include: Baruch Porras-Hernandez (SanFran), Andre Prefontaine (Calgary), Tara Dawn (Saskatoon), Josée Thibeault (Edmonton) et Steve Miller (Vancouver), Miss D-Na Smith (Montréal), Fabrice Koffy (Montréal), Duccha/Duckens Charitable (Montréal) et Éliz Robert (Montréal).

***La super star du Nuyorican Poets Cafe et du Def Poetry Jam : REGIE CABICO sera également des nôtres pour quelques soirées! The Lady Gaga OF poetry in MONTRÉAL!***

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Marianne Moore Tweet Poetry

Syllabic poetry is the very opposite of Pussy in a Well. This is from The Paper Nautilus published in 1919.


Moore was an American poet who lived from 1887 until 1972. She worked within the framework of American Modernism with great wit but also explored the French syllabic tradition. She didn't shy away from straight-talking and thinking (as Sylvia Plath discovered when she sent her some poems).

Photograph by George Platt Lynes (1935)

More on syllabic verse traditions and its English language exponents here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllabic_verse.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cees Nooteboom's Perth angel tour

I find myself returning to Cees Nooteboom - the Dutch writer and poet - and his book Lost Paradise. It is an evocative read with one character encountering another as she plays an angel on a tour of Perth in Western Australia. The angel is unresponsive and cannot speak but the geography of Perth is accurate. My father was born in Perth and it captures for me the impossibility of ever getting to know his city. Only the beautiful interface between a city known well and then abandoned along with a whole country. As Jennifer Vanderbes said in her review of The Washington Post, 'Nooteboom is a novelist of big themes, but he is never heavy-handed. He embeds philosophical musings in observations of the commonplace, so that his ideas sneak up on you, appearing unexpectedly, breathtakingly, like angels hidden in abandoned cupboards.’ –

Paradijs verloren

Nooteboom's travel books are also well worth a look; he wrote one of the best accounts I have read of travelling through Spain. The alluringly named (for me a one-time inhabitant of Galicia) De omweg naar Santiago 1992 (published in English as the Roads to Santiago. Harcourt Brace, 1997) I am also tempted by his stint on a freighter to Suriname in 1957; all to get to Fanny Lichtveld who became his first wife as a result. No wonder. Some of his experiences are recounted in the book De verliefde gevangene (1958). 

More on Nooteboom and his travels here http://www.ceesnooteboom.com/

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Online poetry magazine Jacket is Jacket2

The online poetry magazine Jacket has a new home at the University of Pennsylvania, USA and is now reborn as Jacket2. Jacket itself was for many years one of the definitive online magazines. It was first published in 1997 by Australian poet and publisher John Tranter who continued as its editor throughout. At the time, Peter Forbes writing in the Guardian (UK) called it “the prince of online poetry magazines.” Its ethos, along with a small group of others, helped form a magazine web standard. The new issue was filled up bit by bit while past issues remained online. (Folks, this was new stuff back then). Most of the material was original to the magazine and commissioned, "but some .. excerpted [nice word] from or co-produced with hard-to-get books and magazines, partly to help them find new readers".

Still an interesting modus operandi I feel...

Jacket2 looks pretty good too and we hope it keeps something of its Australian sensibility, rigour and independence: try this on new Brazilian poets for example at http://jacket2.org/feature/new-brazilian-poets

Jacket2 is here: http://jacket2.org/.

John Tranter's website is here: http://johntranter.com/00/index.html.

And finally that Peter Forbes' article from 2002 is still hanging around here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2002/jun/06/internet.poetry.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Scarlet Fever: Marina Tsvetaeva - Henry Parland 19th May at Russian bookstore, NY, USA

Henry Parland, the Swedish poet and novelist of Russian-Scottish ( Family Parland, originally McFarlaine, considered to have originated from Scotland)-Baltic descent who became one of the founders of modernism in the 1920s Finland. He never set foot in Sweden and never fully mastered the language in which he wrote. Parland died in Vilnus in 1930, at the age of only 22. Parland’s biography is strangely intertwined with the tragic life of one of the greatest Russian poets of the century, her family, and her circle.

Irina Mashinski is a bilingual poet and translator, the author of seven books of poetry in English. Free admission 19 May · 19:00 - 20:00 at Russian Bookstore No.21, 174-176 Fifth Avenue (23&22 Str), Manhattan. Presented by Russian-American Cultural Center and Cardinal Points Journal.

Learn more about Parland's book Reduction (if printing Veloxpapper) , often simply called decomposition published in 1932. I am now longing to read this as the following description reminds me of Joyce, Woolf and Tarantino. Henry and his jealous and drama of love with Ami is the book's main subject which begins with Henry deciding to write a novel about the deceased Ami. The book differs from earlier romantic love stories, Ami and Henry drawn together by chance and Henry "have the most boring of the Amis society". I like this; it is translated by google from Swedish but I think you get what it means. They communicate with gestures, clothes, travelling by car and dining. I would like to compare it Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence; in fact I would like Orhan Pamuk to compare it for me.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Where is the Ai Qing Museum?

Ai Qing 艾青 is a Chinese poet and the father of Ai Weiwei 艾未未. Both Ai Qing's museum and Ai Weiwei have gone missing: perhaps in the same place?

Take a look at wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ai_Qing.Scroll down to the other resources and there is a reference to the Ai Qing museum. It is a Chinese site but it has disappeared.

For poets, absence and the space it creates is a powerful force. Those in authority who know why the museum and Ai Weiwei have disappeared would do well to consider that their silence speaks loudly. Their nature and practice is being screamed all around the world by silence.

I would like to go to China and walk with Ai Weiwei in his father's museum. Speak up in the silence if you feel the same.

ai weiwei

Photo: Dan Chung from the Guardian (Dan, I have borrowed this photo but please let me know if you want me to use another.)

More on Ai Qing here: http://french.people.com.cn/french/200401/29/fra20040129_65100.html and on Ai Weiwei's disappearance http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/may/09/ai-weiwei-arrest-protest-exhibition.

Monday, 9 May 2011

3D poetry

Sound artists have introduced us to the idea of sound, phrases or words picked up using, for example, sensors or mics that are randomly triggered and then use an algorithm to form  an original output; one that very often can be repeated with endless variations.

But how about an actual 3D poetic form that stores variations in a designed way; it would have something in common with existing forms like the ghazal, villanelle or pantoum but perhaps more like a 3D chess board stretching up using an appropriate array to store the information.  Perhaps holding a collection of elements that are selected by indices computed at run-time. Grandmasters can hold all the moves in their heads so why can't poets? Folk musician and ballad singers come to mind with their knowledge of lengthy ballads and pieces with the intricate riffs and improvisations that might be used in a performance.

I think poets sell themselves short as to what we can actually manage.

So here goes, a three line stanza but each line can segue into a separate poem; imagine that times three. I feel inspired by the classical poets and  the Romantics who wrote their work on bark and trees (or at least wrote about doing so!); imagine leaves with a line or a word; and now imagine them floating down from the sky...each trajectory making a separate poem.

A job for the summer...

All fun but none of them much to do with the content of this post.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Shore Poets Edinburgh, Scotland May 29th 2011

Poetry from Paul Batchelor plus Christine De Luca and Bridget Khursheed (editor of poetandgeek.com) with music from The Whole Shebang 7.45 pm to 10.15 (approx) at The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh College of Art.

Bar open from 7.00 pm. Admission £4 / concessions £3.

lighthouse logo

More on this event and Shore Poets, Scotland's leading platform for live poetry, can be found here:http://www.marcabru.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Zora Cross tweet poetry

Zora Cross was an Australian poet, writer and journalist  (May 1890 – January 1964). She was born in Brisbane of Irish descent, and known for her poems and independent private life scandalous by the standards of her time. She wrote about sex, war and childbirth.

This is an extract from Love Sonnet 54 (although Zora uses Roman numerals)


Dearest it seems my very wants would prove I am yourself dreaming we measure two And lack myself that which yourself supplies