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

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Obsession with maps

Maps may be more important to poets than even I thought. And I like maps.

Troubadours were travelling poets who went from court to castle performing their poems often with musical accompaniment. The traditional view associates the troubadour with the Pyranees and southwest France in the 11th century Occitania, but the art may have its roots in the Moorish kingdoms of southern Spain and North Africa. And of course courtly love (their main theme) has something in common with the love poetry of Arab tradition too.

But back to maps. These men and women had to memorise their route as they travelled from wealthy patron to patron in the same way as they memorised their poetry. And it might be considered that better mapping techniques were a positive advantage in the successful promotion of their wares.

A link between maps and poetic form? Oral poetry has long been a repository of genealogy, so why not geography? Maybe our early explorers and cartographers had more in common with the venturing poet than the action man/pensive artist dichotomy would lead us to suppose.

More on troubadours here:

Compass Translation Award-2011 * Russian Poetry in English 3Oth October New York, USA

It is that time of year again when days start to draw in. And what better way to spend them than in a celebration of Russian poetry at the Bowery poetry club ( 308 Bowery (Between Houston and Bleecker) F train to 2nd Ave, 6 to Bleecker New York) from 14:00 - 15:30. There is even a cafe.


The Russian American Cultural Center and the Cardinal Points Journal present poetry, song and translation in memory of Stanley Mitchell (1932-2011) and Oleg Woolf (1954-2011)

First: The results of the First Compass Translation Competition (The Gumilyov Contest) held under the auspices of the Cardinal Points Journal. Second Irina Mashinski, poetry; Oleg Woolf, songs (recordings).

More here

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Alastair Mackie tweet poetry

Beautiful lines of Alastair Mackie (1925-95) who was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Why is he barely in print now? He graduated from Aberdeen University after serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. He then taught English at Stromness Academy, before settling in Anstruther, Fife, where he taught at Waid Academy until his retirement in 1984. Compare Charles Causley... 
I'm richt glad the auld words still come back like migrant swallas black shears o the gloamin

The full poem...

Aiberdeen Street


Ye were hyne awa fae Nuremberg o the flags,
the death-crap o the purges; Il Duce's
black-sarked legions heistin eagles…
Woolie's guns and gairden canes airmed oor wars
focht on your cassies, oor granite battle-field.
Paper planes whitent the gloamin-faa,
earth-bund swallas the scaffies sweepit up.
And quines were bobbin corks aneth the tow brigs
o their skippin ropes. Cairt horses snochert
and the shod wheels girned and dirded.
Here in this play-grun atween the tenements
– sea gulls on the lums – I breathed in Scots.
Years later I howkit up the street's kist
o memories and found amon the mools, deid words,
the affcasts o history, teuch as granite setts,
the foonds o my world.


The navel-tow o the street,
I snippit ye lang syne for war, for college,
for a dominie's day darg…Your skirling lung
is quaiter nou, cloggit up wi metal.
(I mauna cuddle in the wyme o yesterdays.)
The granite tenements stand yet
faur streenger fowk bide nou. Windas like glowerers
gaup still on oor auld hoose,
the granite centenarian o the street.
The place is like a kirk-yaird.
Fae the dowier distances o middle age
aathing's smaaer than it used to be.
My father crines at the het cheek o the ingle,
and oot the winda, a tooer block
rents the air.
            Ower the chippit cassies
the tackety beets o deid louns thinly jow.


Nae McD's 'lang coffin o a street',
mair a village fit-path lined wi setts.
Streets at tap and boddom merked oor frontiers.
We spoke o girds, scuds, quines, bleedy doctors…
I'm richt glad the auld words still come back
like migrant swallas, black shears o the gloamin.
Marx we hadna heard o, only the Marx brithers.
This was oor grunwork, the hard pan o oor lives.
A sma bit street that hirpled doun a brae.
Whitever roads I took since then I
began wi workin fowk in granite tenements.
Aa the lave was superstructure.

More on Mackie here, source of text from Silver: An Aberdeen Anthology, edited by Alan Spence and Hazel Hutchison (Polygon, 2009) . And thanks to Pantufla for the image

Friday, 14 October 2011

Writing angry

This is one of the unwritten rules. Think of Virgil and his two lines of poetry every day. (That statistic has haunted me since I first heard it as a teenager).

They say "don't write angry". You might end up with an emotional mush like the worst kind of journaling - and yes, we have all been there as writers. Particularly the teenage stream of consciousness love poems that just seem to go on and on forever and then you did this and I did that and things never really come to a wonder poor old Virgil seems the enemy of teenagers with his methodical and concise method.

But perhaps we are just confusing anger with speed. Fast writing can lead to lack of form (but at other times it can be liberating).

So if you are a Virgil type poet let go of form and method and see where it gets you. Write when you have a rage inside. My guess is that the flow won't sink your boat. Who knows it might even take you all the way to Australia.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Oxford Rain Drops, Mumbai India 15th October 2011

Oxford Bookstore and Rain Drops E-Magazine proudly presents a poetry, book reading and storytelling event for all age groups. Open mic. Free. Date: Saturday 15th October, 2011 from 4 until 6pm.

Find this event at the Oxford Bookstore, Apeejay House, 3 Dinshaw Vachha road, Churchgate, Mumbai-20, Mumbai, India.

More information here and on Rain Drops E-Magazine which features puzzles and new poetry here and the September edition here

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Web of paths

Somehow or other I find myself in October and still in the wood.

The night is already getting dark early.

There is one inhabited house in the centre of the wood. I am ashamed to say I walk past and round it each night. Those who live there don't know I am there. I don't think I have even disturbed the owl who uses their outhouse as a pre-prandial perch.

I don't spend time there. It is just always on the way. Whether I am going up to the pond by the fir trees, through to my own abandoned nook further up the valley slopes, or stopping by that tree to listen to the leaves and the wind and the rain.

This house is the centre of my map as the nights draw in as it never was in high summer. It is situated in a clearing made by its original forester's need for firewood. Two paddocks, a barn in a centre of a circle and around it paths spiral out through the plantation pines. Bracken. Long grass. At one stage, these paths would have had their own centrifugal pull. Now they are almost cosy in the light of a bit of moon.

A nettle patch suggesting the old midden and its nitrates has wilted in the cold of one or two nights although in general it has stayed warm. I see the old owners passing like I knew them.

These paths seems to hold me like a net. And then push me right out of the wood and back here.

Monday, 3 October 2011

transsub: Lyrische Cover mit Untertitel, 12th October 2011 Berlin, Germany

No text is free from references.

Mittwoch, 12. Oktober 2011, 19:30 Uhr, Eintritt 5,-/ Erm. 3,- Euro. Wednesday 12th October 2011 19.30.  at Lettrétage, Methfesselstraße 23-25, 10965 Berlin, Germany.

An evening of translation between texts and other media work, subtitled - with readings by Katharina Schultens, Tom Bresemann, Richard Duraj, Tobias Roth, Stephan Reich, Jan Skudlarek and others.

More about Lettrétage - das Literaturhaus in Berlin Kreuzberg here: and here More on

Herman Melville tweet poetry

Herman Melville the nineteenth century American author did write poems of which perhaps the best known provided the basis for his posthumous novella Billy Budd sailor; later itself the basis of the Britten opera. This tweet poem however is a found poem from within his first bestselling novel Typee. 

glimpse of one blade of grass for a snuff at fragrance of a handful of loamy earth Is there nothing fresh Is there no green thing to be seen

More on Herman Melville can be found here: And the complete book here:

The complete passage from Chapter 1 of Typee:

Oh! for a refreshing glimpse of one blade of grass—for a snuff at the fragrance of a handful of the loamy earth! Is there nothing fresh around us? Is there no green thing to be seen? Yes, the inside of our bulwarks is painted green; but what a vile and sickly hue it is, as if nothing bearing even the semblance of verdure could flourish this weary way from land. Even the bark that once clung to the wood we use for fuel has been gnawed off and devoured by the captain's pig; and so long ago, too, that the pig himself has in turn been devoured.

[...] for, oh! how I wish to see the living earth again! The old ship herself longs to look out upon the land from her hawse-holes once more, and Jack Lewis said right the other day when the captain found fault with his steering.

'Why d'ye see, Captain Vangs,' says bold Jack, 'I'm as good a helmsman as ever put hand to spoke; but none of us can steer the old lady now. We can't keep her full and bye, sir; watch her ever so close, she will fall off and then, sir, when I put the helm down so gently, and try like to coax her to the work, she won't take it kindly, but will fall round off again; and it's all because she knows the land is under the lee, sir, and she won't go any more to windward.' Aye, and why should she, Jack? didn't every one of her stout timbers grow on shore, and hasn't she sensibilities; as well as we?

Poor old ship! Her very looks denote her desires! how deplorably she appears! The paint on her sides, burnt up by the scorching sun, is puffed out and cracked. See the weeds she trails along with her, and what an unsightly bunch of those horrid barnacles has formed about her stern-piece; and every time she rises on a sea, she shows her copper torn away, or hanging in jagged strips.

Poor old ship! I say again: for six months she has been rolling and pitching about, never for one moment at rest. But courage, old lass, I hope to see thee soon within a biscuit's toss of the merry land, riding snugly at anchor in some green cove, and sheltered from the boisterous winds.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

George Herbert tweet poetry

This poem describes the state of freedom that can be obtained by following rules; in this case, religious ones. Herbert makes such a case for breaking chains though that quotes from the poem often only focus on the absence of the collar rather than its accommodation. 
I will abroad What shall I ever sigh and pine My lines and life are free free as the road Loose as the wind as large as store

Herbert himself was a Welsh poet who lived from April 1593 to March 1633.

The full poem:

The collar

I struck the board, and cried, "No more;
                         I will abroad!
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free, free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
          Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
          Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
    Before my tears did drown it.
      Is the year only lost to me?
          Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
                  All wasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
            And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
             Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
          And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
          Away! take heed;
          I will abroad.
Call in thy death's-head there; tie up thy fears;
          He that forbears
         To suit and serve his need
          Deserves his load."
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
          At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, Child!
          And I replied My Lord.


More on George Herbert here: