Thursday, 28 February 2013

Poems to order

I have a poetry commission. It makes me feel like I am in the army.

Not sure what others do in this situation, I have given a choice of 3.

  1. A dedication (free choice of poem to me although I guess the commissioner will have some preference).
  2. Time in residence plus a poem
  3. Free choice of poem subject to commissioner

Now I am left wandering what they will choose in a 16th century kind of way...and delighted to see that the web is full of people offering their services on this basis in the 21st too.

The feel of Emily Bronte

Not that Emily would have worn this t-shirt.

But I am delighted that it is for sale. The quote comes from Emily's poem of the same name.

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life - that in me hast rest,
As I - Undying Life- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts, unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears

Though Earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every Existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou - Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

A good analysis of the poem is available here and you can buy the t-shirt if you want here

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Nabati poetry anthology

This anthology of Nabati poetry comes from Ithaca Press. And was recently runner-up in the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Book Prize 2012.

The anthology was commended. "The translations work fabulously in English, showing a range of style, technique, sensitivity to the tone and historical context of the original. The work with rhyme schemes is nothing short of astounding!'

We have discussed Nabati poetry before here at Poems emanate from the everyday people of the Arabian peninsula (and are shown on tv) and don't follow strict literary Arabic forms (the Quran is written according to these rules).

Some contend that there is a class element to Nabati poetry: "It is commonly translated as "vernacular, popular", but this may suggest that this type of poetry is the domain of uneducated, "backwards" segments of society, waiting to be eradicated by general progress towards modern standard Arabic. While purists may see it that way, the facts are otherwise."

See here, and here and here for more

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Harvest Moon, Dunedin, NZ 6th March 2013

Dunedin native singer, poet and spoken word performer  Sandra Sarala celebrates hairst (as we call it here in Scots) with words, rhythm and music, gleaned from ritual Russian, Ukrainian and Polish songs.

In the aftermath an opportunity for open mic "guest cameo performances"  and it is free but don't be shy about making a donation. Chance for a bevy too as it is at the Inch Bar, 8 Bank Street, Dunedin from 7pm.

You can can find more here and here

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Lunar pull

Full moon fool that I me there seems to be a special kind of creative force at work.

Tonight the moon just jumped right out of the sky at me through the window. Surprise. The sight made me want to write.

Insomnia, lunacy and werewolves. Science doesn't necessarily bear me out:

"Psychologists, however, have found that there is no strong evidence for effects on human behaviour around the time of a full moon. [] In one instance, the 23 December 2000 issue of the British Medical Journal published two studies on dog bite admission to hospitals in England and Australia. The study of the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites were twice as common during a full moon, whereas the study conducted by the public hospitals in Australia found that they were less likely."

But water, light - a kind of alchemy and transformation - take a look the child's causeway across the Huntlyburn above. Where will the path take you?

Warwick ecopoetics workshop

Sample course material from Warwick University - an enticing navigation through ecopoetics for graduate students in this module.

A sample week's material:

"Sound marks the “true north” of ecopoetics—not the only significant dimension of an environmental poetics, but often a reliable way to get oriented—a Compass Point for thinking, writing, speaking to get their bearings in a more-than-human world. An ecopoetics attends first by listening, whatever be its other vectors of engagement. (“Before it is polluted, the river wants to be heard,” writes Cecilia Vicuña.) Listening can be understood as a stance of participatory receptiveness, as much as an aural faculty (we can “listen” with our eyes or “sound” with science): it is difficult to be responsible to an environment, if we have not first listened in, to find out who is present"

With samples from John Cage, Emily Dickinson, Larry Eigner, Ronald Johnson, Nathaniel Mackey, Lorine Niedecker, Maggie OʼSullivan, R. Murray Schafer.

btw David Morley teachers at Warwick...

Competition news

Still time to enter this but you need to be quick - closing date is the 7th March 2013...the theme is Loss.

Prizes £25, £15 and £10 and the glory judged by Liz Cashdan. Each poem must be accompanied by a separate A4 sheet with entrant's contact details.

Contact: The Competitions Secretary, 34 Wright Street, Newark, Notts NG24 1PJ. More information on the Fosseway writers here

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Like an iPad...

Delighted to find a bit of geek slavering over the latest in mobile technology in the Bronte novels. I have been focussing on Anne Bronte's work - youngest sister of 5 like me, grew up in a clerical household like me and of Irish descent (an Irish father to my Irish mother)...

Anyway to cut to the chase: in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall a book I urge you to read if you have only teen memories of Bronte novel sets as the complete and unabridged version was only released in its entirety in 1992. Yes. 1992. Prior to that the copy in circulation was based on a horribly purged version of one volume published against Charlotte's wishes in 1854...and she didn't like it because of its unsuitable subject matter and wanted it suppressed altogether. Poor Anne. Wildfell was the best-selling of any of the Bronte sisters works and sold out its initial print run. She was left to be remember by the charming but admittedly slight novella Agnes Grey.

Anyway back to the geek stuff and you can skip previous paragraph if that is your whole interest. Gilbert Markham who is fascinated by the said tenant Mrs Graham (who is Not What She Seems) brings her a gift which she insists on paying for until a compromise is reached. It is a copy of Marmion by Walter Scott - a long poem about the original Byronic hero Marmion - why do we call them Byronic btw if Scott invented this type...because Byron had better PR? Marmion is a man who is outwardly charming but is a depraved immoral hedonist so the gift is a wrapped motif for the book's own theme.

black and white drawing of small house of complex design raised above the surrounding buildings on a turntable.

The geekiness of it is the way the book is described and bear in mind that books at this time would have arrived from the bookseller unbound to be covered in your own choice of binding...but this "smart little volume [is] elegant and portable version of Marmion."

Elegant and portable. Such suggestive adjectives. They could come straight from a modern media advertising campaign. In 1848 when the book was published they suggest freedom, movement, travel, independence and of course, the whole idea of such a book is a little bit sexy which is why Mrs G initially refused it.

Oh Anne Bronte - I wish I had met you - you would have got on so well in 2013.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Keep the submissions coming..

A month to go now for our deadline for Issue 6...we have had some excellent work sent in already so you will be in fine and geekly company. Thanks to those of you who have already submitted; please bear with us and we will try and respond to emails as soon as possible after the 30th March 2013.

You can find out more here and read the

More Welsh than you thought

You may know more Welsh than you thought you know...take a look at the days of the week in Welsh and you will notice some uncanny echoes of most Latin based European languages...including English partially.

Monday Dydd Llun

Tuesday Dydd Mawrth

Wednesday Dydd Mercher

Thursday Dydd Iau

Friday Dydd Gwener

Saturday Dydd Sadwrn

Sunday Dydd Sul

All the day names come from a Graeco-Roman root centred on the names of mythological figures so for example Dydd Mercher/Miércoles/Mercredi all come from the Roman god Mercury. The odd thing is that English replaces Mercury with the Norse God Woden for Wednesday...but semantically there is still believed to be a connection.

You can listen to the Welsh days here and learn more about their origins here

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Poetry for Geeks March 15th 2013 Redmond USA

And geeks for poetry. will be there in spirit...

L.A. comes to Redmond as the editor Kelly Davio and writers from The Los Angeles Review join Redmond Poet Laureate Jeannine Hall Gailey to celebrate poetry on the Eastside with Jeremiah O'Hagan, Janet Buttenweiser, Katherine Eulensen and Michael Schmeltzer.

8 p.m at Soul Food Books: complimentary refreshments, grab some coffee, vicarious Los Angeles sun.

We love that logo! More on the event here

Monday, 11 February 2013

Bronte sisters

I am preparing a talk for next week on the Bronte sisters and Scott. Charlotte Bronte: "For fiction, read Walter Scott and only him – all novels after his are without value." You can see I am going to enjoy the preparation and my presentation centres on Scott's influence on their work.

Coming to their work afresh...I wander how many of their modern reviewers can claim to have grown up with five sisters in a Vicarage and have Irish descent. As I can. Having five girls in a house together seems to encourage outsiders to think there must be a kind of madness, a destructive creativity, a Wuthering Heights or Virgin Suicides.

But instead what I think of is strong female role models.

The two elder Bronte girls died young but the women in their sister's books do what they must to survive. Northern girls who speak out.

I look forward to a week or so in their company again.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Statue update

Good news is that Walter Scott's memorial statue in George Square Glasgow will stay - by popular demand. It was due to be removed this month in favour of a new look.

Oddly Scott himself was all in favour of statues, interiors, plaques, fireplaces and doors being moved to begin a new life as part of his house and garden at Abbotsford. He even made a runic tomb for his dog. Inspired no doubt by Lord Buchan, one of his own antiquarian heroes, fake monk graffiti at Dryburgh Abbey here in the Borders.

More on the change of heart can be found here

Friday, 1 February 2013

Brighid's Day

This occurs on the 1st February and represents the beginning of Celtic Spring (imbolc).

Brighid is a busy deity with responsibility for:

"babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle farmers; children whose parents are not married; children whose mothers are mistreated by the children's fathers; Clan Douglas; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; Leinster, mariners; midwives; milk maids; nuns; poets; poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen."

And I would imagine in this day and age also computers. And