Thursday, 27 February 2014

Imminently Stanza

Stanza is Scotland's Internation Poetry Festival. It takes place in St Andrews.



This year proceedings start next week on the 5th March and continue until the end of the weekend on the 9th March 2014.

The headline poets are Paul Muldoon, Sujata Bhatt, John Burnside, Tishani Doshi, Carol Ann Duffy, Menna Elfyn, David Constantine, Ron Silliman, Brian Turner, and Louis de Bernières. It is one of those festivals (and one of those towns) where you will meet pretty much every Scottish poet you ever heard of and those from further afield, and quite possibly have a drink or listen to some music with them too by the end of it.

The Border Crossings strand is of particular interest where poets from different countries writing in different languages share a platform. Readings are in the poets’ native tongues and English translation. Ones to watch: Jenny Lewis and Maggie Rabatski on 6th March at 2.15-3.15pm at The Town Hall, Queens Gardens (Supper Room) and Menna Elfyn, Tomica Bajsić, superstar Arjen Duinker and Marco Fazzini  at the Byre Theatre, Abbey Street (Studio Theatre) discussing the how and why of poetry translation on 9th March from 10.00 until 11.00am. Both events are ticketed.

More details here http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2014/information.php




Sunday, 23 February 2014

Blog tour signpost: Andrew McCallum

And one more signpost from p&g to a blog we like a lot:



Andrew McCallum was born in Wellhead Farm Cottage, just outside Cleghorn, brought up in Carnwath, far frae his hame did wander on reaching his majority, and – after an absence of 25 years – bides back in Biggar, where he can see from his bedroom window, in a cleuch of the Hartree Hills, the farm cottage under the roof-tree of which his mother was born; a circumstance from which, being fond of circles and the completion thereof, he derives great satisfaction. He scribbles poetry, which has been reluctantly and against his better judgement published in twa-three magazines and a wheen o anthologies in Britain and America.

He is currently Secretary of Biggar Museum Trust’s Brownsbank Committee, which sponsors the Brownsbank Writing Fellowship, and convenor of Biggar Writers’ Group. His chapbooks and pamphlets includes Poems Scots and Inglis (2007); ony sma’er thocht (2008); fieldpath and forest trail (2009); Fifty Biggar Little Poems (2011); Angina Pectoris (2012); pièces d’occasion (2013); Tam o Shanter: a post-MacDiarmidean Tale (2013)

You can find his blog enchevêtrements here http://andramccallum2013.wordpress.com/

Blog tour signpost: Dorothy Bruce

And another signpost to an award-winning blog we enjoy.



Dorothy Bruce has been involved with an annual walking and arts festival, destination development, the restoration of a Victorian pier, and wrote a book on Alexander Reid, Vincent van Gogh's Scottish sitter. She seeks to capture her world in words and photographs, an expert at neither, a striver at both. (She says! although she has been featured on Freshly Pressed.) Her novel In the Wake of the Coup will shortly be available as an illustrated, interactive iBook.

Discover more here www.jingsandthings.wordpress.com

Blog tour signpost: Elizabeth Rimmer

Now the blog tour has brought you to p&g and you have explored a little. Here is another blog you may enjoy as your next destination:



Elizabeth Rimmer was born and educated in Liverpool and moved to Scotland in 1977, where she lives beside the river Forth. Poet, gardener, river-watcher, and grandmother, her roots are Catholic, radical, feminist and green. She is inspired by weather, landscape and tradition, the work of craftsmen, gardeners, foresters and musicians, and writes about language, legends and heritage. Her first full collection Wherever We Live Now was published in 2011 by Red Squirrel Press.

Her poems have been widely published in magazines such as Poetry Scotland, Northwords Now, Gutter, Stravaig, Eildon Tree and Dark Mountain. More recently her poetry has reflected a growing interest in the philosophy, psychology and spirituality of ecological movements, and she is particularly interested in the mythology of women in connection to the earth and to nature. She is an active member of The Scottish Centre for Geo-Poetics and helps to edit its on-line magazine Stravaig.

Her blog The gleam of light on water can be found here http://burnedthumb.co.uk/blog/.

Blog tour: you are here

Welcome to p&g - if you are on the blog tour, take a walk round and see what the weather is like...if not, just do what you normally do!



Thanks to Jules Horne for giving directions to here. She has asked some questions which I will attempt to answer. (Don't normally do this stuff - click on a few topics on your right to get a feel for our everyday p&g.)

1) What am I working on?
Well, too many different things probably - my own collection, the Fragments project (http://fragmentsinwords.tumblr.com/), a longer poem on commuting, Bimblebox 153 birds (http://bimbleboxartproject.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/bimblebox-153-birds/), constantly distracted by vintage petrol pumps, disused buildings, Elizabeth Bishop, old roads, shepherds, Victorian engineering, taxidermy, lichen, John Leyden, renaissance gardens, elegant code etc.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Good question - in fact like all poets I respect what went before and try to learn from it. I have been working on a verse form based on William Shakespeare's satiric use of a courtly style of speech in Much ado about nothing (based on John Lyly's Euphues the anatomy of wit, a speech style hailed at court as the new English). This involves for me balancing opposites like black and white, harmony by mentioning each seasons, or times of day, and adding whatever else I feel like to a poem structurally - preferably so the reader is unconscious of it - unless they look closely - in which case they can share the joke. Above all, I value a human response to poetry. Nothing is set in stone.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I used to write and put on plays at school (crocodiles, nightclub singers...) and always thought I would be a novelist. But poems scare me. They are the most ancient form of all. And also the most up-to-date. Generations use poems to remember history, laws and family history from ancient manuscripts to birthday cards. They have no boundaries.

4) How does your writing process work?
Walking round in circles helps. Outside. Usually. Or driving the car places. Then sit somewhere and write stuff down. Edit it later. And again. But sometimes it all happens quickly. And that's cool too.

Next stops on the tour (and more on these 3 shortly) Elizabeth Rimmer here http://burnedthumbblog.blogspot.co.uk/, Andrew McCallum here http://andramccallum2013.wordpress.com/, Dorothy Bruce here http://jingsandthings.wordpress.com/ and back to Jules Horne here http://juleshorne.wordpress.com/

And if that isn't enough for you try Jane Aldous' Jane's Writing Shed http://kitchenpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Flood poetry

Take a look over on the prose and poetry webzine Ink Sweat and Tears for a poem of rain and commuting inspired by the A68 - a grand road bordered by hares and lapwings in season - but could be just about anywhere in the UK right now especially the southern half and contributed by p&g editor Bridget Khursheed.



Poet and artist Helen Ivory now runs Ink Sweat and Tears which has a long history for an online zine - founded by Salt author Charles Christian in 2007 as a platform for new poetry and short prose and experimental work in digital media.  IS&T reviews poetry, prose, prose-poetry, word & image pieces and everything in between.  Their tastes are eclectic and magpie-like [good] and they usually publish something new every day [better still].

Find Commute here http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?p=6356 and more about how to submit your own work to Ink Sweat and Tears here http://www.inksweatandtears.co.uk/pages/?page_id=23.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Blog tour welcome

p&g is taking part in a blog tour.

An exploration or (if that sounds too energetic) a stravaig through blogs interconnected by friendship, shared interests, common themes - and no doubt some professional rivalry too in some cases!



My wayfaring buddy is Jules Horne prize winning playwright and an extraordinary advocate and mentor at the Creative Arts Business Network of the Scottish Borders (I will tell you more about what they do another time - it would make a good model of practice).

p&g will be signposting you to some more blogs that we think you'll like next week.

You can find Jules' elegantly named Melodious Plotting blog here with a real journey to Estonia http://juleshorne.wordpress.com/ and more about CABN here http://cabn.info/

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The latest from the writing Fragments

The writing Fragments project is coming to a conclusion - ready for the final event at Melrose Abbey on 5th April 2014.

We poets have scoured the medieval mind and body for inspiration.



If you check back over the next weeks you can view new work from participating writers: Mary Smith, Sandy Watson, Vivien Jones, Anita John, Dorothy Alexander, John McEwen, Yvonne Crossley, Molly Watson, Eve Polly and Bridget Khursheed.

Find out what is going on here http://fragmentsinwords.tumblr.com/

Monday, 10 February 2014

Geek Pride 2014

Seeing as our clientele have an interest in this - cite most popular posts to your right most days....here is the Facebook page cataloguing everything that is going down for Geek Day this year.



e.g.this event last year in Croton-On-Hudson in the United States-  a place with a name that surely any geek would want to visit - featured entertainment & activities including which can serve as a blueprint for organising your own event:


  • DJ music & karaoke
  • Zombie Tag (epic - I thought this only existed in Scotland)
  • Scavenger Hunt with Geocaching
  • Board Gaming Tables
  • The Cosplay Catwalk (open to all cosplayers*)
  • Raffles for PRIZES - TWO 3-DAY PASSES to NY COMIC CON & more!
  • Special Edition Geek Pride Day Trivia Contests
  • Giant JENGA
  • A Geek Swap Table (oh the mind boggles - did they swap actual geeks? or just geeky things?)
  • Food for the Masses
  • ...and general geekery for all ages!

Add your event with pride at https://www.facebook.com/GeekPrideDay.

Bare Hands Poetry Issue 19

The rather beautiful issue 19 of Bare Hands Poetry is out now. (and a big shout from p&g)



Bare Hands is an online monthly international journal of contemporary poetry and photography. They publish ten poems and five photographs every month for free.

They are looking for stuff for Issue 20 and you can contact them here http://barehandspoetry.tumblr.com/post/10993445898.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Need a review?

p&g review books. Send them to us at the usual address.

  • We promise to be kind and intelligent. That's fair.
  • We cannot promise a quick turnaround. But your work won't be overlooked.
  • We have a worldwide readership.
  • Please indicate any unusual quoting agreements at the outset.




That's all.

Review: in 100 words or less James Wood

James Wood has sent p&g his book of poems to review. It was published last year by Olympia Publishers and costs £5.99.

The premise is one that we like: each poem takes a subject from the complex to the inane and explains it in 100 words or less.


Sometimes this works very well: in the poem ...Explain how modern ideas of exponential expansion impact 19th century romantic ideals

Further up the road, Blake's Jerusalem.
a beauteous Eden, is dissected
by the A327. A detached
incision; a vivisection through all
capability's wonders.

Here the exam question title is pulled apart in a humorous style; the throwaway allusions to Blake and Capability (Brown) enhance the mannered student approach in sharp contrast to the simplicity of Further up the road. For a small poem there are an awful lot of cutting words though and I am not sure the text is strong enough to stand up to this level of Sebastianism.

In the poem The balloon Wood talks about the difficulty of pinning down his inspiration:

No one wants to be the fool at the fountain
letting the nectar pass his hands...[]
all I could put down was this...

Wood's poems are full of playful ideas and perhaps the 100 words concept does not contain them within a strong enough context in the end. You get the feeling - a little more rigour, a little more editing (there are some typos) and perhaps focus on the most successful poems to make a shorter collection would have enhanced the end result.

But James Wood's best moments at the more experimental end of his work are wry and thoughtful and the collection as a whole an entertaining read.

*Buy thesaurus. Internet keeps crashing.

You can find more about the collection and purchase it here http://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Words-Less-James-Wood/dp/1848973365.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Beautiful books 06

Today the gorgeously named fat like the sun by Anna Swir (Świrszczyńska) a Polish poet (1909–1984) whose poems are shaped by Second World War experiences, female flesh and experience, sex and motherhood. Direct language and beautiful unsettling thoughts.



This Women's Press cover from 1986 is a delight - although my copy bought in Lyme Regis in the wake of the French Lieutenant's Woman is scuffed - and the poems are better. (And is the sun wearing glasses? I only just noticed that...)

In a meadow

One white daisy
and my two closed eyes
These shield us from the world.

(translation by Grazyna Baran and Margaret Marshment and Jola Scicinska did the fantastic cover design.)

More on Swir here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_%C5%9Awirszczy%C5%84ska.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Locust and Marlin launch

Not one but two chances to attend the launch of JL William's new book Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014) : with support from poet Alasdair Paterson.

Locust and Marlin considers how "we tell our stories and locate the places where we live and love. ... In a world whose boundaries and pathways are increasingly difficult to define, how do we find our way home?"

Locust and Marlin

The events take place in these venues at these times:

  • London Tuesday, 18 February. at the Swedenborg Hall  from 7.30 p.m
  • Edinburgh Thursday, 20 March 2014 at the Saltire Society from 7:00 p.m.

You can find more on the events here https://www.facebook.com/events/535778949853555/ and here https://www.facebook.com/events/690310301019811/ and on JL Williams here  ww.jlwilliamspoetry.co.uk.


“The star of the evening was JL Williams, with a pitch-perfect delivery that had the audience hanging on every dreamy word.  Her poems were beautiful and mythic, conjuring evocative imagery that filled the room with magic.” Ever Dundas

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Drum Beats, Hawick, Scoland 2nd February 2014

A relaxing afternoon of live poetry at the fabled Damascus Drum. A fine cafe with great cake and books you can buy or browse too. Poetry line up includes Julian Colton, Suzanne Smithies, Thomas Clark, Arthur Parsons, Rahmani Christopher Ryan and more.



Entry is FREE. And the afternoon runs from 4pm until 6pm.

More information is available here https://www.facebook.com/events/725435857469059/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming&source=1 and here http://www.damascusdrum.co.uk/.