Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A job at the Poetry Translation Centre

A rather nice opportunity!

The Poetry Translation Centre – the highly-regarded, Arts Council-funded organisation dedicated to translating contemporary poetry from Africa, Asia and Latin America, is expanding its activity and reach from January, 2015 and has created the new, full-time post of Administrator/Communications Manager to support the Directors in this ongoing development of the organisation. Based in London, England.

You can find out more here http://www.poetrytranslation.org/news/174.

How the touch of the flowers makes one's flesh tingle!

Numb from the holidays? Climb into a tree like John Muir and write...

The hemlock (Tsuga Mertensiana) is the most beautiful conifer I have ever seen; the branches and also the main axis droop in a singularly graceful way, and the dense foliage covers the delicate, sensitive, swaying branchlets all around. It is now in full bloom, and the flowers, together with thousands of last season's cones still clinging to the drooping sprays, display wonderful wealth of color, brown and purple and blue. Gladly I climbed the first tree I found to revel in the midst of it. How the touch of the flowers makes one's flesh tingle! The pistillate are dark, rich purple, and almost translucent, the staminate blue, --a vivid, pure tone of blue like the mountain sky, --the most uncommonly beautiful of all the Sierra tree flowers I have seen. How wonderful that, with all its delicate feminine grace and beauty of form and dress and behavior, this lovely tree up here, exposed to the wildest blasts, has already endured the storms of centuries of winters! 

You can find more of the beautiful illustrations and experiences from John Muir's My first Summer in the Sierra courtesy of the Sierra Club (which Muir founded) here http://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/my_first_summer_in_the_sierra/

Analysis of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach

What better way to bring in the new year than by an interpretation of a poem of doubt and hope via the medium of Venn diagram?*

You can make up your own mind below.

Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold
*Our interpretation isn't so far-fetched btw as Arnold is likely to have worked on this poem while on honeymoon in Dover in 1851. Although it was started two years earlier!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Adélia Prado new book in English

A very nice holiday surprise is that Bloodaxe Books have collected 2 volumes of Adélia Prado's work as The Mystical Rose. This is available now and would make a very nice belated gift.

I like this quote: ‘Brazil has produced what might seem impossible: a really sexy, mystical, Catholic poet’ — Robert Hass. Although not that surprising to my mind...

And she and her translator Ellen Doré Watson read in Newcastle but that is another story!

You can find out more here http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/titlepage.asp?isbn=178037240X.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Reviewing submissions for Issue 9 poetandgeek

The p&g team are in the middle of sifting through right now.

In the middle of a snow storm.

So that should keep us on task. Plus we are thinking warm thoughts.

Great submissions and we will be in touch with everyone later this week.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Indulge yourself with Scottish Poetry Library cool list

It is coming up to holiday time and if you haven't got anything for yourself yet, there is the coolest list of 10 Contemporary Scottish Poets You Need to Read that has taken my fancy over at the Scottish Poetry Library...

Safe to say I have been having a bit of a splurge and shall be reporting back - apart from Natural mechanical which is stuck in the post somewhere.

But why wait for me - check it out for yourself here http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/reading/book-lists/10-contemporary-scottish-poets-you-need-to-read

The squirrels are dead by Miriam Gamble

Having a wonderful trawl through a list of contemporary poets and this collection by Miriam Gamble just stood out. Not only for the title but the way the poems imagine the fantastic in the every day.

A sleeper is described (in her poem Interface)...

                                                       Your breath gutters

like a stuck pig's , your eyelid leaks an underwater tear.
There is havoc at the gallery you say, taking
my wrist. And Plato's on the river bed. Then you roll over
                                                       without so much as a 'Help me'.

Another poem imagines a journey to make a call on The Confidential telephone - this act becomes more and more impossible as the poem describes it happening - a nicely-judged paradox that also chills in the manner of some of Peter Bennet's darker moments.

And that is without even mentioning the squirrels.

Miriam Gamble now lives in Glasgow. Lucky Glasgow! You can get hold of the book from Bloodaxe here http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/titlepage.asp?isbn=1852248688

A bit of Byssus

Not sure why it has taken me so long to read Jen Hadfield's Byssus but wow it was worth the wait...I love the language, the clear emotion and the versatile form - including lots of wonderful prose poetry.

This is the Shetland-based poet's third collection and you can see it being recommended all over the place. And no wonder. Not just for Christmas! You can find it here http://www.picador.com/books/byssus

When spring comes it's all too bright and spiteful: blinding sky, blinding sea, daffodil shaws and laverick song. So I shut my eyes and spoot out my neck and hoop it like a swan and arch it for the blinding, bright-white sun to bite and smile the 'sex-starved smile'.