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Beyond Imitation – Corrupted Poetry at the Southbank Centre – 4th December

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What is poetry’s relationship with art? Find out at this discussion featuring readings by guest poets.

A book of poetry is visual art, a gallery of voices, not merely descriptor or commentator. National Poetry Library and Corrupted Poetry bring you Beyond Imitation to examine poetry’s relationship with art.

Corrupted Poetry’s ‘gallery of voices’ includes guest speakers and poets Tamar Yoseloff, Claire Collison, Abegail Morley and Kathryn Maris, who read their work.

poetr

They explore themes such as the visual landscape of the poem, how the poet brings the artist to life, the daily practice of the artist-poet and what ekphrastic poetry does that other forms do not.

“Corrupted Poetry is a state of mind”. Corrupted Poetry Events is managed by a collective of like-minded writers – Nic Stringer, Michelle Penn and Fiona Larkin who create readings and collaborations that focus on the best writers of contemporary and experimental poetry and present their work in a way that provokes debate about the poem’s visual and sonic spaces.

To book this event go HERE

 

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autumn plight by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

autumn plight

yesterday I realised
there’s to be no compromise
leave or swallow your lies
be alone in limbo mourning
or be conjoined locked in hell
smothered by confusion
in your gas-lit rooms
last night-time’s winter moon
[docked amongst The Leonids]
saw my defences felled by lust
midst warmth and comfort
entered
once more
now morning’s glaze ices panes
tears drip and chill my heartbeat stalls
on grass paths alongside
glass-blown dew
as barefoot I creep away
before beguiled/felt-slippered
I am doomed to stay

.

Ceinwen writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], a Stickleback by Hedgehog Press. She was a winner in the Nicely Folded Paper Pamphlet Competition July 2019 and her first pamphlet is due to be published 2019/20. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, UK (2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts.
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Hallowe’en Cat by Jane Lovell

Hallowe’en Cat

Twelve moons
since the blackslam collision
of stars and tarmac,
the bloodbang in her tiny head,
breath creeping out and away
from the streetlight blare

we still expect
her raven howl on the stair,
her softpaw tread across pillows,
a gentle weight settling between us
like snow.

October ends, cloudless and cold.
Across a deepening sky she stretches,
the tip of each claw embedded
and gleaming.

She shimmers in snailscript,
the lucent geometry of spiders,
timmering leaftip dew.

The curve of her back amazes my hand:
she defines the space that is below her,
that is no longer tangible;
a place of black light,
the hallowed sky.

She is still here.

Her image ghosts the night
like unexpected frost.

She is the intake of breath when
headlights slice shadows,
when the world stops

and something running
catches your eye.

.
Jane Lovell won the Flambard Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted for several awards including the Basil Bunting Prize, the Robert Graves Prize and Periplum Book Award. She has been published by Against the Grain Press, Night River Wood, and Coast to Coast to Coast. Her latest collection This Tilting Earth is published by Seren. Jane also writes for Elementum Journal and Dark Mountain. She is currently Writer-in-Residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and runs the Mid Kent Stanza group for the Poetry Society.

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Pippin by Phil Wood

Pippin

Unbuttoning her coat beyond the blush
of russet red. She shivers in whispers:
the seeded core browning in frosted light.

.

Phil Wood was born in Wales. He has previously worked in Education, Shipping, and a biscuit factory. He enjoys painting in watercolours. Most of all he enjoys the seaside.

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The Belfast Agreement and Brexit 28th October 2019

As we approach yet another Brexit deadline, the Irish Literary Society has banded-together with the Irish Pages journal to reflect on the Belfast Agreement of 1998 and to consider possible futures for the union, Anglo-Irish relations, power sharing and the border. The current special issue of Irish Pages is given over to reflections on the agreement.

Poets Chris Agee, Jean Bleakney and Moya Cannon join Professor Ronan McCrea and Sir Richard Needham to discuss.

The UK’s future in the EU remains uncertain, the referendum result and ongoing political turmoil leaves the country in a febrile atmosphere. Before some definitive point is reached, this selection of voices (political, poetic, academic) will consider the probity of past choices, the problems caused by the current vacuum and what comes next. The event will be followed by a sale and signing of the Irish Pages journal.

Further details HERE

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Where Light Falls – St Paul’s Cathedral

Thursday 24 October, 6.30-10pm
Friday 25 October, 6.30-10pm
Saturday 26 October, 6.30-10pm
Sunday 27 October, 8-10pm

The event is free.

Register now

Using St Paul’s iconic façade as a canvas, leading creatives Double Take Projections will project powerful poetry, visuals and photography to tell the fascinating story of the St Paul’s Watch, volunteers who risked their lives to protect the cathedral during the Blitz.

As most people took refuge in tube stations and air raid shelters across London, bombs rained down over St Paul’s and the volunteers patrolled the cathedral. Armed with sandbags and water pumps, they were ready to put out flames at any moment. Their bravery ensured the survival of a masterpiece that became a symbol of resilience.

Part of Fantastic Feats: the building of London, the City of London’s six-month cultural events season.

Light projection onto St Paul's Cathedral

New poetry

Historic England commissioned two new works for Where Light Falls, facilitated by The Poetry Society and in collaboration with community groups.

Poets Keith Jarrett and Jane Commane worked with local school children, older writers, refugees and migrants with lived experience of conflict, inviting them to respond to contemporary photographs and accounts of the Blitz, and the heroic efforts of many individuals who fought to keep buildings from destruction, in workshops led by the poets. Their thoughts and creative responses steered the poets’ approach to the commission and fed into their finished work.

A man in a hat gesticulates to a woman sat beside him at a table. The woman rests her chin on her left hand and holds a pencil in her right. Around the table are two other women. Papers, pens, mugs and cups strew the table. Behind them is a window and a bookcase.
Poet Keith Jarrett at the Exiled Writers Ink workshop © Historic England

Keith Jarrett’s From the Log Book will be projected at St Paul’s, and Jane Commane’s In A New Light will be seen at Coventry Cathedral. Their words will be brought to life through cutting-edge projections, incorporating innovative graphics and archive photography in Double Take Projections’ unique style.

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Denise Bundred – Two Poems

Anatomy Theatre
………………..And She had a Heart! – E. Simonet
………………………………………..oil on canvas 1890 *

Simonet asked to observe my autopsy. I refused.
I know he painted her. Perhaps
more than just her face.

Internally, there’s a different intimacy.

Dark nipples suggest what I now fear to find.

No bruising on her neck or arms.

…………………………Down her back
livid stains show how she lay after death.

I am anxious to explore her heart.
It repeats its cadence in my ears.

I trace a line from throat to diaphragm,

………divide breast bone, splay ribs,

………………………….reflect pleura and retract lungs.

Their sponginess is lost in a congestion of blood.

I dissect veins and arteries to free the heart
from its attachments.

……….I lift it from the cavity.

A draught from the high window shivers gaslight
onto silver pericardium. Its fibres are impenetrable
to all but the sharpest blade.

I hold a troubling heaviness in my hand, recall murmurings
from my stethoscope in her shadowed room.

…………The weight tells of a fault I failed to hear.

I suspend the scale on a hook

………….and place the heart in the bowl below.

The needle swings and loses equilibrium.

.
*
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enrique_Simonet_-_La_autopsia_-_1890.jpg

3rd place, Ledbury Poetry Competition 2019
https://www.poetry-festival.co.uk/ledbury-poetry-competition/

.

When the heart fails

fluid fills the interstitial spaces of newborn lungs.
Perihilar shadows appear on the X-ray.
Serous liquid leaks into air sacs.
They whisper together, our sponginess is lost
in a congestion of blood.
From the first breath, we want to cry
‘It’s not our fault’ but lack vocabulary
and the vocal cords are immobilised
by a tube reaching into the chest.
Their susurration is audible in crepitations.
The clue lies in careful auscultation.
Artificial ventilation cannot remove carbon dioxide
or improve oxygenation.

………………..In the kidneys, renal arteries do not provide
…………….….adequate forward flow.
………………..Venous stasis dilates capillaries
………………..inside each glomerular cup.
………………..The drip of urine drops to a trickle.
………………..A million nephrons falter,
………………..we cannot form our liquid words
………………..to pretend we’re working well.
………………..We neither absorb sodium nor excrete
………………..potassium, creatinine or water.
………………..Hyperkalaemia tickles the heart
………………..into extra-systoles.
………………..It tells us we’re not pulling our weight.
………………..We shrug metaphorical shoulders
………………..and try to hold the acid-base steady.
………………..Consultants shake their heads together,
………………..increase the infusion rate of epinephrine.

In the liver, hepatocytes necrose.
The intern reports hepatomegaly
from portal vein obstruction.
Marked elevation in the serum levels
of bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase
and the transaminases
are no surprise to anyone.
Coagulopathy complicates the picture
and fibrinogen is administered
in aliquots of ten millilitres.
Remaining liver cells advise,
someone should make a decision soon.
We understand open heart surgery
is under consideration.

………………The cor culprit slows
……………….to an erratic lub-dub, stops.
……………….It starts again in a lower gear
……………….but without momentum.
……………….In far off fetal times my myocytes contracted
……………….to grow liver, kidneys, lungs
……………….but I disordered myself early on
……………….when I failed to produce a left atrium
……………….or ventricle so I’m only half hearted.
……………….I’d just like to say,
……………….it’s up to the surgeon now.

.

Denise Bundred was a consultant paediatric cardiologist in Liverpool and has an MA in Creative Writing. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and won the Hippocrates Prize in Poetry and Medicine in 2016, coming second in 2019. She came third in the Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition in 2019. Her poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and she has poems in Envoi, Under the Radar and Magma. Her debut pamphlet, Litany of a Cardiologist, will be published by Against the Grain Press in 2020.

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Against the Grain Poetry Competition 2019 – Judge’s top tips for your entries

COMPThe very talented poet, short story writer and editor, Sarah James, is judging this year’s competition. Check out details of entering HERE.

She is passing on some top tips to help you on your way for entering this year’s competition. I posed a few questions to Sarah to find out what a judge wants from a poem and also what the poet can do to ensure their poem gets further and further up the shortlist pile.

What do you look for in a poem?

I try to come to poems openly and with as few expectations or pre-conceptions as possible, particularly as a competition judge. In terms of what I’ll be looking for in this competition, I’m only really going to be able to answer that afterwards. Things that I might anticipate finding in a poem I’ll love include striking imagery and lines that resonate long after I’ve read them. A sense of surprise that I don’t see coming but that in retrospect fits so perfectly that it seems inevitable. Admiration that makes me wish I’d written the poem myself, and feeling changed in some way after reading – the transformative power of a strong poem. I love words, so I tend to notice language choices. But having said all this, it’s probably important to add that all of these are possible without great drama or an overly flamboyant style – unless those are naturally part of the poem. In other words, everything needs to fit together to create something that’s totally unique in its own way.

Some people talk about “competition poems”. Do you think there is such a thing?

Yes. No. It depends. This is another hard one to answer. It’s probably easier to turn it around and say that I do think there are poems that are NOT-competition poems. Any ‘discrepancies’ in an otherwise stunning poem, that might easily be picked up by an editor before publishing, are likely to fall flat in a competition setting, for example. A competition like any other poetry arena has its constraints and opportunities – but these can be as particular to the competition as submitting to journal a rather than journal b. Obviously, there’s what the competition rules have asked for and the judge’s subjective tastes. I’d anticipate a competition-winning poem to include needing to stand out all by itself in some positive way on first reading, without knowledge of the poet or the context of other poems that might encourage re-reading of some wonderful poems in a different setting.

Personally, I’ve found the notion of ‘competition’ combined with ’poem’ most useful though when applied to the writing process for every poem. My adaptation of this is not about poems being in competition with each other, though this may also happen at a later stage, but against their own variations and earlier drafts until they reach the best version they can take. There is a kind of success or winning for every poem that completes this process. Then, the chance to assess where they go next, be it to a magazine, competition entry or somewhere else.

Have I actually answered your question here or given my own slant on it? Another trick of competition and other strong poems may be to find, create and maintain the ‘best’ slant (whatever that might mean for that particular poem) on something universal that most readers can engage with.

What are your top tips for people submitting?

1) Ignore everything I’ve just said! I’m both kidding and not kidding in saying this. My advice is well intended and based on past experience. But the best advice should come from the poem itself and remaining true to it. External input may inspire a successful new slant, but forcing something on a poem that it doesn’t want to do is more likely to destroy it.

2) Double check everything, and then again, one more time. Even better, asked a trusted friend to proofread for any typos, misplaced punctuation, unnecessary words, confusions…that writer familiarity with the poem may have blinded out. (Yes, it’s a cliché. But, seriously, when I start reading competition poems, I’m going to be looking for what’s good about them. By the time I get to the nth whittling down of possible winners and still have too many to choose between, I’m going to be looking for the smallest things that let any of them down, however stunning the rest of the poem.)

3) Be brave and have confidence – in the poem, in the letting go of it and in the fact that whatever the final outcome of the competition, simply preparing poems for competition is a creative process in itself and one that’s likely to make a strong poem even stronger. (And the great thing about competition anonymity, of course, is that every eligible poem also stands on its own merits, regardless of what the poet may have – or have not – written, had published or won before.)

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ATG Poetry Competition 2019 – Top Tips

COMPThe very talented poet, short story writer and editor, Sarah James, is judging this year’s competition. Check out details of entering HERE.

She is passing on some top tips to help you on your way for entering this year’s competition. I posed a few questions to Sarah to find out what a judge wants from a poem and also what the poet can do to ensure their poem gets further and further up the shortlist pile.

What do you look for in a poem?

I try to come to poems openly and with as few expectations or pre-conceptions as possible, particularly as a competition judge. In terms of what I’ll be looking for in this competition, I’m only really going to be able to answer that afterwards. Things that I might anticipate finding in a poem I’ll love include striking imagery and lines that resonate long after I’ve read them. A sense of surprise that I don’t see coming but that in retrospect fits so perfectly that it seems inevitable. Admiration that makes me wish I’d written the poem myself, and feeling changed in some way after reading – the transformative power of a strong poem. I love words, so I tend to notice language choices. But having said all this, it’s probably important to add that all of these are possible without great drama or an overly flamboyant style – unless those are naturally part of the poem. In other words, everything needs to fit together to create something that’s totally unique in its own way.

Some people talk about “competition poems”. Do you think there is such a thing?

Yes. No. It depends. This is another hard one to answer. It’s probably easier to turn it around and say that I do think there are poems that are NOT-competition poems. Any ‘discrepancies’ in an otherwise stunning poem, that might easily be picked up by an editor before publishing, are likely to fall flat in a competition setting, for example. A competition like any other poetry arena has its constraints and opportunities – but these can be as particular to the competition as submitting to journal a rather than journal b. Obviously, there’s what the competition rules have asked for and the judge’s subjective tastes. I’d anticipate a competition-winning poem to include needing to stand out all by itself in some positive way on first reading, without knowledge of the poet or the context of other poems that might encourage re-reading of some wonderful poems in a different setting.

Personally, I’ve found the notion of ‘competition’ combined with ’poem’ most useful though when applied to the writing process for every poem. My adaptation of this is not about poems being in competition with each other, though this may also happen at a later stage, but against their own variations and earlier drafts until they reach the best version they can take. There is a kind of success or winning for every poem that completes this process. Then, the chance to assess where they go next, be it to a magazine, competition entry or somewhere else.

Have I actually answered your question here or given my own slant on it? Another trick of competition and other strong poems may be to find, create and maintain the ‘best’ slant (whatever that might mean for that particular poem) on something universal that most readers can engage with.

What are your top tips for people submitting?

1) Ignore everything I’ve just said! I’m both kidding and not kidding in saying this. My advice is well intended and based on past experience. But the best advice should come from the poem itself and remaining true to it. External input may inspire a successful new slant, but forcing something on a poem that it doesn’t want to do is more likely to destroy it.

2) Double check everything, and then again, one more time. Even better, asked a trusted friend to proofread for any typos, misplaced punctuation, unnecessary words, confusions…that writer familiarity with the poem may have blinded out. (Yes, it’s a cliché. But, seriously, when I start reading competition poems, I’m going to be looking for what’s good about them. By the time I get to the nth whittling down of possible winners and still have too many to choose between, I’m going to be looking for the smallest things that let any of them down, however stunning the rest of the poem.)

3) Be brave and have confidence – in the poem, in the letting go of it and in the fact that whatever the final outcome of the competition, simply preparing poems for competition is a creative process in itself and one that’s likely to make a strong poem even stronger. (And the great thing about competition anonymity, of course, is that every eligible poem also stands on its own merits, regardless of what the poet may have – or have not – written, had published or won before.)

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This Tilting Earth by Jane Lovell – reviewed by Rennie Halstead

This Tilting Earth - Jane Lovell.docx

Published by Seren Books (www.serenbooks.com)

Winner of the 2018 Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition.

Jane Lovell’s latest pamphlet has an elegiac quality. She looks at a past studded with cruelty and sadness, documenting Man’s inhumanity and lack of care for their fellow creatures. Her words are carefully chosen, creating spare, clear and highly visual images of the scenes she describes and the people and animals she portrays, leading our imaginations to engage with a past made vivid and real.

From the outset, Lovell asks us to reflect on Man’s place in the universe. In The Song of the Vogelherd Horse she takes us back to the creation of a beautiful artefact from 30,000 years ago. She imagines the early men who:

[] smoothed my lissome back
that carried me against her skin;

another who buried me in soil,
em>stamped it down.
 
and reflecting on the passing centuries observes:
The gilding sun calls skies and hillsides
to my mind’s dark eye,
my spirit bones.

I was here before your god.
Cherish my broken form.

A similar preoccupation runs through Limousin, Lascaux which focuses on the finds at the famous French cave, now closed to the public to protect its 17000 year old paintings. Lovell celebrates their creation:
Of charcoal, and cinnamon ochre,
umber burnt and blown through bone or reed,
they balance on mist, unwilling to tear the ghost-silk.

Lovell brings the vitality of the paintings to life:
Coats steam, tails flick, tongues lunge;
a stone sky rests on curled spears of ash, horns
of black manganese.
 

She finishes the poem with the irony that the beauty of the cave and its wonders attracted the visitors who would have marked its destruction:
We breathe and they may disappear.
 
Lovell examines a more recent loss to the animal world in Godolphin’s Stallion, the famous Arabian stud horse that was one of the founders of the modern thoroughbred. The horse is buried on the site of his stables near Cambridge. Lovell writes of:
[…] the sleeping giant, bones white as hazel,
Godolphin’s stallion shifts and twists
with the turning of the Earth […]

She pictures the ghost of the horse:
Late June, early mornings, some say,
they flinch at the thundering hooves, the salt
and stench of champed grass as the stallion passes,
eyes wild with triumph.
 
Lovell also focuses on the little told stories of less well-known people from history. The Last Leap of Sam Patch chronicles the sad or possibly foolhardy end of the man known as The Jersey Jumper who found fame after jumping into the Niagara River at the falls. Patch jumped from a variety of buildings, bridges and platforms, and earning money from the audiences who gathered to watch his exploits. His jump at the Niagara Falls was watched by an audience of 10,000. His final jump, on Friday, November 13th 1829 was a 125 feet jump into the Genosee River with his pet bear. The jump went badly wrong, with Patch failing to make his usual feet first entry. Some bystanders suggested he may have had a little too much to drink. He never surfaced, and his body wasn’t found until the following spring when the frozen river thawed. He was 22. Lovell describes the leap:
He remembers, briefly, plummeting,
tilting slowly like a tree through stinging spray
to land amazed,
the last breath slammed from his lungs […]

Sam is dragged down river:
[…] hidden underwater
from the still-expectant crowd stamping at the frost,
the bitter light, he dreams of breathing.
 
Algae quietly invades his brain, bloom inside his bones.
 
The bear meets a similar fate:
Rats tumble past, bloated gourds of fur and cunning,
bellies full of bear-meat,
carrying in their eye-gleam the flash of the great canines
as the head lifted, rolled, then sank upon the flooded chest.
 
Lovell takes us through the daredevil madness of Sam Patch, and creates a vivid picture of what it must be like to drown in a bitterly cold river, describing how:
Winter stills the edge of the Genosee,
permeates his clothes, remaining skin, distending
every cavity, bursting every organ and capilliary.
 
He stares out through the long, cold water, eyes of a pike.
 
Lovell comments that Sam Patch’s epitaph reads:
“Here lies Sam Patch, the Yankee leaper
brave and mad and drowned.”

But the bear:
[…] snarled in his chain, was soon forgotten;
his carcass, bitten white as willow, never found.

Salt worker, Sečovlje remembers the generations of salt workers who have harvested salt from the lagoons in Slovenia for a millennium. Lovell puts us alongside a salt worker from the past, working the lagoons by hand. She creates a vivid image of the landscape:
………………………………[…] a land
brimming sea and salt blooms
above carpets of petola,
quiet pans of algae, gypsum, clay
where egrets pick their way
through cubes of sky.
 
Lovell describes the timeless continuum of salt production through generations of workers:
He does not move.
A rime of salt blisters his lips,
gathers in his desiccated bones.
 
Eight centuries of shift and hiss;
he closes his eyes,
balances against the light.

Tallow picks up the sense of historic industry with a vivid imagining of the soap making process from the rendering of fallen cattle to the mixing of tallow with the corrosive lye to produce tablets of soap.The poem opens with the boiling of a cow’s carcass:
Her eyes bleach the colour
of milk, head coming up blind
and turning.

Lovell goes on to describe the process: cooling the tallow, adding beeswax and lye:
stand back from its boiling and hissing,
do not breathe until it stills.

The end of the poem celebrates the selection of the animal chosen for rendering as a sacrifice:
It is light tonight, cloudless.
We carry her flesh to fire, break bread,
sing her name.
 
Tomorrow the women will roast the bones,
use the crushed chalk to make buttons
and beads.

and finally:
She was our chosen one, our beauty.

This is an exquisite collection of poems. Lovell brings the past to our attention with a vivid clarity. Every word is chosen with care, in this highly polished award-winning pamphlet.

Rennie Halstead has been writing since he was eleven. He writes reviews, poetry, flash fiction and short stories.