Friday, February 18

Gathering Up The Pieces

Piece 1.

A magazine called Quid. I’ve got issue 13, which comes in at £4, somewhat subverting the title but that’s probably clever. And for that you get barely 16 pages containing 5 longish poems, albeit beautifully presented. And before you say “That sounds a bit expensive even in the unreal world of poetry fun” it’s worth pausing, because I am just about to say that they are 5 poems worth reading. And one of them is by J. H. Prynne, and it’s the only Prynne poem I’ve ever liked on the very first reading. He must be going soft. Quid is available from Keston Sutherland, Flat 1a, 77-78 Islingword Rd, Brighton BN2 9SL.

Piece 2.

Poetry Nottingham 58/4 is here, because of the postman. Well, not only because of him. And I just realised I have no idea what 58/4 means. Volume 58 issue 4? Is that 58 years of poetry? Crikey. Anyway, this is the latest issue of the vastly improved because it has a new editor Poetry Nottingham. I haven’t actually read it yet, apart from the reviews and articles at the back. I usually have to gird my loins before I can get to poems, and I’ve had a difficult week already so I’m still eyeing them from a distance. But there’s an intelligent review of the Carcanet New York Poets anthology, an even more intelligent essay/review of Tremblestone magazine (actually, this piece is quite terrific), and an excellent article on Basil Bunting by Alan Baker. All this will cost you £2.75 plus 47 pence postage from 11 Orkney Close, Stenson Fields, Derby DE24 3LW. (There is also an American address. E-mail me if you want it.) We are trying to talk editor Adrian Buckner into setting up a Poetry Nottingham website so I don’t always have to type up that address. We say things like Adrian, join the 21st century gang! Be hip and cool! The internet is the new duplicating machine!

Piece 3.

There’s a really interesting review of Tom Paulin’s “The Road To Inver” at Stride. It’s very informed, and very astute. I don’t know much about translation apart from the fact that I figure it’s extremely difficult to get anywhere near right. This review throws light on the process. I had to read it twice. I didn’t understand it all the first time. I’m not sure I understood it all the second time, but it’s still worth going there and getting stuck in.

Piece 4.

I have some what I thought were intelligent remarks online here. (It's in 2 parts: you may have to scroll up or down to get both bits.)
I thought they were alright when I wrote them. Then a week later I read them, online. That’s red them, not reed them. Anyway, the thing takes the form of a conversation but it wasn’t, it was responses to questions, but now it looks something like a conversation by the way it’s been arranged. I am also described there as “a professional poet”. There are a number of funny self-deprecating things I could say here, but they’re pretty predictable. Anyway, I first met Ben, whose Blog it is, at a Fiery Furnaces gig last year. I was totally out of it as a result of some very recent emotional turmoil, and I can barely remember anything about the evening at all, except I know he’s a nice chap with a genuine interest in the subject. And he has a busy website, to say the least. He asked me a couple of weeks ago to do this thing, and so I did it. It’s actually okay. I almost make sense at times.

Piece 5.

Somebody sometime is going to have to explain jazz poetry to me. I mean, actually, poetry about jazz – which is a different thing. Sure. At The Flying Goose on Tuesday there was a bit of a jazz theme: John Lucas was understandably promoting the Shoestring anthology “ Paging Doctor Jazz”, which is apparently the only UK published anthology of “poetry about jazz” in the entire universe. The two main readers were our friend Clive Allen and (all the way from Hounslow near London but even nearer Heathrow) poet and jazz musician Paul McLoughlin. Clive’s a good reader, very witty and entertaining, and his poems I think are getting stronger by the week. McLoughlin was too prosey and anecdotal for my taste. When someone asks, Why is that a poem? it’s this kind of ordinary prose telling that should really stand up and try to answer the question. Both poets are featured in the jazz anthology and read from it, although neither write much “about jazz” otherwise. John Lucas and Derek Buttress, another local contributor, also read a couple of poems from it. I think it was jazz night. Anyway, all I’m working up to is – why do poems about jazz always seem to boil down to saying that the jazz said the ineffable unsayable, or something similar? “Beyond words”, or such like. Perhaps I was mis-hearing and am mis-remembering. I guess I should just shut up and get back to work on my poem about Gerry and The Pacemakers. Freddie and The Dreamers. Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas. Well, some pop group, anyway.

Piece 6.

Here’s a picture of Freddie and The Dreamers. Weren’t they dreadful? Sadly, I am not quite old enough to remember. It’s just reliable hearsay. Tomorrow night I'm going to see The Magic Numbers, who I'm told are very good. And very hip.

Piece 7.

Finally, although not leastly, I have enjoyed having this back up and running. Heaven.

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