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Showing posts from March, 2009

Odds and Ends

Still haven't found time to blog about my time at StAnza, Scotland's international poetry festival held in St Andrews, yet - though I intend to get round to it soon. In short, it was a great (long) weekend: particular highlights including readings from Bill Manhire, New Zealand's foremost contemporary poet; the excellent Simon Armitage; poetry centre stage with Robert Crawford and Kate Clanchy; and the launch of Roddy Lumsden's new collection, Third Wish Wasted. And I enjoyed taking part in the poetry breakfast on young poets, as well as the tall-lighthouse Pilot reading (alongside Abi Curtis, Adam O'Riordan, Jay Bernard and Emily Berry) and pamphlet signing, both of which proved popular.

Before I get to doing a proper write-up then, I thought I'd flag up a few forthcoming odds and ends: I've two new poems that'll appear in the next issue of Poetry Matters on the Tower Poetry site, and a short sequence that'll crop up in a future issue of Stand magaz…

Maura Dooley's Life Under Water

Just a quick post to point anyone interested towards this week's TLS, March 20 2009 (No 5529), which includes my review of Maura Dooley's T.S. Eliot shortlisted Bloodaxe collection, Life Under Water.

Poetry Feature: Conor O'Callaghan

Conor O’Callaghan, an Irish writer born in Newry in 1968, is one of those poets who critics may lazily – albeit quite rightly – describe as ‘one of the best of his generation’, though he actually seems to fall on the cusp of two generations. Or at least has fallen short, despite having appeared in seminal Irish anthologies, of major British anthologies and promotions – too young for the New Poetry and the PBS’s New Generation campaign; inexplicably missing from the Next Genand falling short of the cut-off point of Roddy Lumsden’s forthcoming Identity Parade – as inadequate as these may ultimately be at fully checking the pulse, let alone establishing the hierarchy of the literature of a given period (history will do that), they still (usually quite rightly) cement reputations, develop readerships, and give a representative flavour of poetry at the time. This isn’t to badmouth these publications or promotions, but to note that given the inevitable parameters, some genuinely talented an…

PoetCasting and Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch

I've mentioned PoetCasting on the Wasteland before - an admirable and, I think, extremely valuable collection of audio recordings of established and emerging contemporary poets, professionally put together by the enterprising young poet Alex Pryce. Andrew Motion's Poetry Archive should watch its back.

Well - shameless self-promotion alert - having been featured on the site in a joint venture with literary magazine Pomegranate, showcasing young poets published in the magazine since its beginnings, I've my own feature on the site now, including recordings of four poems from the sparks.

It was great of Alex to come up and record this and, more generally, for her to run PoetCasting so professionally and diligently in the first place (on visiting Sheffield, she recounted how whenever her mother rings her up, she's invariably on a train heading someplace or other to make a recording). Unsurprisingly then, the poets featured on PoetCasting to date span the height and breadth o…

Shadows

The scene’s one of wandering back to a tent, through a field of thousands, flag posts and lamp-lit; the pitch hasn’t moved but their damned if they can find it, more having cropped up in makeshift walkways in-between. The sky’s the final shade from its fullest darkness, throwing clouds across itself like fishing boats, streamlined by currents. Campfire smoke drifts across the site, a half-cut mob of guys attempt to resurrect some fading chant, and a man is running in the inimitable manner of one desperately in need of the toilet. Morning darkens. Now one of the crew mutters something to himself, another sparks a roll-up with the same Zippo that was held to the wall of sound and fading whine conjured not an hour ago; a stack of Marshall amps and the wielding of a custom-built, sunburst Fender Strat… If there is a more direct way back it escapes them, left instead as they are circling in on the plot that, altered by darkness, will finally return to the mind as the changed yet half-famil…

Mew: Am I Wry? No

Was round a friend's place the other night, enjoying a few beers and some albums I haven't heard in a good while, when we ended up listening to Danish alt-rock indie band Mew's album, Frengers.

So many good songs on that record, I can't believe I haven't listened to it properly in so long. And such a refreshing, unusual sound - soaring but subtle vocals, beautiful guitar and electronic arrangements, and a pop sensibility that at the same time is totally atmospheric and cerebral - I can't recommend it enough. In fact, I've just checked their wiki page after typing that, and found that a review of the album described it as 'a work of quiet brilliance, aiming for the epic without straying into the bombastic, offering cerebral arrangements while keeping things accessible'. Spot on.

Above, then, is the promo video for 'Am I Wry? No', the opening track of the album, and as good an introduction to the record as any.