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Showing posts from April, 2009

Matter magazine & Armitage reading

Matter, the annual magazine showcasing work from the Sheffield Hallam MA Writing, is now approaching its ninth edition; beginning to take shape and due to be published in October '09.

As well as new poetry and fiction, it'll also contain guest contributions, including new poems from Maurice Riordan, Tim Turnbull and - recently confirmed - Julia Copus.

For those interested in the editing and development of the magazine as it takes shape, the editors have also set up a Twitter page, giving occasional updates on the project. You can read it here.

I've been told that a website will shortly follow, and I'll no doubt post about the mag here again on the Wasteland sometime.

In a piece of loosely related news, Simon Armitage is reading in Sheffield on the 6th May, along with a short set from myself, Sheffield-based poet Chris Jones, and others, at a poetry event as part of a series to celebrate the completion of Jessop West, the new building which houses the Arts and Humanities de…

The Sparks

I'm chuffed that my first poetry pamphlet, The Sparks, is selling well thanks to the support of those who attended both the London launch of it alongside Emily Berry's excellent Stingray Fevers; the Sheffield launch with Matthew Clegg, Helen Mort and others; and those who've bought a copy through the tall-lighthouse website. The warm reception that myself and other Pilot poets received at this year's StAnza festival was also great; people chatting and buying copies of pamphlets in the series after the Pilot reading. Cheers.

If any readers of the Wasteland are yet to get a copy however, and are interested, I've some of my own which I'm more than happy to scribble in and send out, UK postage free (£4). Just drop me an email (on my profile page). They're also available from the tall-lighthouse website, along with new pamphlets in the Pilot series by Amy Key and Sarah Lowe, and the just-published Shiver, Alan Buckley's first pamphlet, awarded the Poetry Book…

Battles and Bat for Lashes

I sometimes think that there isn't much worth discovering where new music's concerned: the wave of schmindie, bland acoustic wielders and post-Britpop guitar music that remains so popular little more than dull variances on old sounds. But then I realise that it's usually because I'm not looking hard enough, and beyond the blander end of the most heavily advertised and marketed music released each year (which, admittedly, isn't all bad), there's still some great stuff being made.

Two bands I'd recommend at the moment are Bat for Lashes and Battles. I've mentioned the former here before, the work of singer-songwriter and visual artist, Natasha Khan, and whose first album, Fur and Gold, narrowly missed out on winning the 2007 Mercury Prize. That album was a glittering, brooding and dreamlike-voyage into the unknown; a slice of glittering and gorgeous art-rock that bears partial comparison to Bjork, Kate Bush, and to Khan's talented contemporary, Patrick…

New Poetry @ Poetry Matters

Just wandered across to the Tower Poetry site (a poetry venture run by poet-critic Peter McDonald at Christ Church College, Oxford) to find that the latest issue of Poetry Matters is up. And it's good to see more poetry than prose there for a change - its reviews, though always engaging and worth reading, are something of a regular feature compared to new writing. But in this issue, no less than four poets grace its webpages, including Stephen Romer, Emily Middleton, and Paul Abbott, whose Flood I reviewed for PM last year. There're also a couple of my own new(ish) poems. If you're not about to head out and enjoy the good weather, then, do head across and have a read. There's also a review of Peter Porter's cheekily named Better Than God, by Vidyan Ravinthiran, which, at least for me, provided an interesting window on a well-established poet whom I'm criminally unfamiliar with.

Charlie Brooker's Newswipe

A bit late catching up with this, but flicking through BBC iPlayer in a brief fit of boredom last week I noticed that Charlie Brooker is back on our screens with Newswipe - a series following on from the brilliant Screenwipe. Except instead of taking satirical and pessimistic swipes at the crap on TV, Newswipe takes a Day Today-esque look at - you guessed it - the news, or rather, the way news is covered by the likes of BBC, ITV and Channel 4 these days.

The clip above is from the first part of the first episode, and for those who like the look of it, the third installment is on BBC4 tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10.30pm.

Nick Laird wins Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize

Good to see that Northern Irish poet and novelist Nick Laird has won the 2008 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for his second collection of poems, On Purpose, published by Faber in 2007.

The award - given alternately each year to a work of prose or verse - was judged by poets Jo Shapcott and Michael Longley, and Sam Leith, literary editor of the Daily Telegraph.

It puts Laird on a distinguished list of previous winners, including Seamus Heaney, Hugo Williams, Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, Don Paterson and Michael Hofmann.

Having enjoyed and reviewed the collection for the Winter 2007/08 edition of Irish literary journal The Stinging Fly, I recommend it to readers unfamiliar with Laird's work, as well as his first collection, To a Fault. Here's an excerpt from my review of On Purpose:

What is most impressive about On Purpose, however, is Laird’s charting of the loose and difficult territory of the existential crisis between our desire to control our lives and act with certainty and co…