Friday 22 December 2017

Poetry School Books of the Year 2017

As well as being a great way to spark a debate, the Poetry School's Books of the Year 2017 also has mini-reviews of a host of great volumes, and a longlist of many more, so you've got no excuse for saying that you don't know what new poetry to read (and even less for saying that it's been a thin year for poetry – as if anybody would).

Thursday 21 December 2017


Something brought me wide awake at four. Groans
from the old house. The black dog running through the forest
of his dreams. Revving of a mind that won’t run idle.

So dressed and walked into December woods,
with the last leaves hanging on
and the fat moon making light of the rain.

Past the kissing gate, the gingerbread cottage,
a tractor taken root among the ferns,
and on over the stream. To the ropeswing,

where he swayed between
the man we thought he was and a darkness
that seeped back into every memory.

Eaten from the inside, the tree creaks
and sighs. Barely a bough, now,
strong enough to bear the weight,

but the longest night
for five hundred years, shrinks back
to a few pools, dark beneath the trees. Above,

rooks discuss their headlong commute. A kestrel
punctuates a phone wire, strung for movement.
And home again, tired and wet and cold,

carrying neither the hunter’s stillness
nor the flock’s sure purpose. Unconvinced and unconsoled,
yet the year’s morning yawning, and still unbroken.

Monday 18 December 2017

More poetry website recommendations

Clarissa Aykroyd has posted her own recommendations for poetry and poetry in translation websites here – lots of good stuff to enjoy.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Poetry for Christmas

I've been holding off buying any poetry for a while, mainly because I'm still working my way through a backlog of books. At some stage in the next couple of weeks I'll post something about the books I have read this year, but what about those I ought to be reading?

I'd be interested to hear any recommendations of poetry volumes to look out for – I've already got a couple in mind, but fire away...

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Dream City Blues

I have a poem – Six Ways To Navigate The City – in this excellent volume, Dream City Blues, edited by Mark Howard Jones, out now. It's a book that looks at urban utopias gone wrong, and cities that have become nightmares.

The poem originally appeared in my collection The Elephant Tests, which is still available from Nine Arches Press. While you're at it, have a look at all the other goodies that Nine Arches have available - lots of good present ideas there.

Monday 4 December 2017

Writing new poetry

It's been quite a while since my last poetry collection, The Elephant Tests, was published. 2013, in fact, although it's still available from Nine Arches Press, along with a plethora of new collections from new poets (very unsubtle hint for anyone stuck for Christmas present ideas for their literary friends, there).

In the meantime, I haven't written a huge amount of poetry. It hasn't been down to writer's block, exactly, although at times I have found myself wanting to write, but struggling to find ways to do so without retreading old ground.

A bigger reason is that I've been in self-imposed exile in the land of prose, first writing A Sky Full Of Birds (oops, there's another shameless plug), and then working on a couple of other prose projects that may or may not see the light of day eventually. And I've enjoyed that a lot, but it's a very different place to poetry world in all sorts of ways.

Just in the last few weeks, though, I've been drifting back into poetry, writing new poems and revisiting half-finished ones with fresh ideas and fresh impetus. I've got one or two new processes and exercises that I'd like to try. And I've been reading more poetry, too, at lunchtimes especially, and rediscovering the thrill of being inspired, and the danger of imitating an admired poet's style too closely.

So, in the next few weeks, I'll start posting a few reviews, previews, and discussions of poetry, and we'll see what happens.

Friday 1 December 2017

2017's best UK poetry blogs

It's very kind of Matthew Stewart to include Polyolbion in his annual round-up of his favourite UK poetry blogs, not least because I've been pretty tardy in posting on here this year. But he has spurred me into action, and I'll be posting regularly from the start of 2018.

I'd add that Matthew's own Rogue Strands is always worth keeping an eye on, for poetry news, recommendations, and discussion, and there are a host of other very fine blogs mentioned in that post – give them a try.