Monday, 28 November 2011


XKCD (not an acronym but an unpronounceable word) is described by its creator as 'a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.' I like it.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Teatime @ the Bouquet Morale

Poetry collaborations are pretty rare, probably because poetry is such a personal thing. So it's refreshing to discover a 2006 collaboration between one of my all time favourite poets, Fred Voss, and Joan Jobe Smith, who I must confess to never having heard of but her poetry sits very well alongside Voss's. You could call it a shared vision.

Read a sample here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Further Thoughts on Antipoetry

I've met quite a few young poets who claim to write 'poetry for people who don't like poetry' or admit to not being a fan of poetry themselves despite writing it (or attempting to). I'm tempted to say it's a male thing, purely because I've never heard a female poet make the same claim.

I don't expect any of you guys to be reading this (why would you?) but just in case you are, here's my advice: think about what you're saying. I'm sure you're already aware that 'poetry for people who don't like poetry' is a neat little paradox and in a way it sounds kind of clever. On closer examination, however, it makes absolutely no sense. What you're trying to say is that your work appeals to people with alternative taste, which also happens to be the case for many, many other writers who refer to their work as 'poetry'.

(I'd go as far as arguing everyone without exception likes poetry even if they claim not to. Anyone who's ever been moved by song lyrics officially likes poetry regardless of what they think of Wordsworth.)

As for poets who write poetry without actually reading any, how do you know you're any good? How do your supposedly poetry-hating admirers know how you measure up to the competition? And what are they doing reading poetry anyway? You really haven't thought this through.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Nicanor Parra

As mentioned in the previous post, Nicanor Parra describes himself as an 'antipoet' - although it's debatable whether the term means anything at all. It's debatable as to whether the term 'poetry' can be properly defined, so anything labelled antipoetry is equally problematic. Definitions aside, I think Parra is very good - but judge for yourself.


In Santiago, Chile
The days are interminably long:
Several eternities in a day.

Like the vendors of seaweed
Travelling on the backs of mules:
You yawn - you yawn again.

Yet the weeks are short
The months go racing by
And the years have wings.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


Anti- is one of the most interesting poetry sites on the web.

In their own words:

"Anti- is not aesthetically affiliated with Nicanor Parra's school of antipoetry, though the editor does think more poets ought to heed Parra's advice that "You have to improve the blank page.""

Their current Featured Poet (#74) is Bernd Sauermann who is very good indeed, and very much in keeping with the whole antipoetry thing - a poet but not a 'poet'. (If that makes any sense at all.)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Paul Birtill

Last time I checked, Paul Birtill didn't have a proper website so it's great to discover what must be a relatively new site with lots of samples of his poetry on there. He's one of the best poets around - not nearly as well-known as he should be.

Sample poem:

Counting For My Life

Sitting in my local pub
I find myself counting
the number of candles
on tables and imagine
they are the years I have
left to live. But seven
is not enough - so I stare
down at the floor and count
the number of discarded fag ends -
though nine is still too short -
so I turn my attention to the spirit
bottles behind the bar and with some
relief count fourteen - that's more like it.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Joseph Brodsky

I was introduced to the poetry of Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky through the brilliant Russian biopic, Room and a Half.

There is a small selection of his poems here including this one:

To Urania
To I.K.

Everything has its limit, including sorrow.
A windowpane stalls a stare. Nor does a grill abandon
a leaf. One may rattle the keys, gurgle down a swallow.
Loneless cubes a man at random.
A camel sniffs at the rail with a resentful nostril;
a perspective cuts emptiness deep and even.
And what is space anyway if not the
body's absence at every given
point? That's why Urania's older sister Clio!
in daylight or with the soot-rich lantern,
you see the globe's pate free of any bio,
you see she hides nothing, unlike the latter.
There they are, blueberry-laden forests,
rivers where the folk with bare hands catch sturgeon
or the towns in whose soggy phone books
you are starring no longer; father eastward surge on
brown mountain ranges; wild mares carousing
in tall sedge; the cheeckbones get yellower
as they turn numerous. And still farther east, steam dreadnoughts
or cruisers,
and the expanse grows blue like lace underwear.

translated by the author

Friday, 4 November 2011

The World According to Rupert Murdoch by Attila the Stockbroker

A fine example of the work of a prolific and idiosyncratic performance poet and musician. Long may this man continue.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Lazy Book Covers

There's a regular feature in Private Eye magazine called "Bookalikes," comparing the strangely similar cover art for bestselling novels. In many cases the images are identical copy-and-paste jobs.

This leads me to wondering, why do so many novels from China and East Asia feature naked women on the cover, regardless of the content?

Geling Yan's The Uninvited, for example (see previous post), features a naked woman on the cover despite the fact that no one takes their clothes off at any point.

This is a disappointment to everyone. A feminist would call it sexist. A chauvinist would call it false advertising. I just call it lazy.

I'm particularly annoyed by the way Haruki Murakami's novels are packaged almost like pornography. Granted, Murakami writes about sex, but there are so many other things going on in his fiction which the erotic cover images fail to reflect.

See what I mean?