Sunday, February 22, 2009

Raw Light, the Guardian, and death by junk food

For those wanting an introduction to a selection of contemporary poets whose work you might've not come across before, you could do much worse than checking out Jane Holland's Raw Light blog, which is currently enjoying a 'Short Season of Other Poets'.

So far, poems from debut collections by Katy-Evans Bush, Matt Merritt, Angela France and Rob Mackenzie have been featured, a pretty eclectic selection in which you'll no doubt find something of interest. I hear that Claire Crowther, among others, is due to be featured before Raw Light resumes usual service, and at the moment, a poem from the sparks is also up there. Why not wander across, then, before you head out and enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon?

Also worth a look this weekend for those who haven't spotted them already is Sean O'Brien's review of George Szirtes' New and Collected Poems in the Guardian and, though I'm a week or so late to flag this up, a thoughtful and interesting blog post by Adam O'Riordan on his time spent collecting together the late poet Michael Donaghy's critical prose work.

On a pretty repulsive and totally unrelated note, there's also this website that a friend sent me the link to earlier in the week. Apologies in advance. Though come to think of it, I'm pretty sure that cupcake used to be on the dessert menu at Fatty Arbuckles - and whatever happened to that franchise?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Elbow live with the BBC Concert Orchestra


A brilliant feature I spotted this morning on the BBC Radio 2 website: English alt-rock band Elbow perform the whole of their Mercury-prize winning album, The Seldom Seen Kid, augmented by the BBC Concert Orchestra (originally recorded and broadcast last Saturday).

For those who know the album, the songs are played in tracklist order, but for those who don't and aren't particularly familiar with the band, I'd suggest checking out 'The Fix', performed with local Sheffield singer-songwriter Richard Hawley (around the 36min mark) and the anthemic 'Day Like This' (around the 47min mark).

An absolutely brilliant performance, it can be found here.

And as a sampler, since it won't let me embed the video of the whole performance, above is the recording of thumping single, 'Grounds for Divorce'.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Poetry Feature: 'The Hush of the Very Good' by Todd Boss

I first came across the American poet Todd Boss in Poetry magazine, where a number of his poems have appeared in recent years, and instantly enjoyed his demotic, witty and deftly musical style. I was chuffed, then, to receive his first collection Yellowrocket as a present recently, which at over a 100 pages is a lengthy and rewarding read. His poems - charting the recurrent themes of landscapes, language, kids, love and marriage with intelligence, subtlety, real feeling and humour - bring to mind the likes of Frost and Auden, but also bear comparison to more contemporary poets such as Armitage, Kleinzahler, and, at times, the late Michael Donaghy. He is definitely a poet worthy of your attention, and a friendly chap too, as he recently kindly granted me permission to reprint his poem 'The Hush of the Very Good' here on the Wasteland. If you enjoy it, I really encourage you to buy Yellowrocket - published by W.W. Norton you can find it here, and Boss's website with recordings of him reading his work is here.


The Hush of the Very Good


You can tell by how he lists
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxto let her
kiss him, that the getting, as he gets it,
is good.
xxxxxxxxxIt’s good in the sweetly salty,
deeply thirsty way that a sea-fogged
rain is good after a summer-long bout
of inland drought.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAnd you know it
when you see it, don’t you? How it
drenches what’s dry, how the having
of it quenches.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxThere is a grassy inlet
where your ocean meets your land, a slip
that needs a certain kind of vessel,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand
when that shapely skiff skims in at last,
trimmed bright, mast lightly flagging
left and right,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxthen the long, lush reeds
of your longing part, and soft against
the hull of that bent wood almost im-
perceptibly brushes a luscious hush
the heart heeds helplessly—
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe hush
of the very good.


poem by Todd Boss
from Yellowrocket (W.W. Norton, 2008)
first published in Poetry, February 2007