Sunday, June 28, 2009

Magma 44


The latest issue of Magma (No. 44, Summer 2009) includes my reviews of Mark Doty's eighth book of poems, Theories and Apparitions, John Agard's Darwin-inspired Clever Backbone, and Rob A Mackenzie's debut collection, The Opposite of Cabbage.

The issue also contains new poems by Alan Buckley, Alison Brackenbury and Sheenagh Pugh, among many other features, including an interview with Jackie Kay (pictured on the issue's cover, above). Find out more here.

Lily Allen Shocks Glastonbury Crowds Dressed As Hyperactive Girl From Hit Children's TV Series Lazy Town


Above (left): Lily Allen pictured with guitarist and bassist at this year's Glastonbury Festival
Above (right): Lazy Town star Stephanie sporting her trademark garish hair

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Five Houses Down

Praise be to The New Yorker, that most revered of American cultural magazines, and to Paul Muldoon, it's poetry editor, who recently appeared on The Colbert Report, reading his poem 'Tea' and indulging Colbert's gently mocking, wry brand of humour.

Why? Because I've just found a brilliant poem by Christian Wiman on the publication's website, which conjured that instant, wonderful sensation of lifting the top of my head clean off and smashing the frozen sea of daily routine, as Emily Dickinson and Kafka would have it. I seriously encourage you to read it.

And while you're there, take a look at Don Paterson's excellent poem 'Rain', the title piece from his new Faber collection due later this year. That's another which transports you somewhere else in its cinematic sweep - a welcome detour and distraction from whatever work deadlines are looming over you this afternoon. Humorous and seriously thought-provoking - you can't ask for much more than that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oxfam Poetry Night - Four Sheffield Poets



Oxfam Poetry Night @ Oxfam Bookshop (West St / Glossop Rd)

featuring four Sheffield poets:
Frances Leviston, Chris Jones, Helen Mort, and Ben Wilkinson

Wednesday 15th July, 6.30pm - 9pm

£2.50 donation on the door and free poetry CD


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Reviews: Jacob Polley & Colette Bryce


For those interested, my review of Picador poet Jacob Polley's first novel will appear in this coming week's TLS (June 12 2009).

In the just-published issue of Stand, vol 9 (1), I'm informed that my review of Colette Bryce's third book of poems, Self-Portrait in the Dark, also appears.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Poetry Feature: Carrie Etter's The Tethers


Blurb writers often describe debut poetry collections as "long-awaited", but I can honestly say that I've been looking forward to Carrie Etter's first collection for a good while, having enjoyed many of her poems in magazines, not least the TLS.

And now I happily find that Etter's first book, The Tethers, is to be published later this month by Seren. Having already attracted praise from the likes of Glyn Maxwell and Robert Crawford, it promises to be a highly distinctive and original collection of poems, partly given Etter's fertile imagination, but also her background as an American-born poet who has lived in the UK for many years, drawing on poetic traditions from both sides of the Atlantic.

I'm delighted, then, to feature The Tethers here on the Wasteland, and include a poem from its pages below. I hope the collection attracts the prize shortlistings it will no doubt deserve, and would encourage readers who enjoy witty, sophisticated and thought-provoking poetry to visit the Seren publishing website, Etter's own blog, and check out the collection on Amazon. Enjoy.



The Review

So at Starbuck’s you stood in line
behind The Review’s assistant managing editor?
A skinny cappuccino? Were you close enough
to detect her brand of shampoo?
There is no need to name The Review:
it is the one that, when mentioned, inclines all bystanders
toward its vocalization until they ascertain
the nature of the allusion and proceed accordingly.
If you are an author whose work appears in the current issue,
at least two well-scented women will brush your arm “inadvertently”
and one man will strive to prolong your stay in his presence
with a look of surpassing interest.
Publication in a past issue creates a circle
of brightened eyes, however nonchalant some try to act,
and a member of the opposite sex will ask
what you’re having and bring you another
whatever the volume in your present glass.
If The Review has never accepted your work
and you live in the same city as its offices,
once a month you will find yourself unaccountably
walking past the building’s reflective panels and steel yourself
to look only ahead until you reach the end of the street,
but alas! you glance in The Review’s direction to see
an image of yourself that seems disparagingly untrue.
Some neglected authors cannot stop thinking of The Review:
they can recount the highlights of senior editors’ résumés,
and a simple “Sorry” handwritten on the rejection slip
gives them days of delight, even though they suspect
a mere intern has so condescended. A mere intern!
No one at The Review is mere. The janitor may know
whose manuscript lingers on whose desk.
The Review’s aura has an impressive breadth.
Even I feel giddy from speaking so long of it.


poem by Carrie Etter
from The Tethers (Seren, 2009)
republished with permission of the author
first published in the Times Literary Supplement

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Pint for the Ghost

photograph by Katie Utting


A fair few poetry readers who drop by these parts might already know of Helen Mort, a Sheffield-born, Cambridge-based poet who won a Gregory Award in 2007. Her first pamphlet of poems, the shape of every box, was published the same year, and I'd recommend getting hold of a copy if you can - it's a good read full of distinctive, musical, lyric poems that are accessible, candid and sometimes marked by deft, even dark, humour.

But Mort also has a new pamphlet in the pipeline, and one which is rather unusually accompanied by a "one-woman poetry show": A Pint for the Ghost. This, as the show's curious blog states, "is set in a deserted pub after hours where strange characters come to introduce themselves. From the phantom miner at Hanging Flatt to the spirit in the hospital x-ray machine, the ghosts of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire saunter in for a drink with me. Join us at the bar when the show is finished later in 2009."

It promises to be an unmissable event, then, including music, poems and stories, and will be touring around the country from late 2009 through 2010, so worth looking out for if it's going to be at a venue near you (and by the sounds of things, it won't all be in the sorts of venues you might expect...).

In the meantime, do check out the A Pint for the Ghost blog, which features sample poems from the pamphlet and show, and posts on everything from the derelict pubs of modern London to Mort's favourite drinking haunts from across the country. Mine's a pint at The Devonshire Cat.