Sunday, January 24, 2010

Burns Night moved

The Scottish nation will be pleased to learn that I have unilaterally moved Burns Night from the 25th to the 24th of January. I've just eaten my haggis, with neeps, tatties, peas, gravy and whisky sauce, all washed down with the last of my homebrew mild. My stomach hurts (in a bizarre parallel, it may now actually BE a haggis).

The reason for changing the date of this august tuck function is that I'm reading in Leicester tomorrow night so can't do it then. Of course this whole post is just a roundabout way of introducing the reminder:

Leicester Shindig
at The Looking Glass, on the corner of Braunstone Gate and Narborough Road in Leicester
starts 7.30pm

I'm reading with Mark Goodwin and Matt Nunn, and there's an open mic too. Please come – big Rab's shade will bless you, and this is the first of a regular series, so it would be great to get organiser Matt Merritt off to a flier.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guardian poetry workshop

I'm this month's guest poet at the Guardian poetry workshop. It's on the theme of commodities. Eggs, biros, shoes, gold, palm oil - whatever you like. Get writing: the deadline's Friday 29 January.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What am I reading?

Just a quick post to say that Marshal Zeringue has been kind enough to reveal my current and recent reading at Writers Read and the Campaign for the American Reader – both blogs being really good sources of reading inspiration (as if you needed more!).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Leicester Shindig

Nine Arches Press presents


Live poetry and free open mic at
The Looking Glass
(corner of Braunstone Gate and Narborough Road)

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Mark Goodwin
Matt Nunn

Tony Williams

plus Open Mic

Readings start 7.30pm,
Sign up for open mic slots on the door.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The pace of life at a good bookshop

Delicious/terrifying detail of my buying Berryman's The Dream Songs from the legendary Scarthin Books: the book was in the new poetry section (as opposed to second-hand), but a little dusty and grubby-looking. The man on the till noticed this (unprompted – I'd thought it myself but didn't mention it) and checked – yes, it was definitely down in the stock list as a new book, but he knocked £2 off the cover price. Smashing.

Later as I was reading the book, I found tucked inside the back cover the little distributor's sales slip that came with the book when it was first ordered. Which was in late 1992. So it was indeed a 'new' book – it's just that it had lain on the shelf for just over seventeen years before somebody bought it.

It's almost incomprehensible. The week the book came in and they put it on the shelf (slightly ahead of the book's official publication date in early 1993), I may well have been in the shop browsing, a few months before I did my GCSEs. But I didn't buy it then, even if I saw it. Nobody did. If it was Waterstone's, at some point they would have taken it off the shelves and returned it or fed it to the giant rabbits or whatever it is they do (there sure as hell aren't any copies of The Dream Songs hanging around the shelves of the Sheffield Orchard Square branch – I looked). That might have seemed the smart commercial decision; it probably was. But if they'd done that, it wouldn't have been there, waiting patiently, when I arrived nearly two decades later. Good books are a slow business.

The more I think about it, the more grateful I am that such things can happen. I wish I'd refused the discount.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A crossroads

So is 'fainting tumescence and glance of eyes upon hummus' Swinburnian gold or Swinburnian bollocks? And would it have been better or worse if I had spelled 'humus' correctly and thus avoided the bathetic lurch into Near-Eastern cuisine?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The one about the eye

The best film I watched over the holidays was Russian Ark, shown on BBC4 a few days before Christmas. I'd wanted to see this film for years – it consists of a single uncut shot moving through the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg, with the narrator following a retired diplomat through a dream or possibly an afterlife, or just the ultimate museum. It's technically breathtaking – consider the difficulty of completing such a long shot on such a scale – and weirdly mesmerising (I found it impossible to look away from the screen, and only now do I realise how much cuts between scenes give permission for the viewer to relax attention).

It's a strange, charming film. I'm glad I liked it, since it indirectly provided the conceit for one of my poems (the oldest poem in my book, in fact). Here's the trailer, which as it cuts between clips fails to reproduce the effect I've been talking about:

Monday, January 04, 2010

Two books of Comic and Curious Verse

Since Christmas I've been reading two books – Berryman's wonderful The Dream Songs, and JM Cohen's Choice of Comic and Curious Verse, in which, this morning, I particularly enjoyed Justin Richardson's 'What'll be the Title?':

O to scuttle from the battle and to settle on an atoll far from brutal mortal neath a wattle portal!
To keep little mottled cattle and to whittle down one's chattels and not hurtle after brittle yellow metal!
To listen, non-committal, to the anecdotal local tittle-tattle on a settle round the kettle...

etc. Great stuff, Mr Bones!