Archive for November, 2008

Review: Nothing Unrequited Here, by Heather Bell

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that former Featured Poet, Heather Bell (née Schimel!), had been accepted for publication with the fantastic Verve Bath Press… and I told you to get your butts over to their Etsy and buy the book, not only to support Heather but also to support this very deserving little press!

Well, I couldn’t very well tell you lot to do it and not do it myself, could I? And I was absolutely thrilled when my copy of Nothing Unrequited Here landed in my mailbox. My first impression was: this book is gorgeous! Every single book produced by Verve Bath Press is handmade and handbound by the lovely and incredibly hardworking Amanda, and she’s done a brilliant job on Heather’s behalf. The covers are beautiful and the inner pages are meticulously laid out and dotted with cute inkstamps and illustrations! The book would make a beautiful addition to anyone’s bookshelf, and I’d like to take this opportunity to say: support Amanda and Verve Bath Press, so they can keep on turning out beautiful books by deserving poets!

And what a deserving poet Heather Bell is. I’ve been reading her work for over a year and waiting for the day that a publisher sat up and took notice. Heather is prolific to the max, never seeming to run out of words, which she weaves into striking, shocking, remarkable poems. Nothing Unrequited Here is a showcase of all her talents - with smart, sassy, sexy and funny poems like Small Tits lined up next to sweet, sad confessions like The One Bedroom Apartment. Heather’s voice is proud, unashamedly feminist and unmistakeably American, as evidenced in the journey that is Where We Have Been, or the spiralling prose-poem When Nothing Is More Beautiful Than This. This is not poetry that sits back to be appreciated and then moved on from - this is poetry that slaps you in the face and demands attention, poetry that sticks in your head like a great pop song. Heather’s work can be challenging, it can be frustrating, and it has a tendency to make you think and feel things that you might not expect to think and feel when you settle down to read a seemingly harmless little book of verse. However, Heather’s real gift is her ability to speak to her readers - no matter who they are - and truly touch and inspire them. Undoubtedly the best poem in this excellent collection is Before You Make Love, an epic, excrutiatingly honest piece that has the power to make poets of all of us. It’s a poem that says “everything is beautiful, even the bad things, even the ugly things.” Nothing is off-limits in Heather’s poetry, and that’s undoubtedly the key to its success.

So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a copy of Nothing Unrequited Here - available from Verve Bath Press for just $10.

(Photo by {miz.kellie})

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Featured Poet Hayley Shields Interviewed!

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

You’ve seen Hayley’s poems (here and here) … now you can find out a bit more about her!

Tell us about your poems.
Hmmm… OK, this is hard to answer seriously, without feeling stupid! I write mostly in free verse, although I’m begining to experiment with stricter forms. My poems are quite reflective, and have been described as “twisted”. I write because I love the satisfaction of finishing a poem (and because if I don’t I may fail my Creative Writing MSc).

How long have you been writing?
I used to write stories when I was very very small, but the first poem I remember writing was a sonnet, when I had just turned 16, for an A-level English class. The embarassing experience of having this poem studied by the rest of the class meant that I didn’t write again seriously until my 3rd year of University, when I took a course in Creative Writing. So really I’d say I’ve only been writing for 2 years.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I have been featured in one of the best magazines ever (!!), Read This - both in Issue 3 of the magazine, and on the website in September 2008. I was also chosen to be Editor’s Choice for an issue of Tontine, part of Edinburgh University’s Student newspaper. This was the high point of my poetic life so far.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Being accepted on the University of Edinburgh’s Creative Writing MSc course.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing is the sense of achievement you get when you’ve finished writing a poem, after all the excitement you feel when you’re creating something new, and also something “you”. See…? That rhymed. Clearly I’m a poet.
(The worst thing has to be when you spend ages writing something, and it just doesn’t work.)

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Read Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled. The man is a legend. That book will tell you everything you need to know, and it’s hilarious. Other than that, just write, experiment with different forms and ideas, etc.

Who/what influences your poetry?
At the minute I’m working on a bit of a fairytale theme, so fairytales are influencing my poetry quite a bit. I’m a huge fan of Carol Ann Duffy, and Margaret Atwood, so they undoubtedly (even if it’s just subconsciously sometimes) influence my poetry.

What would you do, long after I’m gone,

Finding one sun-stroked strand
Of my hair, curling lazily
Among the whites of this book?

What would you do, long after I’m gone,

Catching my face, unchanged and real,
Caged in the wooden bars
Of someone else’s photo-frame?

What would you do, long after I’m gone,

Hearing the crackle of my unfinished voice
Pour from videos of times
We were still strangers?

What would you do, long after I’m gone,

Stumbling through my scent in the street
Would you pick up the trail,
or turn tail and run?
Would you…

What
would you do,
long after I’m gone?


Want to be an ONS Featured Poet?

(Photo by AzRedHeadedBrat)

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