Archive for January, 2009

Featured Poet Charlotte Runcie Interviewed

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

You can find Charlotte’s poems here and here… and you should definitely also check out Pomegranate, her zine (my write-up here!). But for the time being, here’s a bit of info about Charlotte, her poems and her creative process.

Tell us about your poems.
My poems are my babies! They are my best friends and, until I’ve finished them, my worst enemies.
Because I’m only 19, I think I’ve still got a lot of experimenting to do before I settle down into any one style that could describe all of my poems – if that ever happens. At the moment I seem to go through phases of writing in different styles. I’m just emerging from a painful and prolonged dramatic monologue phase. It seems easier to write about some subjects when I assume the voice of someone else. For example, I’ve written quite a few poems from the point of view of men, or from people with strange experiences and occupations, just because it’s interesting to find out what my voice sounds like coming from a completely different kind of person’s mouth. My friend Dan says that my work drives him crazy because I keep using asyndeton in all my poems. I never even realised I did it before, but now I’m very aware of it every time I do it, and it’s a habit I’m trying to break. I’m not sure yet what the next poetry phase will be - I’ve had a sonnet phase, a love poem phase, a fantastical creatures phase… But I’ve certainly become more interested in fiddly formal poetry lately, so maybe some villanelles and sestinas are on the cards. I like the idea of exploring weird situations and fantasies within tight formal constraints; it’s like strapping a unicorn into BMW and watching what happens.

How long have you been writing?
There were lots of cheesy and sentimental poems I wrote for my school magazine, and I wrote some abysmal songs for a band I was in when I was about 13. I only started writing poetry a bit more seriously when I read some of the poems written by the winners of the 2005 Foyle Young Poets of the Year competition. They were so original and different from anything I’d read before, and I was amazed by how honest they were. Then I started thinking that maybe I could work up the courage to make poems out of all the weird things that went on in my head too. So I gave it a go and entered the competition. I ended up being one of the fifteen winners, and the Arvon creative writing course run by Paul Farley and Kate Clanchy that was the prize was an amazing experience, and it made me write more and more. That was nearly two years ago, and I’ve been writing solidly since then. I owe a lot to the Poetry Society.

Do you have any publications to your name (apart from this one)? What’s the next stage for your work?
I’ve been published in magazines like Read This, Shit Creek Review, Magma, and Brittle Star, which are all run by lovely people and to which I’d encourage everyone to submit. Hopefully I should have a pamphlet coming out later this year, so I’m working on that at the moment. I also spend a lot of time going to readings (including loads of open mics) because you never know what you might hear or what sort of people you might meet. Hopefully the next stage is just to do more readings, keep improving, and meet more great people writing and publishing poetry.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Setting up the Pomegranate ezine. It started out as just a “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” conversation with some poetically-minded friends, and it just grew and grew. I’m so proud of everything we’ve done with it.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing is being able to create something small and whole and succinct. If writers were carpenters, novelists would spend years making big beautiful pieces of mahogany furniture, while poets would spent a week at a desk whittling a tiny, perfect little sculpture of a mouse. You could spent a day just carving its little whiskers. Okay, so that allegory falls apart very quickly if you think about it too much, but what I mean is, I love the detail you can get with a poem, and the art of saying something immensely complicated using just a few words and a careful structure. That’s one of the more obvious attractions of poetry I suppose, but it’s worth repeating.
The worst thing is that everyone thinks you’re a pretentious emo kid. Such is life.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Yes! Submit to Pomegranate! And to Read This, where the lovely Claire and her pals will give you great feedback [editor's note: this is not a paid endorsement!]. Read proper poetry – Wordsworth and Auden and Shakespeare and Eliot but also Luke Kennard, Paul Farley, Jean Sprackland, Frances Leviston, Inua Ellams, Ciaran Carson, Jen Hadfield… Everyone on the shortlists of the big poetry prizes. Read things you hate, work out why you hate it, and then make sure you don’t make the same mistakes. And don’t be afraid to party with the grownups – it can seem like Andrew Motion and crew run the show, but there are plenty of opportunities for upcoming poets if you look hard enough. Your poems are no good to anyone if they’re kept in a notebook under your pillow, so get them out into the light – show them to friends, go to open mics, and send them to magazines. And listen to advice – I showed one of the first poems I ever wrote to my friend Amy, and she told me most of it was rubbish. I was disappointed at the time, but she was spot on. It was horrendous. I ended up using one tiny phrase from that poem in something else I wrote later, and scrapping the rest. Did I mention submit your poems to Pomegranate?

Who/what influences your poetry?
I’m actually really influenced by songwriters. Owen Pallett, Colin Meloy, and Joanna Newsom have influenced me a lot. I have some lyrics from Newsom’s song “Emily” taped up above my desk: “I dreamed you were skipping little stones across the surface of the water, / Frowning at the angle where they were lost, and slipped under forever / In a mud-cloud, mica-spangled, like the sky’d been breathing on a mirror.” I wish I could write like that.
Music and art are big influences – I love to write poems about people in paintings and who they might be. Or sometimes a phrase of music will stick in my head and I’ll want to turn it into words. Something else that sparks my writing is finding out about stories and characters from history, or just from family legends – people with unusual lives. For example, I wrote a poem about Chung Ling Soo, the magician who was killed when his bullet catch trick went wrong on stage, and the Chinese persona he had assumed all his life was revealed to be a fake when he cried for help in English. Stories like that are just crying out to be told as poems, and they can also serve as useful vehicles for exploring an idea that at first seems difficult to tackle.
As for actual poets who influence my writing, at the moment it has to be Norman MacCaig, Charles Simic, Paul Farley, Luke Kennard, as well as all the medieval and Renaissance poets I’ve been studying at university.
The young poets I work with on Pomegranate influence me a great deal too. Everyone on the team takes turns to workshop each others’ poems, and we write each other anonymous poems as Christmas and Halloween presents. It’s geeky but it really gets the creative juices flowing; I think being part of a poetry circle improves the work of everyone in it. It worked for the Romantics…


I have learned to hold a star on a post.
I can spin one end of an axis,
control a magnetic north of a creature
as slow and hot as a nebula,
create and shape cages for tiny suns.

And when I comb the sands for scallop shells
I find one mist-green stone licked soft
by rocks and storms. Maybe one
of mine, a shattered spirit bottle
beaten out of sharpness, lost its clarity.

I sense we’re both a long-rung note that wanted bells
and vespers, to sleep in arches and to stain
a monastery floor with weightless day,
forever holding up our faces to the light.

Want to be featured here? Drop me a line to with a few of your poems… it’s that simple!

(Photo by Br44_03)

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Procrastination Station #23

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Love link list link love.

The Guardian Books Blog are listing the 1000 novels everyone should read… how many have you read? (I have read 22 of the 100 sci fi ones, but only 9 from the love category which is mostly classic literature… which means I am a bigger geek than I thought!)
Also… Poster poems: sport // Literature mash-ups // How well do you know Edgar Allen Poe? // Poetry workshop: the elegy (deadline 4th Feb!) // Can you read and listen at the same time? // Is it possible to lose the will to read? // and I was really pleased to hear that Neil Gaiman won the Newbery Medalyay!

A tongue-in-cheek guide to publishing your prose.

8 tips for dealing with criticism from The Happiness Project.

These are apparently the 100 most beautiful words in the English language.

Heaps of cool stuff on a handful of stones recently! Former Featured Poets, McGuire and Shirla White, were published next to one another… and today I was greeted by this little gem. LOVE this zine so much!

The future of books on the Tube (or any other public transport really)… thanks, Annie! + some other underground shenanigans (which I think are v. cool).

Experimental typography (I am turning into a bit of a typography geek lately. Sorry)!

How’s about this for a weird and awesome workshop exercise?

You guys should definitely check out the blog of poet Kevin Cadwallender. His work is awesome… and he’s a lovely guy, too!

Lovely, lovely Hamlet tattoo from Contrariwise… and another that’s just freakin’ awesome! Kind of related: robots!

Are you enough of a Tolkien geek to order a Lord of the Rings cake? What about Poe’s Raven?


Amazing, amazing sculptures… and I was informed about them by the lovely and talented Hilary Dawson, stellar tattoo artist.

I adored this post. (Steve!)

Do you know anyone who can pull off a ruff — yes, a ruff — as well as homemade-clothing-queen Kirke?

+ finally: want.

Have a lovely weekend, writerlies!

(Photo by ☂c r a c k e d m i r r o r)

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Things I Love Thursday #23

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

List of love… link ye back.

Seeing Edinburgh with fresh eyes. Before we met, The Boy went travelling in Canada, and while he was there he happened to meet the lovely and talented Ms Miriam Parker: artist, writer and Rapunzel-haired wonderwoman. This past summer I also met her, and since she is a restless globetrotter, I easily convinced her to come and spend some time in Edinburgh. Last week she arrived with her lovely boy Lukasz, and they quickly decided they wanted to stay for quite a while, so I got to work showing them round, helping them to look for flats and jobs, and introducing them to all the cool places in the city. We spent a day wandering the streets I’ve lived among for over five years, with me jumping up and down like a kid pointing and squealing “and that’s an awesome restaurant, too… and you have to go to that store… and that place has the best chocolate brownie in Midlothian (Forest, of course)!” It made me realise all over again what a freaking awesome city I live in, and it made me grateful for the life I have here, too. Seeing Edinburgh with fresh eyes made me want to show it to all of you, too — hence my literary tour of Edinburgh! I might be coming to your city soon, too, you never know!

Gil Elvgren’s pin-ups. I’ve always loved this guy’s work — particularly his witch, who I’ve been thinking of adapting in some way for a tattoo… we’ll see! Anyway, The Boy is a huge Elvgren fan (he already has an Elvgren-inspired pin-up tattoo on his lower left forearm) and just bought a really cool Elvgren page-per-day calendar, which displays a different pin-up beauty on every page. I’m not just into the kitschy cool of these paintings, I love what they represent. Although some people see them as smutty and demeaning, I actually think that in this day and age, when unnatural female body ideals are held up far too high, they’re empowering. Real curvaceous women are hard to come by these days — we need a new Gil Elvgren!

Dining in a treehouse. For my sister’s 21st, we went out for a family meal last weekend, but not just to any old restaurant… we went to this place. Yep, that is a treehouse… and inside it is a lovely wholefood restaurant… blazing open fire, cool carved chairs and tables, heaps of fairy lights and candles and amazing food. It was a freezing cold day and it was lovely to walk into the coziness of every kid’s dream treehouse! We all got dressed up for the occasion, too… pics on my Flickr soon!

Read This Issue 14. Yep, I already said this, but… I think it’s our best issue ever. It’s decorated with these brilliant illustrations by the amazing Amy Bernays, and it also contains a piece of short fiction she wrote. We’re also featuring new poetry by Samuel Prince, Tamarisk Kay, Andrew Burke, Ryan Lamon (future ONS Featured Poet!) and the fantastic Howard Good. I always think our latest issue is our best, but… grab a copy, you won’t be disappointed!

The Read This store. I can’t believe it took us so long to set it up — so many of you have asked how you can get issues of RT outside the UK, and finally we’ve sorted something out! The store looks great and although Etsy is not totally ideal, it’s a pretty cool place to be. Go have a look, guys… you can get single issues, 6 month subs, 12 month subs and retroactive subscriptions, too. And all the money you spend goes into making RT bigger, better and more beautiful!

Honourable mentions: big warm duvets // impromptu poetry workshops // reading novels and being surprised by their amazingness // friends’ achievements // sweet emails from total strangers // silly action movies // spending time with my ‘rents // writing successful poems // nosying around other people’s flats // clearing out old posessions // birthday candles // Blackwells final January sale reductions

Now you, guys!

(Images uploaded by cambie a ! :), originally by Gil Elvgren)

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This week’s Featured Poet Charlotte Runcie

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Charlotte Runcie is a tall curly-haired girl from Edinburgh who has loved writing since she was six and wrote some alternative lyrics to “Good King Wenceslas”. Over the subsequent years she has moved away from Christmas carols and into the world of poetry, after winning the Foyle Young Poets of the Year competition in 2006. Since then, she was awarded first prize in the Christopher Tower poetry competition run by Oxford University, and has had her work published in magazines including Magma, Shit Creek Review, and Brittle Star. Along with some fellow winners of the Foyle award, she co-founded Pomegranate, the online poetry magazine, last year. It’s a zine for writers under 30, which also features articles written by young people about the current state of literature. She is currently working on a first pamphlet of poems to be published by tall-lighthouse in summer 2009, and studying English at Cambridge University. Apart from poetry, she loves tattoos, photography, and exotic varieties of tea.


I kiss you and I taste the weightless spike
and sponges of the ocean; love, it sends
me to the tentacles. I think you’d like
the fizz of it, and you give me the bends
on land so maybe in the sea the air
is easier to breathe. You’d be my line
up to the morning. Rays and seaweed hair
would touch our toes. Your crinkled hand in mine.

Marine biologists and astronauts,
they say, are not compatible, but I
have heard you slip your oxygenless thoughts
into the quiet water of the sky,
and Lizard Island’s just as grand as Mars.
Its waves are filled with skeletons of stars.

Want to be a Featured Poet? Just drop me a line and let me see a poem or two! Send your work to — I’m always happy to hear from you!

(Photo by Trixiebedlam)

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Books that Matter: your lists!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

So, you may remember that quite a while ago I wrote this post… and promised to share YOUR ‘Books that Matter’… but I forgot. But it’s not too late! Here are some of your responses!

“Important to me personally:
The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren
Punainen Erokirja by Pirkko Saisio
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Moonwalk by Michael Jackson.

Writing related:
On Writing by Stephen King
The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Part 1 by Virginia Woolf.”
Katja, writer.

“Books that have influenced my writing:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald // The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You by Paul Farley // The Harbour Beyond The Movie by Luke Kennard // Selected Poems of T. S. Eliot // Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys // Ariel by Sylvia Plath (though sometimes I wouldn’t like to admit it…) // Beowulf // Sir Gawain and the Green Knight // A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman // Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope
Probably lots more, but basically I have realised I am a plagiarist! “Influence” is a very forgiving word!”
Charlotte Runcie, Editor of Pomegranate

“1. Poetry Collections that are important to me:
Harmonium - Wallace Stevens
Collected Poems - James Schuyler
New Collected Poems - Tomas Transtromer
New Collected Poems - W.S. Graham
The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly - Denis Johnson
Collected Poems - T.S. Eliot
View with a Grain of Sand - Wislawa Szymborska
Collected Poems - Edwin Morgan
Selected Poems and Prose - Gerard Manley Hopkins

2. Books about poetry that are important to me:
The Truth of Poetry - Michael Hamburger
20th Century Pleasures - Robert Hass
Lives of the Poets - Michael Schmidt
Best Words, Best Order - Stephen Dobyns
After Confession - Kate Sontag and David Graham
The Sounds of Poetry - Robert Pinsky”
Rob Mackenzie, poet and critic.

Which books have influenced you? Which are your all-time favourites? What is it that makes a book matter?

(Photo by Tja’Sha ♥)

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Procrastination Station #22

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Link x love x list (and yes, I am obsessed with cute dawgs)!

Apparently I am not the only one who was pretty unimpressed by the inaugural poet… sorry, Ms Alexander, but… FAIL.

But! Amazing pictures from the inauguration — clicky clicky (I love #10)! // Poems for Obama (video) // The real show-stopper was that hat.

How Jen Hadfield won the TS Eliot Prize (wait, I already know this — by being awesome!)

A little something from Marilyn Hacker… & Anne Sexton

I just found the Flickr Phoetry group… some pretty good stuff there!

Re: this posthere’s a list of poems, poets and poetry quotes that appear in movies. How many do you recognise?

Need motivation? Just ask The Good Doctor!

Or, you could just make more hours in the day.

Gala has written a cool post on surviving Mercury Retrograde could also just apply to crazy times.

Inspiring quotations from the incredibly sweet Society of List Addicts blog

“We got plague all up in this bitch”: impressing women through the ages!

I am a huge fan of Beatles illustrator Alan Aldridgemy first tattoo is based on one of his illustrations. And now you can get STUFF with his art on it!

(Photo by Defekto)

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Things I Love Thursday #22

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

A bit short this week (busy!), but still… l o v e l i s t o f l o v e l i n e s s . Keeping up, you new listers? Link back!

21sts. My sweet little sister turned 21 this Tuesday, and we’ve been celebrating like crazy to mark the big event! Last weekend The Boy and I jumped on a train to Newcastle, Metro-ed out through the suburbs to her house, and spent our Friday night chilling with her and her sweet flatmates, eating chocolate and watching movies. The next day, while Sister hung out with her college mates (and the poor boy sat in bed with the tail-end of a nasty flu bug), I went paper-shopping (see below!), and then Sister’s flatmates and I decorated the living room with paperchains and balloons, baked fairy cakes and got dolled up to the nines. The party theme was GLITTER GLAM ROCK and everyone rose to the occasion with big shoes, big hair and sparkles a-plenty. Heaps of people came over and we boogied the night away to glam classics like T Rex, David Bowie, Roxy Music and the nu-glam Scissor Sisters. As the party fizzled out, Sister + a couple of friends and I sneaked out into the backyard to play poi at 1.30am. Sweet!
On Sunday we went out for breakfast (er, milkshake!) at a cool American-style diner, and although The Boy and I had to get back to Edinburgh pretty soon after, Sister followed us up on Monday and spent a couple of days at our flat. We did some cookie-baking, some pub-crawling, some tea-drinking and some thrift-shopping. And this weekend we’re having a family get-together + huge meal to round things off. A week-long birthday? Heck yes!

Stocking up! So I mentioned paper shopping… but I don’t mean grabbing a few sheets of foolscap (cool word!) here. On Saturday I trekked out to the Metrocentre in Gateshead to visit The Papermill Shop, an awesomely cheap and cheerful craft supplies wholesaler. While I was there I bought my first load of card and paper for Read This Press — enough card for the cover of Skin Deep and my other pamphlet project, plus paper for the inner covers, a portable guillotine and a load of other bells and whistles that should make the task of putting together several hundred pamphlets that little bit easier. The store had so many great deals and loads of choice, so I spent ages in there, wandering around, filling a huge basket (until, er, the handle bent…) with loads of cool stuff and getting very excited about the whole thing. I even ended up getting £15 off… every little helps when you have no funding! (I did have to drag all this stuff back on the bus in a huge backpack, since I have no car, so my back is still suffering… you guys had better buy these books when they come out, so I can pay for physiotherapy to straighten out my spine!)

a handful of stones. Yes, you’ve seen this blog mentioned here about a million times now, but whatever… I still love it. Everyday it lights up my feedreader with a little splash of poetic sweetness with my morning tea — and this weekend it featured not only one of my poems, but — right alongside it — a really great poem by the inspiration machine that is Amanda Oaks. Glee!

Honourable mentions: learning to bake really good, really quick bread // train journeys spent reading great books // heavy Scottish skies // film+sofa+duvet // false eyelashes, drag-queen-stylee // teaching other people poi! (I only know about five moves!!) // riding the Metro // getting the writing urge // phonecalls with my Mammie // books arriving in the mail! //

(Photo by Chotda)

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Five ways to beat Blue Monday.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

A while ago, some bright spark named 19th January ‘the most depressing day of the year,’ and for 2009 it’s been given the nickname “Blue Monday.” I’m not sure what the logic behind this is, but I’m aware that sometimes you just have one of those days. Here are a few ways to banish your Blue Monday, whether it happens to be today or not…

Go back to bed. When you get in from work after a crappy day, your first impulse is just to crawl under the duvet and hide from the world… but you feel like you ought to do something more productive, right? Forget it. Apart from anything else, sleep is really good for you, and it’s highly possible that the reason you feel so rubbish is because you’re not getting enough of it in the first place. Sleeping is not necessarily a lazy or indulgent activity — in fact, if you’re feeling totally zapped and brainless, it might be the most productive thing you could possibly do!

Cook something. Some people see cooking as a stressful activity, but it’s something I tend to do when I am stressed, in order to calm down. The key is not to worry about things being done quickly or coming out absolutely perfectly. Cook something you like, for yourself, and take your time over it. I usually bake alpineberry’s cookies (you can substitute the nutella & nuts for choc chips or raisins if like me you live with someone with a nut allergy) — it’s really quick, really easy and there’s no rushing it. You could also try baking bread — it takes a while, but it’s a slow, steady process that involves lots of kneading, a great stress-reducing activity! Find a really simple recipe (I recommend Nigella’s — particularly the quesadillas! — and Green and Blacks chocolate recipes!) for something you really like, make it, and then enjoy it. If you really can’t stand the thought of messing up or getting stressed, try my friend Lucy’s recipe for Christmas candy (er, so what if it isn’t Christmas?). You need white chocolate, mint humbugs, and peppermint essence. Put the humbugs (about a handful or so) in a sandwich bag, and bash them to bits with a rolling pin (FUN!). Melt the white chocolate (about 150g minimum) and mix in the smashed humbugs, then add about half a teaspoon or so of peppermint essence. Spread the mixture into a dish and shove it in the fridge. It sets in 1-2 hours and is freaking lovely… no cooking required!

Write. OK, OK, you’re miserable, uninspired and depressed, and the last thing you want to do is pick up a pen. Well tough — try it. If you’re a writer, chances are one of the greatest pleasures in your life is producing a great piece of writing, and believe it or not, your best writing can come out of your lowest moments. Some of the best poems I’ve ever written came about right after my grandmother’s death, and I’ve also found that some of the supposedly angry and incoherent scribbles I made after a break up or disappointment have turned into good stuff later on. For writers, putting pen to paper can be theraputic as well as productive, so even if what comes out is gibberish, do what you do best. Don’t allow yourself to edit or censor, just write until you’re bored, without paying too much attention to the quality of the stuff coming out. When you’re done, don’t read over it… hide it. Put it away somewhere and don’t get it out again until your blue mood has totally passed. You might find when you look at it again that you’ve produced some pretty good stuff.

Read. Books are all about escapism, so if you’re feeling totally sick and tired of the real world, you can always find relief by reading. Reading for therapy is not the same as other reading — you don’t have to feel obliged to start something new, read something you’ve been meaning to read for ages but haven’t got round to, or even read anything particularly worthwhile. If what you feel like reading is a magazine, no worries. If you want to read a book you’ve already read a million times, there is no need to feel guilty. If War and Peace is sitting on your shelf gathering dust but you really can’t face it, fine… let it sit there a bit longer. The whole point of banishing Blue Monday is freeing yourself from obligation — if you don’t feel like doing something, don’t do it. As long as you don’t adopt this attitude every single day, or for no reason, there is no harm in it every once in a while.

Wwilf. Wwilf stands for “what will I look for?” and the term “wwilfing” originally referred to the practice of randomly clicking around Wikipedia, following links from article to article. Since, it has come to refer to any kind of random internet wandering –a practice that is generally discouraged, particularly in the workplace! I reckon that wwilfing can definitely help you to recover from a crappy day, however, and it doesn’t have to be totally mindless… every day I learn something new by sifting through the hundreds of new blog posts in my feedreader. I highly recommend the Look At This blog, which basically catalogues weird and wonderful links from all over the internet, ranging from the educational to the downright ridiculous. You already know my love of the Guardian Books Blog… it churns out fantastic articles on all things literary, and you can spend hours there, just sifting through them. Ron Silliman’s famous links pages are like a encyclopaedia of literary articles, serious and silly, from around the world… and the rest of the blog contains some good stuff too. I also recommend Contrariwise, DWT, RetroToGo and Gala — happy wwilfing!

Questions? Suggestions? Email me via — I’m always happy to hear from you!

(Photo by Z!KeepeR)

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This week’s Featured Poet Tom Rendell interviewed.

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

You can see Featured Poet Tom’s poems here and here, and now you can find out a little more about him, his work and his creative process…

Tell us about your poems.
I am new to poetry so am yet to figure out my particular style. I like my poems to be off the wall, taking an unusual view of an everyday topic. I write poems because I enjoy it, and because of the wealth and abundance of worthy topics in existence. Life is incomprehensibly complex, but sometimes a good poem can make it seem simple. For me poetry is not something that I sit and concentrate on, I never sit down and think ‘OK it’s time to write a poem’. The idea for a poem will be triggered in my head by something, and will form naturally until the words seem greater than the sum of their parts when put together, their order makes sense. It’s like each object, action, phenomena contains poetry, and every now and again someone recognises this and finds the words to express it.

That’s the pompous, wordy answer to try and make myself look clever. Basically I sometimes write poetry because I find it satisfying and rewarding, like a hobby. If anyone else takes pleasure in it, then that is a brilliant bonus. I enjoy using wordplay and generally keep my poems short as I know that we, as the Internet generation, have very short attention spans and the readers mind wanders. Mine certainly does, which is perhaps why I have never written a poem of more than two stanzas.

How long have you been writing?
3 months.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
This is my first publication and I am new to the poetry scene. From here I intend to send my poems around to whoever will read them.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Winning 2nd prize in my family’s poetry competition back in 1998, I was very proud. My younger brother narrowly beat me to the first prize of a bar of chocolate with one of those poems that, when you take the first letter of each line and read them vertically, spells out a word or phrase. His spelt ‘God’s Gift’ and the poem finished: ‘a boy falls from a lift/ No one’s hurt, that’s God’s gift.’ The best man won.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best is the feeling you get when someone enjoys your poem, it’s a really cool feeling, although I have experienced this very few times. This is because of the worst thing about poetry; for me poems are really personal, and I find it difficult to show them to people. This isn’t because they’re full of my deepest inner thoughts and dreams, I just feel that you’re really out on a limb when you read them, especially to people that you know well. A strange contradiction exists in writing poetry because you want to people to read and enjoy your poems, but it’s often too scary to show them. It’s a bit like keeping a diary, they’re very personal but is there a voice in the writers mind hoping that one day they will be read?

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
I’m young and way too inexperienced to be throwing advice about, I know very little myself. I think all you can really do is write poems that you enjoy and are proud of, not poems that you think other people want to read. If you like them, the chances are other people will as well. Also I think it’s easy to worry too much about the rules of poetry, if people also abided by rules things would never advance. Just as poetry is subjective, so are its rules, what one sees as poetry another may not, but I see no problem with that. If you’re scared to show your poetry to people you know then send it to other poets, magazines, blogs like this one. The internet is an endless resource of advice, information and ideas about poetry, and has made it a lot easier to get your poems read.

Who/what influences your poetry?
Seamus Heaney - ‘Between my finger and my thumb/the squat pen rests, snug as a gun.’


We aren’t gonna find hopes and dreams
Hidden in computer screens
How am I supposed to excel constantly seeing
The world through windows
Spread the word, my points hold power
Hotter than a Firefox.

Time to restart from the heart
Shutdown the mainframe
Drive a hard bargain and
Drop down all the menus.
Fuck surfing the web and actually
Swim in a sea of truer blue.

Want to be a Featured Poet? Drop me a line with at least three of your poems included to!

(Photo by RebootYourComputer)

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More from this week’s Featured Poet Tom Rendell

Friday, January 16th, 2009

You’ve already met Tom, and he’ll be interviewed here in the next couple of days. In the meantime, here is another of his poems!

Denis in Space

Denis, has gone for a year out, in Space.
Skating skywards purple boots, heels click kicking high,
A celestial shout heckles the planets, white teeth dazzle stardust,
Parents – dentists, oh so proud of their satellite son.
It’s party time in the galaxy, crystal phantoms chatter by,
Mine sweep green goblets of Beetle Juice, and off,
Soul screaming, wild – eyed,
To run rings around Saturn.

Want to see your poems featured here? Send me at least three pieces of your work to — I’m always happy to hear from you!

Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space (Elvis Version), originally uploaded by Lady Vervaine.

Don’t forget to visit the One Night Stanzas store!

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