Archive for February, 2009

Featured Poet Amy Blakemore Interviewed

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

You’ve seen Amy’s poems… now find out a bit more about her life, work and creative process!

Tell us about your poems.
My poems are about being a hungry animal. I write free verse.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was fifteen. The joke I repeat everywhere (actually true) is that I read some Carol Ann Duffy for my GCSEs and thought it didn’t look at all hard. So basically, I began writing poetry out of spite. Bet you’ve never heard that one before!

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I’ve been published here and there. I was one of the winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year competition in both 2007 and 2008, so I was published in the winners anthologies and the poetry society website. My work has been in Rising, Pomegranate, Iota, Cadaverine and Young Writer magazine.
I’m being published in an anthology by Bloodaxe next year – that’s pretty next-stagey. I suppose I should really be thinking about a pamphlet or a chapbook or something, but I don’t want to rush myself.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
I was well pleased with being chosen for the Bloodaxe anthology. To be honest, though, it was probably writing something, sitting back, and thinking ‘yes, this is good, this has some worth’ for the first time.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
Damn. The worst thing is the frustration of thinking that no matter how much exposure you get, and no matter how good your work gets, it will always just be poetry, and for this reason you’re audience will probably always be limited. But I think you need to resign yourself to that, and write on. Writers’ block is up there, as well.
The best thing(s) are the people you meet. Mad, erudite people who you will love who write excellent things and help you write better things. You’re keeping something alive together. Then it’s the fact that you’re doing something that’s important. I’m making it sound like being a power ranger. It’s not, but writing poems is good and essential and should be done. It’s good to be part of that. Erm, so, writing poetry is the best part of writing poetry.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
The way you write is going to be different from the way everyone else writes, so don’t feel obliged to take advice from other writers. Not that you shouldn’t listen to it, just don’t feel you ought to be doing things the way she does, or he does. That’s my number one suggestion.
After that – always write things down. You think you’ll remember that awesome line that came to you when you were in the bath but you won’t. So carry a notebook. Read - if you feel like it. Find time to watch stupid TV and fall in love and that. Carpe diem. Don’t be too precious about your poems. They’re not a mineral resource. Let them go out and play.
Most importantly, feel free to discount above advice. But not this advice; read, and submit to, magazines and blogs. Enter contests. Don’t stop.

Who/what influences your poetry?
Pop culture, interesting newspaper headlines, natural disasters, violinists, boys, girls, drunks, New Cross, makeup counters, the river Thames and reading other peoples poetry. Specifically Yehuda Amichai, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, and the vast number of excellent young poets out there.

Death At A Party

I’d never met death before,
only been to two funerals,
(great grandmothers — you deal- - never knew them)
but there he was in that
disordered deck of lethal

where the hour-glass and garden
went to bed with japanned spades and aces and the queen
and the priestess dropped acid
with pictures of pikachu on the tabs.

Keeping to himself, in the corner.
Not grim, but without that historical gumless grin

and a six-pack of stella later
he was flickering like an admiring eye,
crusted green with photophores

and dancing, dancing, a skull in bug-eye shades with day-glo vertebrae,
flicking like the eye that cautiously admires,
bending hands around my shoulders –

making sure we all knew he was famous.

Be a Featured Poet: send a few poems to… that simple!

(Photo by Stuck in Customs)

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Procrastination Station #27

Friday, February 27th, 2009

List of link love…

What writers earn // Poster poems: walking // Wendy Cope’s writing room // AL Kennedy’s fantastic new column! // Margaret Atwood even makes mistakes elegantly // & let’s hope this happens

Some poetry prompts… inspired by journalling

A reading from one of the last great Beats

Found online this week… at a handful of stones: former Featured Poet Shirla White // Skin Deep and Read This contributor Christian Ward // and great poet/Read This contributor Ainslee Meredith — Ainslee also has a blog! // Amanda O also set up a new blog, as I mentioned yesterday… // so did poet and ONS reader, the lovely Lindis // and so did The Boy’s very talented mammie, Karen… check it out!

Crying on the Rocks, blog of the wonderful Heather Bell, is officially my new favourite. This week she’s posted a useful list of writing resources and a great (and funny) piece on writing in the second person. She’s also doing the whole Featured Poet thing, and last week she featured Morganne CouchRead This and Skin Deep contributor, whose stuff I love. You can see her work — including some fantastic artwork — here, and an interview here.

Why you should write a personal mission statement

Be more self confident…

…act like your idols are watching!

Tori Amos co-writes a poetry slam book!

Canada = awesome

Amazing pictures: Guantanamo Bay // Antarctica // Illuminated factories // London from above // A bar inside a tree // earth-buildings // strange houses // more strange houses // & Lindis pointed me in the direction of this urban decay gallery… thanks!

Passive-aggressive pastries and creepy cakes

Awesome tattoo!

…and speaking of tattoos: oh dear.

Have a great weekend, all! x

(Photo by εïз Butterfly LXT εïз)

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More from this week’s Featured Poet Amy Blakemore

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I’ll be back tomorrow to interview Amy, but in the meantime, you can check out one poem and her bio here, and enjoy this little beauty…



a bridge that bursts with wanting
the glifting water running under its ribs.

I dreamt about you last night,
damp and insidious
behind my throat.

A mouth aching for the river.

(Photo by Nicolas de Fontenay)

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Skin Deep is here! On sale now!

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Well, you’ve all done a marvellous job, putting up with me these past few weeks while I’ve angsted and carped on about my first ever book project, Skin Deep. I’m really proud to say that it’s all paid off — the book came off the presses at Forest today and it is officially amazing, even if I do say so myself.

Every copy is lovingly handmade — the covers are 200gsm cardstock with black endpapers. The contents are printed on high quality 80gsm paper and the whole thing is bound and finished off with a sweet red ribbon bookmark. When you open the book the first thing you get to is the stunning foreword — I was really honoured to have tattooed goddess and internet superstar Ms Gala Darling on board to write it. Sneak preview here…

Once you get inside the book itself, you’ll find brilliant poems from Kim Addonizio (I was overwhelmed when I received a submission from this lady!), Lucy Baker, Kevin Cadwallender, Dave Coates, Morganne Couch, Drew, Eric Hamilton, Aiko Harman, Natalia Herrero, Jason Monios, Roxanne Paris, Lauren Pope, William Soule, Christian Ward, Noel Williams and Juliet M Wilson. There is also a contribution from tattoo expert Marisa DiMattia — another person I was very pleased to hear from!

Basically, the book is fabulous, and I want to thank absolutely everyone who got involved with submissions, suggestions and offers of help — Read This Press loves you, you are part of this very cool book. You don’t have to take my word for it when it comes to the quality and loveliness… there’s more information over at our Etsy store, and you can grab yourselves a copy there if you fancy it.

If you do order a copy, I hope you love reading it as much as I loved making it!

(Photos from my Flickr!)

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Things I Love Thursday #27

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Love x List

The Lord of the Rings. Yes, I am officially a secret fangirl, and this past week my fangirlishness was re-awoken at an impromtu Lord of the Rings movie marathon! I first received a copy of the book on my 13th birthday, and read it avidly once a year from then until I was about 20 (by which time I was into my degree honours and reading far too much other stuff to keep it up). My relationship with the films is somewhat difficult (where the HECK is Glorfindel, Jackson?!), but as I sat through the extended editions this past weekend (albeit having to put up with childish “ew, that’s gay” comments and unfair criticisms of Sean Astin’s performance), I realised that for the past three years I have been sadly neglecting my geekishness. I have officially decided that there are far worse things to be obsessively interested in than one of the greatest literary (and linguistic) works of the 20th century (The Boy is into Star Trek, Doctor Who and 1950s pulp sci-fi magazines, for example!), so I intend to reignite this particular obsession with aplomb. I figure that now I’ve spent five years reading the big hitters of literature, I can get away with it. Any other geeks out there? Lets talk LotR… who’s your favourite character? (It’s a tough call but I think mine are Boromir [movie] and Legolas [novel].)

Read This 15. By the time you read this, I will probably be sitting in the Forest, watching Read This Issue 15 come off the printer. I know I always get excited about the new issue coming out, but this one really is pretty good. We’re featuring poems from the incredibly talented Mr Jonathan Hayes, from Skin Deep contributors Noel Williams and Morganne Couch, and from the man behind the magic of The Forest (and Scottish Poetry Library Reader in Residence!) Ryan Van Winkle. We also have artwork from Derek McCrea. Not only is it a great issue… I have also sorted out the shipping on Etsy, so if you want to buy a copy, you’ll be paying the right amount of P&P at last! Check it out!

The Oscars. Sadly, I do not have Sky Movies, so I was unable to watch the (this year) hideously predictable campfest that was the Oscars 2009. However, I have been furiously catching up on everything via the wonders of Perez Hilton and Youtube ever since Monday morning. I was, of course, absolutely thrilled that Kate won — she’s basically my Hollywood heroine and I was really rooting for her. Her acceptance speech was lovely, though I was not totally sold on her dress (which is what it’s all about really. And on that note, my vote for worst dressed undoubtedly goes to the usually awesome Gwen, who looked like she was wearing something made of old mops… and also surprisingly, I reckon one of the best dressed was Miley Cyrus, who seemed to be channelling vibes of Glinda)…
Other highlights: Sean Penn winning best actor, and Hugh Jackman’s song!

The University Challenge final. If you live in the UK you must have heard about this! It was amazing!
OK… another geeky confession: I am a massive University Challenge fangirl, too. Sadly the University of Edinburgh has a history of FAILING MISERABLY whenever they go on, but I always watch it, and usually, I always root for whichever team is from the North, or Scotland. If all else fails, I root for whichever team is not Oxford or Cambridge. This year’s final was Manchester vs Oxford, but Manchester’s captain was just too unbearably smug to even look at for long, let alone support, and Oxford had on their team the now-legendary Gail Trimble, who is amazing. I want her to be my best friend, she is so modest and sweet! I am genuinely shocked at the haters who think they can start blogs and Facebook groups suggesting that she be physically harmed because she is a) very smart and b) not necessarily the most beautiful girl in the world — I mean, what?! Given that I was berated in school for being studious and ugly too, my heart goes out to her… and the UC final was the most blood-pressure-raising piece of TV I’ve seen since the bus stop chicane at Spa in 2008. It’s not on Youtube yet, but it will be… watch out for it!

Honourable mentions: hot cross buns // my lecturing class working incredibly hard and proving to be a bunch of total stars // Amanda’s new blog // this sweet tattoo // Michelle Obama = style icon // my new floor-length kilt-skirt — toasty warm! // rice crispy cakes // small victories // walking through Morningside at midnight // Skin Deep — first proofs off the press and they look HOT // being too busy to blog — sad, but it = excitement and productivity! // being arty and crafty // mooching around in record stores // engaging record store employees in unhealthily animated conversations about Tom Waits // buying far too many secondhand “bargains” in record stores // Aberfeldy — finally a cool song with my name in it! // guacamole // getting stickers in the post

(Image by Kittypinkstars)

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This week’s Featured Poet is Amy Blakemore

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Amy Blakemore first began writing poetry when she was fifteen, after reading some Carol Ann Duffy and thinking it didn’t look that hard. She was named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in both 2007 and 2008, and was commended in the Torbay Open Poetry Competition in 2008. That same summer she interned at the Poetry Society, and they taught her to photocopy and do other useful things. Her poetry has been published in a variety of magazines and journals, including Pomegranate, Cadaverine, Iota and Rising. She has also had the good fortune to have read her work on BBC London Radio and Radio Europe. She is now 17, and studying for A-Levels in History, Philosophy and English Literature at a funny little school in south-east London.

The virgin of Guadalupe

From the playground to the park,
she tore indiscriminately,

her hair wide behind her like a
flag; dripping with catholica,

purple and gold rosaries
at her snakey body’s every juncture;

velvet ribbon and scraps of lurex,
blue Mary’s and Theresa’s.

Through the city she blazed a trail,
her mouth became a lovely firetrap;

she smelt of men
with motorbikes and vintage ephemera.

They called her The Virgin Of Guadalupe,
for all her nailgunned roses, her weeping messiahs;

though the name was ironic.
You heard she mothered

noisily behind
the bus shelter at dusk.

In the summer her hair would burn
and the shrines she kept behind her ears would melt,

she’d tear through the city in ankle socks
and not much else;

It won’t be long you see,
before she tears no more -

becomes a legend
for the sewer’s glitterati

and perhaps
cleans rooms in a hotel somewhere.

Be a Featured Poet — send a few poems to… it’s that easy!

(Photo bt Cinematicsoundtrack)

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Featured Poet Richard Wink Interviewed

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Richard is the editor of Gloom Cupboard (my write-up here) and you can see his other poems here and here. Now you can also find out a bit more about him…

Tell us about your poems.
My poems are direct and to the point. They offer glimpses into mundane existence, yet like a tempting scab they hide malevolent confessions and fruitless dreamscapes.
I write because I enjoy drifting in and out of consciousness. It’s an escape, which is quite handy because I’m always looking to run away from something.
Right now I’m working on an ambitious collection of one hundred and sixty poems; it’s very much Desperate Housewives meets Revolutionary Road.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for about nine years. I first picked up the knack during an English Literature class where I knocked up a poem about a hedgehog, during that time the only poet I really enjoyed reading was Carol Ann Duffy, she really brought poetry to life for me.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
Yes, quite a few. I suppose highlights would be getting a poem featured in Aesthetica Magazine and having six chapbooks published by various small presses. It’s always far sweeter when you see your words on paper. I was also perversely proud when I got a poem published by my old University’s paper under a dubious pseudonym.
Like with most poets the ultimate accomplishment would be to get a full book length manuscript published. That’s what I’m going to try and aim to do in the next couple of years. Then I’ll retire at 27.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Having people (other then friends and family) compliment my writing. That meant a lot to me.

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
Best: Creating something out of nothing. That’s a real buzz. Particularly when I’m struck by the divine hand of inspiration and the ideas just come, like magic.
Worst: When the devil on your shoulder begins to talk during the editing phase. Casting doubt on everything you’ve just written.

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Read as much poetry as you can and never take yourself too seriously.
There is no such thing as writer’s block. Only temporary loss of inspiration.
Also when you begin to submit poetry, embrace rejection, don’t take it personally.

Who/what influences your poetry?
Music. I always write with music on in the background.
As far as writers, obviously I’ve mentioned Carol Ann Duffy. I also dig the poetry of Anne Sexton, and appreciate her madness and eccentricity. Haruki Murakami and Lester Bangs are handy wordsmiths and my own personal Jesuses.


I notice too many toothpaste stains
on the sleeve of my famous blue
dressing gown.
Has it come to
tired eyes and
slow thoughts
to clear a path
and yell
I’ve finally run out
of ideas?

Want to be a Featured Poet? Send a couple of poems and a quick cover letter to!

(Photo by Margolove)

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Procrastination Station #26

Friday, February 20th, 2009


Can books damage your health? // Who’s in the running for weirdest book title of the year? // How to survive the recession: a guide for writers

Four writers with really weird obsessions + seven classic banned books

Bookstore rainbows.

I can read movies!

Heaps of cool stuff found online: Kevin Cadwallender’s Three Fragments (formerly featured in Read This!) // former Featured Poet William Soule featured over at a handful of stones // regular Read This contributor Dave Lewis featured at Bolts of Silk // Regular ONS commenter Col featured his Valentine haiku here, and was also published by a handful of stones // another regular visitor, Gareth, was also given the a handful of stones treatment! // Juliet gave ONS a nice mention, and this collection too… (thanks!) // ReadWritePoem were also nice about us this week, and Juliet wrote one of their recent prompts… try it out!! // + former Featured Poet Heather Bell has been busy — she’s set up her own author page, a literary blog, and she has just had a poem accepted by Rattle! Congratulations, Miss H!

Weird weather: snow creations // weird stuff the sky does // amazing clouds // awesome lightning // & more clouds!

Vivienne Westwood = heroine! & Beth Ditto too.

Amazing Homer Simpson vs Peter Griffin deathmatch! But I am totally unconvinced by the result — no way!!!

Jump on the One Night Stanzas bus (or make your own)!

My Gil Elvgren love affair continues…

& finally… I love this Sleeveface! I remember thinking Lisa was the most elegant woman ever when I was about 10! Nostalgia!

Have a great weekend, all!

(Photo by Che-burashka)

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This week’s Featured Poet: Richard Wink

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Richard Wink is a writer based in Norwich, England. Widely published, he has previously released six collections of poetry from independent publishing houses including All along the Wensum (Kendra Steiner Editions) and The Magnificent Guffaw (Erbacce Press) and Apple Road (Trainwreck Press). His words have been featured in periodicals such as Aesthetica Magazine, Decanto and 3:AM Magazine. As an essayist he regularly contributes to Slurve Magazine and various music websites such as Audioscribbler and He also edits the litzine Gloom Cupboard. His latest chapbook Delirium is a Disease of the Night is out now from Shadow Archer Press.

And I bet he sleeps at night

Segregated hedgerows close the village
arches over dipped bridges
round winding back roads
I’m led to a place of worship
to dull my rational thoughts
and embrace nervous faith
open my eyes a little

With rain in the air
I enter the churchyard
those big wooden doors were
bolted open, enticing the curious
all there to think about
the man in the mountains
who pretended to exist in

Want to be a Featured Poet? Drop me a line to and enclose a couple of poems!

(Photo by Bobby Stokes)

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Things I Love Thursday #26

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Before I do my lovelist, a quick apology: ONS has been pretty quiet this week! The Boy & I suffered a bereavement last weekend and other things have taken priority. But here’s to positive things! List of love!

Putting my Read This Press pamphlets together. Skin Deep is full up to bursting with incredible poets, as you already know — I am really excited about it. And today Chris, Struan and I spent an afternoon messing with the design of Chris’ pamphlet… he’s after “the distressed look” so we were staining the covers with coffee, bleaching them and wetting them to make them go crinkly. Sounds crazy and a little bit like a mad art project, but the few covers we managed to put together look absolutely brilliant. The content is also awesome… I got the draft on Monday and we’ve been poem-shuffling and title-tweaking and now it looks pretty perfect. We’re aiming for a 1st March finish date for Skin Deep (you can pre-order it here for £4 + postage), and soon after for Chris’ pamphlet, which will be the same price. Exciting exciting! I can highly recommend both!

Having the house to myself. The Boy is away for a night, which basically never happens –and although I am missing him heaps, I am also rather enjoying having the house to myself. Before we got together I was a bit of a night-owl, but because Boy has to get up around 7am for work, I am usually tucked up in bed by midnight these days. Right now it’s 1.10am (yes, technically this is TiLF, not TiLT), and I am wrapped up in a duvet watching the wonderful Ghost World, chain-drinking tea and writing away, getting caught up on a load of admin-type stuff and basically vegging out. I’ve also been listening to loads of records The Boy usually frowns upon: Jim Bianco, The Streets, Aimee Mann, and er… Goldie Lookin Chain.

My new job. I just started my new job as lecturer in English at Edinburgh’s Telford College (where The Boy also works! — no nepotism was involved, incidentally!), and it’s going really well. I have only ever taught on a one-to-one basis before, so as you can imagine, going from private tutor to lecturer in one fell swoop was pretty nerve-wracking! The first ten minutes, I was terrified, but I soon realised that my class are all really sweet and hardworking… and communicative! I was mostly worried that they’d be non-talkers, but they were all really keen to contribute, start discussions and even pitch in with opinions I’d never have dared to voice when I was eighteen! I am really looking forward to seeing them all through the next two months as they work towards their exams — they’re all smart, ambitious kids wanting to move onto bigger things… that’s pretty inspiring! Standing at the front of the room talking for two hours at a time is exhausting (and thirst-making: I am drinking gallons of water to keep my voice audible!), but worth it. A career in academia is feeling a lot less daunting now…

this collection — our Top 100 poems is nearly full, and basically reads like a who’s who of Edinburgh’s established and upcoming poetry talent. We’ve got greats like Brian McCabe, local makar Ron Butlin, Roddy Lumsden, Dilys Rose, Sam Meekings… plus several former ONS Featured Poets! McGuire, Hayley Shields, Chris Lindores, Juliet M Wilson. The final few places will be updated in the next few days (ie, when I get a minute!), so watch this space!

Birthday plans! The Boy and I celebrate our birthdays only a couple of days apart — he’s late February and I’m March 10th. We’re celebrating his birthday over the next two weekends as it falls on a weekday — I’ve been saving up vouchers for him to go and get new ink at Edinburgh’s most popular parlour, which we’re both quite excited about. We may also be going on a day-trip to the zoo — childish, but cheap and fun! I am still totally clueless about what to do for my birthday, even though it’s looming… I’ll be doing what promises to be a really fun poetry reading gig with a bunch of friends the night after, so that may well become part of the fun and frolics. We’ll see… I am saving for a trip which might turn out to be the official ‘celebration.’ But where to go…? Plotting is all part of the fun.

High Fidelity — I really want Bruce Springsteen living inside my head, too!

Honourable mentions: seeing karma in action // cinnamon and raisin bagels // mild weather + feeling like Spring is coming! // finding out that all the texts I have to lecture on are ones I have read and/or taught before // putting together Read This 15 (submissions from Ryan Van Winkle!) // stained fingers from dyeing/staining/bleaching paper // plotting possible summer hostelling and festival-going adventures // having people ask me for the recipe when I bake something (sorry, my magical sponge cake recipe is top secret!) // my Dad calling me from the supermarket and yelling “BONG!” down the phone in public // friendly cab drivers // reading great short stories // discovering Kathleen Jamie’s poetry

(Image from Ghost World, uploaded by David Zellaby)

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