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
somebodies

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
either

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 claire@onenightstanzas.com… 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…

Anniversary

Desire:

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.

Alternatively (and this might be better for those of you living in the UK), you can click this huge red button, and follow the instructions!


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 claire@onenightstanzas.com… it’s that easy!

(Photo bt Cinematicsoundtrack)

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How to write… a sestina.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The sestina can seem like a bit of a formidable form to the uninitiated — it’s kind of like poetry meets maths. Here’s a rough guide for those of you who fancy having a go…

Sestina is a complex poetic form originally from Italy, and the word “sestina” comes from the Italian “sesto”, which means “six.” That’s basically because the number six is essential to the form of the sestina — it has to have six stanzas, each with six lines.

Sounds easy, right? So far, yes. But there are additional complications. Once you’ve written the sestina’s six six-line stanza, you also have to write a tercet on the end — a final stanza of only three lines, usually called the envoy, as a kind of conclusion. But the most important thing about the sestina is its repetition.

Before you begin a sestina, you need to pick six words. Any six words will do, but think carefully… because these same six words have to be used — in a very specific pattern — to end every single line of the six main stanzas. They must also all be used in the final tercet.

Confused now? If so, I am not surprised. Basically, you can use only the six words you have chosen to end your lines (until the tercet, but we’ll get to that in a minute). This limits your options in terms of where lines can ‘go,’ and depending on what your words are, it may also limit the subject matter of your poem. As you can imagine, it gets pretty repetitive, too.

In order to avoid the repetition, and the risk of boring or limited lines, you should try to pick words that are flexible, or have several meanings. You’re allowed to change the prefix, suffix or tense of the word (so “flame” could become “aflame,” “flaming,” “flames,” “flamed”, “flammable” etc); you can change its spelling in order to give a different meaning (”see” could become “sea”); you can even change the word completely as long as the new word retains some link to the old one (I recently wrote a sestina in which “melon” became “melancholy” for example). Just don’t stray too far or technically it’s no longer a sestina!

When you pick your six words, give each of them a number between one and six — this will help you when writing out your sestina: the pattern you’re required to stick to (123456, 615243, 364125, 532614, 451362, 246531 — remember I said it was like maths?!) is tricky to remember and having the numbers at hand will really help. I recommend bookmarking this sestina creator — it will help you to remember which words need to come at the end of which line and save you memorising the order (it will also provde you with random words if you’re having trouble thinking of some!).

When it comes to the tercet, you need to use all of your six words somewhere in your final three lines. Preferably, you should use two in each line, but the order is not important — plus, this is fairly flexible. Technically, your sestina should also be written entirely in iambic pentameter, too… but frankly, you have heaps to worry about and it’s usually still considered a sestina even if you don’t bother with this strict metre.

I know that after all that the idea of actually writing one of the darned things seems terrifying… but I really would recommend giving it a go. Sestinas are hard to get right first time so give yourself room to play around, and don’t expect miracles — just enjoy messing about with a technique you’ve never used before. As you get more confident, you can try trickier words, or challenge yourself to keep your lines a regular length — this can be surprisingly hard! And once you’ve had a few goes, you can start to play with the rules a little bit and think about creating a subverted sestina of some kind… you can even try a double sestina which has twelve stanzas of twelve lines each, which all end with the same twelve words!

If you need a bit of help, the sestina creator is one of the best things you can use — it does a lot of the mathematical legwork for you. If that feels too much like cheating, Wikipedia has a little how-to… and if all else fails, you just need to copy out the pattern of numbers above and number all the lines on your piece of paper before you start!

If you do write a sestina, I’d love to see it — you can feel free to drop me a line to claire@onenightstanzas.com, or leave your sestinas for all to see in the comments box!

(Photo by Moonaimee)

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Spiral Notebook, originally uploaded by Poofy.

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.

Footnote

Sitting
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 claire@onenightstanzas.com!

(Photo by Margolove)

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More from this week’s Featured Poet Richard Wink

Friday, February 20th, 2009

You’ve already seen one of Richard’s poems… here’s another. Check out his blogmag too!

The ne’er-do-well’s who never followed Desiderata

With hands in my pockets
I wear a dead serious expression
when I sign on.
There is doom saying in the Eastern Daily Press
men who read the paper can’t hear
me with those white wires trickling
down the back of their necks.
I tell them I’ve been searching for work
maybe I’m overqualified
maybe I’m fussy
maybe I should swallow my pride
and go back to the factory

Didn’t bother cutting through by the School of Art
on the way back home
because it galls me to watch those
youngsters
full of opportunity
you don’t really want to tell them
that the road is already too crowded and
the footprints well worn.
You don’t want to tell them the alternative footpaths
are all overgrown

Want to be a Featured Poet? Just drop me a line and a few poems to claire@onenightstanzas.com!

(Photo by Ronald Hackston)

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Procrastination Station #26

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Linklove.

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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