Archive for October, 2009

Found online this week: Kerry Hardie

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

I think I should rename this series “not actually found online, found in a book, and by the way it’s another female poet.” Far more accurate…
So I actually found Kerry Hardie in Being Alive, an anthology I’d recommend you all get. It took me a while to get “into” this book, for two reasons — one, because I was finding it very difficult to write and thus resented every poem I read, and two, because I wasn’t a huge fan of Staying Alive, its predecessor (it’s bad, but I can’t stand anthologies of “the old favourites.” Anthologies of really good contemporary stuff, the majority of which I’ve never seen before — this one, this one! — are so much more my bag). However, after a couple of days of huffy page-fluttering, I came across the first of several poems in the book by Kerry Hardie. Thank you, madam — you not only opened by mind to the book, but you also seem to have cured my creative block!

Hardie — there’s a very comprehensive bio here — writes a great deal about sickness, death and loss. Morbid perhaps, but these are topics I find fascinating, and often write about myself. They’re also rather tricky topics to “get right,” as I have discovered many a time — but Hardie has a deftness of touch that makes it look easy. When you read her poems about her own illness or the death of someone close to her, you feel like you’re reading a chronicle, an account — but one that demands to be read, one that says “look, this may be mundane, but it’s important that I show you.” It’s refreshing to find someone who writes about mortality in a matter of fact but beautiful way, without feeling the need to make large and grandiose points about life, the universe and everything. Of course, Hardie’s poems can’t help but touch on deeper issues, but essentially she’s saying “here’s what happened, here’s how I felt.” It’s a simple honesty that I also love about poets like Sharon Olds and Liz Lochhead, but Hardie’s work also posesses a modesty and quietness that Olds and Lochhead sometimes lack. With a lot of her poems I found myself nodding in agreement as I read, thinking “yes, that’s exactly what it’s like.”

Then I would want to praise
the ease of low wet things, the song of them, like a child’s low drone,
and praising I’d watch how the water flowing the track
is clear, so I might not see it
but for the cross-hatched place where it runs on a scatter of grit,
the flat, swelled place where it slides itself over a stone.

from She Replies To Carmel’s Letter

She never liked pansies. All those little faces,
looking at you. I always made a point of sowing them.
When I left it late, I bought young plants in trays.
It was against my husband as well.
Not that he minded what flowers I grew,
but she was his mother:
it was my small gesture of defiance,
a staking of territory; mine, not hers.

from Now That She Has Gone Away

You can buy Kerry Hardie’s books here, or from the Gallery Press website.

(Photo by felixspencer2)

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Featured Poet Adrienne J Odasso interviewed.

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Tell us about your poems.
For me, the question of style is eminently maddening! I’ve been told that, broadly, from poem to poem, it would be difficult to tell that they were all by me if my name were to be stripped away. That said, I think that I can discern stylistic currents amongst certain of my most frequent subjects. For instance, many of my more confessional pieces tend to deal with memories from my tomboy childhood in rural Pennsylvania or memories of my family in general. The voice in these pieces is (I was once memorably told) a strange combination of lyrical, frank, and unnerving.

I also tend to draw on my academic interests for inspiration; you’ll often find me making allusions to medieval poetry or the matter of handling old, fragile books and manuscripts. Folktales, myths, and music also figure prominently in my more speculative and fantastical pieces. I’m fond of rescuing and recasting lost stories, and you’ll frequently find me taking on ‘non-traditional’ sexuality and gender issues. Lost books and lost voices often go hand in hand. I traffic in archetypes, but with a twist.

How long have you been writing?
Compared do most of my writer-colleagues, I seem to have started quite late. Where you’ll hear many writers say that they’ve been at it ever since they first learned to string letters together into words, and words into sentences, I’ve only been at it since the age of 13 or 14 (I learned to read and write around the age of 3 or 4). For the longest time, I seemed to think that the visual arts were my calling in life; I drew and painted competently. However, when I reached my early teens, I realized that my art wasn’t really improving or progressing. So, I thought, well - what’s left to me? I’ve always had a good voice, and I loved singing, but I needed an outlet through which I could create raw content (I’m no virtuoso pianist or composer). Writing it was. And, in the long run, my love of writing was the reason I dropped out of music school to major in English instead. A career in academia with writing on the side is what I’ve chosen, but if the writing should ever take center stage, I won’t complain!

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
Quite a number, although I should stress that this doesn’t mean I’m famous. I’ve been in quite a few magazines in both the U.S. and the U.K.; a full list of my credits is available online, for the truly bored or curious. My e-chapbook through Gold Wake Press, Dead Zones, is also available on the web, and my first print chapbook, Devil’s Road Down, is currently available from Maverick Duck Press. My first full collection, Lost Books, will be available from Flipped Eye Publishing in April 2010. 2009 has been an incredibly good year. “Snap,” one of the poems from Dead Zones, is up for the Pushcart Prize anthology, and I’ve been nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net awards.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Although I’m thrilled about Lost Books, which I mentioned above, I’m actually more proud of one of my single-poem publications in a U.S. magazine earlier this year. Mythic Delirium is regarded as one of the best speculative/SF/F publications out there, and a year and a half after submitting, I was told by the editor, Mike Allen, that he’d be accepting my poem, “Journeying,” for the special tenth-anniversary issue (#20, which came out in May). I was thrilled about this for two reasons:
1) I had written “Journeying” in late 2004, as a sort of creative place-holder for the novel I one day intend to write. At the time, I was still an undergraduate at Wellesley, and I’d been accepted by Frank Bidart to take his 300-level poetry course, which at the time I thought was a big deal. Since “Journeying” had been through a few drafts before I ever took it to class, I thought it’d work well in my final-project portfolio. As it turned out, Frank praised every piece in my portfolio except for this one - he called it pseudo-medieval something-or-other, which, at the time, really stung. I was proud of the piece, and, back when I was young[er] and [more] rash, there was nothing like telling me I’ve been a bad judge of my own writing to make me determined to prove that all the work I put in was worth it.
2) Mythic Delirium is a well-respected publication, Mike Allen is an absolutely fantastic editor, and a new poem from Neil Gaiman also appeared in Issue 20. A geeky writer’s dream, really!

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing about writing poetry is the incredible people you meet. In my experience, poetry draws like minds to like. It can also draw opposing minds together, which is great, too - debate is right and necessary. A colleague recently sent me a bumper sticker that says POETRY SAVES LIVES. In either case, I agree with that statement; it probably saved mine. During the years I was primarily writing to and for myself, I was able to hold off the barrage of uncertainties and maintain a sense of self.
The worst thing about writing poetry is the inevitable down-time, the blank spaces between poems. However, it’s from those spaces that we carve new work, so how can it be all bad?

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Be bold. Ask questions. Read insatiably. Know who you are.
(And if you don’t know who you are just yet, you’ll discover it in the writing.)

Who/what influences your poetry?
William Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, and Louise Glück were the first poets to make me really sit up and pay attention to verse, although I wouldn’t say my style has been directly influenced by any one of them in particular. I’ve been told my work stylistically resembles Carol Ann Duffy’s, which I find sort of amusing, because my style was pretty set by the time I discovered her work (only two years ago). Jorie Graham, James Nash, and Mark Doty are also on my list of favorites. Sharon Olds. The Gawain-Poet. Any poet whose work reflects a profound sense of wonder and discovery even in the face of loss.
All of my work, whether fiction or poetry, is ultimately indebted to the stories my grandmother told me. Without the wealth of her words, my creative world would have been a poorer place.

Split Vision

Turn the tables or the corner. Smoke rises
from my upturned hands and stings my eyes

with this beginning, for I cannot learn
from what was. So I will chase them through

the Shadows of the Valley of Death, these lies
resembling love, and then I will find them

though all Hell should rise to meet me
in the trying. Read in these pages the blue

of the evening. I have left it behind me,
and the stars be my diamonds now, distant

cold pulses of flame in an instant

and the tables burned.

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More from this week’s Featured Poet Adrienne J Odasso

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

You can see yesterday’s poem, Nine Things Oracles Do, here. Interview tomorrow — in the meantime, enjoy!


We set sail from Amsterdam Harbor sometime
in September, or it might have been August—

I can’t remember. These signs, images,
and floaty sea-birds begin to blur

into fearful, restless oblivion.
Sharper still is the sheer dizziness

of steep, winding stairs deep in the heart
of that ageless brick haven: free-standing

wonder mortared with memory and loss
sifted from the whispering canals,

which I skirted with weary steps on stone
that could not take the weight of our dreaming.

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This week’s Featured Poet is Adrienne J Odasso

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Adrienne J. Odasso is currently completing her Ph.D. in English at the University of York. Her poetry has appeared in a number of publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including Strong Verse, Aesthetica, Sybil’s Garage, Succour, Farrago’s Wainscot, The Liberal, Mythic Delirium, Under the Radar, and Ouroboros Review - with new work forthcoming in Illumen, Not One of Us, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Drollerie Press and Hadley Rille Books, and her first print chapbook of poetry was published in September 2009 by Maverick Duck Press. Her first book-length collection, Lost Books, will be published by Flipped Eye Press in early 2010. One of the poems from her e-chapbook from Gold Wake Press, Dead Zones, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Nine Things Oracles Do


Sit on bedside tables. Persephone
watches over me as I sleep,
and the alabaster jar beside her
says nothing.


Hide in drawers. My tarot deck
sleeps beneath cotton knickers
and never bothers to yawn
when daylight enters.

(Lazy git.)


Lurk on hard drives. Patti Smith
and PJ Harvey drag me under,
over and over. Horses
and ether.


Sit in bowls. Corn Mother
is patient between feedings,
but Raven, little trickster,
loudly sings.


Weave carpets, although I do not
know the name of the man in the market
who sold this blue-and-rose beauty
to my mother-in-law.


Tell stories. My bulletin board
can show you what I looked like
at twenty. It also knows several
addresses that I forget.

(It’s always right.)


Oversleep. My flatmate
doesn’t rise until noon,
but you’ll smell her kitchen miracles
very soon.


Give kisses. My husband
never wakes me, and he’s gone
before I know it. But that kiss
will always tell me
what he meant.


Give advice. I am on call
24/7 if you need me,
even digitally,
and all I ask of you
is a cup of tea.

(Discount price.)

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Sayings to be savoured.

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Last weekend I spent all of Saturday demolishing a fitted wardrobe. It was probably the biggest, ugliest and most durable wardrobe ever conceived by man — obviously built to withstand a hurricane, it was reinforced with steel rods, bolts and hooks at every turn and took nearly three hours and a whole lot of kicking and swearing to demolish. I was helping my parents do this as part of the renovation of the bungalow they’ve just bought, and while we hammered, kicked and hacked at the beige hessian-coloured hardboard, we got round to talking about language, and our favourite words and phrases that seem to be sadly slipping out of common usage. I think it was set off by my mother suggesting that we “shoogle it hither and thither” to loosen a stubborn bolt. “Shoogle” — one of my all-time favourite words and still very much alive in Scotland — aside, we all giggled at this, commenting that no one ever says “hither and thither” any more, and that’s a shame…

It became one of those on-going conversations that keeps resurfacing in the midst of other things. At one point my mother came up behind me and yelled “GAMP! That’s a word no one uses any more!” (Gamp is a once-common term for an umbrella, at least in the north of England.) This got us musing on other dialect and pseudo-dialect words that are disappearing along with our older generations: others we came up with were “yat” (”gate,” in Cumbria and the North West) and “sithee” or “sither” (an expression a bit like “see here,” used to draw the attention) — “sithee” is Cumbrian while “sither” is more Yorkshire and the North East. We also lamented “gander” (to “have a gander”) and “butchers” (to “have a butchers”), both meaning “to inspect or have a look” at something.

My father talked about how, when he was at school, he and his friends used to compete to see who could use the longest word — bonus points if they used a word their teacher didn’t know or couldn’t spell. His favourites were “surreptitious” and “soporific.” I tried hard to imagine my students using these words, or to imagine them trying to outwit me with words like this. The closest they’d ever come would probably be baffling me with their fangled-slang…

Others my mother offered were “salubrious” and “palatious” — “no one ever talks about salubrious neigbourhoods or palatious houses these days” — and “somnambulist”… nowadays you’re just a sleepwalker. I did argue that naturally, language must evolve as it always has, and for every word that disappears, hundreds more are created. However, I had to admit that “n00b,” “yay” “grrl” and most of the other words recently added to the English Dictionary don’t have quite the same ring to them as “hither” or “palatious”…

Which little-used words do you love? Are there any words you’d be glad to see fall by the wayside? Which words would you like to resurrect? Get thee to the comments box!

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Featured Poet David Tait interviewed.

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Tell us about your poems.
I think my poems are “love poems” and “city poems”. Most of my writing is densely populated and I find writing about people far more interesting than writing about trees or mountains. Huge things scare the living daylights out of my pen. I wouldn’t know where to start with writing a mountain or the sea — people walking on a mountain or sailing on the sea I could just about handle.

I also like to write in a way that is accessible for its readers. Sometimes saying the simplest things is much more effective than language steeped in hyperbole and classical/mythological allusions.

How long have you been writing?
It feels like I’ve been writing forever. I wrote little songs during primary school and wrote teenage angsty poems when I was a teenager. In terms of “taking myself more seriously” I’ve been writing properly for about 2 years. In recent times I’ve begun to get more involved with the running of workshops and I always enjoy watching people who are relatively new to poetry come out with strong first drafts.

Do you have any publications to your name? What’s the next stage for your work?
I’ve got a pamphlet out through Erbacce Press called Suitcase/Earthquake which I enjoyed writing. I’ve also had poems accepted for numerous publications such as Pomegranate, The Cadaverine, Read This, Like Starlings and the Guardian Online poetry workshops. The next natural step I suppose is my first collection. I had a mental breakthrough the other day and finally figured out what was holding the existing poems together. I guess I’ll be using my MA time to write the rest of my first collection. I’m also hoping move over to Thailand for a couple of years to do some translation from contemporary Thai poets. That should be around June or so.

What do you think is your biggest poetic achievement to date?
Well, it’s a difficult question to answer really because “achievement” in poetry is always marked by “published in this” or “won such-and-such prize” and I really think the thing I am happiest with is something called The Firework Factory, which I am going to take a moment to plug. Basically every week/fortnight an email is sent to a group of writers giving them a writing exercise to respond to. The responses are often very strong and I include 2 or 3 of the best in the next weeks email along with the subsequent writing task.
I think this is my strongest “achievement” because it is free, fun to run and is accessible to everyone. If you would like to join the list please email and we’ll get you added on. If nothing else it will give you something to mull over!

What’s the best thing about writing poetry? And the worst?
The best thing about writing poetry is that brilliant moment you write something that you instantly fall in love with or think “shit, where did that come from?”
The worst thing about poetry is when you write 2 or 3 poems in a row that aren’t up to scratch and you start to have hideous and horrendous doubts. Those moments always pass of course but it is always hellish!

Got any suggestions for young, upcoming poets?
Well, read Rowena Knight’s interview from a few featured-poets-ago. She’s bob on with so much of what she has said in that space and if you’ve read it already go back and re-read it!
The only thing I can really add to it is practical things. Exercise, try writing in different styles, watch world cinema, go to art galleries, hike, bike, subscribe to zines, if you can afford to then go on an Arvon course with a poet you admire… listen to what people have to say. Read Claire’s posts on criticism - join a writer’s circle, ignore anyone who claims that contemporary poetry is dead. Read everything worth reading. Follow One Night Stanzas. (Thanks David!!)

Who/what influences your poetry?
I think the world you connect with influences your writing and it certainly does so for me. In terms of what to read and what has influenced me the list could go on forever but lets make a start with the following:

Carol Ann Duffy, Billy Collins, Sujata Bhatt, Moniza Alvi, Alison McVety, Sinead Morrisey, Moniza Alvi, Dorothea Smartt, Pat Borthwick, Geoff Hattersley, Jean Sprackland, Mark Doty, Michael Symmons Roberts, Jackie Kay, Gillian Clarke, Emma Jones, Michael Laskey, Kathryn Simmonds, Jen Hadfield, Jo Shapcott, Maura Dooley, Helen Farish, Daljit Nagra, River Wolton, Catherine Smith, Imtiaz Dharker and Kapka Kassabova.

In terms of younger writers keep an eye out for Helen Mort, Suzannah Evans & Mark Burns Cassell who all write brilliant stuff.
I’d also really recommend watching lots of world cinema, in particularly directors like Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Kim Ki Duk.


You always were a few hours beyond me,
and it didn’t come as too much of a shock
when I read the note that you dropped in our gutted
bedroom, that said you’d left me for a new life in the east.

You didn’t apologize or give me much to go on
so I bought a clock that included all of the time-zones,
and watched my days as breakfast chimed lunch in Dubai –
or dinner, on your own, in downtown Shanghai.

Three years on and your clothes don’t smell like you.
I’m eating lunch hours early with wide-awake friends
in my kitchen, my dull clicking clock, and your face
pressed to the window, staring through the time-zones.

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Procrastination Station #56

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Sorry I’m late this weekend! Very topsy turvy week… better late than never!

First, an update on my Etsy empire!: There’s a sale on at Edinburgh Vintage with many very cool items considerably reduced! I also just started up my own line of handmade accessories, CustomisEd. Check out the Halloween stuff I posted recently! // For those of you who don’t know, I also recently set up a spin-off to Edinburgh Vintage, a store called Quilt of Dreams which carries vintage fabrics, buttons, trimmings and embellishments for dressmakers, quilters and crafters. Check it out! // & the Read This Press store is business as usual… Skin Deep is almost totally sold out now so grab yourself a copy on the double!

Rediscovering poetry // Poem of the week // & another // I heart Byron // Reviewing the work of friends // 10 most challenged books in the USA // 10 of the UK’s best second hand bookstores (I’ve only been to two! I sense a roadtrip coming on…)

Visit the Moleskinerie (thanks Beth!)

Ever wonder what Jay-Z’s favourite books are?

I love the Rejectionist.

Photos from the Scottish Poetry Library’s By Leaves We Live Fair (including some terrifying ones of me), and a write up!

I now follow Margaret Atwood on Twitter!

Billy Collins & Charles Bukowski

Literary threads (thanks Regina!)

Found online this week: A sweet haiku by former Featured Poet Juliet Wilson // Matt Haigh at 13 Myna Birds and Pomegranate // Gareth Trew is Poet in Residence at Poet’s Letter Magazine // New work from Alex Williamson // I love this poem from Howie Good at Bolts of Silk // & Angela Maiers gave me a mention!

Cool stuff at qarrtsiluni

Rarely seen Banksy

Grouped by Colour & OH MY GOODNESS treehouse glee!

Very cool typography…

…& some more type-related stuff.

Urban decay // Abandoned Churches // Chernobyl Today // Chernobyl Journal (all via)

London Tattoo Con parts 1 and 2

The Christmas list starts here

This is cool.

& finally… Boy & I are thinking of getting one of these! Thoughts…?

Have a good week, all!

(Photo by boopsie.daisy)

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More from Featured Poet David Tait

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Constellation #2
Based around the work of Chu Yun

Some nights I gather every extension cable and slowly
assemble star systems around me. The DVD player’s
stand-by bulb, the fan, the TV, a strand of carefully
placed fairy lights, the green tinged glow of my water cooler.

Then lonely, my darkroom brightens like a photo flash.
I light candles into solar systems. A fragile Scorpio
hovers around shelves, an Orion’s belt of tea-lights
is strewn along the coffee table, gently tattooing the walls.

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(Photo by Josh Hoffman)

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This week’s Featured Poet is David Tait

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

David Tait is a 23 year-old Leeds-based poet. He is relatively new to writing more seriously but has had some initial success, having poems accepted for The Cadaverine, Guardian Online, Pomegranate, Poetry & Audience, The Scribe, Pygmy Giant and numerous other small-press magazines. His poem Bluebeard won Leeds University’s Alison Morland Poetry Prize and he has a pamphlet, Suitcase/Earthquake, out with Erbacce Press. He will soon begin a MA in Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Last night I opened his long abandoned suitcase.
It has rattled with earthquakes and accusations for months.
Inside were normal things: pyjamas, white towels –
his long gone smell flooded back through my house,

and for two long minutes he raged in the armchair,
tremoring the curtain rails, putting out my lights.
He smashed up every photo-frame and window

in the street, then left. My neighbour’s shock.
The city-wide shriek of car-alarms.

His long abandoned suitcase lost in the rubble.

Want to see your poems featured here? Drop me a line to!

(Photo by S.Mae)

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