Archive for April, 2012

Get the gist? Saying hello to what you really think about your writing

Monday, April 30th, 2012


I was directed towards Arvon’s callout to writers for their forthcoming book, Gists, by the lovely and talented Kim Moore. Arvon want to hear what and how you think about your own writing process, and they might even deign to publish your responses alongside writers who are, you know, doing it properly. Famous, and that.

I decided to go and fill in their form because of how Kim framed it — she’d been advised to answer the questions instinctively, without thinking too much. The result was that she found out a few things about her writing process that she’d never really thought about before. Book or no book, that had to be a good idea, I reasoned.

I did the same thing as Kim. I read each question once, and not desperately carefully, and then I answered that question and moved on without reading over my answers. Fortunately, they’re not too rambling and they don’t seem too riddled with typos. The results are below. Those of you who’ve read my poems — or indeed, this blog — can tell me if they’re a fair reflection or not! And if you want to fill out the questionnaire yourself, you can do so here.

How does a book or piece of writing begin to take shape in your imagination? Do you feel your writing is a process of inventing or discovering?

It’s definitely a process of discovery. I’m a poet, and often the ‘trigger’ for a poem will just appear, unbidden. I’ll suddenly hear a line in my head, or find a few snappy words stuck in there like an old tune. I put the trigger line or phrase on a piece of paper and then start poking around with it, building on it slowly. I think that’s actually more like it: it’s more like building than anything else.

What things trigger your imaginative process (for example, significant personal experiences, particular people, places, objects, dream imagery, myths, history, etc)?

All sorts of things. But I write best when I get out of my comfort zone — when I travel to somewhere completely new and a bit unknown, for example, or when something jolts me into uncomfortable territory. I write best when I’m unhappy, when I’m angry. I find that being happy means I write less, and when I do write I produce sweet, placid poems that don’t take as many risks.

How do you work - do you plan carefully or explore in the dark, trusting the process?

I’m not a planner. I try to set aside time to write, but often that doesn’t work — the afternoon I’ve kept free for poetry ends up a frustrated few hours of scribbling and then binning. I’m better when I just trust that the poetry will come and let it come as and when it wants to. I write well on long journeys, on planes and trains. I very often get ideas just as I’m going to bed. I’ve learned that I need to make myself write things down as they appear, because they all too easily melt away again.

Do you feel in control of your writing or are you responsive to the requirements of the work as it unfolds?

I have learned to become more in control. I used to be very much of the ‘first thought, best thought’ school, but I’ve since gained a MSc in Creative Writing and I’m now reading for a Creative Writing PhD. I’ve realised that although, as I said above, I have to trust the process and let poetry appear as and when it wants to, I can also shape and curate the results. So I try to find a good middle ground. If an idea seems silly but won’t stop nagging at me, I’ll try anything once. But I’m also happy to chop things out if they look less promising after a draft or two.

Do you write a first draft quickly and then revise it, or build carefully from the start?

I edit as I go along. I’ll draft and redraft and redraft on a line by line basis, so by the end of the first full draft, the poem is already forming clearly. But I’ll also do several re-writes of each piece. I write long-hand in a large notebook and will usually write a poem out three or four times minimum before transferring it to the typewriter. I’ll try it with stanza breaks in different places, without stanza breaks, mess with enjambment. Then into the manual typewriter. I realise this is an old fashioned way of doing things — especially as I’m only 26 and learned to type on a computer — but I love what using a manual typewriter does to my writing. It makes me careful, and it makes me appreciate and respect the page, its shapes and limitations, much more than word processing does.

How do you deal with blocks in the writing process?

I used to get very stressed about creative block, but then some elders and betters pointed out to me that stress begets stress and the best way to deal with blocks is to ride them out. Now, I am very chilled about creative block. If I can’t write poetry for a few weeks, I’ll write something else — I also write non-fiction essays and a blog. I also read as much as I possibly can — other people’s poems, mainly. Reading, and just reading, dissolves a creative block much faster than any amount of forced creative writing exercises ever could.

Do you write in service of any particular values?

Accessibility. I teach Literature 101 to young people from backgrounds where books just do not factor into people’s lives. These are readers who find the very idea of the written word frightening. They don’t understand the concept of storytelling, and poetry in particular looks like voodoo. Yet, when I introduce them to a poet whose goal is openness and understanding — someone like Billy Collins — they suddenly get it. And they want to read it, and they want to write. They find that they really like poetry. Why would any poet want to suggest that poetry ought to be difficult, that poetry ought to deliberately shut out these readers? Yet plenty do, and often they’re the same poets who are simultaneously worrying over dwindling poetry audiences. I just don’t understand.

What have you learned from the practice of your craft?

That reading and writing and sharing poetry has power in it. Poetry is often misunderstood by those who’ve never really dealt with it — people think it’s archaic and serves no purpose. This isn’t true. Poetry is what language was made for. Get struggling students to write poems and their literacy scores will sky-rocket, as will their social skills. Get a poet to write your advertising copy and see what happens (a lot of companies have begun to do this — look how many TV ads are written in verse these days). Poetry is not old-fashioned, doesn’t have to be self-aggrandising or dull. I’ve learned that none of the rumours are true. Poetry is seriously hip, and what’s more, it’s a long way from being dead.

What is the relationship between the writer’s imagination and that of the reader?

When, as a reader, I really connect with a writer’s work, it’s not like a conversation — it’s deeper than that. It’s almost like a hive-mind. A good writer puts me in their character’s skin and lets me see, hear and feel what’s happening. As a teacher of creative writing I utterly hate the command, “show, don’t tell”, and ban it from my classrooms. But that command is heading in the right direction — writers shouldn’t just tell the reader something. The reader should come out of the other end of a great piece of writing feeling changed. Don’t tell them, don’t show them — change them. Maybe that’s it.

Do writers have any moral responsibility in their work, wider than fidelity to their personal vision?

Writers should always be thinking about their readers. Just as publishers and agents needs writers and should therefore respect those writers’ needs, writers need readers and should treat them accordingly. The poets I mentioned earlier who shout about their ‘right’ to write difficult, obscure poetry and still have it reviewed? They’re not thinking about the reader. Personally, I want as many people as possible to be able to access, understand and enjoy my poems. It’s not hard to make sure that you’re not being elitist.


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

Procrastination Station #105

Friday, April 27th, 2012


Lovely links of loveliness.

“[Dorothy] Parker picked up two of Zelda [Fitzgerald]’s oils for a total of $35. And while Parker thought them of quality, she also found them too disturbing to hang—perhaps no surprise, as of the many things that Dorothy Parker was, champion nester was not one of them. According to Meade [Parker's biographer], “So phobic was her reaction to domesticity that she would rather have starved before boiling herself an egg.” Were you to do the equivalent favor to a friend’s artist wife in rehab today, you would plunk down $612.94.”

Such a weird, but great, idea for an article: what it cost eight women writers to make it in New York, over the past one hundred years.

I kind of like the idea of sending yourself a rejection letter.

Identifying the five types of work you do each day, and picking out the good stuff.

“But I forget the names, remembering them wrongly
Where they touch upon another name,
A town in France like a woman’s Christian name.

My childhood is preserved as a nation’s history,
My favourite fairy tales the shells
Leased by the hermit crab.”

Swiss posted a great poem by Medbh McGuckian this week. Read the rest here.

I’ve seen this done before, but this is by far the best example I’ve come across: poetry, written with book spines.

I have loved this poem since I read it in a children’s poetry anthology aged about six, before I had any idea who Lawrence Ferlinghetti was.

“The writers that I know and love are some of the hardest working individuals I’ve ever encountered. They spend years of their lives working on their books. They toil away at day jobs and then write when they’re not working. After their book gets published, they work their asses off to get it publicized, they do events, they write supplementary materials, they maintain websites, they talk to fans online, and they start writing their next book — A WRITER NEVER STOPS WORKING.”

Having read so many grim, I-don’t-really-like-e-books-but-I-have-to-pretend-I-do posts, it is so nice to have a kick-ass bookseller finally come out and tell it like it is about churned-out $1.99 fiction. I APPROVE.

Want some handy literary quotes to ink on your bedroom walls? Here’s Henry Rollins and Ira Glass over at Dog on a Swing.

Now, this is my idea of a mobile library!

“We park and walk up to the entrance. No running the gantlet between pickets shouting at me that I’m a murderer, no fear that someone will throw a bomb. The receptionist takes my name and says, “You just have to talk with a counselor first.” I don’t mind, I figure it’s part of the procedure. I tell the counselor I already have four children and I don’t want any more. I’m on a different track now. She nods understandingly and says they’ll be ready for me soon. No judgment, no showing me pictures of fetuses, no trying to make me feel guilty.”

Abortion: the good old days. This is really touching, sad and just plain great. Read it, all.

You’re not as busy as you think you are
. Fact.

Oh hey, remember my Barcelona trip a couple of weeks ago? Well, my lovely friend and travel-buddy Ula is a street photographer — check out some of her beautiful images of the trip at her Flickr.

“[Obnoxious commenters] look around, see an internet reduced to a Giant Lavatory Wall, and decide to get in on the act themselves. [...] One of the most active cheerleaders of commenting is the Guardian, which employs a dozen or so moderators, plus another dozen “community co-ordinators” who monitor Facebook, Twitter, Tumblrs and so on (the paper doesn’t give out an exact number). Assuming these people are on a modest £20,000 each, that’s nearly half a million pounds a year spent on making sure that the “community” – 1 per cent of readers – is well-served.”

The always-great Helen Lewis on why you’re totally within your rights to shut down your comment thread and say FsCK YOU to the trolling masses. Applause!

Getting your books’ ISBNs tattooed on yourself? Personally, I think that is super cool.

Oh my goodness, Jon. Way to make my day by sending me NYAN WAITS. (Click it.)

Aaaand the obligatory cute posts: baby sea otter, anyone? And yes, naturally, there must and shall be A KITTY.

It was only a matter of time before Gala Darling had her own TED(xCMU) talk! It’s all about self-esteem, self-love, and (for me anyway) her odd-but-charming half-Kiwi-half-US accent (listen for how she suddenly says “writing on my blaaaahg”)!

OK, guilty confession — in spite of the awful lyrics and general cheesiness — I love this song. Perfect for hooping!

Grandparents discover Photo Booth. SO CUTE.

Have a great weekend!


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Things I’m Reading Thursday #32 / Things I Love Thursday #58

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Vegan Noms (1)

Disclaimer: I am not this Claire Askew. That Claire Askew has been a vegan and vegan activist for many years, from what I can see. I am by no means trying to hijack her bandwagon, and I do intend to buy her book. You guys should, too.

The thing I’ve been loving a whole load this week is also something you can read. I LOVE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz
This lady is the thing I am loving, and I am loving her a whole, whole lot. As most of you probably know, I recently — and rather inexplicably — became vegan, and wrote a post about it right here. Some lovely folk came to comment on said post (and on my Facebook and Twitter), to give me words of encouragement, hints and tips. All of this was much appreciated, but a special shout-out must go to Regina Green. Not only did she give me a ton of feel-good encouragement, she also pointed me in the direction of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. AND I AM SO, SO GLAD that she did.

Ms Moskowitz — who you can learn about in this kick-ass interview from the New York Times — is a tattooed punk chef who believes in culinary activism and cupcakes for all. She’s written several extremely popular vegan cookbooks including one that’s all about pies, another that’s all about cookies, and for those of you for whom those are dirty words, there’s also a low fat book. When I hit the website, The Post Punk Kitchen, I really was spoilt for choice.

However, I eventually decided on Vegan Brunch. One of my all-time favourite things in life is breakfast, and one of the things I’ve missed most about becoming vegan is breakfast pastry. I thought I’d never eat a croissant ever again, until I came across the Gopal Deli in Barcelona and discovered that actually, vegan pastries are in fact possible. But although Edinburgh has plenty of places that’ll whip you up a lovely vegan lunch or dinner, the only place I know of that’ll make you a vegan breakfast or brunch is David Bann’s. (And they only do it at weekends. And yaknow, eating there twice every week is probably not good for my wallet.) Therefore, I was very happy to find a cookbook that would enable me to provide my own vegan breakfast goodies without too much fuss.

The book arrived last week and, as you can imagine, last weekend was a massive brunch-fest as a result. On Saturday morning, Lovely Boyfriend — even though he’d been off work sick for two days, bless him — got out of bed to make me Isa’s Perfect Pancakes, a vegan take on the traditional American fluffy pancake. While he was whipping up batter and manning the frying pan, I put together some of the cookbook’s Chocolate Drizzle to go on top. Both recipes were extremely simple, required a few cheap and easy-to-get ingredients, and were ready pretty quickly. The fact that I made enough Chocolate Drizzle for about ten people was the only real issue. Tip: if there’s just two of you, halve the ingredients suggested! The result of our labours is in the photo at the top of this post. It was one lush brunch, I can tell you. (Neither of the recipes are online, but Isa does have another pancake recipe, for super-fluffy cakes that look amazing, right here.)

Vegan Noms (9)

Next, I tried the recipe for Cinnamon Rolls. I am obsessed with anything cinnamon-filled, cinnamon-topped or cinnamon-scented, and I was beyond delighted to discover that the aforementioned Gopal also did a great line in huge swirly cinnamon buns. I never thought I’d be able to make such things myself, but of course, Isa proved me wrong. These were time-consuming, but easy to do — I am a very basics-only kind of cook, so if I can do it, anyone can — and a lot of the time was down-time, waiting for the dough to rise. The rather dark (sorry) photo above shows the rolls fresh out of the oven, before they were iced. Lovely Boyfriend and I tried one at this point and were worried it was too breadlike and not sweet enough. However, the next morning I iced them (and not heavily, either), and it made all the difference — suddenly they were sweet, sticky and perfect. You literally can’t tell the difference between these and their all-butter non-vegan cousins. The recipe for these isn’t online either, but it’s worth buying the book just for these babies! Excellent with a good cup of tea.

Vegan Noms (6)

Finally, on Sunday morning the loveliest Lovely Boyfriend decided to tackle Isa’s standard scrambled tofu, with with a Lovely Boyfriend twist. As well as Isa’s cumin and thyme spice mix — which sounds a bit curry-esque but actually works beautifully for breakfast — he also added some broken-up mushrooms, finely chopped onion and torn spinach. The end result was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in my life, vegan or otherwise. The recipe calls for extra-firm silken tofu — we could only find the firm stuff, so as a result the pieces broke down quite small while cooking. However, the chunky mushrooms kept the consistency from being too bitty. On top of a wholemeal bagel it was utterly lush, I tell you. There are plenty of other uses for tofu in the Post Punk Kitchen, too.

So yes — I’m in love with this cookbook, and with its author. You can guarantee that I’ll be buying more of her books in the near future, and I cannot wait til next weekend when I can try out more brunches (look out, waistline…).

If anyone loves me or ONS enough to help keep me stocked with Things I’m Reading Thursday fodder, you can check out my Amazon Wishlist!

Honourable mentions:
Sunshine. It’s still disturbingly cold outside, but at least it looks pretty // Starry Rhymes — you can finally buy it in the Read This Press etsy store! As I was listing it, I was re-reading some of my favourite poems, and oh my goodness, it’s good // Thrifting with my mad and lovely sister. Morningside has all the best finds! If you’re a fellow thrifter, check out my vintage store, Edinburgh Vintage, for some pretty bargains // feeling busy and productive, but not stressed. This is a rare feeling — long may it last! // Lazing under my duvet and plotting for the future. So much stuff, so little time! // Netflix. We just got it. Goodbye, what spare time I formerly had… // The West Wing. We’ve been trawling through every episode ever in order and we’re nearing the end of Season Six. Only one more to go! I never want it to end!

What are you loving this week?


If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

Call for submissions: “Article-8″ mixed media magazine project

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

the plague

Today I had a very exciting and highly informative meeting with one Mr Nic Cameron, a graphic design student at Edinburgh’s Telford College (full disclosure: for my sins, I work here). Nic is a music enthusiast and former scribbler of poems, and for one of his big course projects, he’s decided to do something very ambitious and pretty darned innovative: create his own hybrid poetry/spoken word and music magazine.

In our meet-up, Nic outlined his reasons for choosing this particular path. Although he hasn’t written poetry himself for a while, he is still very aware of the question, “why don’t more people read poems?” Like many youngsters, he’s bugged by how inaccessible the poetry world sometimes seems. He’s also aware that music magazines can and do attract the kind of people who might like poems, if they only had the chance to see and hear some. His project aims to kill all these problematic birds with one stone. Music magazines have the ability to pull in loads of readers — why not add some poetry into the mix? That way you’d introduce poetry to a new, young audience — and vice-versa.

Personally, I think thought this was a great idea — even more so when I heard a few more details. Article-8, as the magazine has been dubbed, will be a long way from your standard print poetry journal. Nic showed me examples of concrete poetry that had got him fired up, and then talked to me about the potential for changing the way poems interact with the page. In short, he wants to put his graphic design skills to use when editing the magazine together: he’s looking for poets who’d be cool to have their words snaked across the page or ribboned through videos in weird and wonderful shapes… shapes determined by a graphic artist’s eye.

Nic is also looking for poets who’d be willing to supply audio recordings of themselves reading their poems. As well as a print magazine, Article-8 will also become a website and a smartphone app. Performance and sound are two things that link poetry and music, and it seems they’ll be integral to this publication. Nic can help you record good quality audio if you’d be willing to meet with him — or if you’ve already got your own clean recording, you can send it to him with your written work.

In short, Article-8 is looking for brave, open-minded poets who are willing to put their words into the hands of a smart, ambitious graphic artist and see what the results might be. This is a great chance to collaborate and learn about how the shape of your poem changes how it’s read and seen. It’s also a chance to get involved in a conversation about how we make poetry more relevant and interesting to young people — a conversation that really needs to be had. If you fancy offering up some of your work (and, if you’re willing to meet for a recording session, a wee bit of your time) for this excellent cause, then read the blurb below, and submit some stuff to nicholas[dot]cameron[at]

I’m Nic Cameron – a graphic design student from Edinburgh’s Telford College and I have this mad idea… as a working title I’m calling it ‘Article-8 Magazine’ and here’s the gist:

What would the birth-child of a spoken word/poetry journal and a music magazine look like? Could clever typography and design let words speak in the absence of a voice – would bold features, useful articles and engaging content allow the format to reach out to a new, younger and broader audience?

These are questions I’m trying to answer in my final project but I need writers on board to help generate content and volunteer their work for this venture. If you’d like to see a visual interpretation of your writing - now’s the chance. For the project I’d be looking to produce 8 double page spreads, 2 front covers, 2 kinetic type videos, a website and a smart phone app and I need relevant writing/performance for all of these. I’d ask that those who want to donate audio for the videos could arrange with me to be recorded on a good microphone - I’ll take care of the technical side, you just need to read into the machine!

Unfortunately - because this is to a limited timescale there is a chance that not all the work submitted will be used - that said, if this prototype receives positive reviews it may become a much larger beast in the future. I had completely underestimated the excitement this would generate.

This would be non-profit and unreleased. However, if I use your work, you will be able to use the visuals wherever you see fit.

Interested in this idea? Please email a short bio (150 words or so) and two samples of work to nicholas[dot]cameron[at]”

I’m sure Nic would be more than willing to answer any questions you might have about the process, too! Happy submitting, and GOOD LUCK to Nic for what I’m sure will be a great project!


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Featured poem, “Casebook” by Roddy Shippin

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

red carpet


The last king, by the entrails of the last priest, in the conservatory.

The speaking clock, by the candlestick, in the director’s cut.

The bull, by the horns, in the china shop.

My honey, by the light of the silvery moon, in June.

The mourner, by the waters of Babylon, in high tide.

The hospital, by the Conservative, in the bill.

The author, by the post-structuralist, in the library.

Roddy Shippin is a young (though greying) Edinburgh-based writer/call centre lackey. He’s had poems on the Poetry Scotland Open Mouse and a handful of stones, as well as various incarnations of the St Andrews student writing society (Inklight) journal. He probably spends more time thinking about snooker than is technically necessary.


Want to see YOUR poem featured on ONS? Read this post first: submission guidelines are at the bottom. Good luck!


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

It’s nearly payday… new stock at Edinburgh Vintage!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Edinburgh Vintage

Those of you who stop by ONS regularly will know that it was once the sister-blog of the sadly-now-defunct Read This Magazine, which later morphed into Read This Press. In order to financially support these three creative projects (and in order to clear out my overflowing wardrobe), I set up Edinburgh Vintage — a funky Etsy-based store selling vintage clothes, accessories and other bits and pieces.

Although Read This Magazine is no more, Read This Press is still going strong — good news! We finally sold out our first ever anthology, Skin Deep! And naturally, ONS is still plodding along nicely. I’ve also found that I kind of enjoy running my wee vintage store. So for those of you who’ve never paid a visit to Edinburgh Vintage, check out the latest update…

Edinburgh Vintage

I’m pretty excited about these two lovely bags — the one pictured at the top of this post is in perfect vintage condition, made from 100% hand-woven wool and has colours to die for. Check out its finer points, including more photos, here. And as for the bag above — well, who can resist an owl, let alone three? It’s big, roomy and waterproof — the perfect book bag. See more here. Someone had better snap these up or they may well be staying in my wardrobe!

Edinburgh Vintage

The store is also taking me on a trip down memory lane right now, as I’ve picked up some quintessentially nineties bits and pieces. Does everyone remember these funky fork cuffs, for example? I had one of these beauties back in the day, didn’t you? This one’s a particularly nice one — loving the rather spooky engraving of “Gonville”. And then there’s the scandalously short, totally typically grunge micro mini below. Think Courtney Love, or Siobhan from Shakespeare’s Sister. Sadly it’s way too small for me, but I can just see it paired with a pair of New Rock boots and some ripped tights… see more here.

Edinburgh Vintage

I’m also kind of in love with this lovely, billowy summer smock — another contender for ’staying firmly in my closet’ if no one buys it! For those of you who, like me, love owls, these are pretty sweet. And hey, anyone out there have really small feet? If so, these tiny, hand-woven lace evening shoes might be just your thing.

If you’re a vintage clothing fan, I’d love it if you’d give me a few clicks, and check out my stuff! If you like what you see, you can also follow Edinburgh Vintage on Twitter or ‘like’ the shop’s Facebook page. Enjoy!

Procrastination Station #104

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Late night

A bit late, but better late than never!

“Starry Rhymes is a loving testament to the work of an undeniably important poet. This shows in the care with which the chapbook has been conceived and collated. [...] Undaunted by the not-small task of responding to a giant of modern American poetry, this assembly of thirty-three voices reflects (or possibly refracts) Ginsberg at his most feverish, human and heartbreaking.”

I’m happy to say that Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg is finally available in the Read This Press Store! The text above comes from a truly lovely review of the pamphlet written by Chris Emslie for Sabotage just after its release. Grab yourselves a copy and see what all the fuss is about!

A bunch of famous poems, all about the cruellest month. (Or you know, you could just click this for a summary.)

The 24 project — a 24-hour literary and arts magazine — is only up for one more day! Go and read it before it disappears forever!

Home is bright and sharp and brutally real. When she sits at her desk, Morrison says, everything else disappears. “I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost… magnificent, when I write.”

Toni Morrison is totally my hero. Read this amazing interview — to the end, seriously.

The wonderful a handful of stones just published new work from ONS friends Roddy Shippin and Harry Giles.

For those of you with MSs to shop around, check out this useful list of chapbook publishers in the UK, compiled by Carrie Etter.

“Let poetry be whatever it chooses to be, according to the lights of its writers. Let the readers read whatever they choose to read, according to their own lights. [...] From the poet’s point of view, sometimes you want to write plainly and straightforwardly—or, rather, that’s simply how the poem begins to present itself. The issue then becomes to make the finished piece sufficiently aurally memorable to be worth returning to.”

Is it possible to applaud a blogpost? If so, then I applaud this interview with Dark Horse editor Gerry Cambridge.

ONS’s good friend Simon Jackson’s first collection is just out with BeWrite Books.

And congrats to the lovely and talented Regina C Green on having some poems up at Lyre Lyre right now.

“We were under no illusions that the poems would last too long out there in the big bad world. But the prospect that others would see their poetry in unexpected places, and that it might start a talking point amongst fellow pupils, spurred the class on and provided them, however briefly, with real satisfaction and pleasure from writing poetry.”

Alan Gillespie with a really smart idea about how to get school kids to dig poetry.

Ever asked yourself: why should anyone buy your book? How do you get them to want to? If so, then read this!


“Here’s a stray question (or a metaphysical leap): Will language have the same depth and richness in electronic form that it can reach on the printed page? Does the beauty and variability of our language depend to an important degree on the medium that carries the words? Does poetry need paper?”

Don DeLillo being awesome, as usual.

I’ve been wanting to visit India for ages, so I found this mini travel guide really fascinating.

The road through Chernobyl sounds like a fascinating journey, too.

“Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”

Ashley Judd: my new hero.

Some lovely literary tattoos out there at the moment — I loved this Scarlet Letter tattoo; and especially this one. (I have a thing for great chest pieces!) This Simone de Beauvoir quote is rather excellent, too.

I love these sweet ‘how to’ prints — especially the How To Twitter one.

“I’m a committed feminist. I’m used to talking about The Big Issues – including body hatred – in very abstract ways. But when it comes down to it, not only am I too freaked out about what people might think of my body hair to not get rid of it, I’m too freaked out to even let on that it EXISTS.”

Christina over at D for Dalrymple wants to hear about your experiences with body hair. I am inclined to encourage you to share your thoughts. Really really.

Want a laugh? Texts from my Dog made me snort-laugh. Thanks a million to Daniel!

I know they’re a gazillion squillion pounds, all of them, but this rangle of spectacles is blow-your-mind weird and wonderful. These’re my favourites, for the maybe-one-day lottery win wishlist.

“The myth that there is some kind of universal women experience was debunked by women of color, among others, long ago. All of us have different life histories, sexism impacts each of our lives somewhat differently and each of us is privileged in some ways but not others. [...] The point is to challenge societal sexism and other forms of marginalization. This is what trans feminists are focused on doing.”

What trans feminism is and why we need it. This is excellent, and I urge you all to read.

How utterly cool (and cute) is this guy? I so want one.

Could you take a major trip with only ten garments in your case? Save the future: wear less clothing.

Hillary Clinton is great. Yet again.

Want to see some REALLY CUTE STUFF? NSFW as may cause loud and excessive outbursts of “NaaaaaW!” OK, here goes: KITTY! KOALA BEAR! and OMG BABY PYGMY HIPPO! *dies of cute overload*

Have I posted this before? This woman is super inspirational, a great speaker and her talk is fascinating.

A colleague sent me this and I giggled frantically. (Tip: actually better without the sound on.)

& I’ve definitely posted this before, but… so pretty.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at] I reply as swiftly as I can!

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Featured poem: ‘My Granddad Buries King at Souter Lighthouse’, by Jake Campbell

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Souter Lighthouse

My Granddad Buries King at Souter Lighthouse

I can see him pulling
up at Souter. Beam
of the lighthouse scanning
the bonnet of his Escort Estate
as he opened the boot, lifted out
the rug-rolled corpse, delicate
as a pile of firewood.

Wellying the spade
into the grass, I imagine others
passing along Coast Road
after nightshifts
and engagements in car parks
will have seen him:
mosquito to England’s neckline.

The radio might have been on,
the passenger door ajar as ‘Golden Brown’
sprinkled out of the stereo.
Three feet down, he’ll have wiped
his brow with a shirt sleeve,
dug the spade in like a flag-pole,
lifted the corpse of King
into a pore
of earth.

Refilling the hole would have been
the easy part, the headstone
the problem. Rolling the rock
over the mud blemish, he must have cursed
the stupid mutt for dying

Back in his car, slipping the gearbox
into third as he growled up Lizard Lane,
the sun opening over the North Sea
like a tangerine, he’ll have begun singing:
‘Golden brown, texture like sun,
lays me down with my mind; he runs…’

Jake Campbell was born in South Shields in 1988. His debut pamphlet of poetry, Definitions of Distance, is due from Red Squirrel Press in May. Last year, he won the Andrew Waterhouse Award from New Writing North and graduated from the University of Chester with distinction for his Creative Writing MA. Having thus far avoided the ‘real world’ (whatever or wherever that is), he tries to present the semblance of being a professional writer in order to keep his parents off his back. Follow him trying to do that at:


Want to see YOUR poem featured on ONS? Read this post first: submission guidelines are at the bottom. Good luck!

Things I Love Thursday (er, Saturday) #57

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Street art - Gothic Quarter

I’ve been away for a week, so I’m a bit late with this — but here’s why…

The gorgeous city of Barcelona is going to be at the top of my “things I like” list for a pretty long time, I reckon! I just spent a beautiful seven days there with Lovely Boyfriend and his family. I was pretty apprehensive before I went, I’ll admit — I didn’t speak a word of Spanish or Catalan before I set off and I hate being “one of those” kind of tourists; as a new vegan I didn’t know what to expect in terms of food available and was a bit worried I’d end up eating bread and apples for a whole week. However, I was very pleasantly surprised, and loved pretty much every single second of my trip. In case anyone’s heading there anytime soon, here’s a quick bite-sized list of stuff I did and stuff I’d recommend…

Firstly, my vegan-related worries were quickly squished, thanks to the huge array of veggie and vegan stuff on offer in fair Barcelona. I can personally recommend several places! I really liked Sesamo (the neighbourhood seems a bit scruffy and you, er, might want to avoid the outside loo, but otherwise…), a hip, friendly all-veggie place with plenty of weird and wonderful stuff on the menu (if you’re not a vegan you can say hello to the likes of gnocchi with beetroot and hazelnut sauce, peanut butter cheesecake and pumpkin pie with cardamon custard; there are damn fine vegan options too). Juicy Jones is right off the main drag on the Gothic side of Las Ramblas, and they have juices to die for as well as an all-vegan menu that includes finger-lickin’ seitan pintxos (skewers) and massive, epic sandwiches. Organic is a big warehouse-style restaurant as well as a fixed stall at the back of La Boqueria — pay attention: THEY HAVE THE BEST VEGGIE PAELLA YOU CAN GET IN BARCELONA. Go there. Right next to each other in the middle of a maze of streets in the Gothic quarter are Vegetalia and Gopal Vegan Deli, my two favourite eatieries from the trip. Vegetalia is great for a sit-down meal — they serve delicious vegan Sangria and their staff are extra lovely. Gopal is basically a vegan heaven on earth. Vegan croissants and breakfast pastries (the like of which I genuinely did not know was possible), vegan “chicken nuggets” and plenty of seitan for those of you who like your fake meat, vegan and non-alcoholic wine and beer, and best of all, uber tasty and very cheap menus del dia which include delicious dahl and spinach burgers and nommy cakes. Try the patatas bravas. (I also had my first experience with Maoz Falafel, though they’re a worldwide chain, in Barcelona. Make sure you’re very hungry, though.)

Did I do anything besides eat, I hear you cry? Well, a few things. My trip involved lots and lots of Gaudi. We visited the breathtaking La Pedrera, famous from the holiday snaps of everyone-who’s-ever-been-to-Barca. But for goodness’ sakes suffer the queue and the fifteen euro entrance fee and go inside. If you can, go in the evening and watch the sun go down over the roof terrace sculptures. Last entry is 7.30pm and you’ll want to leave yourself at least an hour. Also Parc Guell — we arrived around noon in the baking heat at about the same time, apparently, as half of continental Europe, so for the first hour or so I was silently re-naming the place “Parc Hell” in my head. But when siesta time came around the crowds thinned and I actually became really glad I’d gone. The gingerbread houses are cool but the other bits are probably better. Don’t expect to be able to photograph the dragon, though, unless you want to literally fight about a hundred posing tourists. (Oh, and it’s worth wandering around just for the various buskers and performers who are scattered around the place. I saw flamenco dancers, drummers, a capella singers, classical guitarists… oh, and those frickin’ guys with bird-whistles who seem to be everywhere.)
Still not sick of Gaudi, we naturally also headed to the Sagrada Familia. My advice: do a good circuit of the outside and make sure you see everything before you head in. The inside is a gorgeous work of art, but if you’re even vaguely respectful of religious spaces, expect to be extremely uncomfortable. There is some really damn bad, embarrassing and terrible human behaviour on display in this place, from people talking loudly on iPhones to children trying to climb on the altars unchecked by their guardians. It made me feel so murderous I had to leave. But the outside is awesome. I think I most enjoyed sitting in the sunshine in the park outside, looking up at its ostentatious madness. (Some of my party also went into the Casa Batllo, while I was content to just look at its craziness from the street outside. Apparently the inside was also spectacular and I really regretted not joining them… so if you want yet more Gaudi, this is another place to head.)

Other stuff? Parks — Lovely Boyfriend and I enjoyed lounging and wandering in both Parc de la Cuitadella and the Jardins d’Atlanta. The beach is pretty OK considering it’s right in the middle of a huge city and it’s easily accessible on foot and via the Metro — I’d recommend heading up to the Cuitadella station and trying that end of the beach, though, as it’s less dirty and crowded than the Barceloneta end. Just keep an eye out for black market tat-peddlars who’ll relentlessly pursue you if you sit down for any length of time — avoid eye contact unless you want to be sold some flat, warm beer, an ugly pashmina or perhaps weirdest, an on-the-spot back massage.
What else? Just plod around. The Bari Gotic (Gothic quarter) and El Raval are the two halves of the ‘old town’, cut neatly in half by Las Ramblas, which is like Barcelona’s version of the Royal Mile (we tried to spend as little time as possible actually on the street, but if you like crowds, the thrill of high pickpocket risk, lots of badly-behaved Brits on stag dos and everything geared towards gullible tourists, it’s your place). Both are great for just wandering and seeing what you can find (although NB: some bits of El Raval can get quite shady quite quickly). If you’re cash-strapped you can just spot out all the amazing street art (see pictured). Final thoughts? My lack of Spanish/Catalan was not really a problem at all (most folk seem to speak both, but the vast majority also speak English, or enough Spanglish that you can get by fine), and the residents are all chilled and friendly and generally welcome tourists if you’re the well-behaved sort. You don’t need an open-top bus tour to find your way about — get a map and avoid the queues and hefty prices by walking. Get a ten-trip Metro pass for the best value… oh, and when in the Metro, look out for the sneaky sons-of-bitches trying to sneak through the barriers by pressing themselves against your back and going through at the same time as you (apart from anything else, personal space fail. Ew). Apparently pick-pocketing is a huge problem and Barcelona’s bag thieves are extremely inventive — I heard tales of thieves knifing through bagstraps with pocket knives and other such tricks. I was fine and didn’t witness any such wickedness, but I was careful to a paranoid degree. Finally, the tap water aint so hot. Bottled water is cheap and won’t make you sick, so go with that unless you’re particularly iron stomached. NOW GO BOOK YOUR PLANE TICKET ALREADY. Barcelona is totally awesome.

Honourable mentions:
Lovely Boyfriend’s lovely family. Thanks so much to Kate, Malcolm, David and Ula for being so brilliant. // Kerry Hardie. My god, I love this woman’s poems. Her Selected from Bloodaxe kept me edified and inspired throughout my Barcelona trip. // Dorianne Laux. And ditto this woman. Her Book of Men is one of the best collections I have read for years, literally. There are not words for how much I want to be even half the poet she is. // Excitement over forthcoming gigs — come and see me read my stuff THIS WEEKEND (Sun 15th) at Young Blood, organised by Stirling University. It’s at the Junk Rooms in Stirling from 6.30pm. Or if that’s too much like short notice, I’m also reading at Trashed Organ’s BelongingFest opening night on 30th. // Booja Booja. OH WAIT HAVE I MENTIONED THIS BEFORE? // Flip flops. It may only be five degrees here in Scotland (at least ten lower than Barca — boo!) and the heating’s still on in my flat, but MY FEET ARE REBELLING, dammit. It’s officially springtime and that means GOODBYE, SOCKS!

What are you loving this week?


One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

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Featured Poem: “So Gay”, by Christopher Crawford

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Art is so gay

So Gay

How gay is it
for two men
to stroke
the same dog
at the same time.

What if they’re both
sitting on a sofa watching
When Harry Met Sally.

What about two men watching
the same gorgeous sunset
from the same high ridge.

And if a man daydreaming
on a bus ride, finds his eyes when focus returns,
quite accidently, on the crotch
of the man seated opposite.

How about two men riding
a bus into a gorgeous sunset
or two gorgeous men watching
a sunset in silence. How about
two men daydreaming and stroking
a gorgeous dog and the dog makes
a strange deep sound of pleasure.

What if the men are old friends.
What if they’re brothers.
What if there’s music playing.


This poem was originally published in Rattle.

Christopher Crawford was born in Glasgow, Scotland. His poetry, essays and translations have most recently appeared in Agenda, The Cortland Review, Gutter, Envoi, Eyewear, Orbis, Vlak, The Literateur and the anthology From a Terrace in Prague (Litteraria Pragensia, 2011). His poems have been nominated in the US for the forthcoming Pushcart Prizes by both Rattle and Now Culture. He has lived in Prague since 2012. You can contact Christopher via christopher.crawford6[at]gmail[dot]com


Want to see YOUR poem featured on ONS? Read this post first: submission guidelines are at the bottom. Good luck!

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