Posts Tagged ‘young poets’

You should read this: “Be The First To Like This: New Scottish Poetry”

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

001

Forgive the dullness of my photographs, everyone. I am having a totally jam-packed week — working six and a half days — so the only time I could find to take pictures of this rather excellent book was about 7.45am. The sun was only just starting to come up so the light was crap, but I’d just got back from a wee holiday and was so excited to find this book waiting for me, I just had to share it asap!

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^ Look! Robert Crawford has heard of me!

I was present at the StAnza Poetry Breakfast in 2009, when Stuart Kelly announced that the reason Scottish poets weren’t winning Eric Gregory Awards anymore was because Scotland didn’t have any poets under thirty who were talented enough. I was 23 at the time and halfway through my MSc in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Edinburgh. I was also utterly baffled by his statement. At the time, I was surrounded by talented Scottish poets under thirty — and I was aware that my knowledge of the Scottish poetry scene wasn’t even that in-depth. Back then, I’d never heard of the Eric Gregory Award, but I got the gist that it was apparently the only yardstick worth using to measure a young poet’s potential. (A yardstick invented by the literary establishment south of the border, natch… though of course I drank the Kool-Aid anyway and subsequently entered it.)

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^ Look mum, I’m famous!

Since then, Niall Campbell has of course broken the no-Scottish-poets-winning-the-Gregory streak, bagging one in 2011. (That guy sure does know how to write a ‘yardstick approved’ poem — in their Edwin Morgan Award judges’ report, Jen Hadfield and Stewart Conn called him “a safe pair of hands.” Thank goodness one of us Scots knows how to do this stuff!) But I still contend that Stuart Kelly was wrong in 2009. He mistook “young Scottish poets aren’t being noticed by the London-based literary establishment” for “young Scottish poets aren’t that good.” If only that were the reason, Stuart — if only.

In fact, young Scottish poets are great — and there are loads of us. We may not be doing the sort of work that wins Coveted Prizes from Established Institutions, but if anything, that makes us all the more exciting. Be The First To Like This, edited by Colin Waters and published by Vagabond Voices, is a hugely varied, deliciously riotous gathering-together of Scotland’s fearsome gaggle of new and upcoming voices. I’m utterly delighted and genuinely humbled to be part of this colourful crowd — and guess what? All the poets I’m joined by in this volume are SUPER FREAKING TALENTED.
(Pardon the swearing. It had to be done.)

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^ Thanks to my talented baby sister for taking my classy author photo!

Some of my all-time faves are here. People whose writing careers I’ve been keeping an eye on for years, watching their stars slowly rise: Colin McGuire, Ryan Van Winkle, Marion McCready, Theresa Munoz. Some of the people here are not only talented poets but also, like me, gobby fighters for the rights of minority poets: I’ll admit, I’m thinking especially of the excellent Jenny Lindsay. Some folk I only discovered more recently, but I’m loving the fact that BTFTLT gives me chance to see more of their work: Nuala Watt, Sam Tongue, Billy Letford. And there are also names here that I didn’t know at all — I’m excited to make brand new discoveries!

Be The First To Like This proves for me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Scotland is in fact a land rich in talented young poets. As the product description itself says, throw a stone in Edinburgh or Glasgow and you will hit one. Believe me? Buy the book. Don’t believe me? Still buy the book: you clearly need to be educated.

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

STARRY RHYMES: now available for purchase!

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Starry Rhymes 007

Apologies for the delay in posting these details — I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath! STARRY RHYMES is finally available to purchase, right here, for the bargain price of £5 plus P&P!

You probably know by now what STARRY RHYMES is all about — but if not, check out our submissions call to see what it was we were looking for! We received nearly 150 emails to register interest in the project, and over 130 poems were submitted. After much deliberation, we managed to whittle these down to just 33. You can find out a bit about the folk whose poems we picked here.

Starry Rhymes 004

Each copy of STARRY RHYMES is printed on high quality 80gsm white paper, and has a unique, handmade cream cardstock cover. No copy is quite the same as the others! Each was lovingly hand-cut and stapled to produce a limited single printing of 140. 33 of these went to our fabulous contributors, and we sold a huge pile of them on our rather raucous launch night (check out Chris Scott’s amazing photos from the event here!)… so these books are disappearing fast!

If you’d like a copy, they’re only a fiver plus P&P, and you can get your hands on one right here. Just click the Paypal button below and follow the instructions! No Paypal account required — if you’re not registered, just pay with your card as you would elsewhere online.


STARRY RHYMES is a product of Read This Press, a DIY micropress specialising in limited edition print runs of handmade poetry pamphlet anthologies and collections. RTP is run by poets/teachers/Edinburgh residents Claire Askew and Stephen Welsh. It is not unknown for us to be described as a “punk” press. We particularly like poets who are new/unknown/upcoming, intimidatingly well-read, and tattooed.

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STARRY RHYMES: the launch! Friday 3rd June, 7.30pm, Forest!

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Ginsberg

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
26/05/2011

FOREST CAFE HOSTS BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR BEAT GENERATION LEGEND
[HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALLEN GINSBERG, Friday 3rd June, 7.30pm, Bristo Hall (Forest Cafe)]

Friday 3rd June this year would have been the 85th birthday of legendary Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, and to celebrate the occasion, Read This Press are teaming up with Edinburgh’s Forest Cafe to throw a massive birthday bash in his honour.

Read This Press editors Claire Askew and Stephen Welsh have spent the past few months compiling an anthology of contemporary poems which respond to Ginsberg’s original works. Poets from all over the world got in touch to request one of Ginsberg’s poems to respond to, and the editors were overwhelmed with hundreds of submissions. From these, just 33 were chosen to be included in a limited edition, handmade chapbook of poems, named Starry Rhymes after one of the great man’s lesser-known poems. Poets whose works have been selected include Sally Evans, Kevin MacNeil and Eddie Gibbons, whose latest collection was shortlisted for the 2011 Scottish Book of the Year award.

The HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALLEN GINSBERG event will take place on Friday 3rd June, in the Forest Cafe’s cavernous Bristo Hall. As well as marking the official launch of the Starry Rhymes chapbook, it will also host a rare screening of Ginsberg’s 1967 London travelogue, Ah! Sunflower, and feature a solo set from the brilliant Withered Hand, taking time out of his UK tour to play for Allen’s birthday. Poets whose works are featured in the chapbook will perform their pieces alongside Allen Ginsberg’s, and other literary folk are invited to step up to the mic and offer their birthday tributes to the great man.

The event begins at 7.30pm and is totally free to enter. Forest operates a BYOB policy, and donations to the Save the Forest fund will be encouraged. Attendees will be able to purchase copies of Starry Rhymes at the event, and it will also be available for purchase online thereafter.

Loved by readers since his emergence onto the literary scene in the mid 1950s, Ginsberg was one of the foremost figures in the Beat movement, and as well as producing seminal works such as Howl and America, he was also responsible for the promotion and publication of some of the great Beat novels including William S Burroughs’ Junky and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. His most famous work, the volume Howl and Other Poems, was the subject of a high profile obscenity trial upon its publication in 1955, and this trial and its eventual outcome was recently depicted in the movie Howl, which starred James Franco and David Strathairn.

[ends]

Notes
For more information email Claire Askew via claire@onenightstanzas.com

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STARRY RHYMES: the final line-up!

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Ginsberg

So, after weeks of chat about this project, and having received over 140 expressions of interest and over 120 actual poetry submissions, I’m very pleased to announce the final line-up for the STARRY RHYMES: 85 YEARS OF ALLEN GINSBERG chapbook, edited by myself and Lovely Boyfriend. It was a damn hard slog, going over and over those 120+ poems, whittling things down to our desired target of “around thirty.” A lot of stuff we really liked had to fall by the wayside — a lot of top-notch established poets were turned away. But we’re confident that we’ve ended up with a really strong, varied clutch of poems from established names and young pretenders alike.

The chapbook will be launched on Friday 3rd June at the Forest Hall (upstairs at the Forest Cafe), Edinburgh. A good number of these fine folks will be performing their works, along with the Ginsberg poems they were inspired by. We’ll be screening some footage of the late, great man himself, and hopefully bringing you some damn good music into the bargain. Keep the date in your diaries — further details will be announced very soon! In the meantime, feast your eyes upon this excellent line-up, and keep a few quid aside to make sure you get your copy of STARRY RHYMES when it appears!

Alec Beattie, who responded to To The Body
Alec Beattie is the Edinburgh-based editor at Duality, a writer and fledgling performance poet.

Kevin Cadwallender, who responded to Improvisation in Beijing
Kevin Cadwallender is a writer who lives in Edinburgh but is a Yakker. His writing has appeared on telly, the radio, the internet, in books, in films, in songs, on tape, CD and DVD. He has a pathological dislike for biographies like this and would prefer not to blow his own trumpet as he is much more at home on the flugelhorn.
He is a vegetarian, atheist, romantic, with GSOH but doesn’t want a date with anyone. He is Red Squirrel Press’s Scottish Editor and had many children all of whom are his.

Michael Conley, who responded to Why Is God Love, Jack?
Michael Conley is a 26-year old schoolteacher from Manchester. He is currently studying part-time for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. He was selected to read during Season 2 of “Carol Ann Duffy And Friends” at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2011, and has been published in a variety of magazines an ezines including Cadaverine and Sentinel Literary Quarterly. He was the winner of the 2010 Weasdale Poetry Prize.

Morgan Downie, who responded to The End
Morgan’s first full collection, stone and sea, was published in March 2010. He is a poet, short story writer, artist, and a passionate mountain biker. He has had a varied career in healthcare, and he has written all his life.

Cal Doyle, who responded to Dream Record: June 8, 1955
Cal Doyle is a poet lives in Cork, Ireland. His poetry and criticism has appeared in various small print ‘zines, online publications and is forthcoming in Young and Restless, an anthology of younger poets published by Tumble Press. He can be contacted for work or general banter at cal.doyle@hotmail.com

Sally Evans, who responded to America
Sally Evans is a poet widely published in Scottish and English magazines and has published several books including The Bees, The Honey Seller and Bewick Walks to Scotland. She edits the broadsheet Poetry Scotland and lives in Callander.

Suzannah Evans, who responded to Personals Ad
Suzannah Evans lives in Leeds and likes to travel on foot. She is studying for an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. She has had poems published in magazines including The Rialto, Iota and Brittle Star. She is poetry editor for Cadaverine, an online magazine for under-25s and runs writing workshops at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in Leeds.

Eddie Gibbons, who responded to Research
Eddie Gibbons openly admits to being more Ryanair than debonair.
Growing up on a Council Estate in Huyton, Liverpool, he didn’t have neighbours, he had witnesses. Being a Scouser, he had to learn English as a Foreign Language, which made his readings inadvertently entertaining due to his weird pronunciation of werds such as bewk, kewk and kewkbewk. In order to correct his speech defect, he defected to Aberdeen in 1980. That did the trick – he spiks affy fine nou, ken. Eddie works as a Draughtsman in a factory near Dyce airport, for a quick getaway. He’s also written a few poetry books.

Karen Head, who responded to In My Kitchen in New York
Karen Head is the author of Sassing (WordTech Press, 2009), My Paris
Year (All Nations Press, 2008) and Shadow Boxes (All
 Nations Press, 2003). Her poetry appears in a number of national and international journals and anthologies. Her most recent digital project was a collaborative exquisite corpse poem created via Twitter while she stood atop the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of Antony Gormley’s One and Other Project; her poetry project, “Monumental” was detailed in a TIME online mini-documentary. She teaches at Georgia Tech and serves on the Poetry Atlanta Board.

Joe Heap, who responded to Homework
Joe Heap was a Foyle Young Poet in 2004 and won the 2010 Alastair Buchan Prize from the University of Glasgow.

Colin Herd, who responded to Night Gleam
Colin Herd was born in Stirling in 1985, and now lives in Edinburgh. His first collection, “too ok”, was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2011 and a slim chapbook, “like”, by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press in 2010. He reviews regularly, including poetry for Chroma Journal, art for Aesthetica and fiction for 3:AM Magazine. He co-edits “anything anymore anywhere”, a poetry journal and small press.

Ryan Lamon, who responded to Written on a Hotel Napkin: Chicago Futures
You can see more of Ryan Lamon’s poetry at elzorrito.deviantart.com

Melissa Lee-Houghton, who responded to Prophecy
Melissa Lee-Houghton is the author of A Body Made of You published by Penned in the Margins. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Tears in the Fence, Poetry Salzburg Review, Succour and Magma. She is a regular reviewer for The Short Review.

Matthew MacDonald, who responded to A Strange New Cottage in Berkeley
Matthew Macdonald divides his time between poetry, film-making, becoming an Avenger and finding the time to distill some of the living essence of Neil Gaiman. This is his first submission to a poetry magazine - he blogs occasionally at lastmanstanza-ing.blogspot.com

Aonghas Macneacail, who responded to In back of the real
Award-winning poet in English, Scots and Gaelic, Aonghas MacNeacail reflects that “being Gael rather than gay, I also grew up in a marginalising society. Ginsberg’s exuberantly affirmative defiance provides a wonderfully positive model as well as great poetry.”

Kevin MacNeil, who responded to Howl Part III
Kevin MacNeil is a multi-award-winning writer. A poet, novelist, playwright and cyclist from the Outer Hebrides, he now lives in London. MacNeil has held a number of prestigious international writing residencies and has taught Creative Writing at the universities of Uppsala and Edinburgh. His books include A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde (Polygon), The Stornoway Way (Penguin), Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides (Canongate) and These Islands, We Sing (Polygon).

Marion McCready, who responded to The Bricklayer’s Lunch Hour
Marion McCready lives in Dunoon, Argyll with her husband and two young children. Calder Wood Press published her debut pamphlet, Vintage Sea, earlier this year.

Alex McDonald, who responded to A Strange New Cottage In Berkeley
Alex MacDonald was born in Essex in 1986 and currently lives and works in London. He runs the blog SelectedPoems and runs the monthly night ‘Selected Poems at the V&A Reading Rooms’ which champions independent poetry publications. His work has been published in Clinic 2, No. Zine, OOXXOO and Talk Dirty to Me.

Colin McGuire, who responded to Howl Part II
A thin 28 year old Glaswegian man, touch giddy in the head, sometimes poet of mangled forms and dirty prose, sporadic drummer, drunken grammarian, waffler, painter using crayons, lover, hater, learner, teacher, pedestrian, provocateur, wanderer, confronter of shadows, irritating whine. ‘Riddled with Errors’ is his first collection of poetry and miniature stories which can be bought from Notes From a Glaswegian Immaturity, where you can also read more of his words and some reviews of other writers. He currently lives in Edinburgh and occassionally can be heard reading in pubs and cafes. Send him love or hate to his email - colmcguire@hotmail.com

Andrew McMillan, who responded to Stanzas: Written at Night in Radio City
Andrew McMillan was born in 1988. His work has appeared widely online and in print and a debut pamphlet, every salt advance, was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2009. October 2011 will see the release of a second pamphlet from Red Squirrel and a place in the upcoming Salt Book of Younger Poets.

Dan Mussett, who responded to Hymmnn
Dan Mussett’s poetry has been published by Read This Magazine and was Highly Commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition in 2010. His poem “Anonymous” was adapted into a short film for the this collection project.

Stephen Nelson, who responded to Think Tank Rhymes
Stephen Nelson was born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1970. He is the author of Flylyght (Knives, Forks, and Spoons Press) and two chapbooks of visual poetry. He blogs visual poetry and other delights at afterlights.

Kenneth Pobo, who responded to A Supermarket in California
Kenneth Pobo has a new chapbook out from Thunderclap Press called Closer Walks. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania . Catch his radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays from 6-830pm EST at wdnrfm.com.

Tracey S Rosenberg, who responded to The Lion For Real
Tracey S. Rosenberg was recently awarded a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust. Her debut novel, The Girl in the Bunker, is forthcoming from Cargo Publishing. She has previously published poetry in Chapman, Anon, Poetry Scotland, The Frogmore Papers, and New Writing Scotland. She likes cats of all kinds, not just lions.

Daniel Ryan, who responded to Research
Daniel Ryan was born in London to Irish parents, and he grew up in the Irish countryside. Daniel currently lives in Dublin. He studied Philosophy at Undergraduate level and Journalism at Postgraduate level. Daniel’s twin loves are music and writing. He has been writing poetry since his late teens, and volunteers at the Irish Writers’ Centre in his spare time.

Sarah Stanton, who responded to A Supermarket in California
Sarah Stanton is a birdwatcher, Sinophile, poet, translator and geek. She lives in China but dreams in English.

Sarah Quigley, who responded to Prophecy
Sarah Quigley is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer based in Dublin, Ireland. Her poetry has featured in publications and performances at home and abroad, and recently decorated Dublin’s streets as part of the Upstart project. Sarah has just released her first chapbook The Unfinished House, which she illustrated and hand-bound. Best of all, as co-founder of Milk and Cookie Stories, one of Dublin’s most successful regular arts nights, Sarah has brought cookies and stories to the people of Dublin.

Ryan Van Winkle, who responded to America
Ryan Van Winkle is currently Reader in Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library and Edinburgh City Libraries. He runs a monthly “Literary Cabaret” called The Golden Hour and is an Editor at Forest Publications. His work has appeared in New Writing Scotland, The American Poetry Review, AGNI and Northwords Now. In 2010 he won Salt’s Crashaw Prize and his first collection is Tomorrow, We Will Live Here (2010).

Francis Wasser, who responded to America
Born 1988, Dublin, Ireland, Francis Wasser is a Dublin based artist, poet and curator. Wasser is currently studying an MFA in sculpture at the National College of Art and Deign.

Gemma White, who responded to Dream Record: June 8, 1955
Gemma White is a Melbourne-based poet who creates and edits Velour magazine. She has been published in Voiceworks, page seventeen and Visible Ink. She had poetry included in The Green Fuse, The Picaro Poetry Prize’s 2010 publication. Gemma also offers a poetry manuscript feedback service, which allows poets to get constructive criticism on their work at any time of year for a small fee. For more info: http://onlywordsapart.wordpress.com/

Jensen Wilder, who responded to To The Body
Jensen Wilder is 25, he currently lives in the North West in the little seaside town of Meols with two cocker spaniels. He enjoys photography but likes writing better. He has never completed a crossword or won a game of scrabble. Read him at When I Swear, I Censor Myself

Chrissy Williams, who responded to Those Two
Chrissy Williams is the coordinator for the Saison Poetry Library’s magazine digitisation project. She is also Joint Editor of Poetry Digest, the world’s finest edible poetry journal.

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Claire Askew is the founding editor of Read This, a grassroots literary zine which ran from 2007 to 2010. She is also the editor of Read This Press, a poetry micropress which has so far produced two single-poet collections (You Old Soak, 2008 and Sharks Don’t Sleep, 2009), and two anthologies of poetry, Skin Deep: an anthology of poems on tattoos and tattooing (2008) and Masters: Poetry from the University of Edinburgh MSc Creative Writing Class of 2009 (2009). Claire works as a Lecturer at Edinburgh’s Telford College and tutors Creative Writing privately and at the University of Edinburgh, where she is also reading for a PhD. Her own poetry has appeared in Poetry Scotland, The Edinburgh Review and The Guardian, and her first pamphlet collection is The Mermaid and the Sailors (Red Squirrel, 2011). Her nonfiction writing has appeared in The Herald and The Observer. She blogs at onenightstanzas.com and Girlpoems.

Stephen Welsh is a lecturer at Stevenson College Edinburgh, and also works with The Princes Trust in and around Edinburgh. He has a MA in English Literature from the University of St Andrews and has studied Creative Writing with Kathleen Jamie, John Burnside and Douglas Dunn. Stephen is a poet specialising in visual and concrete work. In March 2011, Stephen placed second in the inaugural this collection ‘friendly’ poetry slam. He is currently working on Revolution of the Sun, a current-affairs-meets-vispo project in which he creates one poem every day for a year using newspaper clippings. Revolution of the Sun will eventually become a trilogy of poetry pamphlets, due for publication with Red Squirrel Press in 2011 and 2012. Stephen is also currently working on a short play for the National Theatre of Scotland’s Five Minute Theatre project. He blogs at Concrete Void.

Copies of STARRY RHYMES will be available for pre-order very soon, and the chapbook will be officially launched on Friday 3rd June 2011 — watch this space!

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OPENING NIGHT: this collection at The Glue Factory

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Glue Factory

Come and join Edinburgh-based community arts project this collection as we make our first ever journey west and open an exciting fortnight-long event at Glasgow’s infamous Glue Factory artspace!

THIS COLLECTION AT THE GLUE FACTORY: OPENING NIGHT
At: The Glue Factory, 22 Farnell Street, Glasgow, G4 9SE
Starts: 7.30pm
Finishes: 1.00am

HEADLINING:

+ BLOCHESTRA: innovative and experimental noise-makers — “a band to turn the conventional music experience on its head.”

+ ZORRAS: poetry-music-video weirdness fusion. With megaphones.

+ DJ SET/SPECIAL GUESTS TBC: tunes inspired by this collection poems

ALSO ON SHOW:

+ breathtaking images from renowned graphic designer Ming Tse

+ a huge and stunning mural by illustrators Helen Askew and Laura Mossop

+ this collection’s ‘top 100 poems’ and the plethora of creative, collborative responses they have inspired so far

REFRESHMENTS:

Honeymede will be on hand to supply their delicious home-brew ale at a mere £1 per pint!

TBC: this collection hope to provide a minibus to ferry faithful Edinburgh followers over to the event and back from Glasgow afterwards. Seats on the FilmPoetry Magic Schoolbus will cost a mere £3 and be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. The bus is not yet 100% confirmed but if you think you would like a ride to the event, drop a line to film@thiscollection.org to register your interest.

ANY QUESTIONS? FILM@THISCOLLECTION.ORG
Click “attending” on our Facebook event!

WHAT IS THIS COLLECTION…?

this collection began life as a modest bouquet of 100 short poems on the subject of Edinburgh. Authors included all manner of Edinburgh residents from high school kids to University professors, and over the course of the past two years, their work has acted as a foundation upon which artists and creatives from all walks of life have built collaborative responses to the poems. Thus far, the project has primarily attracted short films, but more recently the artistic responses have included works as diverse as street art installations, handmade zines and improvised music scores.

this collection has hosted a plethora of community art events in Edinburgh, too – including a memorable poets’ and filmmakers’ speed-dating night, a huge multi-media showcase in the cavernous McEwan Hall, and an experimental ‘friendly’ poetry slam. Now, this collection is coming to Glasgow to seek out a whole new community, and to inspire new responses to the artistic works already produced under its umbrella.

The project will adopt The Glue Factory – an abandoned industrial space turned community arts venue – as its temporary home from 30th April to 15th May. Glasgow residents and visitors will be welcomed inside to peruse a wide and vibrant showcase of creative work inspired by the original this collection 100 poems.

We hope to see you there!

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Call for submissions: ‘Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg’

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

As you may already know, I am a huge Beat Generation enthusiast and I am particularly interested in the poet Allen Ginsberg. Friday 3rd June this year would have been Ginsberg’s 85th birthday, and I would really like to do something to mark the occasion.

Taking inspiration from Rob Mackenzie’s excellent ‘Norman MacCaig at the GRV‘ centenary event, I would like to gather a bunch of poets together who’d be willing to write a poem (of any style, form, and — within reason — length) inspired by Ginsberg. Each poet will be given a different poem by the great man himself, and asked to write a response to that poem (no prior knowledge of Ginsberg’s work required!). The climax of the project will be twofold.

Firstly, I’ll gather together all of the response poems, and publish them in a limited run (probably 100 or 150, depending on the number of poets) of handmade chapbooks (via my Read This Press micropress). Poets involved will each receive one free copy of this publication (entitled Starry Rhymes, after AG’s 1997 poem of the same name).

Secondly, I have booked out the Forest Hall (the space above Edinburgh literary landmark, the Forest Cafe) for the evening of 3rd June for the chapbook launch. I am hoping to screen archive footage of Ginsberg, play some recordings of the great man reading, invite academics and creatives to come and speak about Ginsberg’s life, work and influence, and to host performances by some of the poets whose work appears in the chapbook. There may also be live music/other delights. Poets who read at this event will be able to sell books/CDs/other merch — the event will be free but donations will be requested.

If you would like to be involved in the project, let me know asap by emailing claire@onenightstanzas.com and I will send you your mystery Ginsberg poem to respond to (sorry, I’m making it a rule that you can’t pick your own — otherwise I’m pretty sure I’d get 25 ‘Howl’ responses! But if the poem I choose for you is really not to your taste, let me know). Once responses are in, my editorial team (currently TBC) and I will select the poems that will make it into the chapbook, and let you know asap.

We’re looking for a diverse mix of writers for this project, so we’re happy to hear from spoken word and performance poets, visual and concrete poets and sound poets as well as those who write in more ‘traditional’ forms and styles. All are welcome to submit, so please do get in touch.

Deadline for final submission of responses: Sunday 8th May.

Let me know asap if you’d like to be involved, or if you have any queries! claire@onenightstanzas.com, as always!

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‘The Mermaid & The Sailors’: my debut pamphlet NOW ON SALE!

Monday, March 28th, 2011

The Mermaid and the Sailors cover

It’s been three years in the making — I’ve been a total perfectionist, and more latterly, a total idiot, about releasing it, and as a result, I’ve been nagged, mocked and nagged some more about it. But after much blood, sweat, tears and nerves, it’s here: my debut poetry pamphlet, The Mermaid and the Sailors.

There’s nothing worse than talking about your own creative output, so I won’t. If you want to know what kind of book it is, check out the stuff that some very fine people have said about it, below. All I will tell you is this: I currently have only a very few copies available, so if you want one and you don’t want to have to wait, get in there. It’s four quid, plus postage, and if you’re in the UK, you’ll get it first class — hopefully within a couple of days of ordering it. If you want it signed, or if you’d like a personal message, leave a note as you pay, and I’ll sign it. Finally, I’ll say: please buy it. I’m on an unfunded PhD programme, and… well, you can imagine.

Oh yes… if you’d like a copy for reviewing purposes, drop me a line with details to claire@onenightstanzas.com. Please note that review copies will be sent out at my publisher’s discretion so a) you’re not guaranteed to get one and b) it may take a little while, because it’s not coming direct from me. If you want one yesterday, buy a copy!

CLICK THE BUTTON TO BUY THE MERMAID AND THE SAILORS HERE!


Praise for “The Mermaid and the Sailors”:

‘Claire Askew’s verse can be enjoyed for its playfulness and sharp wit. More rarely, it can also be treasured for its sureness of voice, its rich linguistic texture and deep emotional core. Rooted in the everyday, she has an ability to make the ordinary startling. Often funny, frequently startling in her imagery, she is adept at giving us the surprises, anxieties and estrangements of the modern world. But a series of poems about grandparents, of vividly rendered domestic interiors and Northern landscapes, also haunt with their poignant sense of belonging and loss. The Mermaid and the Sailors offers a procession of poems that have been honed with precision and skill, but which are effortlessly entertaining, echoing in the mind long after one has read them. This generous debut pamphlet confirms that Claire Askew is one of the most distinctive young poets to emerge in Britain in recent years.’

ALAN GILLIS

‘These finely tuned poems, studded with arresting and memorable images, often resonate with loss and longing, absences and distances, yet many are shot through with a wry and sometimes very dark humour which unsettles even as it delights. People’s inner lives come alive in these poised and telling narratives. Claire Askew is a fresh and highly distinctive new voice.’

BRIAN McCABE

‘Askew’s debut pamphlet displays great assurance. Her poems impact immediately, offering brief yet memorable vignettes of quiet lives and moments … one senses a major talent emergent in The Mermaid and the Sailors.’

ROBERT ALAN JAMIESON

‘Claire Askew is a young poet at once cosmopolitan and distinctively northern, with a fine ear for the aptly-placed colloquialism, the unusual word. A skilful and understated user of form, at times she is painterly, allowing sequences of images to play out like stills from a lost reel of footage, and at other times joyously musical, creating an interplay of word-sounds whose sheer energy draws the reader onward. “The Mermaid and the Sailors” is a welcome first publication from a sparky new writer.’

KONA MACPHEE

‘Askew writes with haunting precision, bringing to life the magic and wonder of the things we ordinarily overlook or take for granted. These are poems to savor, poems of electrifying intimacy and startling beauty.’

SAM MEEKINGS

CONVINCED?


Any questions? Want to let me know what you thought of it? I’d love to hear from you! Email claire@onenightstanzas.com

Cover image: Miriam Parker // Cover design: Leon Crosby (leon.a.crosby@gmail.com) // Editor: Kevin Cadwallender // Publisher: Red Squirrel Press

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Starving hysterical naked: my thoughts on the HOWL movie

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Howl
If you’ve spent any time at all at this blog, you will know I am a super-massive Allen Ginsberg fan. I first discovered the great man’s work in my third year as an undergrad English Lit student (I know, it took me long enough), and within months had voraciously read enough of his poetry to know that this was what I wanted to write my undergraduate dissertation about. After much deliberation, I decided to focus on the ‘Howl’ obscenity trial, and its still-ongoing repurcussions — at the time, there was much talk of whether or not ‘Howl’ was “a useful text”. My essay discussed whether or not it was, in fact, useful back in 1956, and more importantly, whether or not, and in what ways, it could be seen as useful now.

I was unfortunately limited to a paltry 6,000 words for my undergraduate dissertation — the shortest word limit for such a piece of work that I have ever heard of, in fact. But I was so fascinated by Ginsberg that I read, and have continued to read, far more about his life and works than was necessary for the completion of my essay. I remain fascinated by Ginsberg’s mother, Naomi, who suffered with crippling mental health issues and was institutionalised on and off throughout her life (when he was twelve, young Allen checked his mother into a mental hospital himself following an embarrassing scene in a chemist store; by the time Allen was 21, his father Louis had abandoned Naomi and Allen was forced to sign papers admitting her for full-frontal lobotomy). I made a trip to San Francisco and spent time in North Beach, encountering Lawrence Ferlinghetti, visiting the Beat Museum and hanging out in as many of Ginsberg’s haunts as I could track down. I continue to read everything I can about the great man, as well as collecting Ginsberg memorabilia — I’d rank my signed copies of ‘Howl and Other Poems’ and ‘Wichita Vortex Sutra’ above any of my other possessions, I think.

So when I heard that there was to be a Hollywood film about Allen Ginsberg — and specifically, about the very subject of my dissertation — I was enormously excited. I was also terrified. What if it got things wrong? What if it gave ‘Howl’ the horrible Hollywood treatment and totally warped everything? What if the person they cast as AG gave a dreadful, untrue performance? What if it sucked?

Needless to say, by the time I rocked up to the Filmhouse to buy my ticket on Friday night — the film’s first ever Edinburgh screening — I was a bag of nervous excitement. By now, I’d heard so much hype about the movie. I’d seen the trailer, and clips of James Franco’s performance as Ginsberg, which got me very excited. Franco, it seemed, was a great choice — it was clear from the snippets I saw that he’d totally nailed Ginsberg’s voice (to quote Jack Lemmon, “nobody talks like that”), surely the trickiest part of the role. However, I’d also read a whole plethora of reviews of the movie, and critics seemed to be less than enamoured with it. Reviewers seemed to be queuing up to slag off the animated sequences of the film; others apparently found the whole thing rather tedious or pointless. Mark Kermode, reviewing the movie for the BBC’s ‘Culture Show,’ charitably noted that “someone writing on a typewriter for hours” is difficult to make into “something interesting.” Overall, ‘Howl’ seemed to be receiving a resounding three out of five stars.

However, I needn’t have worried. For me, the film was absolutely, utterly perfect. The only things I can find to criticise are so totally minor that it’s almost ridiculous to even mention them — James Franco’s beard in the 1957 ‘interview’ scenes is rather obviously fake, for example, and some of the music in the animated sections is a little Royksopp-esque, which doesn’t always sit well with the period jazz of the live-action scenes. Otherwise, the movie far surpassed all my most optimistic expectations. It really is bloody brilliant.

I can see why critics don’t get it. What I’d failed to acknowledge as I read reviews of the movie in the Guardian’s film blog and elsewhere was this: probably none of these film critics are Allen Ginsberg enthusiasts. Sure, some will have a working knowledge of who the guy was, one or two may even have read some of his stuff. Chances are, many will be acquainted with him solely thanks to his Wikipedia article. It’s unlikely that many of them really know what the guy was all about. And in that case, I can totally see why they didn’t get it.
This is most definitely a movie for fans — perhaps not just Ginsberg obsessives like myself, but certainly Beat Generation fans. The film kind of assumes that you know the basic Beat story — Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Neal and Carolyn Cassady all feature, but none of them speak throughout the movie. Names that only a fan would know are mentioned briefly in passing — for example, at one point Ginsberg mentions Lucien (Carr, one of the “founder members” of the Beat Generation) — and there are little nods and hints at all sorts of cool stuff that a non-aficionado might miss. For example, the scene that shows Allen sharing a camp bed with Neal Cassady is a close filmic adaptation of the poem “Many Loves,’ a poetic recollection of the event written by Ginsberg in August 1956. So many of the scenes in the film looked familiar, because they were designed to mimic real photos taken of (and by) Ginsberg at the time. Finally, much of the dialogue is lifted verbatim from interviews given by Ginsberg, from his Journals: Early Fifties Early Sixties, and from the obscenity trial’s court transcripts. Something I couldn’t get over was the total lack of Hollywood-treatment. The film is an astonishingly accurate record.

And James Franco is a triumph. He truly captures the highly complex animal that was Allen Ginsberg. He is at once arrogant and bashful, at once flippant and sincere, at once tortured and carefree. As I mentioned earlier, his command of Ginsberg’s vocal tone and intonation is masterful — I grinned from ear to ear the first time he said the word ‘poetry’, using AG’s classic pronounciation: poet-ree. The performance really shines in the Six Gallery scenes — it is clear that Franco has studied the film and audio recordings from this event in depth, and that he took delight in re-enacting them. The moment in the 1957 interview when Franco’s Ginsberg is asked to speak about his mother’s illness had me in bits; the final scene, in which Franco/Ginsberg (he really does become AG) recites ‘Footnote to Howl,’ was just brilliant. And I loved the animation, too. It was utterly, utterly strange — dark, silly, surreal. But it really fit, not only with the poetry, but with the bigger ideas behind it. This is the depiction of a long, deep, dangerous and self-destructive drug trip; it is also a mental institution hallucination. It’s damn weird, but that’s surely a necessity. It works.

This film took all my most hopeful expectations and hit them for six. It really is fantastic — and although I’m in no real place to speculate, I’m going to say it anyway: I think Ginsberg would have bloody loved it. Sure, he never much liked to be in the spotlight — in an ideal world he would probably have preferred a movie about Cassady or Kerouac or Burroughs in which he was only a minor character (as the first Beat to gain widespread notoriety in the mid 1950s — pretty much as a result of the ‘Howl’ trial — Ginsberg threw far more of his energy into using his fame to throw opportunities in the direction of his fellow Beats than he ever did into promoting himself). But I think he’d have approved of this movie’s warmth, its wackiness and it’s honesty. I certainly did. Go and see it already.

(Photo)

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this collection zine-making workshop: the results

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time will know that I am a huge fangirl of zines. From late 2007 to early 2010 I ran my own, Read This Magazine (currently in the process of being dismantled in order to make way for something new, by the way); I am a follower/subscriber of many other small independent literary zines (including The Letter Killeth — see work by Chris Lindores in their latest! — and Words Dance) and will always encourage others to follow my lead. About eighteen months ago I was gifted a huge stack of vintage music fanzines by local Edinburgh zinester and blogger, Nine. All of this somehow led to me leading a zine-making workshop at Tollcross Community Centre on behalf of this collection on Tuesday night.

I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who came along — not least my sister and Lovely Boyfriend who didn’t have a great deal of choice in the matter. Thanks also to Sean Cartwright, Sue Steele, Julie Logan and Dave Forbes for your attendance and enthusiasm, and thanks of course to Stefanie Tan and everyone at TCC for the inspiration/organisation side of things.

Overall, the workshop was a massive success. I introduced six total zine virgins to a brand new artform, and we created seven beautiful Xeroxed and hand-bound creations to promote poetry, crafting, recycling and counter culture. It was such a success I might even run more! Give me a shout — poetry@thiscollection.org — if you’d be interested in such a thing. Some photos and a fab timelapse from the evening below…

Zinesters
Assembled zinesters: Steve, Dave, Sue, Julie, Sean, Stefa, Helen and myself.

Organ: Issue 42
Sean checks out some old 90s music fanzines for inspiration.

Zinesteristas
The cutting and sticking begins!

Steve's zine
Steve, aka Lovely Boyfriend, working on some (rather fabulous) blackout poems

My zine
My zine coming together — this collection needs you!

Dave's zine
Dave’s finished zine — complete with glitter!

Print media is dead: long live zines!

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In 2010, I…

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This has become a bit of a ONS tradition, as I did it last year and the year before, too. It helps me reflect on the past year and prepare for the next one, as well as reminding me to be grateful for all the awesome stuff I’ve seen, done and been involved in over the past year. I recommend you make your own list too! Here’s mine for 2010. In 2010, I…

* worked as a reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the second year running, and one of the novels I recommended — Strangers by Anita Brookner — made the shortlist!

* was commissioned by The Body Shop Plc to write a poem for their Dreams Unlimited fragrance range — that poem is now on packaging and merchandising in every UK store… and beyond!

* came third at the inaugural Is This Poetry? Slam at Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar

* completed training at the University of Edinburgh to become a postgraduate teaching assistant, teaching undergraduates

* continued my work as a Lecturer in Literature & Communications at Edinburgh’s Telford College, and began a PDA in Adult Education

* broke up with my boyfriend of four and a half years, Leon — also known in these parts as The Boy — on mutual and genuinely amicable terms

* helped the lovely Stefa to organise and run a poetry/filmmaker speed-dating evening at the Scottish Poetry Library as part of the this collection project

* helped showcase this collection’s work so far at a two-day film-and-poetry extravaganza at the McEwan Hall –details here and here!

* got to be birth partner for my lovely friend Amanda as she went into labour with her beautiful daughter Evelyn Waverley — born 3/4/2010!

* passed the first year review of my PhD in Creative Writing and Contemporary Scottish Poetry, nervously, but apparently with flying colours!

* judged my first ever poetry competition — the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Contest — my thoughts here and here!

* moved house, from swinging Stockbridge… about six blocks down the road to Comely Bank!

* proudly saw my little sister graduate from her BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from the University of Northumbria

* was featured in The Herald Newspaper’s weekend “Lifelines” column, and photographed by the gorgeous Julie Howden

* was taken on as a Tutor in Creative Writing for the University of Edinburgh’s “SUISS” summer school, and worked intensively with eight fabulous and super-talented students — check them out! And I’ll be back next year!

* tried my hand at online dating, no less (I’ll try anything once!), and thank goodness I did… met the utterly gorgeous Steve, who, I’m happy to say, is now my new partner in crime!

* won the 2010 Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize!

* attended the Traquair Fair 2010!

* visited gorgeous Paris for the first time ever, with my beautiful new boyfriend… and went for dinner with the legendary Jim Haynes

* dressed as the green absinthe fairy for Halloween 2010

* proudly attended the launch of my lovely and talented friend Ryan Van Winkle’s first book, the Crashaw Prize winner Tomorrow, We Will Live Here (buy it!)

* was invited to be part of the brilliant Dualism: Poets and Portraits project (more on this soon!)

* FINALLY completed work on my long-awaited first pamphlet collection, The Mermaid and the Sailors, due from Red Squirrel Press — watch this space!

* read at: FemSoc ShoutOut at the University of Edinburgh // Hidden Door January 2010 // Is This Poetry? // Word of Mouth LGBT Open Mic // Poetry at the Bowery // A Terrifying Ordeal at Henry’s Jazz Cellar // Shore Poets May 2010 // Scottish Universities International Summer School // Utter! at the Edinburgh International Festival // film x poetry II at the Edinburgh International Festival // Chaos Raging Sweet at the Edinburgh International Festival // Origins at Morden Tower // Inky Fingers at Forest // 100 years of Norman MacCaig at Poetry at the GRV, October // Word of Mouth Open Mic, October //

* published in: The Guardian // Cleaves // YM: New Work In Poetry // Anon 7 // Etcetera // nominated for Best of the Web for this poem

* gigs of 2010: Callel at CabVol, May // Callel at Leithfest, May // Broken Records at Liquid Rooms, August // Miagi at Voodoo Rooms, September // Music Like A Vitamin, September // The Hollies at Usher Hall, October // Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, HMV Picturehouse, December // Aberfeldy at Liquid Rooms, December

* favourite photos of 2010 (click to enlarge):

mcewanhallbw mcewanhall brokenrecords
newroom molegrad suiss
traqfair Morden Tower bodyshop
jimshouse shakespearenco perelachaise
halloween 75802_10150310694760573_663035572_15785629_7675191_n claireandstevexmas
Also this one of Ryan’s launch by Chris Scott

Here’s to 2011!

(Photo by Pablo Alfieri)

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