The Poetry Kit
WILD RECKONING ed. by John Burnside and Maurice Riordan, pub. by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation £7.50.
The poems in this anthology have been selected as a response to Rachel Carson’s SILENT SPRING, a prophetic work which 40 years ago asked us to imagine a world damaged by pesticides and facing the extinction of species.
In this collection of many familiar poems including many obvious choices like for example Shelly’s ODE TO THE WEST WIND and Whitman’s SONG OF MYSELF . There are many other less obvious but still very pertinent choices like Larkin’s GOING GOING, one of those poems that it is easy to overlook in a collected edition of Larkin’s work but which comes into its own in the context of this anthology. The same is true of a rediscovered gem by one of my favourite poets Robinson Jeffers, CARMEL POINT.
“… it knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve….”
However this volume is far more than a collection of previously published poems because lurking in these pages are original commissioned poems from 17 leading poets including Andrew Motion and Simon Armitage. The brief given to all the poets was to work with a scientist and to engage with some elements of the science and the theme. The intention was to encourage a dialogue between writers and scientist in an area of shared interest. I liked all of the commissioned pieces and I would recommend especially Andrew Motion’s THE SPARROW, which I think is a truly wonderful evocation
This is one of those anthologies which is destined to become a favourite.
WILD RECKONING ed. by John Burnside and Maurice Riordan, pub. by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation £7.50. ISBN 1 903080 00 2
VELOCITY – The best of Apples and Snakes, Black Spring Press £9.95
The second Book is another anthology but this time containing the work of poets who have performed their work at events hosted by Apples and Snakes, and it is titled VELOCITY. Many of the writers featured would appear on any wish list of contemporary poets put together by an event or festival organizer so it is not surprising to find them here. However their choice of material is interesting. Billy Childish for example has several poems the wonderfully alliteratively titled WE HAVE WAR BECAUSE WE LOVE WAR
want to push
to the front
all the prizes
A great collection of contemporary poetry from some of the best writers today.
VELOCITY – The best of Apples and Snakes, Black Spring Press £9.95.
ISBN 0 948238 28 3
In the Criminals Cabinet – ed. Todd Swift and Val Stevenson
This is an anthology of writers who have been published in the internet magazine Nthposition. It is a a very fine selection of contemporary poets and shows the very high standards that can exist in internet publishing. It is another anthology destined to become a classic as it so easily encapsulates popular poetry at the start of the twenty first century. For me it makes a wonderful bridge between internet virtual publishing and publication in a “real” book, and perhaps more importantly shows how internet publishing has allowed a whole new generation of poets to develop both their skills and a new platform for their work. There are some new and distinctive voices here. Heather Taylor for example who seems to perform at every poetry venue in London every month is represented with the wonderful poem SCARS
“Sometimes at night, I sing to my scars
Crossing my belly in parallel lines
The markings of your arrival…”
There are many very fine poets in this collection including Ron Silliman, Jason Camlot and Carole Baldock, but mention should also be made of the prose pieces Richard Peabody’s STOP THE WAR OR GIANT AMOEBAS WILL EAT YOU for example is very memorable.
In the Criminals Cabinet – ed. Todd Swift and Val Stevenson is published by nthposition press £9.99 ISBN 0 9546268 1 8
Boho Women Peeling Oranges, an anthology from BOHO Press
Boho Women Peeling Oranges containing the work of female poets who have entered the publisher Bluechrome’s competitions. Contains some excellent poetry, including Pamela Trudie Hodge with the memorable MELON-BRAIN MONDAY Eileen Carney Hulme SLIGHT OF HAND containing these wonderful lines
“we danced round coffee stains
till midnight struck”
Caroline Gill’s SWANSONG and Henrietta Travers NAKED EVE are also very memorable as is the outstanding BLIND DREAMS by Gill McEvoy.
“Her body would be silk, I know,
Her breasts like water-lilies
Golden centred, cupped in white
A good selection of work if a little uneven but as said some outstanding poems.
Boho Women Peeling Oranges, an anthology from BOHO Press (www.bohopress.co.uk) £7.99 ISBN 1 904781 05 5
reviews by Jim Bennett