Thursday, 27 May 2010

Anthology Alert (4): 'Crab Lines Off The Pier'

Mumbles Pier, Swansea

I am delighted that my poem, 'The Ocean's Tears' (a Tercet Ghazal),
is to be included in the new Summer Anthology from Indigo Dreams Publishing,
Crab Lines Off The Pier (ed. Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling, IDP 2010).

Paperback : Date of Publication : 1st June 2010
Publisher : Indigo Dreams Publishing
ISBN10 : 1907401210
ISBN13 : 9781907401213
Paberback, perfect bound, 90 pages

Flotsam and Jetsam

You can read about the anthology here
on the Indigo Dreams Press website.

Breaking Waves

Orders for the anthology (£7.50 per copy plus p&p) can be placed here
on the Central Books site.

Creature Feature (16): Wildlife at Mwnt, Gwbert and Cardigan Island

Mwnt from the Cardigan Farm Park
You can just make out the white bell tower of the Church of the Holy Cross,
halfway up on the right.

We enjoyed a visit to Mwnt on the Cardigan coast of Wales last weekend.
The weather was glorious and we saw some interesting wildlife.
This was the first sign (below) we saw as we left the NT car-park at Mwnt...

This is the church in its glorious setting...

We were just enjoying our cliff-top picnic when we spotted our first seal...

After lunch we drove the short distance on to Gwbert,
to do the coastal walk around the Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park.

We were thrilled to see this Common Lizard,
who had ventured indoors.
It was 'rehabilitated' seconds after this photo was taken.

Out on the cliffs we spotted a few Oystercatchers...

and this female Stonechat...

We spotted a Skylark ...

having watched Pipits earlier at Mwnt...

Suddenly we spotted this 'tortoiseshell' bird.
It was my first Turnstone:
an exciting moment!
The bird is sporting its breeding plumage.

By now, we could see Cardigan Island very clearly
from our gorse-lined cliff path...

I tried out my mini-tripod for the first time,
to see if I could get a steady shot of the bluebells on the island,
and of the nesting gulls.
I'm afraid I was only moderately successful,
but it gives an idea of the beautiful blue swathes.

We spent ages with these gulls, waiting for more seals to surface,
but the tide was high
and there were a lot of motor boats about, making quite a racket,
despite the speed limit in these conservation waters.

The Herring Gull below was nesting on the rock between the mainland and the island.

I have often seen Burnet Moths on the cliffs at Mwnt.
We were too early this time, but I did spot the caterpillar below.
It unrolled itself and trundled off into the grass.
It was pretty fat!

There were scores of small blue butterflies from the Lycaenidae family,
but they were too fast for me to catch on film
and I did not like to disturb them.

However, this beautiful creature from the same family
was quite unperturbed
as I took its photograph
on the way back to the car...

Small Copper Butterfly


We kept our eyes on the water as much as we could in the hope that the Porpoises or Bottlenose Dolphins would appear. We did not spot any on this occasion, but I was pleased to read on the Whales in Wales blog that they were definitely around. I hope you were able to enjoy fine weather in your neck of the woods, and that you spotted some interesting flora and fauna, too.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Magazine Moment (9): Cultural Horizon Magazine (Romania)

Cause for Celebration!

Contemporan Orizont Literar | Contemporary Horizon Magazine
from Bucharest, Romania

I have just received the latest copy of Contemporan Orizont Literar | Contemporary Horizon Magazine from Bucharest, Romania. This special issue, 'Anul III, Number 2 (16)', is packed with cultural delights from Nigeria ('Nigerian Perspectives' by Biola Olatunde on p.36) to Sri Lanka (poems by Sayumi Yokou on p.58) and Uruguay ('Belonging', on life as a student at Montevideo on p.59) by Marcela Meirelles.

This is a special edition because...

1) it marks the second anniversary of the magazine in its current format. It was founded a year ago in May 2008 by Mihai Cantuniari, with Daniel Dragomirescu as Editor-in-Chief. I first came across the magazine on the American site for writers, 'The Red Room', having read about the magazine in a blog-post by contributor, Peggy Landsman. Since then I have submitted a batch of my poems, which were published bilingually in English and Romanian, thanks to the translating skills of Professor Lidia Vianu's students at the University of Bucharest. I have also set up a series of interviews from Wales, my 'Dialoguri Galezi', in which I interview poets and other writers about their work.

2) it coincides with the official launch in Bucharest of the magazine's new 'Contemporary Horizon Multicultural Foundation'. This is an exciting time as the magazine takes off and becomes more widely read all over the world. I have been very stimulated by the international exchange of culture, literature, art, ideas and news. You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive the certificate, posted above!

The special issue opens with a 'flashback' or résumé of what has happened in the last year. Daniel Dragomirescu ('From Creative Localism to Multiculturalism' p.4) charts the developments of the new magazine, and explains how it was initially conceived as a sequel to the Vaslui Literary Truth magazine | Adevărul literar din Vaslui.

Contemporan Orizont Literar | Contemporary Horizon Magazine has come along way in the last two years. Since April 2009 the magazine has become an independent, bilingual and multicultural magazine. I interviewed Swansea poet, Byron Beynon, in one of my 'Dialoguri Galezi' slots; and the poem he supplied to accompany his answers was printed not only in Romanian (thanks to the input of Professor Lidia Vianu and her students enrolled on her Masters course on the Translation of the Literary Text) and English, but also in the Welsh language. The magazine had been partially bilingual up to and including issue no.3 in July 2009, but now all features appear in Romanian and English. Alina-Olimpia Miron, one of the main translators, has now taken on the role of General Editorial Secretary. I am personally indebted to Alina for her translation work.

You need only to click on the Contemporary Horizon link to see from the representative flags just how many corners of the world have already been touched by the electronic versions of magazine features. Many contacts have been made via the internet in this way.

The current issue is packed with the following ('in no particular order'):
  • poetry (e.g. from [1] Charles Johnson, UK editor of Obsessed with Pipework magazine; [2] Tanka (by Alan Segal, USA)
  • interviews (e.g. [1] Ioana Ireonim asks Professor Lidia Vianu about her translation work in Romania; [2] I interview my husband, David Gill, about literature and Mediterranean archaeology),
  • a Welsh profile (Byron Beynon looks at the letters sent by R.S. Thomas to Raymond Garlick)
  • short stories (e.g. 'Jasmine Fragrance' byMaria Dolores garcia pastor from Spain)
  • features (e.g. on 'Writers and Writing' by Professor Do Riggs, USA)...
... and a great deal more besides. The magazine has a coloured cover. There are black and white photographs and illustrations throughout.

Do consider taking out a subscription by PayPal (details here). You can read more about the magazine here and here - and you can always leave a comment on the Contemporary Horizon site, if you feel you would like to make a response.

On a personal note...

... I would like to end this round-up with words of very sincere thanks to my friends in Romania. I would like to express my personal gratitude to you all. Thank you, Daniel and Alina, in particular, for your friendship and opportunities for collaboration over the last year or so. It has meant a great deal to me. Thank you, too, for the splendid certificate. I wish you well and look forward to further cultural collaborations in the days ahead.

Something New (1): Green Leaf Worm

Caswell Bay,
Gower, Swansea, South Wales, UK

I keep trying to hone my skills of observation, and am always on the look-out for something new. I owe so much to those of you fellow-bloggers who consistently draw my attention to unusual aspects of the natural world. Thank you.

It has been an amazingly sunny weekend here in South Wales, with hardly a cloud in the sky. We spent quite a bit of time on the coast. I was delighted to see a Common Starfish at Caswell Bay on Gower. I must have occasionally seen these fine creatures before, but I can't think when that would have been. It was a great thrill to see the Starfish clinging to the side of a rock pool. The translucent tangerine colour was amazing. I was so frustrated that I did not have my camera with me at the time - my own fault entirely, of course.

We also saw quantities of extraordinary green worms on the rock faces around the edge of the beach. Neither of us is aware of ever having seen these creatures before. What did we do in the days before Google? As a youngster, I turned, of course, to the weighty volumes of the Children's Encyclopedia Britannica. Anyway, a quick Google search led me to Jessica's Nature Blog, and enabled me to discover that these worms are Green Leaf Worms Eulalia viridis (Linnaeus). Do follow the link to read about them and to see what they look like! Jessica Winder's photograph also solves another mystery: it has helped me to identify an unattractive orange substance - like a slime or fungus - that we noticed in rocky crevices. Apparently it was 'encrusting sponge' (you can see some amazing examples here by clicking and scrolling down). Thank you, Jessica.

We also noticed some small fairly uniform spherical creatures along the tideline. They were like transparent globules, about 1cm across. I wondered if they were perhaps eggs of some kind, or Sea Squirts or baby Jellyfish. It seems likely that they were either Sea Gooseberries aka Comb Jellies (Ctenophores), exactly like the one in the photo here, or Salps. Salps are Tunicates, which have sac-like bodies enclosed in a membrane-tunic, with two openings or siphons for absorbing and dispelling water.

'Curiouser and Curiouser'

Friday, 21 May 2010

Poetic People (37): Juliet Wilson

'Unthinkable Skies' (2010) by Juliet Wilson (aka 'Crafty Green Poet')
Calder Wood Press

28pp, £4.50 plus p&p - UK £1, Europe £1.50, Rest of the World £2
ISBN: 978-1-902629-28-5

Juliet Wilson*
author of
Unthinkable Skies

'poems reflecting Juliet's deep and wide-ranging concerns
for our planet and its inhabitants - human and animal.'

Juliet very kindly agreed to answer some questions about her new book, 'Unthinkable Skies'.

'All poetry should aim to be like birdsong' ~Juliet Wilson

1.) The title, 'Unthinkable Skies', is both evocative and arresting. At what point in the (writing/publication) process did you settle on this title, and why did you choose it?

Unthinkable Sky is a phrase from the poem Domesticated (p11) and I thought right from the beginning it would make a good title and loose theme (covering birds, the colour blue, galaxies, air pollution etc). I changed it to the plural at a later stage. Having a title and theme as soon as I started really helped to focus my mind!

2.) 'Unthinkable Skies' as a collection demonstrates your concern for our fragile world. At what age did you first become aware of 'green issues'? (I guess I have 'Drift' and 'Mistaken Identity' particularly in mind).

I was very interested in bird-watching and nature from very early on. I was probably seven when I did the jigsaw I mention in ‘Drift’. I first became aware of conservation as an issue through books and TV documentaries when I was about nine or so.

3.) As a left-hander, I instinctively turn to the back of a book. I was delighted to find a selection of your Haiku and Senryu on the last page. I also enjoyed your Ghazals, 'Malawian Moon' (p.3) and 'Endless Skies' (p.20). Why are form and poetic craft important (assuming that you feel they are); and what is it that appeals to you particularly about these forms?

I think all poets need to understand form and craft. This doesn’t mean that we should only write formal poetry and I write a lot of free verse myself. I think writing formally develops poetic discipline and a feel for the rhythms of language. I think also it’s a good discipline for poets to have a couple of favourite forms that they aim to ‘master’.

Haiku appeal to me because of their brevity, their traditional connection with nature and the seasons and the fact that there is so much more to them than meets the eye.

I discovered the ghazal relatively recently. There’s something magical about the repetition of the key word and the way the stanzas stand alone but interact to make something bigger.

4.) You edit the popular online poetry magazine 'Bolts of Silk'. How does your role as editor strengthen your role as poet - in your opinion, of course?

I really enjoy editing Bolts of Silk. Since the beginning I’ve had a steady stream of poetry to choose from, most of it excellent. This has offered me the chance to read quite widely from contemporary poets who I may otherwise never have heard of (I think it’s vital for poets to read a lot of poetry). Editing itself also has improved my critical eye which has probably helped me to improve my own writing.

5.) Like many others worldwide, I enjoy following your 'Crafty Green Poet' blog. Does blogging fuel your poetic output - and if so, in what ways? Do your recycled handicraft ideas go hand in hand with your writing?

Blogging helps to keep me going as a writer because I know I’ve got an audience! I’m always looking for things to blog about which helps me to find ideas for poetry. There are times though when I feel that blogging steals time from writing poetry.

Crafting gives me time to think and let my mind wander - I often have poetic ideas while I’m sewing or making collages. I hope to be able to make more collage versions of my poems in the future.

6.) Those of us who read your blog know that you regularly patrol a section of the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland, for conservation purposes. Wildlife plays a key part in your published poetry: do you make mental field observations while you are out and about, or do you use a dictaphone or notebook?

When I’m walking along the Water of Leith I always carry a notebook with me and record everything that way. At other times and in other places I’m often making mental notes rather than writing things down.

7.) Your poetry is concise and your words are chosen with care, sometimes with sound in mind e.g. 'scurry', 'shush' and 'skirr' in 'Turnstones' (p.29). You hint at more than you describe, and draw inspiration and imagery from emotion and the senses. Why is it more effective to 'show' than 'tell'?

I like poems that can be understood on a first reading but that reveal more on subsequent re-readings. I think showing rather than telling can draw a person into a poem and into the re-reading of it. Any poem should bring the reader’s imagination into play!

8.) Which poets - or authors - have been influential? In what ways (in a few words)?

a) Ruth Padel – who has wonderful stage presence
b) Margaret Attwood – whose poetry always gets to the heart of things
c) Edwin Morgan – the most imaginative poet in the English language

9.) We have mentioned 'Malawian Moon'. I know that my own year in Rome was life-changing. How did your two years in Malawi transform your view of the world?

Living and teaching in Malawi was an amazing experience. It gave me first hand experience of life in a very different culture and climate than the one I was used to, which helped me to see things in a bigger perspective. It was also a place that really inspired my writing.

10.) Those of us who follow your blog really appreciate your bird notes, with links to the RSPB site. Are there similarities between birds and poems?

Haiku are like songbirds in being small and perfectly formed and dependent on the seasons. All poetry should aim to be like birdsong, uplifting to the ear but with something worth saying too.

11.) Your publisher is Calder Wood Press. Please tell us a little about the press and about your part in the publication process.

Calder Wood Press is based close to Edinburgh, in East Lothian. I’ve known Colin Will (who runs the press) for several years. The press publishes a small number of poetry chapbooks every year, mostly by Scottish poets. Colin works closely with poets in producing their books. I sent Colin an initial selection of poems, we then worked together to select the final poems. I also provided the cover photo.

12.) What advice would you give to someone preparing a first collection?

Believe in your work. Place individual poems in reputable journals. Find a good small publisher, preferably a local one, to publish your first collection, which is more likely to be a pamphlet or a chapbook rather than a full length collection. Network a lot to create an audience for your work.


Thank you, Juliet, very much indeed for your answers and information. 'Unthinkable Skies' has certainly made me want to continue to explore our world and our use of words. I very much hope that readers of this interview may care to visit the Calder Wood Press site (link) and order a copy of 'Unthinkable Skies' for themselves. This is a book that has made me think and feel.

* Photographs (under copyright) kindly supplied by Juliet Wilson

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Publications (2): OUP Notes and Queries

Cast of the 'Horse of Selene'
British Museum

I mentioned in my last post that I had been paying a visit to the British Museum. It was good to see this cast of the 'Horse of Selene'. The original horse comes from the east pediment of the Parthenon. Benjamin Robert Haydon was one of the first artists to study the anatomical details of the marbles once they arrived in London. He described the 'Horse of Selene' in these words:

'a perfect example of what the highest genius will do,
when curbed and guided by science.'

David (Gill) and I have just been told that our joint piece, HMS Belvidera and the Temple of Minerva, was published on 20 April 2010 via the Oxford University Press 'Notes and Queries Advance Access' scheme.

You can login via Athens if you are part of an academic community. The print journal is due out in June, and will be available to all. We consider the iconographical details on a marble book, and link these to HMS Belvidera and the Parthenon around 1832, when King Otto was crowned ruler of Greece.

  • D.W.J. Gill and C. Gill, 'HMS Belvidera and the Temple of Minerva', Notes and Queries, 57 (2010): 199-210

Museum Moment (1): No prizes for guessing...

... where I have been!

This is the British Museum, London...

with a South African Landscaped Garden

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Carnival Time (6): Tulip Fest

Tulip Time!
Tulip design from Coastcard

Tulips at Aberglasney
(immediately above and the two photos below)
More on Aberglasney

Thanks to Rosie at Leaves'n'Bloom, I discovered that Shirl at Shirl's GardenWatch is hosting a TulipFest.

Why not take a tulip photo and join in, by posting it with a link to Shirl's site?

Tulips in the National Botanic Garden of Wales

A sea of tulips in the National Botanic Garden of Wales

Tulips by A.E. Stallings... I wonder if tulips make you feel this way, too. I have just written a Ghazal about tulips in Emirgan Park, Istanbul.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Poems on the Web (7): Arabic Ghazal Challenge

Gino Peregrini has just brought out his Arabic Challenge edition of The Ghazal Page. You will find the edition here, along with my challenge poem, 'A Lonely Soul'.

Thank you very much, Gino!

Poetic Forms (2): Kyrielle and Virelai - for Indian publication

I was delighted to hear last week that two of my poems have been selected for Dr Tulsi's new book, 'Muse & Metre'.

The volume will be a handbook for those who wish to write in poetic forms. My poems will demonstrate the Kyrielle and the Virelai. The volume is due to be published in July/August 2010 in Visakhapatnam in India. It will be produced by Dr Tulsi and 'authored by Bernard Jackson', whose name may be familiar to those who submit work to the UK/international small press poetry scene. Dr H. Tulsi is the editor of the poetry journal, 'Metverse Muse'.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Creature Feature (15): Election Fever - Bill Oddie's Top 10


I have taken a break from the Election in order to watch Bill Oddie's Top 10 'frights' and 'delights' in the world of wildlife. You can read about the programme here.

My favourite creature list would probably include the following (in no particular order):
  • Cat
  • Puffin
  • Raccoon
  • Pig
  • Seal
  • Dolphin
  • Eagle
  • Owl
  • Kingfisher
  • Pipistrelle
My least favourite creatures might include the following (in no particular order):
  • Flea
  • Wasp
  • Tick
  • Leech
  • Maggot
  • Scorpion
  • Cockroach
  • Louse
  • Vulture
  • Weaver Fish
I wonder if you have a Top 10...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Creature Feature (14): Hippo and Echo

Our local students baked hippo biscuits yesterday. This is the one that got away! My 'Echo on the Nile' poem about a faience hippo can now be read online on Professor Lewis Turco's site, 'The Book of Odd and Invented Forms'. If you follow the link, you will need to scroll down to the section on 'Echo Verse' (or do a 'Find' search on a word e.g. 'Nile'). You might like to take a look at my Echo blog here.

Egyptian blue-green faience hippos have long fascinated me. I have even got the T-shirt, as you will see if you click the link here (didn't we look young then?!).

I hope you will enjoy finding out more about these lovely creatures.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Poetry on Display (1): Seaweed from Dylan's home town

Mumbles Pier, Swansea, Wales

The Dylan Thomas Centre,
Swansea, Wales

I was delighted to learn today from Wilda Morris of the Illinois State Poetry Society in the USA that one of my Epulaeryu poems, Seaweed from the Home of Dylan Thomas, had been on display alongside other 'Food Poems' in the Lisle Public Library from March 27, 2010.

The poem is about laverbread, a local Swansea speciality. Its chief ingredient is seaweed (porphyra umbilcalis). It can be bought in Swansea market in small plastic bags. Many people like to fry it - sometimes with bacon - for breakfast. I have tasted it once so far, and would happily try it again.