Saturday 12 November 2011

Poetry Matters (15): Cafe Poets in Woodbridge

We joined the Cafe Poets at the lovely venue of Browsers' Bookshop in Woodbridge last night for the first time, and enjoyed an eclectic evening of poetry. The November themes of 'war' and remembrance' ran through the programme, with the chance to focus on works by Edward Thomas (hence my photo above), Siegfried Sassoon, Milton and others. Some members had brought their own work, and a good time was had by all. We enjoyed the coffee and cake, too! Thank you to all concerned.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Fiesta Time (9): Scotland at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

We spent a grey November day in Aldeburgh, enjoying the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, laid on by The Poetry Trust. We had visited this beautiful east coast town before, but this was our first visit in 'festival season'. 

Aldeburgh is proud of its poet, George Crabbe ... 

We had tickets for the Scottish Islands Reading event in the Jubilee Hall. Poets like Jo Bell, who had not arrived when I took this photo, and Penelope Shuttle joined the audience of local people (like us!) and followers who had come from further afield. There were representatives from the Poetry Society, and it was good to meet Judith Palmer for the first time.   

Words are the building blocks of poetry (see photo above), and it was particularly exciting to hear three poets flitting between languages, namely the languages of Gaelic, Shetlandic and English. Of course, this kind of rich diversity is not new to me, having just moved from the bilingual climate of Wales where the 'dragon has two tongues' (see here).

The three sets of readings were by Robert Alan Jamieson from Lerwick, Shetland; Meg Bateman, a lecturer at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on Skye - and an honorary lecturer in English at St Andrews University ... and Rody Gorman, who was born in Dublin and also lives on Skye. Rody has translated Cavafy poems into Gaelic.

There were various threads running through the poems, and Jamieson's short poem, 'Welcome to the Folk Museum', struck a particular chord with me, reminding the reader (or listener) just how easy it is to 'romanticise' the Highland and island way of life, glossing over the stark realities at e.g. the time of the Clearances.

Readers of this blog will know that we have a great affinity with Eilean a' Cheò aka the 'Misty Isle'. We also enjoy (if that is the right word) the heart-rending poetry of the Raasay poet, Sorley MacLean, so we were particularly pleased to have the opportunity of hearing some modern Gaelic voices. It was interesting to learn that while Gaelic has a limited lexicon, it has a richness of its own as so many of its words have a plethora of meanings.

Thank you to all took part and to those who gave us fascinating insights into the poetry of the northern isles.  

Aldeburgh ... in November

We spotted the home of a famous Aldeburgh resident ...

Thursday 3 November 2011

Magazine Moment (27): Reach Poetry (and Puffin)

Reach Poetry issue 158 arrived this morning (thank you, Ronnie and Dawn at IDP). There are some great new poems in the magazine - not forgetting a fabulous cover of a certain Border Collie called Soxx.

It was great to find my name in 'The Box' for my 11-syllables per line Sonnet* on - you've guessed - those amazing Yorkshire Puffins. My poem was voted 4th out of those published in issue 157 - so thank you to all who chose it.

Many congratulations to Tina Negus, who took First Place with her brilliant poem, 'A Contradiction of Hoopoes'. 

* Shakespeare's Sonnet XX had 11 lines per line, which was unusual - but I like the rhythm.

Monday 31 October 2011

Creative Corner (1): Simply ... a Question Mark

Photo © David Gill 2011

There has been a buzz of activity on the Waterfront just outside UCS today. A giant question mark sculpture, constructed in two parts by Langlands and Bell, is causing a wave of excitement as it begins to take shape. It has already aroused a measure of curiosity: what does it mean? What does it 'say' in the context of its location by the university campus?

David prepares to take some 'arty' shots of the installation through the window ...

... while I enjoy the view outside on the Waterfront, Ipswich

I decided to mount this photo on its end to show off the complementary question mark, made by the crane ... The sculpture is now 'under wraps'. One could say that it has been mummified, but I prefer to think of it as a chrysalis, awaiting the moment when it unfurls itself to unveil its full glory. 

Question mark on its side, shielded by ticker tape.

Symbiosis: where does the crane end and the sculpture begin?

All under ticker-tape wraps ... as excitement mounts.

The scene on the Waterfront this evening. What will happen next?

Take a look here and here - and here for more views!

Friday 28 October 2011

Fiesta Time (8): Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Sheep on the beautiful Hebridean island of Raasay, birthplace of poet, Somhairle MacGill-Eain/Sorely MacLean

We have just booked tickets for the Scottish Islands event at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, run by The Poetry Trust. Meg Bateman, Rody Gorman and Robert Alan Jamieson will be taking part.

A new Sorely MacLean volume, An Cuilithionn 1939: The Cuillin 1939 and Unpublished Poems came out in June this year. Thank you, Sally Evans of Poetry Scotland, for drawing attention to this on FB.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Publication Pointer (2): Swansea International Poetry Festival Anthology

Swansea's First International Poetry Festival, Summer 2011

This highly engaging festival was organised by Peter Thabit Jones, editor of The Seventh Quarry (mid front row in blue jacket) in association with Stanley Barkan, editor of Cross-Cultural Communications, New York (front row, right).

I am pleased to have a poem in the festival anthology: the publication has just been awarded Second Place by Geoff Stevens in the 'Best Poetry Anthology of 2011' section of the Purple Patch Small Press 'Best of' Lists' for 2011.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Competition Corner (1): A Message from India

I heard this morning from Dr. H. Tulsi, the editor of Metverse Muse (Visakhapatnam, India) that I had obtained 'the FIRST rank' in the 2010 Metverse Muse Poetry Competition, 'having secured a total of 38 points for your two entries together, - 20 pts. for your poem “King of the ‘Kilt Rock’ Cloud” and 18 pts. for “Life’s Silken Thread”.'

A good way to start the day!

Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye

Monday 17 October 2011

Publication Pointer (1): The Book of Forms (4th edition) by Lewis Turco

Professor Lewis Turco has posted a list of contributors to his new volume here (including your truly) ...

by Lewis Putnam Turco
Paperback (November 2011) 
Buy new: $27.95 $18.45
COMING SOON! ~ Available for Pre-order
Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.
Other Formats: Digital

Saturday 15 October 2011

Fiesta Time (8): Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Above and below: views from Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast.

The 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival takes place here next month.  

I had almost forgotten how beautiful the East Anglian landscape looks, with its intermittent 'punctuations' of dazzling white sails.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Calendar Corner (2): National Poetry Week 2011

We have enjoyed a variety of literary events this last fortnight. We celebrated National Poetry Day (or 'Week' in South Wales) at Number 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, birthplace of Dylan Thomas. Thanks are due to Annie and Geoff for laying on a number of events, and to Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry for organising a programme of readings for last Saturday night.

It was good to meet Ian Griffiths of the Suffolk Poetry Society and Geraldine Green from Cumbria. Singer-songwriter, Maria Lindström from Sweden, was on tour, and read some of her work bilingually. We were sorry not to coincide with Susan Richardson, who was performing on a different evening. Peter Thabit Jones directed - and acted in - a performance of his verse drama, 'The Boy and the Lion's Head'. David and I read alongside fellow Quarry Poets, Jean Salkilld (Tuesday Poets) and Lynn Hopkins (author of 'Creatures of a Dead Community', Seventh Quarry Press). Jill Goodwin-Croke read poems by Dylan and Caitlin's daughter, Aeronwy Thomas, including one about walking in her father's shadow in a literary kind of way.   

'Games' was the assigned theme for this year's National Poetry Day, so I chose my poems with this in mind, reading 'The Ocean's Tears' (a Tercet Ghazal about a children's tide fight) and 'Lament of a Lewis Chessman' - about chess (just in case you were in any doubt!). 

Exchanging news and views at Number 5
A lot seems to have happened since then!

We spent this afternoon in UCS at a lecture by Faber novelist, Louise Doughty, sponsored by the Suffolk Book League. Louise's latest novel, 'Whatever You Love' was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Louise, however, is also well known for her how-to book, 'A Novel in a Year' - and I was pleased to buy a signed copy from her before she left Ipswich.

University Campus Suffolk, Waterfront, Ipswich - venue for Talk by Louise Doughty

Friday 7 October 2011

Calendar Corner (1): National Poetry Week

5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, Wales, UK

We are much looking forward to participating in ...

The International Dylan Thomas Birthplace Festival 

3 – 9 October 2011

David and I join Peter Thabit Jones (ed. The Seventh Quarry) and other poets on Saturday 8 October. Do take a look at the programme for Dylan's Birthplace and don't forget the National Poetry Day website.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Magazine Moment (27): Australia

Dartmoor Pony

We have been so busy moving house (an ongoing process) that my writing time has temporarily diminished. However, I received a package today from NSW, Australia, containing FreeXpresSion for September 2011, Vol. XVII - Issue No.9, ed. Peter F. Pike. The magazine incorporates the International Poetry Xpressions column prepared by Catherine Lee Clarke. This issue contains six of my poems ...
  • Elegy for Idris Davies [55/2001]  
  • Monte Testaccio: Mound of Potsherds [ 53/2003] 
  • Weddell Seal at the Ice Edge  [29/2010]
  • Isabella Tiger Moth greets the Woolly Bear Caterpillar [42/2009] 
  • Dartmoor: the Call of the Wild [10/2000] 
  • Velvet Shadows in Venice: 'The Stonemason's Yard' [1727-8] by Canaletto [2/2004]
I have now had poems published in UK, Romania, USA, India and Australia.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Magazine Moment (26): Dolphins in Danger

In contrast to Bottlenose Dolphins in some other places, these are free to enjoy life off the Scottish coast, 2011

My poem about the plight of some Bottlenose Dolphins has just been published in issue 156 of Reach Poetry (ed. Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling, Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd).

You can find more here about dolphins in peril.

You can see more 'happy' dolphins here

I apologise for the recent intermittent nature of my posts. We are in the (slow but busy) process of moving house ...

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Magazine Moment (26): Reach Poetry Surprise

West Country Light

I was delighted today to learn that my Glosa, 'A Softer Beauty', had taken First Prize in the Reach Poetry readers' votes for issue 154. Thank you very much, Ronnie and Dawn, for the cheque!

My poem builds around a quatrain by the eccentric West Country cleric, the Reverend R.S. Hawker, Vicar of Morwenstow, who wrote from a cliff-side driftwood hut, now in the care of the National Trust.

It was also a surprise to find a mention of my 'Turkish Delight' Tercet Ghazal in the Purple Patch review section (issue no.129), so thank you Geoff.

Monday 1 August 2011

Magazine Moment (25): The Ghazal Page

You will find my Tercet Ghazal on 'change' here on The Ghazal Page (editor Gino Peregrini). I hope you enjoy it!

Apologies for a long absence ... life seems to have been very busy recently!

Saturday 18 June 2011

Fiesta Time (7): Closing Moments at the Swansea International Poetry Festival

Festival Participants: Final Curtain Call, Photo © David Gill 2011

The word 'triumph' comes to mind as I begin to look back on the extravaganza of events that have taken place here in Swansea at the Dylan Thomas Theatre and at the Nick Holly Studio Gallery over the last few days.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the organisers, Peter Thabit Jones (of The Seventh Quarry, Swansea) in conjunction with Stanley H. Barkan (of Cross-Cultural Communications, New York).

I would also like to thank all those who worked behind the scenes and all those who participated in various ways, enabling us to enjoy poetry, drama, music and dance from many different corners of the globe.

N.B. Some participants had already had to leave by the time this photograph was taken.

Fiesta Time (6): Premiere of Verse Drama by Peter Thabit Jones

Stage set: Kilvey Hill, Swansea

Not the best photo, I'm afraid, as it was taken in the auditorium of the Dylan Thomas Theatre in the dark without a flash, just before the show began. However, it gives a good impression of the wonderful stage set designed (I believe) by Nick Holly for last night's Welsh premiere of 'The Boy and the Lion's Head', the new verse drama by Peter Thabit Jones. It was an amazing enterprise and greatly appreciated by all those who had the privilege of seeing the performance.

Friday 17 June 2011

Fiesta Time (5): International Poetry Festival, Swansea 2011

Statue of Dylan Thomas outside today's festival venue, the Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea
I have just come in from a magnificent day of poetry, dance, acting and music from the USA, Wales, Israel, England, Cornwall, Scotland, Canada and Italy. Tomorrow we will hear poetry in translation, but more of that when the time comes. Old friendships have been renewed and new international friendships have been made. We have heard poems of mourning and poems of jubilation. We have laughed and we have been almost moved to tears. We have heard dialect poetry, and have seen poetry written in many languages in the various books by the participating artists - from Catalan to Korean. Thank you, Stanley (of Cross-Cultural Communications, New York) and Peter (editor of The Seventh Quarry, Swansea), for organising such a remarkably cosmopolitan event. Roll on tomorrow for the next round ...

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Fiesta Time (4): International Poetry Festival opens in Swansea, 2011

John, Robin, Caroline (me!) and Lisa

The Swansea International Poetry Festival has begun with a swing! The festival is taking place under the auspices of The Seventh Quarry, Wales (ed. Peter Thabit Jones) and Cross Cultural Communications, New York (ed. Stanley Barkan). 

Tonight's launch took place in the Nick Holly Studio Gallery, a superb venue. Thank you to all who made it a wonderful evening. Here's to tomorrow!

Fiesta Time (3): International Poetry Festival in Swansea, 2011

STOP PRESS ... starting today ...

Swansea, SA1

The Seventh Quarry 
 Cross-Cultural Communications, New York 
A three-day festival of poetry, drama, workshops, and music ...

Writers and performers 
the U.K., America, Canada, Argentina, Israel, Europe, Eastern Europe, and India.

Hosted by Peter Thabit Jones and Stanley H. Barkan 

at the Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea. 

Extra festival events at The Boathouse, Laugharne; 

Dylan Thomas House, Swansea; 
and the Nick Holly Art Studio, Swansea.

A commemorative chapbook is being produced 

and several awards will be announced. 

Dylan Thomas Boat House, Laugharne

Monday 6 June 2011

Magazine Moment (24) : Orizont Literar Contemporan, Romania

Orizont Literar Contemporan
'All the world in a journal' 

Thanks to the stalwart efforts of editor-in-chief, Daniel Dragomirescu, and the editorial team, the latest issue, An. IV, number 2 (22), of Orizont Literar Contemporan has been published - and has now reached me from Bucharest. In keeping with the magazine strapline above, this number contains a literary feast of poetry and prose from many corners of the globe. We find Gonzalo Salesky bringing us his poems from Argentina (p.14), and Professor Donald Riggs sharing the second instalment of his article on the teaching of Creative Writing in universities in Philadelphia (p.52). Catherine Mimano offers the lively perspective of a nineteen year old in terms of the cultural identity of her country, Kenya, a land of the wildebeest migration and hip-hop music.  

My knowledge of modern languages is limited, but I always enjoy seeing the translation of a piece of work alongside the original. Adolf P. Shvedchikov writes his poetry in Russian with alternative English versions. Petronela Corobleanu of the translation unit, MTTLC, at the University of Bucharest has provided a Romanian translation, too, and it is fascinating to see the three languages laid out together on the page.

Wales is well represented in this issue. I was particularly delighted to find an appreciation by Byron Beynon of the poet, Raymond Garlick, who died on 19 March 2011. Byron is brilliantly placed to write such a piece, for, as we discover in his tribute, he was the recipient of over 100 letters and cards from this formative Anglo-Welsh poet. You will also find my latest interview, number seven in the 'Dialoguri Galeze' series, with poet and Tuesday Poetry Group leader, Jean Salkilld. Jean's poem, 'Legend's Source' (p.4), takes us 'through lights of autumn leaves' into the northern woods of America, where the tears of Hiawatha's mother supposedly welled up in the form of the mighty Missisippi river. Our thanks to Petronela Corobleanu for her translation into Romanian.

The magazine covers every shade of style and emotion. I will end by alluding to Victor P. Gendrano's piece, 'My Grocery Adventure', on p.34. He demonstrates in three short paragraphs just how he was able to fulfil his daily motto of making 'at least one person smile'. It would be giving the game away if I spilled the beans (no pun intended!) and explained just how he came to do this, for perhaps you would prefer to order a copy of the magazine and find out for yourself ... 

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Poetry Matters (18): Peter Thabit Jones ~ 'Poems from a Cabin on Big Sur'

Poems from a Cabin on Big Sur by Peter Thabit Jones
Editor-Publisher: Stanley H. Barkan
Publishing House: Cross Cultural Communications, Merrick, New York, 2011
Photographs: Melissa Goese-Goble, Patricia Holt, Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, Linda Parker

Available from Cross-Cultural Communications, 239 Wynsum Avenue, Merrick, New York, 11566-4725, USA. Price $25 (hardback) $15 (paperback)

Launch of 'Poems from a Cabin on Big Sur' (Photo © David Gill 2011)

'I went on daily walks, alone, letting the island-like world seep into my very being ...'
Peter Thabit Jones, Preface, p.9

We were delighted to visit the stunning Studio Gallery of Swansea artist, Nick Holly, last Friday for the launch of Poems from a Cabin on Big Sur by Peter Thabit Jones. The work in this sparkling new collection brings us - in the apposite words of Vince Clemente - a vision of Peter, 'the man on Big Sur [observing] with the eyes of maturity, but [feeling] with the open heart of the boy on Kilvey.'

Big Sur, on the Central Coast of California, is adorned with the stunning combination of the St Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is a place well-loved by writers and those who seek natural wonder and solitude. Redwood and Monterey Pine adorn this region. It is an area of wide skies and horizons, where the rugged landscape is frequented not only by mountain lions but also by rare amphibians such as the California Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon ensatus).

In his Preface, Peter alludes to the fact that his spell as Writer-in-Residence in the Cabin on Big Sur followed in the tradition of a line of other writers and artists who had been equally influenced by this extraordinary wilderness (in the sense of 'expanse of wildness' rather than 'area of emptiness'). Jack Kerouac's novel, Big Sur, (1962), for example, arose out of his time in the same cabin.

Many of us dream of living the Robinson Crusoe experience. Most of us occasionally manage to hunt out small corners 'far from the madding crowd'. Writers like Dylan Thomas and R.S. Hawker beavered away in huts perched high above estuary and ocean. I like to write with one eye on the keyboard and the other on the wide sweep of Swansea Bay, as it spreads out beneath my window. Few of us, though, unlike Peter, have truly experienced the life of a poet in isolation - for real.

It is with these thoughts in my head that I plan to approach this collection as I read it more carefully and alongside the accompanying photographs in the days to come. I have already encountered poems that invite the reader to glimpse into the 'window's picture', as it conveys the poet's vision in terms of a dual sense of the 'so-close ocean' and the 'shores of the mind'.  

Friday 27 May 2011

Magazine Moment (23): TIPS for Writers 83

Welcome to my 550th post on this blog!

Kalamata Olives with Basil and a tang of Peloponnesian Orange and Lime

TIPS for Writers magazine, 83, issue 3/2011
editor: Wendy Webb, Norfolk Poets and Writers

I recieved a copy of this edition of TIPS a few days, and as ever, have found it to contain a feast of new poetry. I chose the photo above because it seemed to represent (to me at least) something of the mouth-watering Mediterranean flavours evoked in 'Olives, Grapes, Cicadas, Sun' by Norman Bisset. We find ourselves listening to the sound of cicada 'choirs' and watching the fall of light on Doric columns. We see the very roots of civilization emerging alongside the twisting stems of olive and vine.

Wendy is always one for a challenge, and in her editorial she writes that she would like to see some palindromes, including her own verse form, the Palindromedary Sonnet, submitted for the next issue [Later note: Wendy's link no longer exists, July 2012]. She is also keen to receive some Folding Mirror poems in the form created by Dr Marc Latham. You can read my post linking these two forms here on Marc's Folding Mirror Poetry blog.

The poems in this issue represent a plethora of situations. We follow some steps behind the one (presumably a health professional) who walks beside the parents of a baby in 'Acceptance' by Margaret Whitaker, the winning poem in the 10th Anniversary Tips Competition. Then we take a completely different turn and feel the buzz as Kay Weeks dances the night away at Mar de Jade.  

Kay's poem embraces the geckos and turtles that help to populate this Mexican landscape. Norman Bissett brings us back to the shores of the UK with his poignant observations regarding the decline of the 'Camberwell Beauties'. Bernard Jackson's sonnet 'To a Hidden Bird' resonates for me with words by Edward Thomas. You can read about E.T's 'Unknown Bird' here on The Solitary Walker blog. Bernard's evocation of Jesmond Dene, the leafy 'interlacing canopy of green', rings true for me - and I spent five very happy years of my life in that neck of the woods.

A feature I particularly like in this issue is the editors' page (p.23). This contains sample poems by Ronnie Goodyer of Indigo Dreams (IDP) and Geoff Stevens of Purple Patch. Ronnie's 'Breakbones' with its intoxicating rhythm draws us in to take a closer - careful - look at the wild flowers such as Bog Asphodel on a stretch of West Country mire. Geoff's concrete poem, 'Looking out to Sea', needs to be seen in its eye-glass shape to be fully appreciated, but its array of 'blue' words is compelling.

If you would like to take out a subscription to TIPS  in this its 10th anniversary year, you will find Wendy's details on the Poetry Library Southbank Centre site here. Thank you, Wendy, once again for an engaging and colourful read.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Archaeological Avenues (3): David Gill's BSA book, update

Just an update on David's book to say that you can now read more on the Swansea University website here. (There only seems to be a cached page available at present). 

  • Previous post on publication of book here ...

Monday 16 May 2011

Creature Feature (3): Tiger, Tiger

'In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?'
William Blake

Helen Calcutt and Peter Tinkler's Tiger, Tiger site is growing in leaps and bounds (if you will excuse the pun). The exciting news is that the project has now linked up with the Born Free Foundation, thanks to the support and involvement of Richard Bonfield, BFF Poet-in-Residence.

If you would like your creative 'tiger' work to be considered for the Tiger, Tiger project, you will come across the guidelines here

There are a number of pieces up on the site, so do take time to have a browse. You will find creative contributions from the following:

Helen Calcutt | David Calcutt | Richard Bonfield | Anna-Louise Pickering | Sarah James | Julie Boden | Ruth Stacey | Vera Franklin | Rosemary A Bach-Holzer | Saba Zai |  Nita Lewsey | Jackie Fallows | Jenny Hope | Rosemarie Rowley | Siobhan Harper | Jacqui Rowe | Janet Smith | Lucy Jeynes | Gareth Partington  ...

I also have two Tiger, Tiger poems on the site, which ... you can read here -
  • by scrolling down for 'Isabella ...'* and 
  • by clicking on my name, Caroline Gill, for 'Muffled Drum'.
It is a sad fact that there are probably only around 3500 tigers in the wild in our world today. You can read about the Born Free Foundation's concern for this amazing wild cat here.

* This poem was first published in Reach Poetry (ed. Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling, IDP). 

Wednesday 11 May 2011

International Echoes (14): Metverse Muse

I had been looking forward to the arrival of a package from India for some time, and was delighted when 'Metverse Muse' (double issue, 27 and 28) popped through my letterbox yesterday, all the way from Visakhapatnam.

The editor, Dr H. Tulsi, has put together 248 pages of international poetry (from India, Australia, UK, USA, New Zealand, Singapore...), articles, reviews and competition results.

I feel very honoured to have been awarded Joint Second Prize (with international Haiku prize-winner, Claire Knight) in Category A of the competition for the 'Best Fixed Form Poet of the Year 2010'.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Archaeological Avenues (2): David's book, hot off the press

Gill, D. W. J. 2011. Sifting the Soil of Greece: the early years of the British School at Athens (1886-1919).  
Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Supplement, vol. 111. London: Institute of Classical Studies.


David's book (pp. 474) has just arrived from the publishers - and is dedicated to me. 

The cover shows the Methana peninsula of Greece, 
which I visited during one of David's archaeological field survey seasons in the area.  

For further details of the book and how to order, please click here.  

A snippet ...

For other independent travellers in Greece, Ellen Bosanquet's advice was to engage the services of a dragoman who 'takes you wherever you wish to go, finds the mules or carriages, takes beds and a cook (or cooks himself), and arranges a comfortable lodging at the end of each day's journey.'

p.131, Chapter 5 - Women at the BSA

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Poetry Matters (18): 'Creatures of a Dead Community' by Lynn Hopkins

Author: Lynn Hopkins (picture of cover used with poet's permission)
Publisher: Peter Thabit Jones, The Seventh Quarry Press (2011), The Seventh Quarry
Photographs: Moelwyn Hopkins
Illustrations: Rhian Elin Thomas  
Price: £4.50 
ISBN: 978-0-95674547-3-6

'From a lofty bed,
two hands clasp a kernel
as if in prayer'

from 'The Grey Invader' by Lynn Hopkins

It is hard to think of Swansea without picturing the curve of the bay. It is an iconic yet ever-changing seascape that can be enjoyed from numerous angles. If we associate Peter Thabit Jones with the view from Kilvey Hill, we can now link Lynn Hopkins with those sweeping vistas from another vantage point where 'sea breezes blow', namely the hillside that 'stands in stillness', supporting Oystermouth Cemetery.
This 'dead community' has found a special place in Lynn's affections. For her the cemetery is a place of 'peace in beautiful surroundings'. It is a place that has inspired her first collection, a sparkling quiverful of twelve poems about the wild creatures that make their home around the graves. They are very much alive, and for Lynn their presence proves that 'life goes on, even in a dead community'.  
I have known Lynn for some years, although our paths have not crossed frequently. She is currently a student on the part-time humanities degree at Swansea University. It was a privilege to attend the recent launch of Lynn's volume, and to hear the poet reading her own work. Artistic acheivement runs in the family: Lynn's husband was also a published poet. It was a thrill to meet the poet's daughter, Rhian, whose delightful illustrations are the perfect complement to her mother's words and to her brother, Moelwyn's photography. It is not often that three members of a family have worked together on a project of this nature. 
Publisher, Peter Thabit Jones, adds that Lynn's poems are 'accessible, sound-textured and tender'. He makes the shrewd observation that although they are written in English, Lynn is bilingual and brings to her work that added dimension or 'sense of craftsmanship employed by poets working in Welsh.' Lynn's detailed approach is both arresting and engaging: the poet weaves her stories of the wild creatures into a compelling warp and weft of carefully chosen words. 
In this poem-sequence, we encounter the statue on the cover (see above) of a pensive woman, clutching her 'private book'. Word and image combine to conjure up a sense of the pain of loss, but they also manage to convey a fragile sense of future: the reader is encouraged to consider the possibility of a time when tears will be no more. But for the present, this woman of stone has to suffer the dubious company of her faithless feathered companions, the 'Magpie, raven, and rowdy rook'. 
The choice of vocabulary keeps the reader alert. Just when we are tempted to feel that all is tranquil and serene, with butterflies fluttering over 'this haven of rest', we are reminded that it is folly to think of this place as an entirely peaceable kingdom. Instead, we are confronted with the stark reality of the horrors of death and war and 'butchered hearts'. The black cat 'with two sides' to its face sums up this paradox to perfection.  
So thank you, Lynn, for introducing us to your new circle of companions - the snail, the 'wily' fox, the 'brown owls' on their 'brittle boughs' - and all the other cemetery dwellers. Thank you for helping us to appreciate the world around us in a new way from the perspective of a place where sea meets sky, and where heaven and earth are bound in life and death.  
If you would like to buy a copy of this captivating and lyrical collection, I suggest you follow this link to The Seventh Quarry Publications, and scroll down to the bottom of the page for contact details.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Seasonal Splash (7): Spring Fever (and amphibians)

The magnificent Priory remains, Mount Grace, Yorkshire ...

... with resident amphibian!
You may have seen my wasp bole in the previous post. These images above are also from Mount Grace.

I thought this was a Common Frog, but having lightened my photo a little, I think it is actually a Common Toad. I heard today that my poem, 'Observations from the Hide' (about toads back in Wales) had taken Second Place in the Writelink Spring Fever Competition.

Monday 18 April 2011

Magazine Moment (22): The Dawntreader

Mount Grace, Yorkshire, daffodil season

We always enjoy a visit to Mount Grace when we are in the area. The Priory is fascinating in itself, but I am particularly drawn to the wildlife in this beautiful setting. We have just returned from another wonderful visit. I was even tempted to pull out my pocket watercolours ...

We found a frog in a Medieval water course at the back of one of the reconstructed cells. I kept a sharp eye out for wasps' nests, as I had seen one on a previous occasion. My waspish Sonnet, 'Matriarch at Mount Grace', has just been published in The Dawntreader (p.9, issue 14, Spring 2011, ed. Dawn Bauling, IDP).

Wasp nest, Mount Grace, April 2011

Thursday 31 March 2011

Magazine Moment (21) : Orizont Literar Contemporan, Romania

Annul IV - Nr.1 (21) Ian. - Febr. 2011 ~ 64 pagini
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The latest issue of Orizont Literar Contemporan is brimming with material from diverse corners of the globe, including Spain, France, USA, UK, Patagonia, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Russia, Kenya, Germany ... and, of course, Romania. 

Editor-in-chief, Daniel Dragomirescu, has once again succeeded in blending a rich and potent concoction of international culture and literature. The final (fictional) contribution in this number is an excerpt from Daniel's novel-in-progress, 'Un Om Printre Oameni' | 'A Man Among Men'. It concerns a country with an 'existential climate' that is healthy 'for all Romanians'. By the same token, the magazine itself surely reflects a 'healthy' and dynamic global community of (largely literary) artists who long to exchange and share cultural ideas and enterprises.

Take Juana Castillo Escobar, for example. She pens an engaging and personal portrait of 'The Literary Life in Madrid', describing the city as 'a crucible of culture', which supports three tiers of literary activity. On the other side of the Atlantic we find Professor Donald Riggs teaching Creative Writing in universities in Philadelphia, USA. The format he describes for a writing workshop is very similar to the monthly gatherings of the Tuesday Poetry group I attend here in Swansea, the home town of Dylan Thomas. I was fascinated to discover that Riggs, who has 'nothing against free verse', prescribes the writing of at least '250 haiku over the course of the 10-week term' in addition to the writing of other formal poetry, by way of counter-balancing the current trends. The poetic sound dimension (perhaps what Professor Lewis Turco would call 'The Sonic Level') is of paramount importance for Riggs, who advocates the reading aloud of work in a workshop. 

And so to the poems themselves. Lunar subjects seem to be on the ascndancy this time. Canadian poet, Carole St-Aubin, takes as her subject, 'La Lune et moi'. I am immediately drawn to another succinct poem, 'The Moon', by Peggy Landsman from USA. This poem is perhaps more like a tiny star, and yet within its compact frame, we find the moon in the guise of 'white whale'. There is something charming and almost playful about this piece. I, for one, am particularly drawn to its imagery. The following passage from Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles comes to mind:

"How indeed!" said Bertie. "Why shouldn't there be a race of salamanders in Venus? And even if there be nothing but fish in Jupiter, why shouldn't the fish there be as wide awake as the men and women here?"

I have barely scratched the surface, but I hope I may have whetted your appetite a little. Do consider taking up a subscription or paying for a sample copy (please contact Daniel via the link above). In these days of global uncertainty, it is a great joy and privilege to experience aspects of the literary life from diverse and often unusual perspectives. Thank you, Daniel and friends, not forgetting the University of Bucharest translation team at MTTLC.  

 Past contributors, with a presence on the web ...