Tuesday 29 April 2014

Update from Romania ~ Orizont Literar Contemporan

Daniel Dragomirescu in the centre

Orizont Literar Contemporan continues to go from strength to strength. Daniel Dragomirescu, Romanian-based editor-in-chief of this international literary journal with the strapline, 'all the world in a magazine', has written an updated account of the story so far. You will find his account here.

The photo above shows me interviewing Donald Riggs, Teaching Professor of Creative Writing at Drexel University, when I was in Philadelphia in January 2012. The interview appeared shortly afterwards in Orizont Literar Contemporan.  

There was an excellent feature recently on a dozen Scottish poets, and more recently still, I have been delighted to find work by my publisher, Peter Thabit Jones (The Seventh Quarry Press, Swansea) in addition to poetry from Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, and Owen Sheers, Welsh poet, author and scriptwriter.

If you would like further information about the journal, please leave a comment here or contact Daniel via the website.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

'Fur, Feather and Fen' by Elaine Ewart

Fur, Feather and Fen 
by Elaine Ewart 

'a year's poetic journey in the land of the three quarter sky: 
poems about landscape, wildlife and people, grown from the fertility of a thick dark soil.'

Cover design credit: © Karen Harvey

Fur, Feather and Fen, has just come out from FlightFeather Press as an exquisitely produced poetry pamphlet. It is the culmination of Elaine Ewart's year (2012-2013) as the first Fenland Poet Laureate. I first heard about the Fenland Laureateship from Karen Harvey, who initiated the scheme and designed the stunning cover for Elaine's collection. I have since had the pleasure of meeting both Karen and Elaine. I have also met Leanne Moden, Elaine's successor, who held the post from 2013-2014 and has just handed over to Poppy Kleiser.

Elaine, an Oxford graduate in English Literature, writes with a passion for her subject, handling words and phrases with consummate skill and consistently applying what Flaubert called le mot juste to achieve her ends. The collection opens with 'Drowned Lands', the poem that won Elaine the Laureateship. The piece also appears in Words for Wide Skies, the anthology edited by Elaine as part of her Fenland remit. The poem begins with the emotive word, 'Digging', which immediately took me back to Seamus Heaney and his poem about his ars poetica. It led me on from that rich Irish soil to Elaine's home turf, a place that is far more familiar, a fenland landscape scented with 'water mint' and filled with 'butter-billed Bewicks':

'Across the field banks hem in the horizon, sky hanging
Heavy over silver coin-puddles of squealing wigeon ...'

Much of Elaine's poetry is written in free verse, but there are also more formal pieces with regular rhyme and repetition schemes such as 'A Visit to the Guild Workshop', which comprises the first part of the sequence, 'Celebrating Octavia Hill'.  

In this pamphlet of poems that reflect the natural rhythms of the world on our doorstep, it is not surprising that we are transported through the changing seasons. The collection ends with

'Love in a manger,
Winter sun-crowned' 

in 'A Fenland Christmas', a commissioned piece that has been set to music by John Lawson Baker as an anthem for a four part choir.

Before we reach the festive season, however, there is just time to join the eccentric Parson Hawker on his beloved but treacherous Cornish cliffs for a poignant 'Harvest at Morwenstow', where, when it comes to the need for burial 

'... at this outpost of the eternal, 
No-one is given up for lost.'

* * *
Fur, Feather and Fen by Elaine Ewart can be purchased from the following places:

WWT Welney
Hundred Foot Bank
PE14 9TN

01353 860 711
Price: £4.50. Copies can be ordered by telephone and posted: please enquire from the seller about the added cost of p&p.
Wisbech and Fenland Museum
Museum Square
PE13 1ES

01945 583 817
Price: £4. Please enquire from the seller about ordering by post and the added cost of p&p.
Toppings Bookshop
9 High Street

01353 645 005
Price: £5. Please enquire from the seller about ordering by post and the added cost of p&p.