Saturday, 23 January 2016

On Writing and Discovery

These outpourings  come both bidden and unbidden, these bidings and bindings, these flows that can only ever be temporarily stemmed.

Writing is a rare thing but is also not/no/never a rare thing.

A rare thing indeed is to make the most perfect sense, as if to draw a sigh from the reader.

Like those blank/dry months of unsatisfying reading, when you suddenly and unexpectedly (after almost having given up all hope of ever being moved by poetry again) come upon something so right and profound that it makes you want to leap up out of your seat. throw the book into the air and shout: Yes that's it, that's exactly it! And then you want to read it again, over and over.

And it might be a mere simple, a distillation of the essence of something: a revelation of the true somethingness of something.

Or it might be a big thing, like the biggest, most exciting, most explosive use of language poem that warps your mind into a shape that it can never fully spring back from, that changes your relationship to the world/word.

And you might read it over and over.

It's a bit like sex in the excitement of that first time - the tentative and not so tentative exploration.

But it's also not like sex, because sex has room to get better and better, but although a mega exciting poem is still mega exciting on the second or fourth or sixteenth reading, you can never better that YES moment, that moment of revelation and discovery.

It must be like being an archaeologist or an explorer or an astronaut even.

That first moon-step is always going to be the one you most remember.

And these moon-steps; what are they but a doorway to another world, another way of thinking. They break the mind wide open like a rock cracked apart to reveal its crystals. They send the writer scuttling sideways for pen and paper.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Voice of the Ridge By C.D. Wright

I was devastated to hear of the death yesterday of my favourite poet C.D. Wright. What a loss to world poetry. My favourite poem of hers is not online so I will post it here as a tribute.

Voice of the Ridge
By C.D. Wright

Something about a hazy afternoon−a long drive
          about cedars spearing the sky
Something about a body at a crossing
          about a dog missing a paw
          about buying a freshly dressed hen
Something about the locus of the dead

Something about a strange town on a weekend
          about large white panties on a line
About a table in a family-owned café
          an old morsel on the tines
Something about the owner dragging one foot
Something about wine from a jelly glass

Something about a hazy afternoon−a long drive
          about no purse no stockings
Something about unfolding the map
          about a cemetery that isn’t kept up
          about grasshoppers−their knack for surprise
Something about finding a full set of clothes in the weed

Something about a hazy afternoon−a long drive
          about hills of goldenrod
Something about filling-station attendants
          the one blue hole in the clouds
Something about birds of prey−the locus of the dead

Something about the long drive home−a slow sundowning
           about the din of insects
Something about straight gold hair on a pillow
Something about writing by the kingly light
           in the quick minutes left before lips
           suction a nipple from wrinkled linen

Books read in 2015

(in reverse order to which I read them)

  1. 1 The Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry - John Sibley Williams & A. Molotkov (Editors) (poetry)
  2.     Bunny - Selima Hill (poetry)
  3.    What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent's Guide to Speed-Reading People - Joe Navarro (non fiction)
  4.    The Notebook - Ágota Kristóf (fiction)
  5.    Talking to Ourselves - Andrés Neuman (fiction)
  6.     Jutland - Selima Hill (poetry)
  7.     Mondeo Man - Luke Wright (poetry)
  8.     Red Doc - Anne carson (poetry)
  9.     Beauty/Beauty - Rebecca Perry (poetry)
  10.     Crescendos - Jake Reynolds (poetry)
  11.     Where is My Mask of an Honest Man? by Laura Del-Rivo (fiction, short stories)
  12.     The Fire Station by Sarah Barnsley (poetry)
  13.     That Smell and Notes from Prison - Sonallah Ibrahim (fiction)
  14.     Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman and other poems - Grace Nichols (poetry)
  15.     She Inserts the Key - Marianne Burton (poetry)
  16.     Black Neon - Tony O'Neill (fiction)
  17.     Actual Air - David Berman (poetry)
  18.     Things to Make and Break - May-Lan Tan (fiction, short stories)
  19.     Human Work: A Poet's Cookbook - Sean Borodale (poetry)
  20.     The Age of Wire and String Fictions - Ben Marcus (fiction, short stories)
  21.     Disinformation - Frances Leviston (poetry)
  22.     At the Time of Partition - Moniza Alvi (poetry, re-read)
  23.     Beautiful Girls - Melissa Lee Houghton (poetry, re-read)
  24.     Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by U.K. Women Poets (poetry, re-read)
  25.     House - Myra Connell (poetry)
  26.     Poetry in Practice - Brian Keaney and Bill Lucas (non-fiction)
  27.     The Merchant of Feathers - Tanya Shirley (poetry)
  28.     The Taste of River Water - Cate Kennedy (poetry)
  29.  UEA MA Creative Writing Anthologies 2015: Poetry (poetry)
  30.     Native Guard - Natasha Trethewey (poetry)
  31.     Loop of Jade - Sarah Howe (poetry)
  32.     The Very Best of 52: a poem for every week of the year - Jonathan Davidson (editor) (poetry,
  33.     Sooner or Later Frank - Jeremy Reed (poetry)
  34.     Blue Movie - Bobby Parker (poetry - re read)
  35.     Dolls - Tom Whelan (poetry)
  36.     Things to Do Before you Leave Town - Ross Sutherland (poetry)
  37.     Some Bright Elegance - Kayo Chingonyi (poetry)
  38.     Circus Apprentice - Katherine Gallagher (poetry)
  39.     Blood Work - Matthew Siegel (poetry)
  40.     The Retrieval System - Maxine Kumin (poetry, re read)
  41.     The Knowledge - Robert Peake (poetry, re-read)
  42.     Sudden Collapses in Public Places - Julia Darling (poetry)
  43.     Shibboleth - Michael Donaghy (poetry)
  44.     Lifting the Piano With One Hand - Gaia Holmes (poetry)
  45.     Making Nice - Matt Sumell (fiction, short stories)
  46.     Wild Gratitude - Edward Hirsch (poetry)
  47.     Trilobites & Other Stories - Breece D'J Pancake (fiction, short stories)
  48.     Citizen: An American Lyric (poetry)
  49.     Kith - Jo Bell (poetry, re read)
  50.     See You in Paradise - J. Robert Lennon (fiction, short stories)
  51.     Eliza and the Bear - Eleanor Rees (poetry)
  52.     Physical - Andrew Macmillan (poetry)
  53.     The Good Dark - Ryan Van Winkle (poetry)
  54.     When God is a Traveller - Arundhathi Subramaniam (poetry)
  55.     School of the Arts - Mark Doty (poetry)
  56.     National Poetry Competition Winners' Anthology 2014 (poetry)
  57.     Accurate Measurements - Adam White (poetry)
  58.     The World Before Snow - Tim Liardet (poetry)
  59.     Kim Kardashian's Marriage - Sam Riviere (poetry)
  60.     The Organ Box - Matt Howard (poetry)
  61.     The Knowledge - Robert Paeake (poetry)
  62.     The Whole & Rain-domed Universe - Colette Bryce (poetry)
  63.     The Very Best of 52: a poem for every week of the year - Jonathan Davidson (editor) (poetry)
  64.     The Next Country - Idra Novey (poetry)
  65.     Happiness - Jack Underwood (poetry)
  66.     The Bluffer's Guide to Poetry - Nick Yapp (non fiction)
  67.     Missing the Eclipse - Joan Hewitt (poetry)
  68.     Beautiful Girls - Melissa Lee-Houghton (poetry)
  69.     Tell Me the Truth About Love - W.H. Auden (poetry)
  70.     My Family and other Superheroes - Jonathan Edwards (poetry)
  71.     Moon Whales - Ted Hughes (poetry)
  72.     Kumkum Malhotra - Preti Taneja (fiction)
  73.     The Hitting Game - Graham Clifford (poetry)
  74.     Corpus - Michael Symmons Roberts (poetry)
  75.     Langoustine: Fragments of a Philosophical Marine Romance - George Szirtes (poetry)
  76.     A Radiance - Bethany W. Pope (poetry)
  77.     Bright Travellers - Fiona Benson (poetry)
  78.     Small Hands - Mona Arshi (poetry)
  79.     Those People - Paul Stephenson (poetry)
  80.     Monkey Grip - Helen Garner (fiction)
  81.     The Zoo Father - Pascale Petiit (poetry - re-read)
  82.     Under the Pier - Selena Godden (poetry)
  83.     The Gold Cell - Sharon Olds (poetry)
  84.     The Summer Son: A Novel - Craig Lancaster (fiction)
  85.     Prayers for the Stolen - Jennifer Clement (fiction)
  86.     You Good Thing - Dara Wier (poetry)
  87.     Indwelling - Gillian Allnutt (poetry)
  88.     Navigation - Jo Bell (poetry)
  89.     Grain - John Glenday (poetry)
  90.     Permission to Breathe - Michael Laskey (poetry)
  91.     The Albertine Workout - Anne Carson (poetry)
  92.     The Collected Works of Billy the Kid - Michael Ondaatje (poetry)
  93.     Skirrid Hill - Owen Sheers (poetry)
  94.     Battleborn - Claire Vaye Watkins (fiction, short stories)
  95.     Between Two Windows - Oli Hazzard (poetry)
  96.     Blue Movie - Bobby Parker (poetry)
  97.     Kith - Jo Bell (poetry)
  98.     The Dead Lake - Hamid Ismailov (fiction, re-read)
  99.     The Chicago Poems - Karl Sandburg (poetry)
  100.     Prester John - John Buchan (fiction)
  101.     The Korean Word For Butterfly - James Zerndt (fiction)
  102.     Hallelujah for 50ft Women by Raving Beauties Hallelujah for 50ft Women: Poems About Women's Relationship to Their Bodies - edited by The Raving Beauties (poetry)
  103.     Duetcetera - Ira Lightman (poetry)
  104.     Gumbeaux - Kimberly Vargas (fiction)
  105.     The Secret Life of Objects - Dawn Raffel (non fiction)
  106.     The Awakening - Kate Chopin (fiction)
  107.     Skelelittle - Ira Lightman (poetry)
  108.     Party - Jackie Wills (poetry)
  109.     One Dead Behind Us - Audre Lorde (poetry)
  110.     The Answer to the Riddle Is Me: A Memoir of Amnesia - David Stuart MacLean (non-fiction)
  111.     The Half-Finished Heaven - Tomas Tranströmer- translated by Robert Bly (poetry)
  112.     Science and Steepleflower - Forrest Gander (poetry)
  113.     Trains of Winnipeg - Clive Holden (poetry)
  114.     Disclaimer - Renee Knight (fiction)
  115.     Fauna - Jacueline Bishop (poetry)
  116.     Ten: The New Wave - edited by Karen McCarthy Woolf (poetry)
  117.     Soon Every House Will have One - Holly Hopkins (poetry)
  118.     The Shared Surface - Jane Monson (poetry)
  119.     What the Living Do - Marie Howe (poetry, re-read)
  120.     Inventory - Linda Black (poetry)
  121.     The Girl On the Train - Paula Hawkins (fiction)
  122.     Touching Distances - Diary Poems - Anne Cluysenaar (poetry)
  123.  Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D. H. Lawrence - Geoff Dyer (non fiction)
  124.     After This Comes the Food - Sarah Perry (fiction)
  125.     The Red Wardrobe - Sarah Corbett (poetry)
  126.     The Beautiful and Damned - F. Scott Fitzgerald (fiction)
  127.     Stop What You're Doing and Read This! - Various (non fiction)
  128.     Woman's Head as a Jug - Jackie Wills (poetry)
  129.     Odessa - Patricia Kirkpatrick (poetry)
  130.     The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes (fiction)
  131.     The Lichtenberg Figures - Ben Lerner (poetry)
  132.     How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002 - Joy Harjo (poetry)
  133.     Life in a Box is a Pretty Life - Dawn Lundy Martin (poetry)
  134.     The White Road and Other Stories - Tania Hershman (short stories)
  135.     On Purpose - Nick Laird (poetry)
  136.     Livid among the Ghostings - Anna Percy (poetry)
  137.     My Soul to Take - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (fiction)
  138.     Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes (fiction)
  139.     Human Remains - Elizabeth Haynes (fiction)
  140.     In the Miso Soup - Ryū Murakami (fiction)
  141.     The Whole Story and Other Stories - Ali Smith (fiction - short stories)
  142.     A Responsibility to Awe: Poems - Rebecca Elson (poetry)
  143.    The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty (fiction)
  144.     Snow Calling - Agnieszk Studzinska (poetry)
  145.     Vauxhall - Gabriel Gbadamosi (fiction)
  146.     In the Bee Latitudes - "Annah Sobelman (poetry)
  147.     Slow man - J.M. Coetzee (fiction)
  148.     The Indian Bride - Karin Fossum (fiction)
  149.     The Woods - Harlen Coben (fiction)
  150.     The Farm - Tom Rob Smith (fiction)
  151.     The Three - Sarah Lotz (fiction)
  152.     The Retrieval System - Maxine Kumin (poetry)
  153.     The Barking Thing - Suzanne Batty (poetry)