Before we look at this week’s five things, a quick reminder that The English PEN Modern Literature Festival I mentioned last week is on tomorrow, starting at 2pm.
- After exhuming this feature last week, I had thought of digging up Poetry in the Papers – a feature where I looked for poetry-related content in the previous week’s press. To be honest though, ploughing through newspaper websites last weekend and finding that the top poetry story seemed to be the fact the Radovan Karadžić is apparently a fan, kind of bummed me out. I did, though, find the Guardian Books Podcast, which last week interviewed Luke Wright and Holly McNish about their new books and, in Wright’s case, show. Wright discusses class and late nineties politics, and McNish talks about attitudes to motherhood, and it’s a pretty entertaining hour. However, although both poets say some amusing things, the funniest line comes from interviewer Claire Armitstead. To Wright: “You’ve published a collection, and pamphlets, which is what young poets do.” (Attenborough voice: “It has been a hard winter. The young poet leaves the cave for the first time this year. He is going to publish a pamphlet.”) Anyway, it’s worth a listen; Wright also writes a little about the production of the book and show, again in the Guardian, here. And, if podcasts are your thing, I may as well remind you that we are publishing one Lunar Poetry Podcast on this blog every day this month, until we are caught up with the YouTube page.
- We’ve also updated our Briefs page and are, as ever, open to submissions. Briony Bax recently set out a few guidelines for submission to Ambit which seem pretty sensible to me:
If you choose to write about birds, photographs, pictures, impending death, illnesses and nature (mainly beaches and sunsets) just be aware that many other people are writing about these subjects, so you’ll need to do something new and interesting with them to grab the editors’ attention. Avoid clichés and heavy-handed sentimentality, as these two things can send your work straight to the reject pile.
I’d like to add gardens, holidays, pets, trains and generalized philosophical maunderings to the list. Write about whatever you like, but do something new with it.
- Here is something new: Swimmers. What it is, exactly, I don’t know, but it looks like it might be interesting. A series of free pamphlets with a print run of 35, according to the article in Frieze. There is a little more information on their Facebook page, but not a whole lot. The first pamphlet is “introduced by a brilliant essay by Kayo Chingonyi addressing how the promotion by prominent British critics of a modest, ‘restrained’ style in poetry is tantamount to silencing those voices who do not belong or accede to the dominant culture.” That sounds like something with which I’d probably agree; unfortunately, printing 35 copies and barely advertising you are doing so doesn’t necessarily seem like the sort of noise that will carry very far over this silence. “The resistance is there, if you want it.” And if you can find it.
- Lack of information about new poetry publications is frustrating, isn’t it? Swimmers is free, but most collections and pamphlets (which are what young poets do, you’ll remember) cost a bit of money – sometimes a lot – but are often just as coy as Swimmers. The mainstream press isn’t much help, and the standard of reviews in the poetry press is, let’s say, inconsistent. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Dave Poems on here before, but probably not since he’s set himself up with a Patreon account. Intelligent poetry reviews are worthwhile; hopefully people will also think they’re worth money. If you pledge $5 a month or more you get this nifty wee ‘zine.
- Dave Coates won Best Reviewer at the Sabotage Awards last year, and it’s almost that time again. Nominations open today. Small presses, magazines and live literary performances don’t get much in the way of recognition; Sabotage has been making a case for the importance of these outlets for over five years now. If you’ve read or seen something in the last year you think the wider world should know about, this is a chance to spread the word.