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Not the T S Eliots 2015: our best poetry books of the year

So here it is, our reasonably eagerly-awaited end of year list, a miscellany of the most thumbed, borrowed and coffee-splotted poetry books and pamphlets lying around the Poetry School offices. In many ways, it’s been a remarkable year: Radio 4 whole day takeover of Andrew Marr’s epic radio documentary on British poetry; Daljit Nagra’s appointment…

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‘Bound’

  COMMENT Vasiliki Albedo Bennu lives in Greece. Her poems have been published in magazines, recently in ‘The Interpreter’s House’, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Beloit Poetry Journal’. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. “This poem was written for Claire Trévien’s ‘Cosmic Compositions’. The challenge was to write something inspired by ‘Space Travellers’. My intention…

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‘Andromeda As A Teacher’

    COMMENT Majella Kelly is a poet, photographer and teacher from the West of Ireland. She happens to teaches teenagers in a prefab, behind the main school building, and here she re-imagines the students as her own constellation. The poem came about after a prompt from Claire Trévien on her  ‘Cosmic Compositions’ course at…

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‘Grandma’s Hands’

She wore pigskin gloves so fresh and soft you could almost hear them squeal as she rounded a bend, flicked the giant indicator, flashed me a grin with her own white teeth. We’d drag her squeaking mangle across the rippled concrete floor where patiently she’d feed it – puce slip, cashmere cardi – like knitted…

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This is my story not yours.

I love reading out poems – and this poem loves to be read out loud. But I hate showing unfinished poems. It feels like being partially dressed – and not in a good way. This poem is still under edit. But I wanted to post it as an introduction to this week’s topic: This is…

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What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work. You know what work is – if you’re old enough to read this you know what work is, although you may not do it. Philip Levine, ‘What Work Is’   The more I think about what work is, the…

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Paradise Lost: ‘An Express Elevator to Hell!’

Oh Milton, Milton, Milton: local boy born on Bread Street just off Cheapside; the ‘Lady of Christ’s’ College Cambridge; defender of regicide; pro-divorce pamphleteer; free-speech zealot; house guest of Galileo; blind visionary; dreamer of Paradise Lost, now buried alongside the Barbican’s fountains – how oft I think of thee. Forgive my windy oratory/Milton draws this…

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“All I can do now is keep walking”: an interview with Choman Hardi

All this week we’ve debating on CAMPUS the issue of how to give voice to the silenced in poetry. The contributions so far have been fascinating, so please keep them coming! For the second act, I interviewed Choman Hardi, a hero of mine and whose poem ‘The Angry Survivor’ provided the centerpiece of this debate. The…

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Follow the Brush: Making Zuihitsu Poetry

Zuihitsu? What is it? I’d never heard of this strange word before either until I first encountered the work of American poet, Kimiko Hahn, and in particular her mesmerizing collection The Narrow Road to the Interior (2006) in which she employs this ancient Japanese technique in the writing of some startlingly modern poetry. If you…

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‘Conflagration’

i.m. Dominic When he falls, catching his foot on the kerb, he is a nuisance, to be skirted round quickly, like the fly-ridden spew outside The Queen’s Head. Even the pigeons ignore him. His backpack weighs on him, like a brickie’s hod, but struggling up on his knees, manages to right himself, takes small steps…

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‘A Survivor Strips Himself of Guilt’

Think of the trains running deep into the night, the windows a-jitter in their narrow wooden frames; think of your breath sent spinning into the small of my ear. Think of the steam paring loose from your bathwater like bark planed away from the trunk of a tree. Think of the idleness of morning hours,…

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‘Hearing Voices: reading and responding to world poetry in translation’

Sometimes, as writers, if we tire of the view from the small patch of earth we inhabit, we look to cast our nets wider. The poem in translation is a wondrous thing – self-contained, tardis-like. On a chill, grey November day, what could be better than to be transported to a place where…    ……

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The Poem as Party Guest: an interview with Wayne Holloway-Smith

Hi Wayne, we’re very excited you’ve joined the Poetry School team. Can you tell us more about your course, what’s it all about? Wayne: Cheers. Yes, the course idea came to me after I attended a friend’s party and was collared by an individual who monopolised my attention for an extraordinarily long time. As the individual’s…

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CAMPUS Debate: Other Peoples’ Voices

“This is my story, not yours”. In last week’s posting I gave myself a virtual sore throat arguing for the political imperative in poetry. This conviction is rooted in my own experiences: silenced as a child, silenced again in the psychiatric system, I have a deep-rooted belief that as poets we have an obligation to…

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The Line Break #6 – Caroline Bird: Punched in the Dark

THE LINE BREAK

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How I Translated It: ‘When I left you, afterwards’ by Brecht

Some notes on my translation of Brecht’s ‘Als ich nachher von dir ging …’ and some hints on translation more generally. First the text itself, with a very literal interlinear translation:   Als ich nachher von dir ging When I afterwards from you went An dem großen Heute On the great today Sah ich, wie…

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‘littoral’

2666, pp.642. “He drew Porphyra umbilicalis, a particularly lovely seaweed, nearly eight inches long and reddish purple in colour. […] There were various species of Porphyra and all of them were edible. The Welsh, in particular, were fond of them.” i had been reading up on instant nori made from greenish laver, on sugar kelp…

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I do not believe in silence.

I’m guessing the fact that you’re here online means that you don’t just enjoy reading poetry – you also like to read about it. Me too. In fact, sometimes I enjoy it even more than poetry itself. The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser is a case in point. I first read this book on…

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‘Robo-mow’

Alan dreams 256 shades of green, hibernating in his glass docking pod at the bottom of the garden. Self-starting at sunrise, his solar panels slowly energise. Recharged and updated with new kinds of seed, 66 brands of feed and non-toxic weed killers plus the latest on invasive alien species. Alan zips up his latex happy…

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Instructions for Throwing your Voice

  1. Learn to speak without moving your lips. Hold a finger over your mouth as if trying to tell someone to be quiet. This will help prevent your lips from moving. Gritting your teeth together may help. 2. Change your voice. A convincing “vent” voice must be very different from yours. Choose your “vent” voice carefully…

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Open Workshop: ‘The Art of Ventriloquism’

A history of ventriloquism, to be summarised and re-written: Originally, ventriloquism was a religious practice. The name comes from the Latin for to speak from the stomach, i.e. venter (belly) and loqui (speak). The noises produced by the stomach were thought to be the voices of the unliving, who took up residence in the stomach of the ventriloquist. The ventriloquist…

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‘She’s a game old bird’

My granny takes canary sips from her service-station tea, jaundiced eyes lantern-bright as she asks, again, who the ambulance is for. is magpie-quick the nurses say, fills her knicker drawer with plasters, rubber gloves, someone else’s dentures. sticks her beak in other rooms Look at’em! Lolling! picks over the injustice like a pigeon pecking at…

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‘At the table’

two chairs. One for me and one for him who will not come.     COMMENT “I live in the north of Germany near the Kiel Kanal. I also live in a lifelong very passionate love affair with language /s. Three years ago I started to study poetry of all ages and nationalities and to…

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Meet the Digital Poet in Residence: Clare Shaw

Hi Clare! Tell us about your upcoming residency, ‘You took the words right out my mouth’. Clare: I’m a poet, but until recently I spent most of my working life as a trainer and researcher in mental health services. This work was explicitly rooted in my own history – a history which has also found…

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‘Poor, becoming moderate later’

If I wis waddir I’d cheenge i da blink o a untrained ee – I’d be warm, laek da pert breists o wid pigeons a smidgeon ower don, a trifle gien I’d be weet, laek monkfish cheeks lattin da saat wash aff afore divin back in tae aa dey keen I’d be dull, laek a…

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