4 minutes reading time (732 words)

Merriness in Midhurst

This week I flew away to visit my mother and sister in Midhurst. I did take some poetry submissions with me but I didn't read them. Instead, I read through one of the anthologies I loved and grew up with, which sits in my mother's bookcase: John Smith's My Kind of Verse. Fascinating when you go back to these things to see where you first saw unexpected people: two of Paul Dehn's poems, for example, are in that lovely anthology. So that's where I knew them from!

This week I flew away to visit my mother and sister in Midhurst. I did take some poetry submissions with me but I didn't read them. Instead, I read through one of the anthologies I loved and grew up with, which sits in my mother's bookcase: John Smith's My Kind of Verse. Fascinating when you go back to these things to see where you first saw unexpected people: two of Paul Dehn's poems, for example, are in that lovely anthology. So that's where I knew them from!

It doesn't rain in Midhurst apparently. Not like here. So we had a very nice time visiting beautiful gardens and I took our photograph on automatic through the teapots.

 

Moving Life with Teapot

 

There was serious work going on too though. For some time, a pamphlet has been in hand called Night Brings Home the Crowes. Written by my mother (Kathleen Curry), it tells as much of the story as we can recover (from her memories and a few other sources) of the Crowe family -- that's my mother's grandmother and her nine siblings. It will mainly be of interest to family, but there is some lovely period detail that others will also enjoy, I think.

Anyway, one of our tasks this week was careful proof-reading, page by page, and collecting a few more photographs to go in. The publication, with luck, will be finished and go to the printer this week.

And yet another publication under scrutiny this weekend has been my own next collection, which John Lucas of Shoestring Press is publishing. It's due some time in the autumn - perhaps October - and although I got it together, more or less, a good few months ago (in fact, last summer, I think), I put off finalising it until the ultimatum came.

Which it did, while I was dipping in and out of A Field of Large Desires, an anthology of Greville Press poems, brought out just a few months ago by Carcanet (I thoroughly recommend it -- the contents are different from anything you will find elsewhere). Astbury's Greville Press is, of course, chiefly and justifiably renowned for poetry pamphlets. In the preface to this book-length volume, Grey Gowrie says,

Poems are best read [ . . . ] with but few of their fellows. The great collections of great poets are useful for reference but hell to read. A slim vol is okay; a pamphlet best of all.

Increasingly, I agree. My Shoestring Press book will be a slim volume, but even at that, it's weighing down the world with more poetry. I hope Plot and Counterplot justifies its place. We'll see. When your main task has come to be publishing other people's work, you end up feeling bizarrely guilty writing poems yourself. Like counselling people to smoke less, while cultivating your own cigar habit on the side.

Anyway, this week I'll also be working on the Thomas Hardy pamphlet, amongst other things. Thankfully, the submission period is now over, so letters to poets are off the agenda, unless they're poets in progress, as it were. I've been amused to find that several people have congratulated me for publishing Selima Hill's winning pamphlet, which of course I did not. I haven't even seen it: it hasn't come in to Sphinx for review. Speaking of which, there are a couple of reviews nearly ready to go up too. Another task for today.

I'll conclude with a bit of James Reeves (another under-rated poet) from the Greville Press Anthology. It's titled 'The Prisoners', and every second line should be indented, but I can't make Wordpress do that for me (if anyone reading this knows how, please tell me):

Somehow we never escaped
Into the sunlight,
Though the gates were always unbarred
And the warders tight.
For the sketches on the walls
Were to our liking,
And squeaks from the torture-cell
Most satisfying.

Back to the Post Office
Cracking On with Cracking Up
 

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Monday, 19 August 2019