3 minutes reading time (509 words)


If there were any music that could seem true
it was of a pessimistic piano or violin and it would be
an étude, nothing divertimento, an étude in rain . . .


That's a poem out of Mark Halliday's pamphlet. I love rain poems and it seems appropriate this morning which has gone grey, which has mulched  the fallen leaves into a miry mess. But work goes on.

Laurna Robertson's Sampler is nearly done. A sense of story is at the heart of it. She has a particular delicacy which is hard to describe: spare and restrained, I think, like the Samplers themselves, but also wiry and enduring. Perhaps her Shetland origins have something to do with this quality. She gets under your skin without your quite knowing how she did it.

Clare Best's Treasure Ground is also well on. It's a fascinating pamphlet sequence, and it'll be the first in a new Sequence Series. It is set in the Lincolnshire Fens and the poems are born from a residency she did at Woodlands Organic Farm. While she was there, her poems went out to customers in vegetable boxes! It is a most beautiful set, starting and ending with prose descriptions of the landscape. Somehow she makes everything more than usually alive, often spookily so, and the poems follow the cycle of the seasons. It's nourishing, somehow. I don't think you have to be 'into' poetry to enjoy this one.

Meanwhile, there's Perthshire-based Deborah Trayhurn, whose Embracing Water turns out to have unexpected connections with Treasure Ground. I had thought of them as radically dissimilar, which they are in many ways.

But suddenly I see there are strong connections. Deborah's poems also read as a sequence. She uses entirely first-line titles and an unusual fluid style that washes you through the poems. It's partly impressionistic but precise too. I can't quite describe the effect of these because they are unusual. It's a love sequence, as it seems to me. There's a tension between city and country here, landscapes of city and farmland, absence and presence. The person in the country yearns for the person in the town, and that's part of the love, but the other part is for the land itself, for its mysterious and magical metamorphoses and changes.

Oh and did I mention a second set of unsuitable poems? By me? This one is called The Unread Squirrel. One day I'll even finalise the contents . . .

Phone call from Levenmouth Printers. Sphinx 11 is ready, So the post-out starts this week. If you subscribe, you should get it within the next fortnight, provided postal services are back to normal.

Meanwhile, I still haven't cleared my submissions box from July. That's because I can't respond in detail to a person's poems quickly. Each takes me about an hour and a half. No wonder I never catch up with myself. And there's the accounts . . . And the winning STORY booklet, and the HappenStance Chapter 4 to be written. And it's still raining, raining, raining . . .


Where do you find the time?
The one you love


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Monday, 29 November 2021

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