Katherine Carlman | 14 January, 2019
“I’m very good at math,” the boy said as I passed. He was five or six years old and made this declaration not to me, but to the adult who belonged with him. With his mop of long curls and declaration of brilliance, he had more self-confidence than I’ve ever had. How could a child have more self-assurance than a fifty-year-old woman? He must be an only child, I reasoned – maybe an oldest child, but certainly not the youngest.
Katherine Carlman | 14 January, 2019
Emanuela Militello| November 27, 2017
Fair these broad meads – these hoary woods are grand;
But we are exiles from our fathers’ land.
While flicking through some traditional Scottish songs, I came across one that got my attention. The lines quoted above are part of the “Canadian Boat Song”, a poem that first appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine (Edinburgh) in 1829. Being an enthusiast of Scottish culture, I am always interested in every expression of “Scottishness” – be it in literature, film or folklore. Learning about Scots in exile and the ways in which they coped with the loss of their motherland, and tried to keep their culture alive, is a subject that really fascinates me. So naturally, this song instantly grabbed my attention.
Kate Lewis Hood and Niki Holzapfel | 3 April 2017.
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.
Sarah Giblin | 23 January 2017.
In his first collection, Areas of Fog, Joseph Massey writes:
lies on the
I can think of no better way to encapsulate the omnipresence of the Presidential inauguration within mainstream media. A sense of resigned, abject, passive observation has permeated everything from the mundane to the grand. This is reflected in the ‘American lawn’ that ties the suburban white picket fences to the sweeping grounds of the White House, and the television light that ‘lies’ intimates the allure of submitting to docility that has accompanied the shock victory of President Donald Trump. It is often tempting to acquiesce when met with situations which seem hopeless; Barack Obama addressed this directly in his final press conference, ‘at my core, I think we’re going to be okay. We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it’. In response to Massey, I only offer that this ‘television light’ rests not only on American lawns, but on lawns the world over.
12 December 2016 | Dominic Hale
This poem was written quickly in revulsion, incandescence, disbelief, and horror at present conditions, and the normalising march of recent events. Theresa May’s speech to her delegates on October 5th; Trump on the threshold; the whole unwitty circus.
14th November 2016 ¦ Aran Ward Sell.
‘Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in’
These lines have been quoted reverently since Leonard Cohen’s death. The maudlin yet shimmering sentiment is powerfully poetic, and no less so for being sung. Cohen’s ancient, weighty timbre does not dilute his words; it fuels them. He enters a long tradition of revered bards, from Homer to Burns, whose poetry has been performed or sung. No-one argues that because Shakespeare’s plays are performed, they are merer than Literature. And yet, when Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2016, an equivalent objection was raised against his songwriting.
31 October 2016 ¦ Katie Goh
Confession: I love Sylvia Plath. The honesty of her poetic expression, the seeds of wisdom in her journals, the technical skill of her story stories, and the fundamental relatability of Esther Greenwood. As a teenager, I was seduced.
But then I went to university. From the lecturer who dismissed Plath as ‘privileged, confessional neediness,’ to boys at parties who scorned her while worshipping Bukowski, to Woody Allen’s patronising ‘interesting poetess’ dismissal in Annie Hall. It was embarrassing to like Sylvia Plath.
March 21, 2016 | Adam Clay .
You might think that poetry is for schools and universities, for students and teachers, not for you and your busy job. But what if you found out that poetry also belongs where life-or-death situations happen every day, in a place with white coats, stethoscopes, and beepers? If you learnt that poetry is also for the contemporary hospital, for nurses, patients, and doctors, would you be willing to consider that poetry might be for everyone – including you?
March 7, 2016 | Tess Goodman.
Is there such a thing as a relationship between a reader and an author? Authors often structure their relationships with readers in different ways, in order to connect with a potentially enormous group of readers, widely variant in personality and opinion, whom he or she will never meet. How do authors frame these relationships in ways that can be sustainable over decades or even centuries? And what do those relationships help the author to achieve?
March 7, 2016 | Harriet MacMillan.
I wrote the above poem in 2012, but it had been in gestation for some time. I first encountered David’s painting The Death of Marat (1793) in 2006; I clearly recall finding the artwork, detailing the French revolutionary’s death in his bath tub at the hands of Charlotte Corday, at once stark and yet curiously sterile. I still retain a fascination with Marat and his murderer Charlotte Corday, described posthumously as ‘l’Ange de l’Assassinat’. I am not alone in my fascination; Corday’s brutal killing of Marat has inspired many artists and writers. But what do artistic acts of rewriting history teach us? Can they ever truly represent those figures who have inspired or horrified us?