The primary function of poetry, as of all the arts, is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. I do not know if such increased awareness makes us more moral or more efficient;I hope not.
I think it makes us more human, and I am quite certain it makes us more difficult to deceive, which is why, perhaps, all totalitarian theories of the State, from Plato’s downwards, have deeply distrusted the arts. They notice and say too much, and the neighbours start talking.
— W. H. Auden (1938) quoted in James Fenton, Auden at Home, The New York Review of Books, April 27 2000
Edited to add: I don’t share Auden’s certainty that poetry “makes us more difficult to deceive”. It’s an interesting assertion, though, and I’m wondering how one might test it…
Butcher’s Dog is a biannual poetry magazine, founded in the North-East of England. It has rotating co-editors, and a policy of anonymous submissions.
The 40-page issue 8 is co-edited by Sophie F Baker, Amy Mackelden, and Clare Pollard, with a cover by Isabel Rock. It contains work from 25 poets, and I’m delighted it includes my poem ‘headache (hoofbeats)’. I’ve really enjoyed reading the issue.
Thanks to all the editors!
Update Feb 2017: There’s a good review of the issue by Eleanor Benson at Cuckoo Review. My poem is described as a “hallucinatory and gritty monologue”.
The Stinging Fly is a journal from Dublin featuring short stories, essays and poems, by Irish and international writers. The 160-page Winter 2016-2017 issue has a theme of “Fear and Fantasy”, with a cover illustration by Gary Coyle. The guest editor for the issue is Mia Gallagher, and her compelling editorial for the issue was reprinted in The Irish Times (editorial here). Nineteen poets are represented in the issue, and I’m delighted my poem ‘The Trade’ is included.
Many thanks to Mia Gallagher, and the team at The Stinging Fly!
Every lover of books, scholar or not, who knows what it is to have his quarto open against a loaf at his tea … ought to be in possession of Mr. Coleridge’s poems, if it is only for ‘Christabel’, ‘Kubla Khan’, and the ‘Ancient Mariner’.
–Leigh Hunt, Examiner, 21st October 1821 (source: Wikipedia on ‘Kubla Khan’)
Recent poetry round-up (1): Cordite Poetry Review 56: Explode is out now, and I’m very pleased to say it contains my poem about Exploding Head Syndrome: ‘Exploding Head Manifesto‘.
It’s my second appearance in Cordite, after my earlier ‘Thy will be done‘.
Thanks to issue editor Dan Disney, and Kent MacCarter!
I wonder what it is that made the era so propitious for the production of this kind of story. (HG Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle were at it, too, among countless others.) One could propose a kind of morphic resonance, whereby Freud’s research into dreams a decade earlier had filtered through into an otherwise placid world; or you could suggest that it was the bad conscience of empire at work, undermining the pinnacles of its achievements as they were experienced at home: the church, the academy, the country house. [MR] James and Benson themselves remained, as they used to say coyly in the obituaries, unmarried, and maybe the sense of existing to some extent at a marginal level of society helped them conjure up tales of visitors from unseen worlds. I see Benson as trying to work something out from the unconscious: it’s not unusual for his stories to break the membrane between the waking and dreaming world, as in “Caterpillars”, or the recurring nightmare in “The Room in the Tower”.
— from Ghost Stories by EF Benson review by Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, 18th October 2016
I’m really pleased that my poem about reincarnation ‘But after’ appears in the interesting and broadly-themed “Ghosts” issue of Eye to the Telescope.
Thanks to editor Shannon Connor Winward! Edited to add: and thanks too for her fascinating series of seven blog posts, talking about the selection process for the issue and her thoughts on the poems she chose (and their relation to each other, and sequencing). The blog posts are a great read. Here is the seventh and last post which includes discussion of ‘But after’ (there are links to the rest of the series at the end of the post).
Soon Lowell walked in with several other dons, was introduced, and read. Afterwards, the don who’d introduced [Lowell] asked if there were any questions and, when no one raised their hand, [Michael] Waters asked Lowell about his confessional poems. At once the don interrupted to explain that Mr. Lowell did not write confessional poetry, and that if that was the sort of question his guest was to be subjected to, there would be no more. Lowell, still at the podium, interjected. If there were to be no more questions, could he read another poem? Fine, the don agreed. “Then I’d like to read ‘Skunk Hour’,” Lowell drawled. “It’s one of my confessional poems.”
— Paul Mariani, Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell (1994) p.390
Today sees the launch of the ninth issue of Liminality.
Really pleased to say that my poem ‘The Ritual‘ is included, my third appearance in the journal.
Thanks to Shira Lipkin and Mattie Joiner!
The whole evangelical look-lovely-poems-are-good-for-you schtick assumes poetry is a precious endangered superfood, somewhere between a vitamin pill and a rare flower.
Wrong. It should be ranked among life-forms that will survive nuclear holocaust: jellyfish, cockroaches, Millwall fans.
Any effective campaign promoting poetry needs to distil this toughness and ask: what immunity does this awkward art carry deep within it that resists eradication? What force lives in a form in which language, selfish as a Dawkins gene, deploys all its armoury to demand space, seize attention, burrow tenaciously into memory?
—Susannah Herbert on the Resilience of Poetry
From a great post by the Executive Director of the Forward Arts Foundation.