Saturday, 31 January 2009

Date Swap

Those of you with sharp eyes will have noted that Andrew Philip and Julia Rampen have swapped reading dates. Julia is now on in May and Andy will read in June. Incidentally, the order the names come in these lists doesn't necessarily bear any relationship to the order people will read on the night. Sometimes, that decision is easy. There's a obvious order that makes sense. However, on other occasions, it can be difficult and I have to think quite hard about it.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Introducing the February 2009 Readers - 3. Alan Gay

Alan Gay studied Political Science and was formerly an Educational Advisor. He now lectures in Navigation and Meteorology and spends his summers with his wife Jancis sailing their yacht. His poetry is well placed in competitions, magazines and anthologies. His most recent poetry pamphlet is The Boy Who Came Ashore (Dreadful Night Press, 2006). He has twice been runner-up in the National Galleries of Scotland poetry competition. He lives with his family in East Lothian.

Gale Warning

Each oar-thrust spread arrowheads
that kept Gunsgreen House in line
with a crowd of gulls over the town cowp.

Behind the grunt of timbers,
bump of oars, we used the dying drum-roll
of combers on sand to judge distance off

then paused to drop our lines
poised on a copper dome made molten
by ripples thrown by the boat’s yaw.

All round the fleet swung metronome masts
in a calm that floated bird down.
Gulls swirled above our heads

leaking amber through corona-edged wings
feathers fine as lashes.
Again and again they dived across the sun,

shadows criss-crossing the deck
urgent, as if to warn us
to heed the signs:

the heel of a hand on the horizon
fingers reaching out
to crush the sun.

from The Boy Who Came Ashore, Dreadful Night Press, 2006

Monday, 26 January 2009

Introducing the February 2009 Readers: 2. Andrew Shields

Andrew Shields was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1964, and raised in Michigan, Ohio, California, and England. His poems have appeared in many journals, as well as in the chapbook Cabinet d'Amateur (Cologne: Darling Publications, 2005). The most recent appearance of his translations in book form is Tussi Research, by the German poet Dieter M. Gräf (Green Integer, 2008). He lives with his wife and three children in Basel, Switzerland, where he teaches at the University of Basel. His blog is, and his band Human Shields is at this MySpace page.

September Rain

for Dieter M. Gräf

Past autobahn construction sites,

of traffic. Past television

atop Hessian hills. Past

soaring between sudden

kestrels hovering over

flocks of starlings

into roadside trees. Past a freshly

field of crows. Through the

of spray from asphalt. Through

of rain from overpasses. Past

starting and landing over the

of Frankfurt. Everything standing, even

medieval castles perched

on the passing bluffs.

by a car from Cologne — how the cathedral

and withstood the air

The rain

soon we'll be home, safe as

— 16-17 September 2001

(from Andrew's chapbook collection, Cabinet d'Amateur)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Introducing the February 2009 Readers: 1. Jane McKie

Jane McKie, originally from Sussex, now lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She has had poems published in Island magazine, New Writing Scotland, The Red Wheelbarrow, Other Poetry and Pennine Platform, and her first collection, Morocco Rococo (Cinnamon Press), won the 'first book' category of the Sundial/Scottish Arts Council Book Awards 2008. She runs Knucker Press, a small press dedicated to pairing writers and artists.

The poem below was published in Smiths Knoll 43, and will appear in Jane’s forthcoming collection from Polygon:

Flat Raft

Pulled across the Adur
one swallocky day
on a flat raft, cows

were restless,
mother’s long skirts curled
against her wet legs,

and all the children sat
at the end nearest
the animal reek,

elders up-wind.
It was a squashed day when
mud was water, water mud

and blood ran slowly in the veins.
All the talk and noise couldn’t
blot the buzz of the river

swollen with summer,
dying of it, from one boy.
He held the tiller of a modern

ship in his hand, sailed into
another age, just from wishing
the air be a mite thinner.