Things I Have Withheld: Essays by Kei Miller (Canongate Press)

Tears in the Fence

This is a stirring and insightful collection of essays that often reads like a travelogue or reportage; that is that its prerogatives are not speculative or theoretical. Kei Miller from Jamaica, who studied and has taught in Britain, has been lauded for his poetry, especiallyThe Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion(2014).

I was a little reminded of Martin AmisVisiting Mrs Nabokov, which similarly is in a kind of reporter’s prose conveying and getting back about places he’s visited, people seen. Miller’s essays cover a lot of ground, from Jamaica to Trinidad to Kenya to Ghana.

Reflecting I’d say the main points coming through are to get a bit of local colour, sometimes not without its hazards, in some of these places; and to take measure of Miller’s insistence on his embodiment, no ivory tower here, and the culture and politics of racial or ethnic…

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Islands of Voices: Selected Poems of Douglas Oliver edited Ian Brinton (Shearsman Books)

Tears in the Fence

The eight titles of Douglas Oliver’s works included by Ian Brinton are supported with a preface by Joe Luna and introduction by the editor along with eight pages of notes at the end of this 180 page book. The inclusions by Joe Luna and Ian Brinton make clear Douglas Oliver’s stance towards poetry as indeed does reading his poems.

The poet’s inward conversations held within poems being the very thing with which he wants to confront possible readers: the immediacy of language acting in the moment of experience and in the reported experience, each being reliant on the other. Clear indication of this evident in:

‘Oh you are born already!’ cries the English mother

in pained surprise to her hanging baby,

as though the finished phrase

has slipped, unfinished, out of anguish

still continuing, into its adventures.

‘Beyond active and passive’

and strongly so, in:

… The moment we will…

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Drop in by Chris Campbell

Nigel Kent - Poet

Today I welcome Chris Campbell to reflect upon a poem from his poignant new collection…

The title-poem of my recently published collection, White Eye of the Needle, captures a moment my now wife and I climbed into a landmark at the top of a piste on a ski trip. 

We took our skis off, left our poles and climbed up with a couple of friends into a rock formation called the ‘Eye of the Needle’ to admire the view and take photos. It was the first time my wife and I, who met that week, almost kissed, before we hurried back to ski down the mountain.

The ‘Eye of the Needle’ sits at over 2,700 metres in Tignes, France, and has a large hole through the middle. It looks down over the resort and there’s a tough black run on the other side. You can see the formation illustrated on…

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Wealden

Longbarrow Press

Longbarrow Press is delighted to announce the publication of Wealden, a new pamphlet and CD by Nancy Gaffield and The Drift.

Nancy had previously published Meridian (Longbarrow Press, 2019), a long poem that articulates an exploratory journey along the Greenwich Meridian line across Eastern England. Meanwhile, The Drift had been creating semi-improvised music inspired by the landscape around them – the marshes and the dense woodlands of rural Kent. They agreed to collaborate on a new work, where Nancy would explore this extraordinary Kentish landscape, walking from the High Weald down to the coast at Dungeness. Much of the land she traversed is only a few hundred years old, formed by shingle and silt thrown up by storms. This same landscape may only last for another few hundred years, as the sea level continues to rise. Wealden deals with the strata – geological, cultural and historical – that…

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Sea, Sky, Shingle

Longbarrow Press

‘Our experiences of the empty spaces of the marshes, the dense woodland and the deserted beaches were in our minds as we played. We thought of the deep loamy bass as the subsoil, the loops of abstract sound as the rugged flora, and the occasional higher-pitched elements — like the fiddle or the harmonium — as fleeting glimpses of wildlife, weather events, or other people.’  Following the release of their collaborative project WealdenNancy Gaffield and The Drift discuss the development of the work in a wide-ranging interview, from its improvisatory origins (and field-based research in the marshes, shingle, and dense woodlands of southern Kent) to the ‘collective exploration’ by poet and musicians captured in the studio recordings. Click here to read ‘Walking, observing, listening’ on the Longbarrow Blog.  ‘The words inform the sound and the sound influences the words. And through it all, the magical strangeness of…

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Winter Sun

Longbarrow Press

Longbarrow Press looks back on its fifteenth year of activity with a round-up of the essays, projects and publications of 2020:

#1  January – February.  ‘What was the space we now stood outside of? What was it we were fighting for?’  We start the year with two essays that examine the relationship between public space and creative practice. In ‘On Cities, Solidarity, Loss, and Hope’, Emma Bolland reflects on strikes and collective action, editing the Cities: Sheffield anthology, and the ‘transformative spaces’ of pub and picket line. You can read it here‘Poetry climbs down from its pedestal. Parts of the street step into poetry. Happenstance keeps everyone alert. The open interaction is an artform in itself.’  In ‘A Democracy of Words’, Matthew Clegg chronicles the migration of this participatory pop-up event from Mexborough High Street to Elsecar, Rotherham and Doncaster, and celebrates its…

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Little Piece of Harm

Longbarrow Press

Rhyme all the ways a city battens down.
Say, river waters tide the roads to town.

Longbarrow Press is delighted to announce the publication of Little Piece of Harm, a new pamphlet by Chris Jones.

Little Piece of Harm is a narrative sequence that focuses on 24 hours in the life of a city that has been shut down in the aftermath of a shooting. As this act of violence ramifies outwards, the sequence explores the geographical reach of Sheffield – its urban settings and its rural landmarks – and eavesdrops on the city’s conversations. Pete, the narrator, comes into contact with a variety of people who reflect on this public killing in relation to private moments of trauma and harm. Five years in the making, Jones’s first publication since Skin (Longbarrow Press, 2015) skilfully employs a range of poetic forms to drive its stories and dialogues.

A…

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Serpent’s Kiss – A Sonnet

The world according to RedCat

Whitby Abbeyin the harbour town ofWhitbyon the Yorkshire coast. The location where Count Dracula arrives in England, Stoker’s visit to the town in 1890 provided him with atmospheric settings for a Gothic novel, and a name for the vampire.
– From Wikipeda and Clementp.fr, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Serpent’s Kiss

She’s bathed in pale ethereal allure.
Drawing men to her as honey draws flies.
Fighting each other to be her amour.
Glamour hiding that her chosen will die.

All they see are her lustrous pearly skin.
Lust filled eyes shining dark bottomless pools.
Hiding the blood hungry demon within.
A shriveled heart drinking others’ as fuel.

At length, the battle yields tonight’s champion.
Lust raging, he’s ready to claim his prize.
Proudly he beams as she smiles and beckons.
Thinking the night will end with his pleased sighs.

Lying close before that last draining kiss.

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