Review of ‘Art of Insomnia’ by Peter A

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

I remember back in the eighties reading Douglas Dunn’s Elegies, his profoundly moving collection of poems about the passing of his wife that were at times almost too painful to read. The same can be said of Peter A’s Art of Insomnia (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2021), a chapbook of twenty-two direct, intimate, almost conversational poems through which he explores the loss of his partner.

Like Dunn’s Elegies, whilst Peter A’s poems are about grief, they are also about love. They honour a relationship which was cut tragically short. Take for example, his Found in France. We see the French rural retreat through the eyes of his wife. There is true affection and warmth in his amusing description of what she would not have liked. This is an affection derived from the intimate knowledge that comes through sharing a life with another and from an uncritical acceptance of what…

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Drop in by Kitty Donnelly

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kitty Donnelly, prize-winning author of The Impact of Limited Time, toreflect upon a poem from her collection.

Thank you for letting me drop in to share one of my poems from The Impact of Limited Time. The collection was written over many years. When I found out it would be published by Indigo Dreams, I was just about to board a ferry back from the Isle of Arran in 2019. There is a wishing well at the ferry port and I threw some money in on arrival and swore to myself that if I went through with the reading for the McLellan Poetry Prize then good luck would come of it (I was trying to overcome my ridiculous shyness). I managed to read aloud to an audience for the first time, after a large brandy in the hotel room…

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Review of ‘The Impact of Limited Time’ by Kitty Donnelly

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

I’m ashamed to say I had not read Kitty Donnelly’s prize winning collection, The Impact of Limited Time (Indigo Dream Publishing, 2020), before preparing for this review. Yet I only had to read the first few poems to appreciate what I had missed and to realise that Donnelly is an exceptional talent. The collection consists of 45 poems exploring a wide range of topics. Consequently it is difficult to give the reader a flavour of it in its totality, so I’ll concentrate on what made the collection distinctive for me.

As the title suggests, Donnelly reflects upon the effects of time on our lives. The collection begins with a short poem appropriately entitled Time.  She begins, ‘So we plough each week/into a furrow of the past.’ This image of ploughing conveys a rather bleak view of life: there is no sense of rapture or pleasure here, just a grinding existence…

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Review of ‘Broken Things and other tales’ by Vicky Allen

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

This week it’s my pleasure to review Vicky Allen’s quietly resonant pamphlet Broken Things and other tales (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020) that invites us to step back from the hurly-burly of urban living and find significance in the ordinary things in our daily lives.

Her poem, Heron, is typical of her sparse, economical style and of her concerns. The heron ‘stands/ folded/ silent/ still’. Nothing happens: the heron does not move or attempt to strike at a fish, a point reinforced by the repetition of ‘folded, silent, still’ in the penultimate stanza. Yet Allen finds significance in the moment. She describes the bird as ‘a ghost/ watcher’, ‘bridging/ this solid/ world/ and/ its paler cousin’, portraying it as a sort of Grim Reaper and reminding us of the transient nature of life: death is never far away. Yet typically the poem resonates with other meanings for it concludes with the…

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Review of ‘A Quietus’ by Josephine Lay

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

Having read and enjoyed Josephine Lay’s last collection, Unravelling (Black Eyes Publishing UK, 2019) , I looked forward to her next with anticipation and quite rightly so! Though very different in tone and subject matter, A Quietus (Black Eyes Publishing UK, 2021) is equally, if not more, compelling.

The title of the collection gives us a clue to both its tone and concerns. The dictionary definition of the noun, ‘quietus’, is ‘something that has a calming or soothing effect’ (Oxford dictionary). Lay writes two poems which refine and develop the meaning of this word. In the first poem, A Quietus, she offers us a variety of metaphors to capture its essence: ‘a falling/ into the space between notes’; ‘a track after a train has passed’; ‘stillness after the storm’; ‘a sleeping beast’. These images suggest a moment of quiet and stillness, a withdrawal from the hurly-burly of life…

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#InternationalBatNight #InternationalBatWeekend #Batfest 28th August – 31st September. First day: Bats And Coronavirus/ General Bat Poems. Please join Maggs Vibo, Mike Stone and myself in celebrating bats. A slightly longer than a month celebration of Bats kicks of with #InternationalBatNight. I will feature your bat poems, artwork photography, and setting myself the challenge of writing a bat sonnet a day. Anybody written bat poems they would love me to feature on my blog? Please include an up to date, short, third person bio with your contribution. Here are the first eleven day themes: 28th Bats And Coronavirus/General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 29th Alcathoe bat (Myotis alcathoe)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat (fastest mammal)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 31. Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,1. Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox (The Largest)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 2. Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos,3. Honduran White Bat (The Tent Maker)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 4. Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 5. Ghost Bat (False Vampire)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos 6. Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos, 7. Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)/ General Bat Poems/Artwork/Photos

Day One: Bats And Coronavirus/General Bat Poems

Scapegoating in the Silver Age Margaret Vbioolsittiseri

-Maggs Vibo (She says of this:

Here is my bat poem which is currently at the ‘Quarantine Creations’ art show with The Perkinson Center for the Arts and Education in Virginia: https://www.perkinsoncenter.org/current-show

Read “Scapegoating in the Silver Age” by Margaret Viboolsittiseri in the anthology The Mouth of a Lion: Apocalyptic Visual Poetry edited by James Knight @jkbirdking of Steel Incisors (page 20). This anthology of visual poetry with teeth is loaded with art and commentary by 30 visual poets from the US, UK, Canada and beyond. Available in deluxe hardback: https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/james-knight/the-mouth-of-a-lion-deluxe-edition/hardcover/product-6dzr46.html?page=1&pageSize=4 or full colour paperback: https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/james-knight/the-mouth-of-a-lion/paperback/product-k72wr2.html?page=1&pageSize=4

Text Reads:
Scapegoating in the Silver Age

burned edges of a Tyndale scripture
the precipice
of Agnon
horrors of Dachau
a painting with horns wrapped in red cloth
blocking coughs, a goat, atonement and Leviticus
my wish for us, that it is driven off
without persecuting a lantern or
blaming Pandora’s box
for a woman getting milk
didn’t start this ilk and
bloodletting nor confessing will expel this virus
if quarreling were the cure, we would never fall ill
still, we lay blame and shame on she who would use an alabaster jar of perfume
we assume vampire bats in caves and smashing great Auk eggs, but blame isn’t science
it’s burning a witch, consulting a Ouija board, piling it high, blaming Ono
when Lennon died
avoiding a meal with Munslow or a flight with patient Zero
punishing a pangolin as a whipping boy
or Ismay for a sinking shame
it’s totally absurd to state that
heretics
criminals
beggars
lepers
the poor
devils
gods
atheists
the sins of the father
the holy mother
or whatever
rejected dejected
we can lay
this blame game on, but
none of it is a cure

-Maggs Vibo

“The Vampire Bat”
(Raanana, August 28, 2008)

A soft trilling in the top leaves of tall trees
As a tiny vampire bat skims the high night air
Over the path meandering slowly
Through the moonless forest.
A humid volume of moving shadow
Quickly crosses the brow
Of a man walking below alone,
Almost palpable
Like the gentle touch of one’s own ghosts.

(c) Mike Stone, 2008

 

Bios And Links

-Mike Stone

was born in Columbus Ohio, USA, in 1947. He graduated from Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology. He has served in both the US Army (stationed in Germany) and the Israeli Defense Forces. Mike has been writing poetry since he was a student at OSU. He has published seven books of poetry, a book of essays, and four science fiction novels. He had supported his writing habit by working as a computer programmer, specializing in information security. Now he is retired. Mike moved to Israel in 1978 and has lived in Ra’anana ever since. He is married to his beloved wife, Talma, has three wonderful sons, and eight precious grandchildren.

#InternationalBatNight #InternationalBatWeekend #Batfest 28th August – 31st September. A slightly longer than a month celebration of Bats kicks of with #InternationalBatNight. I will feature your bat poems, artwork photography, and setting myself the challenge of writing a bat sonnet a day. Anybody written bat poems they would love me to feature on my blog? Please include an up to date, short, third person bio with your contribution. Here are the first eighteen day themes:

bats anjumBat by Palma -Anjum Wasim Dar 28th Bats And Coronavirus 29th Alcathoe bat (Myotis alcathoe) 30th. Mexican Free-tailed Bat (fastest mammal) 31. Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus) 1. Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox (The Largest) 2. Bechstein’s bat (Myotis bechsteinii) 3. Honduran White Bat (The Tent Maker) 4. Brandt’s bat (Myotis brandtii) 5. Ghost Bat (False Vampire) 6. Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) 7. Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) 8. Kitti’s Hog-nosed bat (The Smallest) 9. Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii) 10. Great Bullfrog Bat (Gone Fishing) 11. Greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) 12. Wrinkle-Faced Bat (Fantastic Face) 13. Grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus) 14. Little Bent-Winged Bats (Snake Food)

Happy #InternationalDogDay2021 #InternationalDogDay Have you unpublished/published dog poems, artwork, photos? I will feature all contributions on today’s blog post. Please include a short, third person bio with your work. Join Lisa McCabe, Graham Bibby, Neal Zetter and myself in celebrating dogs.

International Dog Day

dog 3 cornwelldog 2 cornwell

dog 1 jane cornwell

All three artworks by Jane Cornwell

talking to the dog by brian mosesmy dog by brian moses

nobody told the dog by brian moses

-All above poems by Brian Moses

old dog ex husband by Lisa McCabelost and found by Lisa McCabe

-Lisa McCabe (Both poems previously published in Orchards Poetry Journal, Summer 2020)

 

“Beware of the Dog!”

 

He’s fixed his eyes on you

“Beware of the Dog!”

He practises kung fu

“Beware of the Dog!”

He packs a powerful punch

“Beware of the Dog!”

He’s yet to eat his lunch

“Beware of the Dog!”

He’s such a serious threat

“Beware of the Dog!”

Ask the bite-scarred vet

“Beware of the Dog!”

He’s incredibly large

“Beware of the Dog!”

He’s so supercharged

“Beware of the Dog!”

He devoured the postman

“Beware of the Dog!”

Or you’ll be doggie toast man

“Beware of the Dog!”

He does dangerous stuff

“Beware of the Dog!”

SNARRRRRRL!

WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!

GGGGGGROWL!

RUFF! RUFF! RUFF!

-Neal Zetter

This is the ballad of Hooligan Hound

The peskiest hound for miles around
A barker, a woofer, a tea towel thief
The face of an angel
But what lies beneath
Is a sneak and a faker
A mischief maker
A stealer of treats
And the boots off your feets
She’s quick and she’s slick
There’s nowt she won’t nick
She pinches my socks
And my toast,
Thats the most……
Annoying of all
Though the barking and howling
The drooling and growling
Can be tedious and tiresome
And if she’s run out of treats
We have to run out and buy her some !
Barking at cats
And postmen in hats
Yes postmen in hats!
What do ya think about that!
Hound sleeps where she wants,
On the bed or the sofa
She’s a hooligan, robber
A fur covered loafer

Since she turned up we’ve not had one quiet day
And she’s ruined the lawn in her own special way
There’s patches of green but mainly of brown
And dirty great holes as she’s burrowed on down
She once came up grinning with a mouth full of coal Men from the council had to fill in the hole
At the vets she’s a legend since this came to pass
By sticking her nose up the poor old vets
I see what you’re thinking and I know what you mean
But she keeps away burglars cos she’s bright and she’s keen
But yes if your boots have gone missing and cannot be found

You can be sure it’s the work / of the hooligan hound

-Graham Bibby (https://ko-fi.com/post/The-Ballad-of-Hooligan-Hound-C0C64OZC6)

 

As Folk Over Yonder Black Dog

-Paul Brookes (from ebook “As Folk Over Yonder”, Afterworld Press, 2019)

leaf o little leaf by Ralph Hawkins (Oystercatcher Press)

Tears in the Fence

I’ve not read much of Ralph Hawkins’ poetry before despite first coming across his work inAVarious Artsome years back but this is something I need to remedy. This little chapbook is wonderful. In his poem ‘Max Jacob – Some of the butchers had binocularswe get the following line, a reference to both Max Jacob and Ted Berrigan – ‘Both poets being playful, humorous and serious and full of fraught connectives.’ It’s that ‘fraught connectives’ that does it, a phrase that could well be applied to Hawkins’ own poetry as beautifully exemplified in the following:

Corn from Delf is good for Elves

Bernadette Meyer

you can get a coach

transport yourself

Scarlett Johannson

an alien in Glasgow

the girl at the psalter

palmistry soap

all those overburdened

with the clothes they wore

the abandoned, the outcast, what future

they ‘fished’ them out of the sea

I’m…

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