The End of Innocence. A Memoir by Yvonne Lloyd

IceFloe Press

The End of Innocence

Learning to knit, eating cheesecake and the arrival of my adopted sister, Betty: this is what I remember from the time I spent with grandma Rosa. But actually, there was so much more – I now regard this time as a defining episode in my childhood, one which marked the end of innocence, the beginning of a darker period of turning inwards, of feeling that the world was an unsafe place in which unpleasant surprises sprang from nowhere.

During my childhood, I walked past the photograph of grandma Rosa, my mother’s mother in its gilt frame hundreds of times barely noticing it. But since my mother’s passing, I’ve become interested in the chain of mothers and daughters, stretching from my granddaughter back to her great grandmother – 150 years of the female family line. I’ve been studying the photograph looking for clues to Rosa before she…

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Eat the Storms – The Pride Poetry Podcast Episode 8

Eat The Storms

Podcast available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker and many more platforms

This episode aired on 24th October 2020, and it was a celebration of voices from the LGBTQ+ community. I was joined on this show by Andreena Leeanne, David Hanlon, Anne Walsh Donnelly, Erin Russell, Katie Proctor, Grace Alice Evans, Ryan Norman and Peach Delphine.

The links to their websites, blogs or Twitter pages are all listed below…

Andreena Leeanne is the creator and host of @PoetryLGBT and her book Charred is published by Team Angelica

http://teamangelica.com/71

David Hanlon is on Twitter as @DavidHanlon13 and his book Spectrum of Flight is published by Animal Heart Press

https://www.animalheartpress.net/p/purchase-spectrum-of-flight.html

Anne Walsh Donnelly is on Twitter as @AnneWDonnelly and her book The Woman with the Owl Tattoo is published by Fly on the Wall Poetry

https://www.flyonthewallpoetry.co.uk/product-page/the-woman-with-an-owl-tattoo-by-anne-walsh-donnelly

Grace Alice Evans is on Twitter as @gracealiceevans and her website is…

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Quicksand – Julie Stevens

Eat The Storms

In the new chapbook Quicksand, by Julie Stevens, published by Hybriddreich, there is a line in the opening poem that reads ‘I’m a factory working hard to produce a mystery, a collection of broken parts awaiting an answer…’ and this is indeed a collection of broken parts but it delivers its message clearly and its truth shines on every line, in every carefully chosen word, in the strength of each poem to be able to stand alone as well as accepting the support of the collection because, of course, what writer is not happy when allowed to sit and ponder and put pen to page. But, when the only option you have is to sit and ponder and put pen to page, then things change. Julie has had MS for 30 years now which means she cannot run or race or climb or dance. But here, in Quicksand, that is…

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Today I Love My Mother More – A Poem by El Kamaal

IceFloe Press

Today I Love My Mother More


Today, I love my mother more;

Not only because she had once bathed me
With the warmest of her blood; and held me
With the coldest grip of her hands.
Her blood—so warm it made my father forgot his name.
So cold and gripping it moved him closer to God—
More than her snapping finger and groaning voice.

Not only because she sang like wrens at night
When fear nights their presence in the soft compound
Of my younger skin. Not because she is proud
Of what I am becoming or what she craves to know
About who I would eventually be or become.

Not only because she’s worthy of being reminisced
With the death of every second, with the birth
Of every minute, with every going of what moment
I don’t know, but has come, gone and passed.

Today I love my mother…

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Two Poems by Dipe Jola

IceFloe Press

these walls are too loud


mother chants my name through the doors –
hollow as a piped bone. she folds the letters
into an iron gun. shoots every time.
she breathes through the walls as if my name is
something too heavy to pierce the mass of grey
earth. this name, polished in the southern part
of this border is a garden of eruptions.
ronke! ronke! ronke!
salt this tongue and it rings through the house
again as if learning to call my name till it evaporates.
she doesn’t quit. my brother too. even these walls
separating us – i hear its whispers every night. It
ruffles like a radio, in search of frequency. [shriek]
the child is only a bird. my name is only a noun but
these walls chirp too loud. ronke! ronke!

(untitled)


I
A sorrow ridden lad sits with his back hinged
to a treehouse. He…

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.furlough.

sonja benskin mesher

there is a question here
as to whether to make

the tea before or after

or in between

choosing the latter option
we pause a while
switch on the hot
water heater then

go downstairs
boil the water

choose the tea bag
cojoined

to be separated

put on the music
place the caddy

back on the shelf

black it is and
shiny

the cats here fight too
daily

i intervene where I can
hope one day they become

friends

james

i am still furloughed this month
change to seasonal in november
with holiday pay due
due back next spring

some winter time ahead

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Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews: “Fix” by Miles Salter

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews

Fix cover

Miles has given me the honour to be the first to receive a copy of the front cover picture. Thankyou, Miles.

Miles Salter

is a writer, musician and storyteller based in York. His writing has included journalism, poetry and fiction for young people and children. He presents The Arts Show on Jorvik Radio and is the front man for Miles and The Chain Gang. 

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started writing as a kid, about 12 years old. I wrote lyrics when I was a teenager, played in my first band when I was 17 and was writing songs. But it wasn’t until I was 30 that I started writing more seriously. I started reading more widely, and thinking about it a lot more. I entered a lot of competitions and went through a pretty intense four years of working hard at my writing. I wrote a novel for teenagers, A Song For Nicky Moon, that came out in 2010. It was shortlisted for The Times / Chicken House Children’s Writing Competition. I got a call from Barry Cunningham, the guy who discovered J K Rowling, but I didn’t win. My first poetry collection, The Border, came out in 2011. Since then, I’ve written a second collection, a book for children, and co-edited an anthology of poetry. I’ve also written picture books for a research project and worked freelance in PR for a showbiz agency in London. 

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I had a brilliant English teacher. Chris Copeman was really good at getting boys to write. This was about 1983, 1984. I was about 12. I won some prizes in the WHSmith Young Writers competition. It was a big moment for me. A cheque and everything! 

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

That is a good question. One of my weaknesses is that nearly everything I have read is from the last 70 years. I love contemporary writing of all kinds. When I was at University I always gravitated to the modern stuff, it just felt so much more accessible. I haven’t read Thomas Hardy’s poetry, or much Shakespeare. I’ve never read Jane Austen, and hardly any Dickens. I really need to work on this! I have read a few classics – Frankenstein, Moby Dick, a bit of Thomas Hardy. But I need to read a lot more. I’m not a fan of Slam poetry. It tends to wind me up. I think we need to have an awareness of lyrical traditions. I want to read Robert Frost and other poets from that era.  

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I usually write in the morning. That is when I feel fresh and have a bit of impetus. Sometimes it is just when I can fit it in. If an idea comes, I try to get it down straight away.  

5. What subjects motivate you to write?

In my poetry, certain things do tend to crop up. Spirtuality. Consumerism. Music. Work experiences. Family and friends. Relationships. Sex. Animals. The End of The World. Climate Change. These things come up again and again. 

6. What is your work ethic?

I work hard but I am quite scattered. I usually have several projects on the go. This year, a new poetry collection, a children’s picture book, a radio show and running a band. 

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence your work today?

A novelist I admired from a young age was George Orwell. He said that writing should be clear and not too complex. I do tend to write like that – I want people to understand the writing. The biggest mistake writers make at the start is to overcomplicate it. I taught creative writing and it was amazing how much time I spent telling the students to write clearly, and to focus on editing their work. 

8. Whom of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I like Ian McEwan for his clarity and lyricism. Cormac McCarthy – The Road is amazing. Also J M Coetzee. Robert Harris for a good story, although I didn’t enjoy ‘The Second Sleep’, it was a bit cliched.  I still admire Simon Armitage’s writing – he was a big influence, although I have mixed feelings about him as a person. Carol Ann Duffy was a big influence, too. I was lucky to work with both of them when I ran a festival in York.  One of my friends is Oz Hardwick and I admire Oz very much. He is always reaching out for new things with his writing, which I think is very admirable. He doesn’t rest on his laurels. It’s important to explore new ideas and new things. Why do things the same way? It’s comfortable, but if we are going to grow, we have to step away from the comfort zone. Oz and I talk about creativity a lot. One of the quotes we shared was ‘If you knew what you were going to do at the start, what would be the point?’ Sometimes my best writing comes when I let go of expectations, and just go with it. I tend to play with surreal ideas a lot.  

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

Well in my case I play music, tell stories and have a radio show as well, so I do other things. But it’s all about communication, that’s what drives me, and what makes me happy. I wish I could write lyrics as well as I write poetry. They feel like very different things, for me. 

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

In one sense, you just start by doing it. Get a pen and a notebook. Be proactive. Just start! But make a career out of it? It’s really, really hard. I’ve tried lots of different approaches over 18 years and it is tough. I had a couple of lucrative gigs as a writer but it’s hard work to make it work financially. I heard Bernadine Evaristo talk about this on the radio the other day and she said ‘You have got to be unbelievably determined and let nothing stop you.’ I think it takes a lot of courage, a lot of focus, and a lot of determination. The majority of writers don’t make much money. That is the uncomfortable truth. The other thing is, be prepared to be vulnerable. Writing really takes off when you access the things that are a bit scary – your fears, your desires, the things you wouldn’t normally verbalise. 

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m just finishing ‘Fix’ which is my third collection of poetry. I’ve also written a kids picture book which I am really pleased with. I also write lyrics for the band, and scripts for the radio show. Every type of writing is different. You learn to dance from one to the other. The best writers write in several mediums. Look at Andrew Motion – poetry, fiction, non-fiction, journalism. That’s quite a mix! 

12. How did I decide order for the poems?

With difficulty! The book went through 14 drafts, and the last few months (May 2020 to October 2020) were pretty exhausting, with multiple changes. There are various sections in the book. The first one is about childhood, really, and giving advice to children (specifically, my own), then there are sections on outsiders, music, the end of the world, and a bit about my own life which was more confessional. I don’t think these things are perfect, but I tried hard to give it a shape and a narrative, in a way.

13. How did you decide the order of the poems?

With difficulty! The book went through 14 drafts, and the last few months (May 2020 to October 2020) were pretty exhausting, with multiple changes. There are various sections in the book. The first one is about childhood, really, and giving advice to children (specifically, my own), then there are sections on outsiders, music, the end of the world, and a bit about my own life which was more confessional. I don’t think these things are perfect, but I tried hard to give it a shape and a narrative, in a way.

13.1. I notice that there is a sequence of five poems prefixed: “Fix”, but these are not put under that umbrella term in the contents. What was your aim in doing this?

There was an error in the version you had. The book has each one down correctly. ‘Fix One…’ ‘Fix Two…’ etc. 

Originally there was a single, titular poem called ‘Fix’ but I changed it so it was more of a theme running through the book. 

A lot of the book is about imperfection – an imperfect world, imperfect people, imperfect situations, and I was writing a lot about that. 

Art often wants the world to be better – to be more whole, to be less fractured, but we have to live with the world we have,

hard as that is.  

14. How important is popular culture in your poetry?

That is a very good question! My life revolves around culture, in one way or another – films, books, music (especially rock and pop), poetry…I present The Arts Show on Jorvik Radio and play in a band, and write. So yes, these things do come through. I often write about music in my poems – there are a few music-related poems in Fix. But I also think that poetry endlessly repeats the themes of human life – love, death, isolation, communion with family or friends, happy moments, sadness, and those things are probably more important, overall. There’s a poem in the book which takes its name from a line in an early 80s pop song called ‘Go Wild In The Country’ by Bow Wow Wow, but really the poem is about lockdown, isolation and growing as a person. 

15.. Why do you like telling stories in your poetry, rather than using a string of images?

Another good question. I write songs as well as poems, but for some reason the stories come out more in the poems – although I am not sure why this is. I have written prose fiction, tried writing a few novels. I’ve written short stories although none have been published, and I have read a fair amount of fiction. I suppose the two things fused, in a way. A poetry book that influenced me a lot was Simon Armitage’s Seeing Stars. It came out in 2010 and he mixed flash fiction with poetry. It was prose poetry, I guess. That book is really engaging – mini stories which are sad, funny, disturbing. That was a big influence – my first book of poems came out the following year, in 2011. I like to tell a story, and I think you can have these mini-narratives in poetry. Little snapshots of people’s lives. There’s one in Fix called ‘Well Hung’ about a woman who finds men hanging in her cupboard: it’s weird and creepy and funny, all at the same time. Life’s like that, isn’t it? We’re surrounded by stories – things that make us scared, or make us laugh. Like, today, I took my dog for a walk, and on the field was an abandoned children’s buggy. The tracks were still in the grass, but there was nobody there. There was a story, right there. I think if you can tell a little tale in the poem – great!  

16. Once they have read the book what would you like the reader to leave with?

Hmmmmm. I suppose poetry is about wonder, isn’t it? I hope the book is life affirming. There’s plenty of dark stuff in the poems, but I hope it is life affirming, too. Life is amazing. It’s hard but it’s amazing, too. Also, I hope people will reflect on the stuff about masculinity that I wrote about. Men are not evil scum bags. They’re just imperfect creatures, like everybody on the planet. But really, I just want people to read it and enjoy it. Thanks Paul!

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews: “elsewhen” and “Midnight Double Feature” By Kenneth Cale

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews

Kenneth Cale

lives in Oregon and is the author of two chapbooks, Midnight Double Feature (Sweat Drenched Press) and elsewhen (Ghost City Press), both published in 2020. Recent work can be found, or is forthcoming, in Mannequin Haus, Streetcake, and PUNK: An Anthology of Poetry (Kissing Dynamite Press, 2020). You can find him on twitter: @kmcale81

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I became a poet by accident. My ambition was always to write a novel, but, apart from a few short stories languishing on a hard drive, I didn’t do much towards that goal. In 2013, though, I did take a 5-day writing course focusing on contemporary work with Kevin Killian, Vanessa Place, and K. Silem Mohammad. It was really exciting, and it gave me the courage to follow my wilder ideas. On the final day of the course, everyone had the opportunity to read their work in front of an audience. That morning, I came up a handwritten cut-up piece – similar to a couple of the works in the chapbooks. I felt I was onto something, but I wasn’t sure what that something was. I showed the piece to Kevin Killian, and he encouraged me to read it.  The response was really positive, and it was mainly the poets who were into it. That’s when the penny dropped, and I realized that what I’d written was in fact a poem. In 2016, after I finished my degree, I began to develop my new style of writing further.

2. How did you start developing your style of writing further?

As much as I liked the immediacy and rawness of these handwritten cut-ups, I felt, visually, they were limiting.  That’s when I had the idea of pairing up the cards with collages. From there, the visual aspects of my work began to grow and develop into what they are now. As far the writing itself was concerned, I began to use more constraints and source texts etc. along with the cut-ups. I also took the radical step of typing up some of the poems.

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

After that first piece was published, I didn’t submit any other work for three years. One of the main reasons I waited was that I felt a need to do more reading. I thought it was important to understand how the kind of poetry I was doing related to other writing. I started to dig more into Conceptualism and Flarf and Language poetry and so on.

For uncovering new writers and journals and connecting me to the writing community, Twitter’s been invaluable. That’s how I found Steven Fowler’s Poem Brut series and discovered work that wasn’t a million miles away from what I was attempting. From there, I began to get into concrete poetry and asemic poetry and other visual traditions.  

4. What is your daily writing routine?

It depends on family and work commitments, but generally I write for an hour or so first thing in the morning. In the evening, I work more on the visual end of things – usually in short bursts. That’s also when I respond to emails, send out submissions, etc.

5. How did you decide on the order of the poems in Midnight Double Feature and elsewhen?

Midnight Double Feature is a homage to b-movie double bills, and as those movies would be paired up according to theme or genre, the poems in each ‘screening’ had to be matched up that way too. MDF is split into – and I use these terms very loosely – a sci-fi double feature and a horror double feature. Originally, it was only the horror one, but Sweat Drenched asked for the chapbook to be expanded, so I turned the chap into a double double feature.   ‘time’s wound’ was always meant to be the last poem, so the horror double bill became the second half of the book.

elsewhen was a lot more straightforward: I wanted the chapbook to flow from beginning to end like good albums do.

6. What subjects motivate your writing?

I never have a specific subject in mind when I sit down to write. Mine is more of a stream-of-consciousness, improvisational approach. I usually start with a line or an image or a phrase in a source text and just go from there, trying to realize the ideas that suggest themselves. For the visuals, the approach is more or less the same.

7. Why “B-Movie Double Bills”?

The idea evolved out of ‘time’s wound’. That was written for a Twin Peaks anthology, but it couldn’t be accepted because its collages would’ve violated the editor’s artwork agreement with the publisher. For a while after that, I had I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but somehow I got thinking about another David Lynch work, Eraserhead, and that’s synonymous for me with midnight movies, and the idea for the chapbook grew from there.  These poems are visually a little darker than some of my other work, and they touch on doubles and doppelgangers and I/You in different ways, so the concept felt appropriate thematically too.  

8. You seem to be heavily influenced by David Lynch’s work.

I like his films, but apart from that one poem, I don’t see that much of a Lynch influence on my work, to be honest. I think it would be more accurate to say ‘time’s wound’ and the concept for Midnight Double Feature are just examples of me drawing on influences outside of poetry – which I do often. I’m into all kinds of cinema and music and visual art, so that’s going to be refracted through my work I guess. Despite its theme, I see more of the later plays and short texts of Samuel Beckett in ‘time’s wound’ than anything by Lynch.

9. How do the writers you read when you were young influence your work today?

I really loved those early Irvine Welsh novels, and A Clockwork Orange, and, a little later, Hotel World by Ali Smith. They’re all really inventive in structure and/or language, and beautiful in non-traditional ways.  I often come back to them.

The writer I read when I was young who had the biggest influence on me, though, was William Burroughs. I read Cities of the Red Night when I was 19. I got it secondhand and knew nothing about it prior to reading, and it just blew me away. I felt Burroughs was rewiring my brain as I read it. His idea of the cut-up is more relevant than ever, I think. Reading a poem on a phone or a tablet is becoming our default way of reading, and if you read a poem in the body of an email, for example, it could be framed by payment reminders and cat pictures and ads for gambling sites, and that’s going to subconsciously impact your reading, create new associations, complicate the text further. I think that’s really interesting. That’s part of the reason I started to include images and bits of advertising around my words, to highlight these visual aspects of the cut-up. The information and contexts we willfully ignore.

10. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I’m a big fan of Rae Armantrout. Her work is great, so spare and precise – the complete opposite of many of mine! I also love Will Alexander’s poems and essays. Purity & Compression is one of the best collections I’ve ever read. His stuff is just a better world, really. Another poet I really admire is Mary Frances. I think hers is the best visual poetry out there. sea pictures is incredible. Very beautiful. Makes you look at the world in a different way – as all good poetry should. I read a lot of non-fiction too. I’m a huge fan of Paul Theroux’s travel writing.

Honestly, though, really there are loads of writers I admire: Dodie Bellamy; Derek Beaulieu; Clark Coolidge; Anne Donovan; Paul Hawkins; Jim Leftwich; Sharon Mesmer; Daniele Pantano; Vanessa Angelica Villareal; Ali Whitelock. Plus many many others. There are a lot of great writers about these days.

11. Why do you vary handwriting and type in the poems?

My rule at the moment is that any poem I write in one go – like ‘Slough’, for example – gets left in its original handwritten form. Any that require drafting or editing I type.  For the chapbooks, I felt one handwritten poem in each was probably enough – especially as my handwriting looks like that of a doctor at the end of a long arduous shift.

12. Why do you use blocks of text rather than inserting lines of text into the collages?

There are a few reasons, but, primarily, it’s to do with how these poems were composed. A number of the pieces in the chapbooks are earlier works, and those were composed by hand on index cards, hence the block look. I quite like that look. They’re like windows or the kind of speech/thought bubbles you find in cartoon strips. Also, when these were written, I was more interested in the juxtapositions and contrasts between the text and the visuals rather than creating a complete visual harmony. That gets back to the cut-up ideas we talked about earlier.

Probably the most important reason for it, though, is to show the more generative side of my work.  What I do with the index cards is Oulipian in its own way. The cards give me arbitrary line lengths, and they also function much like the lines in Raymond Queneau’s A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems. When I’m working on them, I can re-sequence and re-group the index cards to my heart’s content, make and re-make each poem. Of course, when it’s published in a journal or chapbook, it’s hard to convey that the version you see is just one of any number of versions of the text, so keeping the handwritten index cards, laying them out on the page the way I do is an attempt at showing that they aren’t fixed singular things. ‘outer malad’ is a good example. On each page, you can read each card of in turn, or read left-right across the adjacent cards, or read the left column of cards first then those on the right. It’s not ideal, but it gives the reader a few options at least.

13. There are a lot of pop culture references in your collages and in the poetry?

In the poetry, it’s usually just a shout out to influences or to people I admire. People who don’t often crop up in poetry: Lee “Scratch” Perry, Aphex Twin. I always enjoy it when other writers do that kind of thing. ‘coda’ is a little different, though; that’s maybe more of a direct comment on pop culture.

14. Once they have read each of these two books what do hope the reader will leave with?

I don’t have any particular message for the reader. People are free to interpret them as they wish. I just hope they like the chapbooks. Feel them worthy of their time and attention.

15. Tell me about writing projects you are involved in at the moment.

I have a poem in Kissing Dynamite’s Punk anthology coming out soon. It’s called “(Don’t be told) there’s no future”, and it’s an erasure of both the British national anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’, and the Sex Pistols song of the same name. But that might be the last new thing from me for a while as I wasn’t able to write that much in 2020. In the last couple of months, though, I’ve managed to get back into it, and I have a few pieces I’m happy with. Hopefully they’ll be out in the new year. I’m also considering starting my own journal. It’s definitely something I’d like to do at some point. Not sure I have the time to run one, but we’ll see.  I hope so.

Review of ‘Venus in Pink Marble’ by Gaynor Kane

Nigel Kent - Poet

In the opening poem to Gaynor Kane’s ‘Venus in Pink Marble she describes her poems as being held in ‘fragile, translucent hulls’ that dissolve ‘before they reach the skyline’. In doing so she undersells her collection. ‘Venus in Pink Marble’ is packed with vibrant, resonant poetry that will live long in the consciousness of this reader.

The collection is divided into three parts. The first part ‘The Lock’ explores the present and past history of her homeland and its impact upon the writer and its people. She describes an urban landscape of industrial decay: Belfast’s thriving and prosperous industry is no more leaving ‘Industrial bones in the landscape’ and ‘Stagnant water’s slow-flow framework/where once it was dynamic’ (‘Echoes’). Its fragility is beautifully captured in her account of how a rat brought the city’s transport system to a halt by chewing through a cable…

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