1.04.16 — Spring clean
I had quite a productive winter.
It started with the honour of being made Poem of the Week on Carol Rumens's Guardian blog. She chose 'Claimant' from The Claims Office and wrote a typically sympathetic and profound close reading to go with it.
I wrote about the T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist for Boston Review. This was before the disgraceful fallout that followed Sarah Howe's richly deserved victory, though I'm sorry to say my article anticipated some of that nastiness.
The New Welsh Reader were kind enough to dignify my teenage memories with publication. Here's a link to 'Somersault', though you have to subscribe or buy a copy to get the full benefit of my lovelorn 18-year-old moping.
After very much enjoying Jeremy Noel-Tod's The Whistun Wedding Video, a pamphlet dissecting the state of the contemporary British poetry scene with mordant wit, I wrote a review for the Poetry Wales blog.
I also wrote about one of my Welsh poetry heroes, John Ormond, for the spring issue of Poetry Review. More on that soon, once the links become available.
13.10.15 — October events
Three great events I'm due to take part in over the next few weeks, links in bold.
First, Peckham Lit Crawl, Fri Oct 16. This one promises to be fun - lots of appetising readings etc around SE15. I'll be at Small White Elephant on Choumert Street from 8.00 - 8.45, taking part in a special Lit Crawl instalment of The Poetry Inquisition. It's an exciting, up-and-coming reading series that vows to 'hold poetry to account'. Expect the usual set from The Claims Office (plus some new material), followed by a Paxman-style grilling.
Next, the Poetry Wales Patagonia celebration, Thu Oct 22, Cardiff. To mark the special Summer 2015 issue of the magazine and its Patagonian theme, Poetry Wales are hosting a little bash at Waterloo Tea in the Wyndham Arcade. I'll be reading alongside Katrin Selina Lloyd, Cris Paul, and two Chilean poets, Andrés Anwandter and Luna Montenegro. Expect cross-cultural wonderment and tough politics.
Last but not least, Diffusion Festival, Fri Oct 30, Cardiff. This international photography festival has plenty of good things to check out for those around Cardiff this month. I'll be speaking at the Symposium event on the 30th at Chapter Arts, to celebrate the launch of Jack Latham's first book, A Pink Flamingo, to which I contributed a foreword essay. It's a great collection of photos documenting the modern-day Oregon Trail, an old wagon route taken by 19th century pioneers across the Midwestern states. Expect a debate about post-industrial communities on either side of the Atlantic, fabulous photography, and maybe a poem or two, both my own and Richard Hugo's.
2.09.15 — Martinez de las Rivas
New blog article on the 'exacting, electric' first collection from Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Terror - with lashings of Geoffrey Hill.
31.10.14 — Abse and Dylan
I was honoured to be able to pay my respects to Dannie Abse as part of the Wales Arts Review's special tribute issue. A great poet, and by all accounts a great man. My essay is a close reading of his early poem 'Return to Cardiff' and its strange, frustrated music.
I also have an essay on Dylan Thomas in Encounters with Dylan, recently published by the H'mm Foundation under the editorship of Jon Gower. That essay is subtitled 'Welsh Poetry's Retreat from Music in the Years after Dylan', which tells you most of what you need to know about my general thesis. Incidentally, it was through writing the Dylan essay that I initially started to think about 'Return to Cardiff'.
4.09.14 — The One and the Many
I'm teaching again for the Poetry School this autumn, a course called 'The One and the Many' that will seek to interrogate the varieties of poetic address. See the course description for more info, or delve into this interview I gave to Will Barrett of the Poetry School, which goes into the background of the course in some depth. Starts September 18.
12.08.14 — Prac Crit
I was truly delighted to be featured in issue one of Sarah Howe's tremendous new website, Prac Crit, a magazine that promises to inject some much needed close attention into the discourse surrounding contemporary poetry. We talked at ample length about one of my favourite poems in The Claims Office, 'Mergers and Acquisitions', and I was also able to showcase some new work, the first to emerge since that collection. Thanks to Jack Belloli for an excellent and generous close reading of my new piece, 'Poem on 27th Birthday'.
Full disclosure: Sarah is someone I've known for a while and I've come to admire her greatly, both as a poet and a reader of poetry. I don't think our friendship affects her interview style, the rigour which is plain for all to see. It might have something to do with her asking me to join Prac Crit as an editor, though. So this is a double dose of happy news, and I can't wait to get stuck in to issue 2. Exciting plans are afoot.
26.06.14 — Devolved Voices
I was interviewed and read some poems for the Devolved Voices project. It's an initiative that seeks to speak to as many Welsh poets currently writing in English as possible (Welsh poets who emerged since devolution in 1997, that is). An important project and one I was thrilled to take part in. Special thanks to Kathryn Gray, the DV research assistant, who asked the questions, filmed the material, and put up with the mess in my flat across two shoots. (See the lack of continuity in my beard, though we tried with the clothes and setting.)
28.05.14 — More reviews
28.05.14 — Summer readings
Friday June 6: Ware Poets
Friday June 20 - Sunday June 22: Dinefwr Literature Festival
7.04.14 — Two reviews
31.01.14 — Wales Arts Review bonanza
Check out today's Wales Arts Review for not one but two me-related goodies, in the shape of a review of The Claims Office and an interview with the WAR poetry editor, Carl Griffin.
And see my blog for a post on the death of Nigel Jenkins, which overshadows both.
24.01.14 — Dylan Thomas Centre reading
A reading in Swansea at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Here are the details:
Thursday January 3o; 7.30pm; £4 on the door (concessions available); Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR
Hope to see you there. For Swansea natives, I promise to avoid any references to Cardiff City in my poems, or at least to drop them in tactfully.
24.01.14 — Poetry School workshop
I'm thrilled to be participating as a tutor for the Poetry School. I'll be leading one of their new 'open workshops' that take place through the online forum Campus. The workshop goes live on January 27, and places are already filled, but watch this space for future workshop opportunities.
To give a small flavour of this particular workshop, the title is 'absent pronouns' and I'll be challenging the participants to write poetry that gets rid of personal pronouns altogether (the 'I, me, you, he, she' of poetry, you might say). It's something that I've been thinking about recently in my own practice, as a way to get away from writing about myself, so I thought it would be a good subject for my first official workshop too.
19.12.13 — Seren pop-up shop reading
I will be at the Seren pop-up shop this Saturday, December 21, from 2pm for a short reading. Do come by and do some Christmas shopping. Say hello.
Find us in the Castle Arcade, Cardiff, on premises normally occupied by National Theatre Wales.