Sunday, 25 November 2018

The Spindrift Pages: A Poetry Mystery

Tonight I thought I would share a mystery with my readers.

Back in 2012, or maybe 2011 - around when I first started writing The Stone and the Star - I somehow came across this blog, The Spindrift Pages. I don't know how this happened: I might have stumbled across it, or someone might have clicked through to my blog from it, or the blogger might have followed me.

15 posts appeared in 2011, 14 posts in 2012, and then they stopped in March 2012. Most of the posts are original poems. The blogger's name, at least on the blog profile, is Beetle Taylor (possibly a car name??) and they described themselves as "19 years old, between school and university, in the middle of nowhere, with endless supplies of books to read, thanks to thursday market. Hoping to write a poem a day (at the very least) for a year...and hoping that someone might read them!" I commented a few times, so we had some warm but very slight interaction.

The point that I am building up to is that the poems are absolutely remarkable. I think there's a little Sidney Keyes there, a little TS Eliot, a little Wallace Stevens: older but good influences, perhaps not the most original, but this poet was very young. They are authoritative, coolly observant, fond of light alliteration, beautifully shaped, and not facile in the least. I've returned to them a few times in subsequent years, reading a poem or two and wondering if the writer would come back. So far, no.

Assuming that the basic biographical details, at least, are correct, this poet is probably 26 now, and I sincerely hope they are still writing poetry. I have wondered if they started a blog under a different name or their real name, if they moved on to other things, or indeed if they are okay. I've also wondered if this could be someone I know online or in real life.

Do read and enjoy The Spindrift Pages, and if you have a clue to the mystery, let me know.

Photo: Auriga Spindrift by euphro. Used under Creative Commons license

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Recent Publications: Modern Poetry In Translation & Sherlock Holmes Is Like...

I've recently had a couple of essays (or, a review and an essay) published in print, which for me at least is less common these days, and is always a special delight. (It's not as good for sharing widely, but it has a little extra gravitas and permanence.)

My review of a translation of Benjamin Fondane's Ulysses (translated by Nathaniel Rudavsky-Brody, Syracuse University Press, 2017) appears in 'In a Winter City' (Modern Poetry in Translation, No. 3, 2018). I cannot deny that I am very excited about this. On social media I often see people talking about their "dream journals" for publication: Modern Poetry in Translation is mine. Hopefully I'll get one of my own translations in there some day. I also love Fondane, and it was a privilege to review this excellent translation from the original French. You can access a full table of contents, buy a print copy, subscribe to the journal (which I highly recommend) and read a few of the poems here, but the review and most of the issue is only available in print or by a digital subscription. The focus of this issue, which my review sits outside of, is Hungary and Ted Hughes. It's 20 years since Hughes died, and as one of the founders of MPT, he dreamed of a Hungarian issue but didn't edit one in his lifetime.

The essay is non-poetry, but I am also proud of it - and oddly enough, I managed to quote Ted Hughes in it. It's entitled 'Tinker Tailor Sherlockian Spy: George Smiley', and it appears in Sherlock Holmes Is Like, published by Wildside Press. Edited by Christopher Redmond, this book contains 60 essays comparing Sherlock Holmes and characters of fact and fiction ranging from Loki to The Beatles (and everyone between that you can think of). As I'm quite immersed in spy literature, especially John le Carré, these days, it was a natural choice to pick le Carré's master spy George Smiley for this commission, especially as le Carré has often spoken of the inspiration he found in the Sherlock Holmes stories from a young age. You can buy the book directly from the publisher or from the other usual outlets. Authors weren't paid, and royalties go to the Sherlockian charity The Beacon Society.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Interviews: 'my small press writing day' & 'Wombwell Rainbow Interviews'

I don't often get asked for interviews, partly because the world has thus far failed to recognise my coruscating genius (read: I haven't won anything to speak of, at least not recently, and have not even published a poetry collection yet.)

However, a couple of generous souls out there in poetry-world have recently been posting wide-ranging interviews on their blogs, with a variety of writers at varying points in their careers. I was delighted to recently appear in both of these interview series.

The first was 'my (small press) writing day' curated by rob mclennan, a Canadian writer who has published more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His main blog can be found here. The piece I wrote for him wasn't so much an interview as a description of my writing day. Since I don't really have a writing day, it went off at a tangent. You can read it here:

The second was part of the 'Wombwell Rainbow Interviews' series by UK poet and local historian Paul Brookes. This is more of an interview where I answered a series of questions about my reading and writing background and development. I really enjoyed answering the questions and they made me reflect on where I've come from (and although I included a lot, I now suspect I also left out quite a's never-ending.) You can read the interview here: