Sunday, 5 December 2021

Festivals, poetry workshops and reviews

 In the past weeks I attended many interesting poetry workshops, art demonstrations and art exhibitions that inspired me and gave me new ideas and tips about the creation of my artwork and my writing too. I read extensively especially online articles and essays, and poetry of course. I reviewed some new collections for online magazines and perused several publications that feature new poetry such as Dreich, Neon, the Pennine Platform and 14 Vanguards Editions. I also attended online readings with the Poetry Society, Two Rivers Press, Forest Poets and Cinnamon Press and read my poems at Write Out Loud open mic at the Lightbox in Woking. Editors and poets seem to appreciate my reviews and I usually have good feedback. Here are some links to my reviewing work:

Sarah Hymas, The Hispering 

Jean Atkin, Fan-Peckled 

Louisa Adjoa Parker, How to Wear a Skin 

Cliff Fyman, Taxi Night 

Pamela Medland, Echo of Ash 

Robert Garnham, Yay! 

Ian Seed, The Underground Cabaret 

Bloody Amazing 

Kate Fox, The Oscillations 

Kim Malinowski, Home 

Richard Skinner, Invisible Sun 

Ian Seed, Operations of Water 

Greg Freeman, Maples Must Go 

Joshua Calladine-Jones, Constructions [konstrukce] 

Stuart Henson & Bill Sanderson, Twelve Days 

Liv Johannesson, Snow like Skin around my Soul 

Kim Moore, All the Men I never Married 

Fiona Benson, Bioluminescent Baby 

Penny Sharman, The Day before Joy 

Jeanne Powell, Deeply Notched 

My poem ‘You can begin your journey anew was published in Dwelling During the Pandemic Ohio Project:

and ‘I have something to say about Crochet’ was published by Spilling Cocoa:

My poem ‘Words are good’ will be published in Acumen 102 in January 2022, and ‘Aubade’, ‘Consider the ear’, ‘The hare’, ‘Ways of looking at walls’ and ‘The peak’ will be out on Dreich in April 2022. 

A couple of flash fiction pieces were successful too. ‘Fox Hunting’ was long listed in Cranked Anvil flash fiction competition and ‘Empty plate’ has just been published by Ink, Sweat & Tears: 

My essay on Ian Seed’s work will be published in Tears in the Fence, summer issue. He is such an interesting writer and poet who published extensively in the past two decades after a period of silence. Most of Seed’s poetry has been published by Shearsman from the first full collection, Anonymous Intruder (2009), then Shifting Registers (2011) and the quartet of prose poem collections, Makers of Empty Dreams (2014), Identity Papers (2016), New York Hotel (2018) and The Underground Cabaret (2020). Some of his work, Sleeping with the Ice Cream Vendor (1012) and Operations of Water (2020), has been published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press, and finally Red Ceilings Press published three intriguing pamphlets, the latest of which is I Remember (2021). Seed is also a translator from Italian, French and Polish. His most recent translation is Bitter Grass (Erbamara, 2020), by Gëzim Hajdari, an Albanian author who writes both in Albanian and in Italian. He also translated The Thief of Talant by Pierre Reverdy (2016) and The Straw which Comes Apart by Ivano Fermini (2010). He is working on a commissioned translation of Max Jacob’s book of prose poems, The Dice Cup (1917), which will be published by Wakefield Press. He has strong connections with Italian culture and literature, which is one of the reasons why I feel so attracted by his work. Here are the links to some of his poems: 

My article on my grandmothers was published in London Grip together with old family photos: 

I follow my fellow poets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram whose blogs and posts have interesting and original opinions. Here are some examples:

Greg Freeman: 

Rodney Wood: 

Heather Moulson:

Matthew Paul: 

Pratibha Castle: 

Alwyn Marriage: 

Sharron Green:

Dónall Dempsey: 

Patrick Osada: 

David Cooke: 

Trisha Broomfield: 

Alex Josephy: 

Ray Pool: 

Richard Skinner: 

Michelina Di Martino Miss Poet: 

Penny Sharman: 

Alison Brackenbury: 

Robert Garnham: 

Jean Atkin: 

Richard Hawtree: 

Claire Dyer: 

Dawn Wood: 

Sarah Hyman: 

Pamela Medland: 

Josephine LoRe: 

Liv Johannesson: 

Stella Wulf

Gill Learner 

And many others. I meet them too from time to time both on zoom and in person. Thus, I feel part of a group that exchanges ideas and shares a mutual passion for poetry. We like one another’s posts on Facebook and share photos and poems. We also meet in similar poetry spaces as our work appears in the same magazines and anthologies most of the time. It is impressive how social networks can be a way to communicate in a positive and constructive way.

I regularly attend the poetry workshops with Tears in the Fence hosted by David Caddy on themes such as Home, Ethnopoetics, the Human and non-human and Duality and Time. The handouts and exercises are challenging and the group of poets is diverse. The focus is on language, sounds and etymology with a range of references that goes from Anglo-Saxon poetry to the most recent publications with connections to philosophy as well as global issues. I also attended the Tears in the Fence festival last September at the Stourpaine Village Hall; it was a unique experience I would like to repeat next year. Reaching Dorset from Surrey was a long journey, but it was worth it. The venue was heaven and the weather was gorgeous. The event was packed with readings of poets such as Mandy Pannett, Carol Watts, Harriet Tarlo, John Freeman, Luke Kennard, who read from his poetry collection Notes on the Sonnets which won the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Collection, Simon Collings and many others. The whole event was so interesting and involving. I bought quite a few books and reviewed some of them, here are the links:

Mandy Pannett, The Daedalus Files 

Harriet Tarlo, Cut Flowers 

Carol Watts, Kelptown 

I also attended the Second Light festival online in November on the theme ‘Narrating the inner self’. The workshops were led my Jean Atkin, Hannah Lowe, Pascale Petit and Sarah Westcott, who are superb poets and great tutors. I could write a lot of first drafts inspired by the exercises and the poems the tutors selected for the workshops and am in the process of redrafting my work for a future new collection.

Besides taking part in art exhibitions in Woking, I visited a certain number of exhibitions in Woking and in London too and reviewed some of them. Here are the links:

Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty 

Nightshaking with the Ingram Collection 

Nero: The Man behind the Myth 

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser 

Bags Inside Out 

Paula Rego 

Poussin and the Dance 

Lines of Beauty: Master Drawings from Chatsworth 

The Ingram Collection: Art for your World 

I also attended online talks with the National Gallery and a wonderful workshop at Trafalgar square, Sketch in the Square, in which we analysed paintings by Poussin, Van Gogh, Botticelli and Michelangelo, took sketches and enjoyed the sun. Visiting art exhibitions and attending art workshops is so inspiring for me. It is not only a way to know more about art history but above all it is learning more about painting techniques, the use of forms and colours, the subjects chosen by the different artists and the way they develop their themes. Artists never work in isolation. There is always a mutual influence, they copy each other, steal and plagiarise in some way in an ongoing dialogue with past and present artworks. And this is how inspiration works. 

Finally, here is one of my poems influenced by an English song that is the theme of a popular Italian radio program, Melog: Il piacere del Dubbio (the pleasure of doubt), broadcasted on Radio 24 and hosted by Gianluca Nicoletti:

I don’t mind failing in this world

I don’t mind failing in this world,

there is so much to do

like boiling an egg or rediscovering a favourite scarf

that went missing.

I don’t mind failing in this world,

the days wake around me

the rain arrives soft

and the wind is gentle.

I don’t mind failing in this world,

I watch the clouds creating figures,

the grammar of imagination

catches the winter sun.

Coffee is warm in the morning,

my hands brimful of gleaming stones.

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