2022: End of year reflections

There has been a great deal of flustered fluttering on Twitter in recent weeks, as regular users have become concerned for the platform’s viability. Change is always tricky to deal with. Amid expressions of nervousness, uncertainty for the future, defiance, outrage etc, it’s also become clear how significant the micro-blogging site has been to the poetry community – as an online meeting place where we can form new friendships, discover new journals, explore unfamiliar poetic forms, become reacquainted with old favourites, market our own work and celebrate the work of others.

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MACHINATIONS – an interview with Kinneson Lalor and JP Seabright

‘Can machines think?’

Alan Turing posed this question in his seminal 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ that laid the foundations for research into artificial intelligence. Turing’s life and work provide the inspiration for Machinations, a poetic collaboration between Kinneson Lalor and JP Seabright published by Trickhouse Press. Fiercely intelligent, dazzlingly inventive and profoundly insightful, Machinations does justice not only to the depth, breadth and creative genius of Turing’s intellectual achievements but also to the complex layers of his personality.

I asked Kinneson and JP how the book came into being, their experience of working together and what informed their creative choices.

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The melodic and the logical – an interview with Anthony Etherin

The Golden Ratio, denoted by the Greek letter phi, is an irrational number that has intrigued mathematicians and artists through the centuries, featuring in geometry, number theory, physics, biology, painting, architecture, music and other disciplines. Its value to 20 digits is

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Turning in circles – the Tritina

Repetitions are a feature of many established poetic forms – the trioletpantoum, and villanelle all contain patterns of repeated lines, while the ghazal consists of couplets with a repeated refrain. The sestina is determined by six end-words, following a fixed rotational pattern through six six-line stanzas, with a three-line envoi that includes all the end-words. 

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Playing to our own rules: Poetic constraint

Arma virumque cano – ‘I sing of arms and the man’. With these resonant words Virgil opens his great epic the Aeneid, composed over two thousand years ago. The poem, which is nearly ten thousand lines long, is written almost entirely in dactylic hexameter – an astonishing feat of constrained writing, especially when we consider that Virgil lacked the convenience of our modern-day word processing and editing tools.

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Farewell to 2021

As we approach the end of a year dominated by chaos, bleakness, and the ravages of the pandemic, it is difficult not to succumb to despair. We seem to be caught up in the ‘widening gyre’ of Yeats:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

Yeats wrote ‘The Second Coming’ in January 1919, at a time when the First World War had only recently ended, the political situation in his native Ireland was dangerously unstable and the Spanish ‘flu pandemic was raging (his pregnant wife Georgie Hyde-Lees became very ill and almost died from the ‘flu). It’s hardly surprising that a sense of impending doom reverberates through the poem.

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