The days are lengthening. Harbingers of spring
pierce through resistant soil; spikes of daffodils
and early tulips mingle, tight buds sprinkle
thin syringa stems. A few oak leaves linger,
crisp-curled and dead, rasping in the flowerbed –
but death is a stranger now. Pale hellebore
blushes shyly, fern fronds prepare to unfurl.
Clouds lift. The air is clear and bright. All winter
I have dug hard cold ground, hoed, mulched, dreamed of growth.
Now, accompanied by bird song, I plant words.
This poem was first published on The Wombwell Rainbow in February 2023. It is a variation of a masnavi (or mathnawi), a poetic form that has its origins in Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu writing.
Listen to the riversong –
meltwater from mountain flanks
tumbling its own path
between resistant rocks.
Meltwater from mountain flanks
trickles down through peat and moss,
conjoins to become a burn
tumbling its own path;
tugs at roots by shaded banks,
crashes, eddies, foams.
Between resistant rocks
salmon leap against the flow,
glinting in the sun.
This poem was first published on The Wombwell Rainbow in January 2023. It is a trimeric, a recent poetic form devised by Dr Charles A. Stone.
Observing a young child at play is a wondrous experience. A rug becomes the sea; measuring spoons are flowers and mushrooms; a cardboard box is a garage, a castle, a football goal. Imagination isn’t restricted by an object’s nominal function. Everything is infused with sparkling energy and an unquestioning sense of fun.
Cartouche!, a collaboration between Dylan King and his mother Michelle Moloney King, captures the joyful essence of play. Dylan King’s contribution is in the form of visual poetry: confident, vigorous drawings and adventurous explorations of the interaction between a keyboard and the appearance of characters on a screen. Michelle Moloney King responds with ekphrastic poems that are vibrant and surreal.
In Dante’s Inferno, the poet is guided by Virgil on a journey through the nine circles of Hell, witnessing the punishment of souls in ways that are appropriate to the sins they committed in life – a process described as contrapasso,’to suffer the opposite’. Souls are trapped for eternity in a state of retribution specific to their own wrongdoing.
Some months ago, I received a charming email from a stranger who had read and enjoyed some of my poems. The stranger’s name was David Cohen and we started following each other on Twitter, where I very quickly discovered that he posts a daily Scrabblegram.
There has been a great deal of flustered fluttering on Twitter (now known as X) 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.
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.
I always enjoy experimenting with poetic forms I’ve not come across before. Recently Paul Brookes has introduced me to two delightful forms – both of them centuries old, but new to me – that use a combination of rhyme scheme and syllabic count per line.