There may be poets who can sit in front of their computer or notebook and spontaneously compose a poem, but I am not one of them. Generally, my poems have a long gestation. I tend to mull them over while doing other things: gardening, walking, cleaning the bathrooms. Crocheting.Continue reading
Category Archives: Blog
Which comes first – the chicken or the egg?
How does the formulation of a poem begin? With an idea, an image, a phrase, a subject, a feeling, a memory, a structure?
I’ve been thinking about this question in relation to my own writing. Unsurprisingly, there is no single answer. On rare occasions a poem plops almost fully formed into my head (inconveniently, this tends to happen in the middle of the night). The trick then is to capture it, to write it down before it flits off and disappears like a migrating bird.Continue reading
100 letter tiles – the joy of Scrabblegrams
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
Counting and Rhyming – two traditional poetic forms
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.Continue reading
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 isContinue reading
Turning in circles – the Tritina
Repetitions are a feature of many established poetic forms – the triolet, pantoum, 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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
Routes through a poem
Sometime during the fourth century, in northwest China, a woman named Su Hui picked up her silk thread and embarked on an embroidery project. The result was an extraordinary work of visual poetry – a grid of 29 x 29 characters, shuttle-woven on brocade to form a palindrome poem that would become known as Xuanji Tu, or the ‘Star Gauge’.Continue reading