16 June 2011

Ambit 2011: The Youth Issue

09 June 2011

New poems 2011: Ambit & JERRY

I've been concentrating hard on some new work this year. That's right - there are things to do apart from hare-watching and Kate Bush-lovin'! I do have a sort of day job as the editor of Scotland's online arts & culture journal (alongside visual arts editor, artist Claudia Massie) New Linear Perspectives. This year has been a magic monster-truck ride for NLP but there is a lot more to come. The submissions keep pouring in, it's a deluge I tell ye.

I've put my translations of Panero's work aside for now - as I am becoming more and more involved in an academic focus on his work, I've decided to let the translations breathe awhile and come back to them at a later date. I just hope he stays put in his sanitorium until the day comes when I can let loose his wild, unfettered, genius vision on an English-speaking world.

This year I've been working on my own poetry, and have six poems coming up for publication this summer. Fanfares on trumpets played by young hares have been sounding up and down the valley.

The first two will appear in Ambit: the Youth Issue. Ambit to most poets is a much-loved publication, run by the indomitable Dr Martin Bax and the stage for many greats to cut their teeth - such as Carol-Ann Duffy (who later became a poetry editor at Ambit), J.G. Ballard and Eduardo Paolozzi. Take a look at the very first issue from the Summer of 1959, which Ambit have posted on their website and which includes a very entertaining foreword from Dr Bax himself.

The first poem is a English-French hybrid that channels the spirit of Maigret whilst acknowledging his later, darker American inheritors. Claudia Massie (who is admittedly biased) calls it "blistering stuff, a sort of noir-hop cauchemar fantasy", which I loved. But who doesn't love a hugely exaggerated compliment from a dear friend. It's so bloody quotable it's untrue. The second focuses on Piers Gaveston, the lover of Edward II, who was given all sorts of favours by his one true love but was eventually beheaded. He is normally represented as a simpering homosexual, and it was up to yours truly to put the record straight.

The other four poems will be featuring in the very excellent JERRY magazine, which is on to its third edition. It is run by Emily Wolahan (a successful poet in her own right) and Ethan Hon, and has already featured some marvellous work. I'm so delighted to be a part of it. Infact, I whooped out so loud the day the email came that the blackbirds flew from the trees like half-mad bullets trying to shoot the moon. All very poetic. Please don't quote me on that.

The poems for JERRY include a whimsical imagining of the great pioneer of wildlife sound recording Ludwig Koch creeping about the set of Sally Potter's film Orlando - a very favourite film of mine. Tilda Swinton, I've been trying to get you interviewed for NLP for months. I draw a line at camping outside your house - for now. But I have an eraser. Others include a paean to another great hero, Allen Ginsberg, and a strangely musical memorial to the victims of the Japanese tsunami. I told myself for days I will not write a memorial poem but it just came out. I am pleased with it, others may not be - but, I ask you - it only lasted on the news for about a day, a much worse and less controversial incident than 9/11 but who is talking about those people now? Nobody. And still the western world bays for Muslim blood. It is at moments like these we need to turn to poetry, methinks.

I've just read Patti Smith's book 'Just Kids' (such an amazing book - well worth a read) about her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. We featured it in NLP not that long ago, take a look. It really took me back to the manifestos of early modernists such as the Futurists who were totally bombastic about what they wanted to achieve through their art, something I feel does not always come across in today's culture, so saturated by the excrement of the global village. Patti and Robert truly believed in their artistic integrity and their artistic mission, and it is through publications such as Ambit (a long-time runner in the race of creativity) and JERRY (a newcomer, but champing at the bit) that these manifestos are achieved. Thanks for that Patti, I didn't realise what a great lady you were.

Is the plural of manifestos MANIFESTI? It should be allowed a run in the English tongue. Expect a few ur-manifesti from this blog forthwith.

Image: 'Saturno devorando a su hijo', GOYA