Keeping a head up, but only a bit


Being a writer receiving a low to middling-low amount of attention, I am thinking tonight about the balancing we always have to try between our grand successes and our Submittable failures (or more, our ‘Withdraw Your In Progress Submission As Results For Said Thing Were Announced’).

#ShareYourRejections but #CelebrateYourAcceptances are great, and I love the solidarity writers are showing to one another by sharing the biggest bollocking you can get as a writer. Not this time. It is a balls that we have to struggle through these muddy years of telling ourselves that the rejections are always called for, that there is so much more we could have done, but balanced with a ‘i-am-worthwhile, i-am-improving, i-can-do-it’ kind of attitude.

My self-esteem-but-not-too-much-of-it is getting cross at me, and doesn’t know what to do with itself.

The machine (mine) is starting to get that sad kind of lazy.

I haven’t played videogames in such a long time.

Painting the Poet: Chords of Inquiry by Anna Loughran

Only a dark cocoon, before I get my gorgeous wings
and I fly away. Only a phase, these dark café days.”
— Joni Mitchell 
‘The Last Time I Saw Richard’

Chords of Inquiry, Anna Loughran. The Lifeboat Press, £6.50


What better way to start a pamphlet of poems than with the knowledge that chords of inquiry is a term Joni Mitchell coins in place of a suspended chord (i.e. when a major or minor third is omitted in place of a perfect fourth). A carefully chosen title, I think, given the poems to follow. Something that piqued my (musical) ears regarding this title is the potential for a suspension to not resolve itself; this tension is the clay Anna Loughran uses to sculpt poems. For sure, in Joni’s vein, these poems have a question mark skating through the pamphlet as a whole. An at once serious, moody question mark and in another shade, a light, playfully inquisitive one.

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The Art of Goodbye: Crucial Texts (1)

(Tom Burke and Helen McCrory in the National Theatre’s recent run of The Deep Blue Sea)

The Deep Blue Sea, Terrence Rattigan (1952)

The action passes during the course of a day in September in the sitting-room of a furnished flat in the north-west of London.  

Perspective shifting book number one. The Deep Blue Sea is a gloriously crafted play by Rattigan. Set in post-war Britain, Hester Collyer is embroiled in a fiery affair with an ex-RAF pilot (Freddie); a sharp, passionate man in whom Hester finds a passionate, carnal reciprocation that she is denied in her marriage to a high-court judge (Collyer). The poignant autobiographical influence of this play is clear. Rattigan’s lover, Kenny Morgan, committed suicide by gassing himself before a fireplace, and the tableau vivant greeting audiences is the leading actress attempting the same thing.

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Reflection (1)

[Beginning a series of minute posts that examine certain poems in detail, forming a thought diary of what I’m reading as I trawl through poems by the bucket-load. Not a guarantee that all poems contained within one discrete post can be linked, just what is occupying my brain space.]


And Soul by Eavan Boland

Smooth Horizon of the Verb Love by Nicole Brossard

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Where does the past belong? Where does the poet belong?: I had some very slight concerns by Susannah Dickey

Susannah Dickey, I had some very slight concerns (The Lifeboat Press £6.50)

“I concentrate on finding someone to take home so my bed looks less empty, less like the blank back pages of a photo album: the ones that come when you run out of things worth remembering.” –

from ‘It’s easy to think someone’s beautiful once they are dead’

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The excerpt above is extracted from the first of the seven poem pamphlet by Susannah Dickey, I had some very slight concerns, a lengthy prose poem in two main stanzas. An interesting opener, the poem depicts a “beautiful girl” drifting bars to bar “carrying albums filled with pictures of her dead grandparents…pictures black and jaundiced sepia”.

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Some thoughts on ‘On Chesil Beach’

Image result for on chesil beach film

[A beautiful image: Florence (Saoirse Ronan) sitting along a stretch of beach on a rotten rowboat, entirely alone; as the camera pans back, Edward (Billy Howle) slowly approaches — in another shot, he is strikingly turned away. More striking, is the quiet dignity in Florence’s face…]

I had trepidation going to see On Chesil Beach. Despite the dire turn McEwan has taken in recent years regarding his literary output, On Chesil Beach is one of my favourite books I’ve read over the past few years. An extraordinarily concise, contained novella depicting a couple on their wedding night, on the *brink* of the sexual revolution of the 60s, who lack the very vocabulary to describe how they feel, how they urge (or don’t) and how to save themselves, their relationship and one another. I fretted awfully, a white wine in hand, that the very insular nature of the novel would be lost somehow in this film adaptation, directed by Dominic Cooke.

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Review — Fan-Poetry/Fic: Who Is Mary Sue?

Sophie Collins, Who Is Mary Sue? (Faber £10.99)

“- Your breath smells like peaches.

– Can you give me something for the pain?” — from ‘Eight Phrases’

Who Is Mary Sue? is haunted by countless figures; a nameless female writer; the eponymous O from Réage’s Story of O, ‘Mary Sue’ herself, even nothingness (in the plenty blank pages that abound, poor trees) to name a few. The book, Collins’ debut, features poems ranging from minute lyrics, extensive prose poems to found poems/reportage lifted from interviews. The spine of the text lies in the ways Collins grapples with the term ‘Mary Sue’, I quote:

“Coined by Paula Smith in 1973, ’Mary Sue’ is a pejorative term used by writers and readers of fan fiction to describe protagonists who are believed to be thinly disguised versions of the fan fic author’s idealised self.

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