Wednesday 21 November 2012


Why they’re looking demonic – above, the entire staff of CBe – is because they’re overworked, tired, down to focusing on one thing, which is not what I need from them.

Meanwhile, there was the small-press event at the London Review bookshop last week, packed out: see Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves Press on this.

Meanwhile, though I broadcast a need for paid sales/marketing help here and on Facebook a week or so back, and that thing was variously tweeted and re-tweeted, not a single response. Which kind of proves the point. But moves are afoot.

Meanwhile, CBe books will be in a pop-shop off Portobello Road from 10 December organised by Julian Rothenstein of the Redstone Press (you know, the diaries; but more than that). More on this in a newsletter when I get round to it.

‘Meanwhile’ used to be a word that Mark Ford used a little too often – a back-stop, a stop-gap – in his poems that rightly refused to rely on narrative or the other obvious ways of moving from here to there, but now less so.

Meanwhile, yesterday I was in Oxford for a reading at the Albion Beatnik bookshop – which has put on a readings programme that puts far bigger places to shame – by one writer (Richard Gwyn) CBe has published this year, one (Patrick Guinness) CBe will publish next year, and one (Philip Morre) whose book CBe has designed and typeset.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I seem to have committed to a 2-hour workshop on academic writing, a genre which, the more I’ve come into contact with (over the past couple of months, as an RLF Fellow), the more I flinch from. We shall start with a couple of poems.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Cusp, published by Shearsman and edited by Geraldine Monk. From the blurb: ‘a collective autobiography’ of ‘a brief era which, in retrospect, was exceptional in its momentum towards the democratisation and dissemination of poetry’; that era being located ‘between World War II and the advent of the World Wide Web’. The North, the Midlands, Wales, the South-west (not London/Oxbridge). I haven’t finished it. There’s some sloppy writing and there’s some good writing (a fine essay by Peter Riley). That’s not quite the point. The point is to do with a number of people from a dun-coloured background (the 11-plus, engrained sexism, not an aubergine in sight) finding a way through (exceptional teachers, independent bookshops, libraries) into the excitement of reading and writing. They meet by chance, form groups and start magazines and presses and split apart (‘the difference is still the same: the old versus the new, the safe versus the experimental, the formal versus the expansive. The strain finally breaks the group …’: Tim Allen) and start from base again. Pound and W. C. Williams score heavily in the index. The avant-garde, as is pointed out more than once, can be as conservative as the mainstream, but there was a collective energy here, veering between abrasive and comfy in its oppositional stance, that makes for an instructional read. Fun, too.

Meanwhile, the TSE shortlist and the Costa shortlist and no comment. For starters, Armitage’s Death of King Arthur is billed as a translation on the title page and shouldn’t be there for that reason alone, it’s taking up someone else’s place, even besides that for all the Armitage brio it’s a dull, dull, archaic poem, leave it to the scholars. And the Poetry Book Society really does need a shake-up. For example, the idea of a book fair bringing together, inclusively, poetry publishers from across the UK – a no-brainer, and their remit, and they have an office and staff – why did they leave it to unpaid amateurs? Just saying. Why – it’s theirs on a plate if they want it – have they shown no interest at all in pulling it into what they do? And playing with it. Doesn’t have to be London: Norwich next year, then Birmingham, then X and then Y. It’s how it used to be done. No comment.

Meanwhile, I forgot to say in my record of the first dream in the last post that my children were constantly barging in during the phone call, and when I told them to clear out they went downstairs and hammered on the piano directly underneath my desk. There is no piano.

Meanwhile. The things that are happening off-stage, in the dark.


Ms Baroque said...

You're wonderful.

Judi said...

I used to dream of the 11-plus. It was dunner than dun. But I had a good poetry teacher at my northern comprehensive.

Anonymous said... looking set of publishers i've ever seen.....and not a drink in sight, apart from their water bowl...

Anonymous said...

Have you approached the Poetry Book Society directly about the fair?

And their automatic inclusion of the quarterly choices in the TS Eliot shortlist needs reconsidering.

I was at the LRB small press event last week. Ross Bradshaw's summary is accurate. I was slightly disappointed at the small-press stock on show - only a couple from CB Editions, for example. Surely would have been a good occasion to flog a few...although much of the audience was probably a seller/writer than a buyer.