Sunday, 16 July 2017

2nd Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly May Poetry Competition

Opening my email about twenty minutes ago, I was delighted to discover that my Sonnet 142 has been awarded 2nd Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly quarterly poetry competition. This is the second time Sentinel have seen fit to garland me - my Sonnet 74 was Commended in their February issue - and I am pleased and honoured. I don't think they're due to publish their latest issue until 31 July. When they do, I shall provide thereunto a link. Here, meanwhile, is a link to Sentinel's announcement.

Overall, this means that three of my sonnets have been or are shortly to be published in reputable journals: Sonnets 74 and 142 as per above, and Sonnet 141 is due for publication in the October edition of the French Literary Review. I think that another three or four individual publications will probably suffice for me to release the entire collection.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Two Weddings, a Cricket Injury, Writer's Bleauque, and a Sonnet in the Tradition of Philip Larkin and Wendy Cope

This last month I went to the weddings of two of my brothers, firstly in St Agnes in Cornwall at the end of May, and secondly in Stockholm over that very hot weekend just before midsummer - thankfully it was a bit cooler in Stockholm - 27c? - than back in the UK. The weddings were both fun, but in different ways - sobriety & the keeping of wits vs. wedding-acceptable drunkenness. I drove to my Cornwall brother's wedding, and back home to Bristol on the same day, which necessitated staying sober, and so for the entire day I limited myself to a small glass of Prosecco before the wedding lunch, half as much Rioja with lunch, and later on a couple of very small sips of some kind of gin-based and very pleasant blackberry liqueur. This was in marked contrast to the Swedish stage of the narrative. I got fairly well inebriated at the pre-wedding soiree on the Friday night, which was held in a hotel salon in central Stockholm; and enjoyed a fair amount of wine the next night at the wedding dinner, which was held at the newly-weds' farm house half an hour from the City Centre.

I'm presently recovering from some kind of rib fracture, sustained on a Sunday in early June when I landed very clumsily while wicket-keeping for my club, The Old England, in the North Somerset League. My keeping really isn't what it used to be five years ago. I'm approaching my mid-50's, my eyesight's not getting any better, my reactions have slowed, and I'm half a stone overweight. At least my rib injury is a lot better than it was. I've gone from getting up out of bed being an ordeal to being able to run several miles and lift light weights slowly. Coughing and sneezing still hurt a bit, but not nearly as much. I'm not at all sure about cricket though. I'll be worried about something happening every time I have to dive for the ball.

I've also not been feeling very motivated to write recently. To some extent this is a normal phenomenon for me in my writing cycle - I tend to finish a project, immediately start a new on, and then break off for about six weeks, while feeling slightly pissed off with it all. Eventually, I build up a sort of choleric head of steam, and begin to vent it in the form of light burlesque. The difference this time is that it's taken three months. Hopefully, I'm coming out of this stage at last, because it's really pissing me off now. At least I haven't completely wasted my time, insofar as I've done a lot of reading and re-reading: Trollope, Graham Greene, Edward St Aubyn, Evelyn Waugh, Scott Fitzgerald, and presently Sons & Lovers, with Felix Holt next on the list. I did write a sonnet yesterday, which hopefully augurs a change's being afoot. It's intended as a contribution to the story of Mr Bleaney, which Wendy Cope satirically commandeered from Larkin:-


VI. Mr Bleaney Dies in South Bristol
He, quite alone, with wandering steps and slow,
through Sodom took his solitary way.
The block in Hartcliffe - where the rent was low -
had walls of pebbledash coated in grey.

He hung his coat upon the plastic hook,
and watched quite wearily through dirty glass
the Doberman fouling the football pitch.
At length he sighed, and read again his book,
and scratched distractedly his bony arse.

An interval elapsed. 

He briefly twitched.

The drainage people found him in the end.
A turned down page marked how far he had read.
There was no wake for wizened drinking friends
to speak no ill of him when newly dead.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

In view of last night's resurgence of the idiot left ...

I shall be renewing my Canadian passport, and have this morning been looking at property in Toronto. Un resultat que, lorsqu'on va comprendre la rôle jouée par l'enfance idéaliste, on va appeller le trahison des flocons.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Another Tribute to Leigh Delamere

Again, I'm re-imagining the eponymous M4 service station as a Pre-Raphaelite painter/poet, this time fleshing out some details. Leigh is depicted as a fairly uninspiring if slightly questionable figure, somewhat redeemed by his respect for artistic and literary conventions.

Leigh Delamere, your services include,
some innocently goaty daubs of girls
looking pensive: a tongue pinkly extrudes
from lips; swan neck; a modest string of pearls.
Your services also include some verse,
jejunely allegorical at best
almost insanely mimsy at its worst.
Leigh Delamere, I must confess I jest.
You are, if not particularly good,
at least some sort of formalist, and not
some slam git reading out his shopping list
(back-to-front cap, gratuitously rude).
You’re not, at any rate, part of the rot,
and in a quiet way you will be missed.

I think this really has to be another Trip Advisor Review. I've up-loaded it, and will provide a link if and when it appears.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Corbyn Supports Torturers

Tomorrow, the UK holds a General Election. Given the way the polls have been moving, there is a very real prospect that we will wake up on Friday morning with a Labour government, which is not only characterised by total economic ineptitude, but is also morally compromised by its vocal support for its ideological soulmates in Venezuela.

In this video, Venezuelan lawyer/human rights activist Tamara Suju testifies to the International Criminal Court about the systematic torture inflicted by the Chavez/Maduro regime on its opponents since 2002.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTWXIuoE1R0
So here we have a socialist regime presiding over a country with more oil reserves than anywhere else in the world, where there is no medicine or toilet roll or food, and whose people are being electrocuted and beaten and raped by the authorities.

Unsurprisingly, I'm not alone in being nauseated by Corbyn's 2013 Twitter tribute to the late Hugo Chavez. Just look at some of the responses underneath:-
https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/309065744954580992?lang=en-gb

Sunday, 14 May 2017

My present project:- a single act, five scene play.

I've spent the last few weeks since finishing the sonnets grappling in a desultory way with my next project. A Bad Poet & Worse Neighbours is envisaged as a five scene five part play in iambic pentameter. It's going to be pretty dark and at the same time humorous and hopefully witty. It seems to defy identification with any particular genre. I guess the iambic pentameter format will give it an Elizabethan or Jacobean feel, whereas the grotesquerie could be of those ages but could easily be of later provenance - Hogarthian, perhaps, or more contemporary. The small size of the cast is certainly of a piece with modern theatre.

Progress with the Bad Poet & Worse Neighbours has been rather slow, as it always is at the beginning of a project. So far, I've written about two thirds of the first scene. I've also been reading a few plays - Chekhov and Marlowe so far (bizarre juxtaposition, I realise) although I've just taken delivery of a bunch of Restoration & 18th century stuff + Ibsen. I should have done this before of course. I'm really happy with the way The Senseless Counterfeit happened. All the same, writing a Jacobean revenge tragedy without having read very widely at all in drama smacks of foolishness, even though I got lucky.

I'll elaborate on the Bad Poet at further length once I've made a bit more progress with it

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Now I have written one more than The One ... And a Publication in French

Item (1)

Last Thursday, for the first time ever, I wrote four sonnets in one day. These happened to be numbers 152-155, which meant that I finally beat Shakespeare's 154. I'm presently going through the tiresome process of rewriting all the embarrassingly many efforts that aren't up to scratch, which I guess will take a few weeks. I'll still hold off publishing the 155 as a collection for a little while afterwards, however, as I would quite like to get at least half a dozen or so published independently.

          .......... speaking of which ..........

Item (2)

I'm delighted to announce that Sonnet 141, which has the dubious distinction of being my one and only piece of creative writing in French, has nevertheless been accepted by the French Literary Review for publication this coming October.

Friday, 24 February 2017

My Sonnet 74 Commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly

I'm delighted and proud to announce that the Sentinel Literary Quarterly has commended my Sonnet 74 in their quarterly prize competition. Congratulations to the prize winners, and to my fellow commendees.

I presume that there is some kind of embargo in place against my reproducing Sonnet 74 here. No problem with this whatsoever. Here's a link. You'll find my effort on page 8.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sonnets: a Progress Update

It's been a ridiculously long time since my last post on this blog - three months! I vow to mend my ways.

In particular, the last sonnet I posted was no.76, the Leigh Delamere sonnet which I guerrilla-published as a Trip Advisor review of the eponymous service station. This sonnet, and what I did with it, has made a few people laugh, which is exactly what I hoped for it, it being quite a light-hearted affair.

Since Leigh Delamere, I've written a further 60 sonnets, so I'm now 155-136=19 sonnets from my Shakespeare-rinsing target. Here are a few examples:-

The first one's about Ed Victor, the literary agent.

Sonnet 77
Old Mr Victor’s robbing graves again,
but shall be back anon in Bayley Street
with shrivelled gonads of Amartya Sen
sewn into his exquisite trouser pleat.
Inside his office, on his trophy shelf,
Woolf’s womb, formaldehyded in a glass,
floats next to smirking shrunken head of Self,
wordless for once (and thankfully). Stuffed arse
(a buttock each of Amis père et fils)
does duty as a very tasteful pouffe.
A Welsh oak desk’s mounted on limbs (MacNeice);
and Eliot’s eyeballs stare in mute reproof
from collage painting made of choicest cuts
of Malcolm Gladwell and Kurt Vonnegut.

The next one was written as a good-natured piss-take of colleagues in one of the writing groups I've joined.


Sonnet 85
At tables, separate, in anoraks
we hunch, composing as we decompose,
each skull ballooning with its poison sac,
hatching the tapeworms through each mucoid nose.
Here crouch the fifth rate novelists, and there
the memoir mis’rab’lists. Unclean! Unclean!
The poet, paranoid, balefully glares,
at filth accumulating on her screen.
Abruptly back the playwright scrapes his chair,
stands up and flees crying, “Obscene! Obscene!”
Occasioned now is shift of adipose,
a grunt or two, scratching of bum or back.
We hunch, composing as we decompose
at tables, separate, in anoraks.

This one is about some chaps with huge beards going to the gym.


Sonnet 91
The oarsmen, grunting, heave; and now they row.
Nietzschean Vikings, later on the necks
of monks to whet their blades, erstwhile must go
meek ’mongst the elderly of either sex.
These do not pander to the outward forms
of sage, being garrulous and in the way.
Now Eidur frets and Sven inwardly storms.
They find, downstairs, a fjord. Whereof, coins pay
for heroes, whom its cubits twenty-five
Urd heedlessly, or Skuld, propels along
and back anon. ’Tis writ: we’re not to dive.
Nor are the tunes like Volga Boatmen’s Songs,
but jangling fuckery played far too loud
for Aquaerobic’s geriatric crowd.

The last one is what you might call a meta-sonnet, i.e. it's a sonnet about writing sonnets. Meta-sonnetry can feel a bit self-indulgent, but I still think I got a pretty decent piece of verse out of it. Another curious feature is that the rhyme scheme is what might be thought of as reverse Wyatt; in that the Petrarchan sestet typical of Wyatt comes before the Shakespearean octet also typical of Wyatt..

Sonnet 109
You reach a stage, even with stuff like this
(which some take for an elevated thing),
when it becomes routine and workaday.
Grasp you your speculum. Look into quis
and quod. You’ll find that a canary rings
the change. Marsyas at this point is flayed,
and Najibullah afterwards unmanned.
Habitually, reference is made
to time, involving hour glass and sand,
and how beauty is truth and yet shall fade.
Some guff about doubloons to bevel off.
Lastly, the dedication; this made trite,
as if to mask a snigger with a cough:
“My Lord of Bristol, and his catamite.”

2nd Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly May Poetry Competition

Opening my email about twenty minutes ago, I was delighted to discover that my Sonnet 142 has been awarded 2nd Prize in the Sentinel Literar...