Monthly Archives: December 2008

John Siddique reading

John Siddique reads his poem, “Cheap Moisturiser”, for Oxfam here.

John reads “Yes” here and “Simple Economics” here.

John Siddique with Tigran Alekanyan recorded live at The Barbican here.

John in the classroom reading, “War”, a poem written by 5A here.


Read more about John Siddique on the Poetry International Web.

Read a BBC interview with John here.


Order John’s poetry collection, The Prize (Rialto), here.

Order Four Fathers (Route Publishing), stories from Ray French, James Nash, Tom Palmer and John Siddique here.

Order John’s collection, Don’t wear it on your head, don’t stick it down your pants – Poems for Young People (Inscribe/Peepal Tree) here.

Order John’s poetry collection, Poems from a Northern Soul (Crocus Books), here.

Recital – An Almanac, John’s newest collection will be published by Salt in 2009.

The Zen of Seeing

“Everyone thinks he knows what a lettuce looks like.  But start to draw one and you realise the anomaly of having lived with lettuces all your life but never having seen one, never having seen the semi-translucent leaves curling in their own lettuce way, never having noticed what makes a lettuce a lettuce rather than a curly kale.”

– Frederick Franck, The Zen of Seeing:  Seeing/Drawing as Meditation

“Poetry is the language of the soul, the lingua franca of dreams”: An interview with Angifi Dladla

Angifi Dladla is a poet, playwright, writing teacher and coach based on the East Rand, South Africa.  His poetry has been published in many anthologies and journals locally and abroad.  In 2003 he was a playwright-in-residence in Geneva, where he wrote Kgodumodumo, a play about the protection of biodiversity and traditional knowledge.  His poetry collection, The Girl Who Then Feared To Sleep, was published in 2001.  In 1988 he founded the Community Life Network, a cultural organisation focusing on community building.  In 1987 he co-founded Bachaki Theatre in Johannesburg.  Their debut play Top Down – The Law of Nature, was the first in the history of South Africa to look into the belly of Bantu Education in the classroom, staff room and the headmaster’s office.

Read the full interview here.

Read more about Angifi here.

Read Angifi’s poems, “Flowers” and “Gathering Pieces”, here.

And more poems here.

Margaret Atwood

“Perhaps I have reached the age at which those who have been through the wash-and-spin cycle a few times become seized by the notion that their own experience in the suds may be relevant to others.  Perhaps I wish to say:  Look behind you.  You are not alone.  Don’t permit yourself to be ambushed.  Watch out for the snakes.  Watch out for the Zeitgeist – it is not always your friend.  Keats was not killed by a bad review.  Get back on the horse that threw you.

– Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead:  A Writer on Writing (Anchor Books, 2003)

Joyce Carol Oates

March 5, 1973.  “[…]  How is a writer to contemplate his critics?  To ignore them, to take them very seriously, to pick and choose among them?  It would be a pity to banish all criticism simply because some of it, or most, is worthless; there are very intelligent, sensitive people writing criticism today.  But just as I don’t read student evaluations of my classes at the University (having been astonished and embarrassed at what I did read:  praise for all the wrong reasons), I think it’s a good general principle not to read most of the criticism and reviews written about me …”

– Joyce Carol Oates, The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973 – 1982 (Harper Perennial)

Patti Smith

“You have to kick doors open yourself.  When people come up to me and say, ‘Patti, nobody wants to hear my CD and I don’t have enough money for equipment,’ I say, ‘Well, get a job, y’know?’  That’s what I did.  You get people who say, ‘The government won’t give me a grant and I can’t do my art.’  I say, ‘Fuck you, it’s your own fault, you expect the government to give you a hand?  The government is corrupt.  Do what it takes.  You do babysitting jobs, you work in the factory, you work in the bookstore or become a pickpocket, y’know?  But whatever. Get a job. ‘ Work is really good for an artist.”

– Patti Smith

Carol Rumens on sestinas and “Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books?”

The sestina is a poetic form that immediately declares itself to the eye.  In the days when it was sung, it must have taken a while longer (say six lines?) for that “aha” moment to dawn on the audience.  But the print-poets still like writing sestinas and finding ways of disrupting expectations.  Despite an inclination to diversify into an over-literary, pun-juggling, postmodern exercise, there have been some great 20th-century examples by, among others, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Anthony Hecht, Marilyn Hacker and Miller Williams.  As a collector of contemporary examples, I was delighted to discover “Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books?” by Kathryn Maris.  It returns to the sestina its original qualities of voice and performance.

Read the full article by Carol Rumens and “Darling, Would You Please Pick Up Those Books?” by Kathryn Maris here.