Monthly Archives: December 2009

Thank you for 2009

“On those evenings when I need to fall in love with my life again, I step out the door, down the front steps, and past the iron gate that surrounds our town house. For emphasis, I slam the gate and listen for the clang that reverberates, travelling down each iron post.
I’m outside my life now, a visitor at the gate.”
– Rebecca McClanahan, Word Painting
(Writers Digest Books, 2000)
May 2010 bring you everything you need and may you look at life with new eyes.

Cocktail hour with Liz Gallagher

Liz Gallagher by Vladi Valido

Liz Gallagher was born and brought up in Donegal, Ireland. She has been living in Gran Canary Island for the past 14 years. She has an Education degree and a Computer Science degree. She is at present doing research for her doctoral studies. She began writing about five years ago and has won a variety of awards in both Ireland and the US: Inclusion in the Best New Poets 2007 Anthology (Meridian Press, Virginia University), First Prize in The Listowel Writers’ Single Poem Competition 2009 and she was selected by Poetry Ireland for their 2009 Introductions Series in recognition of her status as an emerging poet.

The Wrong Miracle (Salt Modern Poets, 2009)

Liz, welcome to Johannesburg and cocktail hour at peony moon.  It’s been a heady experience following The Maximus Miracle Tour.
I hope something on the menu tickles your taste buds.  We have Absinthe, Acapulco Sunrises, Alabama Slammers, Alchemist’s Punch, Banshees, Barry Whites, Bitches Brew, Fuzzy Navels, Beijing Mules, Blueberry Martinis, Screwdrivers, Sex on the Beach, Singapore Slings and, of course, Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters.
Hi Michelle, it is wonderful to be here in South Africa.  It’s my first time and I know it will be an experience to remember.  Thanks so much for having me and for preparing such an interesting cocktail menu.  Some of these drinks are just too irresistible, so I shan’t even try.  Thanks, Michelle, all of my cocktails I love shaken but not stirred.

A favourite 'living on the edge' house along Las Palmas promenade

I see you have your photo album tucked under your arm.  Tell me something about your life in the Canary Islands.
Well, we live in the country in a protected valley.  We have a little tumbledown farm that we are looking after and renovating very slowly!  We both work as English Teachers in the Aula de Idiomas in Las Palmas University in the afternoons which is nice as we avoid all rush hour traffic to the city.  The light and spring-like weather practically all the time make it a very pleasant place to live.  The Canarian people are very sociable and outgoing and thus there are always things happening on the island from WOMAD  to the Las Palmas International Film Festival and of course there are always local festivals of song and dance to celebrate grape picking, olive picking, almond picking, water festivals, mud festivals … literally you name it, and they have a festival for it.
It is nice having the mornings free as I either write or study for an hour or two and then go to the farm with our dogs.  The quietness and sense of calm in the country contrasts with the very energetic busy atmosphere of the villages and cities.  All in all, it is a nice place to live in and it lends itself very well to hibernating and escaping the world which suits me fine, at times. I feel very lucky to be here and remind myself not to take it for granted.

Man Imitating Nature

Would you describe your writing process, Liz.
I usually write early in the morning and quite often take part in daily writing challenges with fellow poets to help get motivated.  I normally get inspired by a line or phrase and go where that takes me.  I sometimes write in white text into the screen for a timed period of maybe anything from ten minutes to 30 minutes.  This usually takes the form of what I like to call ‘mental-rioting’ as explained in TFE’s interview:
“The idea of writing in white font is to temporarily avoid Ms. Inner Critic who is usually on 24/7 duty casting an eye on what has been written, she will have her time to do that in the next re-drafting stage but for the tentative beginnings of a poem, I like to give free reign to whatever is in my head.  The first draft usually contains the absolute bones of where the poem is going and where it has landed.  I usually leave the first draft aside for a few weeks and then return to it to view it anew.  My revision usually deals with cutting excess and such like and tweaking here and there by substituting words and phrases but the basic thought and sentiment of the poem remain the same.”

The Three Wise Men on Canteras Beach, Las Palmas

The royalties from The Wrong Miracle sales are going to Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity).  Tell me about the support services Sands offers to those affected by the death of a baby.  How can people get involved?
Sands have a website here.  There are so many different ways to support Sands.  On their website, they outline some very practical ways, and they say the following:
“The death of a baby is a devastating experience.  The effects of grief can be overwhelming, and in the early hours and days parents can be left feeling dazed, disorientated, isolated and exhausted.  It can be hard to take in information, to make decisions or to imagine how you are going to cope.  At Sands there are people who understand what it’s like because many of us have been through this experience ourselves, and we are here to offer support and information when you need it.
Early moments of loss  There are choices you can make about what happens to your baby and to you in the early hours and days of their death.  These decisions, whether they involve keeping momentos of your baby or decisions about naming your baby, can have an impact on how you will feel about this time in years to come.  You may want to talk to someone or read about the feelings of other parents who have been through the same experience.
Important practical information   There are some things that you may have to do after your baby dies including registering your baby’s death and deciding about a post mortem and funeral. In this section we also include information about your post-natal check as well as any benefits you may be eligible for.
A bereavement journey  We understand that the death of a baby is not a one-off event but an emotional journey, that affects every aspect of your life. In this section we look at issues such as going home and back to work, thinking about a new baby, and remembering your baby in the years to come.
Family and friends  As well as supporting mothers and fathers, we are also here to help other members of your family, especially other children you may have and grandparents. Many people may be touched by your baby’s death, whether they be close friends or relations, and all are welcome to contact us for support and information.
Second trimester loss  Your baby may have died during its 2nd trimester. The death of a baby can happen to any one of us at any stage and Sands aims to provide support no matter what your situation.
Talk to someone  You may want to talk to someone who can listen to how you feel or can help you think through what you want to do.  You can do this by calling our national helpline or by exchanging experiences via our forum.  It may help to hear the stories of other bereaved parents in our personal experiences section, from our list of publications, or indeed from the various articles and media which have covered the issue of baby loss. We have a network of over 90 local groups around the UK and you may want to find out whether there is one close to you, or indeed you may prefer to find other support links – listed here in alphabetical order.”
Michelle, you asked how people can become involved. Here are a few of the ways:
Becoming a member
Getting involved with fundraising
Raising awareness
Thanks very much for asking about Sands, Michelle.  It’s great to have an opportunity to highlight what they do. 
Thanks also for being a great hostess and having me on your blog.  The cocktails added to the festive spirit.  I’ll be taking note of a few of the recipes to host a similar occasion when I get back to the Canaries.  I have enjoyed the experience.  Happy Festive Season to you and yours, Michelle, and lots of best wishes for the New Year.
Thank you for your whirlwind visit, Liz.  All the best for the rest of The Maximus Miracle Tour and I look forward to keeping in touch next year.

Cacti burst

Tim Turnbull’s Caligula on Ice and Other Poems

Tim Turnbull

Tim Turnbull grew up in North Yorkshire, lived in London in his thirties and now resides in Perthshire. His latest collection Caligula on Ice and Other Poems is available from Donut Press.
Tim Turnbull

After that nasty goat business
he screwed his profile down,
plucked all his warts, sold off the bridge
and moved into a flat in town,
found himself a decent tailor,
an innovative cutter
who could disguise his lumps and humps,
then to stop the snarls and splutters
took some elocution lessons;
saw to his deportment;
found the private members’ clubs
where a better social sort went,
learnt the art of modish small talk,
how to flatter or to charm
with just a smidge of erudition
or great big bucket-loads of smarm;
who to ignore, who to trample,
when be early, when be late,
when reveal his brutish nature
in order to intimidate
and armed with these new social skills
he launched into the world
to make himself a better gnome
by getting status, cash and girls.
He took a job in publishing,
PR or some such-like
and shimmied up the slimy pole,
scaled to mildly giddying heights,
till with his air of seriousness
and his grave demeanour,
he won the reverence from his peers
you might give to a hyena.
But look into his gimlet eyes,
they’re wells of boiling rage.
He hardly can contain himself
inside that well groomed, urbane cage.
Which begs the question, doesn’t it,
how such a frightful beast
could make its way so smoothly
in the business world when it’s unleashed?
The answer’s pretty obvious,
and not a little grim –
the whole of London is awash
with semi-housetrained trolls like him.
Published in the StAnza anthology,
Skein of Geese (The Shed Press, 2008),
edited by Eleanor Livingstone.
Buy Caligula on Ice and Other Poems (Donut Press, 2009).
Visit Tim’s website.

Caligula on Ice and Other Poems

Cover design by Liam Relph, based on the artwork Repository (2009) by W. Hunt.

'The Raffish Look'

Cocktails and Miracles

Make a date to join the charming Liz Gallagher, author of The Wrong Miracle (Salt Modern Poets, 2009), for cocktail hour (or the whole day) on 17 December 2009.
The Maximus Miracle Tour is now well under way. If you need to catch up with what’s been happening, here are Liz’s tour dates and hosts:
28 October 2009 – Event Museum, Arlene Ang
5 November 2009 – The Art of Breathing, Brenda Nixon
12 November 2009 – Women Rule Writer, Nuala Ní Chonchúir
19 November 2009 – The People’s Lost Republic of EEjit
3 December 2009 – More about the Song, Rambling with Rachel Fox
10 December 2009 – Savvy Verse & Wit, Serena M. Agusto-Cox
14 December 2009 – Savvy Verse & Wit, Serene M. Agusto-Cox II
17 December 2009 – Cocktails at peony moon
2 January 2010 – Theory of Iconic Realism, Jeanne Iris Lakatos
11 January 2010 – The Truth about Lies, Jim Murdoch
Liz will be chatting about her life in the Canary Islands and her writing process. She’ll also tell us a little more about Sands: Stillbirth & neonatal death charity, the organisation which is receiving the royalties from sales of The Wrong Miracle.
In the meantime, here’s what people having been saying about
The Wrong Miracle:
“Liz Gallagher’s poems seize us from the first line and tug us along, startled and exhilarated by the tumbling originality of her words.”
– Laurie Smith, Magma
“Whether about an untranslated paragraph on shooting ducks or breakfast cereals, Picasso and a sexual snap, Liz Gallagher’s poems are proof that everyday movements generate power and magic. The Wrong Miracle is the work of a master illusionist – a fusion of the surreal and the domestic, the strategic and the spontaneous – where perception is challenged and subtly reinvented.”
– Arlene Ang, The Pedestal Magazine
“These are poems that may surprise: sprinkled with humour and vivid word pictures. The verbal twists take you by a friendly matter-of-fact hand to show you other truths. Liz Gallagher owns a true poet’s eye for detail paired with a flair for oddly compelling juxtaposition. Her poetry wants to show you this other thing it has found, like a cat displaying its catch. (as in her poem) ‘Just look what the cat dragged in’.”
– Barry Harris, Tipton Poetry Journal
“Long lines with suprising phrases and rushing, tumbling images mark the narrative trend of Liz Gallagher’s poetry. The poems lean into the strength of these narratives, rely upon the poet’s willing experimentation with varietal voice, and in so doing, create a distinctive diction – one with instrospective vision that bubbles out of earthy perception, like a choice mineral spring.”
– Eve Anthony Hanninen, poet, writer, artist & editor
of The Centrifugal Eye
Liz blogs at Musings.
Order your copy of The Wrong Miracle here.

I Would Like to Describe

'Coiled Creature of the Night' (from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope)

“we fall asleep
with one hand under our head
and with the other in a mound of planets”
– Zbigniew Herbert
from ‘I Would Like to Describe’ by Zbigniew Herbert,
The Collected Poems 1956 – 1998 (Ecco, 2007)

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Eight

Leanne O’Sullivan
Train to Gorey by Liz O’Donoghue (Arlen House)
The Last Geraldine Officer by Thomas McCarthy (Anvil Press)
The Sun-fish by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Gallery Press)
Janet Sutherland
Conversation with Murasaki by Tom Lowenstein (Shearsman Books)
The son by Carrie Etter (Oystercatcher Press)
A Sleepwalk on the Severn by Alice Oswald (Faber & Faber)
Jo Hemmant
Beneath the Rime by Siriol Troup (Shearsman Books)
Furniture by Lorraine Mariner (Picador)
Facing the Public by Martina Evans (Anvil Press)
The Handless Maiden by Vicki Feaver (Jonathan Cape, reissue)
Christine Swint
Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno
(Alice James Books)
The Bible of Lost Pets by Jamey Dunham (Salt Modern Poets)
Sassing by Karen Head (WordTech Communications)
Carolee Sherwood
Dearest Creature by Amy Gerstler (Penguin Books)
Displacement by Leslie Harrison (Mariner Books)
Shelter by Carey Salerno (Alice James Books)
Julie Buffaloe-Yoder
Some Misplaced Joan of Arc by Leah Angstman
(Alternating Current Press)
light dark light by Tom Kryss (iniquity press/vendetta books)
Shadow Box by Fred Chappell (LSU Press)
Sally Evans
Chasing the Ivy by Maureen Almond (Biscuit Publishing)
Adrian: Scotland Celebrates Adrian Mitchell,
edited by Chrys Salt & John Hudson (Markings)
Bho Leabhar-Latha Maria Malibran /
From the Diary of Maria Malibran by Christopher Whyte (Acair)
Helen Moffett
Hypen by Tania van Schalkwyk (The UCT Writers Series /
Electric Book Works)
Oleander by Fiona Zerbst (Modjaji Books)
Please, Take Photographs by Sindiwe Magona (Modjaji Books)
Juliet Cook
Moth Moon by Matt Jasper (BlazeVOX Books)
The Ravenous Audience by Kate Durbin (Akashic Books)
shana linda~pretty pretty by Nanette Rayman-Rivera
(Scattered Light Publications)
Heather Ann Schmidt
Watching the Spring Festival by Frank Bidart
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A Civic Pageant by Frank Montesonti (Black Lawrence Press)
Lovesick by Howie Good (The Poetry Press)
Elizabeth Kate Switaj
[+!] by Kane X. Faucher, Matina Stamatakis, John Moore Williams
(Calliope Nerve Media)
stains: early poems by Lori A. May (Bohemian Street Press)
Bone Dream by Moira MacDougall (Tightrope Books)
Claire Keyes
Carta Marina: A Poem in Three Parts by Ann Fisher-Wirth
(Wings Press)
Cheryl & Janet Snell
shana linda~pretty pretty by Nanette Rayman-Rivera
(Scattered Light Publications)
Making Good Use of August by Sherry O’Keefe (Finishing Line Press)
Chaperons of a Lost Poet by John Vick (BlazeVOX Books)
Rachel Dacus
In Praise of Falling by Cheryl Dumesnil
(University of Pittsburgh Press)
Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease,
edited by Holly J. Hughes, foreward by Tess Gallagher
(Kent State University Press)
Thank you to all the generous writers who’ve participated
and to the bloggers who’ve included links on their blogs.
And thank you, readers.

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Seven


Bill Allegrezza
Sonnet 56 by Paul Hoover (Les Figues Press)
Clampdown by Jennifer Moxley (Flood Editions)
The Book of Frank by C A Conrad (Chax Press)
Ren Powell
Carta Marina: A Poem in Three Parts by Ann Fisher-Wirth
(Wings Press)
Stalin in Aruba by Shelley Puhak (Black Lawrence Press)
Then, Something by Patricia Fargnoli (Tupelo Press)
The Mother/Child Papers by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
(University of Pittsburgh Press, reissue)
Amy MacLennan
Fear of Moving Water by Alex Grant (Wind Publications)
A Brief History of Time by Shaindel Beers (Salt Modern Poets)
In the Voice of a Minor Saint by Sarah J. Sloat (Tilt Press)
Pam Thompson
Unexpected Weather by Abi Curtis (Salt Modern Poets)
The Clockwork Gift by Claire Crowther (Shearsman Books)
Relinquish by Meryl Pugh (Arrowhead Press)
Claire Askew
Nothing Unrequited Here by Heather Bell (Verve Bath Press)
Dances with Vowels: New and Selected Poems
by Kevin Cadwallender (Smokestack Press)
Cover Story by Dave Coates (Forest Publications)
Geraldine Green
Poppin’ Johnny by George Wallace (Three Rooms Press)
The Hunt in the Forest by John Burnside (Jonathan Cape)
Inside a Turtle Shell by Robert Savino (Allbook Books)
Roy Woolley
Plan B by Paul Muldoon (Gallery Press)
Rain by Don Paterson (Faber & Faber)
Over by Jane Draycott (Carcanet Press)
Jocelyn Page
Endpoint and other poems by John Updike (Knopf)
Furniture by Lorraine Mariner (Picador)
Weeds and Wild Flowers by Alice Oswald (with etchings
by Jessica Greenman) (Faber & Faber)
Rustum Kozain
Oleander by Fiona Zerbst (Modjaji Books)
Jayne Fenton Keane
Best Australian Poems 2009, edited by Robert Adamson
(Black Inc.)
Amy Key
Chronic by D A Powell (Graywolf Press)
Like This by Diana Pooley (Salt Modern Poets)
Poemland by Chelsey Minnis (Wave Books)

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Six

Matt Merritt
The Ambulance Box by Andrew Philip (Salt Modern Poets)
Sounds in the Grass by Matt Nunn (Nine Arches Press)
The Clockwork Gift by Claire Crowther (Shearsman Books)
Aine MacAodha
The Watchful Heart – A New Generation of Irish Poets –
Poems and Essays
, edited by Joan McBreen (Salmon Poetry)
Listen by Shirley Howard Hall (Victory Graphics & Media)
New Selected Poems 1984 – 2004 by Carol Ann Duffy (Picador)
Heather Fowler
Ka-Ching! by Denise Duhamel (University of Pittsburgh Press)
A Brief History of Time by Shaindel Beers (Salt Modern Poets)
The Dance Most of All by Jack Gilbert (Knopf)
Graham Mummery
The Burning of the Books by George Szirtes (Bloodaxe Books)
The Embrace: Selected Poems by Valerio Magrelli,
translated by Jamie McKendrick (Faber & Faber)
Reaching Out to the World: New and Selected Prose Poems
by Robert Bly (White Pine Press)
Sue Guiney
Cailleach: The Hag of Beara by Leanne O’Sullivan (Bloodaxe Books)
mainstream love hotel by Todd Swift (tall-lighthouse)
Recital by John Siddique (Salt Modern Poets)
A Lope of Time by Ruth O’Callaghan (Shoestring Press)
Fiona Robyn
Broken Sleep by Sally Read (Bloodaxe Books)
Ohio Violence by Alison Stine (University of North Texas Press)
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe
(W. W. Norton & Co.)
Naomi Woddis
Continental Shelf by Fred D’Aguiar (Carcanet Press)
Suckle by Roger Robinson (Flipped Eye Publishing)
a pint for the ghost by Helen Mort (tall-lighthouse)
Dzifa Benson
Bird Head Son by Anthony Joseph (Salt Modern Poets)
Lara by Bernadine Evaristo (Bloodaxe Books)
Jeet Thayil
Poems: 1959 – 2009 by Frederick Seidel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Amy King
Stars of the Night Commute by Ana Božičević
(Tarpaulin Sky Press)
Ben Wilkinson
The Tethers by Carrie Etter (Seren Books)
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Rain by Don Paterson (Faber & Faber)
Angela Kirby
Nowhere’s Far, New and Selected Poems 1990 – 2008
by Phil Bowen (Salt Modern Poets)
Poppy in a Storm-Struck Field by Lynne Wycherley
(Shoestring Press)
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Dara Wier
Barn Burned, Then by Michelle Taransky (Omnidawn Publishing)
The Plot Genie by Gillian Conoley (Omnidawn Publishing)
Lost Alphabet by Lisa Olstein (Copper Canyon Press)
Legend of the Recent Past by James Haug
(The National Poetry Review Press)
Pink & Hot Pink Habitat by Natalie Lyalin (Coconut Books)
The Difficult Farm by Heather Christie (Octopus Books)

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Five

Jody Allen Randolph
Painting Rain by Paula Meehan (Carcanet Press)
Fort Red Border by Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande Books)
Apocalyptic Swing by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (Persea)
Dismantling the Hills by Michael McGriff
(University of Pittsburgh Press)
Patrick Chapman
mainstream love hotel by Todd Swift (tall-lighthouse)
In Sight of Home by Nessa O’Mahony (Salmon Poetry)
a compact of words by rob mclennan (Salmon Poetry)
Ivy Alvarez
One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds (Jonathan Cape)
Cross-Talk by Siobhán Campbell (Seren Books)
To Be Eaten by Mice by Robyn Mathison (Ginninderra Press)
Inua Ellams
Bird Head Son by Anthony Joseph (Salt Modern Poets)
City State: New London Poetry, edited by Tom Chivers
(Penned in the Margins)
Things to do before you leave Town by Ross Sutherland
(Penned in the Margins)
Colin Will
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Rays by Richard Price (Carcanet Press)
The Ambulance Box by Andrew Philip (Salt Modern Poets)
David Floyd
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Charismatic Megafauna by Tamsin Kendrick
(Penned in the Margins)
‘We needed coffee but …’ by Matthew Welton (Carcanet Press)
Hazel Frankel
What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems by Ruth Stone
(Bloodaxe Books)
The Missing by Sián Hughes (Salt Modern Poets)
A Scattering by Christopher Reid (Areté Books)
James Womack
‘We needed coffee but …’ by Matthew Welton (Carcanet Press)
A Scattering by Christopher Reid (Areté Books)
The Song of Lunch by Christopher Reid (CB Editions)
Barbara Smith
The Sun-fish by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Gallery Press)
Occupation by Angela France (Ragged Raven Press)
The Wrong Miracle by Liz Gallagher (Salt Modern Poets)
The Fire Step by Tom French (Gallery Press)
The Treekeeper’s Tale by Pascale Petit (Seren Books)
The Opposite of Cabbage by Rob A. Mackenzie (Salt Modern Poets)
Ruth Ellen Kocher
Arc & Hue by Tara Betts (Willow Books)
Mixology by Adrian Matejka (Penguin)
Kelly Cherry
Shadow Box by Fred Chappell (LSU Press)
News of the World by Philip Levine (Knopf)