There's been a bit of a hoo-ha on social media this month about reviews (yes - the definition of the poetry world IS a knife fight in a telephone box). I've just delivered three pamphlet reviews for The North This is the first time I've written formal reviews, though they're not at all formal really. It seems to me that some reviewers are more concerned to display how clever they are rather than appreciate and share pleasure in a poet's work, Why would you write about work that you neither enjoy nor respect? What I aimed to do is share my enjoyment of poets who don't necessarily have a high profile and might be overlooked and I've taken good advice to review only work I like. When you're starting out it's a great boost to receive a thoughtful review - to have written proof that someone has read you with attention.
This month, I was very privileged to take part in a four-day residential, the Linklater Method voice coaching workshop, up in beautiful, if rainy, Herefordshire. Eight of us were awarded a place under a scheme run by the Ledbury Festival, funded by the Fenton Arts Trust. It was such a pleasure to spend time with fellow poets, Maya Chowdry, Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Jenny Danes, Ailbhe Darcy, Shauna Darling Robertson, Chloe Garner and Kim Moore, gently guided well out of our comfort zones by the phenomenally energetic and supportive Francoise Walot. I had the idea that, as reading aloud is an intrinsic part of the way I write, if I could learn to be more limber with my voice it might help clear those hesitations and blocks that intervene between the thought and the writing down. It certainly made me re-think some poems.
Roy Fisher's The Dow Low Drop (Bloodaxe), Kim Moore's The Art of Falling (Seren), and Jacqueline Saphra's All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press).