A flying one this week. It’s no news week for me this week – just head down and working flat out. The bank holiday was lovely, but did rather put the moccers on my workload…And that in turn prevented me from seeing an old work colleague that had flown in from Australia. Not to see me specifically, but when you consider how far they’d travelled it was a bit annoying. However, I digress and I grumble too much.
This weekend has been all about stripping…Paint-stripping specifically, and it is slow, laborious but dull work. It has meant I’ve been able to catch up on some podcasts as I strip away at layers of paint in my hallway.
Each one has had lots of interesting things to say, so in the absence of anything else I shall point you to them.
1. Rebecca Goss being interviewed by John Greening. It’s in two parts (part one and part two, because that’s how two-parters work.) This was recorded before her latest book, Latch, came out, but you can here in the podcast the book coming to fruition. I loved lots of what Rebecca had to say about being a poet, about her trajectory to becoming a poet, about learning to fight against defaulting to the same form—in her case it’s couplets and being labelled “deceptively simple”. You can also find transcripts here and here
2. The comedian Steven Wright being interviewed by Conan O’Brien. This is a new podcast to me, but I love Steven Wright’s sense of humour. His one liners are incredible.
For example, “Support bacteria – they’re the only culture some people have.”. See here for a list of 100 or so, and get yourself his albums, ‘I Have a Pony or ‘I Still Have a Pony ‘.
The reason I note this podcast, despite being it just being incredibly funny, is that he describes the 4 rules he set himself when he started out. You’ll have to listen to get them all, but essentially he talks about not doing political, topical material or swearing in his work. The first two help to give his work a timeless quality, and the last one is to help make the work land more. A joke with swearing in can be funny, but if you take the swearing out it makes the line work harder. This may or may not be useful in terms of writing poems. I am on the fence, but see what you think.
3. I finally got my copy of the Poetry Review and read the interview/exchange of letters between Gboyega Odubanjo and Don Paterson. I found myself agreeing with much of what both camps had to say. Read it…Make up your own mind…More fence-sitting from me.
4. The Poetry Review podcast interview between Emily Berry and Mary Rueffle was a late addition to my listening today, but was a welcome addition. Despite seeing her mentioned everywhere (define everywhere, Mat), I didn’t know her work, and she mentioned a deep love for writing letters, so it connects to above…loosely.
5. I may have mentioned once or twice how much of a massive fan I am of The Hold Steady/Craig Finn, and I have lately started tuning into Craig’s podcast about memory and creativity, ‘That’s How I Remember It. The episode with Hanif Abdurraqib was notable for many things, but the one that stood out was his point at the end about ensuring you shout about things you like, about cheer-leading for them in public. I try to do this on the social medias, but it never hurts to be reminded.
6. The Wine Verb. Hot off the press, this was broadcast on Friday and features Ramona Herdman (See here for a Ramona poem, Jane Commane, Angie Hobbs (Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield- AMAZING JOB TITLE) , and wine critic Aleesha Hansel to discuss poems and booze. Also, it has a shout out for the Candlestick Press book, Ten Poems About Wine featuring Jane Commane, Matthew Stewart and many others. Ok, eight more.
Now, to get to the poem part.
I saw an article this week about a plastic-eating bacteria (it wasn’t this specific article, but I can’t find it now, and hey, Newsround is a national institution…John Craven and all that)…I think it was on Tuesday that I saw it. On Wednesday I started reading Rishi Dastidar‘s ‘Neptune’s Projects’. I’ve spoken here about Rishi before, and I suspect he needs little introduction to you, my loyal reader(s). His achievements, projects and poetry-based cheer-leading (that word again) are/is multifarious and far-reaching. He’s a fine reader of his work. And he has a natty line in baseball caps.
I’m pleased to see the Neptune poems out in the world now—have heard some of them at various readings in the last few years – including one of the Rogue Strands nights. I think it was at the King & Queen for Rogue Strands 2: The Roguening.
NB I called the King & Queen recently to enquire about using it as a potential launch venue and they wanted a minimum spend of £500. Oof, not sure that’s doable-even at London prices.
Anyhoo, back to the poem. You’ll soon see why it makes sense to put this.
Top of the food chain
Behold! I am the creature that will
replace you and you and you too,
because I am perfectly adapted to
the biosphere you’ve created, and oh
the irony that you couldn’t adjust
in time, install outboard gills, shields
to skin, harvest blood from seas. My
did you go on, as attested to in the
Anthropocene record that surfaces
from the heat-slime now and again,
and yet you did nothing: sound various
alarms, change damn all. I’m glad: as if
you had some divine lease to stay on
the planet forever. Species come, go,
get over yourselves. I bet the dinosaurs
didn’t want to disappear into kids’ TV either.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Taken from Neptune’s Projects , Nine Arches Press, 2022. Published with the author’s permission.
My thanks to Rishi for permission to share it, and for pointing me towards this video based on the poem.
We need more poems with videos, I think. I will allow this poem to get away with its usage of the word ‘Anthropocene’. It seems to me to be one of the words du jour, but it works in the context of this poem.I could be imagining that though, so we’ll ignore that.
I love the tone of voice of this poem; it fits largely with my (miserable) viewpoint that we are just passing through and that we are like very shit guests at the planetary Air B’n’B. The line ‘sound/ various alarms, change damn all” is particularly poignant in light of reports that we have largely passed the point of no return in ecological terms. I think the use of damn quite neatly fits with Steven Wright’s point about swearing taking away from the point being made. It lands harder.
I put it to you that you’d do well to get a copy of Neptune’s Projects for more like this and lots more besides.
We won’t mention the Arsenal result!!
A Song that is in some vague way linked to something
THE LAST WEEK IN STATS
12K running. A slow week due to work and the like, but my knee is improving now I’ve started trying to stretch my hamstrings.
0 day without cigarettes…
1 day since drinking.
1 oven gone kaput
1 oven being repaired
1 electrician amazed that whoever installed the oven hadn’t killed us
1 furious Mat
1 air fryer borrowed from a friend. Crikey, they are fast.
1 mate and his son completed a
5K charity swim on the same night I think I pulled a groin muscle sitting down to eat a takeaway.
1 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
0 poems worked on: TBC
1 poem committed to the reject pile. The initial joy of last week’s draft has worn off. It wasn’t very good
22 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
83 Published poems
0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 review submitted:
3 reviews to write:
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green
* To date, not this week. Christ!!
Music r= Radio, A = Audiobook, P=Podcast. The rest is music
The Archers (P)
The Verb, Wild Water, Funny Women (P)
Cowboy Junkies: All That Reckoning, At the End of Paths Taken, Ghosts
Laura Stevenson: The Big Freeze
Conan O’Brien: Stephen Wright (p)
The Foxhole Companion: Tobruk double bill (p)
Craig Finn That’s How I Remember It: Alejandro Escovedo (p)
The Archers (p)
Music Is the Drug: Ornette Coleman, A Common Disaster (p)
Akira Kosemura: One Day
Craig Finn: Faith In The Future
Einstellung: Sleep Easy Mr Parker
Craig Finn That’s How I Remember It: The Hold Steady (p)
A Mouthful of Air: Tom Sastry (P)
Cass McCombs: A
Jim Noir: AM Jazz
The Joy Formidable: Aaarth
Brave Captain: Advertisements for Myself
Richie Havens: Alarm Clock
The Breeders: All Nerve
Richmond Fontaine: Safety
The Archers (p)
The Verb: Wine, Sound Design (p)
Cowboy Junkies: Caution Horses.
Mouthful of Air: Cat Jeoffry (P)
Poetry Society Podcast.: Kate Wakeling (P)
Poetry Review Podcast: Mary Rueffle (P)
Rishi Dastidar: Neptune’s Projects
Luke Samuel Yates: Dynamo
Under The Radar: Food
Scandal (Watching R&F watching it)
Laura McKee: Take Care of Your Hooves Darling
Genevieve Carter: Landsick
Ella Sadie Guthrie: poems for Pete Davidson
Andy Jackson: The Saints Are Coming (Thanks, Andy)