I ask you to imagine it’s the 9th Jan for a bit…
(I absolutely meant to publish this last Sunday, but some how contrived to not manage that. Either way, I’m going with it).
Looking out of the window yesterday, Flo said the rain (and it was coming down in stair rods) didn’t look real, like it was film rain.
It reminded me of this poem by Hugo Williams (and we know how awful I am any remembering lines of poems/poems full stop)
Billy’s Rain, Hugo Williams, From Billy’s Rain, Faber
When I’m lying awake, listening to rain
hammering on the roof,
the phrase comes back to me,
our code for ‘Let’s get out of here’.
We were huddled in the back of a van
with the lights, the videotape equipment
and the man with the rain machine.
Why can’t we use the regular rain?’
as rain hammered on the roof.
That’s God’s rain,
It doesn’t show up on film.
We need Billy’s rain for this one.’
When I find myself soaked to the skin, tired,
or merely bored with God’s rain,
the phrase comes back to me.
I’d say it now if I thought you were listening.
Clearly it’s not a poem about the rain at all, but it resonates with me strongly, not least because I’ve spent a lot of time “lying awake” of late. Thankfully, I’ve spent less (none) time huddled in the back of a van. I have it in my head that Billy’s rain involved milk after the story about Singing In The Rain using milk to make the rain stand out in the famous dancing scene. However, I know now that this is not true.
It’s sort of sad that it isn’t, but is also a great testament to the skills of the people involved. While trying to confirm the facts about Billy’s Rain I found this old interview with Hugo. I found this paragraph amusing.
“Williams doesn’t worry – as so many do – about the future of poetry.’I think it’s becoming more of an oral thing again.’ He does readings at a pub nearby. He shows me a programme. One of the other poets, a young woman, is called PP Snatch. He giggles. ‘It’s unbelievable. About 150 people all cheering and booing and winning prizes. But it does influence the way you write. Audiences tend to like funny poems, so you write another funny one.’ But does it matter if the books don’t sell? If publishers contract their already miniature lists? ‘I don’t think it’s ever been any different. People think they love poetry, but actually they hate it. The average punter feels that poetry is too self-conscious. I’m just grateful that I’ve been allowed to stay at home and do it. Oh my God. The idea of an office.’” (My italics)
Alchemy Spoons, Fish and prizes
In the (previous) week that we learned that fish can now drive cars (we should be very afraid. Not least because the phrase a woman needs a man like a fish needs a
four-door hatchback bicycle is now going to be redundant), I was pleased to see a poem of mine published in Alchemy Spoon. It’s about a fish with big ideals. My copy landed on my doormat this (ok last) week. You can get it here or order a copy for yourself.
There was also the launch of the issue a couple of weeks ago, and you can watch that here. I couldn’t make it, and wasn’t asked to read, but it would have been nice to have read with everyone, and to give my poem an outing. It’s one that has been round since I was in my 20s, so I’m glad it’s finally found a home and the right form, etc.
I can tenuously link from that launch to The TS Eliot Prizes because Glyn Maxwell was the featured poet in AS5 and also a judge for the TSE’s.
I’ve not read their work, or any of the books on the list apart from Victoria Kennefick’s so can’t really comment, but hearty congratulations to Joelle Taylor for C+nto & Othered Poems. I do have Jack Underwood’s, and Daniel Sluman’s books, I just haven’t got to them yet.
And while I’m at it, well done to Hannah Lowe for the win with The Kids at the Costas recently too. That’s two books I can get with my Xmas book vouchers.
Right, it’s now 16th Jan
This Sunday is going to be me celebrating the publication of my poem Phantom Settlements over at The Friday Poem. I am overjoyed with the kind words that Hilary and Andy said about it.
“We chose Mat Riches’ poem ‘Phantom Settlements’ as this week’s Friday Poem because we love its playfulness and humour, and his obvious love of language. Riches ranges far and wide to tantalise, amuse and intrigue us, leaving us a trail of clues starting with the title and sub-title. But he demonstrates a deeper intention too, as the poem brings up issues of authenticity and truth. Definitely one for our front page.“
I especially like it as it has a neat symmetry with the poem I mentioned above in The Alchemy Spoon as that has a line in it about ranging far and wide. Well, the final version says “ranged”, but an earlier version said far and wide too. You’ll have to wait for the Complete Poems of Mat Riches to be published after my death to see that though. (Yes, I could just put it up here in a few weeks, but let me dream about a Complete Poems for a bit longer please.)
THE WEEK IN STATS
40K running. So tired, this training lark is hard
3 journeys to Sydenham and back
1 Kettle purchased
0 poems finished:
1 poems worked on: Nature Abhors a Vacuum
2 poems published: The Friday poem & The Alchemy Spoon
30 poems currently out for submission.
72 Published poems*: Was 69, but one was not used in the end, having been accepted.
40 Poems* finished by unpublished
25 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
1 review started: Jeremy Page: The Naming
1 review finished: Holly Singlehurst: The Sea Turned As Thick As Honey
3 reviews to write: How did that happen, I’ve gone from 1 to do to having more…Hmmm
16 day without cigarettes…I have felt both great and awful..
0 Days since drinking
1 sleepless night: This is not a development I approve of
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green
* To date, not this week. Christ!!
Preparing Fresh Oil For our Robot Overlords
Poetry Review: Autumn 21
Jeremy Page: The Naming
Turin Brakes: Lost Property
Pylon: Pylon Box
The Weather Station: Ignorance, Loyalty, ST, What Am I Going To Do With Everything I Know
Charles Rumback: Seven Bridges
Explosions In The Sky: All of A Sudden I Miss Everybody, The Earth Is Not…, Big Bend, Wilderness, Those Who Tell The Truth
Elvis Costello: All This Useless Beauty
Jane Weaver: The Amber Light
BC Camplight: Shortly After Takeoff
Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood
Helda Negro: Far In
Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh & Tyshawn Sorry: Uneasy
Olivia Rodrigo: Sour
J Mascis: Elastic Days, Several Shades of Why, Tied To A Star
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down: We the Common
Olivia Kaplan: Tonight Turns To Nothing
The Low Anthem: Oh My God; Charlie Darwin, The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth of the Sea,
HMHB: Get Your Hedge Cut
Illuminati Hotties: Let Me Do One More
Endless Boogie: Vibe Killer
Mary Lattimore; Collected Pieces: 2015-2020
Judge Sill: Heart Food
Jonathan Richman: Because her beauty is raw and wild
John Prine: Bruised Orange
Joan As Police Woman: The Deep FieldJenny Owen Youngs: An Unwavering Band of Light
Jah Wobble: Chinese Dub
(British) Sea Power: Do you Like Rock Music?, Valhalla Dancehall, Valhalla Dancehall VIP
Sierra Fell: Long Time Coming
Ryley Walker: So Certain EP
65 Days of Static: We Were Exploding Anyway
A Certain Ratio: Mind Made Up
A House: Our Big Fat Merry go Round
Adrian Crowley: When You Are Here You Are Family
American Music Club: California
Arrow Aftab: Bird Under Water
EL Ten Eleven: These Promises Are Videotaped
Ronnie Spector: Siren
Friday Night Lights
Book of Boba Fett
Kiss Me Deadly
Alchemy Spoon 5