Spring is definitely springing, and although we might seem to have
gone quiet recently, rest assured that it's all going on behind
closed doors. Andrew, Amy and guest editor Carolyn Jess-Cooke have
been debating and finalising their choices for the upcoming issue
five, and everyone who submitted should hear from us very soon, if
you haven't already, as to whether you've been successful.
The rest of us Dogs have had some top secret cover previews and
tantalising tasters trickling through by email, and I'm happy to
confirm that it's going to be what we seem to specialise in creating:
a cracking issue full of sparky, thought-provoking and energetic
poetry. We can't wait to read it in its full printed glory! If you
can't either, then why not subscribe,
and be one of the first to receive it, direct to your
like to help us celebrate - and we really do hope you do! - then
we'll be launching the next issue at the Live Theatre in Newcastle on
9th May. All the details about the event are below.
But, in brief, there will be poetry, and prizes!
Keep scrolling down for a mini writing workshop and a brief interview
with Jake Campbell, as well as a small roundup of what a couple of us
are reading at the moment. Enjoy.
Sophie F Baker and The Butcher's Dogs
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An exercise here adapted from one by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux
in their book The
Poet's Companion, A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry.
The workshop was originally written after a poem by Carolyn
Forché called 'The
Having recently encountered Forché's stunning and powerful work
thanks to her visits to the UK for The Poetry Society's annual
lecture and, more recently, readings at StAnza and NCLA, it seems
impossible to be able to write like her. But this take on a
family-inspired poem is, perhaps, a good way to capture something of
her approach into your own work.
Make two lists: one headed 'good'
and one 'bad'. Write down some of your own traits that your
children (whether you actually have any or not) might
inherit: some that are good and some that you hope they
Use these lists
a poem addressed to these possible children.
Steal Forché's structure to help you form the poem: “You
blame me for... But you'll be glad...”
Include something specific
that they would know about, too: a holiday destination, a
hospital or a family recipe.
We’re revisiting one of our favourite venues in the Toon for an
extra special launch event for issue five. Featuring, as ever,
readings from some of our fabulous contributors, issues for sale
and blackout poems and prizes. Details of who will be reading at
the event will be available soon - keep your eyes peeled online!
It seems we've started a bit of a tradition in the vein of the Radio
4 interview programme 'Chain Reaction' of late. Here's the next
instalment, a mini interview with Jake Campbell.
you think Butcher’s Dog is a good place for writers to send
reasons! Firstly, and I think most importantly, all of the founding
editors really, really love poetry. We enjoy discovering new poets as
well as featuring more established ones, but above all, we just
bloody well love publishing the best material we can. Secondly, our
ever-popular guest editor scheme has added a real vitality to the
magazine, without compromising on what I would say has become an
enviable and recognisable house style. I think keeping one eye on our
roots and another on the future is what makes us distinctive and
allows us to publish an eclectic range of voices. Thirdly, our
magazine looks and feels the absolute business. We really take pride
in making it something people want to physically grasp and look at.
Using great contemporary artists for our cover designs definitely
helps, as does the overall tactile quality of the magazine – each
issue is like a mini anthology: bespoke and carefully-crafted, but
also risky, fresh, alive. We really seek that special sense of
uniqueness in each edition. (Submissions
for issue six will open soon!)
other poetry or literary magazines do you rate and read, and what is
it about them that you like?
poems in Brittle
Star and Under
the Radar recently, both of which I think are terrific
little magazines that mix poetry, fiction and reviews really well.
Online, I think The Ofi Press is amazing in its scope and ambition,
and I constantly come back to The
Rialto as a benchmark of quality.
you, personally, working on right now?
finishing off the manuscript for my second pamphlet, The Coast Will Wait
Behind You. It started life when I worked on a big public
arts commission in South Shields in 2012, but has since morphed to
include newer poems based around a project I’m currently working on
out on the Sefton Coast between Liverpool and Southport. I’m hoping
to get it out in the late summer, as a sort of bespoke artist’s book,
but in poetry pamphlet form. Watch the tide times for more...
poetry scene looking from where you are?
healthy! I moved to the North West about 18 months ago, and I would
say that the North is definitely alive and kicking. The ‘scene’ – If
I can call it that – is pretty small over in Chester, but I try to
get to things in Liverpool and Manchester, and also North Wales,
which has a rich heritage of poets, particularly in the oral
tradition, which are being played and experimented with in
interesting ways. At my heart, though, I’m still a Geordie and I
really do think the North-East literary and poetry scenes are the
best in the country. The Bloodaxe Archives project at Newcastle
University is fascinating, and I constantly hear about new voices
emerging on the spoken word scene and through small presses such as
Red Squirrel. Nationwide, I think organisations like the Poetry
School and the Poetry Book Society are doing some fantastic work, and
in general I think people support each other. All of which is to say
I think 2015 is looking like a good time to be reading and writing
your favourite joke?
ready to cringe?
A bear walks into a bar.
Bear: “Can I have a gin…
…and tonic please?”
Barman: “Sure. But why the big pause?”
Bear: “*Waving paws* Because I’m a bear!”
reading a lot of fantasy or historical (fantasy) fiction, including
Brandon Sanderson's The
Way of Kings and, on the recommendation of George
RR Martin (and in anticipation of the new series of Game of Thrones), The Iron King by
Maurice Druon, Book 1 of The
Accursed Kings. Also, I've recently finished The Invisible Library
by Genevieve Cogman. A great fantasy SF debut that I hope has a
follow-up soon. Plus, as an anecdote to all that heady
prose, some poetry in the shape of Rosemary Tonks's Bedouin of the London
Evening and Finuala Dowling's Notes From the
Dementia Ward. Fantastic, surprising and powerful stuff
Forward Book of Poetry 2015. Much as I find Jeremy
Paxman an irritant in the run-up to the general election, his advice
to a young reporter (retold in his introduction to the Forward Book
of Poetry 2015)makes me forgive him a little – ‘read a poem every
day’. Even if you’re not a poet there’s something about the urgency
of poetry, the immediacy of it that can really strengthen your
writing. Besides, there are worse habits to pick up than a
daily dose of poetry (picking your nose and eating it, for one).
I’m also about to (re)read: Wyrd
Sisters by Terry Pratchett. The first time I read
‘Through the fathomless deeps of space swims the star turtle Great
A’Tuin, bearing on its back the four giant elephants who carry on
their shoulders the mass of the Discworld’, I was hooked, and I
spent most of my late teens and early twenties with my head in the
Discworld (the real world was a bit shitty and dull in comparison
to be fair). I loved the completeness of the universe created, I
loved the way the corrupt politicians got what they deserved, I
loved how much it made me laugh and above all I loved the
characters. So, I’m going to do what so many other fans having been
doing since Sir Terry Pratchett died, I’m going to grab a
well-thumbed copy from my shelf and inhabit the Discworld again.
appeals from our friends
Submissions: Deseeded Vol. 3
Do you remember those
workshops where you're told to write what you know? Well, stuff that. Julia
the right idea… find out
School summer programme is now open or bookings. There are
some great online courses as well as face-to-face workshops,
Poetic Chaos with BD4 contributor Steve Ely, and an online
reading group ‘Out of
the ash I rise’ – reading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, with Clare
Pollard - who is also one of the tutors on the brand new Poetry School MA in
Writing Poetry. This exciting MA was launched in
partnership with Newcastle University. You ca find out more on the CAMPUS