Sunday, 9 April 2017

Butcher's Dog newsletter

Here is the latest Butcher's Dog newsletter, featuring Newcastle Poetry Festival, for my followers to peruse:

Alreet, let’s hear it for Spring! Sure, it was snowing here in North Shields only last week but I left the house without a coat and hat this morning, a small victory. I wandered around Northumberland park counting daffodils which brought to mind some Anne Stevenson lines: ‘Spring comes little, a little’…  

There’s so much going doon in the Toon right now. For starters, Butcher’s Dog has undergone some exciting transitions. Alongside new dogs George Aird and James Giddings, I recently joined the editorial pack. Together with support of the unstoppable force that is top dawg Degna Stone, I’m currently longlisting poems for our upcoming ninth issue. We’re delighted to be joined by The Rialto’s contributing editor Ed Doegar and new Assistant Editor, Laura Tansley. Thanks to our anonymous submissions process I can happily say - whoever you are, submitters - your poems are in safe, kind hands.

Now, unless you’ve been in full hibernation mode, you’ll know the North can proudly boast another winner of the prestigious TS Eliot prize. To celebrate, I interviewed Jacob Polley in a special edition of ‘In the Dog House’ to talk about life oop by the coast, indie presses and musical collaborations. We’re also raising a bottle of ale to BD2 poet Bernadette McAloon who scooped up the Flambard Poetry Prize with some stonking poems chosen by Linda France and Andrew Forster late last year - congratulations!

It warms the cockles of my heart to see our region and its poets thriving, so naturally this is a meaty newsletter with lots of exciting news and events. I hope you enjoy reading it and once they've revealed themselves, the poems we shortlist for BD9 - so far, so awesome!

New Dog on the Block,
Jo Clement

Or your lapels, book bags, jumpers, hats. Wherever you place your pins we'd love you to wear one of our new limited run. These swish handmade badges stem from a hearty interest in punk pins.

So howay, proclaim your love for our Northern press and wear the dog with pride! Coming to a magazine launch near you...

Not to be missed. To celebrate their first year in Newcastle, the Poetry Book Society is co-hosting the Northern Poetry Symposium with NCLA at Sage Gateshead. There will be lively debates, inspirational talks and panel discussions, featuring leading figures from the poetry industry, including: National Poetry Day's Executive Director, Susannah Herbert; Bloodaxe's Founder and Editor, Neil Astley; StAnza Poetry Festival Director, Eleanor Livingstone; Carcanet's Managing and Editorial Director, Michael Schmidt; CEO of Poet in the City, Isobel Colchester; Erica James, Managing Directors of the Poetry Translation Centre; Donald Futers, Penguin Poetry Editor and Picador's Poetry Editor, Don Paterson.

Click the banner above to find out more about the outstanding workshops and readings on offer. Book now to avoid disappointment.
"An imaginarium of the sensed world, its lyric artistry borne of precise attention" - Carolyn Forché

Blimey, what's this little beauty? Oh, look! It's the brand new collection from BD7 editor Pippa Little, Twist.
If your interest isn't already piqued by that incredible Forché quote, click the cover to find out more and get your hands on a copy of this long-awaited Arc collection which follows Overwintering (Carcanet, 2012).


This month Edward Doegar, our current guest editor here at Butcher's Dog and consulting editor with The Rialto, has released this exciting new Clinic pamphlet into the world. We're intrigued by this snippet:
I am as unbroken water
Mirror me

Let us be two mirrors.                     
- ‘Portrayal: A Double Portrait’
Want to read more? We certainly do! Click the cover to get your hands on a copy from the first edition run. You'll be pleased to know the cover isn't just green, it's green. Read more about the environmentally friendly riso printing process by Hato Press.

You can catch Ed and Rebecca Tamás reading from their new pamphlets For Now and Savage at the Newcastle Poetry Festival on Friday May 12th 2017 13:00-13.45. 
JC: First of all, thanks for agreeing to join us here ‘In the Dog House.’ It’s quite snug given the size of the elephant in the room, so let’s boot him out and start with sincere congratulations on your recent TS Eliot win from all of us here at Butcher’s Dog. You couldn’t really be further from the idiomatic dog house! As a region of poets and avid poetry readers, we’re delighted for you and shake the hands – some a little tentatively - of all the many ‘Jacks’ you’ve introduced us to in Jackself. 

JP: Thanks very much for the congratulations. No, I wouldn’t shake the hands of some of those Jacks...

JC: Much like Anglo-Saxon riddles, your poems are alert to the phenomenal qualities of otherwise ordinary things. I wonder, then, what everyday things excite you about the North East and how are you settling into life by the coast? 
JP: I realised when I came to the North East in early 2016 that I was, in some ways, coming back to somewhere very familiar. Newcastle was the city I came to from Carlisle when I was younger, if I wanted to see the city, and I maintained contact with people and with the rich cultural life of the North East while I was living in Scotland. So my partner and I realised, just after we’d moved, that she was coming somewhere totally new for her, and I wasn’t, quite. I’ve never really moved far from the coast in my life, which has lots of things that I seem to need, like a sense of transit, a sense of perched-ness and drama, a certain structural crumbliness. Empty shells, smooth stones, abandoned industry. That kind of stuff.

JC: That's fascinating to me because I often share your poems in workshops and describe them as possessing those same qualities: being fit to spring and threaded on your piecing back together of the collapsed or busted, like ancient ewers or voices like Jack's. A bitter North wind also seems to blow through some poems, as in 'Dead Leaves' which we published last year. What attracted you to Butcher's Dog magazine and what makes us stand out in the current poetry market?
JP: Well, I’m always attracted to the commitment of the small magazine. Poetry is something that depends on the fostering of readers and writers, even on the kind of smallholding that magazines like this are engaged in, which is a vitality, a cultural upthrust.
JC: We love to sing the praises of our newest and finest North East poets. We all follow the major prizes but what routes can you recommend us to discover upcoming writers? Whose work are you reading at the moment? 
JP: I don’t know the answer to this, and I don’t think I should know, as there isn’t a series of well-worn paths that will guarantee a discovery. I think it’s a bit like dowsing: you just have to be alert, be listening, be among it. I teach at a university so I haven’t got time to read…

JC: Last year I saw you perform an incredible version of Jackself in collaboration with musician John Alder. I'm pleased to see there's another scheduled as part of this year's Newcastle Poetry Festival at the Sage. Most poets I meet have an enduring connection - indeed a preoccupation - with music and for many, like Queen's Gold Medal winner Gillian Allnutt, it's an integral part of their writing practice. Do your musical collaborations happen as you write or afterwards? Is the writing shaped by this process? 
 JP: Thanks very much. It’s not an integral part of the writing process for me. The poem is itself, and part of working with John was actually what I thought was probably the impossibility of setting the Jackself poems. I just thought there was no way that they could be set, so it was a playful kind of challenge to John and myself, I suppose. The writing isn’t shaped by the process, but of course there is what I would maybe call the possibility of a tune behind lots of poetic forms, like the ballad, so one is only a half-open door away from actual music…
 JC: You've had a fantastic start to 2017 and we couldn't be more pleased for you. What's next on the horizon?
 JP: Aw, thanks again. Well, I have a radio play based on the Jackself stuff that will be broadcast in September, and John and I are looking to release the musical Jackself somehow. Other than that, I’m in a recharging state, poking a few things, but unsure quite what – if anything – might jump up off the page and bite me on the nose.
Jacob Polley is the author of four acclaimed poetry collections, The Brink, Little Gods, The Havocs and Jackself as well as a Somerset Maugham Award-winning novel, Talk of the Town. Born in Cumbria, he now lives and works in Newcastle.

Click the book cover to find out more.

New Writing North's Read Regional is a celebration of emerging books from Northern writers and publishing houses, encouraging readers to 'take a risk' on something different. A campaign in partnership with 23 library authorities, it runs from March to June 2017. As part of this wide reaching programme, twelve writers will tour libraries, literary festivals and schools from Blackburn to Berwick to deliver workshops, book groups and readings.
Butcher's Dog loves public libraries. We read in them, we write in them and some days, we just walk around them thinking about how bloody great they are. Above, I'm outside Crown Street Library with fellow poet and Darlo lass Jo Colley, fighting the closure and the reduction of our library services. 

Inspired by the Read Regional campaign, I asked some of the team to tell us what they are currently reading. In true librarian style, these recommendations come with a hushed provocation, a quiet revolution. Readers, put your library card to good use and take these titles out. Go and have a cuppa with your librarian and ask about new acquisitions or inter-library loans. Student readers especially: contact your institution's liaison librarian and order fresh copies of these books. As we all know from browsing the shelves, a library is only ever as good as its stock and across the UK, demanding libraries supply us thirsty poetry readers will help publishing thrive. A library in use is a library that stays open. Use yours today.

"I’ve returned to Derek Walcott’s Selected Poems, re-reading my favourites with that strange contradictory sense of mourning his loss and loving how his words still burn me. I always have a jumble of poetry books ‘on the go’ – currently I am dipping into the MPT volume ‘diaspora’ edited by the Constantines in 2004, particularly struck by the work of  Iranian Ziba Karbassi and the Polish Marzanna Bogumila Kielar.

The Penguin Book of Latin American Verse, edited by E. Caracciolo-Trejo, provides his ‘plain prose translations’ underneath the Spanish, which add oddly exciting dimensions to my language practice and open up poems by Neruda, Paz, Vallejo, Mistral in new ways. I’m proud owner of  most of the original Penguin Modern Poets and am now enjoying one of the new series – poems by Malika Booker, Sharon Olds and Warsan Shire. How they write about women’s experience electrifies me. I’ve been hugely moved too by Writing Motherhood, A Creative Anthology edited by Carolyn Jess-Cooke, just out from Seren. I wish I’d been able to read work like this, exploring maternity in terms of  being a writer, when I was a new mother, years ago! Sharon Olds is in this too, along with a wide range of amazing poets including Esther Morgan, Tess Gallagher and Helen Dunmore. I’m proud to have a poem in it. "
"Right now I’m reading Sharon Olds’ Stag’s Leap which is so specifically heart breaking – presumably because it’s all about heartbreak. It details every painful, bemusing inch of breaking up over six seasonal sections and has floored me several times when I read it on the subway. And the subway in Glasgow is pretty short. Here’s an example. In the closing stanza of ‘Last Look’ Olds describes some of the ways her divorce could have been made more complicated or difficult, noting finally how blessed she is ‘not to have / lost someone who could have loved me for life’. I mean, jeez. We could all hope to understand the end of love in such a way."
"Alongside dipping into two poetry collections I’ve been waiting on for a while – Clare Pollard’s Incarnation and Rishi Dastidar’s Ticker-Tape – I’m currently reading Anne Stevenson’s collection of essays, About Poems and how poems are not about. It’s the latest in a series by Newcastle University/Bloodaxe, drawing on Stevenson’s three public lectures last year, which originally appeared under the title We thought we were living now, but we were living then. She writes eloquently about, amongst others, Sylvia Plath Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot, but the main reason I was drawn to the book was for academic reasons relating to my PhD. She has such affection for the late County Durham poet, William Martin (whose work I am currently studying) and whom she got to know through living in the city; and she also praises the late Frances Horovitz, who was based in the region."

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