Monday, September 7, 2009

Iota Magazine

Iota magazine arrived today. A handsome production with poems, interviews, reviews and listings.

On first skim through a few things caught my eye. The review section begins with reviews of two recent long poems - The Broken Word by Adam Foulds and The Lamplighter by Jackie Kaye. Not everyone is writing short lyrics! (I've been reading a number of long poems recently and have become quite taken with the form)

The Broken Word which deals with the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya I have read and I heard the author read extracts at the Poetry Now Festival. The second I hadn't heard of - it was a commission to write a poem to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the slave trade. on the publisher Bloodaxe's website it is described as both a radio and stage play and a multi-layered epic poem. The book comes with a recording of a BBC reading of the work. It sounds very interesting and has been added to my must read list.

In his interview George Szirtes has interesting comments on commissions. A commission is, for me, another form of opening. The burden of conceiving a subject from scratch is shifted to the given subject. It is as if a certain undetermined, directionless stored energy that might have remained trapped and indecisive (approaching in extreme cases the condition we call 'writer's block') were delighted to take whatever outlet happened to be on offer.

I like this. I always argue against the vague notion of poetic inspiration - the idea that somehow if you lounge around enough or drink enough coffee or stronger liquid or walk in the country, something will strike you and a poem will arrive. If you want to write then you must write and the "inspiration" can be anything.

No comments: