Tag Archives: Glyn Maxwell

The StAnza 2015 Afterword goes live

4 Jun
Kei Miller at StAnza 2015, photo www.alistairkerr.com

Kei Miller at StAnza 2015, photo http://www.alistairkerr.com

The Afterword Page for this year’s festival has now gone live on the StAnza website with a gallery of photographs from the events, the venues and around town. Go to www.stanzapoetry.org and click on Afterword. My thanks to all StAnza’s photographers, and to visitors who have allowed me to include some of their own photographs. If you attended the festival, this is a great opportunity to re-live personal highlights of those busy five days in March and the buzzing atmosphere in our festival hub at the Byre theatre, and if you missed it this year, now you have a chance to see what was happening, and spot who was there.

I’m also delighted that we have a recording of a whole event from this year’s festival available to listen to as an online podcast, arranged in partnership with our friends at the Scottish Poetry Library. Even better, it’s one of the Round Table events for which tickets are so limited, so if you didn’t get a ticket for this year’s Saturday morning Round Table, or didn’t even make the festival this year, now’s your chance to catch this event.

The Afterword Page also has links to posts by this year’s Bloggers in Residence, Fiona Moore and Susanne Arbuckle, and to a veritable feast of wonderful reviews and articles about StAnza, so settle down and tuck in.

More links on the Afterword Page offer a text version of Glyn Maxwell’s lecture this year as well as PDF versions of two of this year’s digital installations, and if you’re in St Andrews this summer, some of the poems panels on windows are still on show around town; and Dualism which has become a semi-permanent exhibition is still on show at the Fairmont hotel.

Review of Glyn Maxwell’s Pluto

1 Mar

plutoAs part of our project to make available reviews of poets taking part at StAnza 2015, we are obliged to DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – for allowing us to re-post this review from their website. Written by staff and students, DURA supports independent cinema & publishing. DURA promotes diversity and supports local and regional arts. See more reviews of poetry and prose on their website at http://dura-dundee.org.uk.

 

Pluto

Glyn Maxwell
(Picador, 2013); pbk £9.99

In his review of Pluto for Stride Magazine, Andy Brown is overtly critical of Glyn Maxwell’s “highly repetitious deployment of forms of ‘parallelisms’”, both synonymous and antithetic. That this style recurs throughout the collection cannot be denied. The first stanza of the opening poem, “Byelaws”, epitomises this technique:

Never have met me, know me well,
tell all the world there was little to tell,
say I was heavenly, say I was hell,
harry me over the blasted moors
but come my way, go yours.

It is also employed in “The Window”:

[…] I felt found
in your company, I felt lost
like one who’ll still be found,
however far he sails, steered by grace.

In turn, by way of a final example, consider the closing line of “Dunwich”: “Never have met me, know me well, be no one / else”. Here, Maxwell goes so far as to exactly replicate the collection’s opening line. That Pluto is repetitive in this sense is certain; whether this is the work’s downfall is questionable.

The concept of time rules Pluto, the collection revolves around it – in the words of “The Window”, Maxwell “steer[s] the thing through time”. Time becomes our opponent in the game of life:

At Greenwich we convene, sweet Time and I,
long having been each other’s only subjects,
for a game of noughts and crosses […] (“Greenwich”)

Losing, we “cry / Let’s play again! But time is moving on”.

In terms of his representation of time, in an interview with Ellen Cranitch, Maxwell exclaims: “What is there in our lives that disrupts time? Love is one thing and poetry is another.” Pluto is indisputably a deeply personal work. There are, for instance, intense moments of brutal self-reflection: “one of us said those chicks / were really hot I’ve a horrible feeling I did”. It is perhaps surprising, therefore, to read Brown’s criticism of Maxwell: “[l]ike Pluto, I felt at the outer reaches of Maxwell’s solar system, knocking to get in, but kept at arm’s length by the distancing effects of repetitious rhetoric.” In contrast, I feel that the poet’s utilisation of parallelism serves not to distance the reader but rather, as it embodies the very feelings the poet conveys, and as it is integral to the work, it tends to draw in the reader. The antitheses which characterise Maxwell’s paradoxical lines capture the nonsensical. To suggest that one can “Never have met me, know me well”, is foolish. Yet, this is a poetry collection which deals with self-reflection, with love, and loss, and change. Take for example “South-East of Eden”:

                                                     And out they come,
exiting one another with the kiss
to heal the bruise and be the bruise […]

In this context, the success of Maxwell’s parallelism is evident, for in dealing with the loss of love, and of oneself in the process, the feelings experienced are indeed often conflicting and contradictory. They are, at least to the person struggling with them, senseless; essentially, like Maxwell’s lines, they are absurd. Poetry, it would appear, becomes the ideal medium for the expression of our emotional perplexity. It allows us the paradox of emotion, perfect in that both poetry and the reader can be trusted, for:

[…] they drift together away in the dust while you lot
Stay to the end, which means the world to me. (“My Talk”)

Reviewed in anticipation of Maxwell’s appearance at the 2015 StAnza poetry festival, Pluto is an absolutely astounding collection – I cannot contain my excitement for his reading on the 5th of March!

Chloe Charalambous

 

Glyn Maxwell will appear at StAnza on 4th and 5th March http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2015/participant.php?participant=751

 

StAnza 2015 Programme Revealed

30 Nov

 

2 AK

StAnza 2014 launch, photograph http://www.alistairkerr.com

It’s 30th November so a very happy St Andrews Day from St Andrews, where the sky is blue and the sun is shining. And here at StAnza Central, there are smiles on all our faces – and no, it’s not because we’re still licking our lips after Thursday’s wonderful Blame Montezuma event – but because after the months of planning and preparation, the excitement and thrills we had to keep secret, and after putting together enough aggregated text for several collected volumes, the programme for StAnza 2015 is finally revealed.

Carolyn Forche, photograph by Sean Mattison

Carolyn Forche, photograph by Sean Mattison

For our eighteenth festival, StAnza comes of age with six glorious days of events in St Andrews from 3–8 March, including two all-day workshops leading up to the festival launch in splendid locations at Hill of Tarvit Mansion House and Kellie Castle. More than 60 poets are on the bill, plus musicians, visual artists, actors and other writers. You can find the programme and browse through it now at http://ow.ly/F5Muc – just click on the top line of any event listing to enter whole page of information. Or of course you can go via our website homepage at www.stanzapoetry.org

The festival will open with a performance of Bedazzled: A Welshman in New York, bringing a little bit of New York to St Andrews. For one night the Byre Theatre will be transformed into 1950’s New York as audience members are invited to enjoy a drink with the cast, in character as Dylan Thomas and friends, while being transported back in time to the heady, bohemian world of Greenwich Village in the 50s.

Simon Armitage, photograph by Paul Wolfgang

Simon Armitage, photograph by Paul Wolfgang

Among this year’s headliners are Simon Armitage and New Zealand’s first Poet Laureate Bill Manhire, Anne Stevenson, Paul Durcan and Sheenagh Pugh, along with several major poets on their first appearance at StAnza, Glyn Maxwell who will deliver the StAnza 2015 lecture, Sinéad Morrissey, currently Belfast’s Poet Laureate, Ian Duhig and American poets Alice Notley, Carolyn Forché and Ilya Kaminsky. Winners of the 2014 Forward Prize for best collection and Forward First Prize, Kei Miller and Liz Berry, respectively are also included in this year’s line up along with Helen Mort, recent winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection prize. They join poets from Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Sardinia and Mallorca and others from across Scotland and the UK. We’ve created an individual profile page for everyone on the bill, so to find out more about them, just go to the online participant index, click on a name and their page will open. There’s also a page for each festival venue.

Photograph by Christine Clark

Performance events include The Shipwrecked House and Sealegs; the visual art exhibitions and installations range from watercolours to 3D digital poetry; there will be music from the Viridian Quartet, performing Steve Reich’s Different Trains, from Kirsty Law, jazz singer Lorna Reid, and from the Black Cat Jook band, and as part of the 15 minute personal ViewMaster shows each designed for, and delivered to, just one person. This year’s events are in association with two leading poetry magazines, The Wolf and Poetry London, their editors presenting poets they recommend; and elsewhere we have Writing Motherhood, A Modern Don Juan, and Past & Present sessions on Alastair Reid, Russian poets and neo-Latin Scottish poets.

Photograph by David Vallis

Spoken word and performance poets on the bill include Hollie McNish, Erin Fornoff, Elvis McGonagall, stand-up comedy poet Owen O’Neill and last year’s StAnza slam winner, Agnes Török; and in an innovations for 2015, Robin Vaughan-Williams will lead an all-day collaborative improvisation performance workshop for up to five people, to conclude with a short spontaneous performance.

That is just one of a range of participation events – six workshops in total are offered this year – along with a Simon Armitage Masterclass. Saturday Live radio regular Elvis McGonagall will host the StAnza Slam for us, and as ever there will be umpteen opportunities for your own poetry, including at three open mic events.

>erasure  image - Sonja Benskin Mesher, text - George Szirtes.

Kevin Reid’s >erasure image – Sonja Benskin Mesher, text – George Szirtes.

Believe it or not, this isn’t everything. We will be adding further events and installations over the next month, and telling you more about our events for Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, so please keep checking for updates, but meantime enjoy the feast online here.

Tickets don’t go on sale until early January, so you have plenty of time to browse and work out what will be top of your wish list for March. The printed brochure will be available later in January. If you’re not on our postal mailing list already, brochures can be requested by emailing brochure@stanzapoetry.org or telephoning 01334 474610. And make sure you’re on our e-list so you get all the latest updates direct to your inbox. Sign up for this at list@stanzapoetry.org.

White Horses by Karen Cairns

White Horses by Karen Cairns

Screenshot 2014-10-31 07.12.03 (3)

 

Teaching the Art of Poetry

1 Jul

For anyone who’d like to fit in some study over the next month, the Poetry School Summer School programme is now available offering five one day poetry workshops in London, three in Manchester 16-22 July. They cover beginner to advanced, ideas and technique, social and creative, and tutors are Helen Ivory and John Glenday from StAnza 2012, plus Antony Dunn, Glyn Maxwell and Gwyneth Lewis. More details below and at www.poetryschool.com
 
London Summer School
 
Five Ways of Saying
Tutor: Antony Dunn
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Monday 16 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs)
Level: beginners
Explore the ways you experience the world through each of your five senses in a series of reading, writing and conversational challenges. Fun, informal and encouraging, the workshop will guide you towards the creation of some new poems, and reintroduce you to some oddly unfamiliar well-loved poems. This workshop is suitable for writers of all ages and levels of experience, and works both as a stand-alone workshop and as the perfect warm-up for the rest of the Summer School.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

One of Your Five a Day
Tutor: John Glenday
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Tuesday 17 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: beginners / intermediate
What are the basic ingredients of a healthy writing diet? This workshop will look in some detail at activities and strategies for improving creative output, the benefits of routine and ‘warm-up’ writing; but will also engage in short exercises designed to stimulate the imagination and develop initial drafts and ideas into more finished work. This workshop is aimed at beginners and intermediate writers, though its strategies are relevant for writers at all stages of their development.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

Earth, Fire, Sky, Water and Air: Five Elements (Only a few places left)
Tutor: Helen Ivory
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Wednesday 18 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: intermediate
Poets have always used the elements of the natural world to explore and express what it is to be human. This workshop will take a look at each of the five elements to see how they might lend their metaphorical qualities to enliven your poems. We will use published poems as starting points, but the focus of the day is to generate new work.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

The Pentameter Now (Waiting List Only)
Tutor: Glyn Maxwell
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Thursday 19 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: intermediate to advanced
‘While the Modernists were breaking the pentameter, Edward Thomas was quietly healing it. Discuss.’ Or rather, don’t discuss, but explore, work, play with the ideas of metre as footstep, vowels as feelings, line as breath, and the pentameter as utterance both mortal and timeless. Glyn will work with examples from poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Hardy, Frost and MacNeice, and offers you original games, peculiar exercises and random thoughts.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 
Full Fathom Five – dreaming Shakespeare (Only a few places left)
Tutor: Gwyneth Lewis
Venue: The Poetry School, 81 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6DX
Date: Friday 20 July
Time: 10.30am – 4.30pm
Price: £63, £50 (60+), £38 (concs) 
Level: advanced
Full fathom five thy father lies; / Of his bones are coral made; / Those are pearls that were his eyes. (The Tempest, I ii). This one-day workshop explores how we can use Shakespeare’s Tempest as a starting point for contemporary writing. What can we do with the five-beat of iambic pentameter? How can we use dramatic conflict to inform the structure of a poem? What strange new worlds can we imagine after Shakespeare?
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

Manchester Summer School
 
Five Finger Exercises
Tutor: John Glenday
Venue: Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Date: Friday 20 July
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: £57, £45 (60+), £34 (concs)
Level: open to all
This course will examine in detail the essential elements for writing effective poetry. Through a progressive sequence of short exercises, it will help students identify simple strategies for taking their writing from that initial draft towards finished work with genuine impact. It will focus on the various stages in the creative process including the stimulus behind a first draft ( often mistakenly called Inspiration); and an analysis of the revision process. Although this course is aimed at beginner/ intermediate level writers, it would also be suitable for serious, dedicated writers at any stage of their development.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

Making Pictures with Words
Tutor: Helen Ivory
Venue: Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Date: Saturday 21 July
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: £57, £45 (60+), £34 (concs)
Level: open to all
This course looks at imagery and metaphor in poetry and will focus on creating original and startling pictures with words. We will use published poems as starting points, but the focus of the day is to generate new work and to give you the opportunity to surprise yourself with your writing. Beginners and more experienced writers are very welcome.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

 

The Pentameter Now (Only a few places left)
Tutor: Glyn Maxwell
Venue: Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
Date: Sunday 22 July
Time: 10am – 4pm
Price: £57, £45 (60+), £34 (concs)
Level: intermediate to advanced
While the Modernists were breaking the pentameter, Edward Thomas was quietly healing it. Discuss.’ Or rather, don’t discuss, but explore, work, play with the ideas of metre as footstep, vowels as feelings, line as breath, and the pentameter as utterance both mortal and timeless. Glyn will work with examples from poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Hardy, Frost and MacNeice, and offers you original games, peculiar exercises and random thoughts.
To book:online at www.poetryschool.com or call 0207 582 1679

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