Pieces of magazine paper variously tied in loose knots and pasted onto plain paper as if clothing. A simple face hand drawn on the page and a pair of legs beneath.

February Update

I ran another visual poetry workshop for Trowbridge Museum in February, I wrote something about the first one here, and there is one more scheduled for Saturday, 18th March, 10.30am – 12.30pm. The starting point of each workshop has been the work of poet George Crabbe, particularly his herbarium of dried plants and flowers, and participants have made their own visual poems inspired by Crabbe’s work and love of nature. The next workshop is open to all (7+) and is a drop-in session, no need to book. So do come along if you’d like to find out a little more about Crabbe, take a peek at his herbarium and make your own visual poem or collage.

February is also the month for Februllage, a challenge to follow a prompt and make a collage a day in February and post the results on Instagram. Last year I participated fully but this year only managed to make a few collages. It’s such a delightful community ‘event’ on Instagram, the results are truly amazing. It’s worth looking at the hashtag #Februllage2023 to see the brilliant creations that clever people have made. I posted my own efforts on Instagram @andothermaterial.

I’ve had a few big rejections recently and I am finding it hard to place my second full collection of poems. Luckily, Live Canon is publishing my pamphlet Love and Stones this year and I am working on another pamphlet. It might be that I publish pamphlets for a while and not a full collection, which I wouldn’t mind to be honest.

Forward Prize anthologies from 2020 and 2022

I mentioned in a previous post that I particularly enjoyed reading Kathryn Simmonds’ book Scenes from Life on Earth (Salt, 2022) last year. Last week, a long train ride and poor internet connection gave me the chance to re-read two recent Forward Prizes anthologies, properly paying attention to each poem rather than flicking through the pages which is what I’d previously done. In particular, from the 2020 book, I loved ‘Partition’ a prose poem about the complexities of identity by Fatimah Asghar from her book If They Come for Us (Corsair, 2019) which begins

you’re kashmiri until they burn your home. take your orchards. stake a different flag. until no one remembers the road that brings you back. you’re indian until they draw a border through punjab. until the british  captains spit paki as they sip your chai, add so much foam you can’t  taste home.

I also loved the poem ‘Argument of Situations’ by Shangyang Fang which you can hear the poet reading here (amazing what you can find on the internet!). The poem begins

I was thinking, while making love, 'this is beautiful' - this 
fine craftsmanship of his skin, the texture of wintry river. 
I pinched him, three inches above his coccyx, so that he knew 
I was still here, still in an argument with Fan Kuan's 
inkwash painting, where an old man, a white-gowned literatus, 
dissolves into the landscape as a plastic bag into clouds.  

I liked the fact that the two people in this poem are talking about and arguing about different interpretations of a painting. This happens so often with any kind of artistic work, sometimes these conversations take place in one person’s head (they do in mine).

The reason I own these two anthologies, by the way, as well as one from 2016, is because those are the three years that poems I submitted from my poetry site And Other Poems to the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem were Highly Commended in the competition and published in the annual anthology. And talking of And Other Poems, I’ve just renewed the domain name and ad-free upgrade for another year but I would like to transfer the site to someone else. Are you or do you know someone who might like to edit and grow a poetry site with a great domain name and a sizeable number of subscribers? The site is here you’d like to take a look. Please email me at josephinecorcoran13 at gmail dot com with any offers of interest.

I can’t think of much else to write at this time. It’s still very cold in my corner of the UK, I’m looking forward to spring. I’ve been listening to some cool sounds and poems on SoundCloud to keep me warm. Until next time, friends!

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