Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yee-Haw, a bit of a Round-up

A friend has invited me over to Sheffield to see an intriguing sounding play, "Talking to Space Hoppers." Any other week I'd have happily gone - I've only been to Sheffield twice in my life, and yet its not far by train. Interesting that the unknown (to me at least) poet John Haynes has won the Costa (nee Whitbread) poetry prize for his book "Letters to Patience." Like David Harsent's "Legion" and Alice Oswald's "Dart", these "thematic" books of poetry have really taken all the prizes in the last few years, and yet this development has - to my mind - never really been mentioned. All 3 poets have simply come up with a book that has overturned more favoured names - and it does make me wonder whether the "beauty contest" of contemporary poetry ever really knows what its doing? Perhaps the book length poem, presumed dead since "The Dynasts", has made a quiet recovery? Writing poetry can be hard, and hard-fought (Haynes' book took him 13 years). We tried to find room for longer poems in "Lamport Court," and a new issue, the 2nd solely edited by Neil Campbell, is out shortly. His own first book - a short story collection - follows in March. Magazines remain the lifeblood of a literary scene and 2nd issues should be more celebrated than 1st issues (they're usually far better as well, casting their net further), so I'm sure there will be plenty of people at Manchester Central Library on Friday for the new issue of "Libertine Magazine." In the non-literary world people have been literally falling over in amazement at the launch of Apple's new iPhone. Didn't Speak and Spell used to make something that looked a bit similar?

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