Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A cricketing interlude

Gale force winds, torrential rain, temperatures struggling to get anywhere near double figures - yes, it's the cricket season again!

I can't say I'm full of confidence about England's hopes of winning back the Ashes - under Peter Moores, I think they missed several opportunities last summer to rebuild the team for the long term. I have a nasty feeling that Gary Ballance's lack of foot movement will be found out by the Aussie quicks,  our own pace attack looks patchy, and much as I like Moeen Ali, I think we'll need a full-time spinner at some stage.

That said, though, I wouldn't write us off - the Aussies show every sign of being over-confident, but they've got plenty of ageing, injury-prone players, plus others who still have a lot to prove. It'll be interesting to see if Johnson and Starc look half as threatening on stodgy English wickets, and when things do go wrong for Johnson, he can implode spectacularly. So, my prediction is a high-scoring series, with three or even four draws, but the Aussies hanging on to the urn.

Very interesting piece here about the Aussie public's attitude to Michael Clarke - I'm amazed he still gets so much criticism.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Map: Poems After William Smith's Geological Map of 1815

This arrived the other day - it's an anthology from Worple Press, edited by Michael McKimm, that marks and celebrates the 200th anniversary of the first geological map of the UK (of any country, in fact), and the foundation of a science.

The poets contributing work are Stephen Boyce, Alison Brackenbury, James Brookes, Andy Brown, Alan Buckley, Peter Carpenter, John Wedgewood Clarke, Jane Commane, Elizabeth Cook, Barbara Cumbers, Jonathan Davidson, Isobel Dixon, Maura Dooley, Sally Flint, John Freeman, Isabel Galleymore, John Greening, Philip Gross, Alyson Hallett, Ailsa Holland, John McAuliffe, Helen Mort, Andrew Motion, David M Orchard, Mario Petrucci, Kate Potts, Peter Robinson, Penelope Shuttle, George Ttoouli, Anthony Wilson, and myself.

To buy it (it's £10), go here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Sean O'Brien reviews Tony Williams

If you haven't already seen it, there's a good review of Tony Williams' excellent Nine Arches collection The Midlands at The Guardian - Sean O'Brien is the reviewer. It's a terrific book - read the review, then read the book.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Reading at Jazz & Poetry

This is me reading Magnetite, from The Elephant Tests, at Jazz & Poetry, at the Guitar Bar, Nottingham, in October 2013.

Jazz & Poetry runs from 8 until late on the second Wednesday of each month, October to July, and admission is free.

Thanks are due to David Belbin for putting this up on YouTube - there are also lots of videos of other recent guests up there. Enjoy!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Carrie Etter nominated

More heartening news - Carrie Etter's excellent Imagined Sons, one of my favourite books of last year, is on the shortlist for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. The winner will be announced in a few weeks - in the meantime, I can recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet read it.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Penguin poetry

Nothing to do with birds this time. Instead, it's the news that Penguin is reviving its poetry list, headed up by a full-time poetry editor, Donald Futers.

Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric is his first acquisition, and from all I've read of it, it suggests that Futers is going to be taking a refreshingly adventurous and open-minded approach to the list.

I'm also encouraged by the fact that the editor is someone who's clearly very committed to poetry and knowledgeable about it, without simply being a prominent UK poet, which is the case with many of the other bigger lists out there. Looks like Penguin could be worth watching over the next few years.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Famous in France?

Well, a little bit of it - the area around Chalons-en-Champagne, to be exact. And not exactly famous. Or even notorious. We did make it into the local paper, though.

I was there for three days earlier in the week, and I'll post a few pics from the trip over the next few days. The birds were great, the hospitality and welcome very warm, and there was even time to take in a bit of culture, history and champagne.