Showing category "writing" (Show all posts)

They

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, September 17, 2014, In : writing 
They say that that’s what they say. They say that. They do say that. That’s what they’re saying I heard it on the radio. They do say that that’s what they say they say that they do. But do they? But do they they do. Believe me they do. No but do they? I don’t know I just heard it on the radio that’s what they’re saying. They said the same thing yesterday. Did they? Yes they did they said the same thing yesterday they’re always saying that. They’ve been on about it before. Yo...
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White zone and green zone

Posted by Ken Edwards on Saturday, August 9, 2014, In : writing 
There is a white zone of the province where white people live. They have lived there for generations tending their crops raising their children. And over on the other side live the green people. That is called the green zone. The green people have been there for centuries. From even before there were zones. The white people know nothing of the green people. The green people know everything about the white people all their culture and history and everything because they have read about them in...
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Reading in Brighton

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, February 21, 2014, In : writing 
Just getting over the inaugural REALITY STREET LIVE at the Electric Palace, here in Hastings. Excellent night. Philip Terry read magnificently, and I enjoyed myself reading a short story from Down With Beauty and (most of all) performing with Elaine (who played flute and accordion) in a dramatised extract from Bardo. Amazingly, almost every seat in the 50-seater cinema was filled, mostly with people I didn't know, so that's a good omen for the rest of the series, which continues on 19 March a...
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Deadmans Beach

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, December 2, 2013, In : writing 
The tide was in at Deadmans Beach, and the wind was up. The fishing fleet was ranged on the banks of shingle being encroached by rushing and receding waves: an impressive if heterogenous collection of chiefly traditionally clinker-built vessels (but some of fibreglass), both larger trawlers and also punts, that’s to say, undecked boats, all with diesel engines, sitting on their greased hardwood blocks or planks, awaiting favourable conditions. Linseed oil dully gleamed and colours faded aga...

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Dead Level

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, November 1, 2013, In : writing 
Two youths – the one, a hoodie, the other, a beanie – were observed at 10:57 sharing a plastic bottle of cider behind the electricity pylons. White Lightning. They moved hardly at all. The weather was clement, if still chilly. At the road junction for Deadmans Beach just beyond the Barbican Gate was an emptied pub (the Barbican Inn in fact, the faded sign said), half-timbered and lead-latticed, advertised as being for sale, with temporary wire mesh fencing mounted on breeze blocks barring...

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All that is the case

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, October 14, 2013, In : writing 

The case continues. It is built sentence by sentence. And so we are sentenced to death. The sea was lucid. The sea was impossible. How could we proceed? One plus one is two, but one times one is one. The story so far: still a south-westerly, with gulls wheeling in it. No further, then. But all these manila folders have re-emerged, bulging with cases, past and indeed ongoing. There are stacks of them. Filing cabinets needed, make a note of that. But these cases, closed or still o...


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Breaking news - the poetry market is down

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, May 30, 2013, In : writing 
The news that Salt Publishing is pulling out of doing single-author poetry collections may have made Carol Ann Duffy "extremely sad" but has met with a more considered response elsewhere.

Salt were in many respects pioneers, and, as I have mentioned before in this space, Reality Street would probably not be surviving now had I not been impressed with Chris Hamilton-Emery's blazing a trail in print-on-demand publishing.

But, as I have also said before, the idea of trying to make a profit out of ...

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Golden Handcuffs #16

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, In : writing 

 
The sixteenth issue of the enterprising Golden Handcuffs Review is now out. A thing I like about the magazine is that, highly unusually for US literary journals, it features British and Irish writers as a matter of course. No "special British issue", no tokenism. In this issue are David Miller (the intro from The Alchemist's Mind), Maurice Scully, Brian Marley, Paul Griffiths and, er, me. Also Peter Quartermain, who is a Brit living in Vancouver. And in addition: Robert Kelly, Hank Lazer, Da...
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Anselm Hollo, 1934-2013

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, January 31, 2013, In : writing 


Sad to report this morning that poet, teacher and translator Anselm Hollo has died, aged 78.

I never actually met Anselm, but we corresponded extensively during the editing and production of Five From Finland in 2000-01 - his translations of five contemporary poets from his native Finland. He was good to work with. 

He was also a very considerable influence on poetry in English (his chosen language) on both sides of the Atlantic from the 1960s onward.


Read Tom Raworth's obituary of Anselm in The...
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Disappointment

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, December 10, 2012, In : writing 
Disappointment comes in many guises, and from unexpected directions.

Suppose you are a writer checking availability of your books on Amazon. And you discover that three secondhand copies of one book are being offered by third-party vendors. And the third copy, significantly higher priced than the other two but still below the retail price of the new book, is declared to be inscribed by the author (you) to a certain poet. And this poet had been very helpful in trying to get your book published ...
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Black Huts

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, October 30, 2012, In : writing 


Etruscan Books' Black Huts film & poetry festival takes place in Hastings this weekend. Clicking on the above image should take you straight to a pdf of the complete brochure. I'm on at the Electric Palace cinema (just a couple of minutes' walk from Reality Street Corporate Headquarters) on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. I shall probably be reading from Bardo. I won't enumerate the other goodies; you can see for yourself. Just to mention that the striking image on the poster is by distinguished pai...
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Market forces (again)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, October 18, 2012, In : writing 
So Hilary Mantel has won the Booker for a second time with, run this past me again, the sequel to a historical romance that won the prize three years ago? I don't want to be curmudgeonly about a writer I haven't read - people have told me with some enthusiasm her early stuff is a little bit weird and quirky - but even a leader writer at The Guardian (normally a champion of the literary establishment and earlier this week quoting solemnly Sir Peter Stothard's embarrassing assessment that Mante...
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Gathered here today...

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, October 15, 2012, In : writing 
It seems unbelievable that Geraldine Monk is 60. But I'd better believe it, because here comes a festschrift or a bouquet or a garland or whatever you may call it in celebration of this fact. 

When I was asked to contribute to Gathered Here Today, I thought it would be a private publication but it's actually now available from the inimitable Knives Forks and Spoons Press. And you know what, it's worth reading in its own right even if you don't know Geraldine. Forty-six poets, writers and artis...
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Is it all over?

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, October 5, 2012, In : writing 
Peter Riley, in his always interesting regular slot for The Fortnightly Review, has been sounding off about a new Norton poetry anthology, American Hybrid, edited by Cole Swensen and David St John. 

Well, his piece is not really about this particular book, which was merely the trigger for a lot of stuff Peter has been wanting to get off his chest. Those who know him or his critical writing will recognise some familiar themes – but this publication has really got his goat and set him off on a...

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Rasp from the past

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, In : writing 


Thanks to my friend Julia (who lived in Balfour Street at the time) for spotting this, in the current Iain Sinclair/Andrew Kotting Swandown exhibition in 
Dilston Grove gallery, Southwark Park. RASP was myself, Paul Brown, Allen Fisher – i.e. Reality Studios (as was), Actual Size, Spanner. Paul A Green, also now a Hastings resident, has reminded me that he and Vincent Crane (ex-Atomic Rooster and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) also performed in the same series, to an audience of two people...
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James Harvey

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, July 9, 2012, In : writing 

 
Just before I went on holiday, a week ago, David Miller told me the sad news that James Harvey had died. I didn't know James well, but he was a familiar presence at readings in London, always friendly and enthusiastic. His chapbook Temporary Structures (Veer Books) is recommended - you can read short extracts here. There will be a memorial reading at Birkbeck College London on 19 July - more details of that, and about James himself, here. My sympathies to his family and to his many friends i...
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All where each is now

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, June 11, 2012, In : writing 


An Andrew Crozier Reader is a highly unusual book. It's not quite a Collected Poems, but as good as. It brings back into print most if not all of Andrew Crozier's 1985 Allardyce, Barnett volume All Where Each Is, long unavailable – adding the few poems Crozier published since then, as well as a selection of his critical writings. The whole is arranged chronologically in nine sections, each prefaced with a short biographical introduction by the editor, Ian Brinton, and assorted ancillary tex...
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Other

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, April 29, 2012, In : writing 
"Other" - that's been the box to tick for me since the start of my, er, writing career all those years ago. For example, I was in this, happily still available 13 years later (kudos to Peter Quartermain and the late and greatly lamented Ric Caddel for putting together that wonderful project). 

And now, The Other Room, whose third birthday I was delighted to attend last year as a guest reader. This ongoing venture in Manchester owes everything to the efforts and imagination of James Davies, Tom...
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Christine Brooke-Rose

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, March 30, 2012, In : writing 
When I started the Reality Street Narrative Series, I devised some copy for the page of this website devoted to it - which you can find here - trying to give it some context. This included my necessarily highly selective listing of writers of out-there fiction whose influence I perceived to be crucial.

Well, selective or not, it was an unforgivable lapse on my part to forget to include Christine Brooke-Rose, who has recently died. Gifted writers outside the mainstream in Britain face enough ma...
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Online VLAK

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, January 11, 2012, In : writing 
Issue 2 of VLAK: Contemporary Poetics & the Arts (May, 2011) is now available online.


 
VLAK is published by the enterprising Litteraria Pragensia and this issue is edited by Louis Armand, Edmund Berrigan, Carol Watts, Stephan Delbos, David Vichnar, Jane Lewty & Ali Alizadeh. The original print edition was a handsomely designed square block of a book. The online version is complete and free to read.

I have a vested interest in that my dialogue "Nothing Doing" (from the work in progress Down With...
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Bardo complete

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, December 12, 2011, In : writing 
Those who have followed the progress of my "Bardo" project (the sixth of its seven sequences was serialised on this blog the summer before last) may be interested to know that it is now out as a book from Knives Forks & Spoons Press in a handsome edition with seven colour plates. 



You can order it from their website for £8. (Also I think it's available as part of a three-for-£10 deal.)

Essentially the book is an irreverent/serious rewrite of the devotional work known in the West as the Tibeta...
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The Backward Prize

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, July 18, 2011, In : writing 
The announcement of the shortlist for this year's Forward Prize for Poetry has given me the second big laugh of the week, following former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Andy Hayman's Arthur Daley impression at the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee last Tuesday.

Goodness knows I need all the laughs I can get while I'm cooped up here with my left leg in plaster. Thanks, guys.

If the hacking scandal has, temporarily at least, exposed the corruption at the very top of Britis...
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Reading in The Other Room

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, April 19, 2011, In : writing 
I was honoured to be invited, along with Alec Finlay, Carrie Etter and a virtual Derek Henderson (broadcasting live on the internet from Utah, USA), to read on the occasion of the third birthday of The Other Room in Manchester on 6 April. It was a joy to read to an appreciative audience. Many thanks to Scott Thurston, Tom Jenks and James Davies for being amiable and efficient hosts.

The pieces I read were:
"There's something in there..."
"Red", "Green" and part of "Rainbow (The Sea)" from Bardo....
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Support the Hay Poetry Jamboree

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, In : writing 
High-profile media-whoring is not the only activity in Hay-on-Wye in June. On the fringe of the Hay Festival is the Hay Poetry Jamboree. Run by volunteers on a shoestring budget, it's one of the most open-spirited, inquisitive and intimate of small poetry/arts festivals.

It takes place this year from 2-4 June at the Oriel Gallery of Contemporary Arts, Salem Chapel, Bell Bank, Hay-on-Wye. Poets reading or talking include Ralph Hawkins, Allen Fisher, Robert Sheppard, Carol Watts, Sean Bonney, Fr...
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Good times, bad times

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, April 1, 2011, In : writing 
Through my letterbox plops a package with two enticing looking books from Shearsman: Robert Sheppard's latest poetry collection Berlin Bursts, which is very welcome, and also a new collection of his essays, When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry. It's the cover picture that jolts me first with its familiarity.



An ever youthful Maggie O'Sullivan, all in red, holds her own with the redoubtable Bob Cobbing (1920-2002), "performing" Maggie's A Natural History in 3 Incomplete Parts in June 1985. (NB T...
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RF Langley, 1938-2011

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, March 6, 2011, In : writing 
The only obituary that I know has appeared in the national press thus far is Jeremy Noel-Tod's in The Times. In case you haven't paid Rupert Murdoch's entrance price, Jeremy has posted the obit on his blog - it has the added merit of being the unedited version. I can add nothing to this. A fine poet, sadly missed.
 
PS No sooner had I posted the above than Peter Riley's obituary of RF Langley appeared.
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Golden Handcuffs Review

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, March 3, 2011, In : writing 
Lou Rowan says he was told the choice of name for his magazine was unwise, and perhaps the search engines will now bring a minority of ultimately disappointed visitors here too, but what the hell. It's actually a very fine journal, published from Seattle, Washington, of a kind we don't really have in the UK: featuring contemporary modernist fiction alongside adventurous poetry. (I continue to have hopes for the Cambridge Literary Review, though I feel it needs to cast its net a little more wi...
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Allen Fisher proposes

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, In : writing 


Here is the opening move from Allen Fisher's new book, Proposals:


When I first came to Crewe
I saw the death of my mind 
and started work again
to bring it back to life
through nourishment unknown
to me until then with
vegetables and fruit already
known with tactics
already tried and sometimes
previously tested until
on the third day after
the railway declined
I stood on the grime of
platform 5 and revived
my confidence in
a lack I now recognised
as necessary as demanding

It's a clear summatio...
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end of Bardo

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, In : writing 
I meant to post by now a consideration of Allen Fisher's Proposals. While I am still striving to do justice to this fine book, a dozen copies of my little pamphlet millions of colours are delivered in the post. It comprises the final section of "Bardo: forty-nine prose pieces over seven days". It's a lovely little cream letterpress handmade thing bound with red thread, and you can get one from Richard Parker at Crater Press. You will need, as he says, a letter knife or similar utensil.


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After Oulipo

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, January 6, 2011, In : writing 
The "After Oulipo" edition of the online magazine Ekleksographia, published by Ahadada Books, is out. Guest edited by Philip Terry, it's a fascinating collection of current rule-based writings, inspired in various ways by the example of the original Oulipo group, members of which include Georges Perec, Jacques Roubaud, Italo Calvino and Harry Mathews (who is included in this issue).

The spirit of Oulipo, which sought to free literature by, paradoxically, introducing constraints on its producti...

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Manchester and Hastings

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, November 24, 2010, In : writing 
Busy week next. Up to Manchester a week from today to read at The Other Room. Here's the announcement:

The next Other Room is a week away, on 1st December 2010. We are back at our usual venue of The Old Abbey Inn, 61 Pencroft Way, Manchester, M15 6AY (on Manchester Science Park). Start time is 7 PM and admission is, as always, free. The performers are Neil Addison, Ken Edwards and Louise Woodcock.
Please note that this is a change to the earlier billing for this event.
There will be a well stock...
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Past-loving gaze

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, October 20, 2010, In : writing 
The Review of Contemporary Fiction has run a review of my Nostalgia for Unknown Cities, by A D Jameson. (You can, of course, should you wish, buy this book on this very site, I mean here.)

The magazine itself arrived this morning, and it looks like another interesting issue, "Slovak Fiction", to follow spring 2010's "Writing from Postcommunist Romania". We in the Anglophone West are so abysmally ignorant of literary developments elsewhere, so I am grateful to RCF for its continuing endeavours....

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National Poetry Day

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, October 7, 2010, In : writing 
What did happen to it?
That October Thursday
or whenever?
A voice like a self-
satisfied weasel 
or a caried and measled
inkslinger
coolly delivered its four words deep
into my orifice:
English poetry is dead. 
 
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60

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, September 13, 2010, In : writing 
Many thanks to everyone who came to my belated birthday celebrations in Hastings on Saturday 11 September - including a few who travelled from quite far afield. The Moors were the resident band, and I think gave a great show. By the end of the action-packed weekend, I was somewhat ... well, let's say that, briefly, I did feel my age, but the feeling soon passed and I'm back to my adolescent self.

I am off to the USA soon: Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. Mainly a holiday, but I look forward...
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Sometimes I think we all need a little forest glossary

Posted by Ken Edwards on Saturday, September 4, 2010, In : writing 
Nothing has cheered me up quite so much this week as receiving Jeff Hilson's In the Assarts from Veer Books. It's a square book, Denise Riley-style (I love this) containing 68 numbered sonnets, one to a page. No, to be exact, 68 numbered 14-line poems alluding to the sonnet tradition, except that some maybe have 13 lines and a couple are double sonnets. If I sometimes have a gripe with the otherwise inestimable Veer, it is that the type in some of their books is a little too small and ugly, b...
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The hollow men

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, July 30, 2010, In : writing 
"Feted British authors are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied" says a recent Guardian article. The piece, by Dalya Alberge, is based on an interview with Sussex University research professor, novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici.

Josipovici's remarks are focused on such multi-awarded novelists as Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes, whose work he charges as hollow. Describing their success as a "mystery", he says: "It's an ill-educated public being fed by the media – 'This is wh...
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Expatriations

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, July 26, 2010, In : writing 
There's a piece of mine in the  "Expatriations" edition of Gangway (Issue 40). It's a dialogue forming the closing section of my book of fictions in progress, Down With Beauty (it appeared previously in a different version in a different context).
 
You have to click on "current issue".

The issue, edited by Helen Lambert, also includes writing from: José Kozer (translated by Mark Weiss), Vahni Capildeo, Laurie Duggan, Catherine Hales, Shelby Matthews, Kent MacCarter, Anne Elizabeth Moore, ...

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The Whole Island

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, May 17, 2010, In : writing 


I first visited Cuba in 1982, just before the Falklands War broke out. I've always been fascinated with the country - its politics, its music and (because of my bilingual background) its literature. 

On that first visit, I made it one of my projects to scour Havana's bookshops for contemporary poetry. I didn't really know what I was looking for, but it certainly wasn't the Marxist-Leninist tomes and Spanish translations of Agatha Christie novels that seemed to form the bulk of the stock. In th...
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David Chaloner, 1944-2010

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, In : writing 


I'm sorry to report that David Chaloner died on 10 May after an eighteen-month illness. Born in Cheshire in 1944, he moved to Manchester, where he became involved in poetry and jazz, his poetry being included in Michael Horovitz's seminal anthology Children of Albion. Later he founded One magazine, and in recent years had been dividing his time between London and Amsterdam. His fine Collected Poems was published in 2005. My sympathies to his family and friends.

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A Rae of sunlight maybe

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, April 18, 2010, In : writing 


A poet I know and like winning a major prize? And whose poetry I like too, I mean? This couldn't happen here. Many congratulations to Rae Armantrout, who has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book Versed. The best reaction I've seen this side of the pond, by the way, comes from Jeremy Noel-Tod.

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Writers Forum lives

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, April 1, 2010, In : writing 

The Sound Of Writers Forum from openned on Vimeo.

Writers Forum (yes, it's spelt like that, no apostrophe) is synonymous with one man: Bob Cobbing (1920-2002). From 1963 until his death it was a regular poetry workshop in London championing and encouraging experimental work, AND also a small press with a no-holds-barred approach. 

In recent years, the technological phenomenon of short-run printing and print-on-demand, together with the internet's instant availability has resulted in "small" pre...

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Unknown countries (10): Discussion and conclusions

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, In : writing 
 
This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.
 
Let’s recap what I am trying to do here. I wanted to consider eight books with non-naturalistic content. I chose eight I had never read before, because I wanted this to be an open-ended investigation, a kind of thinking online without preconceptions about what I was trying to achieve.
 
I also stated at the outset that part of ...

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Unknown countries (9): The Prestige

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, March 3, 2010, In : writing 

This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.
 
I need to be careful discussing Christopher Priest’s The Prestige (1995). This is one book where any detailed discussion of the plot risks spoiling a first-time read; it’s not so much a whodunnit as a howdunnit.
 
The novel concerns two 19th century stage magicians, Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden, whose bitter rivalry has tragic co...

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Unknown countries (8): Perdido Street Station

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, February 17, 2010, In : writing 

This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

Many years ago, I used to read a lot of SF and then I got bored with it and stopped. When I started browsing for it again on the shelves of new and second-hand bookshops (ah! remember when it was so easy to do that? real bookstores with real books!), there were a few names that were new to me, one being China Miéville. Strange name. I thought...


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Unknown countries (7): Uncle Silas

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, In : writing 

This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu is principally known these days as a writer of ghost stories. In particular, the classic “Green Tea” has been anthologised countless times. 

No doubt this has coloured public perception today of his novels, but it is the case that they are not supernatural fantasies. In her 1946 introduction to the novel in question,...

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Unknown countries (6) : After London

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, January 29, 2010, In : writing 

This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

I’d heard of Richard Jefferies’ 1885 novel After London, or Wild England for a while before I got round to reading it. Given that this is meant to be one of the great ur-texts of the English Catastrophe tradition – it is granddaddy, whether authors or readers are aware of it or not, to Ballard’s The Drowned World, John Wyndham’s The ...

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Unknown countries (5): The Unconsoled

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, In : writing 

This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

This is the one that surprised me most out of the eight – and in a favourable way.

The book had lain on the shelves here unread for ten years. To be honest, I’d never had any great desire to get started on it, or on any other book by Kazuo Ishiguro. Nor had I seen the 1993 film made of his earlier Booker Prize-winning novel The Remains of t...
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Unknown countries (4): The Possibility of an Island

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, January 17, 2010, In : writing 
This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

I knew a bit about Michel Houellebecq, the supposed bad boy of French letters. How he was prosecuted unsuccessfully for racism for asserting in his 2003 novel Platform that Islam was the stupidest religion. How he hated his mum and his mum hated him. That he’d written a book about H P Lovecraft. His repudiation first by French leftist writer...
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Unknown countries (3): The Man Who was Thursday

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, January 11, 2010, In : writing 
This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

Terrorism isn’t something that was invented on 11 September 2001, nor even thirty years before that in Northern Ireland. A hundred years ago, terrorism obsessed the Western world much as it does today. The bogeymen in those days were not Islamic extremists but revolutionary anarchists. Dynamite was the weapon of choice.

Conrad’s The Secret ...
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Unknown countries (2): In the Country of Last Things

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, January 5, 2010, In : writing 
This is an investigation of eight novels incorporating the fantastic, with a view to drawing some conclusions about the place of speculation in fiction.

Paul Auster has been getting it in the neck from The New Yorker critic James Wood. Wood takes the opportunity of a review of Auster’s most recent novel, Invisible, to parody his oeuvre, concluding with a damning precis of what he takes to be the stereotypical Auster novel:

“A protagonist, nearly always male, often a writer or an intellectua...
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Unknown countries: speculation in fiction

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, January 1, 2010, In : writing 
A Happy New Decade to all regular readers and to those stumbling across this blog from wherever.

One of the projects I set myself in the year just gone was to research what exactly I mean by “speculative fiction” – a term coined in the days of New Worlds magazine in the 1960s/70s as an alternative spelling-out of the initials SF.

The idea was that the term would seek to encompass not just science fiction but any narrative that involves an element of fantasy, or to be more precise (since ...
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Grace Lake, 1948-2009

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, December 17, 2009, In : writing 


Grace Lake, poet, also known as Anna Mendelssohn, has died aged 61. Here is Peter Riley's obituary.


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If p then what?

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, December 9, 2009, In : writing 
I'm recovering from last night's reading in the desperate for love series curated by Alan Hay and friends at Komedia, Brighton. I had the pleasure of supporting Tom Raworth, one of the great presences in British poetry over the past few decades. He is a formidable performer as well as poet. I also enjoyed hearing the third poet on the night, Rowena Easton.

Equally amazing to me was the audience - young, engaged, and, unusually in my experience, about 90% unknown to me. I guess there were aroun...
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In Town this week

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, October 13, 2009, In : writing 
I thought this from the redoubtable Vahni Capildeo and cohorts was well worth a look, even if you don't get the full benefit unless you happen to travel to (or live in) Trinidad (now the chill is arriving, I wish ...).



The magazine is fragmented/distributed across townscapes for folks to encounter at random. A much better idea than the patronising, airbrushed, subsidised package that is  "Poems on the Underground" in London - cf the ghastly traduction of WCW below:



(original image here)

They sho...
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from the Old School

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, October 9, 2009, In : writing 
Kent Johnson, Quite Interesting US Poet/Annoying Bastard (delete according to preference), has posted a blog here under the image of a Union Flag (he says it's upside down) about what he describes as the New British School of poetry.

He talks of 'a con­stel­la­tion of per­fectly excit­ing UK poets writ­ing “in wake of” the Cambridge-​based greats J. H. Prynne and Tom Raworth– who could be seen, in their two pres­ences, genealog­i­cally speak­ing, as some­what to their later...
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Songbook

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, September 23, 2009, In : writing 
Having a new book out is still a bit of a thrill, I must admit, even when it's a book of work that is not that new. I have to thank Tony Frazer, of Shearsman Books, for the good production job he did on Songbook, which makes its debut around about now.

The title is a bit of a misnomer, I suppose. An intentional misnomer. Let me explain. I have recently been getting back to doing something I last did in my 20s, writing songs - "proper" songs with verses and choruses and middle eights, and much...
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The Sea (7)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Saturday, July 18, 2009, In : writing 


Tide in, blowy breakers, deep grey-green with silt in it. Sky is wet, bent over. A word “crystallised” in it. Drifting, long-lining, seining, trammelling, trawling, again, and always. And above that, more light, and here comes the evaluation: that everything will evaporate into nothing, that this book will capture nothing, that everything that is narrated here has occurred within the space of a split particle, where there’s nothing, where no one can hear you think. Hello! Sorry at this ...
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The Sea (6)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, July 13, 2009, In : writing 


Immense glitter sparkle in the distance. Split particles show splutters in chardonnay. Fishing with Higgs the bo’sun, fielding for godlets. Keep those figures floundering, flittering. So how do you know that you exist? When your whole life flashes? Can you describe this, Jack? They knew him as a fisherman, not as a fiddler. He flew into the light off the edge of the harbour arm on an old clinker craft with an elliptic stern, and was seen no more. What kind of language is that? What are you ...
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The Sea (5)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, July 10, 2009, In : writing 


Turquoise in the lee of the groyne, a white sheet where the sun is upon it. Turns out this is an unnamed paragraph, about nothing, written in a “hotel of real spies”. A trumpet in the shape of a boat. At first glance, it extruded the body language of convergence, then it became convenient, and then a commodity, and so it goes on, day after day, beginning after ending after beginning, persons and events and horizons in a blur. History turns into salt – to what purpose? We are never told....
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The Sea (4)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, July 7, 2009, In : writing 


Pale grey-green, almost no waves, tide out. An aircraft disintegrated over mid-Atlantic, very peacefully. Zombies very nice peoples. No, they are vampires. They are Dover sole and plaice, and other flat fish such as dabs, flounders, lemon soles, also brills, turbots, cod and the various types of dogfish, large shoals of mackerel, herring, sprats, lobsters, shrimps and whelks. I love crashing flounders, please. Then your own thoughts start to cluster in. Build your own groyne right here and pu...
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The Sea (3)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, In : writing 


A twinkling expanse in the morning sunshine. On a portable radio, sweet talk from across the globe. Sounded like she was singing from a nest of wires. Don’t think about it. The downtown retail sector is in a state of devastation. Hungry creatures roam, look like they’ve been punched senseless selling unsustainable debt to each other. I love my black Moorish bass. But I’ve been beaten over my metaphorical head too, and I’m much too nervous to stand up. (Stop it, you’re hyperventilati...
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The Sea (2)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, In : writing 


Bands of green and blue, little rippling waves. And, may I say, a feather, of diseased appearance. The diseased head of a man. Who gave me the whooping ’flu, you swine? Is that a dog talking? Have we come to this? Take me to the cliff, and drop me there. Let me fall through space, and so become alive. Dolls and ghosts and dogs, daddy and mummy bears, gorillas, pigs and mice and all the hybrids in between. Breeding in a tight corner, sounds almost hooman. I ain’t scared of the sea, but it...
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The Sea

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, June 21, 2009, In : writing 


A dazzling white sheet from afar. A blade shines from horizon to horizon, its light much too white for the eye. Light leaching out of it. Mild, variegated, lacking definition; but with a hard frosty glitter in the distance. Milk and dirt heaving rhythmically, water breathing in and out. Heavy easterly, the water brown with silt inland, and pale green further off, clashing waves in your face. Swirling muck in the shallows. Bumpy and glittering, then clean and clear.

An intending surfer undresse...
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Duffy's Politics

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, June 15, 2009, In : writing 
Well, our new Laureate has now published her first official poem, and here it is.

The official position of Reality Street on the Laureateship is, of course, one of studied indifference. The institution has as much relevance to poetry, or to contemporary life, as - well, the House of Lords with its wigs and knee-breeches, say. Its incumbents have historically been either good poets past their sell-by date or dusty nonentities nobody has read for hundreds of years. In recent times, we've had a r...
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David Bromige 1933-2009

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, June 4, 2009, In : writing 
I'm just delving into my journal from 1994 now to help me recall one of several happy memories of David. I was visiting the US and he'd booked me to do a reading in a series he was curating at the Johnny Otis Café in Sebastopol, California (yes, it really was owned by the rhythm & blues singer of that name).

Kathleen Fraser drove me to Sonoma County, and Susan Gevirtz and Cydney Chadwick were there too, also Steve Tills. I stayed overnight in David and Cecelia's house and met young Margaret ...
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Save our Salt

Posted by Ken Edwards on Monday, June 1, 2009, In : writing 
Good news that Salt Publishing's internet campaign to save its business from going under has had a positive result. The Bookseller reports that Salt received more than 400 orders in a single day in response to its plea to customers to "buy just one book".

Chris and Jen Emery's enterprise has been a shot in the arm for poetry in the UK, and I was happy to respond to the campaign (the book I ordered on this occasion was Chris McCabe's Zeppelins - which has a wit comparable to Tom Leonard, and be...
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textmusic

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, May 24, 2009, In : writing 
The textmusic symposium at Birkbeck College yesterday (Saturday) was a stimulating day of discussion about theory and poetic/musical practice. It's just the kind of area that interests me, and so I was sorry I wasn't able to get to London in time to hear Will Montgomery on the connection between Frank O'Hara and Morton Feldman and Steve Dickison (over from San Francisco) on reggae. I did enjoy David Grubbs (Brooklyn College) on his musical collaboration with Susan Howe, Frances Kruk on her co...
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JG Ballard and the lost English avant garde

Posted by Ken Edwards on Saturday, May 2, 2009, In : writing 
On 19 April we lost a great English visionary. I use the qualifier deliberately: JG Ballard, perplexed ever since his arrival as a youngster from Shanghai by his newly encountered homeland (see his memoir, Miracles of Life), by its absurd fixation on the past, seems ostensibly an alien observer, at odds with the literary and socio-political mainstream of England. And yet I see him as an exemplar of an English dissident tradition; the nearest comparison among writers might be with Blake.

I met ...
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Maggie's Waterfalls

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, In : writing 
Maggie O'Sullivan's Waterfalls, promised for I forget how many years by Etruscan Books, is out at last. Completed 10 years ago, it's the companion work to red shifts (also published by Etruscan, 2001); the two books are a kind of diptych comprising the poetic project her/story:eye.

This beautiful book draws on Maggie's Irish roots, and on (in her words) "riddle, lore, tale, song, lament, elegy" and  "the Great Famine of 1845-52, the clearances, dispossession and exile". Here's a sample spread...
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Canting, Sean Bonney, Gilad Atzmon

Posted by Ken Edwards on Tuesday, April 7, 2009, In : writing 
Last Thursday (2 April) was a great day for visiting London. The sun shone on an eerily quiet capital - commuters and, particularly, bankers appeared to have largely stayed away, greatly afeared of the imagined repercussions from the clash of G20 leaders and "protesters" of various stripes. In the event, there was no such clash on that day.

I had a day off to (a) have lunch with two of my soon-to-be-ex-colleagues, (b) lose a couple of intermediary hours browsing bookshops in Charing X Rd and b...
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Runnymede, bardo, birds

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, March 22, 2009, In : writing 
Read at the Runnymede Festival, Royal Holloway University of London, yesterday afternoon. First, we were delayed by a faulty train from Hastings, then by rugby fans, half of them kilted, travelling to Twickenham, then it was hard to find the venue, with the consequence that I missed Robert Sheppard and Ulli Freer while we were wandering around the campus. Met Ulli very briefly just before I finally found the "Management Auditorium"; he was muttering about having to "get to South London" and d...
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Is it academic?

Posted by Ken Edwards on Friday, March 20, 2009, In : writing 
In my last post I said "I'm ambivalent about the increasing academicisation of innovative/parallel tradition poetry..." I think there may be one too many syllables in one of the words there, but I hope my meaning is clear, if not the precise detail of my ambivalence. I'm prompted by an announcement by my good friend Robert Sheppard of the proposed launch of a Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry which he is to edit with Scott Thurston (the publisher is Gylphi: www.gylphi.co.uk).

The ...
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Prynne and "Prynne"

Posted by Ken Edwards on Sunday, March 15, 2009, In : writing 
I have been taken to task by one or two subscribers to the UK Poetry discussion list for - well, I'm not sure what for, advocating closing down of discussion about poetry, I guess. To explain: UK Poetry, numbering some couple of hundred subscribers, is hosted by Miami University, Ohio, and dedicated to discourse around contemporary innovative British/Irish poetry. It is a great source of information and, sometimes, intellectual stimulation (though I'm ambivalent about the increasing academici...
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About ...


Ken Edwards This blog is written by Ken Edwards, co-founder and editor/publisher of Reality Street, and it's mainly about the press. Ken's personal blog can now be found at http://www.kenedwards.eu/