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Rejection

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I used to handle the rejection of my poetry very badly. I still don't like it; nobody does. But two or three magazines in a month declining my submissions won't make me question my right to call myself a poet anymore.

Once, in the print days, I had a lot of success publishing with Bryn Fortey in his legendary magazine 'Outlaw'. I thought I had cracked it; I thought I knew how to write good poetry and that everything I produced would be loved by everyone.

Then two editors sent my submissions back by return of post. One was brutal. I was so crushed by his demolition of my work I couldn't write for months.

Which is silly, really. I'd never met the man. Nor had I ever read any of his poetry. Why would his opinion matter if I had no measure of his right to offer one?

These days, roughly 50% of my submissions are accepted, or one from 50% of the bundles I submit, to be more precise. That's an average I'm proud of, though I'd like it to be higher. But I&#…

Book Review: 'The Two of Us' by Sheila Hancock

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This week I've read The Two of Us. Sheila Hancock's memoir of her life with John Thaw. It was first published 15 years ago, but mylove of the Inspector Morse franchise hadn't consumed me in 2004. I liked the show, just as I had liked The Sweeney when I was a teenager, but it was still just unusually intelligent tv. Television was an intellectual bete-noire for me in those days. I hated the way it was always chattering away in the background at home, forcing what I considered a mentally deadening consensual reality on its audience.

Besides,  there really was no Inspector Morse franchise in 2004. The Morse spin-off Lewis wouldn't begin for another two years, and I didn't even see that until 2010, having jettisoned my tv between house moves at some point along the line. Finally I did see it, and I thought it was wonderful, almost as good as the original (I was too loyal to allow for anything else). By the time the Morse prequel Endeavour began in 2012 I was deeply im…

Guest Writer: Ed Markowski

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Homage To Thompson
On January 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm the citizens of the world bid farewell to the Obama Nation and bore witness to the dawn of America's Abomination. In New York Harbor the inscription was amended to read . . . Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breath fear when we arrived a one-hundred and ten story hotel and casino constructed entirely of Mount Rushmore granite had erased the faces by law dictionaries phone booksnews papers, magazines short stories bibles encyclopedias letters coupons and conversations could no longer exceed two-hundred and eighty characters regardless of faith race denominationand purpose kneeling on Sundays became a federal crime on July 16, 2018 in honor of the president millions of men women boys and girls had their hair dyed pale orange from Moscow to Minsk his last assault on Obama's legacy was the release of a previously classified National Inquirer that proved Hillary Clinton was the mastermind responsible for …

Tibet National Uprising Day

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Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. The Parliament-in-Exile makes an official statement about the history and the current status of Tibet under occupation here.

References to the anniversary on British media, however, appear to be non-existent at the moment. Interest in the matter on the part of our political parties is equally hard to detect.

I had Sky News' Sunrise programme on in the background for an hour this morning and it didn't get a mention. I had Sophy Ridge on Sunday on for at least half an hour; most of that was taken up by an interview with Dominic Raab, in which he talked about Brexit, the 'Marxist' agenda of Labour under Corbyn and the 'good story' that the Conservative Party has to tell the electorate. He also coyly denied (looking all the time like an arrogant young murder suspect on Inspector Morse) that he had any immediate ambition to become prime minister.

I have The Andrew Marr Show on now. A newspaper revie…

D.R.M.

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While book hunting the other day I found this little treasure. It's 'Job Morbid's Pilgrimage', a collection of poetry from 1857, a first edition if I'm not mistaken, by a poet who calls himself or herself 'D.R.M.' Now, I have a reasonable knowledge of English literature. But I'd never heard of a D.R.M. before. I was, naturally, intrigued.

I bought the book and when I got home, looked up D.R.M. on the internet. Perhaps I don't know where to look, but I found nothing. Only multiple copies of 'Job Morbid' on different Amazon sites around the world, some listing the author as D.R.M., some listing him/ her as R.M.D., and one that said 'author unknown'. Unfortunately, none of them have Amazon's 'Look Inside' facility. If they did I might be able to satisfy my curiosity by reading some work of diligent scholarship in an introduction.

A Twitter friend consulted the Bodleian digital library for me and found another book by the sa…

Hunter

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Yesterday was the anniversary of the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson, who has been one of my favourite writers since I first came across his work in Rolling Stone in 1985. I remember the magazine and the year with an unusual (for me) accuracy because the article, a ten-year-old account of the fall of Saigon, made the sort of impression on me that readers only experience once or twice in their lifetime. His prose was remarkable. He used song lyrics as epigraphs. He slipped occasionally into bizarre flights of fancy. And behind all the showmanship there was an intellectual and philosophical depth I had only expected, up to that point, from poets and folk singers.

After that first article I read both Fear and Loathing books and The Great Shark Hunt. Shark Hunt collected then-contemporary as well as much older journalism by Hunter. It was a proper history of the previous twenty years in America from a perspective that became increasingly skewed as the author grew into his mature style. And…

The Artist and the Work

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Can the artist and the work ever be separated? I have been having this discussion with other poets and a painter friend lately. I love the poetry of Ezra Pound. But Pound was an anti-Semite. Does enjoying his work make me an anti-Semite too? I love the poetry of Ted Hughes. Does that mean I approve of men having multiple relationships simultaneously? And are the achievements of either poet, or any of the other great poets, writers, painters and musicians of history to be nullified by our disapproval of the lives of their creators?

I can't really disapprove of Ted Hughes. I once slept with a woman knowing she was married, and I didn't give a moment's thought to her husband; she excited me, and I wanted her. But I do believe someone gets hurt when a trusted partner starts thinking it's all right to sleep with other people. It might not always be the person you expect, but it will happen. Ted Hughes lost a wife and a partner to suicide. He was unquestionably attracted to e…