Tag Archives: Hugo Williams

The Poetry of Cinema

One of my favourite of all films, Cinema Paradiso, inspired my eponymous poem recently published in The Spectator. Film can be a prism for ideas and emotions in much the same way as poetry: an admix of the visual and the visceral. How to capture, in a few lines, the essence of a film which has affected you deeply? As so often in poetry, it’s what you leave out that matters.

Thank you to Hugo Williams for selecting my poem to appear in the 10th July issue of the magazine. You can read it on-line at: https://www.spectator.co.uk/poem/cinema-paradiso

Other poets recently published there include Fleur Adcock, John Levett, Richie McCaffery and Claudine Toutoungi.

If you’d like to submit your poems to Hugo for consideration, send them c/o Arts & Books editor Claire Asquith at The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP. Hard copies + SAE required.

Another, more surreal, cinematic poem of mine, My Night as a 50-Foot Woman, is featured in the New York based anthology, Poetry Inspired by Film, edited by Jennifer Maloney and Bart White; a fantastic bunch of poets and cinema enthusiasts, gravitating around The Little Theatre of Moving Images. They organised six Trans-Atlantic video launches for the anthology (it’s a big book!) so all contributors had the opportunity to perform their work live.

“Years before I identified and pursued my love of poetry, I was in love with movies,” writes Bart White in his foreword. “The filmmaker explores qualities of storytelling and of time, slowing time down or speeding it up . . . and now we might be speaking of the poet who looks in wonder at the world, absorbs light and sound, then shapes a form to hold an experience. . . or are we speaking again of the filmmaker? Between them there is a deep resonance”

“A community of artists was the impetus behind this anthology,” writes Jennifer Maloney. “Watching movies, during this pandemic year, soothed me, distracted and uplifted me.”

The anthology includes images of specially commissioned paintings by David James Delaney, including ‘And Toto Too’.

You can purchase a copy of the anthology for $11 (warning: postal charges from the US are astronomical!) by emailing Kenneth Kelbaugh at movies2020holo@aol.com

If you’re interested in exploring the rich heritage of film, I can thoroughly recommend Alan Price’s regular blog (vastland) where he puts his erudition to work on all manner of creative questions. Here he writes about films which have influenced him: https://alanprice69.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/blessay-4-three-films-that-shaped-me/

My poem ‘Drone-Boys’ in The Spectator

I’m delighted to be in The Spectator again. A big thank you to Hugo Williams for choosing my poem about lambs, drones and lads on the South Downs.

Since moving to Brighton three years ago, sheep have begun to loom large in my life. They can be very addictive creatures – drones, less so!

You can read the poem in the November 7th issue (or on the image below).

This issue includes an intriguing poem about a fly by Kate Bingham, plus a villanelle in praise of Wendy Cope by Jane Blanchard.

The Spectator is England’s oldest continuously published Magazine (dating back to 1828), so it’s seen a lot of history come and go. It usually carries between two and four poems per week, plus a weekly competition for themed or form poems. Check each week for the required topic.

You can submit poems for the body of the magazine to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.

Surprised by The Spectator

Spectator 28.3.20.Having a poem published in The Spectator is one of life’s little joys. A quiet moment of celebration with suitable alcoholic beverage. Perhaps even a phone call to friends, to go out and buy.

But thanks to these unprecedented times, my poem ‘The Man God Oil’ appeared more than a month before I actually realised (on March 28th). The always efficient Arts & Books Editor, Clare Asquith, working from home, simply couldn’t keep pace with the 3 or 4 poets per week and their needs (poetry being only one of her many responsibilities).

My poem was inspired by a visit I made to Chongqin last autumn, and the extraordinary scale of just about everything to do with China, from buildings and reproductive health to bullet trains and the 3 rivers dam. Of course, little did I know what lay round the corner.IMG_20190920_214347973[1]

A big thank you must go to Hugo Williams for selecting ‘The Man God Oil’. If you possibly can, do beg, steal or borrow his latest collection Lines Off (Faber) and enjoy the poise and wit of his poetry. He also chose a very clever poem by Glyn Maxwell, ‘Seven Things Wrong With the Love Sonnet’, plus ‘Berrying’ by Andre Mangeot, and ‘The Inkwell’ by Nicholas Murray.

Spectator (28.3.20)_0002For those of you skilled in the art of light verse, the weekly Competition, curated by Lucy Vickery, pays £25 per successful poem, and has a different challenge set each week. On March 28th, the winners included DA Prince answering the call to submit a song that we can sing instead of ‘Happy Birthday’ during hand-washing. Each week, you have ten days to write and submit from call-out to final deadline.

If you’d like to submit a small selection of your poems for possible inclusion, please send them to Hugo Williams, c/o Clare Asquith, Arts & Books, The Spectator, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP and include an SAE.

South Bank Poetry is 10 Years Old

South Bank Poetry (issue 30)_0002Poetry magazines aren’t notable for their longevity. It takes dedication and sheer bloody mindedness (I suspect) to keep jumping those hurdles, year after year.

So a massive thumbs-up to Peter Ebsworth and Katherine Lockton for steering their ever-popular magazine into its second decade. By sheer fluke, I have two poems in the 10th anniversary issue, which in a lovely way, gives me a direct connection with that celebration.

Due to prior commitments, I wasn’t able to attend the launch of South Bank Poetry (issue 30) at the Poetry Place, but by all accounts it was an evening to remember. Many contributors attended and read their poems. For those of us who weren’t able, there was a special treat in store. The actress Annette Badland (Hazel of Archer’s fame), kindly agreed to perform our work. SBP Annette Badland reads At Risk Child 18

Having heard her read another of my poems last year in the Actor’s Church, Covent Garden, as part of the Out of Place music project, I know just how well she uses that intelligent voice of hers to bring out every nuance in a piece of poetry.

Contributors to the 10th anniversary issue include Jim Alderson, Tessa Berring, Leonardo Boix, Claire Booker, Oliver Comins, Daniel Loudon, Joel Scarfe, Paul Stephenson, Joe Wedgbury and Heidi Williamson.

“We would like to thank all our contributors to this issue, as well as all the poets who have sent us their work over the last ten years,” writes Katherine Lockton in the intro. We would be nothing without you. Over the years we have seen poets published in our magazine go on to become poetry superstars. We are so proud of what you have all achieved and continue to accomplish.”

South Bank Poetry (issue 30)_0001I can think of no better encomium for the magazine, than that written by the poet, journalist and travel writer, Hugo Williams: “I have always enjoyed South Bank Poetry for its unexpected mix of strange and traditional, lyrical and political, young, old and odd, so I don’t hesitate in recommending it to anyone remotely interested in the art. It is just a very good money’s worth and will last.”

How prescient he turns out to be. A hearty thanks to Peter and Katherine for giving us a decade of happy reading. Here’s to the next ten years (and more)!

To buy a copy of the magazine, or submit your own work, please check: www.southbankpoetry.co.uk

The Spectator and I

Spectator (Dec 1st 2018)_0001Thank you to Hugo Williams for including one of my poems in this week’s Spectator magazine (Dec 1st issue).

The Spectator may not be everyone’s cup of tea politically, but it gets serious marks for including not one, but two (and sometimes even three), contemporary poems EVERY WEEK in its pages.  How many newspapers or main stream magazines can say as much?

And what’s heartening, is those poems are not always by the literary glitterati. Which means that anyone can have a chance to be enjoyed by 80,000 plus readers – so long as the poem is interesting enough to be selected.

In this issue, you can read loads on the arts, including poems by John Mole, Nicola Healey and Claire Booker, an interview with best-selling author Sam Leith, advice on buying modern art (out of my price range, alas!), book, TV, theatre and dance reviews, including Michele Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and a feature on the history of Art Deco. You also get Spectator Life magazine thrown in for good measure, which includes a highly entertaining interview with comedienne and former advisor to a number of Labour leaders, Ayesha Hazarika. Spectator (Dec 1st 2018)_0002

If you’d like your work to be considered, send a small selection of poems (on paper only) to Hugo Williams, c/o The Spectator, Arts and Books, 22 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9HP.

 

 

Booker poem makes it into The Spectator

Spectator (26.3.16)_0001You know how it goes – another A4 brown envelope hits the doormat, you rip it open, braced for a rejection, read the slip which says  . . . hang on, it says: “Thanks, I’d like to take your poem. With best wishes, Hugo W.”

Within hours of reading Hugo Williams’ note,  the phone rings. It’s the Spectator’s Arts Desk to check my poem is still available (apparently, a two month wait is considered worthy of an apology). Then, after a couple of days, the emotional back lash – is it true, did I dream it up, will it really go in?

Come Easter, there it is, better than a chocolate egg, on page 13 of the March 26th  edition, all shiny and brand new in the middle of an article about Tory in-fighting.

Friends are duly phoned. They buy copies (many in disguise for political reasons) and I sit back and try to imagine the 60,000 readers who might be considering my poem right now. Will it help them think differently about the refugee crisis?  Does poetry make anything happen? Are we all wasting our time? Spectator (26.3.16)_0004

Much too heavy for the Easter break. I decide on a piece of chocolate and settle down to read some mouth-watering book reviews, including one I may well spend my ill-gotten fee on: Seeing Ourselves: Women’s Self-Portraits. It’s by art historian Frances Borzello, full of lavish illustrations and new research into gifted female painters who currently languish in museum basements. Shame on you, Establishment!