Friday, 29 February 2008


Hark! According to his command we listened, and with full ears sucked in the air as some of you suck oysters, to find if we could hear some sound scattered through the sky; and to lose none of it, like the Emperor Antoninus some of us laid their hands hollow next to their ears; but all this would not do, nor could we hear any voice. Yet Pantagruel continued to assure us he heard various voices in the air, some of men, and some of women . . .
See my post of 23rd January

Oystercatcher Press publishes booklets of modern poetry and has two interesting new publications:

£3.50 A5 44pp ISBN: 978-1-905885-01-5
A poem in seven sections inspired by the life and work of Miró.

£4.00 A5 20pp ISBN: 978-1-905885-02-2
A sequence 'written between 1970 and 1972 . . . selected and revised in January 2008.'

Oystercatcher Press is at 4 Coastguard Cottages, Lighthouse Close, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk
PE36 6EL
email: Oystercatcherpress [AT] gmail [D0T] com

Cheques payable to P Hughes. UK post free. Overseas postage at cost.

Thursday, 21 February 2008


No, nothing to do with the lifestyle magazine . . . But it was odd to see them in a glass case in the Serpentine Gallery recently as part of Antony McCall’s exhibition - he was one of the ‘’Wallpaper collective’. Started by poet and performance artist Anthony Howell, the group comprised eleven people, a mix of visual artists, poets and one musician. The covers were wallpaper. Literally. The most garish we could find. The magazine was A4 format with quite basic production values, and the idea was that a different person each time did the work of actually bringing the thing out and we all appeared in it on a strict rota basis. The first issue appeared in 1974 and it ran for seven or maybe eight issues depending on your point of view - by the end things had rather fallen apart. As I remember it, the project was an odd mixture of free-and-easy collaboration and awkward bureaucratic procedures. A transitional moment from the 1960s? But then the sixties were never quite that free-and-easy. The artists featured in addition to Anthony McCall were Amikam Toren, Susan Hiller, Andrew Eden, Susan Bonvin, Richard Quarrel. As to the writers, I was one of the ten, along with Bill Shepherd, David Coxhead and Anthony himself and there was one musician, Richard Bernas. Issue 5 / 6 was a double issue, the guest issue where we each invited somebody. It included writer Lynne Tillman, filmmaker Annabel Nicolson, artist Daniel Dahl (why is his website in Latin?), performance artist Fiona Templeton and there was poetry from among others Allen Fisher and John Sharkey. Anthony Barnett featured in issue 7 as a guest contributor as did Alan Fuchs who contributed an extraordinary prose piece. It was a snapshot of what was going on at the time and the attempt to bring together poets and people in the visual arts seems worthwhile and something often lacking in this country. But is it a little worrying seeing them all in a glass case, with group photographs of us and other bits and pieces? Over at the British Library you can see the exhibition Breaking the Rules, on till 30th March, featuring books and magazines from the heroic age of modernism likewise carefully arranged in glass cases. As if there is something that has to be continually re-enacted.

I do have multiple copies of some issues in case anyone is interested. . .

Andrew Eden and Susan Bonvin are two very interesting artists who have a website well worth checking out at And Anthony Howell now runs The Room in Tottenham Hale, which has hosted readings, art exhibitions, tango events and so on – though things are rather quiet there just at the moment.


On an earlier post I drew attention to the covers, relief prints, that Peter Tingey made for a number of Many Press publications. His website is up and running now at The site opens with a wonderfully imposing close-up of the Albion Press he still works on; a later image shows that it is, in his words, ‘surmounted with the life mask of William Blake which replaces the missing crown.’ On the site you can find a wide range of his work . . .

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


I’ve just been looking again at Beverly Rowe’s website at Beautifully organised (he’s a professional) it includes among other things sections devoted to his own poetry, and also his work on Queneau. Member of Oulipo and mainly known over here for his ‘Zazie dans le Metro’ this site features English versions of Queneau’s sonnets. Bev Rowe writes: ‘Queneau's Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes is derived from a set of ten basic sonnets. In his book, published in 1961, they are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a heads-bodies-and-legs book. All ten sonnets have the same rhyme scheme and employ the same rhyme sounds. As a result, any line from a sonnet can be combined with any from the other nine, giving 1014 (= 100,000,000,000,000) different poems. Working twenty-four hours a day, it would you take some 140,000,000 years to read them all. Queneau's writing in general does not leave the reader with a sense of narrative comfort; these sonnets are no exception. Since the randomization would destroy whatever narrative there is, this is no real problem. It also allows a translator some freedom but I have tried to stay close to the original.’

Rowe’s English versions of the basic sonnets are masterpieces of ingenuity, likewise the site overall. And not to forget another feature of the site, a list of three hundred museums in London with links including something called the Anaesthesia Heritage Centre. Maybe we’re all there already.