Sunday, 22 November 2009


‘I’m 42 now and when I was a boy and a young man I was employed in The Times machine office, but I got into a bit of a row, a bit of a street quarrel and frolic, and was called on to pay £3, something about a street lamp; that was out of the question; and as I was taking a walk in the park, not just knowing what I’d best do, I met a recruiting sergeant and enlisted on a sudden . . .’ Thus the street-orderly, interviewed by Mayhew for his ‘London Labour and the London Poor’ published in 1851. This interview is not one of these used by poet John Seed in his ‘Pictures from Mayhew’ and ‘That Barrikins’, published by Shearsman - but it does have a certain contemporary relevance.

‘I served under General Nott all through the Afghan war’ the man tells him. ‘Why yes sir, I saw a little of what you may call ‘service’ . . . I was at the fighting at Kandahar, Bowlingglen, Bowling Pass, Clatigillsy, Ghazni and Kabul. The first real warm work I was in was at Kandahar. I’ve heard young soldiers say that they’ve gone into action the first time as merry as they would go to a play. Don’t believe them sir . . . You must feel queer and serious the first time you’re in action: it’s not fear, its nervousness. The crack of the muskets at the first fire you hear in real hard earnest is uncommon startling . . . And then you get excited, just as if you were at a hunt, but after a little service – I can speak for myself at any rate – you go into action as you go to your dinner.

I served thirteen years and four months and was then discharged on account of ill health. If I’d served eight months longer . . . I’d have been entitled to a pension. I believe my illness was caused by the hardships I went through in the campaigns, fighting and killing men that I never saw before, and until I was in India had never heard of, and that I had no ill-will to; certainly not, why should I? They never did me any wrong. But when it comes to war, if you can’t kill them they’ll kill you.’

When he came back, he tells Mayhew, he got a job at The Times again ‘but ‘I wasn’t master of the work, for there was new machinery, wonderful machinery . . . So I couldn’t be kept on.’

So now he’s in London sweeping the streets and, like sleep-walkers caught up in some dreadful cycle, a century and a half later we’re back there once again.


‘Visiting Exile’, my new Shearsman collection, is now out. On 6th November I read from the book at Souheil Sleiman’s studio here in Hackney. I’ve already described (see five or so posts back) Souheil’s sculpture ‘All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go’ and its role as a powerful presence in the book. Also on the programme were two short films. Ruth Dupre showed her film ‘Les’, a portrait of a committed smoker. She is an artist specialising in glass who has recently been making films and this is one of a number of film portraits she has done which manage to be very intimate, but non-intrusive. Her ‘Childsong’, a poignant account of an early 19th century educational experiment where a group of children were brought from Sierra Leone to Dulwich where a school was established for them can be seen on the net. Her website is Secondly there was ‘Exit’ by Palestinian film-maker Mohanad Yaqubi, a film reminiscent of a performance art piece, set in a totally deserted London Underground, where a dancer enacts a sense of entrapment. And then to finish music from Hyberbolic, a group one of whose members is Souheil’s son.

Then on 15th November Tom Lowenstein and I joined forces to launch our respective collections at Tom’s house in Stoke Newington. Tom’s new book is ‘Conversations with Murasaki', also available from Shearsman.


The Bow-Wow Shop, edited by Michael Glover, must be the only web magazine to manifest itself in flesh and blood form with a launch. Issue 3 was launched with readings a few days ago at the Arts Club. A short Ashbery poem read simultaneously in Polish and Russian translation created a pleasing and oddly soothing effect. Among the other readers was Japan-based Paul Rossiter who read an electrifying poem. ‘Komachi’, from the current issue. As well as a group of his poems there’s a substantial afterword by him, ‘Thatched Huts and Instant Noodles’, where he describes in some detail the history of his encounters with Japanese poetry, starting, long before he had visited the country, with his reading of Bunting’s ‘Chomei at Toyama’ . ‘Komachi’ takes off from a contemporary No play he happened on two weeks after arriving in Tokyo in 1981. ‘Traditional No’, he writes, is performed extremely slowly, but that is as nothing compared to the pace at which this Komachi moved. In the second line of the poem I talk about her moving 'centimetre by centimetre' across the bridge, and this is perhaps an understatement; her pace was almost impossibly slow, and it took her nearly ten minutes to cover the few metres to the centre of the stage. Moreover, the production was also almost completely silent; although there was occasionally some music (Vivaldi, 'La Vie en Rose'), and the figures in the sub-plot (squabbling 1980s' neighbours who live in the apartment next door to Komachi's ancientness) had lines to speak, Komachi herself stayed silent throughout the performance. The speechlessness, the extreme slowness of the movement, and the use of No performance practices, together created an extraordinary intensity. The performance was both phantasmagoric and perfectly controlled, and it made even someone like Peter Brook look a bit sloppy. I'd never seen anything like it.’ It sounds like a piece of performance art, and suggests a resemblance that seems to exist between such traditional forms, and Zen, with western modernism. Rossiter’s piece concludes with a hilarious account of cross-cultural endeavour and confusion, again in Tokyo, involving Kenneth Koch and the shade of Amy Lowell.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Lunch yesterday at Iraqi poet Abdulkarim Kasid’s flat near Chancery Lane, to continue working on the English versions of his poems, versions he first made himself working with his daughter Sara. This method of translation has become increasingly common of course, and I’ve previously worked on the British-based Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan’s poems in a similar way. Some of those versions are among those included in a collection of his poems, ‘Sonata For Four Hands’, due out very soon from Arc Press. It’s a way of working of course that shows up a fundamental asymmetry – they know English, we don’t know Arabic, Punjabi . . .

Kasid’s first home after he got out of Iraq nearly thirty years ago was in Aden. He lived near to what was Rimbaud’s house, and one of the poems we’re working on, ‘A Volcano’, is dedicated to the poet’s memory. He has translated Rimbaud from French into Arabic and yesterday he told me he identifies with Rimbaud’s wandering lifestyle, having himself like so many others been constantly on the move through force of circumstance, something alluded to in this poem (which was in Shadowtrain a while back):

How could I know
My outbound journey
Could be the way back,
That my dreams were behind me
And I wasn’t only the walking shadow
Of a standing-still man?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Sir Alfred Lyall was nothing if not an imperialist, with long service in the most senior ranks of the Indian Civil Service. The sack of Delhi in the aftermath of the ‘Mutiny’or ‘Great Revolt’, depending on your point of view, when Delhi was retaken, sacked and many of its inhabitants killed, was a particularly dreadful episode. Writing some twenty years later Lyall, in his ‘Studies at Delhi 1876’, evokes a game of badminton being played on the spot where the battle to retake the city had been fought:

Hardly a shot from the gate we stormed,
Under the Moree battlement’s shade;
Close to the glacis our game was formed,
There had the fight been, and there we played.

Lightly the demoiselles tittered and leapt,
Merrily capered the players all;
North, was the garden where Nicolson slept,
South was the sweep of a battered wall.

Near me a Musalman, civil and mild,
Watched as the shuttlecocks rose and fell;
And he said, as he counted his beads and smiled,
‘God smite their souls to the depths of hell.’

Well at least Lyall could see it . . .

Wednesday, 19 August 2009


A message from Chris Gutkind to say that the London-based American poet Al Celestine has died. Chris wrote ‘Al has died, it's sad. He had a heart attack a few weeks back, I just found out from his very distressed boyfriend of 21 years, poor Al, such a warm man, and a wonderful mad man, and such an interesting poet, never seen anything quite like his work. He died July 28 . . .’

I published Al’s pamphlet 'Confessions of Nat Turner' in 1978 just three years after I’d started The Many Press. At that time I was printing things myself at the Poetry Society print shop in Earls Court. Production-wise this one could be criticised. The cover card (I had the covers printed elsewhere and bound the pamphlets myself) was a rather alarming dark pink. I had a Dover Book of Aztec motifs – all too easy to chop up and paste down and I went a bit wild with those.

Al was very straightforward to deal with, but quite elusive, I found, on a personal level. I have a file for each Many Press publication, where I keep letters and suchlike as well as the actual ms. But in his file all there is is the original typescript and the brief covering letter. I remember he was anxious not to be labelled a ‘Black poet’ and got quite agitated when he saw a brief review in Time Out drawing attention to that. ‘Who told them I was Black?’ he asked (I think it may have been me). At the time he was working at Joe Allen’s, a smart upmarket burger place while taking some part in the London poetry scene – I recall him standing beside me in the Poetry Society print shop and saying, in a rather resigned way, that he had to head off to Poetry Round.

There were a few other fleeting contacts. There was a group vegetarian dinner he was involved in organising – fund-raising? Amanda and I went along to that. And there were one or two brief telephone and later email exchanges and very occasionally hearing word of him which suggested he was still around now and then on the poetry scene.

What else did he publish? Something that strikes me now, re-reading the 'Confessions', is the combination of powerful rhetoric and a kind of steadiness of control. Here are a couple of passages:

Jacob strums
It's doing what must be done
And keeping up appearances
To become a part of what is.

The stars are hysterical with green omens.
The wide water parts, and he slips
Further and further down into perfection

Because song is naked, and terror
Because it's orgasmic, because it's rooted
Spreads deep into our bowels and cannot be sung.

It does not have a name, this tune.
We have nothing to cleanse our wound

When a string breaks with its own song.

He sees pilgrims, horrific puritans,
Lost, like a crow flying beyond its own field.

Doubt ripens.
Doubt sleeps in the mouth of rivers.
It has the colour of mustard greens.
It has, of course, two sides;
They sway within us like complaint.

Who wants to translate suffering, and who
Weeps for your old juju man now?

Here among hot ash each generation
Like smoke searching for its gone fire
Rises to tell us what we want.


The narrow gate closed.
The yard filled with enraged masters.

Dead Eye harbored horizons.
His face loomed in the half-moon.

There wer rumors of owls.
There were pockets of blood.

Red cauldron of ignorance boils
Over with screams.

The crows was like small white teeth. Standing there
Digesting their own sins

They spoke of refusals,
The necessity of remaining pure.

The flame grew hungry; the rope bit
Savagely into Dead Eye's wrists.

Hundreds of thngs connected them.
Fear divided.

The past was a bull's eye:
The beginning, the end.

They heard something approach and stop.
The tar smiled, the feathers snickered.

Dead Eye stood still.
He cut from each defeat a thread.

He emerged
A black phoenix

Intoxicated, sinister.


It was Souheil Sleiman, a friend and near neighbour, who made his studio available for Amanda's Hackney Downs event. I’m currently correcting the proofs of my Shearsman book 'Visiting Exile', due out in October. Souheil’s sculpture ‘All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go’, seen here on the right, will be on the cover and references to it recur throughout the book. ('All Dressed Up...' was the subject of my first post on this blog.) The work featured as Lebanon’s entry for the Alexandria Biennale last year, so the whole thing had to be dismantled and reassembled, which is referred to in the following section:

Alexandria: is it
Towards a city
But defunct – that can
Swim or sprout eyes

Library lighthouse drowned statues
On the balcony, stands there, a stranger
The name is lips kissing themselves

Where the sculpture arrives
In its packing case

Flatpack assembly:
Dismembered to two dimensions

And under the sea someone’s here
Making a shape out of something lonely

It has eyes instead of a name
In the harbour of drowning

Inimical still to the texture of flesh
It’s a carapace sloughed off

A thing of endless corners
Look backward the usual stranger

So perched it in my mind
Where everything leaves its faint print

But somewhere’s the shape of a human
‘Come over here and be loved’

And a voice, that might last in the calling
From ‘somewhere out of Africa’

Smashed to a dazzle – my animal mouth
Being walked here into a mirror’s silence


Amanda Welch’s website is now up and running, at My last post had Laurie Duggan’s photos of Amanda’s recent ‘Hackney Downs’ show. On her new website you can read more about it, and her statement on the project. And there's a piece by poet and critic Martha Kapos on her last series, the Devon Paintings as well as lots of images of previous work.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Amanda Welch is showing her ‘Hackney Downs’ project in a studio generously lent to her by fellow-artist Souheil Sleiman for the week. It’s on for the rest of this week and here you can see some of the work being transported across the Downs - it will close with an event taking place on Saturday 11th July at 2pm to round it off, when some of the work will be transported by a band of willing helpers across the Downs and back to our house at 15 Norcott Road. Meanwhile she’ll be at the studio from 4-6 each day till then, or at other times by appointment. Call 020 8806 5723 for further details.

‘My current work’, she writes, ‘comes out of an activity, begun “on the side” in 2005, of making memory drawings.’ These are memories of cycling across Hackney Downs ‘on my way to somewhere else. It had occurred to me that these repeated incidental crossings were important’ and later in the same piece she says: ‘Paradoxically, to have no purpose became a purpose. There were conditions attached. From the start it felt important to stick to the moment of noticing – no stopping my bike to check, no going back, no filling in the missing bits, no analysis, no system; no looking for, only finding.’

Hackney Downs: the space is an ambiguous one, not quite the traditional idea of a park. It doesn’t have the curves and irregular planting of trees one associates with parkland as a manicured version of a traditional rural landscape. It’s something squarer and more abrupt, though not completely flat but rising in the centre in a irregular shallow dome and tucked in alongside the railway, formerly the line of the Hackney Brook. There are straight lines of trees on two sides, and an open space you venture into from the safety of the edge – though it has recently been somewhat softened with the planting of a ‘community orchard’ and a ‘wildlife area’.

Martha Kapos wrote of Amanda Welch’s previous cycle of work, the ‘Devon Paintings’: ‘What if you wanted a kind of painting truer to the painter’s walking eye, a painting closer to the experience of landscape as we actually enter it and circulate within it? What if you wanted all of these images and shapes together within the same surface, within the same pictorial whole?’ But moving through a city is all glimpses; a city is a solid thing, an image of permanence, but is composed for much of the time of these glimpses. Here they relate to a single, albeit various, space, and a crossing and recrossing rather than a passing through. Somewhere behind it there’s the plein air tradition of landscape painting in watercolour. Amanda Welch did a lot of paintings in this vein around twenty years ago. An aspect of this kind of work has always been a topographical recording. As in, for instance, the four volumes of Recording Britain published immediately after the Second World War, and the last major undertaking of its kind? The project was launched in 1939 in these words: ‘Artists should be invited to make a number of topographical water-colour drawings of places and buildings of characteristic national interest, particularly those exposed to the dangers of destruction by the operations of war.’ But where each plate in Recording Britain aims to represent a gathering together, a distillation of the essence of a building or landscape, in this work it is all fragments. It has been disassembled, flying apart in pieces. (There have been literal explosions. There is only one remaining towerblock, recorded in three of the ‘sculptures’, the other blocks having been blown up by the Council in front of a large audience of spectators.)
But these works have been made emphatically not by sitting in front of the landscape, but always done from memory. There is a preoccupation with time passing, recording all kinds of often very small changes and, from time to time, recording the site’s earlier history.

There are elements of the cartoon which recall Amanda’s earlier career as an illustrator, and emerge especially in the protagonist who moves through the work, a puzzled and not infrequently indignant person on a bicycle in a hurry to get somewhere else. ‘I really hate these new seats’ she declares. It’s the opposite of the painter who has set up an easel in front of a landscape and works meditatively for a prolonged period.

These fragments have to be somehow organised. Archiving is a contemporary preoccupation – but here, whether or not consciously, there are elements of parody. The process of making these objects is itself directed by impulse, using whatever materials happen to turn up. Many of the drawings as well are on scrap paper; she refers to them as ‘residues of my bicycle trips’. It’s the opposite of the reverential white-gloved approach. There is also a steadfast avoidance of the kind of neatness often associated with this kind of thing – which tends to involve work all executed on paper of exactly the same size, providing the pleasure of making a ‘set’ – like collecting stamps and sticking them in one’s album. The works was conceived in part as a way of moving on from the previous series of paintings. Looking at these drawings in bulk what is so striking is the is enlivening variousness of the result.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


It’s the Poetry Season on TV and last night’s offering was Owen Sheers on Lynette Roberts. An interesting choice, this late-modernist recently re-issued as a Collected Poems. But the programme formula is poet-and-place, which all too easily becomes a sort of poetry travelogue. The Bronte Country, The Hardy Country, that sort of thing. Sheers focusses in particular on one work, ‘Poem from Llanbyri’, which opens her first book, ‘Poems’, published by Faber in 1944. Sheers tackles his task with a sort of pious agreeableness, but I was suddenly taken aback to hear him describe this as ‘her only collection’. What about that other book of hers, ‘Gods with Stainless Ears’, which came out in 1951, also from Faber? Later in the programme he does refer very much in passing to publication of a ‘fiercely modernist poem’, but chooses not to give us the title. Looking again at my copy of ‘Poems’ I’m struck by how much of the work in there prefigures the radical experimentation of the second collection. There are only a handful of poems that are in the localist, pastoral mode implied by the programme as typical of her, but which conveniently do serve as a pretext for a great many striking shots of the surrounding land and sea-scape. O and why this inevitable, intrusive music? In particular why music all the way through the reading the Llanbyri poem rendering the words only semi-audible? I’m not sure how successful her later work always is, but one thing is certain. It is a serious and determined move into territory occupied by certain other poets at that time as well, and it deserves a lot better than to be ‘edited out’ like this.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


My daughter and her boyfriend have been travelling around the USA for 3 months. See photography from their trip (and more) at their Flickr site:

Monday, 20 April 2009


'Ultimate Americans', just published by the University of Alaska Press, is the third of Tom Lowenstein’s trilogy of books on the Inuit of Alaska. What is so special about his work as an anthropologist and historian of contact is the way that, alongside this scholarship, he has sought to reconstitute, in a series of powerful (and sometimes very funny) poems, the hunter-gatherer way of life, the palaeolithic if you like, from some of its last surviving remnants. Thus in 'Ancient Land: Sacred Whale' (Bloomsbury 1993) the prose narrative is interspersed with long stretches of poetry evoking the traditional whale hunt and its rituals. It's a remarkable enterprise and his book got some excellent reviews when it came out - but it seems a pity that few in the poetry world appear to have acknowledged it. In 2007 Shearsman published 'Ancestors and Species' with more longish narratives on the same themes.

'Primitive' peoples - and the rituals of shamanism in particular - can all too easily be subjected to a sentimental poeticising, a shortcut to exalted or visionary experience. Lowenstein's work is informed with humanity and firsthand knowledge, and avoids idealising his subject. 'Ultimate Americans' is a work of historical scholarship focussing on one community at Point Hope in Alaska and the effects of contact with commercial whale hunters, traders and missionaries, one missionary in particular, a man called Driggs. Here's a short extract from the opening chapter:

Surrounding the camp lay a mass of equipment: skin boats, kayaks, harpoons, fish nets, coils of sturdy seal skin rope, and a clutter of little tools for the making and mending of yet more equipment. Awaiting transformation into boots and parkas, bedding and boat skins, lay seal, caribou and walrus skins. Sea mammal carcases – fresh, half-butchered, some half putrid – lay among skeletal remains from past seasons’ hunts. Higher on the bluff rose driftwood racks where the women had draped meat they had sliced thinly to dry in the wind that had scarcely stopped blowing since the last Ice Age. Hunting, cutting, drying and preserving were a daily labour. Bags made from hollowed-out seal stood by the tents filled with dried meat, eggs, birds steeped in seal oil, or blueberries and meat chips packed in caribou back-fat. Tethered securely away from this larder, were the dogs that had dragged the skin boats along the inshore water from the village. And all this work and clutter was framed by heaps of grey, weathered tree trunks: spruce, birch and cottonwood from the southern rivers which had drifted up coast and which the sea had been disgorging here for innumerable centuries.

On an August day like this the work of hunting and accumulation was mixed with hours of lazy enjoyment. The temperature hovered between forty and fifty degrees Fahrenheit. For Tikigaq people, who experienced winter temperatures of minus thirty (and far lower given wind-chill), this was warm. The children ran bare-foot, the little ones naked. Adults shed one layer of their double caribou skin parkas and trousers. ‘Silagiiksuq’ (beautiful weather!)’, people would murmur. Such days sunshine and a light south wind would soon be replaced by violent equinoctial storms and then freeze-up in November.

. . .

When activity came it was often sudden. The nets stretching from the beach would stand empty for days. When belugas arrived, the thick skin mesh would thrash violently with struggling white dolphin-like whales. When the wind changed direction, the men might take off inland to hunt caribou, returning with back packs of meat and skins, repeating their journey to fetch what they had left and to visit the traps they had left for foxes and marmots.

Things also happened for people simply to observe. Grizzlies ambled from the ridges where they’d been browsing for berries and excavating squirrel burrows to scavenge for dead seals or walrus. A grey whale, not worth chasing for its meagre coat of blubber, would swim into view in the middle distance. Or an orca would cruise inshore to attack a seal. The women would laugh, throw stones and shout, ‘When you have eaten, bring us a share!’ What came round the cliffs habitually belonged to a world that was known and which could be interpreted. The animals were always welcome. But people from beyond were often dangerous . . .

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


The current issue of Poetry London carries my review of ‘The Bloodaxe Book Of Contemporary Indian Poets’ edited by Jeet Thayil. Here are more than seventy poets who write in English and all likely to be unread by most poetry readers in this country. As well as from India there are poets here from Britain, Fiji, Guyana, America, poets of mixed heritage born in India, in the UK or USA, members of minority groups in India such as Jews and Parsis, while the editor was born into India’s Syrian Christian community. There is a large representation of women writers. A question begged by this anthology of course is what is ‘Indian’? Arundhathi Subramaniam has a poem titled ‘To the Welsh Critic Who Doesn’t Find Me Identifiably Indian’ – a pre-emptive riposte perhaps to William Radice’s review of the book in the Guardian where he criticised the work as 'not sounding Indian enough' - this at least was how Jeet Thayil summarised Radice's review when hitting back in the paper’s Response column. Thayil accused Radice of an ‘orientalising’ tendency. In her poem ‘Home’ Arundhathi Subramaniam writes:

Give me a home
that isn’t mine,
where I can slip in and out of rooms
without a trace . . .

A home that I can wear lightly.

Arun Kolatkar is a poet who writes in both Marathi and English. His best-known work, the sequence ‘Jejuri’ is an exemplary text in the way it pays a kind of wary, disenchanted respect to a depleted tradition of pilgrimage. In the review I quote from his ‘Pi-dog’, whose canine protagonist, in a sideways acknowledgement of the British legacy, claims descent ‘matrilineally’ from ‘one of thirty foxhounds’ imported from England

by Sir Bartle Frere’
in eighteen hundred and sixty-four
with the crazy idea

of introducing fox-hunting to Bombay.
Just the sort of thing
he felt the city badly needed.

I got involved in this area way back in the early 1980s as part of the whole multicultural project. I helped run The South Asian Literature Society, founded by teacher and critic Ranjana Ash. The idea was to spread knowledge of South Asian writing to a wider audience. In the event SALS events only really attracted an Asian audience. But I certainly became aware of just how much stuff there is, available in English, that never finds its way over here (a lot of writing in different South Asian languages gets translated into English for the benefit of Indian readers). There’s a tendency to pride ourselves on our receptivity in this area. In fact it’s an uneasy relationship characterised by multiple silences and omissions.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009


Just back from breezy Hunstanton in North Norfolk where I was staying with Peter Hughes, and took the opportunity to record an interview. I’m currently doing a series of these with people I used to publish with The Many Press and who have not, as far as I’m aware, been interviewed before. The un- or at least the under-interviewed. . . I’ve already more or less completed one with Bill (publishes as W.G.) Shepherd, whose point of departure is his father setting off for the First World War aged sixteen (he’d lied, as so many did, about his age) on a horse and armed with a sword. . . The repercussions of this are a significant theme in our ensuing conversation.

Peter gave me the latest in his Oystercatcher series, The Deer Path to my Door by Gerry Loose. This is a series or sequence of two line poems, work that, to quote from the Oystercatcher site, 'leads language through its own moving landscapes, as well as others trodden, tended and observed by the author. Wry, lyrical, daft, philosophical – these lines are alert to miniscule shifts in natural phenomena and thought, the tracks of language glistening under starlight, sun and ample Scottish rain . . .' It’s a tricky thing, the very short poem. It can all too easily acquire a tendentious significance precisely because of its shortness – those shards of agonised experience written by Ian Hamilton, and by others published by him in The Review some years ago, fall into this category for me; something enormous is left hanging in the air, but after a while you can’t help thinking, well so what. Gerry Loose does work for me, less portentous, and offering moments of real illumination.

Monday, 2 March 2009


is a new internet magazine, the first issue out now at Put together by poet and art critic Michael Glover the first issue features poems and commentary from an eclectic mix of contributors. Among the poets is the London-based Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim whose work will be appearing from Carcanet in due course, in versions made in collaboration with poet Antony Howell. He is one of a number of very fine Iraqi poets living in London and these versions are well worth checking out. And there are collages by John Ashbery, who discusses these with Michael Glover . . .

There’s a gathering to inaugurate the site, with readings from some contributors, on Tuesday March 3rd, at 7.30pm at The Foundry in Shoreditch, 84-86 Great Eastern Street, London EC2.