Simon Collings

Not even warm

Three of my prose poems/short prose pieces were published on Stride today.  Also issue 17 of The Long Poem magazine – with my article on Susan Howe in it – arrived in the post. It’s a very nicely produced journal with lots of interesting contributors. For those of you who live in Oxford there will be a couple of copies for sale in Albion Beatnik after I drop them off there at the weekend. Alternatively you can order a copy on line.

Perkins Industrial Concerts

Having recently invested in a new CD player and amp I now also have a turntable which works. This has given me access to old vinyl records which for years I haven’t been able to listen to. Looking through the collection I found a recording of Krzysztof Penderecki’s first symphony – called simply ‘Symphony’ on the cover.

The work was commissioned by the British manufacturing company Perkins Engines, and given its premier in Peterborough Cathedral in 1973 by the London Symphony Orchestra with Penderecki conducting. This was the fifth in a series of Perkins Industrial Concerts designed to ‘bring the best artists and orchestras in the world to Peterborough, where they can be enjoyed by all members of the community from which Perkins draws its workforce.’

The sleeve note continues: ‘Perkins, the world’s leading manufacturer of diesel engines, offers tickets for its concerts at half price to all industrial employees in the area below supervisory level, and each year two-thirds of the 1600-strong audience for the concert is made up of people entitled to this concession.’

What, I wonder, did those thousand plus shop floor workers in Peterborough make of what Penderecki later described as the ‘summa’ of his avant garde style.  Sadly the Perkins Engines website makes no mention of these concerts.

Susan Howe’s homage to Stevens

The forthcoming issue of Long Poem Magazine, Issue 17, includes an essay of mine on Susan Howe’s poem ‘118 Westerly Terrace’, which forms part of her book Souls of the Labadie Tract (2007). The address 118 Westerly Terrace, in Hartford, Connecticut, is where the poet Wallace Stevens lived. Howe revers Stevens, and this is her moving tribute to him. The new issue of the magazine is being launched at the Barbican Library in London on 22 May – full details here. I will be there, though only those who contributed poems will be reading.

Essays on Roy Fisher and Veronica Forrest-Thomson

I have two essays in the latest issue of Journal of Poetics Research, issue 6, which has just been published. One of the essays is on Roy Fisher’s long poem The Cut Pages, which I have blogged about before. Sadly Roy died last month.

The other concerns the poet and critic Veronica Forrest-Thomson who died in 1975 at the age of just 27. Forrest-Thomson was one of the first poets in Britain to engage with the work of French theorists such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva. She was feisty and clever, a woman on a mission to shake up British poetry, her death a tragic loss. In the essay I argue that her theoretical writings, and her poetry, owe as much to established literary figures such as T. S. Eliot and William Empson as they do to post-modernism.

Reading at The Windwill, Brixton

Here’s me reading at the launch of Best New British and Irish Poets 2017 from Eyewear Publishing, in Brixton on 2 April. It was a a hugely enjoyable event and a pleasure to hear the work of other contributors who were there. Todd Swift, founder of Eyewear, did a brilliant job as master of ceremonies.

And here is poet Luke Kennard, who chose the poems for the anthology – a big thank you to Luke.

The Morden Tower in its heyday

I’ve just come across this short film about the poet Tom Pickard and The Morden Tower poetry centre.  It’s a wonderful documentary piece, shot in the 1960s when the centre, in Newcastle, UK, was in its heyday. Poet Jon Silken narrates.The Morden Tower  hosted readings from many well known writers, including US poets Allen Ginsburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, and Ed Dorn. The footage includes images of the youthful Pickard, then 21, and of readings at the tower.


Decals of Desire

I have two prose poems in the latest issue of Decals of Desire – a new online poetry and arts magazine edited by Martin Stannard and Rupert Malin. This is issue 2 – with some great material in it.

Order early for new poets anthology

Eyewear’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017, selected by Luke Kennard, will be launched in March this year. Copies can now be pre-ordered at a discounted price from the publisher’s website. I have a prose poem in this year’s anthology. Please buy a copy!



Roy Fisher and Language poetry

In 1999 the influential US critic Marjorie Perloff published an essay on Fisher’s long poem ‘The Cut Pages’, praising it and describing is as ‘unwittingly’ anticipating aspects of ‘Language poetry’. Fisher wrote the poem in 1970, at the end of four years of writer’s block.  Last year I was able to ask Roy Fisher some questions about the poem, and discovered a number of facts which Perloff would have been unaware of at the time she wrote her essay, and which led her to misread the poem in important ways. I believe she also underplayed the extent to which Fisher was consciously engaged, not just in ‘The Cut Pages’ but in other poems too,  in a writing practice which did indeed foreshadow Language poetry. The latest issue of the Journal of Poetics Research (issue 6), includes an article by me which both challenges and builds on Perloff’s discussion of Fisher’s work.

New poems and a review

I have a new poem published today in Stride – click here to read it. Another poem will also be appearing soon in this same ezine – a prose poem called ‘Body Parts’, along with a review I have written of Harriet Tarlo’s latest work Field.