I’m reading at Shindig in Leicester on 27 November, details here (although at time of copying and pasting, the details are of January’s event. Go to both. I’m definitely on on 27th though.)
Jane Glennie and I were at university together (her, Typography; me, English; both of us, same halls of residence) and every now and then we bump into each other for a catch up and reboot. She’s made this film of my poem-to-be-read-on-one-breath about my nephew – it’s lovely. Bubbles and tentacles.
Irisi have a look at Now You Can Look. ‘Fiercely female’, that’s me.
Although I am one, I don’t have any. Sisters. I do however have a poem in this new anthology from Candlestick Press (themed anthologies of 10 poems, light enough to post instead of a card), alongside Wendy Cope, Michael Donaghy, Galway Kinnell, Esther Morgan, P K Page, Dorothea Smartt, Jean Tepperman, Jack Underwood and Julia Webb. A sister-in-law I do have, and I shall post her my extra copy now.
Look at this beautiful thing. This is what its publishers say about it – ‘Like an oil painting, Now You Can Look is a work built up of layers. The colourful subject of its narrative is a woman who takes one glance at what the early twentieth century has set out for her, and throws in her lot with art instead. On the surface, Julia Bird‘s poems are beautifully textured, conjuring a life rich with ‘whispering pelts’ in theatre cloakrooms, a yellow kimono with its hem ‘like cut/butter from an icebox’, and the intricacies of an artistic practice where ‘the fern’s already in the wood.’ Look closer, and the underpainting starts to show. The poems subtly evoke life’s peaks and crisis points, the complexities of work and marriage. Bird also playfully exploits the conventions of biography: fact and fiction blend, as the present work of recreation picks, magpie-like, from true-life tales. Gaps and white space in the narrative are filled with exquisite counterpointing illustrations. Covering dust-ups, heart-aches and hair-cuts, Now You Can Look communicates across the decades how women have attempted to make sense of it all by making art.’
My take? Now You Can Look is a sequence of poems which is half biography, half autobiography and wholly imagined. I started writing about a real visual artist from the 1930s, but our lives merged as the sequence unfolded. There are giant bears, a handful of beetles and lots of omelette – and Anna’s illustrations are a wonder.
Piles of ’em here
Hear it live …
Saturday 30 September, 12.30pm: Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, London
Saturday 14 October, 4.30pm: Birmingham Literature Festival
Saturday 21 October, 1.15pm: Bridlington Poetry Festival
I’ve only read one of these poems to an audience before – off they go into the world now …
We are stacking the shelves, although the window display is not quite ready yet. Now You Can Look, now available to pre-order …