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Three more interesting blog discoveries

Greetings from the Sick Bay. I’ve been a bit quiet this last week due to a touch of flu (mostly) and the advent of one or two new projects (partly). More on the projects soon.

Meanwhile this is the latest in a series of ‘interesting poetry-related blogs I’ve recently come across’ posts. Trying to stick to a particular theme (poetry and gardening, or whatever) proved a bit hard to sustain, so here are three random blogs in no particular order.

Verbatim Poetry

I found Verbatim Poetry via a link on Facebook, I think. Put simply, it’s a blog featuring found poetry. Editors are Gabriel Smy and Marika Rose. They welcome submissions and there are some very useful guidelines on ‘How to Write a Verbatim Poem’.

I’ve not written any found poetry, but I’ve sometimes felt I’d like to put together all those station announcements about reporting suspicious bags, delays and trolley services, ending with ‘would the conductor please contact the driver’ which for some reason always makes me laugh. One day maybe.

Sheenagh Pugh's blog

Then we have Sheenagh Pugh’s blog, with the unlikely title of Good God! There’s writing on both sides of that paper. I kid you not. I was pulled in by this thoughtful piece about titles and the job they can do, but soon discovered a rich seam of well written articles.

What I like about Sheenagh’s style is that she shares her knowledge and opinions, often with examples, in an open and interested way, without either patronising her readers or going off on a rant. My only issue with this blog is that’s on LiveJournal, a Russian-owned blog platform which doesn’t appear to be very social media friendly. But the content is pure gold.

The Era of Casual Fridays

Mark Richardson teaches literary criticism and lyric poetry at a university in Kyoto, Japan. As you might expect, his blog The Era of Casual Fridays is not for the faint-hearted. Mark describes the blog as a taking the form of a commonplace book, devoted to literature and ‘with comment, often lengthy.’

Now my attention span on blogs isn’t always the greatest, so it was with trepidation that I started out on ‘What I want (as a teacher of lyric poetry)’. Using a specific poem as example (Church Monuments by George Herbert), Mark takes us on a trip from Heidegger to Hardy, from Emerson to Foucault, in an exploration of what is expected of students when it comes to literary criticism.

Now and again students ask me whether it is okay for them to offer “their own interpretation” of a poem. By which they sometimes appear to mean: “Isn’t one interpretation finally as ‘good’ as any other?” By which, on occasion, they almost certainly mean: “Do you think it is possible for me to be ‘wrong’ in what I say about a poem?” To which my reply is: “Yes, it is certainly possible to be wrong in what we say about a poem—sometimes, very wrong.”

Mark goes on to explain and defend in detail what he means by this. I found it fascinating and despite not being familiar with all the references, yes – definitely worth reading to the end.

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  1. Antony Mair Antony Mair

    So sorry to hear you’ve been unwell – though bed is probably the best place to be in this weather. Sheenagh Pugh’s blog is a bit of a find. Mark Richardson is a bit like an American Terry Eagleton, isn’t he? I made the mistake of reading his piece on Frederick Seidel, whose latest was given a withering review by (I think) Fiona Sampson somewhere – it did bang on a bit – but I liked his summarising comment: “Frederick Seidel is American poetry’s Armenian massacre”.

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Robin Houghton 2021