And is there a blogjam? Probably, yes.

And here’s another entry floating downstream and contributing to the probblog. Do I care? Not particularly. Bloggers don’t. They scribble away merrily, part of the hubbub. Nobody has to read them. It costs nothing but time.

Which is, of course, the most precious thing we have.

Should poets blog? Does it help them to be successful, to get their poems read? It depends. It can do the opposite. If you launch a blog, it’s hard to undo it.

When I was at school, our English teacher said we should keep a diary. She said it would improve our style. So I kept a diary for about twenty years – maybe more. I don’t think it did anything for my style, but then I wrote it for myself, not for anybody else. It occurs to me that prose style is improved through writing for readers. I expect there are exceptions, but still the desire to be readable, to be engaging, to communicate – that’s worth fostering, isn’t it?

Who reads all the blogs? Lord knows. They become part of the Twittersphere, the FaceBookspeak, the vast network of communicators on the internet passing on links and connections. Something that interests one person, even slightly, is passed to another, and so on.

I can’t read all the good books that are being generated right now: no-one ever could. I can’t even read a fraction of the poetry. But I do read poetry bloggers: they make connections for me, and guide my reading. Some of these bloggers are also poets I’ve published; some are not. I’m always finding new ones. It’s like being at a huge party where you go back to the drinks and snacks and meet another person on your way. Or one person introduces you to another. Better than a party, really because you can go home whenever you want.

Recently I’ve had a great time reading Anthony Wilson’s ‘Lifesaving Poems’. It’s not just the style (open, personal and unfussy), it’s the introductions to actual poems I might never have read – and you get them in full. The recent blog on Sian Hughes led me to a poem and then into the poem, and now I shan’t forget the blog (or the dog either).

John Field’s Poor Rude Lines is splendid too, and he includes pictures – beautiful photos and graphics, which light up the lines. The blogs I like best are unashamedly personal. This week John shared his personal response to Fiona Moore’s The Only Reason for Timeand this is not a devious way of getting a friend to help sell the publication. No, he loved it and wrote about it, and I have never met him.

Meanwhile, Fiona Moore herself blogs too. She’s a terrific writer about poetry (being a poet doesn’t necessarily mean that you write about poetry well). This time last week she wrote about the experience of having that selfsame pamphlet published. Fascinating. Well, I would say that, wouldn’t I? Yes. But it is.

When you read a blogger you like, they lead you to others. That’s another of the lovely things about the blogjam. You get drawn in and before you know where you are, you’re back to Margaret Thatcher and Katy Evans-Bush writing brilliantly about her. Then off to check up on Tim Love, whose literary references were an education to me long before I published a word of poetry (my own or anyone else’s), and now he has a sub-blog (bloglet?) about the experience of his HappenStance pamphlet, Moving Parts. Check out the poster on his local library door!

Then there’s Sonofabook, Charles Boyle’s CB Editions publisher blog. He’s funny and he has a kind of addictive raspy edge. He’s also expensive because I want to buy the books. All of them. He’s a role model to roll with.

So many great blogs. How does anyone ever get bored?

As for whether poets should or shouldn’t (blog), far more of the poets I have published don’t blog than do. One blog isn’t like another blog, nor used for the same reasons. Chrissy Williams’ is mainly promotional. Matt Merritt often reviews books or pamphlets on his, but also writes about birds: that’s Polyolbion. Rob A Mackenzie blogs at Surroundings: he writes about a huge range, ineffably. Matthew Stewart blogs at Rogue Strands – a blend of comment on poetry, reviews of his own work, and experiences in the wine trade. Jim C Wilson, a newer blogger, is personal, anecdotal and amusing – a kind of update for friends. Andrew Philip (Tonguefire blog) is a diarist: life events and publications.

I know poets who have started to blog and stopped again. In fact, now I think about it, I started several before this one. You live and learn. I write this every Sunday morning, unless a life crisis stops me, and that’s been true for several years. Why? Officially, it’s a publisher’s blog: it’s here to promote HappenStance and its poets.

The real reason? I am a writer. I like the discipline, I like the practice. I’m dead strict with writers I’m editing. This is where I get strict with me. Brief is better. No pictures this week. I’ll stop now. 




The CB Editions Free Verse publishers event took place yesterday in London.

Two floors of small press publishers, a fabulous reading venue, a delightful little open air cafe on hand, a baking hot day — and free wine and ham with every HappenStance purchase, thanks to Matthew Stewart’s role as wine exporter and voluntary ambassador for the Extremadura region of Spain. So the HappenStance stall got a lot of interest.

Christopher Reid kicked off the action (you can just see him above, in the middle) with charm and brevity and panache.

The day included music, workshops, conversation, book buying, book bartering, book swapping, wine and ham. And a first-rate series of readings throughout the day, organised by Chrissy Williams and announced by CB Editions publisher Charles Boyle with a very large bell (see above). CB managed to look relaxed even in the middle of this mammoth feat of organisation.

You may spot Fiona Moore (above) assisting with sales, beside Matthew Stewart in his green stripey, ham-cutting apron. People talk about the unlikelihood of pigs flying. Well, part of one did — from Spain to London — and there it is on the ham stand. You can just see the cover of Marion Tracy’s The Giant in the Doorway in the right hand corner of the photo above — the one with what look like cut-out dolls. There was a fabulous reading space (see below). Couldn’t have been better.

Marion Tracy launched her debut publication, Giant in the Doorway, with a riveting reading, in front of that glorious mirror and red drapes. I didn’t photograph her in action because I didn’t want to put her off with paparazzi flashes, but I wish I had. I am a coward with a camera.

Matthew’s reading from his second pamphlet, Tasting Notes, required two voices, so I had the opportunity of being a marketing blurb persona. This, too, was accompanied by wine and ham. You can taste the wine yourself (links from the HappenStance shop to an online wine supplier).

The day was very friendly — lots of people to talk to and everyone in that sunny good humour that accompanies an extra bit of Summer when you’re not really expecting it. Food for mind, body and spirit.

Wonderful. And did I mention the wine and ham?