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Monthly Archives: January 2012

When Poets Think In Numbers

In our intrepid trawl around the web to find interesting titbits of news relating to poetry, we’ve stumbled on something of a trend. There seem to be a lot of people contemplating and writing about poetry in relation to numbers or poetry vis a vis mathematics.

Maybe it’s inaccurate to call it a trend because it was probably always lurking on the internet and only became apparent when we went looking for poetry news. Even so, a lot of people, some of them eminent and far from geeky, are talking about it lately if the number of websites featuring the subject is anything to go by.

So here are some links to get you counting, calculating and calibrating:

1. Over at, Carol Dorf summarises Why Poets Sometimes Think In Numbers.

2. On the same website, Mary Cresswell expounds on Duffy’s introduction with her poem Gigabyte.

3. JoAnne Growney’s blogspot Poetry With Mathematics has Ode to a Triangular Matrix by Dan Kalman

4. At poetry and prose webzine Ink, Sweat and Tears, Dorothy Fryd’s prose poem, Π, talks sets out why she got the symbol for a tattoo.

5. And yours truly got in on the act for Brand Literary Magazine with my poem Self Portrait as a Creature of Numbers.


Scots Prepare to Celebrate ‘Alternative’ Burns Night by Celebrating McGonagall

Yes, you read that right! It’s in the Scotland on Sunday so it must be true. And on the 250th anniversary of his birth too.

Here at Tears in the Fence online, we are agog and all ‘WTF?’

Apparently, it’s the brainchild of whisky firm Auchentoshan who likes to do things differently.


Amazon versus the Independent Bookstore at the Poetry Foundation

Over at the Poetry Foundation (liking the new less cluttered website!), Janaka Stucky outlines why bookshops can’t hope to beat the online behemoth at its own game and further, makes suggestions about what bookshops can do to stay fighting fit in the face of such provocation.

MTV Monitors Poetry. Sort of.

Yes, you read those words right.

I never thought I’d write the words ‘MTV’ and ‘poetry’ without some level of irony but it seems that MTV is taking note of how young people deploy poetry via politics and the race to the White House.

Elsewhere on the MTV Remote Blog, we hear about a young actress who wants to publish a collection of poems. The blog goes on about sonnets, odes and villanelles. There’s even reference to ‘a dactylic hexameter’!

Call us incredulous but can this really be? MTV and poetry? Are we right to be so pleasantly taken aback to find poetry where we least expected?

And they say poetry is dead.

Downton Abbey Helps Push Poetry! Who Knew?

And all things literary too, according to the New York Times.

It seems British TV series export, Downton Abbey, is going down a storm across the pond. That in itself is not unusual. Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (whose a Cumberbitch then? Check it out. They are ALL over the internet!) and Martin Freeman have all proved that point. The difference here is that publishers have realised that the viewers of Downton Abbey are book readers too. Stephen Morrison, the editor in chief and associate publisher of Penguin Books even shamelessly admits “We’re just riding that ‘Downton Abbey’ wave.”

It makes me feel somewhat caught on the backfoot (only joking!). I’m a huge reader but I’ve never watched Downton Abbey so don’t quite appreciate what all the fuss is about. And now it looks like poetry publishers are getting in on the act. Sadly, it seems poetry doesn’t have the power to bask in the Downton Abbey luminosity as much as prose.

Go figure!

Reports of Poetry’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated According to the Washington Post

“Is poetry dead? Or, in the age of the internet, does it offer us what nothing else can?” is the perennial question that leads this five page article in the Washington Post by Lauren Wilcox. We blogged about the preview of it last week.

It’s great to see so much space given to consideration of the question on the Washington Post’s website but can anyone across the pond in America tell us if it was given as much space in the physical magazine? We hope so although we fear that might not be the case.

Zombie Poetry Please…

It does exist and has been anthologised in this book, Aim for the Head. Last week we         had a bit of a love-in with a little something vampire. Frankly, it’s easy to figure out why vampires have had their time in the sun and cornered the market on literary cachet for all things undead. They are seductive. Zombie’s however…well, they are zombies! Rotting flesh, gouged out eyes, spilling guts, no personalities…somehow I can’t see a Twilight style saga being made about them. No, they ain’t the stuff romance is made of.

In poetry, much like the movies, the zombie has been used as a trope to consider blind consumerism,  racism and rabid mindlessness.  I’m thinking of films like 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead and Blade. Humour too has been the preserve of the zombie – let’s not forget how many funny films have animated the zombie to great effect. Shawn of the Dead, anyone. Aim for the Head wants to redress the balance, making the zombie stand (pun intentional) on its on two feet.

I can’t see myself writing any zombie films just yet but never say never, eh? But if this kind of thing is your bag, The New York Times has this write up.

And if your craving for viscera and brains still remains insatiable after that, Tom Beckett has written a Little Book of Zombie Poems which can be consumed in one easy sitting. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has got in on the act, with a fun way of teaching about disease and prevention in a comic novella about what emergency measures to take during a zombie apocalypse.

Poetry Parnassus at Southbank Centre

Simon Armitage

We’ve been hearing rumblings of this for the last year and a half and now it looks like it’s finally coming to land. Spearheaded by the poet Simon Armitage this promises to the biggest poetry event in the world. Ever. Certainly, it feels like the most ambitious. Can anyone say, United Colours of Poetry?

All very exciting!

The Poetry of Sex

Peter J. Leithart is pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho, and Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature at New St Andrews College. Here,  he looks at Solomon’s Song of Songs from the bible to consider how the poem uses the romantic and the erotic to relate to godliness.

Call for Submissions for Sports-themed Poetry for Children

Carol-Ann Hoyte, a children’s literature specialist-advocate based in Quebec, Canada, is looking for sports-themed poetry aimed at children for an ebook. There have been submissions from different countries, mainly the USA. She is looking to increase the number of submissions from Canada, England, and Australia as well as from Caribbean, African, and Asian nations.

Read more about it and where to submit.

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