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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dave Newman’s Raymond Carver

Dave Newman’s Raymond Carver

Short story writer and poet, Dave Newman’s second novel, Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children (Writers Tribe Books), builds upon his oeuvre with an impressive range of humour from satire to self-deprecation through poetic word play. Like Carver, Newman’s writing exudes authenticity yet offers more than realism in its confrontation of deeper issues. The narrator, Dan Charles, struggles to find a balance between making a living to support his family and finding the energy to be creative. Deep inside working class America and the underbelly of higher education, here ‘The teachers wait tables. The bartenders teach school’ as ‘it is required that you must do to be.’


It’s almost weeks into the semester, and I can’t afford a bullet-

proof vest. I can’t afford anything. The students all think I’m in

charge of their lives, but I make less money than a shoe store

manager at the mall and with no job security.


He and his wife both have second jobs. The novel explores the concept of choice, through its use of detail, with a rigorous sense of humour that makes it lived and memorable. In the tradition of Bukowski, Carver, Philip Levine and Richard Ford, the novel questions literary and cultural assumptions with an engaging freshness about what matters most and shows that things for those with a work ethic are not as they should be. It is a novel marked by absence. Although based in Pittsburgh, the novel has a national and international relevance that elevates it beyond testimony.  Above all, it is very funny and that is recommendation enough.

Peter Hughes & Petrarch

Peter Hughes & Petrarch

Two splendid new publications of Peter Hughes’s on-going project are now available.


Soft Rush (The Red Ceilings Press, contains English versions of Petrarch’s sonnets 67-96:


‘this endlessly rescripted history

of radiant unsuitability

has reached another disastrous milestone

it’s sixteen it’s beautiful & it’s mine’


Quite Frankly (Like This Press, is subtitled ‘After Petrarch Canzoniere 1-28’:


As Peter Riley puts it on the back cover ‘Quite Frankly makes a kind of sausage of Peter Hughes’ skills as a poet—minced, compressed, stretched out in equal lengths and wrapped in a 14th Century skin. As is to be expected, a kind of kaleidoscopic verbal defiance keeps false and narrowed versions of living away, and as the sequence progresses, for all the ironic modernisation and free-play it enters deeper and deeper into a sincere realisation of the modern love-poem.’


References to both these volumes will be found in the forthcoming Shearsman book, An intuition of the particular, some essays on the poetry of Peter Hughes edited by Ian Brinton. This volume is expected in April to stand alongside Shearsman’s Selected Poems of Peter Hughes. The appropriateness of this timing is wonderful since Petrarch asserted that he first saw Laura at Easter Mass on April 6th 1327.



Gerald Locklin’s Novellas

Gerald Locklin’s Novellas

Spout Hill Press have republished Gerald Locklin’s classic novella, The Case Of The Missing Blue Volkswagen, originally published in 1984, republished in 1999, with an introduction by John Brantingham that views its post-modern style and structure as a means of having a conversation with the reader about the limits of fiction. It is a fruitful way into the work that is at once playful, funny and greater than the sum of its parts. Locklin’s casual style functions effectively on many levels and is very funny.

Spout Hill has also published Locklin’s lost novella’s Last Tango in Long Beach and Come Back, Bear to present the original trilogy for the first time.  If you have never read any Locklin, the best introduction is to say that he entertains and provokes in equal measure in a beguiling way. A central figure in Los Angeles writing since the Seventies, these beautifully produced novellas are at the heart of his social satire.


Locklin’s Deep Meanings: Selected Poems 2008-2013 from Presa Press contains some of his best recent poetry.  As Edward Field writes, ‘The male spirit in him remains honest, bighearted, sentimental, generous, gentle, vulnerable, but sassy in the face of adversity…’ I have always thought that he is the male equivalent to that other brilliant maverick Camille Paglia. Both are always worth reading.

Dear World & Everyone In It

Dear World & Everyone In It

New Poetry in the UK: Bloodaxe, publication date Thursday 21st February

As a new poetry anthology appears from Bloodaxe it is time to reassess the world of anthologies. Let me mince no words over this matter: ‘I think that Nathan Hamilton’s new collection/selection/anthology of poems is both exciting and long overdue.’


‘The Anthology is polyphonic. The Anthology is a collage of different, or opposing, voices, some enhanced by The Anthology, others working with or against The Anthology. The Anthology does not await the anointment of a Great Poet of The Age to speak for it. The Anthology believes this is an old way of thinking critically in the UK informed by the nation’s attachment to monarchic ideology / Ted Hughes. The Anthology will have none of that Spam.’


It is highly pleasing to recognise so many of the names contained in The Anthology as having been published in Tears in the Fence: Siddartha Bose, Hannah Silva, Tom Chivers, James Wilkes, Sarah Kelly, Chris McCabe, Luke Kennard.


‘The Anthology is described as containing work from young poets in the UK. The Anthology includes work from poets born, or stationed, overseas. The Anthology challenges a notion of UK poetry as parochial. The Anthology represents what and who young poets in the UK are reading as well as what they are writing.’


Long Live The Anthology.

Tom Lowenstein’s notebooks & fantasies

Tom Lowenstein’s notebooks & fantasies

From Culbone Wood—In Xanadu


New from Shearsman


The late Roger Langley wrote of this book ‘A major work of the imagination. In no previous genre. Creates its own genre.’ Tom Lowenstein’s new publication is a riveting account of the world of Porlock and the world of Coleridge, ‘the discord between Somersetshire now and the timelessness of Xanadu’s appearance before me.’ This is a book to have on the shelf next to John Livingstone Lowes’s 1927 publication The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of the Imagination.


Tom Lowenstein refers to the travel writings that so influenced Coleridge, Purchas His Pilgrimage, in terms of the early seventeenth-century writer’s fascination with small details: ‘shrunk as the wax in a dried old hive—lie golden cells of honey.’ Some of these cells will be looked into on the coming Tuesday, February 5th, at 7.30 in the Swedenborg Hall when Tom will be reading. Not to be missed!





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