Sunday, November 19, 2006

Readers of Raw Light - Thank You!

It's now well over a year since I launched this blog - 14 months, to be precise - and I thought it would be nice to say a big Thank You! to all those who have been reading and browsing Raw Light. I know from my visitor stats that I get quite a few browsers from the States, some of whom come back at regular intervals, a smattering of other readers from as far away as Australia and India, plus of course my many British-based readers.

It's always fun to post to my personal writing blog, though I often find it hard to make the time now that my other blog, Poets On Fire, has grown so popular. But it gives me added pleasure and motivation to know that I have regular readers from the UK and beyond who come back time and again to see what I've written.

So thank you ... and do keep coming back!

My latest news?

I've finished what I've been working on for the past three months and am now free at last to consider my next novel. I'm still 'launching' my Boudicca & Co. collection of poems from Salt, of course, with some more readings coming up in the next few months. Plus I have a non-fiction How To book on poetry to write in 2007, but the deadline for that isn't until late summer. Which leaves me plenty of time to get cracking on another novel between poetry projects, plus hopefully write some new poems. That's the theory, anyway.

Here I am at the Tin Angel in Coventry earlier this year, testing out a tentative new poem of mine called 'Gawain's Horse' - now published in the latest issue of The Nail, an Oxford-based poetry magazine, and in my second collection, Boudicca & Co.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jen Hadfield & Almanacs

I've been having some email conversations recently with a poet called Jen Hadfield, who lives some 600-odd miles north of London in the remote Shetland Islands, so I thought I'd post something up here about her work as she is only just beginning to make her mark on the UK poetry scene.

Jen Hadfield was born in Chesire in 1978 and is half-Canadian, as I understand it. She's published one full-length poetry collection with Bloodaxe, entitled 'Almanacs' (you can buy it here on, and is also an artist - click here to find some of her work at the Peedie Gallery, Orkney. For samples of Jen Hadfield's poetry and more about her life and various preoccupations, you can visit her website Rogue Seeds.

Her poetry is both delicate and muscular, which is an odd combination; I think it's the form which seems delicate to me, and the language which comes across as muscular. Living in the Shetlands, Jen is obviously influenced by that rugged scenery in terms of language and imagery, yet the forms she chooses tend to dance around, refusing to be pinned down and often inhabiting odd parts of the page, reminding me of some avant-garde work I've read, though rarely as opaque!

In spite of the rural Scottish connection, these are not poems about wild flowers and seascapes, although those can be found in her work, naturally enough. Instead, there's a sophisticated world-trekking mindset behind her poetry which requires a far larger - and wilder - canvas than the simple mainstream lyric, and the characters she adopts in her narrative-style poetry suggest an eccentric novelist or playwright working in a tighter form. Which is not to say that poetry isn't her form, just that she appears to be doing something very different and more ambitious with it in comparison to many of her peers. Basically, Jen Hadfield's first collection of poetry is Gordon Wardman's Hank meets Alan Warner's Morvern Callar meets High Plains Drifter. Confused? Well, that's what Google is for.

She's at work now on her second collection, Nigh-No-Place, amongst other things. Definitely one to watch ...