Reading at Kingston University

Thanks to a little last minute change of plans, I will be taking part in Kingston University Writing School’s superb Reading & Lecture Series this coming up Wednesday evening (26/4/17). I’ll be filling in for Rowena MacDonald and reading with Mario Petrucci. I’ve read at Kingston before and listened to Mario perform his work as well, so I can verify that he is an outstanding poet and these evenings are always good fun. For more information on Mario, check out his site and for details about the event, see the flyer below. I’ll have copies of my debut chapbook, (Reasons for) Moving, for sale, so you can hear the poems in person and go home with your own copy. Hope to see you there!

Launch Party!

To celebrate the publication of my debut poetry chapbook, (Reasons for) Moving, I’m throwing a little launch party in London. If you’re interested in poetry, please spread the word and come along to show some support. If you aren’t, then just fill the seats, humor me, and enjoy a few drinks in a great venue.

Some fast facts:

What? Poetry Reading
Where? The Cellar of The Flying Horse, Oxford Street’s Last Alehouse
When? 20th May, 7-8:30 pm
How much? Free Entry
Who? Me (David Russomano), Lucy Furlong, and Possibly One More TBA

I’ll have a stack of copies on sale at the launch for just £5 each, but if you’d like to pick up a copy of (Reasons for) Moving beforehand, you can find it in Structo Press’s online shop.

For more about Lucy Furlong, look up her new poetry book, Villiers Path: Scalloped Time.

For more information about The Flying Horse and how to find it, check out their site.

Hope to see you all there!

Buy My Chapbook

Hear ye, Hear ye! This is only the most important news of my literary career thus far: my debut chapbook is available to purchase as of TODAY! It’s called (Reasons for) Moving and represents the culmination of years of work. If you have any interest in poetry generally, or my poetry specifically, then why not pick up a copy? It’s not expensive. I promise. And it’s available in both print and digital formats. Also, I provided the cover art, which just happens to be the same piece of my pi art that was recently featured in The Enemies Project’s recent exhibition at The Museum of Futures in Surbiton. The good folks at Structo are the ones publishing (Reasons for) Moving, so you can buy it from their website or read their glowing blog post about it. Or both.

News from Both Sides of the New Year

Here it is January and I’m already behind on my updates! So, what’s the news?

To start with, you can find my poem, Up, in Volume 4, Chapter 2 of Visual Verse (page 92 if you’re looking through the whole chapter). What sets Visual Verse apart is that they provide a compelling image and invite authors to submit responses to the prompt, whether they be fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. But, as their About Us page states, “Visual Verse is a challenge”: 50-500 words in one hour. This is great, because it keeps writers from over-thinking and over-working. The visual prompts also offer a good cure for writer’s block.

Visual Verse was my last publication of 2016, but I’m also excited about my first publication of 2017. You can find my poem Second-hand or the ghosts of company in Issue 2 of All the Sins. Like Visual Verse, All the Sins is an online journal and, though it’s a new addition to the literary scene, it’s certainly off to a solid start. Coincidentally, Second-hand is one of the poems I was referring to back in September when I discussed the unique and unusual things I’ve found in different used books. Here’s your chance to match the text to its inspiration – an old photo left in a 70 year old Steinbeck novel.

I’ve been working on more than just poetry though. For the first time, a piece of my pi art (which I talked about back in May) is due to appear in an exhibition! In February and March, Surbiton’s Museum of Futures will be hosting The Enemies Project and I’m thrilled to be involved. I’d love to say more, but their site explains it better than I could, so be sure to check it out.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Publication

So, a little while back I announced my publication in Issue 6 of Phantom Drift. But last night, I realized that there was a little mix-up when they were printing the issue and…they didn’t actually include me in it! On their website, I’m listed among the contributors and at the end of the issue, my bio appears with the other authors’ bios, but my poem is nowhere in sight. After a brief chat with the editor, it’s clear that this was just a glitch and it looks like the best way to remedy this honest mistake is to put me in Issue 7. I don’t know when that’ll come out, but as soon as I do, I’ll pass that info along. And, FYI, when I was flipping through Issue 6, I noticed that it had some truly great illustrations; you should really check them out.

Fun for the Whole Family

Last Thursday (6/10/16), I made my way down to The Museum of Futures in Surbiton to celebrate National Poetry Day and what a celebration it was! The whole event was run by Lucy Furlong and she did a fantastic job. Geared toward adults and children alike, the day/evening included activities like Haiku in a Bottle, Messages of Light, Poetry Lucky Dip, and more.

Each of these may seem simple on the surface, but take a second look. Haiku offer a superb introduction to formal poetry. They’re compact, but done well, they can really pack a punch. Also, experiencing the generative power of formal constraints can be a real eye-opener to people who’ve only ever dabbled in free verse.

On the other hand, the Lucky Dip takes an almost Dadaist approach and makes experimentation fun and accessible. Instead of forcing people to write when they don’t think of themselves as authors, it gives them pieces of language to play with. That way, writing becomes a game where people can ask themselves and each other ‘What can we do with these words and sentences? Can we re-order them into something that actually makes sense?’ And, more importantly, ‘Is making sense always the most important thing?’

Sometimes, though, people just need a starting point, a prompt. Left to their own devices, they’ll rack their brains and stare into space, but tell them to write a little note about light and/or light houses and the ideas come pouring out.

To cap off the event, everyone was given an opportunity to read anything that they had worked on, brought along, or prepared for the occasion. Below, you can see some (low quality phone camera) images of the evening and read a few of the things I cooked up while participating. Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

 

For Haiku in a Bottle:

At the beginning

of October, there was rain –

then there were rainbows.

 

For Messages of Light:

In fair weather,

like a Christmas tree

at any other time of year.

 

For the Lucky Dip:

Hey You:

Lots of Love

reverting to a bog in the bracken.

To feel nostalgia for the present; already

he saw the weather written on the pane.

“Oh, come, come, come,” Said the sardine’s mum.

“Pedal at first, then let the road take you down

and lollop round the pick-up truck.

Hey You,

Blossom where the rose should grow.”

Catch my Drift?

Happy National Poetry Day! Why not celebrate with Issue 6 of Phantom Drift? It’s just hit the stands and it features my poem, Sphinx (think Thebes, not Egypt). Be sure to swing by their site and pick up a copy. It’s got great cover art by Irene Hardtwicke Olivieri and the sub-title: The Impression of Irreducible Strangeness. What more could you ask for? Issue 14 of Elbow Room should also be available for purchase any day now, so keep an eye out for that. In it, you’ll find two of my poems: Fundamentalism and Monument. Last but not least, wish me luck. I’ll be debuting a new poem (see my earlier post about things found in old books) tonight at the Museum of Futures’ National Poetry Day event.

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Reshuffling the Deck

Recently, I realized that my Publication History was a mess, so I took some time to revise the layout and make it easier to browse. Now, everything is in reverse chronological order and broken up by year, with my most recent publication announcements at the top. I also put the magazines and online journals that no longer exist down at the bottom in their own section. If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, please take a minute to check it out.
In the process of doing this little tidy up, I came across a few more publications that have seemingly moved on to the netherworld that awaits knackered lit mags. Orion Headless was an online journal that featured a piece of my photography called New York Scraps. Now that their site has vanished from the web, I thought I’d share that photo here.
The other sad news was regarding This Great Society is Going Smash, which seems to have fallen silent after 2013. Like Orion Headless, it was a digital publication, but it really stood out as being nicely designed and generally well put together. It featured my poem, Opa, at the very beginning of my publication history back in 2011. One of the great things about my interaction with the team behind This Great Society was that they saw the poem’s potential and gave me a chance to rework some of its weaker parts. Not many journals will expend that sort of time and effort on a new writer, but in my case, it was just what the poem needed and they accepted the revised version. They even went so far as to feature it again in their Best of Poetry retrospective. On both of these occasions, Opa appeared alongside a great illustration by Lara Hughes and I thought the two went together nicely. But the piece was intended as a tribute to my grandfather and I’ve always wanted a chance to present the poem with the photo that inspired it, so I’ve included it below.

Opa

Candid photograph, the old man turns his head
too fast for the shutter and he’s transparent.
Chin rests against hands held together.
It’s prophecy, the light’s trick mirrors time.

Ticking like the gold watch around his wrist,
Following the snake, shedding wrinkled skin.
Moon-white hair slicked back, thinned,
and large glasses over dimming eyes.

Following moon-white feathers,
opened wings taking flight, god willing,
undefined, unfettered.