13: A Disconnected Anthology
The main hurdle for a press to jump is financial. But there is always the problem of time. And will power. Since Holdfire’s first pamphlets I’ve struggled with all three. The finances don’t work out how you thought they would, there are difficult issues to overcome, time and life get in the way (especially when the press isn’t something you do full time in a shiny office) and as those things combine it becomes hard to keep on and hit deadlines you set yourself. I’m behind with my next pamphlets mainly because of the financial and time elements. I initially thought I’d make enough back from book sales to publish further books but it didn’t work out like that. So the money has to be worked out from somewhere and then there is the question of whether that financial input will yield results – will I make the money back this time to publish more? Also, once time has taken you away from publishing it’s hard to get back on track. Hard to get back into the swing. Over the past year I’ve felt a certain annoyance with poetry – with poets, with attitudes, with vibrancy. I’ve questioned more than once whether I want to be in this game – be that as an editor or as a poet. Take for instance the whole Christian Ward nonsense. I haven’t particularly liked the response of some poets to that – the sort of pack mentality (I’m not talking about finding more poems that were plagiarised,I don’t mind that too much – maybe it’s getting a bit over the top). There’s also just a general feel amongst poets I meet of self interest (of what is in this for me) rather than working together, building ideas.
But on the other side of this is what I’ve enjoyed doing. I’ve enjoyed putting on the Villainelle Club and the next one will be on 13th March. I’ve enjoyed being involved in a production for the Bluecoat of Chris McCabe’s Mudflats and I’m enjoying putting together a poetry night for April. I’ve been drawn to the idea of doing more of this – live performance, commissions, a poetry festival in Liverpool. Those things have made me think I should be doing something a bit different with publishing. Obviously I want to continue publishing pamphlets but the idea of publishing something a bit more exciting keeps coming to mind. An old idea I had from Holdfire’s beginnings was an anthology of 13 poets, completely devoid of barriers of age or style or influence etc. I like that idea. I like it more now what with all the anthologies of young poets we’ve had recently and all the moaning (and obviously missing the point) of older poets who take an anthology of younger poets as a personal attack. I think that gets at some truth in poetry – poets see themselves as the centre of their world view of poetry – who they like, what they read, who they know becomes their barometer for poetry. It’s like people commenting on the pope resigning – saying ‘I bet he won’t be a one-legged hedgehog with no defined sexuality’. What I mean is, people want the world to reflect who they are even if they aren’t part of something or if that something is a something that don’t believe should be a something. Maybe that draws me back to the anthology – maybe 13 disconnected poets would be a good way to address contemporary poetry because there wouldn’t be anything to hold the anthology together, for poets to cling to and claim attachment to, other than that here we have 13 poets. The anthology only exists because someone, me, decided to make it and it makes no comment about poetry rather it offers a glimpse of poetry. But isn’t that suggesting that the poets would all be noticeably different? Surely if the process of bringing an anthology like this together was sort of loose, based on poetic free will, then it could end up being full of experimental poets no one has ‘heard of’ or just Simon Armitage. Maybe it should be looked at as a Chaos Theory of Poetry. Or just 13 poets for 2013. 13 poets who have breathed in 2013.
Anyway, I hope to see a packed upstairs room at the Ship and Mitre at 7.30 on Wednesday, 13th March. It’s a n all male line up this time (I didn’t mean it honest) with readings from Bobby Parker, Steven Waling, Christopher Moore and Matt Fallaize.
And I suppose I could suggest to anyone who read this to compile a list for me of 13 poets who are breathing/writing poetry now. That would be helpful.