Sunday, August 31, 2014

Compulsive Reader Newsletter out for Sept

Hello everyone.  Just a quick check in to let you know that this month's Compulsive Reader Newsletter has just gone out and will be coming into your email in-box in batches throughout the day (or night, depending on where you are).  If you don't have it, or can't wait, you can drop by the archive:

and grab yourself a copy.  We've got the usual ten fresh reviews, three great giveaways, two new interviews, and of course all the literary news that's fit to print. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Poetry Monday: Jennifer Compton

I first met Jennifer Compton at the inaugural Newcastle Writer's Festival in 2013, when I cheekily sat down at her table in a crowded cafe.  We were both there to read our poetry.  I was on my own, and she was there with two other poets as part of a tour that was nearly finished. I was intrigued at the idea of a touring 'band' of poets, reading in different places, at different events, and cheering each other on as indeed they did, whooping and supporting one another through the performances.  Jennifer read beautifully - performing her pieces with flair and leaving me with teary eyes.  Her poem "Now You Shall Know" won last year's Newcastle Poetry Prize.  Here's a little excerpt, taken from the NPP page.  

But I am an old woman also.  Two old women waking to the new day
that will bring a sudden jolt that is the beginning of the end for her.

I have imagined what I might feel dressing for my mother's funeral,
and as I pinned her lily-of-the-valley brooch to my grey lapel, I knew.

I'll be interviewing Jennifer on the 25th of October at the NPP Poetry Prize Ceremony from 9.45am – 10.30am, and you're welcome to join us there (please come and say hello!).

The following poem "Palmy" (for Palmerston North in New Zealand) comes from her book This City, which won The Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry:

Here's the title poem from This City:

I am travelling away from my life, towards my life.

This city knows all my secrets.

And that tram, lit from within, waiting at the end of the line.

This city, which is nowhere else.

I'm looking forward to spending several hours lost in This City in preparation for my chat with Jennifer (as if I needed a reason...). 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Poetry Monday: Adrienne Rich

Photo credit: Dorothy Alexander
I can't believe I haven't done a Poetry Monday feature on the great Adrienne Rich.  Today is that much overdue day.  This little snippet here won't be doing the body of her work justice.  There aren't many major poetry awards she hasn't received, including the Wallace Stevens Award for outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.  She had published some 28 (maybe more) books of poetry, 10 nonfiction, and countless anthologies.  I've been steeped in her work over the past week, re-reading her out of my dog-eared Norton anthologies that I've kept since I was an undergrad (I've got two and they've survived a lot of culls!), and I'm still astonished by how good she is.  I've just ordered a copy of A Wild Patience Has Taken Me this Far: Poems 1978-1981, so I can go a little deeper into her precise, focused world of words.  In the meantime, here are two poems that have particularly taken me.  The first is "Dreamwood", which you can hear Adrienne herself read here:

little excerpt:
"If this were a map,
she thinks, a map laid down to memorize
because she might be walking it, it shows
ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert
here and there a sign of aquifers
and one possible watering-hole."

The other one is "Planetarium".  You can read the whole thing here:

just a wee excerpt here;

"What we see, we see   
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain   
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse   
pouring in from Taurus"

You know you want to read more. Go find Adrienne. She's waiting for you, "for the relief of the body/and the reconstruction of the mind."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Compulsive Reader Newsletter for August is out

Our latest issue of The Compulsive Reader news is out.  This month's issue features ten fresh, exclusive reviews including new work by Martha Woodroof, Victoria Norton, Jacob Appel, Jojo Moyes, an interview with Lev Grossman, and more. We also have the usual welter of literary news, two new giveaways, and lots more.  If you didn't receive it, you can grab yourself a copy here;

If you aren't a subscriber, you can go over and subscribe right now at  It's free, and you'll be joining a lovely community of 10,000 or so happy readers worldwide.