Contemporary poetic practice in Britain is difficult to define – there is no adequate terminology to describe it, and even the word ‘contemporary’ is fraught with paradox. The best way to understand it is to explore it, so below is a list of recommended online presences which newcomers can use to gain a better understanding of what Openned is all about. For an exceptional, in-depth look at the state of contemporary poetry in Britain, take a look at Peter Philpott’s modernpoetry site.
The internet is home to a huge amount of poetry which was once extremely rare and difficult to acquire. A few of the best places to start include the Electronic Poetry Centre (EPC) British Electronic Poetry Centre (BEPC) and Jacket 2, as well as the aforementioned modernpoetry. There is an especially rich seam of audio/visual websites, UbuWeb, PennSound, M E S H W O R K S, Voiceworks and Archive of the Now being prime examples. In London, the central academic resource is Birkbeck University’s Contemporary Poetics Research Centre.
Currently, there are a few excellent reading series taking place in the UK. In London there is Openned itself, Crossing the Line, The Situation Room, Intercapillary Places and the Blue Bus. Writers Forum also runs regular gatherings for poets. Brighton did have Chlorine Readings and Desperate for Love - both are now on hiatus. A new series, Hi ZERO! has filled the gap. Manchester has The Other Room and Counting Backwards. Cambridge has the CRS and a healthy variety of other one-off events - keep checking the Openned blog for details. Tony Trehy curates the Text Festival in Bury every other year.
Publishers & Presses
Salt Publishing is the largest publisher of works that fall under the contemporary poetry bracket, although in recent years their focus has become more wide-ranging. Reality Street is also highly recommended. The small press is where most poetry now comes from. Here one is spoilt for choice, with fantastic publications from The Arthur Shilling Press, Bad Press, Barque Press, CRITICAL DOCUMENTS, Grasp Press, if p then q, Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, Plantarchy, Veer Books, ytcommunication and zimZalla, to name a few.
There are also a few journals and zines out there, notably the Cambridge Literary Review, Chicago Review, Department, Holly White Magazine, Hot Gun! and the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry.
Sites & Blogs
The number of websites housing excellent poetry are numerous, but to get off to a good start you could do much worse than visiting blart, Dusie, Great Works, How2 Journal, Intercapillary Space and onedit, all of which periodically update with outstanding work from a variety of excellent poets. Likewise, there are a seemingly infinite number of blogs to read, all with their own merits, which can be found on the Links pages. Of these, the most prominent is Ron Silliman’s blog.
This is merely indicative of a much broader palette of exceptional work online which is worth checking out; this list is by no means comprehensive and there are many fantastic online presences which have not been listed. Keep checking the Blog and the Links pages for further finds as and when we are lucky enough to stumble across them.
Last updated Thursday 5th May 2011