Harry Godwin, Mendoza, Nat Raha and Michael Zand are all poets who are part of recently emergent networks based around creative writing courses in London and innovative poetry events like Openned and Crossing the Line. They have all had small pamphlets published from Harry Godwin's Arthur Shilling Press, were published together as a quartet in the yt communications pamphlet Sporangiophores and were included in the  freak lung zine published by ninerrors poetry pamphlet series as part of Mendoza's Poets of the Nine project. This is poetry whose social base is through circulation of performances, micro-publishing and zines, plus blogs and the Internet.  Self identity is explored through their practice as well as exploratory linguistic procedures. All except Raha have studied Creative Writing at Roehampton, a credit to Jeff Hilson's plainly very effective teaching. Doubts can be expressed (eg by me) about HE courses teaching how to write poetry; but "by their fruits shall ye know them" – juicy, varied, nutritious and sweet this lot.  And more young poets from such networks beside could have been chosen to read with them as well.

They are all then poets beginning to practise, but demonstrating such skill, inventiveness and self-confidence that I am filled with hope that British innovative poetry is able to renew itself. Enjoy their personal statements below, enjoy their performances and readings, and check them out online, at future events, and their publications.

While less successful than the moustache of Harry Godwin, the voice of Harry Godwin has been heard at Hilson & Bonney's Crossing the Line and Davies & Willey's Openned. It reads the work of Harry Godwin (not to be confused with Sir Harry Godwin – him of the Peat Bog & gardening fame), which has appeared in such fine publications as onedit,  sporangiophores, StreetCake Magazine and his own Arthur Shilling publications. Harry is also putting together an attempted DIY international journal, Cleaves. Discuss. . .

Mendoza aka Tommy Peeps aka Linus Slug aka slmendoza has recently completed an MRes in Creative Writing at the Hilson School of Poetry, Roehampton. An obsession with the number nine saw Peeps produce the Ninerrors' poetry series — a set of nine poetry pamphlets, each nine pages long containing poems of nine lines, or multiples of nine. Some poems constricted to nine words per line. Peeps has issued two pamphlets in 09 The Ffrass Gazette published by the Arthur Shilling Press under the pseudonym of Linus Slug + Sporangiaphores — published by yt communication under the real name of slmendoza. The work of Peeps references Northumbrian history, North-Eastern dialect and insect folklore. Peeps is a pretend poet of the Putney Heath.

Nat Raha is a poet, musician and songwriter. She lives in London. Her work includes Notes on Tauheed (Arthur Shilling Press, 2009), bits of Sporangiophores and she is one of the Poets of the Nine, as featured in the freak lung zine. Her musical involvement stems a little further into the past – after foolishly quitting the violin at the age of 4, she spent ten years learning the Piano and Euphonium before starting songwriting and playing the guitar at 14. She now finds herself playing solo under the name of Hello Loveless & in semi-active, Cambridge-based band The Sleep Wells. Nat considered herself an obsessive lyricist until discovering innovative poetry fundamentally affected this.

Michael Zand's work has a penchant for the frayed edges of language, the places where tongues get tied with each other and where sometimes — something new emerges. He has read at a number of poetry events and participated in various collaborations with musicians and sound artists. He is recently completed a narrative piece called pang, which looked at the relationship between geography, linguistic identity and emotional loss. He has also about to launch a new website, lexico, which will focus, amongst others things, on innovative methods of translation. He was born in Iran but has spent most of his life in London. He now lives near Reading and is a research student at Roehampton University, where he won the 2008 poetry performance prize. He is currently studying for a PhD which will involve producing a new translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

I add some comments on their Arthur Shilling books below, to give some indication of what specifically I like in each one's writing.

On the Internet


Peter Philpott, December 16, 2009