Reviews for Live Canon: Lightfalls & Lovely Peripheries

Joshua’s Review of Lightfalls:

Lightfalls is the second collection by the Indian born poet Gillie Robic. It is a collection that explores the human emotion, systematically using the relationship between light and dark as a metaphor for life’s movement. Although, the collection is primarily about light, Robic evidently notices and acknowledges the fact that there cannot be light without first the experience of darkness. This conflict is playfully explored throughout Robic’s poetry with light falling through darkness (as in the title), or the dominance of darkness coming through when the devil is ‘scribbling on the light of God’.

               At first glance, there is a seeming sparseness to the poetry within Lightfalls. However, where the volume of words is light, there seems to be much weight in Robic’s poetry. Exploring questions of theology, memory, and love it is hard to escape the weightiness of the subject but in its execution the poetry falls through the page like the light it describes. Take for example, ‘And so I pray’, a poem that is actually one of the longer ones within this collection but at 15 short lines still manages to capture the existentialism of modern life. In the poem Robic explores love and death with seemingly everyday images ‘Peril paints the horizon…while I butter my toast’, ‘The sun turns a dirty London corner/ and conjures a luminous cityscape/ from cracks in the concrete’. It is in these beautifully illustrated everyday images that Robic’s strength lies.

Reece’s Review of Lovely Peripheries:

In parts humorous, in others surreal, Campbell’s Lovely Peripheries serves up moments of interesting introspection and conjures up some amazing images with his linguistic capabilities.

The poem that instantly caught my attention was ‘Beheading at a wedding’, which by the title alone promises to take you on the strangest of journeys, and lives up to the expectation. Beginning with wax dripping from ‘everyone’, an image strengthened by the structural line breaks, to the ‘father cuffed / to her wrist’ and a veil transforming into an octopus that eats the grain of the groom, the poem impressed me with its ability to become so vivid in my mind for such an odd set of circumstances.

Afterwards we get ‘Asunder on the metro’, starting off in the familiar experience of taking a nap on public transport. However, it wastes no time in taking us into a dream of apocalyptic proportions, where a bear the size of a mountain weeps in a ‘snowy landscape’, causing the snow to melt all around. But, just as swiftly, we are then taken back with a bang to the head to ‘new faces’ on the metro, disrupting for a moment the tired traveller until, once more, his ‘eyes close, the sound of the tram’s wheels fades.’ Thus follows even stranger images of Persian cats and small fluorescent orbs interspersed with yet more disruption that is both dizzying but deftly done by Campbell.

I think Campbell’s strength lies in his expansive imagination and his travel poems, with lines like ‘woollen wisps floating around charcoaled carcasses’ and ‘My neck wilts … the drop-down table creates dents on forehead’ both extremely creative and relatable to travellers and commuters alike. Overall, an interesting collection containing some worthful highlights.

Cobblestone Mystics – Our Latest Pamphlet

The incredibly talented Matthew Mullins is our next poet to trust us with the distribution of his pamphlet, Cobblestone Mystics, ready to buy now for only £2.50!

‘A epic poem in three parts that takes you on more twists and turns than than the headiest helter-skelter, Matthew’s Mystics enlightens the ordinary with dark humour and to-the-point imagery that will keep you transfixed with each cobblestone of verse’ – Reece David Merrifield, editor of Foxtrot Uniform.

Furthermore, Matthew is part of The Eskimo Chain, whose new album you should certainly give a listen! Simply click on the link below:

2019 Live Canon Pamphlet Competition – Reviews by Foxtrot Uniform

In January Joshua and I were approached by Live Canon to review the four winners of their competition. With intrigue we took to the task, and here are the results:

Reviews by Reece Merrifield:

Katie Griffiths’ My Shrink is Pregnant

A tightly themed poetical analysis on the intimacy between patient and therapist and its blurring boundaries, Griffiths’ pamphlet effectively explores the emotions involved inside the consulting room.

            The poem that stuck out for me came near the end, ‘My Shrink Brings Back Curious Souvenirs’, with the 2nd stanza reading like a Spanish equivalent of the French national motto but for the mind, giving constructive definitions for the words ‘Recalibración’ ‘Equilibración’ & Purificación’. Most of the poems also contain wonderful images that are likely to stick with you permanently, such as ‘Branches fork in endless possibilities / making endless bids for freedom’ in ‘My Shrink’s Window’, and lines that I can only imagine perfectly resonate anyone needing therapy, the most pertinent being ‘May she gently disturb my turf, / helping me to leave this room / not the way I entered’ in ‘My Shrink Asks Me What I am Hoping to Get’.

            I also find Griffiths’ blending of titles into the next line a subtle piece of ingeniousness, a clever piece of textual imagery that creates a neat contrast, one fine example being ‘‘My Shrink Has to Agree’ / that suicide is the final option’. I also found the therapist’s pregnancy as a two-sided metaphor – one of rebirth but also one of abandon, attending to the needs of another vulnerable being – an original take that offered multifarious expressions to the poems from beginning to end.

            Probably to give it its biggest compliment, Griffiths’ manages to speak not only directly to other patients who can sympathise with the narrator, but also opens up an understanding for those who are unaware of the process of therapy. Truly a read that can and should be had by all.

Tania Hershman’s How High Did She Fly?

There is much to ponder on in Tania’s pamphlet, especially her takes on The Crucible, a poignant play in these wild times.

            Tania exhibits deft technique through repetition, creating a whirlpool that makes the reader zero in on the crux of the matters she is aiming to portray. In ‘Mary Warren (1)’ she lays bare the advantages of peeping, and the knowledge to be gained from ‘a small way to look’, and in the end almost breaking a fourth wall by ending the poem with ‘which of us is the great one now, /and which of us is blind?’. Again, in ‘Abigail (5)’, she creates a bombardment of a poem from the simple line, ‘A wild thing may say wild things’ in Miller’s Crucible, giving punchy responses for those who indeed ‘never did wild things’, a clever counter-response with those without ‘wild words’.

            Although not as strong as a collection, the other half of the pamphlet certainly has its highlights. ‘Alone with Scissors’ is a harrowing poem whose line breaks create a wicked suspense, a narrator obviously in the grips of despair who ‘in the darkness, / cutting’ alludes to just more than cutting her own hair. Furthermore, ‘I am’ is an elegantly simple poem with a rhythm fully suited to a floating, weaving ‘part-leaf / part-lake’ that ends on a rather ambiguous ‘bank / you can never reach’.

            The collection overall has certainly made an impression on me, and wishing her further success with her recently released and what if we were all allowed to disappear, something I would definitely love to come across soon.

Reviews by Joshua Cialis:

Yellow by Miranda Peake:

Miranda Peake’s pamphlet Yellow takes seemingly everyday events and presents them in a rather surreal way: steering planes with ‘music and magazines’ or the unresponsiveness of winter. Peake’s way with imagery allows us to live within the pamphlet, forces us to take on its emotion but also its humour and realness of life. It may be for this reason that Miranda Peake has been published in so many high profile magazines such as Ambit, Under the Radar, and by the Poetry School.

My favourite poem within this pamphlet is ‘Dear Virgo’, the story of a day, of waking up, getting ready, travelling through the rain on ‘wet webbed feet’ and reading the day’s horoscope. The imagery of ‘Dear Virgo’ is so subtle that it cleverly builds the scene using sound and movement: a crowd is grown out of shoulders and knees and people ‘sliding towards sandwiches’. This poem seems to be a triumph of everyday action – or inaction whichever way we might look at it.

Why? And other questions by Robin Houghton

Robin Houghton’s pamphlet Why? And other questions successfully blends art and everyday life with poetry. As you might expect from a title including a question, this pamphlet asks many questions which makes this pamphlet moving in ways it wouldn’t be if we were merely told answers. Houghton also does something that lacks in a lot of contemporary poetry (and something that I personally would normally steer clear of), rhyme. Houghton uses rhyme in a strong and subtle way that hammers home his point quite clearly.

Something that I love about this pamphlet is the mention of art throughout the poems; there’s mentions of Rodin, the act of sculpture, photography, and even two poems dedicated to T.J. Cobden-Sanderson the co-creator of Dove typeface. The blend of art and poetry has always been something that intrigues me and allows the reader to build a better image using these well-known artistic motifs. One poem that so successfully manages to blend the line between visual art and poetry in this pamphlet is ‘I ask what colour is the sea’; a poem which is synesthetic in its approach to answering the question.

I find it greyscale of gull belly caught in a squint, a hint of gravestone.
Some days a sick greenish grey. But I ask the world and it says blue.

Some days I see a red horizon, its neat cut staunched by blotting paper,
a frieze of container ships like comedy castles, a spot of shadow play.

These lines successfully and beautifully answer the question posed while simultaneously regarding a certain annoyance at the simplicity of how others might answer ‘But I ask the world and it says blue’. The poem not only answers its question about the sea but also poses many more questions about the power of vision and of comparison.

I enjoyed reading Robin Houghton’s Why? And other questions, if you think you’d like to buy it go visit Live Canon Press’ website to order yourself a copy.

Review – ‘What I Heard on the Last Cassette Player in the World’ by Ben Ray

Words and Photograph by Reece David Merrifield

A cleverly, carefully curated collection that spans across a dazzling number of timelines and topics, Ben’s work had me mesmerised from start to finish.

            The interspersed ‘Knee Plays’ are an inspired addition that offer brilliant tongue-in-cheek relief, personal favourites including ‘Reasons to embrace the rising sea levels’ and ‘Listening to Hitler’s speeches whilst exploring Warsaw’. A brief explanation of what ‘Knee Plays’ actually are could read as a poem all by itself, such is the way that Ben is able to weave his inspirations into the collection, adding gloss via grit which does not go unappreciated by the reader.

            What also comes across is the watertight knack for word structure, where each syllable is like mini-waves coming off an untroubled duck’s back. The impressively specific ‘Meditation on three wooden barrels from a shipwreck found in Gdansk harbour, dated to the early 15th century’ is testament to it, and allows for seamless reading where one could otherwise become instantly lost to the Baltic sea.

            The underlying thread of combatting climate change is deftly tackled with in a flexible manner, with swift shifts from the epic seriousness to the deadpan one-liner displayed in ‘Greenpeace’s final strategy’, and to the utterly cynical yet pinpoint ‘And now we are inside the mind of Nicolae Ceauşescu’. A very prominent and contemporary talking point can easily drag poets down into the cliché pit, but Ben creates clever angles to position his poems in a satisfyingly disorientated manner, which is an apt description for most of this collection.

            A final note to Ben himself, who not only trusted us with his work in one of our previous magazines, but also to grant us this opportunity for reviewing his work. We thank you wholeheartedly, and truly has been a pleasure for myself to read his work in a wider context. It is only one direction Ben is heading in, and it’s not difficult to guess which it is.

Available Now!!

Both Foxtrot Uniform: 004 and Luke Scarisbrick’s debut pamphlet, I Bought a Skull called Francis, are now available to order from our website.

Foxtrot Uniform: 004 is a poetry magazine for our troubled times. Full of hope, darkness, and creativity FU spans several continents bringing us all together using fresh words. You can buy 004 for £3.00 (plus postage if living outside the UK).

I Bought a Skull Called Francis – an idle year in ten movements is the debut pamphlet by Luke Scarisbrick. The pamphlet charts a year in the life by mixing poetry with polaroid pictures.
The poetry is surreal and straight-up hilarious, but it is also tinged with darkness, which the polaroid pictures both exacerbate and illuminate. You can buy I Bought a Skull Called Francis for the amazing price of £2.50 (plus postage if living outside the UK).

To order a copy simply send the correct money along with your postal address to https://paypal.me/FoxtrotUniform?locale.x=en_GB then we will get your order in the post.

Please help spread the word so that we can share these amazing words even further and wider!

March Poems

Continuing with our monthly series, Josh and I have decided to share poems we have written to each other in letters over the past 3 months, entitled ‘Lines in Envelopes’:

I

Modernist monsters in the machine of night
pour beer on all our dreams
,no movement to surf on, all stragglers
in need of clarity, sober perhaps?

But probably otherwise.
The piano slips through changes
cleaning up the strain of doubt.
I don’t know a lot about music but

I can tell something’s off-beat
when we shuffle our feet
perpetually to someone else’s drum.

II

TV screens in hues of pink,
a plastic rose atop a radio

a whiff of hairspray
the death chambers are coming

A little too concrete for my liking,
dial it down to an unkempt sound
that looks like breakfast in the afternoon

or silver service on the streets
and the circus leaving town.

III

Filthy shoes and empty ferries
year of the pigs here already
will need something
stronger than a sherry

But a bottle of Perrier will not do
so I’ll sit here under a tunnel
etching my name into law and lord.

IV

Brutal buildings losing their shine
as the modern brute bullies the remnants
of a complicated century.

V

Just before

            Coffee

I

            Reveal something important

The Utopia

            Screaming at me to

Speak to strangers

Coming Very Soon…

Cover art by Jessica Powell

It’s that time of year again: Foxtrot Uniform: 004 will be available from April 1st – only a few days away!

We have just finished going through the submission pile (which was full of amazing work) and are, as we post this, piecing together the final few touches. We were amazed by the quality and diversity sent to us, and we can only thank the creative community for being so very vibrant. We have poetry, we have prose, we even have a couple of collages for you to admire!

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the process, and we hope the words keep spreading!

World Book Day

Far from simply being an opportunity for school children to dress up as book characters, World Book Day is an opportunity for us to share our favourite books. Therefore, we are sharing our ultimate reading list here. Our reading list is not an exaustative list of our favourite books but they are, in our minds, the best universal reads.

Joshua’s reading List

Hamlet – William Shakespeare

The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac

The Outsiter – Albert Camus

Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimar McBride

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers

The Complete Poems of Allen Ginsberg

The Collected Dylan Thomas

The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chobsky

Feral – George Monbiot

Reece’s List

Spring and All – William Carlos Williams

Player of Games – Iain M. Banks

Trainspotting – Irvine Walsh

Master and Margarita – Bulgakov

Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick

Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata

Songs of Innocence and Experience – William Blake

The Overcoat and Other Stories – Gogol

HHhH – Laurent Binet

The Outsider – Albert Camus

The Tempest – William Shakespeare

Woody Allen’s Short Stories

Volpone – Ben Jonson

February Poems

Every month we will be publishing two poems, each by our editors. February was a weird one, it was cold, it was hot, some days it was both. This time last year we were knee deep in snow; this year we were walking around without our coats. Maurice – Reece Merrifield He had not aged well after drinking free bottles of wine and champagne. Genitalia sketched in the sand stripped of its horror by the waves of time. Oxbridge danced in the masks of masculinity whereas now we idly hum Samaritan punk where the boys kiss in gigs and scream ‘yes! Of course we like it!’ A Train from London Bridge Station – Joshua Cialis Lost in a black sky littered by haiku waiting for a voice from the neon lights to question crazies in underpasses or answer voices from half-formed faces on banks emptied by sewage outlet pumps every night forever but wait in tunnels for Angels to appear and prophesy a coming apocalypse of the mind it will destroy all everything you know leaving us in the beauty of nature or a girl reflected in train windows staring out over the sprawling crowded rib cage of the city skyline spread out from her blue eyes blinking in the neon of night of eternal nights spread up in book shops and the folding of theatre seats as we stand up together to take the last bow and bow out into sleazy hotel rooms where we’re not sure it’s cockroaches or rats who murder sleep or in China Town where Beauty dines in the streets and gains taste after midnight’s chuck out belching and spewing into back streets and enemies are made in the blink of an eye a look the wrong way the flicker of a taxi whistling past and cocooned bodies lie out in doorways blocking up the halls of disputed power and the bell tolls in bow tie hours to call the men in to palace bedrooms where the People sleep in their declining hour and cobblestones turn to broken bottles or concrete into sand denying to answer the questioning of the pale moon setting out in hours where the day is long night is longest and the haiku stars set into greying clouds hidden in the destruction of day

Light Reading

Words by Joshua Cialis, picture by J. M. W. Turner (‘Sunset over Water’)

‘Yellow after the night goes to sleep’ (O’Hara, 1955)

Poets have used light since the beginning of creative thought, to illuminate the cave walls on which they depicted stories, to shine onto writing desks, to demonstrate some sublime metaphor, to light their journey through a dark patch in life, or more recently to spotlight themselves on a stage. However we look at it, light is immensely important to poets.

For Coleridge, light was a portal to the sublime; a sunset allows the ‘veil [to the] Almighty Spirit’ to be lifted. In fact in ‘This Lime Tree Bower My Prison’, Coleridge almost explicitly defines the sublime as only coming through in light; the light ‘hues’ of the sunset allow the poet to be struck by a ‘swimming sense…less gross than bodily’. In light we experience the deepest of beautiful feelings. However, there is also a sense of what might be going on in the dark. In ‘Kaddish’, Ginsberg muses on darkness and death in the lines: ‘like a poem in the dark – escaped back to Oblivion/ No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream’. Here, essentially Ginsberg asserts darkness with death and destruction of pure imagination. Therefore, light is essential for creativity and beauty.

It is interesting to look at light and how it is depicted in poetry. A favourite image of mine is morning light through a slatted blind. It is that purest kind of light, the sort you only notice for a couple of minutes before it is gone into the business of the day. But that blurry eyed beauty can be locked up in the lines of a poem to transport us back to that serenity of waking up to light. O’Hara captures this morning light brilliantly in his poem ‘Talking To The Sun On Fire Island’, a poem in which the Sun patiently waits for O’Hara to wake before asserting the equality of the Sun’s light and how it shines everywhere, and must therefore be a power for all writers and creatives.

Burroughs’ used artificial light to create hallucinations. Using Briony Gysin’s ‘Dream Machine’, a sequence of flashing lights shine through a spinning cylinder creating a strobosofic effect. This flickering light stimulates the optic nerves to create images behind the eyes of the watcher. This hallucinatory effect of oscillating light had such an effect on Burroughs that he uses the images seen in his Dream Machine experiments in almost all of his books. The fact that light can have this ability to expel writers block demonstrates its power in the poet’s tool box.

One way to harness this power of light in a simple writing exercise is to note the shapes that light form in a specific place throughout the day. Notice how these shapes change as the sun sets and then how they morphe further after the sun goes down and the light becomes artificial. Muse upon how these changes affect you and your outlook on the environment around you and what happens once the light has gone.