literature reviews & interviews

REVIEWS of MUCUSART PUBLICATIONS

THE UGLY TREE POETRY 'ZINE, ISSUE 6
"Issue 6 of The Ugly Tree, and what started out as a regional magazine has become a long running (over two years - practically elderly for a poetry mag) publication that incorporates works from the North West and around the world. But the focus is still on encouraging local talent and the 'zine retains its devotion to poetry, poetry and more poetry.
The opening poem from Irving...sees the poet watching a man choose between buying a sandwich and a porn mag, which certainly offers food for thought... [Carol Batton's] contributions are appealing, though in different ways: 'The Rain Makes a Mark' has rhythmic repetitions, creating an atmosphere you can feel but not quite grasp. More direct is 'Medical Help, Psychiatry'... Alan Keogh's short and simple poem 'Naked' is worth checking out, as is his paean to 'Old Hulme'... Humour comes from Dermot Glennon's 'We Don't Complain Enough in this Country'...and Mark Spiden makes a sad and vivid picture in 'Old Couples'...
All in all, The Ugly Tree is making good progress as it enters its third year. There are some beauties to be found within its pages, if you care to look." City Life

THE UGLY TREE POETRY 'ZINE, ISSUE 1
"Recently, the UK Government Office of statistics launched an investigation to identify the most unequal ratio that it is mathematically possible to apply to any group... One paticular ratio trounced all others. The ratio of people who think they're poets to people who actually are. Full marks to The Ugly Tree for going at least some way towards redressing the balance.
None of the poets featured here are bad enough to inspire crashing an open mic night with an Uzi. Some of them are actually (whisper it) pretty good.
It manages to hang together in a pleasingly ramshackle way. Standouts include Tim Smith's scattered images and heart-on-sleeve politics, Brink's hilarious '12 Unnatural Practices of Country Folk' (any poem with the phrase 'cup a squirrel's nads' in it has to be worth a mention), and the equally funny Arthur Chappell, whose 'Fetish' basically crossbreeds Pam Ayres and pornography. Roll on next issue..." City Life

COFFEE SHOP PHILOSOPHY by IRVING
"This collection shows someone with a lively mind who can be profound without pretension, witty without being groan-worthy, and above all, entertaining," City LIfe

REMNANTS TO THE UNDERSCORED BOLIVIAN HUSKERY by IRVING
"Mucusart are on a mission to 'bring poetry out off that little shelf at the back of the bookshop, and prove that it can be just as accessible as fiction'... There are plenty of clearly expressed, accessible ideas to be found in Irving's Remnants to the Underscored Bolivian Huskery.
...Earnestness is nicely balanced with whimsical humour. In 'Decisions, Decisions' the poet observes a man torn between buying a sandwich and a porn mag: 'How unimaginative is this guy?/That he can't think of something arousing/And just buy the sandwich?' Then, as the man leaves with the magazine: 'I wonder if he will go home/do the business/and imagine the sandwich?'
...Communicating ideas is Irving's strongest point... The city has clearly shaped this determinedly unelaborated, approachable collection and the closing poem, 'Manchester', suggests a relationaship many would recognise: '...if it were human/[it] would resemble one of its prostitutes. Beautiful but haggard'," City Life

KARMA VERANDA by IRVING & GLENNON
"A shocking collection of humourous, sarcastic and observational poetry," scooptheloot.com

"The contents...make you want to punch the poets, eat the poets and shake hands with the poets. A review would be futile, buy the book," City Life

GET DOWN, GIT ON THE DOWNS by BRINK
"One of the best things about small presses is that they produce esoteric gems such as this. Brink manages to capture & captivate with his often intense poetry dedicated to stone circles, ancient landscapes, the spirit of nature and The All. This unashamed venture into such complex territory is superbly juxtaposed by rants and recognition of human frailty, ignorance and self-absorbtion as the collection enters its denouement...wherein a sense of futilty prevails leaving the reader to ponder the inevitable 'if onlys' of modern life," amazon.co.uk

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INTERVIEWS with PAUL NEADS:

FOR FREE PAGAN PRESS, BELTANE 2003 (ISSUE 13)
EXCERPT FROM AN INTERVIEW BY ANDREW ROBERTS
What advice would you give to any budding artist or poet?
Go with your creative instinct... There will be many times when your confidence will dip and you’ll get frustrated, but a modicum of self-belief will see you through. That and a good friend or two. Never be afraid to experiment and sometimes wear a hat.

FOR CAKE, JAN 2004 (ISSUE 2)
EXCERPT FROM AN INTERVIEW BY SARAH IRVING (unpublished)
How would you rate the poetry scene in Manchester?
The scene itself remains constant - hidden away in little corners of bars, quarter inch columns of City Life, in shoe boxes under bed-sit beds and in your face glory when you least expect it. Accessibility and promotion have always been the key, with editorials often unwilling to devote even a line of info to events, which is incongruous with Manchester's poetic heritage and resurgence. City Life often seemed to be the only champion of poetic causes. At times, Manchester's poetry scene has had to evolve through the necessity of self-sustainment and whilst the quality of North West voices has not diminished it seems that this 'scene' is at least becoming more accessible.
What advice would you give to someone new in Manchester wanting to hear/read local poetry and get published or perform?
Certainly attend as many poetry nights & events as you can to get a feel for what's on. It's an incredible mix of wit & wisdom out there. City Life is ultimately the best source of info re events, since MEN tends to only mention poetry as a typo. Workshops are a great source of encouragement and information and will not fail to help develop any talent. If you feel a yen for seeing your work in print don't feel shy in submitting work to some of the magazines in the area - or re-submitting other pieces if rejected. Some may be willing to offer advice and explanations. Most libraries will have ads and info for nights and magazines. Get out & have a nosey.

FOR POSITIVE CREED, JUN 2004
EXCERPT FROM AN INTERVIEW BY ANDREW ROBERS
What inspired you to create The Ugly Tree poetry 'zine?
...It was clear that the poetry seed was still sprouting [in Manchester], albeit with various mutant hybrids, but that nobody particularly cared any more (well, not like thay used too - too many people pretending to be happy nowadays I s'pose). A couple of reasonably good local magazines had just folded, leaving just the one to provide a voice...so I established TUT to fill a niche and really as an experiment to see what was out there. One of the major tenets was translating performance onto page, since Apples & Snakes was still really London-based at the time, and co-founding the performance night Per Verse also proved a useful source - again, Manchester seemed to be losing such nights at an alarming rate.
Are there any particular poets whom you admire and inspired you to write?

Being a mardy git, I always reckoned that if John Hegley could get away with it then so could I. Needless to say John Cooper Clarke holds sway... I did hear a fantastic rant by Vis the Spoon the other day, but haven't yet discovered if he's a poet or a band.
Do you think that poetry can be a serious vehicle for protest and inspire social change?

Philosophies are sadly ignored these days, it seems, and to be honest always have. Retrospect seems to be the way forward at times, if that's not too glib. I know several poets who vehemently believe that it's actually a dead art form nowadays and social comment is still regarded as a whinge and 80s throwback. Bollocks, I reckon, but I'm basing all this on what I see and hear out there, so I've come to the cynical conclusion that it can't. The only thing people notice is a punch in the face. Mind you, I'll probably change my mind next week.

ATTITUDES OF POETRY ED.S & THE CONSIDERATION OF MSS, JAN 2004 EXCERPT FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH TRACIE SHERIDAN (unpublished)
Would you say that money is a contributing factor when deciding which submissions are included / rejected?
If you mean are subscribers’ poems given priority over cold callings, then no. If you mean are ‘named’ poets’ works prioritised to add kudos to the ‘zine, then ‘no’ too. If I had it my way the ‘zine would be just full of pics of cats and the poets could sod off.
Do you believe that a poetry magazine editor should be a poet themselves?

It helps. As an editor it allows you to plagiarise so many other people. [In actuality] ...the eclectic esotericism denies the individual’s anal retentiveness.