It seems unbelievable that Geraldine Monk is 60. But I'd better believe it, because here comes a festschrift or a bouquet or a garland or whatever you may call it in celebration of this fact. 

When I was asked to contribute to Gathered Here Today, I thought it would be a private publication but it's actually now available from the inimitable Knives Forks and Spoons Press. And you know what, it's worth reading in its own right even if you don't know Geraldine. Forty-six poets, writers and artists contribute one page each, alphabetically from Tim Allen to Carol Watts, and it's a whirlwind of styles and bewildering inventiveness. Some pages in gorgeous colour. Very impressive.

Most contributions pay homage to Geraldine's linguistic fertility and/or ebullience. Only one (David Kennedy, in his title, "Monk's Funk") might briefly/elliptically be alluding to her namesake Thelonious. The letters of her name are a particularly fruitful source of inspiration, and in this mode the most impressive is Peter Manson's sonnet "Geraldine Monk" which I just must quote in full:

A moondial gnomon lingered in mid-glaming
a darkening mole in ermine ran a gold
medal mile, and knonked a lank dragoon
one on a non-glad noggin, grim in glee.

Eliding a lingam a gladdened idler dreamed
a germinal ode in a remade, leaner lingo:
no random mangler droning on in anger,
no angler in denial in a real Nile –

more dear in drink and aged in oak like me,
kind grenadine in gelid milk gone lame
(lamé, I mean) and game in ideogram
and do re mi, and om, rekindling

a glamor-daemon glimmering in Edom –
go gal, adored in ink galore, and Alan!

Wow, that's a tour de force.

While I'm at it, here on my desk is another anthology to which I make a modest contribution. Peter Hughes' award-winning (how seldom can I legitimately use that epithet of things close to my heart) pamphlet-publishing outfit Oystercatcher Press has been for the past few years demonstrating the range of invention in under-the-radar poetry in this country. If anyone wanted to give the lie to the tentative assertion I made in my last post in this space that it might all be over, well, this press could be Exhibit A.

To be honest, I haven't been able fully to keep up with Oystercatcher's output. I have a whole bunch of their pamphlets here, some of which I have read more than once with pleasure, some merely sampled and some I have yet to do justice to. I count 53 pamphlets listed on their website, of which I posses maybe half.

So if you don't know where to begin, you might try Sea Pie, just out from Shearsman, which samples a couple of pages each from 45 Oystercatcher poets.

I may be back soon with some news of publications to which I have made no contribution whatsoever.