Recently, I’ve been writing more sequences, which has lead me to think about why the form appeals to me over a verse novel or epic poem.

One of the most obvious reasons is the length. A sequence can be much shorter than either of the other two, as with all of mine, while still offering more story/viewpoints/strands than a typical lone non-epic poem.

Another of the advantages is that I tend to find a lot of ‘slack’ in verse novels, and to a lesser degree some epic poems, that is words and lines with story or rhythmic functions that don’t zing as I like poetry to. This slack is often inevitable because of progressing the narrative. It also eases the effort of reading a large length of poetry in one go. But, for me, lines that have punch with the white-space gap or pause between poems in a sequence over any slackness in words.

This leads me to another thing that I like about sequences: their episodic possibilities. Perhaps, this inclination is one that comes with the current cultural background: the internet, television and radio’s use of series to complete some point of action within an episode while leaving the audience is a position of heightened drama. The poetry sequence shares this possibility, as well as offering easy ways for changing viewpoint, or flashbacks.

One of my poetry sequences was published in Shadowtrain this week, ‘Luck in Depression’. For me, this sequence sums up part of the storyline, without the fictional additions, of The Magnetic Diaries. The sequence allows me to jump time between the various parts while also heightening drama.

Another sequence that I have in the next issue of Oxford Poetry works slightly differently. In ‘Family Trees’, the three parts of the poem allow me to take a different generation of women’s viewpoint on relationships and having children, or not. The parts here don’t aim at breaking on a cliffhanger, or anything like that. Instead, I borrowed from oulipo n+ methods to suggest how the original advice from the first poem might be unconsciously, and knowingly, altered and compressed each time it passes to the next generation. These juxtapositions and similarities are heightened, I hope, by using a sequence rather than one continuous poem.

I’ve just started reading, and loving, Simon Barraclough’s Sunspots (Penned in the Margins), which I’d describe as a book-length sequence on the sun. This uses the sequence brilliantly to present multiple viewpoints or aspects of the sun. The word play is also delicious and fun. I’m enjoying this so much that hopefully a micro-review will follow on this blog at some point soon.

Other publishing snippets for me recently include two haiku in the Financial Times online on March 19 themed around ‘returning from parental leave’, and online and in print on March 26, themed around ‘the ex-pat’.

I also received my contributor’s copy of the beautiful Bloodaxe anthology Hallelujah for 50ft Women, edited by the Raving Beauties and containing my poem ‘For Her, A Different Skin’.

Also, my contributor’s copy of ‘Assembly’, celebrating 30 evenings of Carol Ann Duffy and Friends, in which I am proud to have my poem ‘Evolved’. (With thanks to Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Venn and Ian Humphreys for devising, compiling and editing the pamphlet.)

In different news, Knives, Forks and Spoons Press is currently running a crowdfunding project for a music anthology Yesterday’s Music Today. This 150 page anthology includes poems from Roselle Angwin, Susan Birchenough, Elizabeth Burns, M.C. Caseley, Mike Ferguson, David Hart, Paul Hawkins, Norman Jope, Jimmy Juniper, David Kennedy, John Lees, Rupert M. Loydell, Stephen C. Middleton, Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper, Sheila E. Murphy, Mario Petrucci, Jay Ramsay, Robert Sheppard, Angela Topping and myself. All of the backing options include a copy of the anthology, as well as other KFS pamphlets or collections, making them very good value-for-your-money. More details and backing the project can be done here.

With that, the Easter break starts tomorrow and I’m hoping it will also bring a chance to relax with some books. Have a good one, one and all!