An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
5 Cross Farm
Station Road North
available for sae

visit the information web page for Handshake

Read about#75
latest issue appears to be #79

NHI review home page
FAQ page
Notes for Publishers

book reviews
other media

Web design by Gerald England
This page last updated: 31st August 2010.
Handshake #66

HANDSHAKE, the newsletter of The Eight Hand Gang, is edited by John F. Haines and consists of one page.

On the first side are advertisements for little magazines, including ROMANIAN COMET CONTEMPORARY POETRY, IS POETRY REALLY A GREEN ENERGY SOURCE? and MYTHIC DELIRIUM. There is also news of several publications from Atlantean Publishing. Also on this page is the announcement of the Data Dump Award: First: Jacqueline Jones, Joint Second: Andrew Darlington and Cardinal Cox and Joint Third: Kristine Ong Muslim and Tracy Patrick. There is also a notice advertising SFPA — The Science Fiction Poetry Association founded by Suzette Haden Elgin in 1978

to bring together poets and readers interested in science fiction poetry.
On the reverso are five poems: PLUTONIUM LOGIC, Anthony Bernstein, RESONANCE, Richard Lung, I AM NOT A TRAINED ASTRONAUT, E. Jodi Woodward, MY TARANTULA, Joanne Tolson and YEOVIL, Douglas Forward.

Bernstein's PLUTONIUM LOGIC generates a feeling of mystery in its story about the unsolvable equation; Lung's RESONANCE takes on the territory of the super-sonic jets where,

	The planes of their flying axes grind
	the air into whetstone whines
a characteristic rendering of the rueful awareness of gravity.

I AM NOT AN ASTRONAUT, E. Jodi Woodward, is the measure of the difference between reporting and imagination: here the poet imagines putting on a ring of Neptune in order to achieve power. The language is spare, the rhythm uninsistent.

Joanne Tolson's poem, MY TARANTULA, uses language that is bare and of a monosyllabic simplicity:

	The tarantulas attach themselves
	Like pumps,
	They move up and down on the back
	Of my head.
YEOVIL, by Douglas Forward, is a two-stanza poem in which the experience of an alien landing is conveyed through a play of imagery — a sense of bewilderment, amusement and interest being offset by the metre of the irregular lines. A singing undertone unifies the contrast between the seriousness of the topic and the humour with which the poem is presented:
	All the hotlines thrumming away—
	Newscasters and reporters galore.
	Into it for all they are worth.
	Aliens at last . . an historic day
	Nobody worries.  National holiday.
The surreal shock of some of the poems in HANDSHAKE helps to revitalise familiar perceptions. The poems exhibit the restraint of a focussed gaze, conducting us with assurance into their world of sights and sounds and the inevitable mysteries of life.

reviewer: Patricia Prime.
Handshake #67

Customary A4 sheet with general info about publications and other bits and pieces on one side, and five poems on the reverse side (by Peter Day, Cardinal Cox, Iestyn Bulloc, Joanne Tolson and Raymond Leonard). SACRED CATS by Iestyn Bulloc is a nicely-done amusing piece about pharaohs, cats and mummies:

	A catatonic catamite
	Awoke in Pharaoh's tomb.
	He catapulted bolt upright
	And gazed around the room.
Here is TETHYS by Joanne Tolson:
	Looking like a golf ball
	In space,
	Floats near its planets orbit.
	Floating in the antithesis of
	From the cosmic turbulence
	Of space.

reviewer: Alan Hardy.
Handshake #69

Subtitled as the British SF Poets' Newsletter, this is like the poetry sheets of the 1960s (POOR OLD TIRED HORSE, for example). It's a spyhole into an exciting underground, with the duplicated old-style typewriter face giving an authentic samizdat, on-the-run flavour.

Clever use of space — news on one side, poems on reverse. There's a spicy variety of poetry and announcements. Cardinal Cox (in his second year of residency at Broadway Cemetery, Peterborough) has a new collection OLD SCARLETT'S BOOK OF IMPRACTIBLE BATS.

A few of the poems are shaped in their layout — a style I've never understood, but here it helps in using one page economically.

In DÉJÀ VU, Raymond Leonard tackles public transport with:

	    There's a twilight place within slumber's embrace
	where trains arrive each night. Here passengers long past
	     commute with the cast of those yet to alight.
There's also Bill West, Steve Sneyd and Geoff Stevens. In IONOSFEAR there are painterly lines from Geoff:
	even with witch hazel
	the sky's bruises deepen
The newspage manages to house John Heath Stubbs, LIGHT'S LIST, Pen and Brush Anthology, Dileep Bagnall's GROUCH, Templar Poetry Competition 2007 and Forkbeard fantasy Summer Schools, Bristol, 29 June to 6 July and 13 to 20 July. It's taken almost as much space to comment on as to read. I recommend sending a SAE to the editor for your own original copy.

reviewer: Pat Jourdan.
Handshake ##70/71

Photocopied double-sided A4 sheets of poems, replete with penned-in corrections. Well: one side largely consists of adverts. The reverse sports six poems in varying typeface, all with obvious science fiction leanings. Even the obligatory poem about Pluto's reclassification makes an appearance in Tony Renney's PLUTO:

	I used to be a planet, but you've stripped me of my fame
	Your astronomers now tell me, I'm not worthy of that name.
It is difficult to find fault with something as quirky as Handshake. It certainly has its own charm. The poems are interesting, though the familiar sort that one finds in these kinds of science fiction/fantasy/horror publications.

Some of the adverts on the front page of #71 are probably best avoided. One invites submissions of poems that

should eschew egotism, obscurantism, plagiarism and pornography
while also claiming that the journal in question, Metverse Muse, is
now widely recognized and acclaimed as THE WORLD'S PREMIER POETRY JOURNAL.
If only I had some spare poems — maybe they would consider my poem THE OBSCURE EGOTIST STEALS A BLUE MOVIE.

But returning to the journal in question, Handshake — this issue has seven poems in all, consisting of six science fiction sorts and one horror (titled, FROM THE LEGEND OF WOLFMAN JIM, by Cardinal Cox). Some are a little difficult to consider poetry, such as Steve Sneyd's truncated OUR FIRST OTHERWHERE AMBASSADOR RETURNS:

	found ripplegate to
	alternative earth sent
	condemned killer no
	loss if no return seemed no
	time later got handful back
	of mince meat message
	"add ingredients thus"
	got serpent wisdom. 
I have to admit not really following. That said, this issue does include (in Mark Hudson's WOMAN CLONES) what must surely henceforth become an immortal line:
	Hell hath no fury like a woman cloned. 

reviewer: James Midgley.