Keith Howden's latest work, Barley Top, is published 1st May 2013.
Barley Top is an account of growing up in a moorland, working-class village in the Lancashire of the 1930’s, remembering its enclosed and limited world and later, coming to terms with a society more complex, wealthier but less able to assess its roots. These are poems that reach back to the historic naming of farms, nod ironically towards the uneasy mood of the late thirties and move into the political tensions of the post-war years.
Barley Top is a top-quality hardback book, sewn sections, with silver foil blocked spine and front. The accompanying audio CD contains the author reading his poems set to music composed by his son, Matt Howden. It comes in a matching black and silver card wallet.
Poems, Novels, Artwork
Joe Anderson (pamphlet) Omens
Marches of Familiar Landscape Peterloo
Pauper Grave (pamphlet) Treovis Press
Hanging Alice Nutter Privately published
The Matter of Britain * PRE (Rome)
Jolly Roger Smokestack Books
Barley Top (published 1st May 2013) * Redroom
(Prize winner in the National Poetry, the Cheltenham Festival and Peterloo competitions : publication in many major magazines, broadcasts and publication by both BBC Radio 3 and BBC World Service.
*publications by PRE (Rome) are accompanied by a disc holding readings of the poems to the accompaniment of music by Matt Howden.)
The Creators: commended by two major publishers for its prose and elaborate structure (‘some of the best prose we have seen’) but rejected for the difficulties readers would find in its complexity and total lack of commercial value, a judgment I don’t disagree with. It’s a formalist enquiry into the nature of creativity and the processes of creation as experienced through three major characters and the critics who seek to interpret them.
Naylor: again, major publishers have been quite fulsome in their praise and rejected for the reasons as before. It’s more readable and there is at least a discernible plot concerning the return of its major character to the footballing and familial relationships of the past.
Self-Dissolve: has never been seen by any publishers. It’s another exercise in formalism, but this time, hopefully comic. It’s concerned with the interplay between the members of a small-town writing group and based on the premise that each chapter should destroy its own making and that the last chapter should destroy the whole material of its structure. It was fun to write. I don’t know how much fun it might be to read.
I began to paint when I retired. At first I painted what I knew and ended up with Monet/Cezanne based landscapes, industrial landscapes and still life. I then realised that I was painting the past, that art itself moves on to use the technologies of its day. What could be digitally produced from scraps of paper or silver paper under a scanner, changed, re-organised and re-made fascinated me. It was the way I wanted to go. What happens is often the result of what I want to write: equally often, it is the source of what I write.