Carrie Etter's Infinite Difference - wonderfully widespread anthology full of new experimental women poets.
Elaine Randell's Faulty Mothering - probably my book of the year. Moving, Objectivist in the best way, taught as a bowstring.
Micheal Haslam - A Cure for Woodness - visionary, experimental, deeply felt, musical poems set in the Pennines, a kind of John Clare filtered through Jack Spicer and free-form jazz.
Those - in no particular order - are my top three this year, but there's also the new book from Tom Raworth and Scott Thurston's Momentum which were pretty special too.
Apart from reviews, I've given up trying to keep up with the current books, albums, arts events etc; so I'm not about to give you my best of list for this year. I find those lists rather tiresome anyway. So, no, I can neither recommend nor not recommend the latest books by Heaney and Armitage; because I haven't read them. I may get round to it one day. But some things I have read and liked this year, in no particular order:
1) Brain Scream At Night by Paul Sutton
2) A lovely pamphlet by David Morley
3) Sidings by Richard Barrett
4) In the Assarts by Jeff Hilson
5) The Thief by Gill Andrews
6) Folklore by Tim Atkins
7) A Map of Verona by Henry Reed
The last was published in 1946 and I found it in a bookshop in Liverpool for the princely sum of £2.
There's lots more, I'm sure, and by the end of this year, I hope to have read only my second novel of the year. I hope to read more next year. I've just got so little attention span. I am looking forward to Elizabeth Baine's The Birth Machine.
Albums? Nothing much new. I found a copy of Genesis by Stan Tracey in an Oxfam, and I enjoyed Peepers by Polar Bear, and I picked up the odd bargain from Fop. Oh, and the Neil Cowley Trio's Radio Silence. But again I don't keep up. I don't see why there can't be advantages to being over 50, and not keeping up with what's current is one of them.
This is only a provisional list. If I think about what I read this year a bit more carefully, I might come back to it. On the other hand, I might not.
I'm a poet with several books out, the latest being Calling Myself on the Phone (available from www.poetrybusiness.co.uk) and Travelator (available from www.saltpublishing.com and with poems on the net and in magazines. I teach creative writing and run workshops, and I read my poems in public at any given opportunity. I also occassionally paint.