I am delighted to announce the publication of a new edition of my novel, At Maunston Quay.
Riveting and brilliant… After “Late City” I was looking forward to my second Robert Olen Butler – and “Perfume River” didn’t disappoint. There were a number of things I liked about this book: I already have my next Butler waiting to be read…
I am excited to announce that I will be reading at Fountains Abbey’s regular October event, ‘Fountains by Floodlight‘. The event takes place each Saturday during October, and also includes the final two Fridays as well. Tickets are selling fast! In addition to spectacular lighting, special tours and music, there will be a number of… Read More ‘Fountains by Floodlight’
Primarily as a direct result of Ripon’s fifth Poetry Festival (RPF), I have read at four events over the past week. So how was it? Thursday: RPF – Open Mic. In many ways it was a typical open mic: massive variety in terms of style, content and quality. The most jarring element of the event… Read More A week of Readings: how was it?
I read this poem at an event at the fifth Ripon Poetry Festival over the weekend. A member of the audience described it as ‘exceptional’. Grief there is a space where you used to be I see it on grey station platforms and in shuffling supermarket aisles strange how it is never occupied despite the… Read More Grief
I can see why Ruth Ozeki’s “The Book of Form and Emptiness” made it to the Booker Prize shortlist. It’s wonderful. Don’t be put off by the c.550 pages of the paperback version as I nearly was; the novel rewards reading. And persistence isn’t really needed as the story keeps up a good pace throughout.… Read More “The Book of Form and Emptiness”
Last week I mentored at a private two-day retreat whose eleven attendees were all academics from a renowned UK university. Needless to say, I had been a little nervous in advance..! Firstly we were talking about hosting / steering / having 1-2-1s with proven intellectual heavyweights. Secondly, I knew very little about any of their… Read More Mentoring with arm-bands…
After far too long I have finally completed the first draft of a long sonnet sequence which has been rumbling along, largely as a background task, since March 2019. If not before. Having consciously given the project a degree of focus over the last few months, I have been able to cover the last of… Read More When you’re only half-way through…
The library is one large first floor open-plan space. At this end of it, in the reference section, six tables: four uniquely shaped allow pairing to make two octagonals; the other two – rectangles – form a square). Purple chairs surround all three arrangements. Purple is the theme here: chairs (soft and hard), shelf signs,… Read More In the Library
In the last week I have been struck by two almost throw-away comments made to me by friends. The first, in discussing the role of a writer – particularly when it comes to things like readings and Open Mics – was the statement that “our job is to entertain”. I confess I’ve always struggled a… Read More Sometimes someone says something…
I’m looking forward to running a Found Poetry workshop tomorrow afternoon at our weekly ‘Write-on Ripon’ session. The workshop will be based on one I have already successfully run on writers’ retreats. The challenge this time will be that we’ll be writing found poems in real time! The session will cover: Hopefully it will be… Read More Write-on Ripon: Found Poetry workshop
I liked Sebastian Faulks’ “Snow Country”. That’s the simple summary. It was all you would expect it to be: well-written, well-paced, interesting and complex characters and plot… However, now you expect there’s a ‘but’ coming… But I thought the ending was far too neat and predictable. You could see what was coming from some way… Read More “Snow Country”
Driving home the other day, unbeknownst to me the front passenger-side suspension spring broke on my car. I only realised the extent of the damage once I’d got home, when I saw the virtual zero clearance between tyre and wheel arch. Without doubt something nasty could have happened during those last few miles home… The… Read More Does our writing need a regular service?
when death comes knocking is it better to be prepared have an appointment so you can be packed and ready watch him as he saunters self-assured up the garden path or be taken by surprise the sudden rap at the door like an unexpected delivery you assume is a scam
I have just reissued some of my earlier podcast episodes. You can find them here.
It seems appropriate to briefly reflect on my first experience of Swanwick Summer School, a week spent with like-minded and friendly folk immersed in all things writing. There’s no point beating about the bush, the highlight of the week for me was reading my prize-winning short story Park’n’Ride at the prize winners’ event – and… Read More Swanwick Summer School, 2022
The two things which impressed me most about Daniel Mason’s “The Winter Soldier” – in addition to the quality of the writing – were, firstly, the self-evident depth of research Mason had undertaken, and secondly the way he was able to keep the three or four possible endings in play until the last five or… Read More “The Winter Soldier”
My Swanwick Summer School short story competition first prize has been picked up by a local news outlet and they have written a piece on me. You can read it here. Note: although the article says most of the US attendees to my monthly virtual poetry events come from California, for the anthologies contributors come… Read More No such thing as bad press?
It’s an old adage: write what you know about. And for very many poets, doing so forms the heart of their oeuvre. And why not? In addition to known subject matter providing a solid foundation for ‘authentic’ work, poetry can act as a kind of confidante when it comes to ‘working stuff out’: you only… Read More Poetry: writing about what you know – blessing or curse?
I attended half of an on-line multi-poet poetry reading the other day – and it was like being machine-gunned with poetry. “Here’s a poem; here’s a poem; here’s a poem; here’s a poem” … a rat-a-tat-tat of quick-fire delivery, one piece after the other. A session for the readers themselves, not really for the listeners.… Read More Poetry: Chew don’t Swallow…