Forthcoming Public Event!

Really looking forward to appearing on the panel of writers at this free event in Ripon Library on 14th March, being grilled about being a writer – and only having a minute to answer each question!

“Footnotes to Water”

Zoë Skoulding’s “Footnotes to Water” is somewhat obsessed with its subject. Water flows through the poems, washing inexorably over you in wave after wave. Which is fine, though a little more variety – if only to better demonstrate the poet’s linguistic skill – might be nice. In many of the pieces I struggled with the… Read More “Footnotes to Water”


I really don’t like not finishing reading a book once I’ve started, but sometimes I find that’s the only way to move on. Unfortunately Charlotte Ansell’s “Deluge” falls into that category. I’ve been dipping into it for many weeks now and am still only half-way through. It sits on a table by the sofa and… Read More “Deluge”


Some books don’t travel well through time. They are of an era, an age. Perhaps those that do – Austen or Conrad, for example – are signs of greatness, of ‘classic’ literature. What, then, might one say about a book that has not travelled well, that is stylistically convoluted and at times feels remarkably self-indulgent?… Read More “Murphy”


I really like Mary Jean Chan’s “Flèche” – even though, based on my track record of how I respond to a reasonably large proportion of modern verse, I shouldn’t… Why is that? Two main reasons, both normally bête noires. The first is the significant experimentation in form (especially how the pieces appear on the page)… Read More “Flèche”

“The Tradition”

The thing that struck me most about Jericho Brown’s “The Tradition” was more generic than specific. As I struggled to get beneath the words, to find some kind of rhythm that appealed to me, a language I could interpret, I realised how much reading poetry – unlike prose, you could argue – is dependant on… Read More “The Tradition”

“The Wall”

It’s great when you choose to read a book from an author you have never previously encountered and end up wanting more. John Lanchester, whose novel “The Wall” found its way into my possession after a recent expedition to Waterstones, is such writer. Like Sarah Perry, Donna Tartt, John Ironmonger, Sebastian Barry and many recently… Read More “The Wall”


Although its geographical setting is very different, Sarah Perry’s excellent “Melmoth” tackles some themes similar to those in “The Essex Serpent”: the semi-isolation of an individual in community; guilt and sin; the threat of the unknown; how people manage – or not – their interaction with something intangible, ephemeral, threatening. The words you might see associated with the… Read More “Melmoth”