“Tangling with the Epic”

Kwame Dawes and John Kinsella's "Tangling with the Epic" is probably, above all, 'clever'. It is a dialogue between the two comprised entirely of Spenserian stanzas, batted backwards and forwards across a literary net. It is clever in the sense of its formulaic execution, of sticking to the brief. But for me it is also... Continue Reading →

Sidings

Sidings   they arc from sight with bizarre elegance an overgrown divergence designated to home the unwanted or the forgotten   weeds climb rusting axles clogging memories of motion and birds flit in the eerie silence to reserve a first-class nesting site

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... Continue Reading →

Compulsion

Compulsion abstracted from reality  he painted consumed by a nameless passion accidentally acquainted   no slave to fashion he claimed a lack of choice for rolling with the punches rarely on the verge of controlling unbidden instinctive hunches   it’s not important what’s created he claimed                  his... Continue Reading →

Obituary

fettered by an obscured unnatural view he sought another as if a fresh vista might renew a weary perspective on his mother tongue    the tricks he’d sleight-handed since the womb his genius for linguistic husbandry were devoted to a life beyond the tomb his embalming for posterity   it was the one thing he... Continue Reading →

On Being Thrown Over

Would your love for me increase were I to die or would my barely-mourned decease erase me from your memory?   Would your febrile eyes seek out a physical response, the fuel to weave a quilt of lies made posthumously cruel?   Was I no more than ornament, a transient nod to Spring, the blush... Continue Reading →

The Perennial Question: What Next? (part 2)

It was a little over two months ago I wrote the first version of the post below. Given the books I was working on were finally published today - Published Today! - the questions posed below become even more relevant. I'm heading into the bulk of 2020 without a firm plan. I have been through the... Continue Reading →

Published Today!

I am delighted to announce three new books for 2020, the first two of these released today, 1st February 2020! The third is published in a week's time. Liam is haunted by his age and the history it forces upon him. Yet he is also plagued by the need to make more - to generate... Continue Reading →

“Deluge”

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... Continue Reading →

“Flèche”

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)... Continue Reading →

“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... Continue Reading →

The Perennial Question: What Next?

It's that time of year again. As seems to have been the case for - what? - the last two or three years now, I arrive into December putting the finishing touches to the final drafts for new books that will see the light of day in February; all that remains is the generation and... Continue Reading →

“After the Formalities”

Anthony Anaxagorou's "After the Formalities" is a 'difficult' volume of poetry. Difficult in a number of senses: in some of its themes and narratives; in the structure of many of the individual pieces; in some of the language and punctuation. It is also difficult in its variability. There are a small number of exceptional pieces... Continue Reading →

Is there room in the market for a new literary journal?

The idea is simple enough. A bi-annual literary compendium containing prose, poetry, and literary non-fiction. It would be produced in paperback book not pamphlet form, and probably run to about 200-pages long. Significantly, the bulk of the content would most likely come from writers capable of crafting high-quality material yet who are struggling to get... Continue Reading →

“The Gravity Wave”

There is much to admire in Peter Sirr's "The Gravity Wave", a range of subjects, of styles that keeps the collection from becoming - as so many can be - a little bit repetitive. Having said that, however, I found myself not quite 'grabbed' by it; to my taste it was a book that felt... Continue Reading →

“Unknown Soldier”

I confess that in the beginning I struggled with Seni Seneviratne's "Unknown Soldier". There was something about the two voices in the first section that didn't quite work for me, and I wonder if using the photographs (from the third section, 'Album') proved as much a straitjacket as an inspiration. However, in the second section,... Continue Reading →

“The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here”

Vidyan Ravinthiran's "Million-petalled Flower" may well be a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, but I'm afraid it didn't work for me; a little too flat and uninspiring. So much so that I couldn't finish it. I dislike abandoning poetry books, but there you go... It - and a number of other recent dissatisfactions with my own... Continue Reading →

Ripon Poetry Festival 2019

The third annual Ripon Poetry Festival opens on Thursday 10th October at 7pm with an event featuring readings by members of the Ripon Writers' Group. The group has been active in the city for many years and was on the programme for the inaugural festival two years ago. Saturday sees the official launch of the... Continue Reading →

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