“Solar Cruise”

Not for me, I’m afraid. I managed about a third of Claire Crowther’s “Solar Cruise”. Perhaps the subject – being so scientific – doesn’t lend itself to poetry; but I’m sure it isn’t just words like ‘nucleus’ or ‘electron’ which put the breaks on the poetic. The layout of some of the pieces – you… Read More “Solar Cruise”

“Road Trip”

Sometimes volumes of poetry that focus on a single theme or issue seem to sacrifice the quality of the writing in favour of ‘the cause’. Marvin Thompson’s “Road Trip” is rooted in both place – Wales – and subject – being black in an essentially white environment – and succeeds by never making that sacrifice.… Read More “Road Trip”


In spite of myself I actually liked Will Harris’ “Rendang”. ‘In spite of myself’? Well, there’s a lot in this volume which I would challenge as being poetry; perhaps it’s prose poetry at best. Yet there is much that is poetic (if that’s not paradoxical), and the lyric quality of the pieces – thoughtful, reminiscence,… Read More “Rendang”


If you asked me to find a single phrase to describe Juana Adcock’s “Split” I confess I would struggle. ‘It depends’ seems such a lame response… But it does. It depends, for example, on whether I’ve just read “The Task of the Translator” or “The Overburden”: one I liked, the second I did not. And… Read More “Split”

Sidings – a poem

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… 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”


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”