Grief

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 throng   I feel it during countryside walks my forlorn hand abandoned constantly surprised to find yours not there   a voice   ... Continue Reading →

“Surge”

Jay Bernard's collection "Surge" is rooted in the New Cross Fire of 1981; a birthday party that went tragically wrong, and where thirteen young black people lost their lives. Whilst "Surge" never strays too far from its source material, it avoids becoming a 'one trick pony', the same song sung time and again, and in... Continue Reading →

Protest

Protest   the banners were hand-made crafted from garage leftovers and worn out felt-tips      or their kids’ ancient painting sets letters shadowed in highlighter orange for emphasis      and fire colours running in the rain   they stole chants from the terraces recycled      repurposed they stole chants from the home... Continue Reading →

So, Simon Armitage…

So, Simon Armitage is to become the next Poet Laureate. A Yorkshireman following in the footsteps of Ted Hughes and Alfred Austin (who?!); the three Laureates since Wordsworth (a Cumbrian, obviously) to hail from the county. Well that's the next ten years taken up, then. Which means they should be short-listing in about eight or... Continue Reading →

“Philip Larkin: Poems” selected by Martin Amis

Larkin's one of those poets who divides opinion. I wonder how much of it is because of that famous line about "your mum and dad"..? The way he doesn't shy away from 'the vernacular'..? The thing that strikes me most about him though - so ably illustrated in Amis' selection - is how he can... Continue Reading →

Vocal | Chords

Vocal | Chords I want a voice of my own. | A rasp like Dylan’s -| two bars, you know it’s him. | A voice is not what you say | but how you say it; | Dylan could wring agonies | from Mary and her little lamb. | And don’t get me started |... Continue Reading →

At some point it becomes serious…

I don't believe you can set out to write a book. Not really. And I suspect many people who set out to do so in a conscious, act-of-will kind of way, are deluding themselves, and are either unlikely to complete the task or in doing so produce something sub-standard. Setting out in this premeditated way... Continue Reading →

Curtain

Curtain   between the valley and the peak a slab of light sliding through the clouds flickers like a scrap of confetti easily slipped into stillness   breathing hard through an open smile his eyes see with specific literacy ancient waterfalls carving in slow motion a ribbon of majestic beauty one side of a mortal... Continue Reading →

Always asking questions…

This evening was the fourth meeting of the new Stanza group which I have been facilitating just outside Derby in the UK. A Stanza is a gathering of members of the Poetry Society who meet - usually monthly - to 'do' poetry, one way or another. For our group, it is the opportunity for its... Continue Reading →

“The Illegal Age”

Ellen Hinsey's "The Illegal Age" is one of those increasingly prevalent books of poetry that seek to blend different structures on the page in order to aid the conveying of message. Interestingly, when it comes to appreciation, I suspect books such as this one are more dependant than most on how the Reader is 'feeling'... Continue Reading →

Launch Event News

A great launch reading today for "Oak Tree Alchemy"! We had around 35 people in the function room at The Oak Tree in Helperby, North Yorkshire. I know all nine poets who read really enjoyed the afternoon, and I hope our guests enjoyed it too. They certainly seemed to. As always, we were well looked... Continue Reading →

Scots Pine

Scots Pine   there is a whisper in the air silence-pure a mountain breeze caresses attentive leaf-bound boughs swaying regally   picking a cone from the ground you wonder aloud if they have always been there these trees these cones   "if you take one home does it open and close with time?"   obscurely... Continue Reading →

Does it matter when in the day you post?

I used to think the answer to that question was 'No'. From the point of view of principle, I argued with myself that it shouldn't matter; that a post - if it were good enough - would get the 'reads' whenever you posted it. But I'm not sure that's true. Especially if you live in... Continue Reading →

Willow

Willow   on the river the moon reflected fractured and rebuilt by the movement of the water only to be fractured and rebuilt again   in the summer-evening still apologies for waves lap at the punt   it feels poetic as if ancient others transported here would be able to wane more graciously than the... Continue Reading →

Conversation With My Muse

In honour of National Poetry Day in the UK: Conversation With My Muse   When you come is it to rescue me from deserts or to remind me of the tomb? Reassembling parts of a life harvested through imperfect eyes my impoverished graces dovetail the frame of a bloomed mirror. Inadvertent lies are the unwanted... Continue Reading →

Houston – 5

There is an amazing feeling; one that perhaps only those of us who write get to feel in the unique way we do. It's the feeling of 'finishing'. Believe me, it's not as banal as it sounds. For the last few days I've worrying away at a story. You will know this if you've read... Continue Reading →

Houston – 4

Cosmopolitan. Really?! I suspect Europeans think of themselves as more cosmopolitan, more 'connected' than Americans. After all, we've so many countries and so many people jammed in together, so little room per person, that we have to be cosmopolitan don't we? Yet in the hotel restaurant over the last couple of days I've heard languages... Continue Reading →

Houston – 3

It's a long time since I've felt virtuous at 6 in the morning..! Never mind that I've just undone all the good of a gentle 30-minute workout with waffles and bacon in a plate the size of a boat..! And now, before I Uber off to work, the chance to spend 30 minutes reviewing what... Continue Reading →

Houston – 2

Update #2 will be short - and mainly about food... One of my favourite breakfast things in America is French Toast with bacon and a little maple syrup. When I asked for this in my hotel this morning I was met with an incredulous "Is that all?". So I said yes. The French Toast and... Continue Reading →

Houston – 1

I know this post isn't strictly about writing, or books, or reading - but you never know. Who's to say that something won't happen over the next few days that proves to be the unexpected trigger for a poem or short story or even - who knows! - a novel. Speculative, tangential, use whatever word... Continue Reading →

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