“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 →

Getting published is easy; it’s getting read that’s hard…

Someone's moved the goal posts. The Holy Grail has shifted. It used to be that writers dreamed of being published, because 'being published' meant something. Now, thanks to Indie Publishing and services likes Amazon's KDP, lulu, IngramSpark etc., getting published is a piece of cake; having your words turned to into real physical books (or... Continue Reading →

Just write! It can be that easy…

Occasionally you come across posts from people who are struggling to write, either because they say they can't find a subject, or because they are waiting for 'the Muse' / inspiration to hit them. But in a way, writing is no different from almost any other endeavour. Take golf. When once teased about how much... Continue Reading →

“Hand & Skull”

In some places Zoë Brigley's collection "Hand & Skull" is remarkable. Indeed, in many of the pieces she manages to convey, with alacrity, what it means to be a woman - and what some men can represent to women, not all of it positive. I can't recall reading a female poet who has put me... Continue Reading →

The difficulty with juggling…

I have always liked to have multiple projects on the go: poetry and prose; differing themes and styles. I like to think the variety keeps things fresh. There comes a time, however, when striking a workable balance, juggling more than one thing, simply doesn't work - and that happens when I'm getting close to finishing... Continue Reading →

Kindle ebook offers!

Check out my Author page on Amazon. Over the next two weeks there are various offers on a number of my books: "An Infinity of Mirrors" - my largest and most ambitious novel, 18th-25th July, just $0.99! "Degrees of Separation" - short stories, 19th-22nd July, FREE! "At Maunston Quay" - my latest novel, 18th-25th July,... Continue Reading →

It’s OK it’s not a Masterpiece…

I currently run a monthly poetry group in the Midlands; a 'Stanza' group affiliated to the Poetry Society. Each month members bring along a piece of their own work for a gentle but often incisive critique by others in the group. I emphasise to the group each month that it's important to bring along something... Continue Reading →

On the process of writing poetry

Years ago - but maybe not so many years ago - my process of writing poetry was relatively straightforward. And immensely naïve. I used to think (subconsciously at least) that the first words written had some kind of 'sacred' quality to them; that because they had come first, were the outpourings of 'the Muse', had... Continue Reading →

When is a ‘diary’ not…

If anyone happened to stray onto the "My Writing Diary" page of this site, they would think I was a lazy so-and-so. I've just checked: the last entry there was 10 months ago! Since then, I have finished the novel I was working on at that time, and published a collection of poetry. Not only... Continue Reading →

“Deaf Republic”

If one of the prime objectives of poetry is to communicate - and through that communication to enthral, entertain, stimulate, challenge and so on - then Ilya Kaminsky's "Deaf Republic" is a success. It isn't poetry in any traditional sense, and seems to bestride the line that divides verse and the short story. Indeed, it... Continue Reading →

“Erato”

A great deal in Rees-Jones' "Erato" is prose, plain and simple. Some of it may be very lyrical and 'poetic', but it's still prose. And it looks like prose; and you read it like prose. There are also some good poems too, the quality of some of the imagery unquestionable. And because of that -... Continue Reading →

A Candle, Guttered

A Candle, Guttered   betrayed by this soft groove a fountainhead of hot time melted in darkness its bequest      an uneven trail pale witness of lives traded for a compendium of importance or of trivia      perhaps   did we notice or were we overcome by such moments a testimony compiled from... Continue Reading →

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 →

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