Friday, 19 May 2017

Scenes: Number Seventeen

There are large, flat, stone benches without backs periodically placed along Morecambe prom.

Today, there was a man sat on one of them, leaning back, using his arms to support himself. The sun's brightness bounced off the arms of his glasses. His hair was all grey, apart from cloud-white wings perched above his ears. His hair, his wrinkles, his woollen jumper and slacks all said he was seventy plus.

His lips were curled up a little at one side. You might think the word 'smirk', but there was much more warmth radiating from him than that.

Watching the distant waves and smiling - just how is he so at peace with the world?

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Did I Ever Tell You About the Time?

Could this be the very public vessel of conveyance what didst take away my Literature?

I was just reading a post I liked over at Le CafĂ© du Jour, and Nova's story of not getting to finish a book really stuck with me. I wanted to post what I'm about to say as a comment on said page, but it's a bit mansplainy to go and turn the focus around to myself in someone else's forum. So you, unfortunate reader, must suffer it now (unless you stop reading at this very point):

A few years back, maybe three or four, when I was at the height of my 'utilitarianism' phase, I was in the habit of buying pocket-sized books of either poetry or short stories, so that I could have something about me to read at all times. I found the 'dead time' you get on public transport to be the best time to crack one of these wee treasures out.

I was reading one such book - Stefan Zweig's Chess - on the 2A from Heysham into Lancaster. I was at the point in the story where a mysterious character has been tempted to show himself to a group of travellers, only for them find themselves in a pickle. Salvation hinted at its arrival when I reached my real-life destination, and so had to quit the bus and the story.

Later on, I was talking to someone about what I'd been reading, and went to my pocket to show them it as proof. Nice-looking proof, too, since this particular Penguin series that I'd pppicked up is a classy slate-grey background with black and white text upon it.

It wasn't in my pocket, though. I'd left it on the bus.

I can't ever remember calling up the station to see if it had been handed in, but if I did, it wasn't there.

It took me years to re-buy the book. No particular reason, I don't suppose, apart from the usual pressures of not-quite-enough disposable income to go on rectifying all of life's stupid errors. Then it took me a little longer to get round to reading it.

The point where I'd left off was pretty much where things started kicking off. Not so much in terms of overall plot progression per se, but certainly in learning about the characters, and having the relative cosiness of the situation suddenly shaken up by revelations. It's a wonderful story, and I'm so glad I got round to finishing it.

That is all.

Sunday, 30 April 2017


All that I said in my post about getting rid of Facebook, and the 'new' project, one resurrecting an old, promising start, is rubbish.

I've had problems with my phone, on which were a load of drafts that were large and completely relevant to the recording of the content necessary for this poem.

I've had to re-set my phone, and now all the drafts are gone.

I've also lost a lot of prompts and ideas, suggested books to read and inspiring phrases.

And my phone still doesn't work.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Good and Bad News

I'll start with the bad news - April is 'NaPoWriMo' (or 'National Poetry Writing Month' for civilians), and I've only just found out (or remembered?). It's not all that bad, though, as I can still get into the spirit and hopefully not forget next year (though I'll still be writing poems throughout the rest of the year anyway, so don't you worry. As if you would! :P ). I've been looking at this cool site . The reason why this one looks so cool is because they've pledged to not just give you prompts to help you write (fun idea!), but they're also giving you a poem to get you "in the right frame of mind" (don't want to focus on the use of the 'mind frame phrase', but reading is essential!). How jolly and fun and just because I missed a bit of it, I'm still glad I found out :)

So the bad news wasn't even half bad, was it? Is there anyone out there - not as thick as me - that knew it was happening and has been giving it a go? Whatchoo been writing?

Now the GOOD NEWS! Yay! The Emma Press has recently (five days, two hours and seven minutes ago, actually) announced a new call for submissions - poems about travel. Great theme, in many ways, some great areas to explore with that and, thankfully for me, there's plenty of scope for serious application of the experimental mindset (mind your mind phrases!). I want to spread the word, and please feel free to do so yourself. I'm sure many of us poets have something that fits the brief here, and I'd encourage folk to submit because they really are a lovely press, in that they make great books full of great work. As an open call, it's a fantastic chance to have your work alongside quality authors.

Good stuff! Right, what are we waiting for? Let's get writing!

Peace, love and light x

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Another Day, Another Big Decision Made in an Attempt to Wrest Control Back From the Cosmos Which, I Know, is Actually Futile, But One Has to Try, at Least

A couple of days ago, I took the relatively drastic step of deactivating my Facebook account. If you're not aware, that's not the same as deleting it. I can wake it up any time I want, but for now it's not usable. First off, it's a pretty strange process to deactivate your account. As well as many 'are you sure?' questions, and text outlining in too much detail what you're about to do, there was also a page with selected friends on it which said, and I paraphrase, "x will miss you! Maybe send them a message to explain why you're leaving." I found it odd because of its emotive connotations, as if I was breaking up some happy 'real-world' home, rather than just becoming slightly less contactable. It was also weird in the way that it was seemingly putting words into my friends' mouths. If they're going to miss me (not in a higher existential sense, just on Facebook...), they can text or call me to say so. They don't need a social media site to tell me that on their behalf. It was just a bit creepy is all I'm saying.

So quite a few people have asked me why I decided to do this. The reasons, as always, are many an varying, but at the very least it was nice that people were concerned (I don't mind admitting that). One big reason is that I've been driving myself slightly mad with going over old memories. This is following another big loss in my life, and I need to take action as soon as I can, otherwise I worry where I'm going to end up. As a secondary factor, I'm seeing it as a little adventure (hopefully!). How long now have I been saying how awful Facebook is, a time-hungry machine that is probably one of a government's favourite tools for letting people to harmlessly rant, and let all that angst and energy dissipate digitally, rather than have people actually mobilise and do something more... potent? So, with that being said, I've finally taken the step. It already feels disconcerting. There's been a few times a day where I've been reading a news article and thinking 'so-and-so would really like this, I'll share it with them', or on a bigger scale, I want people to know what I'm concerned about so we can discuss it. Facebook is at least handy for easily opening up a discussion to a wider audience.

Right, I've sort of gone off track a little bit. It's a bit hard for me to talk about in a way. Some points are so pragmatically motivated that it'd be banal for me to go into them ('saving time' being one thing), then some of them are quite personal to me and others. I don't mind so much being honest about myself, but I don't want to say things that'd make other people feel uncomfortable or whatever. And talking about not talking about it makes it all sound very strange, like a passive aggressive status update where nothing's said, but lots is implied, so I'll stop.

I was quite excited to deactivate my account. I think perhaps I thought it was going to be instantly revolutionary, but very little is when it needs to be. I guess in time I'll see the benefits of not stewing in depressing thoughts while online. Maybe the time thing will be a great help too - hopefully most so with my writing, but I'm learning a new language at the mo and that need concentration too. One thing I've already done is reach out a bit more to people via more personal means, i.e. phone calls, but Facebook was a good signaller, I suppose, for telling you when someone might want a call. That's the main worry, really: what I'm missing out on. And life has taught me quite pointedly how much you can be 'out of sight, out of mind' with anyone, but I have stopped expecting things of people as a result so hopefully that doesn't get to me. I'll have less of a window into their lives, too, so I can only hope I'm good enough at keeping in touch with them, and that they know I'm here for them if they need me. Of course, the other side to missing out on things is going to mainly be poetry events. I'll have to be more disciplined with my email checking and diary keeping. No biggie, in many ways. By the way, I'm not complaining - if it comes across like that at all - just ruminating.

One potentially groovy thing about getting rid of Facebook is that it has led me back to an old poetry project I started when on the MA. Let's just say it involves a certain examination of the behaviour of language in social media contexts, as well as other things. I quite liked the idea myself, but someone I respect very much on that course said they thought it was cool too, so I suppose maybe some of the excitement I felt could have included the starting of this project. It does rely on the habit of social media use, though, so I wonder if it'll be a problem that I'm 'on the wagon', in that sense. Will I eventually be weened off  the wall wailing altogether? We'll have to see, I suppose.

Right, so I suppose that's the only point to this post, just a bit of a ruminate... Has anyone else felt they had to give up social media for a while? Any particular reason? Did it help you?

Peace, love and light, everybody x

Monday, 17 April 2017

Scenes: Number Eleven

It's a quiet, cold night, the colour of streetlights on grey pavements. Every now and again, to your left, a taxi whips round the one-way system taking another load of bank holiday drinkers into town. Apart from that, the only non-concrete thing is the wind, and that only blows half-heartedly every now and again.

The chips you have in your hands are too hot to eat comfortably, but eating them quickly is helping to keep you warm. The wind rises a little, and you hear gears in the clock tower behind you stirring.

Then, from your right, a guy in a beanie hat with headphones on rides by on his bike. Over the soft whir of his machine, he says to you, loud without shouting, "Peace, brother."

You don't know him.

Seconds later he has turned towards town. You are alone again, yourself the only visible evidence of life on this planet.