Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hi Denise

A shout out to Mrs Denise Barr for her outstanding services to Blogtastic - liking and sharing my posts on the social medias. Your medal is in the post, and if it doesn't reach you it's definitely Royal Mail's fault...

Blogtastic salutes you and all of my other loyal supporters!

Monday, 28 October 2013


Had a wicked time last Friday at Edge Hill's ghost story night.

I loved the celebratory air, which for me had more of an emphasis on student endeavour than it did on 'scariness' or Hallowe'eny things. The majority of the readers were students, and although the works of the individuals were admirable, what really took my breath away (apart from the dry ice atmosphere) was the amazing diversity of the evening as a whole. The range of concepts and themes was wide and stimulating, and this is all from not (yet) established writers.

I listened to narratives about a strangling scarf, a regretful affair, a palpable loss, vengeful memories, supernatural sexual predators and more besides. Sex and death wrought into original and compelling products. Groovy.

It wasn't all about the students' pieces, though, and the night was rounded off with readings from two classics: Oscar Wilde's 'The Canterville Ghost' and Susan Hill's The Woman in Black. Both were read wonderfully, allowing Wilde's hilarious wit to shine and ramping up Hill's already-high drama nicely.

It was a great night not just for trying to learn for myself as a writer, but also to learn as human beings that there is such talent, so many diverse and energising possibilities out there for us all. In short, it made me hopeful.

Not bad considering it's coming up to Christmas...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Internettal Wonderment

I've just been blown away by some awesome articles that I found while having a cheeky browse on the ol' interwebs. I was trying to find Bob Cobbing's 'A good fuck makes me feel like custard' permutational poem, and, since time was on my side, I went the long route by simply Googling 'Bob Cobbing'.

First up I went on the Electronic Poetry Center site, which linked me to UbuWeb. Both are incredible resources. This article caught my eye, though, as the subject of sound poetry and its power to question the 'linguistic stereotypes' that prevail is rapidly becoming the most important to me. I think this is a very personable collection of thoughts, like a gentle mentor talking to a faithful student. The way it talks about motives, materials and concepts of the 'genre' unlocks so much future it's astounding.

Next up on my information superhighway tour is from the Birkbeck Uni website, which those of you who don't have the Ship of Fools version of Robert Sheppard's The Necessity of Poetics should check out (there are a few differences between the two versions that I found very interesting, especially the 'workshop junkies' element). My wandering took me to Lawrence Upton's Bob Cobbing: and the book as medium; designs for poetry. Now, I've not actually read this one yet, but it looks impressive, especially due to its generous use of pictures which are vital to understand the implications of going beyond (or, more accurately is some ways, before) language. What made me really happy I'd stumbled across this site was it's archive of issues, a vast wealth of discourse on poems and poetry, all free. I don't mention the 'free' bit because I got a puerile, knee-jerk gut reaction to getting something for nothing, I mention it because the implication is that the value in the articles is in sharing them, of learning from them. It's an ever-present debate in the art world, the 'value' of a piece and, of course, the value lies outside the capitalist constructs of monetary wealth, but it's nice to see such a high-standard body of important research being made so freely available. Of course, there are other great free sites, such as New Pages, Black Market Review (currently displaying a lovely bit of collaborative art), National Association of Writers in Education and a whole bunch more. They are all gateways to enlightenment. There are also plenty of journals that charge, and there's nothing wrong with that at all, I'm certainly not implying that 'free is better' in terms of the work itself. Gylphi is one example, London Review of Books, and, I don't know, New Writing? Priceless.

Next: University of Pennsylvania's collection of recordings. Again, you can't really appreciate the magic of this kind of poetry without the benefit of sensory stimulation - aural in this case - so this is massively important for unlocking the 'proper' experience. I'm sure Cobbing would probably not like such terms as 'correct' and 'proper' in this respect, but certainly he'd encourage performance (only one soul was brave enough to try that at the recent JMU exhibit [link correct at time of publishing]) and be more than happy to give his own.

Then I had to modify my search a bit to find this custard malarkey (to 'Bob Cobbing custard'), which eventually got me on the Jacket site,  reading Sheppard's Bob Cobbing: Sightings and Soundings. Each bit is like a match being struck, bright bursts of light, smouldering for a few paragraphs, some being blown out rapidly, before the next one is lit. It was an important read for me, as it really got you past the 'works' and into the contextual side of things. So vivid are the recollections, that I could smell the matchstick sulphur. Maybe this link isn't so interesting for general browsing, i.e. if you're not specifically looking for sound poetry material, but if you are then it's invaluable for those of us that weren't there (though my image of the 'SILLIWHIG' episode is so clear that I feel I was there, in disembodied spirit at least).

Anyhoo, that pretty much completes my redneck ramble, getting all excited about the internet whilst everyone else is probably like, "So what? It's nothing new to us..." Still, I'm glad to show you some groovy links, and remember folks: though these links are are Cobbing-centric, explore the rest of the site! These online journals are a great way to stumble across something new and something relevant, whether directly or indirectly, so be bold.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Back on the Wagon

The Creative Writing wagon that is!

Oh yes, we dropped off some of the grizzled, tobacco-spitting prospectors months ago, and brought in some fresh, energetic greenhorns. The wagons rolled through Scifi valley tonight, discussing The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. A surprisingly good book, an expectedly awesome discourse and the traveling companions were just the best (including the new driver).

It feels great to be back on the road. I promised myself to try harder than ever before on this final leg of my MA drive. I lost a wheel early on, but by God I can't (hopefully won't) let that screw things up. I may have had to stop to fix my vehicle, but now I'm back I'm going to spur on my horses 'til I get farther than I could ever have imagined possible.

Feeling the wind dry the sweat on your forehead is like an angel's kiss.

I am blessed.

Monday, 7 October 2013

According to Recent Estimates

Today constitutes approximately 0.00000000002% of the universe's history.