Friday, 25 December 2015

A Queen-Like Speech

This time of year makes it particularly hard,
as light shines toward war but
war responds shooting darkness
and winds send sand to
parade around Westminster,
covering a dream called Abbey
who only ever wanted peace.

Oslo bulbs, Bethlehem flashes Albert,
it goes around and comes
around the family-birth, stable-ideal idea -
will do for aeons to come.
Fleeing could be advisable, but
are you hooked on the human story?
Can any of us claim we are not
whilst searching to slurp another cold
Persecuted Christ-Love from a pressed paper cup,
patronising a chain only children like?

"FOLLOW HARDER!" barks the tweet robot.
"Love happiness," I sang once.
Some listened to it on YouTube, royalties subverted.
Spread the love thick on all breakfasts' toasts,
wherever Christmas trees appear,
wherever oxygen is breathd and,
whether you can see it or not,
replace curse with cure,
a chanty mantra naturally rooting.
Hope today! Tomorrow's sales will cash in on
supposed thankful Yankee candle
light reduced. Though today's a small part
of nothing in the universe,
I wish you a very happy Prospectmas.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Bits and Bats What I Learned in November

Here be the remnants of my ruminations on my first NaNoWriMo experience. I chiselled it off my previous post, basically so you didn't end up with too much rubbish on your plate at once. Hope you enjoy!

I've learned that all you need to do something is your own will, but you must accept that things outside your control can have an impact on that, however big or small. Even in doing reasonably well drafting a novel, I have neglected both blogs I write for. You might say that's 'craft getting in the way of craft', but it does show how there's only so much space in life for what must happpen. I don't know what I think the answer is to this, or even if I think there is one. Either sediment'll settle eventually, or I'll be all shook up forever - never grabbing a medal anywhere, but running many races. My point is that I have the will, and I'm cracking on, so let's see.
   I've learned that I really do over-analyse [he says, over-analysing his over-analysis...], and that this whole NaNoWriMo 'WeUp' has probably been a waste of time, or at least doing it every day has been. Maybe one paragraph on the week's lessons would've been more time and effort appropriate. To be quite honest, I did it more with others in mind, hoping that other newbies/potential converts might be made to feel better. Really, I didn't learn much more about myself/my reaction to different modes/genres, and I should've been concentrating more on technique and aesthetics, but that's something for another time... There's still more work to go into it, but I'll try and only give you another update when my novel is a world-wide bestseller...
   I've learned that technology still has Satan in it. Laptops distract - a ruler bar over here, a blinking cursor just there and then the internet everywhere... Normally I write onto paper first [as with what you're reading right now]. It helps me get into the flow and get lost in my mind, but that's just me.
   I've learned that, while it has felt good to get words down and feel productive, the relentless attitude of inflexible 'scientific' goals [i.e. 'measurable' or 'numeric' or whatever] can damage, or at least change, your approach. Does it matter if you're a sporadic/fluctuating writer in terms of output? Is it better to write one word a day, or a week, and build up something beautiful over time, rather than go for power and pressure, only to end by beating yourself up because you fell short of an arbitrary mark?
   Is encouraging writers [current or future] to think of art as a defined target, rather than an end produced in a purely personal way, full of twists and turns in its own right, the way to go? Not that I'm necessarily saying I think that NaNoWriMo does encourage that, I'm just genuinely asking. I think there's the threat of these things, but maybe that's where natural temperament and talent come in. Maybe?
   It does give people a drive and focus, which is good, but should there be a NaNoWriMo - and/or other generic equivalents [NaPoWriMo, NaScriWriMo etc] - where the encouragement is to expand conceptual playfulness as opposed to 'raw stamina/distance'. But then I suppose that's what we try and do every day. All creative writing is an experiment. Also, I suppose our lives are what build our stamina, our distance, and we can only hope that the habits we form are the ones we want to keep [and here I snigger at myself...]. I do think that this Novembral event can, if you're not one already, start you on your way to being a writer. Even if it takes you five years to ever pick up a pen/tap a key again, then it might've helped you. Then there'll be people, probably, who have the required number of words but never think about their work again - and there's nowt wrong wi' that.

Peace, love and light.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


Day Twenty-Nine: 1,969. Did better managing my distractions on a more 'micro' level.
   Have been stirring up some foul s&&t with all this reminiscing...

Day Thirty: 579. More terrible time management led to a weak performance. I'm afraid that I'm making the classic poor judgement that I normally do when I'm depressed.
   On the plus side, I'm formulating greater awareness of where the 'plot' will need to go or, rather, what words I'll need to imply plot and convey arcs.

Day Thirty-One: 832. Thirty-one? THIRTY-ONE!?! 'But there are only thirty days in November,' I hear you cry.
   Well, I didn't get my fifty-k done in November. I took an extra day to cross the line. I don't see that as failure, though. I see it as, at times, laziness, lack of discipline and, how can I put this without it sounding like I'm trying to make excuses... 'life'.
   But it doesn't matter if I am making excuses. The fact is that, unless you're a rigid stickler, it's not reaching fifty thou words, or in what time, that's important: it's what you get out of it.
   I have words.
   I have had an experience.
   I have more work to do.
   Maybe I'll struggle with momentum but
   I have plans to plan more,
   then get writing again.
   And of course editing.

Thank you all for following and supporting me as I picked my way through my first NaNoWriMo. Peace, love and light! 

And please don't stop! Or, if you didn't start but want to, then start when you can! Just because the arbitrary period known as NaNoWriMo has ended, your expression doesn't need to. All it should be is a generative exercise, but you can do them any day you like. Apologies if this seems patronising, but it's all ahead of us, of everyone, and all we can do is try our best in the present.

Ceeelebrate good NaNoWrimes, come on!

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Day Twenty-Two: 1,314. Still not doing well to recover my lost average, but this wasn't bad. I would've stuck with it, but I've got an early dentist's appointment tomorrow.
   Almost thought I was going to start in the evening, rather than at night, and then I wouldn't have had this problem, but it's an ongoing process... I'm trying to find consistent will power [or a way of living that'll support whatever sleep cycle I want would be nice!], so fingers crossed.

Day Twenty-Three: 3,543. Nice! Two big bursts [steady now...] have seen me take a chunk out of my deficit [still euphemistic?]. Did the wine help or hinder? Is this the start of better, prolonged practice?
   Who knows!

Day Twenty-Four: 2,042. A bit 'meh'. I was treading water for a bit, struggled for motivation halfway through and had sneezing fits just as I was finding mojo...
   Still, not bad. Only about seven and a half thousand words to go now. Seems the end is in sight...

Day Twenty-Five: 540. More done on the bus. Not ideal.

Day Twenty-Six: 937. I let football take precedence. I feel that going ahead so early with my word count has diminished my drive, which is exactly what I didn't want to happen really.

Day Twenty-Seven: 2,169. Despite a lovely trip to Liverpool [hopefully more on that to follow], found time to crack out a decent amount of content. Hey ho.

Day Twenty-Eight: 376. Wrote with TV on and a phone game being played... It's no wonder I felt like I was banging my head against a wall [please don't try that at home kids. Or anywhere else for that matter...]. Now have to write over my original daily aim [1,667 words] each day to reach the overall goal.
   Down to the wire!

Sunday, 22 November 2015


Day Fifteen: 746. Just can't muster any more effort. I'm in such a bad habit at the minute with staying up all night watching YouTube videos and generally not sleeping, so by now I'm way too tired to reach my goal. Never mind, though. I'll get there.

Day Sixteen: 2,939. I'm happy to be writing at a more reasonable time today. Could be better, like, but there's tomorrow for that.
   Felt really bad about the fundamental quality of all that I've written so far, especially with respect to 'show don't tell', one of the most basic basics of writing. I've actually been scared when I think of how useless it all is.
   But I'm trying to stop such thoughts. Not only have there been some passages I'm proud of, but I could well be over-exaggerating the bad bits and, plus, there's the vital component of editing yet to come. I know I'm not great at editing, but this is a good chance to get going. No-one said this has to be a masterpiece. Come on! Enjoy!

Day Seventeen: 277. Started well-ish, y'know. Found myself an hour before the footy.
   But then a sneezing fit struck. Then I had a headache. Then the screen started making my eyes bounce. So I stopped.
   The footy was good entertainment, and thankfully a drama-free testament to humanity's resilience in the face of intolerance. Feel somehow guilty that England won, though...
   Then, I got so drunk that I had a hole in my memory and absolutely no hope of carrying on writing.

Day Eighteen: 0. I felt so shit that I didn't want to get out of bed, or even live, and I answered the question 'what's the point?' with 'NO!'.

Day Nineteen: 2,430. Climbing the mountain back to 'normality'. Not bad stuff. A bit 'all over the place' in places, but then some places had good parts.

Day Twenty: 534. I was very lucky to have a replenishing social engagement. Although it left me short on writing time, I penned some stuff on the bus on the way in, and even got an early bus back with the plan of doing more later. Alas, I was too tired by the time I got home, but I'm satisfied with the dedication there :-)

Day Twenty-One: Nice to get support from Aunty S who's been keeping up with the blog during this period :-)
   A light has flickered on that's probably about as strong as a candle on the Morecambe seafront, but since I'm recording it here, there'll be a reminder in the future. I've spent a lot of time worrying about how inferior this draft is and will be, but, though I've already touched on how it'll be good editing practice, it's also going to give me impetus to move even further [whether that's in terms of word count, re-forming or whatever], to really get to the end of a novel [because fifty-thousand words is an arbitrary aim, not necessarily a natural end]. Now I'm over half way, this thought is even more exciting than when I'd started it in the first place.
   Also, I've had more people asking about NaNoWriMo itself, its 'proper' aims and customs, so I'm going to address that briefly. Basically, I'd advise you to forget about the idea of the 'proper' way, because the best way is your way. I didn't sign up on, I'm not going to get a certificate of completion [which is, however controversially, a major focus for some of the people undertaking this challenge], but I am going to complete my purpose. My purpose for NaNoWriMo was to generate material, to experiment with application, to look at the possibility of spirit. I was never going to be bothered about being under fifty-thousand words, because even one-thousand would've been something I could either use directly, put in a drawer for later and/or learn from.
   So if you do have questions, first off ask yourself. What do you want? What do you think it's all about? What will the audience [however futuristic] think?
   Peace, love and light, folks!

Monday, 16 November 2015


Day Eight: Nowt. I had a cold, alright! I felt like I'd been hit in the back of the head with a spade and, when I sat down to look at my rising novel, I couldn't remember what I was doing on this planet [not much, apparently...], let alone what the novel was about, or how to type words. So I gave up.
   Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I surprised? No. Life's what happens you while you're busy making other plans, so I've forgiven myself and am going to make the words up over the next two days.

Day Nine: 2,701 words. It took me quite a while to get to it, and I'm in bed rather than at my desk, but today's material came pretty readily. I got pissed off that I keep starting off on a track of thought and just end up fucking off somewhere else, again, but that's pretty natural. I think it's due to the largely autobiographical nature [sorry if I've said this before] of this piece - the tide of memory is powerful and washes away the mind's strivings to plot and form.
   Maybe, with enough momentum, I'll exhaust the 'contentness' of my head and be able to craft properly. Or maybe it'll become easier when I'm fully well again. Who knows?

Day Ten: 2,431. Tough. Made it hard on myself by starting late and repeatedly checking Facebook and a game on my phone. I know how stupid it is, don't get me wrong, but I'm still lounging in bed with the remnants of this cold, so... Well, no, that's not actually an excuse. I just have extremely poor will power most of the time. Sigh...
   Some decent surrealism today, though. Bit of a shame the extra word count target led to some isolated and fragmented passages of pure piss. Onwards, already! And fingers crossed I knock this Lemsip addiction on the head :)

Day Eleven: 1,536. The cold re-jigged itself to my dismay and led to a debilitating lie in. To make the most of my remaining time, I wrote some stuff on the bus on my phone on my way into Lancaster. That's good: shows determination and application. But then I did my usual distractful things. That's bad: shows I'm an idiot who's slow to learn [although I did really enjoy Cabaret].
   Will have some extra words to write tomorrow to make up for today's shortfall, but really that's a better option than either starting a new section now and being up 'til five, or tacking crap on to the end of this, knowing it'll be exhausted rubbish that I'll have to snip out of the fur later.

Day Twelve: 1,850. Strange one. Strange day. In many ways I made it the worst possible 'scene', but I was back on the beer [after nearly a week off] and my being was so 'out there' again. The Doors were helping me just float away.
   'Consequently' [though maybe it's not linked...] I've been in the flow. I had one interruption, where I checked the word count and was shocked how low it was. But, then, the next pass took me where I needed to be and all was well.
   Some touching things touched upon, and the overall 'jigsawness' of this novel is becoming, if not clearer, at least illuminated so that I may make it clearer at some point. Groovy.

Day Thirteen: 1,764. What a mess...

Day Fourteen: 1,949. Things don't seem any less messy, really, but I'm going to try to avoid the world's issues - as solipsistic as it sounds - because this is about this. But I'm going to talk about other life anyway, so HYPOCRITE!
   Had a do in Lancaster. Woke up late because of personal problems. Wrote some stuff on the way in. Thought I did well, in spite of the underage drunken chavs laughing and playing their music... Got back after a 9/10 night. Had done 440 words - a fucking gut punch, really
   Foiled a [n extremely minor] robbery at the garage across the road. Then mum called down from upstairs. I thought it was an emergency, ran to the stairs, slipped and hit my bloody, pus-filled toe [hello ladies!] on a chair leg. My hatred and self-loathing picked up dramatically.
   So, long story short, it was a real struggle to finish it tonight, largely down to my own foibles. I kept thinking I'd done rather well, but it turned out to be, like, four words more... $$£&ing "%£$!
   Glad in the end, though. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


That's 'National Novel Writing Month Weekly Update', by the way.

 Day One: Yeah, went 'well' in the sense of writing 1,915 words. I'm a bit disconcerted that I ran out of steam two thirds of the way through, but I'm going to try not to dwell on that...
   Also, it got a lot more disjointed and rambling that I wanted it to, but that's how these things go, I suppose. Obviously re-drafting is going to be a huge challenge since I'm just going on and on like a ball rolling down a hill, because this is quite life-based. If it was more more fictional [which I guess it'll have to become, not just due to me wanting it to, but also, these anecdotes aren't going to last forever], at least I'd be more like a train rolling along planned tracks.
   And lastly, I created a geeky Excel spreadsheet to calculate how I'm doing in terms of word count. I told myself I wouldn't do that [it's a pointless procrastinative distraction], but there you go...

Day Two: Words - 2,452 [good!]. Feel good about that. Already trying to address problems with the fictional function, and have already inserted my first invented poem into the prose.

Day Three: Words - 1,900 [okay...]. Very disjointed, again, but I think I see some 'one-liner nuggets' that, if not suitable for this after I've edited it, should be used elsewhere.
   It was odd this time since I was enjoying some wine whilst writing. I don't think it helped, because I thought I had more to say, but then seemed to run out of steam [as a Facebook friend I admire said earlier, "Not sure if I actually have free time, or just forgetting everything." I couldn't possibly comment!]. I suppose this feeling isn't too dissimilar to the first day, but the short paragraphs and sentences at the end reflect a more panicked, scrabbling nature. But what am I, some kinda critic over here?
   I mean, 1,900 isn't bad. It's 'over budget', as it were. That's good, right? Why do I feel so underwhelmed?

Day Four: Words - 2,200 [good]. Oh man, that was tough! I did that all wrong, starting with last night's second bottle, always chasing some perceived 'win'... The word count's good, but I started too late [about half ten-ish], ran out of steam early, took internet breaks [BIG no no!]... I did start to get my flow back, to be honest, but then I had to cut it off to leave a decent cliffhanger.
   So I sort of know where I'm going to tomorrow [or plan to be, at least], but I need to be more disciplined. And speaking of myself [not the rarest of events, I'll admit], writing something fictional with so much of me in it is starting to trouble me. I wrote lots of dream-like stuff today, and I can't be sure anymore if they're the whispers of my own desires or the character's.
   We'll see how that goes, then!

Day Five: Words - 1,988. Discipline arguably better. Wrote from about 2230 to 0000, which is bad, but I couldn't really help it this time. Plus, I ended a good time at the pub early to come back and get cracking, so that's something. I did have a break, but only because I needed something to perk me up [beer better than wine], plus the laptop was having an episode and I needed to let it cool down [not because of my strenuous effort, I can assure you!]. No messing about on the internet this time.
   I've had a laugh at some of the cringeworthy stuff I've written [something about 'slicked corneal panes', i.e. 'wet eyes'...], but the flow's been... not too bad [but regular checking of the word count hasn't been helpful, because it leads to a 'that'll do' mentality]. I've been a wee bit repetitious, too, but I feel that might be a reasonable thing to redraft, because there are lots of options for cutting/rewriting [if that makes sense...].
   So, cool. Now need to think where I'm going tomorrow, and obviously make more of an effort to write at 'a more sensible time', if such a thing exists.

Day Six: 2,203. I let so much get in the way today. I was particularly procrastinative and had a demanding time doing stuff for the folks. So I started too late [though it was good to see that Salford win], felt tired, had a break... It's becoming the norm. Speaking of which, I keep listening to music while I write this, which I don't usually do. Is it like an OULIPean constraint, focussing the mind? Does it stimulate creative areas/keep destructive areas busy/have no difference? Any thoughts?
   Eesh... I'm addressing concerns [mainly over vibrancy and plot] as I write, so I end up not getting 'lost' in the process. I suppose a few lines seemed interesting, but I keep starting a paragraph with the intention of it leading somewhere [trying to force it into a plot, in other words], but, like a snake in a can, it releases its energy and goes off in random directions. Is this okay? Should I be able to tame my novel more now, or should I just 'look forward' to the editing graft?
   Blimey, another essay... Got to go now 'cause I got a shift tomo- well, today. This means I'll have to write my next bit earlier. Or else!

Day Seven: 1,407. First day below target. I could try and squeeze more out, but I've got this shift to do in Lancaster. I'm actually happy with my discipline, despite starting a little late due to getting sucker-punched by this cold that's living up my nose, and will make up the deficit tomorrow.

Friday, 30 October 2015


'NaNoPrepMo' is a term that the ever enthusiastic and inspirational writer Ava Jae likes to use, and so do I. It essentially means 'October, for those that have decided that they're doing NaNoWriMo'. Here are my current thoughts in PREParation for November's novel writing challenge:

So there's thirty days in November [you may already be aware...] which, if you want to hit the 50,000 word target, gives you a daily aim of 1,667. I was thinking about writing a different 'episode'/chapter every day, i.e. start a new one and, as long as it's natural enough to do so, finish it off on the same day. Obviously not going to limit myself to the wordcount, if I go over, I'll just see where the flow takes me. If I miss a day, of course I'll make up for 'the missing words' [although I suppose I do that every day anyway!]. I won't necessarily start two new episodes the next time, unless that's natural to what I'm doing. I'm not aiming for all the sections to necessarily be the same length, although it'll be interesting to see how 'regular' they are, seeing as how I've never tried such an intensive thing before.

On daily aims, I'll try not to take into account my going over. For example, if I reach 50,000 in two days [yeah, I know...], I'll still try and write 1,667 thereafter, but if I miss a day, I'll try and write 3,334 the next day to make up for it, if that makes sense. It's a 'no upper-limit' mentality, but a firm 'bottom line' [heehee, firm bottom...] will be ever present. I realise that this might amount more than the necessary amount of pressure, but that's what I'm aiming for at the mo.

My idea is a story about a university student  and how his first 'real relationship' changes him. I want to capture the Ham on Rye bull-charge feeling by relentlessly going from scene to scene [well, 'chapter to chapter' is more apt, but the way the chapters were in that novel felt very scene-like], hence why I'd like lots of shorter chapters. However, I won't be going completely linear. I want to experiment with, every now and again, saying 'wait, I forgot about the time that...' and see if that fits the narrative well. I suppose this may be something that will only really be done in editing [certainly it could only be evaluated in the editing process], but that's how this project has come to me, so so be it. I think rather than intentionally trying to do it, I might just see if the availability for such an opportunity naturally arises. I don't know if I'll have 'anchoring passages', i.e. a shared time/place/whatever where the narrator breaks up the progression [assuming there is any!], but again I think I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself, I'll have to see whether these thoughts find their opporunity, or whether they should be added later...

First person. Although, if I start to struggle with events being too close to 'real life' history, I might switch [as Helen Walsh was advised when writing Once Upon a Time in England, so she told us in a talk at Edge Hill], just to help the drafting. I hope I can keep going in the first person vein though, it's so explosive, so vital... And, 'at the end of the day', it's controversial. I don't mean, necessarily, in a social context, but in terms of the reader's individual experience, there are questions that you can have fun with posing [and, indeed, not answering] that, maybe, in third person, you might usually steer clear of.

I love the feel and possibilities of first person tho. A while ago, I turned my back on it because it was my preferred choice, and I was worried I was being 'one-trick pony-ish' and sort of un-literary [not that first person narratives can't be literary, but if an author only had one option, you may feel they weren't developed enough to be considered literary. Maybe... I dunno], so I'd like a chance to revisit it.

Okay, I think that's the flim-flam out the way. Now to come up with some chapter ideas...

And that's indeed what I did, coming up with, at the time of publishing, thirty-three 'chapter ideas'. I don't know what'll become of them all, or which new ones may pop up... I don't really know anything at this point, and it's doubtful whether I'll know any more in time. With that dispiriting finish, I bid you adieu. Good luck if you're NaNoWriMoing and, indeed, good luck if you're not!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Conspiracy Blown Wide Open

Me trying to add George Harrison's 'It's Johnny's Birthday' - a major piece of evidence in the McCartney cover up - to my Facebook timeline.

You all laughed at me when I told you that Paul McCartney's dead and, in fact, has been since November 1966. Well here's more proof for you; when I tried to share a death clue on Facebook THE CORRUPT ILLUMINATI FREEMASONS IN THEIR IVORY TOWER ORGANISATION BLOCKED ME FROM DOING SO! Why wouldn't they let me put it up? Something to hide, maybe? It's all so clear now...

I can only hope that my superior hacking skills will allow me to publish this post and get past Google's vast network of shadowy McCartney agents that are trying to cover up the truth.

Remember: he never wore his shoes we all know he was dead.

Peace out.

Friday, 16 October 2015


Those of you on certain social media will know that I've decided to do NaNoWriMo this year. For those of you that don't know, I'm planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year. For those of you that already knew - I'm still planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year. And it's exciting.

It's not like I've not started writing novels before. In fact, I've got three/four of them on the go in various states of momentum or decay. I still want to 'break my duck' with one, remove the monkey from my back, or whatever animalistic phrase fits... I know NaNoWriMo's very 'bandwagony', but I've been unashamedly caught up in the crowd's excitement and, which is more, bandwagons are fine if their destination is useful [and personally appropriate]. It's only pointless affectations that one should shun.

The main reason why this is so exciting, though, is because it's a new approach. It's targeted, rapid, energetic [hopefully]. It's a shame I'm in this anxiety-hole at the minute, and all excitement becomes a cold, damp mess in a couple of hours, but my recent spurt in blogging has helped me to rake over and revive past feelings of positivity, which is one reason why I'm making this 'official statement' here. It's a contract, making things official, making it meaningful. You may think this is just some Hollywood narrative trickery, but it's true: saying it again makes it seem more real, more vital, and brings back the initial flutterings of happiness that I felt when I first decided to embark on this task.

I'm a bit nervous [fear of failure, knowledge of problems etc], but mainly looking forward to getting going. I already have some thoughts about what I'm going to do, which I'll post soon, but there are other things I want to get done while we're still in October, before this new type of grind begins. I hope the momentum carries me where I need to be. I always hope.

I wonder now, how did Calum Kerr ever managed his Flash365 project? I wonder how I'll feel come December...

Good luck to you if you're giving it a go [and good luck if you're not! Good luck all round :) ].

Peace, love and light x

Monday, 12 October 2015

That's Better!

PlayStation Two, top left, and games, right.
 PS2 = a fun, massive drain on my time

 Books = time well spent, enlightenment, a different kind of fun

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Pages: Relaunch of the Journal of British and Irish Innov...

I've loved this journal myself, especially the Bob Cobbing special edition:

Pages: Relaunch of the Journal of British and Irish Innov...: As I've noted in previous posts , I have stepped down from the editorship of the Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry , and...

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Oh No! It's Another Update Post...

I've got no choice, I had to write this because I was annoyed at myself for doing it again. No, I'm not making a vague Britney Spears reference, I'm talking about my 'line a day' commitment. I've had a couple of patches of leaving it to pile up. Yes, only for three to four days, and yes I caught up easily enough, but why can't I just do it properly? I can't come up with any reasonable excuses for not being able to write one measly diary-style line in a little book each day. I guess it comes down to apathy, more than lethargy or anything else. I've been busy of late, sure, and 'over-indulging' in certain things, but it's my choice at the end of the day [literally at the end of the day, I'm not just wasting words here] when I say 'sod it, I'll do it tomorrow'. Has anyone achieved success by doing that, outside of the field of Procrastination? Ah well. It's been logged and analysed now, so I suppose I can move on.

Other than letting that slip, production's been up lately. I've written a number of poems, including one about kicking a ball, a short story, about unwitting cannibals, and seemed to be on a roll until I tried restoring some papers of mine that were damaged by a leaking radiator [when I say 'restoring', I just mean trying to fathom out what the words were before the ink was washed away]. By sheer luck, the papers affected weren't completely full of writing, so I've not lost a whole book or anything, but one had an interesting and dark short story on it, and the other was part of the Sci-Fi novel I'm working on, so they're important enough. I've found it hard going so far, and may even go into it in further detail later, since it's been an interesting process, but I'll carry on with it after writing this and hopefully get it out the way.

Reading-wise I'm still finding time here and there. Currently enjoying Calum Kerr's wonderful worlds of Flash Fiction - all from his collection of collections The 2014 Flash365 Anthology.

One thing I didn't mind myself indulging in was the latest Storm and Golden Sky, the Liverpool reading series. While in the city, I went to The Bluecoat, visited one of my favourite pubs - The Swan Inn - and found one that had been recommended to me by a Liverpool Museum volunteer that time I went to see the dazzleship at Albert Docks. The pub she said to visit was 'Ye Cracke', just off Hope Street, and lays claim to being where John Lennon set up his 'other band' - The Dissenters - who never played a note. Picked up a copy of The Skinny to read while I had a pint there. Good times.

But the poetry itself was even better. Natasha Borton was reading her work, and I usually rather like it, so there I went to hear her pieces inspired by the tragic intentional flooding of Capel Celyn. Such a wonderfully provocative collection, covering ideas and themes from all angles, going into the history of the town, the post-history [after 'Capel' had been changed to 'Llyn'], the emotions, the images and the sad, sad music sung by the place and the events that happened there. The second reader, John Redmond, was less well known to me, but, as always at SAGS, I was more than merrily surprised by the quality of his work and performance. Fruity babies indeed! Everything seems so right in there, even if the poetry's dark or challenging, it's all groovy. Love it, especially when I get to catch up with some ol' uni pals, and general poetry pals.

I still don't have a job and am running out of savings, so if you have an opening at your place I've got skills ranging from proof reading and editing, through to original content and creative collaboration [as well as boring stuff like pulling pints and making customers happy...]. Still not got my website up and running and, whilst I'm under no illusions that it's going to instantaneously solve all my problems, I still hope it'll create some interest in who I am/what I do [in a career sense].

A bientot, friends!

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Pages: Protest Against the axeing of A Level Creative Wri...

Pages: Protest Against the axeing of A Level Creative Wri...: As you may be aware, a (political) decision has been made to cut the Creative Writing A Level that many people worked so hard to see introdu...

Monday, 14 September 2015

September-time Blues

The thing that really triggers it for me is the adverts. Sure, there are those on TV, but it's the ones that pop up when I'm on my laptop, when I'm on my own and feeling more vulnerable. Young folk talking about 'your next big step', standing in front of some big, beautiful building as students mill about, smiling, chatting and buzzing silently with knowledge, promise and Jagerbombs. God I miss university...

Last year was the first year in my life, since I was three, that I've not gone into an 'academic year'. It wasn't too tough, though, because I had just recently finished my MA dissertation and had yet to graduate. This year was more like cold turkey. It's not the ideal time to get nostalgia-based blues of any kind, not when there's such sorrowful suffering in the family and the rest of the world at the moment. But I felt like putting this out there. I don't want to make others feel bad, but maybe it'll encourage others to think about education or their life or whatever.

I still remember first moving into halls, how I had three plastic litre bottles of spirits I'd brought back from Salou that September and how I tried to make new friends by sharing some of it with people in the same halls as me. I remember my first lessons, the feelings of awe at tutors, the attraction to those in your class who 'got it' in their way and made you look up to them because of it. I still remember the sometime loneliness, but also the fantastically oddball days and nights with friends I still love today and the freedom to be your own person in a way you couldn't imagine, even just a few months ago in sixth form. I remember losing my virginity [ish...]. I remember the greenery on campus. I remember the uni shops, the bar, the computer rooms, the odd spaces they'd try and shelve us writers during our lessons... I remember pride, fear and disappointment during/after assignments.

I remember so much. It's not really gone. It's made me who I am now and, crucially, who I will be. I'm not sad because it's over, I'm happy it's happened. I'm appreciative of all the luck, love and hard work that got me there, too, and I know it's silly of me to feel down about not being as young as I was.

Would still like to re-live it though...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Line A Day Keeps... Me Busy

Last year, I started a 'diary a day' thing. It was essentially an exercise in writing fitness, but I also had other hopes, such as examining/enhancing the way I look at and process the world. Anyway, whatever the results, I'm glad I did it, but this year I've been on a different 'adventure': a line a day. Already that's not accurate, because actually it's a sentence a day, but 'line a day' trips off the tongue a little easier, and in general I'm into that whole 'brevity' thing, man.

So, what's the thinking behind this? I wanted to move from writing lots about each day, to writing just a little. The idea was to 'become more poetic' - to be hygienic in my expression, but stronger in spirit. I wanted pith, humour, drama, formal inventiveness [as is always the wish], rhythm, music, soul... so many things, and so much, all inside a singular sentence. And, sure, I've bent 'the rules' a wee bit, vis-a-vis grammar, utilising ellipses, dashes, kerazy kommas and line breaks to cram in a lot, but I think I've already managed most of my original aims. Making long sentences isn't what I wanted the project to be about, originally, but it's fine that that's krept in [sorry, I'll stop using ks instead of cs now]. I still get days where I want to be 'plot focused' and record as much of what happened as I can, but then there are times where the 'more poetic' instincts lead me to express my summary in a natural breath, rather than mechanically ground out.

Another hope of this project was that it would take less time each day, therefore allowing me to crack on with other creative works [you may remember me wondering if the full diary a day doofer was sapping my time and energy each day so that my production of, say, poetry suffered]. Well, my production in that respect is still not really where I want it to be, although I have got a few new drafts to work on. I guess I can pretty definitively say how much work I do's got nothing to do with my little forays into life recording.

It has occasionally been the case that even this diddy-diary was 'too much' for me to do. I think, at my lowest point, I've let eight or nine days go by without writing anything. If I remember rightly, I was quite depressed at that point, but I got out of it at least. Other than that, at most it's been two days, and not very often at that. I've only managed to confuse myself once with respect to 'what day I'm on' [in my notebook, each sentence is literally just numbered. In hindsight, it would have been much more pragmatic [though 'less poetic' imho] to date them, so there would be no doubt, but then I guess I assumed my discipline would have been perfect for such a seemingly easy task], but I can at least say that, so far, my discipline has been better than last time. Would be a bad job if it wasn't, like, but I digress... I don't really want to dissect how/why I've not managed to diligently do every day as targeted, but I will say that life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.

Another way in which this year's project is the same as the last is in what I might do with the resulting mess. After seeing Richard Barrett's collaboration with himself [not a euphemism] at an Edge Hill symposium, I was really intrigued by 'processing' one's diaries, reforming, regurgitating, repurposing and examining what remains. My hope with this, as you can imagine if you're familiar with certain language poets [or prose poetry?], is to turn it into a poem. In fact, in many ways it already is, always was and was always going to be a poem. I like the idea of it completing itself, maybe as twelve individual poems or a twelve-stanza 'mini-epic', or even something between the two. I can already imagine it being published, and where, but that'll obviously depend on the quality of the material I end up with etc. Watch this space...

But more on what's different. Of course, I don't get that hand-numbing marathon sensation that I used to. That was quite something, burning through, what was it, eight sides? Did I get up to sixteen once? Writing that much in one sitting was, as I say, somewhat wearying. And it was interesting mentally, because you got into a flow state - always nice - but one that was less dependent on outright creativity. Sure, memory in general is a creative process, but with the memories often being less than a day old, I didn't really need to stretch the truth to fit the day-sized gap. It made the flow feel a bit more... tranquil, I suppose, than with fiction, say.

With this 'line a day', however, memory plays a different process. I have two main sentence types - the one I write at the end of the day that I have just come up with on the spot, or one that I've formed and drafted in my head, either earlier on in the day, or just before I've picked up my pen. The latter is often less of a 'did x, y and z' type report, and more of a sweeping sentence. Especially if I've come up with this relatively early, the process of memory is more about remembering the words, rather than the experiences - so that's a strange kind of inversion that's interesting to note. Speaking of notes, I believe I note that this project slots into my life easier than the last, doesn't get in the way, and also makes me feel like I'm appreciating my awareness of what's going on in life without having to obsess over every little detail and, in doing so, be blocked from enjoying things as they happen. The contemplative processes of the two activities is radically different and - apologies if I'm overusing this word and/or its concept - this year I feel it's 'more poetic'

Speaking of 'more poetic', next year I think I'll do a haiku a day, just like Neil Schiller's done. That's actually a pretty decent challenge, I'd imagine. Haiku[s] are tough to get right at the best of times, so doing them in bulk could be worse [or the practice could improve your skills?], but I'd allow myself more editing freedom than I have done these past couple of years, so that'd be cool. But hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Last thing to say is that I feel there's less to analyse about my journey this year. I think the reason is as simple as I'm writing less, the process is less arduous... there's just not that meat that there was last year for my masticating molars to malform. Or maybe I 'got it out my system' last time [lol]. Either way, good for you guys 'cause I won't be boring you with loads of posts on the topic. Although this one has built into an overly-long post. Sorry about that...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Another Update

Sorry for this being another update-y post, but I feel the need to take stock of things at the mo. There's been a fair lot going on, and some nice things to look forward to. Work is going fine, despite tiredness and having to work through a random headache I developed earlier in the week. One of the most lovely things that has happened recently is reading out at Peter Barlow's Cigarette in Manchester. I don't know if I'll write a post dedicated to it [I suspect not, since I was actually part of it], but suffice it to say there were a great many brilliant, witty and challenging poets and a generous response to my own work.

In other poetry news, Robert Sheppard's CW25 has purred to a halt, with a delightful couple of extras. Of course I've enjoyed the series, not just the overall diversity and inspiring nature of the endeavour, but also some of the singular poets have really shone above and beyond the general high standard. Check it out if you haven't already [or even if want to revisit!]. I was planning on writing a separate post about my involvement with it. Don't know if that'll happen or not [as time goes on, it's only going to seem less and less relevant to explain], but it's been a great pleasure to be part of it, both as a poet and as a reader [well, a poet is a reader more often than not, but you get what I mean...] - many thanks to Robert for doing it, giving us the opportunity and, on a more solipsistic note, mentioning me here [there'll be a strange mirrored mirror effect if we keep linking to each other in this way...]. It's going to be a bit strange now without it. I've been looking forward to each post for a long time, plus I've been re-blogging them, so my post rate has been higher because of it, but now that's finished. It's not been without problems; there have been times where I've given a CW25 post precedence over something of my own that I wanted to put up. But then that's just the next challenge - to get back to regular, 'original' posts, like I know I should be doing anyway.

On a related note, I've been thinking about setting up a Facebook page [and maybe something Twittery too] for this blog, just to play the social media game a bit better. As I understand it, it means that I won't need to 'manually' paste my links to my friends, and it gives them a better option to opt out of updates but, more importantly, will hopefully allow more people to find the blog and get involved. I'm in the process of setting up another site, too, one advertising myself, as it were. Primarily this is for career, although there's the same 'helping people to find my writing' element of it too [and if you're thinking that's the same as career, that's fine, but I make a distinction between my career and my art. At least for now...]. I'm doing this on the advice of a friend, whose website you can check out here, and, yeah, I'm sort of enjoying it as a bit of a mini-project, but will hopefully enjoy the results in the future [i.e. finding my dream job that starts just as my current contract runs out. Is that too much to hope for? Course not... Especially with our new arts-friendly government].

Speaking of jobby things, I'm having a CV overhaul of sorts. Apologies if this is the least interesting tripe you've ever read, but hey, it's an update [or could/should that be downdate?]. Perhaps because I've been feeling better [with respect to head health] most of the time lately, I've had a bit of an epiphany: I'm not that bad. I have done some interesting things, I do have skills and actually my CV could be pretty impressive. At the minute, it's very much a bullet pointy, angular, sharp-edges and straight lines thing. Very grey. I want to give it a personality, hopefully one that reflects mine and will convince people that I got stuff going for me. Anyway, even I can't say much more about this without falling asleep. I'll just finish by saying that, for some reason, I've been focused in this area of careery jobbiness lately, y'know, it feels like something's clicked and, who knows, maybe there's a future. On the point of interesting things, I've just started a new, free online course about Propaganda and Ideology what me aunt, writer of the wonderful Travelling Frogs, shared with me.

On a general note, I'm feeling more productive of late. Bit more blogging, bit more writing, submitted to IdeasTap's final brief, have started the aforementioned online course, have been looking at the BBC's artist in residence doofer [which I'd like to get, but the rules stipulate that one must be a "professional", and in my case there may need to be some semantic haggling there...], have been helping my folks more [cooking and gardening - Andrew Oldham would be proud!], been reading quite a bit [lots of online poetry etc]... Y'know, it's been reasonably groovy. There's a wee downside in that my level of blogging over at All Hail the Ale has ground to a stop, but I'm gearing up to put another review there soon. Watch that space! And this one, too. Please.

Also I'm really excited about some new purchases. I've been doing quite well at saving the cash lately, but yesterday I went book mad. I wasn't drunk at the time [that was the night before. A lovely night in Morecambe, not hindered in the slightest by rainy skies or election result], but I just felt this need to finally get some books I've been looking at for a long time. For example, from KFS, Joanne Ashcroft's From Parts Becoming Whole has been on my wish list for yonks - well soon I'll have it in my hands. I also got some stuff from Steph Pike, Richard Barrett, Robert Sheppard, Patricia Farrell, Calum Kerr blah blah blah... there's plenty. Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh is exciting. It promises to be an explosive collection of poem and prose-poem manifestoes and un-manifestoes - what the doctor always orders/ in regular doses/ for the artist! I'm not sure what I'm hoping for from it - I guess just a new perspective or two, a light in the dark, a suggestion of a new direction for me that'll see me write something I wouldn't have before. Speaking of great poetics, check out Steven's. I read some other good stuff recently, can't remember where though [I'm sure you're thanking me for that particularly useful statement].

Erm, I think that's it... Well, I think I've forgotten some of what I wanted to say, but that's about it anyways. Thanks for everything.

Peace, love and light.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: And the total numbered 27! for...

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: And the total numbered 27! for...: I have now completed the showing of Edge Hill Poets (though I happily over-recruited), one for each year that Creative Writing has been taug...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Anthony Keating

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Anthony Keating: THE PARCEL HOME Hunting for clothes In jumble sales  And second hand stalls Clothes for her children  And clothes for home Good clothes L...

Monday, 4 May 2015

My 'I's

Just for the record, in case you hadn't noticed, the 'i' thing is off.

It was a very worthwhile experience, and I felt very positively engaged with certain concepts of equality. However, it's not something people have picked up on, frankly. The message isn't being spread. No-one seems to care. That's fair enough, I'll just try and find a better way to express it - no worries.

I still believe in groovy notions, but there's the consideration of appearance [of course]. I don't want employers, other professionals and/or artists looking at this blog, misinterpreting non-standard grammar, and then deciding I don't know what I'm talking about [no sniggering at the back...].

Yes, cue the calls [well, with this blog's readership I'll be lucky to get one call] lambasting my 'selling out' and having no integrity. Well, to you I say I never had none of that in the first place. So nyergh.

Peace, love and light.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Leigh Harlett

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Leigh Harlett: Partners in Crime POETICS Start with a single line / a phrase / a concept / a sequence. Ruminate on this beginning, on this ...

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


VANESSA GEBBIE'S BLOG: PROPRIOCEPTIVE WRITING: Always fascinated by our creativity and how it can be encouraged and so easily closed down,  and because I have a growing collection of ...

Friday, 24 April 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Steven Fletcher

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Steven Fletcher:   As a mature student, 47 years old at enrolment, I have found the BA Creative Writing course to be a life enriching experience. It giv...

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

This Isn't Very Interesting, But...

I've got a lot of things on my mind at the minute, a lot of things I want to do, and I just want to let you all know that I'm hoping to getting round to being more active soon.

It makes me smile that I managed to blog fairly effortlessly for twenty-three days straight back in January '13. It was a really 'meaty' time, in the sense there was plenty to chew over, lots of flavour and purpose, and I enjoyed it. I've recently started a new job, so have a new routine etc, but I think I'm getting back to a place where I can get cracking more readily with writing projects here and there. Yesterday after work, in fact, I had a nice wee sit outside in the sunshine, bourbon in hand, and wrote out a little scene. Would've got more done had my pen not been so temperamental, but that's neither here nor there...

One of the main things I'm missing is giving you updates on how certain things have been going. I don't mean in a general way, like I'm doing now - I mean with stuff like last year's diary project, this year's 'line a day', what blogs I've liked recently, reviews etc etc. I don't think there's anyone out there that's worrying whether I keep them in the loop or not, but hey, as I've always said, ruminating like this is at the very least useful for me. Above that I hope that it gives other folk [writers and 'civilians' alike] a sense of affirmation, or even inspiration. Maybe some amusement too.

So yeah, this isn't very interesting, but I'm still here [somewhere], I still want to do things [some the same as before, some different] and... well... I'm bimbling along. Maybe not bimbling 'nicely', but bimbling nevertheless.

P.S. I'm thinking about setting up a website for myself soon too. It's not as narcissistic as it sounds, and could actually be useful in looking for other work and whatnot. Got the idea from an old school mate, whose site you can check out here.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Peter Barlow's Cigarette #13

Wow and eek. Need I say more? I needn't, but will anyway... I'm set to read at the next Peter Barlow's Cigarette which is both a massive privilege [hence the 'wow'], but pretty scary too [hence the 'eek']. I'd like to thank Richard Barrett for both of these tri-lettered ejaculations, as he was instrumental in getting me on the list.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more the 'eek' boils in my stomach... I've only read out in public once before at Storm and Golden Sky, and that was different in a number of ways. Temporally different: a time when I didn't have the work pressures I do now, restricting time to write [and drink]. Conceptually different: set up by, amongst others, a very supportive ex-tutor, which made me feel I was in a very safe environment. Geographically different: doesn't make a right lot of difference, but at least I knew where I was going last time.

The eek's shriek gets shriller when the 'wow' of the other poets is positioned next to it. It's nuts to be on the same bill as all these talents. I follow Allen, Ashcroft, Barrett, Taylor, Thurston, so they're the big stars for me, but I know of plenty of the others, and know that by virtue of their inclusion they're of a high standard. I'm not saying this as a 'pity me' thing, but I feel a fraud next to them.

Having said that, I'm going to give it as good a go as I can. I have something promising [in my own words...], some things haikuy, a more conceptual idea - which'll depend on if I get time to try it - and, of course, there's a deconstructivist piece I could dust off. And now the 'wow' feeling rises again!

Click on the links below to find out more about the event. Hope to see you there.

Peter Barlow's Cigarette #13 on Facebook
Peter Barlow's Cigarette on Twitter
Peter Barlow's Cigarette on Tumblr [with nice videos]

And if you want any more than that, then quite frankly you're greedy.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Bill Bulloch

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Bill Bulloch: The manifesto is tentatively named 'Pausa' and basically reflects my desire to enjoy and experience the moment, recording my perce...

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Jason Argleton

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Jason Argleton: dip                                     mist we called it fog would have done as well a haze             in the dip of the roa...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Dee McMahon

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Dee McMahon: Trad   Baby sweet full frontal lyrics launches successive sound of high notes and holidays, high notes and holidays, zingera’d to slit...

Friday, 20 March 2015


Advertising Campaign

I walk around Morecambe a lot. It's sort of an occupational hazard of living in Morecambe... Anyway, I was passing the William Hill betting shop on Regent Road one day [the one opposite the cobblers with the amusingly damaged sign] when I saw their 'responsible gambling campaign' unfurled in incredibly ostentatious fashion. In the front window there were about five posters, all the same, trying to warn against gambling beyond one's limits.

Sounds like a benevolent company, right? Sounds like they're putting the customers' health and general lives ahead of profit, right? I'm not so sure... Even a cursory look at the 'flags' of this campaign reveal a disingenuousness that I find distasteful. I think it represents a level of deviousness akin to the politician who kisses a baby one minute, only to close down the country's neo-natal wards next week.

You're probably asking what I'm going on about by now. Take a good look at the image above, then read on.

I think the yellow and black colouring is eye-catching, which would be a good thing if the rest of the poster was adequate, because then it would be drawing attention to the issue of over-gambling itself. I think the colour scheme resembles motoring warnings, in particular the ones with black arrows on a yellow background that signal where the bend in the road is. The problem with this, in the context of posters being placed in a window, is that attention is drawn towards the shop itself. It could very easily encourage people to go inside the shop and gamble, whereas if the posters were on the inside, then the people who they're supposed to target would feel the benefit of them more.

Now for my pearls of typographical relativism. What's the biggest word in the line? 'Fun', right? That's strange... surely a conscientious campaign, one that more concerned with health over profits, would emphasise the 'STOP' part of the message more. Think I'm being picky? How's about the fact that 'Fun' is also in a stylised font reminiscent of the bright, billion-bulbed signage of Las Vegas? The way they've chosen to represent the word invokes the reckless hedonism and glamour of one of the world's most popular, exotic [however cheesy...] and aggressively over-advertised parts of the world for gambling. I mean, you can't even spell 'gambling' without 'bling'... In comparison, the other words are dull and do not draw the eye as much. Essentially, the message says 'FUN IS KING/QUEEN, and... something about stopping something or whatever'. If you have an addiction, it's contentious whether any well-designed poster would help, but it's certainly clear that a better one may help. The ones they've got now just seems intent on plastering on the veneer of respectability, whilst actually, on an insidious level, enouraging more gambling.

For the record, I think there are a great many good intentions behind the tightening of gambling regulations. The Senet Group has introduced a few restrictions on advertisements and the 'Bad Betty' TV 'verts, as well as the aforementioned campaign. However, the group, described as 'independent', was set up by William Hill, Paddy Power, Coral and Ladbrokes. They're hiding this fact, by the way, but I don't quite get how the police can be independent when set up by criminals. I'm not saying the criminals are running the police, but... Well, I'll leave that sentence hanging.

Imagine the scene when even a well-meaning organisation brings in a new plan to encourage responsible gaming, at the potential cost of profit... Is it unreasonable to suggest that all the well-seasoned marketeers would use there expertise to 'tweak' those suggestions, turn the message, via subtle means, into one of 'fun' gaming, giving the company in question as much profit as they can hypnotise out of the public? I think not.

This post became too much about a wider picture of gambling, whereas I had originally intended only to focus on the typographical relativism of the advert. But there you go. It spiralled out of control; if only there was someone out there who cared enough to stop it...

If you think you may have a problem with gambling, please visit Gamble Aware -

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Matt Fallaize

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Matt Fallaize: Partially recovered Too slow morning starts inaccurate my state is shifting a sudden occlusion before partition obligatory sun ...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets; Carol Fenlon

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets; Carol Fenlon: Big Bill Troublin’ Mind   ( Big Bill Broonzy ) Musical bruises punch your brain suck your gut in the hollows of your heart val...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

What It's All About

It's been a while since The Other Room's 52nd 'inning', and though I've already said a little about the poetry, I wanted to go on about the experience as a whole. Much like Storm and Golden Sky's nights, the power of live readings was emphatically exemplified, and I'm going to tell you why it was so enjoyable. Strap yourself in, this is going to be a long gush...

There were three poets reading their work and I think the 'exoticness' rose a level with each one [representatives from St Helens, New York and 'Japameritland']. That enhanced the juxtapositions between them, giving a feeling of crescendo at the end. Those are just my airy-fairy reflections, though - the poetry itself was very vibrant and of such a high standard. The range of techniques used gave a pleasantly jarring sensation also, both conceptually and 'in res'. So, from linguistic playfulness to found poetry [with an added caveat of spacial connection] to audio-visual projections [I'm guilty of cherry-picking over-simplified examples there], the 'journey' via the poets themselves, and their poetry, was unique to the night.

I also got my book signed by the legendary Tom Jenks. I saw him read in Liverpool not so long back, and his wonderfully surreal work mostly had me in stitches [though there were other responses...]. I thought Crabtree had sold out, and was overjoyed to see it there on the bookstall. I couldn't then pass up the opportunity to ask for 'his mark'. Some of these books are rare, some of them not available online, so just the material itself is another facet to enjoy. It's like looking at an exotic fishmongers - everything's fresh, colourful and exciting. So yeah, bookstalls [and the opportunity to ask for them to be signed] are another big part of the live reading scene.

I was also charmed by a lady who got chatting to me for whom this was the first experience of poetry reading since school. She particularly enjoyed Matsumoto's line, "I hosted the hell out of that tapas party!" [5:44 on't' video]. I hope that, even if I don't see her at another of these readings, she goes to more readings and enjoys them as much. I hope they help get her back into writing too. I had the feeling, based on her off-the-cuff wordplay and wit that she's probably a talented poet too, and I'd jump at the chance to read her work. Don't hide your light under a bushel [if you can find a bushel in this day and age...]! Of course all socialising down the pub is fun, but when it's with a specialist bunch, whose vocation is shared, then the rewards are so much richer and the new friends more intriguing - challenging, sometimes, but always affirming.

There's also the community aspect that I feel is enriching, to some degree, at least, for all, and absolutely necessary for some. For example, I'm not a terribly confident person and am often not motivated either. The writers' community, as and where you find it, is real fuel to your fire, from reading recommendations to ideas to mini-critiques and more. Maybe even opportunities to perform your work - all things that make you feel better about what you're doing. Confidence like that is absolutely priceless. And wondrous.

Speaking to writers, whether new or old in terms of your experience of them, is obviously a part of this communal energy, and I was honoured [yes, I did warn you this'd be gushy] to chat to Matsumoto at the bar. Humility and vibrancy were the striking things about her - again, good feelings abound. I got to see Richard Barrett, too, whose work on literary collaboration first got me hooked on the man. Also I shared some of a train with Tim Allen. We talked about experiences, ideas and football at some length. It was one of those moments with a great mind that I wished I'd had my voice recorder with me, because poetics pop into these conversations [as they inadvertently and inevitably do] and I think it's nice to have a record. But I'm yet to try the 'You don't mind if I record us, right here on public transport with no prior warning, do you?' line. We'll see...

The Other Room happens to be FREE, by the way. All you need to do is reserve a spot at Eventbrite. That's more money to spend on books and beer, which has always been excellent at The Castle Hotel [my kind of traditional, slightly quirky boozer]. The bottom line here, what with the warm atmosphere, the inspiration and the socialising, it's fun! I know that sounds a bit facile, but it's true! You don't have to be some stereotypical scholar and/or world's best poet. You can be a 'civilian' and still have a great time. If you are a writer, though, the benefits become that much more manifold for you.

Are you convinced, yet, of the grooviness of readings? If not, why not? Anyway, if you can't get to Liverpool or Manchester, Google what's going on in your area. Oh and if you don't have any plans next Wednesday, by the way, there's always Edge Hill's latest poetical offerings! The Other Room's next event happens to be on the 30th of April. Hope to see you there folks.

Peace, love and light.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Janka Theisler

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Janka Theisler: The link to my blog (which has some poetry on it amongst other things) is: My time at Edge Hill:...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Other Room 52

So I was writing this big gushing thing about how much I liked last Wednesday's The Other Room, but I went gushing on and on and didn't really say all that much about the actual poetry. So here I'm going to say something [not much] about the writers, and even less about the writing. Enjoy. Don't forget to turn your disappointment into another click on my wep-bage. Here is my head:

Joanne Ashcroft read from her Purple Moose Prize-winning collection Maps and Love Songs for Mina Loy, which I'd heard some of before, and heard discussed during the Edge Hill University symposium on literary collaboration. Even in performance, you get the sense of the formal inventiveness inherent in the work. She also read from a work in progress, 'What the Tree Said'. This impressed me with its soughing song and vogelsang vibrancy, which she and her tree performed well.

Next up was E. J. McAdams, who is from New York and launched straight into a pressurised whisper of a poem. The main thing I reacted to with his work was his conceptual prowess. He reacted to a 'movement research' performance, in the aforementioned city, by essentially coming up with a found poem piece with added formal ingenuity - for example, using one of my fave writing alignments ever, the boustrophedon ['as the ox plows'], to shape his poem. To paraphrase him, this project became about reappropriating the city in terms of language. He and Scott Thurston performed his last piece together, which was nice.

Then a wee break and some Robinson's Double Hop, thanks to Tim Allen there.

Lila Matsumoto crescendoed the night with a collection of poems from various places, one from collaboration, then a few from a collection of hers. The first overriding feelings I got from her work were an incredibly deft wit - which results in a lot of laughter - but also a powerfully hygienic use of imagery, very reminiscent of the best haiku. I regret that I can't remember which works she read from respectively, but - as ever - the whole point of me giving you links is that you check'em out four Yusef...

Sow goo und hay valook. And don't forget to check out my next [gushing] look at a lovely reading. Peace and love xox

UPDATE: You can check out videos of the performances by clicking on the names - Joanne Ashcroft, E. J. McAdams, Lila Matsumoto.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Cliff Yates

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Cliff Yates: Boat 1. Boat In the morning she found a boat marooned on her pillow                                             she couldn’t hea...

Monday, 9 February 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Christine Riaz

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Christine Riaz: Christine Riaz Martins Bank Building As I walk up Water Street The wind blows off the river A paradox: that to move forwar...

Friday, 30 January 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Martin Palmer

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Martin Palmer: My time at Edge Hill: I'm very lucky to have been accepted at Edge Hill as their approach to Creative Writing is to keep you out of ...

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Debbie Walsh

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Debbie Walsh: Nimbus Movements is published by Knives Forks and Spoons. See here . Debbie says of her work by way of poetics: ... 'The work I tr...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Fame at Last!

Well it has been twenty-three years in coming, but I've finally achieved fame. Since I'm a humble guy, though, I should say Blogtastic has achieved fame, not me. Though I write it...

It was brought to my attention that professors, from France no less, have cited Blogtastic in a highly important, influential and ground-breaking Wikipedia entry on Jeremy Dyson. I'm delighted, I must say! There's no scholars more scrupulous than the French, so that they recognise the endless, tireless and fruitless work that I do here is a huge honour. I'm not saying I'm a brain-superman, or anything like that, but after this news I can't carry on being falsely modest.

I think it's time for me to shun my monk-like non-profit attitude and, for the greater good, offer all you folk out there a slice of my intellectual pie. That is to say, since I'm so good at knowing and writing things, I think it's only fair I give something back to the world in the form of information dissemination. I'm not saying I want to take over from Wikipedia, or the Dictionary, or Encyclopedias en generale, but clearly if I've got the talent it would be rude not to.

I'll take commissions, so if you want to know anything, just send your head-hunger and your cheque to Morecambe and I'll try and fit you in with my burgeoning schedule (no pun intended).

I'd just like to say thanks to all of you that believed in me over the years, especially my mum.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Sarah Billington

Pages: 25 Edge Hill Poets: Sarah Billington:   Sarah Billington A few words on Edge Hill and my poetry   The last three that I have spent studying at Edge Hill have been wha...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Coffee Gone

A month or two ago, I was listening to the radio when a piece came on about caffeine detoxes. I'm not really sure what it was exactly that made me almost instantly [no pun intended] give up caffeine myself. I think it was the almost holy grail-like idea that it might help me sleep better. As I know all too well, my sleeping patterns absolutely shatter my ability to be productive when I've got no job/university schedule to get me up and at 'em, so going cold turkey seemed like the gleaming catalyst I was looking for.

I got the headaches pretty badly, as advertised, within the first week, lasting for about five days. But after that, I must say things have been better. My sleeping pattern hasn't miraculously fixed itself, but I find it easier overall to get to sleep. Getting up... well that depends what time I went to bed, so, as I say, the lack of coffee didn't fix that - I need to do that 'bit'. But the tiredness I feel isn't usually so absolute, and the energy I have [if any] is somehow more stable...

Of course I really miss the taste and the reckless derring-do you feel when you order that tenth coffee of the day, giving a non-peaceful two-fingered salute to the establishment and all other 'suits'. But, unlike with alcohol, the social side is not hampered. If I'm meeting someone at a cafe, I now enjoy some crazy fruit tea-type things [quite like minty ones, actually] - don't make no difference to me.

So I guess the whole reason I'm writing this is just to spread the word. I know it's a dull thing to do [as is any diet, or just anything that helps really. How fun are burgers, beer and basting random passers-by with Marmite? None of those things help anyone particularly, but we sure crave them], but hey, you never know 'til you give it a go [please excuse the rhyme].

Peace and love x

Friday, 9 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie

As the terrorists continue to try and disrupt France today, I wanted to add my support to the people there, and also people around the globe that are affected by restriction of free speech and other forms of terrorism.

This is a lipogram - I hope OULIPO would approve.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

The pen is mightier next to the sword.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
The pen is mightier than the foil.
A biro is cool, a sword not so much.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
The pen is more powerful than the sword.
A pen is better compared to a sword.
The pen be stronger than the sword.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Stationery's streets ahead of knives.
The pen is preferable to the sword.
The sword is weak compared to the quill.
The pen is mightier than the rapier.
The keyboard is mightier than the missile.
Put down the guns and express yourself.
The pen is good, the blade evil.
The pen be mightier than the axe.
Swords suck.
Pens are the best.
In a fight between sword and pen, pen would win.
The ink is more potent than the bullet.
Writing beats fighting.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Implements used for the recording of language are more important than weapons of war.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Pages: 654
Approximated word count: 357,828
Approximated words per day: 980.4
Hero: Sisyphus

RIP Diary-a-Day 2014 and thanks to all of you that gave support along the way.

Peace and love.