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:...