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.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Other Room Anthology Nine Out Now!

From right to left, then up a bit; The Other Room Anthology Nine, which is out now to buy, Derek Beaulieu's 'Helvetica', which provided a most illuminating guide to Juxtavoices' first piece, and lastly a wee pot of bubbles, naturally in Anti-Choir Purple.
OUT NOW is The Other Room's Ninth Anthology. As with the reading that led to my inclusion in this fine book, I'm incredibly lucky, honoured and privileged to be alongside such great names in an institution I've been passionate about for a long time, and I'm really happy. I hope you enjoy it yourselves. I know I couldn't wait to get reading it, so opened it on the train back from the launch event in Manchester last Wednesday. I'm loving it so far!

It was a great event that saw a couple of Juxtavoices performances (I've had one of their CDs for a long time, but to see them live was a real treat. They brought tears of laughter out of some of the audience), a fantastically humorous, well-worked and working piece (in the sense that it worked the listener, or me at least) from Erkembode, and some provoking pieces from William Rowe. All in all, very enjoyable and, as I always find with The Other Room, I felt a glorious sense of empowerment afterwards. Seeing amazing poetic talent in action (and getting to speak to other outstanding artists in between) fills you full of spirit and energy, and also manages to inspire and tell the internal censor to go away somehow.

So yeah, YOU CAN BUY YOUR COPY HERE. All that's left is to say thank you to the organisers - Scott, Tom and James - for their kindness, thanks to Sarah and Sam, who were pleasures to perform alongside, thanks to everyone else in the anthology that I'm enjoying, and basically to anyone who's been supportive along the way, which includes the audience blowing a 'twenty-one bubble salute' for the anthologised poets during the launch.

By the way, here's a link to the vids from the night I performed 'Europe' in Manchester, which is one of the poems included in the anthology:

Friday, 7 April 2017

Sad 'First World' Truths

They don't call me Martin 'Two Bottles of Sparkling Wine Despite Having Nothing to Celebrate in Fact Quite the Opposite Because I'm Feeling Sad and Alone and Desperately Trying to Fill the Void with Something and Alcohol's to Hand and I Know it's Not Good for Me I'm Not Saying it is but What am I Going to do Wait Ages to See a Doctor Only to be Put on a Drug that Makes me Feel Worse When as an Insecure MAle I feel I can Handle the Problem a Little Better Myself Anyway' Palmer for nothing.