Sunday, June 29, 2008

Poetry/Photography Collaboration

I've just heard that a much-discussed project will be going ahead this summer, namely a poetry/photography collaboration between myself and the Leamington Spa Artist in Residence, Anand Chhabra.

The details haven't yet been thrashed out between us, but I believe Anand will be taking photographs around the town of Warwick and I will then write poems to accompany them - probably somewhere between 15 and 20 poems in total. The resulting collaboration will then be exhibited at a Warwick art gallery during the weekend of the Warwick Words Festival in early October, in connection with my year-long Warwick Poet Laureateship which ends that month.

It's a challenging but exciting thought, having to combine my words with someone else's images. I've written about photographs before, of course, but never quite in the same collaborative spirit, and I have no idea right now how it will work out. But I'm sure that when Anand and I put our heads together in the next few weeks, some mutually interesting themes based around the town of Warwick will come up to inform the general thrust of the project and make it something really special.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Camper Van Blues & Beyond

This week I'm putting the finishing touches to my final draft of Camper Van Blues, due out from Salt Publishing this autumn. It's a difficult and painstaking task, deciding for the last time - in this book, at least - how each poem will appear on the page, and indeed in what order they will appear.

To be honest, I'm prey to a little dread at times, wondering if I'm making the right choices. But there's also an excitement about the process, knowing that a brand-new book of poetry is about to emerge after nearly two years of writing and fiddling about with various drafts. And like a new baby, you always hope this one will turn out to be less trouble than the rest!

At the back of my mind, though, whilst carrying out this task, is the equally exciting knowledge that I have another piece of work on the burner. Still simmering away nicely, though very much in a proto-state, being written piecemeal whenever I get a few moments to myself, still poised to shift or swing in any direction as the weeks unfold. That's my Warwick Castle project, a long poem at the moment, and growing steadily longer as each new fragment takes it place in the whole.

First public reading of that poem will be at the Warwick Words Festival in October, so I'll have to get it finished by then. No pressure!

Friday, June 20, 2008

In the Loop on Radio Wildfire

I was interviewed a few weeks back by Dave Reeves on Birmingham's Radio Wildfire and, as promised, here's a link to the Loop - i.e. edited highlights of their monthly broadcast, playing continuously online - and some further information about the June show, which you can read below.



The Loop has been updated on Radio Wildfire. Now playing 24/7 a completely new mix of poetry, story, spoken word and music.

The longest days of summer are with us, and here at Radio Wildfire we've The Loop to fill the longing of your daze. There's a brand new, never-before-heard, track from Wolverhampton singer-songwriter Chris Rowley; and an absolutely exclusive performance of his poetry from Derrick D, until now better known as a spoken word DJ – something that is guaranteed to start changing: excellent stuff. There's chat with and poetry from Warwick Poet Laureate Jane Holland, one-time professional snooker player and star of baize and screen, recorded here live in our studio. And we've programmed in previews from a reading with musical accompaniment from Julie Boden, privately recorded live on 6 June 2007; and from Richard Rathwell's intriguing cd/booklet combination Ultraeye - both of which we'll be featuring more fully in forthcoming live transmissions. There's more poetry from Brendan Hawthorne, musing on the hair raising topic of Perm Mutation; from Purple Patch's Geoff Stevens; and from the pen of Mardin Ibrahim with accompaniment by Zirak Hamad on Kurdish violin. Other music comes from multim-instrumentalist Manni; and in the shape of a previously unheard ranted squeezebox blues when The Wooden Horse of Dr Troy bellows The Slow Drip of The Blues.

And to bring even more solace to your solstice celebrations we've seasonal drama in the shape of an extract from The Elves Pantomime by Kate Sharp, one of the Crystal Clear Creators collective – 'Seasonal,' we hear you cry, 'But panto season is behind you!' 'Oh no it isn't,' we reply, it's a permanent pantomime here at Radio Wildfire.

Log on and linger where the literature loops – by going to and clicking on The Loop. The Loop will play online continuously for the next month, except during our live broadcast on July 7th 2008, starting at 8.00pm UK time with a full programme of pre-recorded tracks, live studio guests and conversation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Poetry Tent at the Godiva Festival

For those in the area, I'll be reading from my new chapbook, "The Lament of the Wanderer", at a Heaventree Press event on Saturday July 5th, from 7pm – 9pm, in The Poetry Tent, Godiva Festival, Memorial Park, Coventry.

Here's the official line-up for the night:

Acclaimed dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson will perform his work at the West Midlands' biggest free arts festival, alongside Dreadlock Alien, Jane Holland, Kei Miller, Michael McKimm, Mario Petrucci, Scrubberjack and Yusra Warsama.

This event is FREE

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lament of the Wanderer - available now!

The Lament of the Wanderer - my version of the Anglo-Saxon poem with facing text Old English, plus a brief introduction to both the poem and Old English in general - has now been published by Heaventree Press.

The Heaventree website has not yet been updated to include my pamphlet. However, you can still get a copy from them by writing to the address below or emailing/telephoning them direct.

Alternatively, for a signed copy, you can email me at and I'll give you an address so you can send a cheque for £4.00 (£3.50 for the pamphlet, plus 50p towards P&P).

It's only a small pamphlet, hence the excellent price!

I'll be reading from The Lament of the Wanderer on the evening of Saturday July 5th in Coventry, at the War Memorial Gardens, as part of the international Godiva Festival. If you're planning to come along, the poetry part of the event should kick off sometime after 8.30pm. Maybe a little later.

To contact the publisher direct:
The Heaventree Press
Koco Building, The Arches
Spon End, Coventry

Phone No.+44 247 6713555

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lament of the Wanderer

Newsflash: I have a new chapbook out this weekend, to be launched at the Positive Images Festival in Coventry city centre (in the covered area at the Godiva statue, for those in the vicinity).

It's a single poem pamphlet, published by Heaventree Press, containing my new version of The Wanderer with facing page Anglo-Saxon text, plus a short introduction to the poem aimed primarily at those not familiar with either Old English or medieval elegiac poems.

I'll be reading from The Wanderer (both my own version and a short extract from the Old English text) roughly from 1 - 1.30pm on Saturday 14th June. Anyone who can find their way to the Godiva statue, which is quite close to the Cathedral, can listen for free.

I'll also be reading from The Wanderer in a few weeks' time at the international Godiva Festival on July 5th, which takes place at the War Memorial Gardens in Coventry, alongside poets Mario Petrucci and Richard Grant (aka Dreadlockalien), amongst others. Coventry band The Enemy will also be performing at the Festival that weekend, which has impressed my teenage daughter no end ... though she desperately resents my coolness at appearing on the same bill as one of her favourite bands.

Once the chapbook is out, I'll post up the cover image here, plus details of how to buy it online (or from me, if you'd like a signed copy).

Sunday, June 08, 2008

'Leamophants' in Latin

As promised, here's that commissioned "Leamophants" poem elegantly translated into Latin by John King, my friend and Latin teacher these past two years. Just for fun!

Many thanks for this, John. It's marvellous. Though I'd better spare you the Leamington Railway Station poem ...


Barbarico splendore suo longisque tegentes
palpebris oculos saeptae senioribus adsunt
rugosis placie lentas agitantibus aures.
Lascivae lepidam praebent speciem agmine lauto,
civibus ostentant sese mediamque per urbem
iucundae incedunt festo candore nitentem:
quas homines spectant mirati praetereuntes,
haud timidas veluti tandem sine matre puellas
antiqo vel amore aegras Heroidas aevo.
Rure huc advenere, urbano ut sole fruantur,
et vitream opposuit cum forte taberna fenestram,
ipsae se simili mirantur imagine captae.
Serica cuique sua est umbella proboscide curva,
leniter huc illuc quae pulverulenta movetur.

Centum anni fugiunt: illas nunc cernere possis
ante oculos hortis lento agmine procedentes
vespere per mediam frigus sub fluminis undis
corpora mersuras: naso caudaque catenam
inter se nectunt: durum pulsant pede campum
et vasto et tenero - sic stat serrata columna
firma solo. Modo non ingenti mole dianthos
contundunt tagetesque instructos ordine flores.

John King
(Classics Department: Rugby School)

Friday, June 06, 2008

God's Wonderful Railway

"God’s Wonderful Railway
thundering through the Chilterns
from the big smoke
to the cool of the Spa."

You can now read my most recent poem, intriguingly entitled On the Recent Renovations at Leamington Spa Station, 2008, over on my Warwick Poet Laureate blog.

I'm rather getting into these public poems now; they can be good fun if you enter into the spirit of each commission. Find the rest of the above poem, commissioned last month by Chiltern Railways, at my Warwick blog.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Photograph appears courtesy of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, Warwick District Council

As promised last month, here is the poem commissioned in connection with the Warwick Poet Laureateship to commemorate the recent re-siting of the elegant 'Elephant Circle' seat by Nicholas Dimbleby in Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa, which you can see pictured above - with one of my own sons taking an impromptu elephant ride!

Circus Elephants in Royal Leamington Spa
(in memoriam Sam & George Lockhart, elephant trainers)

Exotic, thick-lashed, they arrive
with their entourage
of flap-eared uncles and wrinkled aunts.

Flirtatious, on elegant display,
they sashay
the white length of the Parade

and people stare as they pass,
bold debutantes
overwintering at the Spa.

Like heroines from a Regency romance,
come here to acquire
‘a little town bronze’,

they admire themselves in shop fronts,
twirling Oriental silk parasols
in their dusty trunks.

One hundred years on, you can
almost see them
in the park each dusk, walking

single file in the cold,
taking themselves down to the river
to bathe; daisy-chaining,

trunk-to-tail, their vast
delicate feet
like scallop-edged drums

thumping the concrete,
always just missing the civic pinks
and marigolds.

* 'Leamophants' is an alternative title for this poem, dreamt up by Jon Morley of Heaventree Press fame; didn't take to it at first, but now I rather like it. Thanks, Jon!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Update on POF forum problems

This is a circular re the problems at POF forums, issued by the board hosts:

"An issue at one of the datacenter buildings has knocked the domain name system for InvisionFree and ZetaBoards offline.

Since your ISP remembers domain name information for a few hours at least, this outage will not immediately affect all users.

Please note that even if you can not reach your board, no data has been lost and the server itself is fine. We are working to bring up a backup domain name system for InvisionFree and ZetaBoards as soon as possible."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Trouble at Mill: the POF forum is offline

Due to problems related to the Invision and Zetaboards server, and unfortunately beyond the control of the board admin, the Poets on Fire forums went offline today without any warning.

As the host support forums are also offline, there is absolutely no news at the moment to give board members, either good or bad. All I can do is wait and see what is going on. It could be a temporary glitch, lasting maybe a few days, or it could be a permanent issue related to problems at Invision/Zetaboards. Without either of those sites online, the truth may take some time to emerge. Or the board could be back online within a few hours.

Meanwhile, I suggest members who see this message congregate back at the original home site, which is still extant (a ForumforFree site) at The Poem forum. If you could also pass this message on to others via email or personal blogs, I'd be very grateful.

If you are not a member of The Poem forum, it's easy enough to join and continue the discussions of contemporary poetry there.