Honk If You Write Sestinas

The craze of poetry ‘bumper stickers’ (or similar items displayed in car rear windows) has surely reached its peak. On Friday last, the reverie I normally allow myself during the short car journey to a well-known purveyor of croissants (and much else besides) was spoilt by a cacophony of honking horns as fellow drivers sought... Continue Reading →

Coningsby returns…

In 2015 I published the equivalent of a poetry novella - more than a pamphlet, less than a collection - called Humfrey Coningsby: Poems, Complaints, Explanations and Demands for Satisfaction. I believe it is still available from the publisher (the lovely Valley Press) and the more thoughtful bookmongers. By chance, the poet and writer Jeremy... Continue Reading →

The Privileging of Print

When I first came across the phrase, 'the privileging of print' I misread it and thought it was the 'privilege of print'. Yes, I thought, it is a privilege for anyone to have the earth's scarce resources used to make (semi-)permanent their words or other two dimensional signs. Those who are the recipients of such... Continue Reading →

Listening, again

I know of no better book to calm the shattered nerves of the contemporary poet than How To Be A Poet (Nine Arches Press, 2017), edited and largely written by my friends Jo Bell and Jane Commane. It covers a great deal of ground, from how to read (widely and with hope) to the fine... Continue Reading →

Old Iron

As the many thousands of you who I claim as my 'closest and dearest friends' will know, I am a keen functional and recreational cyclist. In a secret location not far from my back door I have two bicycles which are what we call 'fit for purpose'. Swinging open the door to my high-security storage... Continue Reading →

The Poetry-Industrial Complex

I like looking at bricks and eating apples. I also enjoy considering the political economy of poetry. Like apples, poetry just happens, but like bricks, its form and use have been industrialised over thousands of years. And come to think of it, apples have come a long way from the fruit forest of Tian Shan... Continue Reading →

Sorting out my angle…

Image: Brian Robert Marshall ...the worst national shortage of papyrus in the history of small-press publishing... My book, A Commonplace - Apples, Bricks and Other People's Poems (Smith|Doorstop, 2020) was published today, although you'll not be seeing it immediately as all the physical copies have been impounded by the authorities and are languishing on pallets... Continue Reading →

Universal Place-Makers: Mick North & Catherine Byron

These reviews first appeared in The North (No. 63, Winter 2019), a subscription to which is recommended. Observant readers will note that the books reviewed below were originally published several decades ago. Do not be afraid, for these are books that have 'come through'. And although they are currently (inexplicably) unavailable, the hunt for second-hand... Continue Reading →

Putting the kettle on…

What should we tell people about our poems? Faced with a poetry reading the poet typically settles for a bit of 'intel', a gag or two if they are that way inclined, and the usual abject apology. This much is expected and it works well enough. The poet slips the knife into the poetic bivalve... Continue Reading →

Linking Arms

I have been thinking about how poetry is presented, and in particular how books are composed and assembled. I have a new collection coming out (A Commonplace, Smith|Doorstop, August 2020), and I've spent the last two years putting it together. But I've done things differently this time. One of the major changes from previous books... Continue Reading →

Hearing Voices

I don’t usually ask friends and neighbours – and even my daughter – to make audio recordings of my poems, but I was sick of the sound of my own voice. I thought it would be fun to hear what other people made of my work and I would at least have proof that someone... Continue Reading →

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