Closed on account of technical issues

Wifi is amazing isn’t it. It’s almost a necessity now, and the sort of thing you see perched atop a Maslow diagram of needs.

So you can imagine my joy the last few days when our wifi has been very much like the first 20-30 seconds of this clip

God bless Oddball

The lack of t’interweb has made it very tricky to work the day job given I rely on it to get stuff done. I’m typing this and hoping the connection between my phone and laptop lasts/holds until I finish this.

Now, get out and enjoy the last of the sun…there’s nothing to be gained reading this post -apart from wanting to go and watch ‘Kelly’s Heroes’.

You can find out more about Kelly’s Heroes here in this very interesting podcast

Normal service resume next week, I hope, once we’ve finished shouting at our ISP…Then I can mention Poetry Scotland and photos for other places


First hangover of 2021. It was a doozy.
2 x Planters built
45k running – Inc 1 Half marathons
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
1 x rejections: Got the answer I was expecting from Spectator
0 x acceptance
2 poems worked on: Adrasan Bay and Gentrification
0 new Submissions: Finished Creatures, Raceme, Spectator and Poetry Ireland
29 poems currently out for submission. Last week saw a few more rejections
63 Published poems*:
43 Poems* finished by unpublished
27 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 Review* written and submitted. 3 to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 5 weeks without cigarettes…Last week not great
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Disposable Thumbs
Lateral Flow


Will Harris: Rendang

Swell: Too Many Days Without Thinking
Whispertown 2000: Swim
The Wonder Stuff: Never Loved Elvis
Wooden Shjips: Back To land, Dos
William Tyler:Behold The Spirit, Deseret Canyon, Impossible Truth, Goes West, Modern Country, Music From First Cow, Parallelogram
Chantal Acda: Saturday Moon
Joe Strummer: Earthquake Weather
Waxahatchee: Saint CloudThe Carpenters: Voice of the Heart, Ticket To Ride, A Song For You
My Bloody Valentine: m b v, Isn’t Anything
My Morning Jacket: Live Red Rocks 14/08/15, The Waterfall II, Z
Ryley Walker: Course In Fable

Line of Duty S1 E2
Unforgotten S4E6
Walking Dead S11 E17-18(???)
The Flight Attendant: E6-8
Arsenal V Liverpool – Wish I hadn’t bothered

Zooms, etc

The Archers
Foxhole Companion S2 E1-3
Grandbag’s Funeral latest ep


A jumper
Poetry Scotland(inc my poem)
Richie McCaffery’s ‘Coping Stones’
3D Connect 4

A jumper

Horse Milk

It’s not often I find myself thinking about milking horses, but there have been at least three occasions that I can remember. (Let me know if it crosses your mind more frequently, but know this —it isn’t a competition).

The first was about ten years ago when I remembered an incident from when I was a nipper. My mum helped some friends of ours with a foal that was born on their land. Pleas note that they had horses, it’s not the kind of place where horses just roam about dropping off baby horses for a laugh. Regardless of this, it set me off on the path to write a poem about it.

I did, and there have been many, many drafts since then…and name changes…and submissions to magazines…and rejections and redrafts and resubmissions, etc.

The next time was when I got an acceptance email a couple of weeks ago (March 11th) from the revived Poetry Scotland to say they were taking the poem. I was lucky enough to have been in the last issue of PS under the control of Sally Evans, and I’m very happy to say I’m in the first issue back under the auspices of Judy Taylor & Andy Jackson. I was (and still am) very honoured to be in there, and that this poem has found a home.

I knew it was meant to be when I saw this post on the wonderful Daytime Pics Twitter account a few days after the email came through from Andy.

Posted March 16th

No, this hasn’t been an excuse to post that picture.

Yes, I am pleased I have.


300 quid vets bill for Wilbur.
56k running – Inc 2 Half marathons in a row…Ouch
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
1 x rejections: Got the answer I was expecting from Dark Horse
0 x acceptance
3 poem sworked on: Adrasan Bay, Bullshit Bingo and Gentrification
4 new Submissions: Finished Creatures, Raceme, Spectator and Poetry Ireland
32 poems currently out for submission. Last week saw a few more rejections
63 Published poems*:
42 Poems* finished by unpublished
28 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 Review* written and submitted. 3 to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 5 weeks without cigarettes…Last week not great
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Zombie Statistics


Will Harris: Rendang

Led Bib: Sizewell Tea
Ryley Walker: Hypnotic Pulse of the Reindeer Range (with Bill MacKay), Course In Fable, Land of Plenty (with Bill MacKay)
Charles Rumback: June Holiday
Pearls Before Swine: City of Gold, The Use of Ashes
Mary Lattimore: At the Dam, Collected Pieces, Hundreds of Days, Hundred Days of Remixes, Luciferen Light, New Rain Duets, Returned To Earth, Silver Ladders, Terelan Canyon, The Withdrawing Room
Bas Jan – Instant Nostalgia
Lift To Experience: The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads
Kathryn Williams: Hypoxia, Over Fly Over, The Quickening, Two
Khruangbin: Hasta el Cielo
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Eyes Like The Sky
Levitation: Need for Not
Roger Rodier: Upon Velveatur
Mono: For My Parents, Holy GroundAmbulance Ltd: ST
The Las: ST
Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Landing On Water, Ragged Glory
Faye Webster: Atlanta Millionaires Club
Pharoah Sanders & Floating Points & LSO: Promises
The Kabeedies: Soap, Rumpus
Kevin Morby: Sundowner
Land Observations: The Grand Tour, Roman Roads EP, Roman Roads IV – X1
The Like: Release Me
The Afghan Whigs: In Spades
The National:Alligator
Pearl Jam: Gigaton

TV/Film (2 weeks worth)
Unforgotten S5 E5
Line of Duty S6 E1
Teachers S1 E1-2
Malcom In The Middle ( Various)

Zooms, etc
Poetry Wales writing group

The Archers
Foxhole Companion S1 E3-5


Will Harris: Rendang
A shirt
Poetry Ireland

A Shirt
Poetry Ireland
3 x Graham Mort books from Seren

(Almost) Beaten By The Path

I may have got a bit drunk last Sunday after Arsenal’s victory against the Spuds. I had my own spud-based victory too in the sense that I managed to finsh a roast whilst slightly drunk. All of this is meant to excuse the lack of post last week…to myself, I’ve not finished reading all of the letters of complaint I received.

Anyhoo, in keeping with the running/poetry crossovers, I went too far last weekend (boozing aside) when I ran 30k on Saturday. This was (and still is at the time of typing) my longest run ever, and it nearly broke me…I didn’t really run again until yesterday (eg a week) and that’s unheard of for me. Even yesterday and today were way shorter while I recover and get some oomph back.

My previous few posts have been a bit long too, and while they’re hardly massive essays (or particularly coherent), I am a touch bereft of things to say. Every time I turn on the news or catch it via eg Twitter I find myself unable to process what’s happening. I mean, I have viewpoints, but I tend to find blog posts aren’t the best place for those discussions. I look back at my notes of late and just think what’s the point?

So, for now and until anything approaching something that isn’t self-promotion or the usual gibberish, a randomly selected poem will have to suffice.

I grabbed Fleur Adcock’s ‘Poems 1960-2000’ from my shelves, had a flick and stumbled on this. It seems apt as we are all not long back from a family walk today. I like what I take to be the sentiment of the poem. I hope you like what you take from it.

Fleur Adcock, From Poems 1960-2000, Bloodaxe


26k running – Not great, no energy or motivation midweek, but lesssons have been learned
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
1 x rejections: Got the answer I was expecting from Dark Horse
1 x acceptance for Feb 22. Eek.
1 poem worked on: Adrasan Bay,
0 new Submissions:
14 poems currently out for submission. Last week saw a few more rejections
63 Published poems*:
42 Poems* finished by unpublished
28 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
1 Review* written and submitted. 1 still to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 5 weeks without cigarettes…Last week not great
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Shorn of bees


Rialto 95
Martha Sprackland: Citadel

Music (2 weeks worth)
Arab Strap: As Days Get Dark
Electric Prendergrass: The slow cancellation of the future
Tindersticks: ST 1st Album
Turin Brakes: Invisible Storm, JackInABox, Lost Property, Outbursts
Dorothy Ashby – The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby, Harping On A Tune, Afro-Harping
Michael Nyman: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover OST
William The Conqueror: Maverick Thinker
Don Cherry: Eternal Now, Brown Rice, Organic Music Society, Symphony for Improvisers
Caribou: Suddenly, Swim
Caspian: Live At South Church, On Circles, Castles High, Dust & Disquiet, The Four Trees, Hymn For The Greatest Generation, Live At Larcom, Tertia, Waking Season, You Are the Conductor
Obay Asharani: Sandbox
Mogwai: Atomic
Sunburned Hand of the Man: Pick a Day to Die
Allie Crow Buckley: Moonlit and DeviousBardo Pond: Peace on Venus
Claire Rousay: A Heavenly Touch
Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison
Grouplove: This Is This
Blood Everywhere: Watersports
Mogwai: As The Love Beginners
Billy Jones & The Stars: Love Is Gonna Rain On You
Sleater-Kinney: The Woods, The Centre Won’t Hold, Dig Me Out, No Cities To Love
The Cure: Disintergration
The Anchoress: The Art of Losing
Chad & Jeremy: Of Cabbages and Kings
Mono: Beyond The Past
Four Set: Randoms, Pink
William Doyle: Great Spans of Muddy Time
Hania Rani: Esja
Christian Lee Hutson: xxx
Cristine 23 Onna: Acid Eater, Shiny Crystal Planet
Craig Finn: I Need A New War, Plattsburgh
Fleet Foxes:Shore
The Telescopes: Splashdown
Peter Duchin: Comin’ Home Baby
The National: Alligator, High Violet

TV/Film (2 weeks worth)
The Terrors E4-109
Arsenal Vs Spurs (2-1, yeah!!)
City Heat
Catch 22
New Girl S2E1-9
Kelly’s Heroes
Unforgotten S4 E3Taskmaster S10, E1

Zooms, etc
Three Hounds Poetry Evening
Grandbag’s Funeral recording

The Archers

Orbis 195Running water bottles
Andrew Waterman: Collected Poems
Khairani Barokka: Ultimate Orangutan
Apple Lightning to Earphone Jack
Patrick Cotter: Sonic White Poise

Running water bottles
Andrew Waterman: Collected Poems
Apple Lightning to Earphone Jack

Lemon Coincidences

It’s well-documented* how much I love a coincidence (especially when I’m sitting down to write these things and have no idea what will come out, eg like now). Well, how about this.

Yesterday morning, our postie brought me a copy of Carcanet’s New Poetries VIII and Conor Cleary’s Emma Press pamphlet, ‘Priced Out**’. I bought them both (the postie wasn’t doing it out of the kindness of their heart, although he does seem like a lovely bloke) after watching the launch for the NP VIII a week or so ago. The launch featured Conor, Padraig Ryan, Victoria Kennefick and many other amazing readers. I will be seeking out collections by them all (I already have Victoria’s pamphlet and collection, and Jennifer Edgecombe’s pamphlet) but bought Conor’s to start the process.

Yesterday afternoon, I attended a writing group run by the lovely Helena Nelson, the theme of which was Tricks of the Trade. As the invite blurb says, these sessions “involve reading (poems), talking about poems and their ‘tricks’, and quite a lot of writing”. One of the poems we unpicked/looked at/explored was Michael Laskey’s ‘Living With Lemons’. It’s a wonderful poem that I urge you to dig out. I would put it here, but I only have his ‘The Man Alone: New & Selected Poems‘ and sod’s law it was neither one of the new or selected poems. It is, however, in his book, ‘Weighing The Present‘ which I have just ordered.

In further coincidence news, I’ve just spent 15 minutes scanning my bookshelves*** to check the Laskey book. Yesterday, I had a conversation with Flo about organising my books. She favours an alphabetical arrangement —she’s young, forgive her. I have them by author, and then a vague thematic grouping of authors, eg Liverpool Poets together, etc (and then a free for all after that). My argument to her was that I knew where people were to be found and it would take me less than five minutes at any given time to find a book. Thankfully, she doesn’t read this nonsense (neither should you really, but thank you)

As part of the session, and in response to Laskey’s poem we wrote our own about a fruit we had “brought along”. I had an apple with me and so wrote about that. We also wrote poems in response to poems by Jericho Brown and Heather Trickey. I think there might just be some mileage in the apple poem, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope for the other two. However, the actual act of any new creation that wasn’t there before yesterday is amazing. I think I noted last week I’ve not really written anything brand new in months, despite being busyish on drafts, so it felt good to unhinge my brain and create something. Anything…

That was yesterday, what about today?

Funny you should ask, earlier today, I read something by Armando Iannucci on Twitter that mentioned the film ‘In A Loop’ is on telly later tonight. I love that film (and The Thick of It. In fact TTOI is my go-to watch when I’m not sure what else to put on). It features the wonderful line “It will be difficult, difficult, lemon difficult”.

Then, when I checked my emails I saw a message from Poetry Daily by Padraig Regan (Now you’re getting it!!) called…wait for it…Aubade with Half a Lemon on the Summer Solstice. Not only do I recommend subscribing to poetry daily, but I also recommend reading Padraig’s poem here. Their work is delicious and strange and I love it. Their pamphlets are next on my purchasing list. I won’t quote any of ‘Aubade…’ here as I’ll end up quoting the whole thing. Go, go look and then tell me it’s not brilliant.

Here endeth the lemon coincidences (#Greatsecondalbum****).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Below the fold…
*I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before
** Arguably the cover of this looks like lemons
*** I also put a load of washing out, made my wife a cup of tea and started preparing our dinner—which included squeezing the juice of half a—yep, you guessed it—lemon into a roasting tray. It’s Baked Portabello Mushrooms In White Wine and vegetables from ‘Green Kitchen at Home‘ by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. ***Middle Class cookbook alert***
**** I did once manage a band called Mad Apple (Oh, hang on…) and we played a gig with a two-piece band called The Psychedelic Lemon Blouses.

Header image by Nanxi wei on Unsplash


60.6k running – It was a step-it-up week, and I did. Feels good. Tomorrow might be different
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
0 x rejections: I have chased a couple though, so I suspect they are incoming
1 x acceptance (subject to edits)
5 poem worked on: Lock In, Adrasan Bay, Apple Poem, the other two mentioned above, but they don’t have names yet (if ever)
0 poems finished:
0 new Submissions: Only have 2 poems to send out, so need to wait
37 poems currently out for submission
60 Published poems*:
43 Poems* finished by unpublished
33 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
1 Review* written and submitted. 1 still to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 4 weeks without cigarettes…
1 conversation via Twitter DMs with a Hollywood actor. More anon.
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Parsnip Mandelstam


Rosalind Easton: Black Mascara (Waterproof)
Matthew Francis: Mandeville
Naush Sabah: Heredity/Astynome

Bryce Dessner: The Kitchen (OST)
Stereolab: Electrically Possessed (Switched On Vol4)
Barry White: Can’t Get Enough
Julien Baker: Little Oblivions, Sprained Ankle, Tokyo, Turn Out The Lights
Pillow Queens: In Waiting
David Gray: Lost Songs, Flesh, Gold In A Brass Age, White Ladder
Mr &B Mrs Garvey: ST
Luscious Jackson: Fever In Fever Out
The Pipettes: ST
PJ Harvey: All About Eve OST, Is This Desire? To Bring You My Love, Uh Huh Her, White Chalk, Dry, Let England Shake, Rid of Me, Stories from the City…
Poppy Ackroyd: Resolve
Portastatic: Be Still Please
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy: Best Troubador
The Boo Radleys: C’Mon Kids, Everything’s Alright Forever, Find The Way Out, Giant Steps, Various singles and b’sides
Bowerbirds: Hymns for a Dark Horse, Upper Air
Buffalo Tom: Big Red Letter Day, Let Me Come Over
Pearl Charles: Magic Mirror
Jane Weaver: Flock
Fruit Bats: The Pet Parade
The Hold Steady: Live London 2019
Taylor Swift: Lover
Greg Dulli: Random Desire
Cassandra Jenkins: Play Till You Win, A Overview on Phenomenal Nature
REM: Collapse Into Now
Beth Orton: Sugaring Season
The National: High Violet

Malcolm In The Middle
The Terrors E1-4

Zooms, etc
Happenstance: Tricks of the Trade

The Archers
Foxhole Companion E3
The Verb- Textiles edition

Ink cartridge converters. Cult Pens are amazing.
Replacement nib for my Norfolk Handmade Pens pen. Buy one. They are ace. And no, you don’t need six fingers to hold them
The Rialto 95
Bath sealant tool. Remover and applier
Conor Cleary: Priced Out
Wendy Pratt: When I Think of my Body as a Horse
Various: Carcanet: New Poetries VIII

Ink cartridge converters
Tickets to see Laura Veirs in October…
2 x Michael Laskey books (see this blog does cost me money)
Bunion Protectors

Any excuse for a National song. Could easily have been The Chemical Brothers’ Morning Lemon. Would never have been U2.
Beth Orton’s version of The Poison Tree – It was another poem we looked at in the workshop yesterday
Couldn’t resist. Not exactly a big or well known one of theirs, but it is ace

I Can, I can’t…

I may have mentioned running before. I have a playlist for this. It can be found here because I can’t work out how to embed Apple Music playlists. It’s an ongoing labour of love (the playlist, but the running too). It contains songs that I love and have meaning for me. It’s called Dropsonde (another word learned via a Post Rock band, this time it was Caspian) because that was going to be the name of my book. It’s the playlist that I put on when I want to not have to think about what to listen to and it’s the one that will be used as the one that I use to promote my book (You have to have a book playlist these days, no? Surely it’s de rigeur).

Still feels weird to be thinking about having a book. 2023 is still a while off. NB this year is the year to start getting ducks in a row for it—the poems I thought would be it have changed already, but nothing is set in stone yet. However, that’s an entirely separate post, etc, so we’ll park that for the moment.

I mention this playlist because a song from it came up during my run on Tuesday morning that got me thinking.

The song is called Made Up Love Song #43 by The Guillemots. You can hear it below.

It’s a lovely pop song that I think should be more widely known, but there are plenty of those around. A couple of things struck me as I was hyperventilating my way up a hill towards Crystal Palace when I heard the lyric “there’s poetry in an empty coke can”.

Firstly, I haven’t really written a new poem for a while (not worried about that, there are notes and drafts aplenty), but the other thing was how might I respond to what is essentially a creative prompt from the singer, Fyfe Dangerfield. I know folks have mixed feelings about prompts, and I do too. I am generally ok with them, but not when they are your sole source of inspiration.

However, I got to thinking about how I might respond to the prompt. I’ve not gone anywhere near writing it yet, but here are the thoughts I have for exploring it…perhaps these even count as my own prompts…

How did the can get there? Was it thrown away, left there by someone? Is it in a bin? Has it fallen from a lorry on a way to a recycling plant? Is it still awaiting recycling because its owner is next to it?

Who is the owner? Is it someone on a picnic, are they alone or part of a group? A runner (them again) gasping on a hot day?

Where is it? On that picnic? Outside a pub, inside a pub (Oh god, I’d love to be doing that right now), left after a dad took his kids to the pub on his day with them.

Is it in the street being kicked about by kids, or grown-ups, is it being blown about by the wind?

Who is near it? Is there a wasp hovering around the ring pull?

Is it cold or warm?

Is there any liquid left in the can at all? 

Is this just an excuse to post this song because it mentions poetry?

Who knows?



55k running – It was meant to be a down week this week, but a couple of longer ones this weekend have kept the momentum up
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
100 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it. We finished it on Wednesday.
0 x rejections:
1 x acceptance (subject to edits)
1 poem worked on: Lock in
0 poems finished:
1 new Submissions: Brotherton Poetry Prize
37 poems currently out for submission
59 Published poems*:
44 Poems* finished by unpublished
30 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
1 Review* written and submitted. 1 still to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 3 weeks without cigarettes..
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Wild Leaps
The Spend of a speeding bullet
Marquis De Sadface
Cheery Tree
Calm Goose Chase.


Arun Jeetoo: I want to be the one that you think of at night
Lawrence Sail: Guises
Matthew Francis: Mandeville

The Waterboys: Room To Roa
Robin Foster: Penisular II
The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy
Roberta Flack: First Take
Neil Young: Mirrorball
Sun June: Years
Kikagaku Moyo: Stone Garden
Daughter of Swords: Dawnbreaker
Smashing Pumpkins: Cyr
The Kandinsky Effect: ST
Elvis Costello: Hey Clockface
Hope of the States: The Lost Riots
Camping: Dancing Days
The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy
The Waterboys: Dream Harder
Sad Eagle: Haircut Vol1 Mix
Alessi’s Ark: Love Is The Currency, The Still Life, Time Travel
Mogwai: As The Love Continues
The National: Cherry Tree, The National, Alligator, Black Sessions
A Winged Victory For The Sullen: Atomos VII
Bryce Dessner – Tenebre: Ensemble Resonanz
Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
The Wedding Present: Locked Down And Stripped Back
Richard & Linda Thompson: Pour Down Like Silver

Devils S1

Zooms, etc
Carcanet Launch 1 for New Poetries VIII

The Archers
Ari Poetry Pickle Ep1
Foxhole Companion E1 &2

Lint Brush
Florence Welch Book for Flo
Kate Fox: The Oscillations
Rebecca Farmer: Not Really

New Poetries VIII Carcanet
Conor Cleary: Priced Out – The Emma Press

Post-Rock Shipping Containers

First the big news. Stand back, this is momentous stuff…

Yes, I’ve just brought in the first washing dried on the line since about October last year (I will have to check my diary to be sure), but either way, IKR (as I think the kids say). (**Shout from the wings by an ecologically-minded First Drowned from Under Milk Wood**, “Washing on the line?” In February? Well yeah, but global warming has to have some benefits, surely? NB I don’t think there are benefits to global warming. I will also take suggestions of poems about washing lines, etc)

Marginally less significant is the news that the outright monotony of the week(s) was broken, er, this week by an actual reading in front of…well, in front of my laptop, but sort of people too via Zoom. NB Robin Houghton’s helpful post here came into my inbox about two hours before and was spot on.

The reading was organised via my local fancy booze emporium, The Three Hounds. I’m hoping you can see it below (I’m not convinced it will work, but let’s all cross our fingers).

I’m up after our compere with the most hair, Jack Emsden. NB How awesome is it that someone who works in one of my favourite shops is a poet.

Also reading were Charlotte Knight, Thomas McColl, Francisca Matos, Ellen Maslin, Kate Wilson, Adam Hart (my old mucker from Beck Beat Beckenham), and a young lad called Dylan. Sorry Dylan, can’t find you online. It was a great evening, everyone read excellently and excellent poems and, as I say, I hope you can watch it below, but the link is also here in case

What’s that? Tell us about shipping containers you say…? Well, OK!

I’ve long been fascinated by shipping containers…no, come back…I thought it started when I heard this podcast

Or was it when I watched/listened to a documentary on the BBC about it (I can’t remember now/can’t find the doc to share) around 10 years ago? Either way, it did eventually dawn on me that my interest goes back even further. back to when I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper.

Behind the village hall in the place where I grew up (Worstead, and I’ve realised I posted about this years ago, so you’ll be able to see how things have changed ) was an old shipping container. We used to climb all over it as kids. The brave ones would jump-off, the scaredy-cats (eg me) would hang down and try to sort of make ourselves into slinkys to get as close to the ground as we could before we let go.

As the previous post will attest, I’ve been trying to turn this into a poem for a few years now. The poem has been through at least 18 rewrites over the years since I started typing these things up. I suspect there are more versions in an old notebook, but basically, the poem has been hanging about for several years. Among many structural changes, the thing that stands out the most for me is that I’ve taken out the word ‘Ataraxia’. I first heard it as a title for a song by a band called Pelican and really liked it. That must have made me determined to force it into a poem.

(As an aside, I learned about Zombie Batteries today, so absolutely keep a look out for a poem about them in 2029-ish)

I must have discovered Pelican about the same time as I started this poem. The word means “calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet” and for a long time it made total sense to keep it in, but the more I’ve looked at it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not a word that someone that age would know or use. And while the poem is written from the point of someone looking back, it is in my mind a five quid word in a poem that requires one quid words. Actually, what is the acceptable version of a five quid/dollar word?

(NB IMHO, this is a far better Pelican song)

Anyhoo, a couple of things have happened this week that has resulted in me giving up on trying to find a home for it in magazines.

1. It came back from yet another submission (My notes say 13 separate mags) and a newer poem was accepted (subject to agreeing on some edits). That sort of suggests to me that it’s time to focus on newer work, and not yet another round of revisions to a poem that I already think is strong. Also, I note that like an idiot I sent the wrong version out recently.

2. We finished watching ZeroZeroZero, an international show about the impact of drug smuggling, and a key feature of the show is a shipping container of said drugs. ZeroZeroZero is a joint production, one of which is Cattleya (who are part of the ITV Studios family, don’t ya know) and the soundtrack is by Mogwai.

(I’ve just realised that between this and the Pelican references this is becoming a post-rock shipping container post (and now I have a title for this, er, post)

And Mogwai has put out their latest album this week, called ‘As The Love Grows‘, and I very much like it.

With those sorts of “coincidences” in mind, I can’t not post the poem here. Ideally, I’d like to find a better home for it but the nature of submissions being what they are I think I’ve exhausted where I can submit it to. I think it is/was different enough from the 2013 version on here to warrant submissions since then, but the universe is telling me to call it a day.

I had also hoped to be promoting this poem around the time that the Utah Monolith was in the news, but oh well…

Shipping Container V18

We asked, but no-one could explain quite how
you wound up here, landed for good this time
with those land-lubbers on the Village Hall’s
leeward side like some monochrome monolith.

Were you sent here to change our dull worlds
or kill us all? Either way, we soon taught
ourselves how to shinny onto your roof,
hauling up bags of books and pilfered food,
to lounge in pure sunshine. We found we could
take some joy from the climb, in aching biceps
and in who is brave enough to jump down
and roll like paratroopers in training.

(I chose to cling on by my fingertips,
to drop the last three feet like a plumb line.)

We’d uncoil our Sargent jumps, tapping your top
as you became our iceberg, Sherman tank,
or high-rise block. Your walls were stormed,
but stayed unopened by broken bricks or pot-shots
from our BB guns. David lost an eye
in the ricochet, though I can barely
recall how he came to be standing there.
You were hauled away for scrap soon after.
I should find out where he is now.

Credit to Andres Canavesi for the header photo via Unsplash


56.6k running – The training has begun properly. I may have slightly overdone it versus the plan this weekend, but aching legs aside it feels good.
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
94 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it.
1 x rejections: TLS
1 x acceptance (subject to edits)
2 poem worked on: Berlin, Lock in
1 poems finished: Berlin (now called Present)
1 new Submissions: One Hand Clapping, but have some to go out after the rejection earlier in the week
37 poems currently out for submission
58 Published poems*:
45 Poems* finished by unpublished
30 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
1 Reviews* written and submitted. 2 still to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 2 weeks without cigarettes..
1 new cooker installed to replace the one that blew up at the start of the week
1 emergency call to the gas board as the engineer had left it leaking. FFS
1/2 a packet of ginger nuts eaten while writing this
1 trip to assist with measuring some our garden while writing this
1 load of washing hung out and
1 load in the washing machine while writing this
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Erroneous Monk


Poetry London 98
Robert Frost: Collected Poems
Lawrence Sail: Guises
Yeung Rachel Ka Yin: Cheyngu Chinoiserie

Songs: Ohia – Protection Spells
God Is An Astronaut: Epitaphs
The Smubbs: This is the End of the Night
Deer Tick: War Elephant
Shannon Lay : August
Gemma Hayes: Night on my Side
The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy & The Lash
The Gutter Twins: Adorata, Saturnalia
Guy Chadwick: lazy, Soft & Slow
Gwen McCrae: Rockin’ Chair
Hayley Banar: Golder, Impossible Dream, Last War
Ham Sandwich: Carry The Meek
Hamilton Leithhauser & Rostam: I Had A Dream You Were Mine
The Fall: The Unutterable
Fionn Regan: Cala, The End of History
Bob Mould: Black Sheets Of Rain
Bruce Springsteen: Born In The USA, Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge of Town, Dust & Devils, The Ghost of Tom Joad
Mogwai: ZeroZeroZero OST, As The Love Continues
Cassandra Jenkins: An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy
My Morning Jacket: At Dawn
The Waterboys: A Pagan Place
Margo Timmins – The Ty Tyrfu Sessions
Bob Mould: District Line
Pharaoh Sanders: Love Will Find A Way
Tindersticks: Distractions
Toshiko Akiyoshi: Early Numbers

ZeroZeroZero 4-8
Mischief Movie Night: Love Behind Bars
Fear The Walking Dead S5E14-18 (Brutal bout of insomnia earlier in the week)
Karate Kid

Zooms, etc
Three Hounds Poetry Evening

The Archers

Sam Gardiner: The Night Ships (Finally, see previous posts)
Victoria Kennefick: Eat or We All Starve

New cooker.
A tool for removing old sealant
Draft excluding tape
Rebecca Parker pamphlet
A pair of trousers
Ink and Cartridges

My friend Keg’s band, The Container Drivers sort of doing a song about monoliths
(BONUS TRACK FOR POST ROCK WEEK) Mono and Where We Begin…cos, y’ know Mono (lithe) and a poem bout where I grew up…
Bonus Bonus Non-Post Rock song because I said look out earlier

Bang To Rights

I’ve been very remiss since the start of the year with my daily writing habit. I was going great guns prior to January, spending at least 45 minutes every morning before work drafting and redrafting, but a combination of ‘Run Every Day In January’—have a guess what you’re meant to do—and a really busy/stressful start to the year with the day job has meant that I’ve rarely managed it. There have been a few snatched moments, 15 minutes here or there, etc, but I’m hoping to spend more time on it from now on as things calm down a little and my running plans get a little more spaced out.

However, what I have been keeping up is my reading at the end of the day, even if it’s just for ten minutes before my wife nags me to switch off the lights. I started out trying to read things in the order they arrive in the house, but between taking on more review work* and the arrival of mags and journals means that I easily get out of sync – apologies to those that were close to the top of the TBR pile, but have watched cheeky upstarts come in and jump the queue. I promise it will be worth the wait when you move from horizontal on the bedside table (oi, get your mind out of the gutter) to vertical on the bookshelves in our living room.

That’s nice, Mat, but what is the point of this?

Well, there isn’t really any, but let’s ignore that and move on.

All cups of tea are generally amazing, but I’m thinking at the moment one of those cups you have when you have to say aloud “Ooh, that’s a good cup of tea”. The kind that usually only happen either at the start of the day or outside on a cold day, the kind that goes down in three to four boiling hot mouthfuls, but somehow doesn’t cause you third-degree burns of the gullet. You know the type.

This week my pre-bedtime reading has mainly been the latest copy of The North, #65.

The North #65: The New Normal issue

The North is usually a great read and remains high on my list of magazines I’d love to be featured in. NB I have poems out for reading at The North at present, but I’m not writing this as an attempt to blow smoke up any arses, I am writing this because I am half-tempted to burn this copy. Not because it’s bad, quite the opposite. This issue is one of those cups of tea. I’ve come away from it with a long list of poets to investigate further—I suspect this means some of the folks who had found themselves close to the top of the TBR pile may find themselves nudged back down again.

I’ve turned over so many pages to come back to, to look up poets, etc that I probably should have just folded the mag in half when I’d finished. See evidence below.

My first job in media research was for a company called Newsquest Media Sales, which represented 300+ local newspaper titles. I fondly remember my first interview as it was over the phone during my lunch break from Bertrams Books. I was in my local pub with a pint of Guinness in one hand and a Marlboro Red in the other…happy days, but I digress…

Once I had the job one of the first things I learned about was the premium that advertisers would pay for right-hand pages, especially the early ones in the paper. There’s plenty of research around this, I won’t link to it here, but I suspect you can find it on the Newspaper Society website…Update: Hang on, they’ve changed their name since I last looked. It’s The News Media Association

The early right-hand page premium is, I would imagine, the print equivalent of the first in break premium advertisers pay for TV ads. I mention all of this because, even with the high volume of things to enjoy in this latest issue, the thing that has stayed with me the most is that the majority of the poems I enjoyed were almost all been on the right-hand side of the mag. This was true even when a poet had two pages (a double-page spread).

I can’t really single out any one particular poet because there are so many. It wouldn’t be fair at all. I will say that I am very pleased that I received a copy of Rosalind Easton‘s ‘Black Mascara (Waterproof)’ in the post on Thursday as a review copy from Sphinx. Wendy Pratt’s poems also prompted me to order her previous collection – I’m waiting for her new one to become available so I can order a signed copy directly via her website.

Edmund Prestwich‘s review of John Glenday‘s ‘Selected Poems’ was enough to kick me up the arse to pull the trigger on a purchase I’ve been meaning to make, especially since someone had mentioned his poem about Radium Girls.… and Matthew Paul’s** review of Robert Hamberger’s ‘Blue Wallpaper’ has got me ready to order that. It’s worth noting that there are many more I want to get as a result of the reviews in this issue and that is why I should just burn the mag. My bank manager will thank me.

As I say, I can’t and won’t single anyone poet out as they are all amazing, but a cursory flick back through the magazine sees me landing on this poem by Alison Binney. Given me wanging on about tea earlier it seems right to include it here.

This is also spooky/fortuitous as I spent a long time yesterday attempting to get cat hair out of our hallway carpet.

Ain’t it funny the little things you notice?

* Note to self – Get on with it, Riches, you have three reviews outstanding
** His poems in there are also excellent too


41.7k running – The training has begun properly. Enjoyed running in the snow earlier in the week.
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
87 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it.
1 x rejections: TLS
0 x acceptances
1 poem worked on: Berlin
0 poems finished:
0 new Submissions: None, but have some to go out after the rejection earlier in the week
37 poems currently out for submission
58 Published poems*:
44 Poems* finished by unpublished
31 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 Reviews* written. 3 still to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 1 week without cigarettes…Minor cracks this week, enough to count, but we move on.
1 failed attempt to replace our shower
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Ooh, you are Orpheus, but I like you


North #65
Robert Frost: Collected Poems
Arun Jeetoo: I Want To Be The One You Think About At Night.
Poetry London #98

The Weather Station: Ignorance
The Staves: Good Woman
Kikagaku Moyo: ST
Josh Rouse: Bedroom Classics Vol 1 & 2, Country Mouse, City House, Dressed Up Like Nebraska, El Tourista, The Embers of Time, The Happiness Waltz, Home, Nashville, She’s Spanish, I’m American, The Smooth Sounds of Josh Rouse, Smooth…Rarities, Subtitle, Under Cold Blue Stars, 1972
Ride: Nowhere
The Ibrahim Kahlil Shihab Quintet: Spring
Pearl Jam: Yield
Olafur Arnalds: some kind of peace
Kitchens of Distinction: Cowboys & Aliens
Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream, Pisces IscariotAmerican Music Club: The Golden Age, Mercury
Anna Burch: If You’re Dreaming
Apples In Stereo – the song Seven Stars on repeat (19 times)
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Impulse
Atoms For Peace: Amok
Kathleen Edwards: Asking For Flowers, Back To Me, Total Freedom
Apple’s Weekly For Me Playlist
Tanya Donnelly: Lovesongs For Underdogs
The dB’s: Falling Off The Sky
Robin Foster: Empyrean

ZeroZeroZero 1-3
New Girl S3 E1
Derry Girls S2
Superstore S1E1-3

Zooms, etc

The Archers
Grandbag’s Funeral: The Three Gabronies – We discuss Full Metal Jacket, Hexed and Coupe De Ville. Also features Jon’s amazing story about falling asleep on Terry Wogan
Leeds V Arsenal BBC5 Live (currently 4:2 to the Arsenal!!)

John Glenday: Selected Poems

Rosalind Easton: Black Mascara (Waterproof)
John Glenday: Selected Poems
Wendy Pratt: Gifts The Mole Gave To Me
A new shower

The Dels

It’s been quite the week at work, and it’s left me bereft of much energy for anything else, so this will be brief.

Mid-week I attended a reading put on by the folks at Seren, Jonathan Edwards and Gillian Clarke both read wonderfully, as well as a host of open mic folks. I had totally missed the invitation to take part in the open mic, so missed my chance to say I’ve shared a bill with those two. One day perhaps!! I am at least two books behind on Gillian’s work, so I’d best do something about that.

I do miss reading aloud to people. I can’t imagine we’ll be doing a Rogue Strands night for a while yet, sadly, but I have bagged a slot at a Zoom-based evening of poetry that’s been organised by my local beer shop. A perfect combination for me, I reckon…Who knew, but one of the chaps that works there is also a poet.

Friday night, I watched Derek Mahon, The Poetry Nonsense on BBC two. I am ashamed to say I don’t know much about Mahon, other than how well he is/was respected. I have a selected Mahon by my bedside ready to read, so I will get there eventually, but he came across as an interesting if troubled soul in this doc. I think, however, it was leaving a lot more out about the man. I guess that may come out when I get to the poems.

I think the doc will be on the iPlayer for a while yet..get yerself over there and get it watched.

However, before I bugger off to get on with cooking dinner I shall leave you with a quote from a book that is t the top of my reading pile, eg I am reading at the mo…It’s also another Derek, the mighty Derek Walcott. I saw this opening to one of his poems last night and it seems apt for the world as it stands at present.

“The starved eye devours the seascape for the morsel
Of a sail.

The horizon threads it infinitely.”

They are the opening lines from ‘The Castaway” and have made me desperate for the smell of salt in my nostrils, they’ve made me desperate to get back to the coast of Norfolk, but I’ll settle for something outside of the streets of Beckenham.

Christ, I want to go to Walcott, Derek.


23.5k running – Given I wasn’t actually planning to run this week I will take that. I even went out this morning just as Storm Darcy was sending down the first snowflakes. Next week I start training properly, so this week was good to keep a foot in the game.

0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad

80 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it.

1 x rejections: Spelt

0 x acceptances

1 poem worked on: Berlin

0 poems finished:

1 new Submissions: Poetry Wales

33 poems currently out for submission

58 Published poems*:

44 Poems* finished by unpublished

31 poems* in various states of undress

554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough

0 Reviews* written. 2 still to do though, so must crack on

1 month, 1 week without cigarettes..Minor crack midweek, but it doesn’t count

0 days without drinking. Cracked with 4 hours to go last Sunday. I loved it.

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Wonky Furniture


Derek Walcott: Selected Poems
Poetry Salzburg
Kae Tempest: On Connection

Barry McGuire: Star Folk
Fiona Apple: Fetch The Bolt Cutters
Easy love: Wander Feeler
Siouxsie & The Banshees: Hyaena
Sonna: We Sing Loud Sing Soft Tonight
Dodgy: What Are We Fighting For?
Do Make Say Think: Stubborn Persistent Illusions, The Whole Story of Glory
Math & Physics Club: I Shouldn’t Look As Good As I Do
Mazes: Ores & Minerals, Wooden Aquarium, A Thousand Heys
Chick Graning: MT
The Chemical Brothers: Born In The Echoes, Come With Us, Dig Your Own Hole, Do It Again, Electronic Battle Weapon, Exit Planet Dust, Further, Loops of Fury, No Geography, Push The Button, Surrender, Theme From Velodrome, We Are The NightDust
Black Country, New Road: For the first time
One Little Plane; into The Trees
Sun June; Somewhere
Kikagaku Moyo: Masana Temples

Ted Lasso E7-10
Call My Agent S1 E2-4
Derek Mahon: The Poetry Nonsense

Zooms, etc
Seren First Thursday Reading Featuring Jonathan Edwards, Gillian Clarke and Open Mic

The Archers
Poetry Planet; With Charlotte Gann

The latest issue of Stand
Steven Blyth books x 2 – sent back to me


Tall Ships, Murmuration
Bonus track – I can’t mention Gillian Clark and not include this after hearing her suggest it on Desert Island Discs.

Gardiner At Night

Congratulations to Bhanu Kapil. Commiserations to everyone else.

Whisper it quietly, but I think that January might just be over. I’m not 100% convinced, but early indications are that February will commence as of tomorrow.

This is good as it means I can a) stop running every day and b) drink again. I could, of course, have started/stopped (delete as applicable) either of these things at any time, but I chose to persevere with them and I wanted to stick to them. Just to prove that I can make my own choices I am now going to open a beer. I think I’ve earned it for the running part.

In media-type Twitter circles whenever you see a brand or person/both go viral (whatever that means), either for good work or a faux pas, you will often hear someone say I bet that makes it into a deck* by a planner. Essentially, it will be quickly subsumed into being used as an example of what works (usually without any proof it works or any definition of what works actually means).

However, I was reminded of this briefly during the week when I walked past Flo’s room and heard her English teacher talking to the class via Teams about Amanda Gorman’s poem from the Biden/Harris inauguration. I was amazed to hear that Gorman’s poem had made it to the curriculum so quickly. It hasn’t, but it was wonderful to hear the poem being used to hopefully make poetry seem relevant to Flo’s class.

I’m not 100% sure where I stand on the poem myself, but I can totally see how it can help to get poetry out to people and pique interest. I hope that her being the first poet to read at the Superbowl and her subsequent modeling contract bring her all the right attention, and also that if even one person picks up a pen as a result then it’s all good.

I thought again of that brief moment when I’d walked past that door later in the week when this article by Rishi Dastidar was published in the Grauniad. There’s a list of inspiring poets there, a bit of something for everyone, and also a reminder of what this stuff can do. It can do more, it can be more, but it’s certainly not a shabby starting place.

Incidentally, to hark back to the issue of Poetry Review mentioned last week there’s a great diary entry from Don Paterson where he and other poets speculate on older poets at a fashion shoot. I think they agree that Pound would deffo turn up and would have brought his own trousers.

(NB After eating dinner and washing up I’ve been to check, and the quote is
“Would Eliot have done this? Nah. Auden yes. MacDiamid definitely, and Pound would have turned up an hour early with his own ski-pants.”)**

* the word deck makes my skin crawl when used in a work context
** A little insight there, in case you might think work of this calibre is highly planned and researched before so much as a key is tapped)

The Postman has barely rung once

While the postal system in Beckenham and beyond is currently on its knees, I’ve had two great emails arrive to bookend the week.

1. At the start of the week I got an email from a publisher to tell me my book had been dispatched. Nothing too amazing in that, but when I factor in that I ordered the book circa July last year I am much relieved to see that the book’s coming, especially as it’s to replace a copy of a book that went AWOL back then. (The publishers have not been able to access their stock because of lockdowns. They have been very patient with me when I’ve asked where it is. I think they will kill me if it doesn’t turn up this time.)

It’s a copy of Sam Gardiner’s The Night Ships, and it will complete my collection of Sam’s poetry. At least, it will complete the easily available bits – there are three pamphlets I can’t track down yet.

Gardiner is a poet I first came across on Twitter about 4 years ago. I’m pretty sure the poem that was shared is the one below. However, last years I saw something else that reminded me I was missing the last book. Sadly, Sam died in 2016, so we’re unlikely to see any more work.

That said, this excellent article on The High Window will a) tell you loads more about him and has three unpublished poems. ‘The Sorriness’ reminds me both that I should go back to my own poem called ‘Tiny Sorries’. and also that it will never be as good as ‘The Sorriness’.

However, I will draw your attention to the poem below.

Sam Gardiner, Second Person from The Picture Never Taken

Two things strike me, most immediately about reading this poem again.

1. I would dearly love to rush into any shopping arcade at present. I’m thinking of the beautiful Royal Arcade in central Norwich right now.

As an aside, look at that for an entrance

The Royal Arcade, Norwich. Macaroons may have moved on by now, as will the young lady, I suspect

2. I’m pretty sure my wife would empathise here with waiting for the better version of me to come home (or be at home day in day out with).

The other email came this afternoon and it was from a journal publisher that I much admire to say that they are accepting a poem of mine. My first acceptance of the year. It more than makes up for the sting of the last couple of rejections that have come this year. Just 15 or 16 more to go.


47k running – That’s it. Run Every Day January is done. 212K for the month. Now for a week off before the Race To The King training begins. I give me till Wednesday and I’ll be back out.

0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad

73 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it.

1 x rejections: Ambit

1 x acceptances

1 poem worked on: Berlin

0 poems finished:

1 new Submissions: Poetry Scotland

37 poems currently out for submission

57 Published poems*:

45 Poems* finished by unpublished

31 poems* in various states of undress

554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough

0 Reviews* written. 2 still to do though, so must crack on

31 day* without cigarettes..Minor crack midweek, but it doesn’t count

30 days without drinking. Absolutely cracking now

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Hairpin Bends
Terrapin Bends
Bubble Warp
Damaged Alpaca


Cliff Ashby: A Few Late Flowers 
Collected Robert Frost
Orbis 191-193

The National: I Am Easy To Find
The Decemberists: The Hazards of Love 
Tycho: Weather Remixes
Sylvan Esso: With
Daughter of Swords: Dawnbreaker
Garcia People’s: Night Cap At Wit’s End
Adventures In Stereo: ST
William Bell: Relating
Will Sergeant: Things Inside
Molly Sarlé: Karaoke Angel
Sam Dees: The Show Must Go On
Sad Day For Puppets: Unknown Colours
Ryley Walker & Charles Rumback: Cannots
Mogwai: Every Country’s Sun
The Mission: Another Fall From Grace
Miles Hunt: The Miles Hunt Club
Link Wray: Stuck In Gear
A Silver MT. Zion: Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upward
The Cure: Wish, Anniversary
Count Basie: One O’Clock Jump
SpaceJunk Radio Ep10 – (Will Sergeant)
Correatown: Pleiades
The Comet is Coming: Trust in The Life-force of the Deep Mystery
1000 Gram: By All Dreams Necessary 
Zwan: Mary Star of the Sea
Abba: Arrival
The Acorn: Glory Hope Mountain
Adrianne Lenker: Songs
Aretha Franklin: Take It Like You Give It
Explosions In The Sky: Live, The Earth Is Not a  Cold Dead Place
Laura Veirs: My Echo
Madlib: Sound Ancestors

Full Metal Jacket
Coupe De Ville
Ted Lasso S1 E1-6

Zooms, etc
Forest Poets Reading Featuring Eithne Cullen, Michael Shann, and Jonathan Edwards as the headliner. He did threaten to capture us all as hostages for a 12-hour reading.
he didn’t, but the whole event was excellent
Grandbag’s Funeral Next Recording

The Archers

New Birkenstocks
A new coat
A microphone
The North 65

New Birkenstocks
A microphone

Pretty sure Cliff Ashby was a big fan…
Look, I only wrote the headline after I’d posted the Ashby song. I can’t take that away, so enjoy this too

Caring about Radium

Taken by me in Berlin, 2016 @ Museum Der Dinge

It’s only a coincidence if you make the connection, but I think this just about counts.

Last Sunday evening I caught the end of Antiques Roadshow, and one of the participants was looking at a watch that I think belonged to their father that had radium on the dial.

It reminded me of a poem, but I couldn’t remember who had written it. I suspected it was Lavinia Greenlaw, but I was comfortable on the sofa and despite my books being 5 feet away I couldn’t face getting up to check. I turned to Twitter to ask, and very quickly it was confirmed that it was indeed by LG, from her first collection, ‘Night Photograph’.

The poem is called ‘The Innocence of Radium’ and it’s an excellent poem. The likes of which I don’t think Greenlaw writes anymore (this is not to knock her later work – I loved The Built Moment).

However, let’s get to the (TBC) coincidence. As part of the conversation on Twitter, I alluded to a review of LG by Ian McMillan that I had in an old Poetry Review (Think I’ve referenced this edition before), where he describes Night Photograph by paraphrasing John Peel,

“As John Peel once said about an album by Napalm Death, experiencing this is like renting a cottage by the sea.”

As an aside, I would sell a kidney to be in a rented cottage by the sea at the moment.

Anyhoo, moving on. The coincidence starts the next day when I dig out the aforementioned quotation (I wasn’t sure if I remembered it correctly) and while flicking through the rest of the mag I land upon a poem by Mick Imlah called ‘Past Caring’. That looks familiar, I thought.

It was familiar because I’d read it the night before in his collection, ‘The Lost Leader‘.

Mick Imlah, The Lost Leader

The Poetry Review issue came out in 1994, ‘The Lost Leader’ was published in 2008. That’s quite the wait, although I know Imlah was quite slow in his work-rate. Comparing the two versions of the poem I can see that the intervening years saw:

1. The removal of an em dash from the last line of the third stanza

2. A change from upper to a lower case v in valentine in line 3 of the fifth stanza

3. In the fifth stanza, what was ‘ And sniffing the neck I feel suddenly dear to you’ became ‘And sniffing the neck I feel suddenly near to you (which I think works better given the rhyme it offers with the last line of that stanza. It’s like he knew what he was doing.)

4. Two more em dashes are removed from the final stanza in line 4 and the final line.

5. What was ‘The fish out of water that stubbornly stays but the more fish’ became ‘The fish out of water that stubbornly stays all the more fish’.

What does it say about Imlah’s thinking? Probably not a lot more than he wanted to make these changes that were largely niggles. The most significant of them, for me, occurs in the fifth stanza. The change of the rhyme and the lower case valentine making the poem work a lot harder.

Alternatively, they could have been typos in one of these publications, but I don’t think so.

Here’s the final version of the poem.

I can’t claim to be anywhere near as good as Mick Imlah or Lavinia Greenlaw. (Please note I never will claim this), but I can ham-fistedly segue into saying that I finished two poems this week that have taken a long time to finish. One has taken at least a year (I can’t find the notes I made at the start, so may well be a bit older) and another was started in 2017 and is a rare example of something from NAPOWRIMO, especially given I don’t take part in that anymore.

Both poems have gone on quite the journey, turning from small notes to being parts of a sequence and then back to being standalone poems again. It took a lot of cutting to get them done. I was quietly convinced I’d nailed them both at least six months ago, but I was wrong. I still may be wrong now that I think they are actually done, but they’ve gone out as part of a submission this week, and I feel better about them than I have ever done.

It’s meant I can now crack on with a draft of something I made notes on towards the end of last year. It’s a poem inspired by my surprise trip to Berlin in 2016 for my 40th. Inspired by, but not really about…I don’t know what it’s about yet. However, that trip is where the header image for this post comes from. And to get really spooky on you it mentions Radium. *Mind blown gif*

More spookiness, I mentioned Ian McMillan earlier. Tonight is the TS Eliot awards, hosted by one Ian McMillan, and judged by ..doo doo doo doo doo…Lavina Greenlaw, Andrew McMillan (son of..) and Mona Arshi (Her collection, ‘Dear Big Gods’ found itself at the top of my book pile last night).

Good luck to all involved.


59.3k running – Carrying on with the Run Every Day in January thing. My foot is sore, my legs are tired, but all miles are good miles…This week includes my first half marathon run of the year and 4 PBs. Not bad. I feel awful now though.

0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad

66 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it.

0 x rejections:

0 x acceptances

3 poems worked on: Out of Office, Phantom Settlements , Berlin

2 poems finished: An Out of Office Message, Phantom Settlements

2 new Submissions: The North

40 poems currently out for submission

57 Published poems*:

45 Poems* finished by unpublished

31 poems* in various states of undress

554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough

1 Reviews* written. 2 still to do though, so must crack on

14 day* without cigarettes..Thumbs aloft!!!

24 days without drinking. Nearly cracked last night.

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Scuttling Skittles
Holy Smokes
Knocked Kneed Cockneys


Mick Imlah: The Lost Leader
Matthew Caley: Apparently
Frank Wood: Racing The Stable Clock
Kae Tempest: On Connection
George Kendrick: When All Is Said And Done

Viagra Boys: Welfare Jazz
Sad Eagle: Demons On Toast Playlist, My Computer is Old Playlist
Emily Wells: Promise
Explosions In The Sky: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, Live Bootleg, The Earth is Not A Cold Dead Place, Friday Night Lights (Studio Demos), Friday Night Lights (OST) 
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Euclid
Life Without Buildings: The Leftovers
The Turtles: Happy Together 
The Twilight Singers: Dynamite Steps
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain
Sara Watkins: You In All The Wrong Ways
Satisfaction Unlimited: Think of the Children
Scarce: Deadsexy, Circus Boy
Triptides: Azur
Van Morrison: Moondance
Vetiver: Complete Strangers
Walls: Coracle
The Waterboys: This Is The Sea
Harold Ashby: On the Sunny Side of the Street
Kathy Smith: 2
My Morning Jacket; The Waterfall II, Z
Cassandra Jenkins: Hard Drive (On repeat)
East River Pipe: Goodbye California
Earlimart: Hymn And Her
Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia
The Wedding Present: Bizarro, Going, Going…
Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud, Out In The Storm
Modern Studies: The Weight of the Sun 
Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison
Hand Habits: Placeholder

Spiral S8 E7-10
Call My Agent: S1E1
New Girl S2 E21-23

Zooms, etc

The Archers

Eavan Boland: The Historians
Arun Jeetoo: I want to be the one you think about at night


A short song from Napalm Death
A bonus song as the last one is so short