Gone Fishing*

For fishing read lounging on a beach. Normal service resumed when I’m back, but I’m looking forward to feeding my mind with a load of reading and some writing time

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. Slip on shoes should be banned
  2. A dying owl looks back
  3. I find myself caught in the arms of a colossal squid and I don’t want to be let out
  4. Hard hats to follow

THE WEEK IN STATS

11K running – Better

2 Poems edited Mare (now called New Mothers) and Kiddie Rides

5 Hours till my flight

4 lovely sets of emails with other poets

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: Michael Laskey, New & Selected, Jack Underwood, Tenuous Rooms

Watched: The Wire S2 & Part of S3

Listened to:
Mainly Colossal Squid’s I Lost Detroit on repeat
and of course, The Archers

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Horsing About

This week I saw the following tweet:

I know I work in the telly industry and so have some built-in bias towards TV, but even so I could feel my piss starting to boil almost immediately. This kind of snobbery and bunkum is ridiculous. It’s possible to have as many books as you can manage and watch TV.

A big TV is only as good as what you watch on it, and even if you watch “trash” there is no reason for that to be bad.

Thankfully, I also saw this tweet a few days later. You may have seen this clip do the rounds as well.

It’s five minutes long, but I recommend you watch this video for a heart lift. It’s just brilliant – this lady is wonderful. I think you could change the names of the actors and shows she mentions and it could easily be nowadays as well, but that’s a different story.

In poetry news, I’ve managed some editing this week, but I’m saving a lot of it up for going on holiday.

It was very instructional earlier today to discover that a dear friend who is brilliant at giving advice on my writing (I’m loathe to call them my editor as I suspect they’d hate that) wasn’t aware of something I thought was part of the national DNA.

You’ve heard of the Horse goes into a bar and the barman says ‘Why the long face?’ joke, right? Well, apparently at least 4 people I know haven’t or aren’t sure. I’m shook I tell you, positively shook. So, never assume that what’s obvious to you is obvious to everyone.

On the plus side, it did lead me to this thread of variations on a theme.

I did spend a couple of hours mulling over a poem at the start of the week about the various food stalls on Leather Lane market before it dawned on me that I was basically writing the poetry-version of Joe Strummer’s Bhindi Bhargee. I’d been playing that last week, so it must have been boiling away in the background. Just goes to show you…something, not sure what, but you can bet your bottom quid it does.

I was disappointed to have not made the final four for the Against The Grain pamphlet call. I was shortlisted, which is nice, but the email did sting a bit on Monday. However, onwards and sideways. It was a worthwhile endeavour as I now have a much stronger pamphlet to offer up to a willing publisher.

Also, there’s a strong plan for something good cooking away in November.

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. Slip on shoes should be banned
  2. A dying owl looks back
  3. I find myself caught in the arms of a colossal squid and I don’t want to be let out
  4. Hard hats to follow

THE WEEK IN STATS

11K running – Better

2 Poems edited Mare (now called New Mothers) and Kiddie Rides

5 Hours till my flight

4 lovely sets of emails with other poets

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: Michael Laskey, New & Selected, Jack Underwood, Tenuous Rooms

Watched: The Wire S2 & Part of S3

Listened to:
Mainly Colossal Squid’s I Lost Detroit on repeat
and of course, The Archers

419

Quick one this week, due to being away in Norfolk at the Worstead Festival. I’ve been going to this on and off since the age of 4. I think I’ve missed about 6 in that time. There’s probably something deep and insightful to be said about returning to the place I grew up in, but that’s not for today or this weekend. It will mainly be about booze. Although, assuming I’ve set this up correctly, I will be actually behind the bar rather than in front of this when this post is published. Do pop in if you’re passing by.

Poetry news: The latest issue of Dream Catcher is out. I’ve ordered my contributor copies, and I’m sure you’ll want to order a copy for yourself too, and you can do that here.

I mean, look at that cover…

There ‘s a lesson to be learned here as well. I was foolish enough to forget that an early draft of the poem that will be in there had been published on a blog a couple of years ago – Sharon Larkin’s wonderful Good Dadhood.

My submissions and successes spreadsheet is normally bang on, but I think a change of title and general stupidity got in the way when I sent this out. I’d redrafted the poem and was cock-a-hoop with how it had turned out, so off it went. And then when Wendy at Dreamcatcher pointed out that she thought it had been out elsewhere I was crestfallen. All credit to her for the due diligence. I fully expected her to say they couldn’t take it (and rightly so – totally my fault), but the team at DC still wanted the poem and even accepted a change I’d made since submitting it. I’m a very lucky man and this has been an object lesson in how not to submit.

Last Sunday I came across this album and article and it reminded me of a poem I wrote a while back on this very theme. It’s one I sent out a few times and it came back every time. I eventually binned it, but I might go back to it again one day. Although, by posting it here I’ve just proved that I’ve learned nothing from what I said above.

“When the Tramp Records crew read the internet-sweeping spam/story of Nigerian Astronaut and Air Force pilot Abacha Tunde, they knew that they had to spring into action to help this unfortunate fella out. Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Abacha Tunde explained the situation as follows: “My cousin was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Skylab Space Station in 1979, shortly before it crashed to Earth. 19 years later he was on his second spaceflight, this time to a secret Moon Base located on the far side of the Moon. In 1999 his crew members returned to earth, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional supply flights to keep him going since that time. Although he is in good humor, he wants to come home, now, after 20 years in space.”

After this hilarious story the idea of a compilation album was born – and “Trip To The Moon” is the result. The goal to raise three million dollars to cover the cost of Abacha Tunde’s return flight may never be achieved. Nevertheless, a 41 year experience in the music business is the basis for a fantabulous track listing of 11 amazing and highly underrated Rare Grooves about the Moon!…

….

Tramp Records is absolutely convinced that this album will surely be the best way to shorten the wait for Abacha until a rescue space mission finally brings our African soul brother back home”

Full article here:

419

I am the first Nigerian astronaut in space,
air-locked and stranded for 20 odd years.
My story is one in a million.
I am worth more in this sphere.

I am Major Abacha Tunde,
I have lived a life free of weight.
Stranded and abandoned,
the sole life form on the Salyut 8T.

I am asking for your help.
The Russians can bring me back home.
I can be Lagos bound
in no time, if you will offer me this loan.

I offer me alone as incentive,
alongside a percentage of my space pay.
Transfer to me my balance.
Your fears I will attempt to allay.

How could I hurt you from up here?
All I can do is look down
and hope to return to safety.
I wish to be Earth bound.

I call on you to move Earth
while I am in heaven, alone.
Access my accounts, transfer the sums.
I trust you with all I own.

Needless to say the trust reposed on you
at this juncture is enormous.
Help me. Bring me down;
put an end to this performance.

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2012/09/11/wont-you-help-a-poor-nigerian-astronaut-who-just-wants-to-come-home-from-space/#TAJtxZm1IgosYfIO.99

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. Slip on shoes should be banned
  2. A dying owl looks back
  3. I find myself caught in the arms of a colossal squid and I don’t want to be let out
  4. Hard hats to follow

THE WEEK IN STATS

11K running – Better

2 Poems edited Mare (now called New Mothers) and Kiddie Rides

5 Hours till my flight

4 lovely sets of emails with other poets

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: Michael Laskey, New & Selected, Jack Underwood, Tenuous Rooms

Watched: The Wire S2 & Part of S3

Listened to:
Mainly Colossal Squid’s I Lost Detroit on repeat
and of course, The Archers

Stick with it

Going to see

On Wednesday I said to myself, Christ knows what I’ll write about this week. Admittedly, I shouldn’t have said it out loud on the 8.01 from Beckenham Junction to Blackfriars, but at least I waited till after Kent House—where the train gets nice and full.

Then on Thursday (stand back before I go full Craig David), I saw this appear on the Faber & Faber blog.

Illustrations by Amanda Dilworth taken from Shell Life on the Seashore by Philip Street, first published in 1962 and reissued in August 2019 with a fold-out jacket and a new introduction by Philip Hoare.

Then on Friday, there was also this article in the ever wonderful Atlas Obscura about piles of Conch shells.

And I said to myself ,”You just can’t look gift horses like these in the mouth”. Again, really shouldn’t have said it out loud in the revolving doors at the front of our office building. Still, at least Joanna from Love Island didn’t hear me as she was in the other segment of the door.

Anyhoo, these two things reminded me of a poem I wrote about seashells a long time ago – it was published on the Poetry School’s blog a while back, which I think has rendered it unusable elsewhere, so I may as well put it up here.

Seashell Sound-Recordist

Have you ever heard of the Sea Biscuit,
the Thick Lucine or caught the Kitten’s Paw?
I’ve scattered them across the World’s sandbanks,
hurled them at coastlines, then hopped back to shore

to wade up beaches, into caves or islands;
pausing to map every shell’s position.
I’ve recorded them all, and placed each one
within range of ears ready to listen.

Take a minute to split breath and heartbeat
from recent seas. Note my tiny sirens:
each one is a call to hear what you need,
to prove there’s no such thing as true silence.

NB: This has changed a bit since it went up and I’m less convinced by it than when I first wrote it, but when you spot a chance to have some relevant content…

When the proper poets arrive

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to attend the wonderful Nine Arches Press launch of Jess Mookherjee & Julia Webb’s second collections (ably supported by Tom Sastry – his first collection is out in a few months, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I enjoyed Complicity a lot, and he was an excellent performer of his poems.)

Both Jess and Julia were brilliant. I’ve seen Jess before (and read with her), but Julia was new to me as a performer. I think there is much to be learned from watching all three poets – they knew what they were reading. They introduced their poems well, knew what they wanted to read. It was a masterclass all round.

I’ve not read Jess’ Tigress yet, so I can’t compare them, but I am working my way through Julia’s Threat at present, so I’ll get to the comparisons later. Suffice to say, you’ll want both in your life. I mean, look at them.

Jess reading
Julia reading
Tom reading (or is that reciting?)
Some idiot outside Poetry headquarters

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. GDPR Workshop
  2. They had Phil Collins in mind when you were conceived
  3. Scraping the floor at the Barrel makers
  4. Should Poets Have KPIs?

THE WEEK IN STATS

26K running – Including 3 attempts at running on Tuesday and three days running in a row. Although, that’s nothing compared to my mate Euan who is on day 204 at the time of typing..Still, I’m tapering in advance of an 8K run on Friday night.

1 new poem written – about the Archers. I’m bloody doing it, Nell!!!
1 set of notes towards another one

4 poems redrafted – Kiddie Rides, And The Horse…(retitled now), and Mare (also retitled) and The Trick (also on the hunt for a new title)

Attended one reading evening – Jess, Julia, Tom

1 lovely meal out with my wife at Berber & Q. Much recommended if you find yourself near Exmouth Market

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: Julia Webb’s Threat, The latest issues of The Rialto and Under The Radar, Isabel Rogers’ Bold As Brass

Watched: Love Island, Schitt’s Creek,

Listened to: Wilco, Schmilco, The Cure, Wish & Seventeen Seconds, Catrin Finch, Tides, Fleet Foxes, Crack Up, J Mascis, Elastic Days, James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg, Ambsace, Ryley Walker’s incredible podcast on Crash and Ride and of course, The Archers

Just because

Making it in the Shed

This week I’ve briefly wondered about the idea of making it as a poet.

I don’t mean the idea of winning prizes, making a living as a poet, etc. Those things are far and few between. It’s well documented that the majority of poetry-related earnings come more from readings, teaching work, etc than book sales, and places as lecturers, etc are very limited, so not everyone is going to be able to do that.

NB: Get out there and buy as many books as you can folks. Remember, 1 book sale could feed a poet for a few hours, etc

However, I briefly allowed myself to feel like I’d made it when a poet I know (albeit it not particularly well, yet) asked me to read a couple of his poems and what my thoughts were. It’s an immensely pleasing feeling to be asked for your opinion on someone’s work, and also quite a nerve-wracking thing when someone has asked for you to comment on their baby. Given a lot of us think the latest poem we’ve worked on is our greatest work, to then potentially have someone stamp all over it adds a lot of pressure. That said, it’s important to flag what’s working at the same time as highlighting what’s not.

I’m certainly not setting myself up to run courses, etc. That’s a whole new level of “making it” and one I don’t think I could do…what little learning and ability I have wouldn’t last long being stretched that thin.
As I mentioned in a reply to someone this week, “I’m just some prick with eyes and an opinion, so feel free to ignore the latter and curse the former.

I’m lucky enough to have another poet that shows me their works-in progress and it never fails to astound me when some of my feedback is taken into consideration. I suspect I make a useful sounding board as I can be a bit dense and so, if this dimwit can’t work out what’s going on in the poem it may be time to simplify.

However, being asked is a validation that I never expected to get and, while there’s a very long way to go, I shall bask in that for a while.

I’m also going to bask in the glory of having had a poem published on the wonderful Poetry Shed yesterday. My poem is called Goliath and I suggest you go and have a look in the shed. It’s filled with wonders.

My initial reaction was one of interest as something had clearly gone awry with the formatting.

Although for a minute or two, I did think perhaps this version was better than the original. However, Abegail soon fixed the gremlins and all was well as you’ll see on her site. It really is a resource full of great poems, and her list of mags for subscribing/submitting to is an invaluable thing.

My evening was made when somebody on Twitter that isn’t a poet told me they loved the poem. Obviously, it’s amazing when other poets tell you the same thing, but to reach someone that doesn’t have “skin in the game” and isn’t someone that you’ve met is a wonderful feeling. I’d like more of that please.

Also, Poetry and Sheds…It’s almost more than I can dare to dream about. Next it will be poems about sheds…Actually, that’s true. My next published poem is about a shed.

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. Instrument Amnesty (Thanks to my daughter’s school for the email title)
  2. On Playing War Pigs for the First Dance at your Wedding
  3. Sounding Bored
  4. Invalid Captcha
  5. Welcome to my Ted Talk

THE WEEK IN STATS

17K running – My legs are more knackered than I expected after last weekend, but managed a PB for 5K yesterday and a short run with Flo.
Better next week.

1 #HapWrap about coffee packaging.

1 poem published

1 review published over at Sphinx of Victoria Gatehouse’s excellent The Mechanics of Love – link on reviews page

1 rejection note from Brittle Star. I knew it was a no as the magazine has been out for a while now, but good to have it made final.

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: Finished Paul Deaton’s A Watchful Astronomy, Joe Carrick-Varty’s Somewhere Far

Watched: Love Island, Schitt’s Creek,

Listened to: Ann Sexton (no, not that one – Ann without at e), You’re Gonna Miss Me, Death Cab for Cutie: Thank You For Today & Transatlanticism, Better Oblivion Community Center, Better Oblivion Community Center, Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, Penelope Isles, Until The Tide Creeps In, Gomez, Liquid Skin, and of course, The Archers

Not seen this before, but I’m now obsessed with videos of Natalie Merchant dancing
Told you….

Win Some/Lose Some

Bit late ( as per my promise to myself to post once a week) so pretend it’s still Sunday.

Accidentally got a bit pissed yesterday afternoon after the North Downs Half Marathon, so didn’t manage to write this yesterday.

A win some (not winsome) and lose some week..

I managed to sneak in under the wire for the June edition of Visual Verse with a poem called Clashing and based on this picture by Craig Carry.

The formatting of the poem went a bit awry—it shouldn’t have all the gaps between the lines. I’m sure it looked ok when I uploaded it, but nevermind.

I’m still pleased it made it up there. I’m always slightly reticent to send them in. Obviously, Visual Verse is an amazing thing, but given the premise of an hour to write a response to the image, it’s effectively a first draft being posted, but if it’s published, you’re then ruling out the ability to send a final draft anywhere. Is there an official line on this anywhere?

Perhaps I can get Judge Rinder to make a ruling on this!!

Anyhoo, the poem as it stands is here. Do make sure to read all of the others, and also have a bash at this month’s image. It’s a corker.

By Craig Carry

This acceptance was counter-balanced by a rejection from The North. Which made me sad, it’s my second attempt and I will try again.

The sting of the rejection was tempered by a lovely bit of encouragement. I won’t share it, but it gives me hope. And, of course, I’m looking forward to the next issue of The North.

The was also some mixed feedback from Nell Nelson at Happenstance as part of her subscriber feedback. 2 poems out of six got the all clear, but the other 4 were essentially a bit too obscure. I totally get what she’s saying and so it’s back to the drafting board. Although one may just “go to the farm”.

Finally, I wrote a new poem. My god, it happened. Well, it was a new draft of something started in 2017 – that basically counts as a new poem, right?

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. Sighs of a Cow
  2. Magnets
  3. HD TV
  4. The Chick Pea Revolution

THE WEEK IN STATS

26K running – Including today’s half marathon (finished in 2hrs 29) and 5K on Thursday – just to test my legs still went in front of each other

1 trip to the top of The Gherkin

2 poems drafted. One is draft 20, one is draft 2

1 rejection note from The North. Tough, but tempered with niceness and an encouraging comment

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: Finished David Clarke’s The Europeans, Started Paul Deaton’s A Watchful Astronomy, John Mole’s A Different Key.


Watched: Love Island, Who Dares Wins (Thanks to a mate sending me the DVD)

Listened to: Ilya Kamisky’s Deaf Republic on R4 (Parts three and four), Cowboy Junkies’, Pale Sun Crescent Moon, Thom Yorke, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Explosions In The Sky, How Strange, Innocence (20!!! Years old), The Rescue and The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, Akira Kosemura, One Day and various playlists and, of course, The Archers

World’s Greatest Loser by Margo Price

Poet In (Media) Res(idence)

Ideally I should be clever enough to start this in all in the middle of the story before skipping back to the start, but I’m not clever enough for that, so it’s not happening anytime soon.

I saw this blog by Amber Massie-Bloomfield being shared on the Twitters earlier in the week on writing habits and the idea of writing in the same places at the same times, of getting a routine in place. However, the author of the post comes down on the side of stealing time and places anywhere and whenever you can – a bit of organised chaos.

And that feels more like me than the idea of being sat at my desk by a certain time each day like Nick Cave or Haruki Marukami —that said, I’m more up for the Hunter S. Thompson approach (without the grot)

A day job sort of gets in the way of writing time each day and I’ve been setting my alarm for 6am for the last ten years with the express intention of writing for an hour before the house gets up. Given that I think I’ve managed that perhaps twice since then, I suspect it’s not going to be a winner. And perhaps it doesn’t need to be.

On the same day as reading that blog post, I joked on Twitter with Rishi about being poet-in-residence at ITV.

That said, Rishi’s more than welcome to write the ITV poem…

And actually, I think the office may actually be where I get more work done. I try to use my lunch hour as a place to work on poems.

The act of carving out my lunch hour has been productive. It forces me to take a lunch break and get away from the spreadsheets and email of it all, but it also forces me to work on stuff without procrastinating. I know I have a finite amount of time and that has to include eating, so 30-40 minutes to work on something can be almost as good as an entire day.

At least two out of five days I will manage this – the bloody stats are creeping in even now.

I’m at home right now and the temptation to procrastinate is too strong. While I’m typing this I’ve checked my RSS feeds and seen Josephine Corcoran’s latest post about working in an empty house vs distractions.

The timing couldn’t be better. Now I just need to either convince my family to move out or go to the office on a Sunday evening.

TITLE GIVEAWAY

  1. Climbing onboard an above average height horse
  2. Panda Quotidian (Thanks to Flo for this one)
  3. Watching The Cure
  4. In Twenty Minutes
  5. So Got to Go

THE WEEK IN STATS

4oK run – Including 11k today and 15K on Thursday, only one trip to the pub after.

1 trip to the top of The Gherkin

1 HapWrap sent for Nell Nelson’s Wrapper Rhymes Project

1 pamphlet submission sent to Against The Grain

1 pamphlet submission rejected by Live Canon

1 experiment with a goatee beard. It’s gone now.

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

READ, SEEN, ETC

Read: More of David Clarke’s The Europeans


Watched: Some Glastonbury coverage, Love Island, Fear The Walking Dead S4

Listened to: Every single Do Make Say Think album, Ilya Kamisky’s Deaf Republic on R4 (Parts One and Two – I must play the others), American Music Club’s San Francisco and Mercury, Colossal Squid’s I Lost Detroit, Beak>’s Life Goes On, Liam Gallagher destroy Oasis songs at Glastonbury