Pearls before sauces

At the time of writing I find myself in the weird place of willing Spurs to win…especially after yesterday’s shocker from Arsenal…I’m also in the middle of making an amazing pizza sauce, so will be stopping to check the scores and, like any good journalism, I’m having to credit my sauces. Sorry.

Right, as it seemed to work last week, I’m going to build in the same approach and dive straight in with a poem. Then, hopefully, by then the reason for selecting it will make sense.


Philpott is very tired. He would like to stop.

He would like time. He would like time to be careful and slow
like the man down the road who trims the lawn with his kitchen scissors.

He would like to watch the sun on the carpet,
watch it travel from the wall to the chair by the door.

He would like to listen to the noises of the house,
to hear the hair on his own arms stir.

Perhaps it’s a sign. Ill people have to stop.
They stop and listen to the call of pain.

Perhaps illness is coming and he’d better move
quickly before it’s too late, move quickly

before stopping happens. He isn’t in pain
but this wanting to stop-it may be a sign.

Already he has keys in his hand, his leather briefcase
and his brisk face on. He has wasted an hour

and there’s work to be done.

Taken from Pearls: The Complete Mr & Mrs Philpott Poems by Helena Nelson. Published with permission of the author.

I don’t really think I need to do much by way of introducing Nell. Her achievements in publishing for HappenStance and as a reviewer** should really speak for themselves, but I’m not sure her work as a poet gets enough credit. I’m not the person to write an in depth review of her work, but I can certainly point you towards this look at Pearls by young Mr Stewart as a good place to start.

I can say that I have long enjoyed her work. I remember buying Starlight on Water long before I made her acquaintance. And, for those of you that enjoy a tortured and misguided attempt at a connection, I note that the first stanza of the book ends with the word ‘pearls’. Her work is rich and varied, there is an undercurrent of sadness and anger that shouldn’t be, but is surprising when you first encounter it. It is certainly a body of work I want to go back to after opening Pearls this week.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes a poem just hits hard and is the right thing to read at the right time. It’s been one hell of a week at work and in life this week. Despite the wonderful news this week that I now have a publication date for my Red Squirrel pamphlet and that work can now begin in earnest on it (not that it hasn’t already, but you take my point, I hope), the week has been dragged down by the continued decline of our eldest cat, an unexpected and unwelcome outlay on a new washing machine, and a hectic week that has barely allowed for a moment to pause.

So when I sat down to read my copy of Pearls this week after it had made its way to the top of my TBR pile, I found myself being absolutely smacked round the chops (in a good way) by reading the poem above. I felt Philpott’s pain. I was there with him in every sentence. There’s a poem in my own ms that I’ve just sent off for its next round of editing called ‘Reading The Signs’ (due out in the next issue of The Frogmore Papers if you fancy a sneaky preview) that is, to my mind at least, the story of the hour that Philpott feels he has wasted.

What shocks me most of all though is that the poem felt new to me, I was sure I hadn’t read it, but in checking my copy of Starlight*** I note that I had read it before. My inability to recall poems is well-documented, but I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that between its publication in 2003 (earlier if it was among the original Philpott poems found in Mr and Mrs Philpott on Holiday At Auchterawe & Other Poems) and last years collecting together of all the Philpott poems, the poem has undergone a transformation. In its “original form” the poem has become mainly couplets – whereas before it was made up of stanzas of varying length.

The second couplet as is now once read: “He would like time. He would like time to be careful and slow / like the man down the road who is trimming the lawn with kitchen scissors.”. The sixth couplet now names illness, but before it was vaguer, “Perhaps it is coming and he had better move”. I could go on, but the new form and the changes serve only to improve the poem. The couplets give the reader an extra pause for thought. The message lands better for the pauses. Perhaps the pauses only serve to amplify the state of mind Philpott finds himself in.

I’m only two thirds of the way through Pearls, but I find myself turning the corner over on almost every page. I don’t know if it’s because I am older now, have been married for longer, or have just become a (slightly) better reader, but I’m finding these poems are landing more with me now than when I first read them.

Now, it’s the 60 minutes into the Spurs game. If I allow for the fact that they scored on the fifteenth minute that means it’s been an hour since I started writing this. Yes, I am going there.

It’s been a (not) wasted hour and there’s work (pizzas) to be done.

* Her Shoestring Press collection Plot and Counter-Plot is also available via the HappenStance site

** Not just at Sphinx, her reviews can be found elsewhere. I haven’t read it yet—that’s for later today, but her review of Don Paterson’s The Arctic should be a good one

*** Check those sources, folks…


0K running., knee still bad
4K walk run..if about 400m of light jogging counts.
0 lengths of the local pool
1 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 days since drinking.

3 x focus groups for work
4 questionnaires written
1 burnt out washing machine
1 renewed driving licence

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
0 poems worked on: For Ever Given
0 submissions:
0 withdrawal:
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
1 rejections: Poetry London
19 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
83 Published poems

1 review finished:
0 reviews started:
1 reviews submitted:
2 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Fergus Allen: The Brown Parrots of Provedencia
Katie Griffiths: The Attitudes
Helena Nelson: Pearls

Zooms: None


Ann Peebles: Straight From The Heart
Liz Phair: Whip-Smart
Television: Marquee Moon, Adventure, The Blow-Up
The Archers
The Verb: Cities
Native Harrow: Old Kind of Magic
J Mascis & The Fog: More Light
Gladie: Don’t Know
The Afghan Whigs: Congregation, 1965
The Foxhole Companion
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down: Know Better Learn Faster
Terry Callier: Welcome HomeMercury Rev: Yerself Is Steam
Hifi Sean & David McAltmont: Happy Ending
The Go! Team: Get Up Sequences Vol 2
Bardo Point: No Hashish, No Change Money, No Saki Saki
Billy Nomates: CactiComets on Fire: ST
The Reds, Pinks & Purples: Dust in the Path of Love
Lael Neale: Aquinted With Night
Buffalo Tom: Let Me Come Over
Teenage Fanclub: Endless Arcade
SMYL: The Day My Father Died
Sam Burton: Nothing Touches Me
A series of new singles: Inc Girl Ray, Kara Jackson, & Rachel Chinouri
Talk Talk: Laughing Stock
The National: Juicy Sonic MagicJefferson Starship & Paul Kantner: Blows Against the Empire

Happy Valley

1 new washing machine

Headphones for Rachael and I

I can’t find a Moonbathers thing, so have Explosions In The Sky, The Moon is Down

Attitudes, Anteaters, Brown Parrots, and early kicks offs for the Eliots

Hang it, let’s do things differently this week. Let’s have a couple of poems first then the dribbling on from me.

These are both from books I’ve started reading this week.

Firstly, a poem from Katie Griffiths‘ first collection, The Attitudes—available now for £4.99.

I only started this a day or so ago, and due to being mugged by a gang of vicious cans of beer last night I haven’t managed to progress with reading it. With that in mind there may well be better poems in the collection, but given this is the title poem, you’d have to assume this is one of the stronger poems. Anyhoo, not sure that matter either way, I like it, so onwards and sideways.

I first came across Katie’s work via the Nine Arches Press Primers series. She was in volume one (available now for £4.99) alongside Geraldine Clarkson, Maureen Cullen, & Lucy Ingrams. I’m pretty sure I went to the launch for it at The Poetry Cafe, but I may be confusing that with something else—either way I know we met at the Poetry Cafe. It could have been the launch for Rishi’s Ticker Tape…doesn’t matter, I say it more for some sort of context. Looking at the 9A website now I see the book came out in 2021, which means it’s been sat on my TBR pile for longer than I thought.

My apologies to Katie for taking so long, but we’re here now. And this is where we are.

The Attitudes

Insipid are the moonbathers
for their light spills in small places.

Torrid are those who amass
for their trinkets will devour.

Vapid are the earthmongers
for their deals trample the nestfallen.

Rigid are those who embellish
for their fables will encrust.

Sordid are the soulscammers
for their workday sees no dusk.

Candid are those who lactate
for their largesse is passed on.

Rapid are the waterstabbers
for their targets leach away.

Sacred are those who clamber
for their vertigo instructs.

Intrepid are the scargazers
whose bodies weep for an end.

Shared with permission of the poet

I’m far from being a biblical scholar, and in less assured hands such a conceit could go a bit “blessed are the cheesemakers“, I like the way this adapts the biblical Beatitudes from the sermon on the mount, and modernises it by inversion for the first five couplets, before switching to something more positive and in-keeping with the original.

And after the week we’ve just had in politics—see also every week, the fifth couplet feels very apt.

Go and check out the band Katie is part of too…A Woman In Goggles. I will, but first I guess I should finish the book.

Tell me when I may use the bright colours

The second poem for this week comes from Fergus Allen and his first collection, The Brown Parrots of Provedencia. I think I’ve mentioned his work before, and may have shared a poem, but if it’s taken me two tears to get to Katie’s book, it’s taken me about 25 to get to this one. I’ve had this since my days working at Bertrams and have hauled it with me wherever I go, but if I have read it it didn’t land with me, or perhaps I didn’t have the tools to comprehend it, but now I”ve started it I am enjoying it. It looks like my three Fergus Allen books made it to the TBR pile a couple of years ago too, so I really am getting down into the sub-strata there. I’ve now discovered that a) he’s dead b) there are two more books I don’t have of his c) Brown Parrots came out when he was 70 (wither the definition of an emerging or developing poet argument) and d) this is an interesting interview with him.

I’m hoping that as the book appears to be out of print and that because of point a above I can share this…but will take it down if the folks at Faber want me to. I post this poem mostly because I like the way it sounds, the way the tongue trips around the names of the paints, and the vivid images it conjures, but also because I’m struck by the title. I can’t work out if it’s serious, tongue in cheek or something else. I don’t think it’s something that would fly these days. Also, there’s a small irony in me choosing a poem about/that mentions paints when I was talking about Primers above.

Not for Transcription into Braille

Autumn forms itself from ochre pigment,
From umber November; oil-bound whites
And clays are mashed and puddled by spatula
For stiff froth of traveller’s joy;
Dull vert of yew is the eye-catcher
In the grisaille and sienna woods.

Tell me when I may use the bright colours,
The unsqueezed tubes of cadmium red,
Peacock and emerald and lemon,
Let my eye move among flecks of chroma
Like an anteater’s tongue among termites.
Fusillades that rattle on the retina.

Meantime I sit alone in my rib-cage
Staring out through my not-violet eyes
At the not-viridian sun descending
On serrated not-magenta conifers,
Beneath which nondescript rodents creep
Untroubled by my not-loving gaze.

From The Brown Parrots of Provedencia, Fergus Allen, Faber & Faber, 1993

“Let my eye move among flecks of chroma
Like an anteater’s tongue among termites.”

Those two lines are wonderful and worth the price of entry alone

In other news this week

I found myself nodding in agreement with Robin Houghton in here recent post about the TS Eliot awards. I’d be very much in favour and more likely to try and go if the event was held a bit earlier in the day. Robin’s post had me thinking about the idea of Poets on a derby day, much like Arsenal Vs Spurs (happy with the recent result there, lads!!!) being started at 12 instead of later to avoid the heavy drinking and descent into violence, perhaps the same rules should be applied to the Eliots…

I’m sad to see news of the closure of Raceme magazine. It’s sad to see mags go, but they appear to be going out on a high.
I was a latecomer to them, but was very happy when they took 3 poems of mine in 2021. I will be ordering the last issue ASAP

In acceptance news, the first of 2023 is in, with the news that I will have two poems in the Resonance Anthology. Resonance are a local reading group, and I’m very grateful to Marina and Jack for giving my poems a home. More news on that when I have it.

And I’ve finished, for now, a poem. I think that’s 3 so far this year. Christ, I’m like a bat out of Hull.

Finally, a quote from something else I’ve read this week. This is from Alex MacDonald’s ‘Ordinary Warp

After a few days of wearing a knee support I’m still not able to run, but things seem to be improving. However, these two lines resonated hard with me.

“I know that when I can no longer run up stairs
then my days of wishing turn to nights of prayer”

I’ve just found my copy of Primers One and saw it had this in.


0K running., knee still bad
11-12 lengths of the local pool
1 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 days since drinking.

1 excellent night of drinks with friends
1 cat to the vets
2 x trips to London and back
1 x trip to Leeds and back
2 x log fires
1 picture hung

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
1 poems finished: For Ever Given
1 poems worked on: For Ever Given
0 submissions:
0 withdrawal:
1 acceptances: Resonance Anthology
0 readings:
0 rejections:
22 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
82 Published poems

0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
2 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Sarah Mnatzaganian: Lemonade In The Armenian Quarter 
Mark Wynne: Point Bolivar Light
Joshua Callandine-Jones: Reconstructions
Fergus Allen: The Brown Parrots of Provedencia
Katie Griffiths: The Attitudes

Zooms: None


The Bevis Frond: The Auntie Winnie Album
Mark Eitzel: West
James Iha; Be Strong Now
Emitt Rhodes: The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (69-73), Rainbow Ends
The Verb: TS Eliot Awards
Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore: Ghost Forests
Inventions: ST
J Mascis: Elastic Days
James Holden & the Animal Spirits: The Animal Spirits
Dropsonde Playlist
Planet Poetry: Mimi Khalvati
Zwan: Mary Star of the Sea
Unwed Sailor: Truth or Consequences
Meg Baird: Furling

Grand Hotel Budapest
Happy Valley
SAS Who Dares Wins: The Jungle
Man City Vs Arsenal FA Cup

2x pairs of headphone to replace my wife’s and mine. I broke both pairs
Poetry Salzburg Subscription
End of Y11 school hoodie for Flo


I can’t find a Moonbathers thing, so have Explosions In The Sky, The Moon is Down
And The Bathers, Sunpowder

(Blue) Soup Fandangos and Tomato Plants

Please note, I am going for a more upbeat approach this week, so bear with me. How’s your week been?

Mine started well, but Tuesday took a downward turn within two stops of my train pulling out of the station. The bottom of my rucksack felt wet, and it soon transpired that the soup in my bag had leaked—despite it being in a sealed Tupperware box and a plastic Ziplock bag. I think most things escaped serious damage, but let’s just say it maybe a while (if ever) before my work laptop connects to a monitor again.

The rest of the journey in was spent working about laptops, dripping soup, smelling of soup and trying to work out if a pen had leaked as well as the floor seemed to be turning blue below underneath my bag. It was as if I’d shot a Predator…except that was green blood and there were no leaves (and thankfully not on the line), so this whole idea doesn’t work, but I’ll leave it in anyway.

Then, to make matters worse, when I got to London Bridge (stage one of my Tuesday journey to work), my knee started giving me gip again. I’d hoped that a week off running would have helped—and it had, but the walking and stairs and soup-fandango meant it was throbbing again. When I eventually got to work and cleaned my bag up I noticed the leakage had stained the bottom of the book I’d taken with me to read.

Not ideal, but worth noting that the soup wasn’t my take on the blue soup from Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Onwards and sideways though. At least the book looks lived in.

On my journey home, I started listening to the Blindboy Podcast. A friend has been recommending it for a while, and I’ve finally got round to it. The ep I played was called Witches Piss and Horse Skulls and had some lovely evocations of January weather, a discussion about global warming, the paintings of Turner and the loss of various folklores/skills. I very much enjoyed it, and it seems a big change from his work in The Rubber Bandits.

The various parts of that episode came to mind when I finally got to read the book that had been soaked. The book was ‘The Action’ by Roger Garfitt. I’m not 100% certain that Mr Garfitt would thank me for mentioning his work in etc same space as a podcast about Witches piss and folklore, but, in the absence of a full poem, here are a few stanzas that stood out from a poem in the book called ‘The Goose Quill’. It’s the last poem in a sequence written on and about a Historic Working Farm.

We need these stories
as a generation goes

that had learned to hold on
by a thread. Old improviser,

remind us of the hidden pulses.
Tell us how to woo the earth

when it turns away.

(c) Roger Garfitt, From The Goose Quill, Carcanet Press, 2019

While I’m not suggesting we can only learn from generations gone by, and I do think all generations learn from each other, there are some skills and specific knowledges that are in danger of being lost. The BB podcast and the sequence of poems just reminded me of that.

While I can’t share an entire poem from the book, as I have no idea about how to contact Roger, I can link to this one. It’s also from The Action and it feels apt after a lovely walk earlier with my wife. It’s a bit early for Spring, but between that walk and some of the comments at the start of the BB podcast, it makes sense to me. That’s enough for me.

Now, I said I was going to be more positive (and to be fair, the above is for me), but the week definitely took an upward turn on Wednesday when the good folks of Poetry Wales published the interview I did with Zoe Brigley last year about my poem, Tomato Plants’. NB I am totally counting the fact that the poem was accepted for this interview series last year as a published poem in the 2022 dataset.

I saw a few kind comments online from friends about it being a good interview, and I’m very conscious of how hard it was to take myself even remotely seriously when answering Zoe’s excellent questions. It took me a lot of effort not to undermine myself with a gag at every turn, but I’m glad I did manage it—for the most part. Of course, now I read it back, I realise there’s loads I should have/could have said, but hey ho…It’s exactly like when we see changes to poems the moment we press submit—that happens to you too, yeah?

Anyhoo, have a look and let me know what you think. And, I recommend the other interviews in the series too.

In terms of recommendations, a couple of articles that caught my eye this week/are stolen from newsletters.
1. Are lazy people more creative? I didn’t finish reading it, so can’t tell you.

2. I like Nick Cave, I enjoy reading or listening to Nick Cave most of the time. I find his fans almost universally insufferable when they write to him at his Red Right Hand website, but I thought this was interesting when he responds to someone that has tried to empty machine learning to create a Nick Cave song. I think the robots are a way off taking over, although part of me sort of wishes they’d hurry up so I can get on with all the taking of laudanum, etc that comes with being a poet. That’s the main part of the job, no?


0K running., but a 7K walk today as a tester. I reckon it’s another week or more before I’m running again though.
2 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 days since drinking.

1 soup leakage
1 soaked rucksack
1 damp train journey that smelled of soup
1 excellent night of drinks and Mashups
2 x trips to London and back
2 x log fires

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
2 poems worked on: Bed poem – Now called For Ever Given, Under The Surface
0 submissions:
0 withdrawal:
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
1 rejections: Potomac Review
25 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
2 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Jonathan Davidson: The Living Room
Jack Little: Slow Leaving
Roger Garfitt: The Action
River Wolton: The Purpose of Your Visit

Zooms: None

McCoy Tyner: The Real McCoy
Rozi Plain: Prize
Margo Price: Strays
A Mouthful of Air Podcast: Rishi DastidarThe Verb: Breath
The Archers
Bjork: Biophillia
Blueboy: Bank of England, Clearer and Other Singles, If Wishes Were Horses
Dave Boulter: Lover’s Walk
Five Live: Spurs Vs Arsenal
Calexico: Algiers
Can: Future Days
Martin Carr: New Shapes for Life, Sailor/I Will Build A Road
Mogwai: As The Love Continues
The Delines: The Sea Drift
Eno & Hyde: high Life
Explosions In The Sky: the Wilderness
Feist: Metals
Mary Lattimore: Collected Pieces
Fenne Lily: Breach
Gaz Coombes: Turn The Car Around
Don Peris: Go Where The Morning Shineth
Japanese Breakfast: Jubilee
Kramer: Music For Films Edited By Moths
The Foxhole Companion: The Xmas issue
Arji’s Pickle Jar: Clare Pollard, Deryn Rhys-Jones
The National: I Am Easy To Find
Dead Meadow: Warble Womb
Daphni: Cherry
Oneida: Success
Giant Sand: Purge & Slouch
Tallies: Patina
Idlewild: Interview Music
Kathryn Williams: Night Drives
Alison Cotton: All is Quiet At the Ancient Theatre
Wolf Alice: Blue Weekend, My Love Is Cool, Visions of a Life
The Wedding Present: Bizarro
The Watson Twins: Fire Songs
2ManyDj: A set of songs
Low: Trust
Fleet Foxes: Shore
Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica

The Mosquito Coast
Happy Valley
Mr Inbetween
Abbot Elementary


Strix 8 – A copy I’d not ordered

The Wedding Present, No Soup For You

Disappointing Baguette

Well my plans for a weekly cadence went straight out of the window last weekend after a visit to Norfolk to see visit a sick relation and a sick friend…Without going into it, they were necessary visits. It sort of took the wind out of my sails for a while, and sort of continues to do so.

The weekend was laced with various sadnesses caused by driving about Norwich and Norfolk past old haunts. I think the whole things started going south when I had what can only be described as a disappointing baguette* from Archers. Archers is a butchers in Norwich that provides hot baguettes. I used to go there every Saturday ahead of my shift in a pub. A beef baguette from there would ease the inventible hangover and keep me going for a long shift.

(*I’m reminded of the life advice from Warren Zevon to “enjoy every sandwich”)

I’ve had them since, I always try to include a trip there in my visit back to the ‘hood, but something was off this time. It’s hardly a Proustian Rush, but it’s fair to say that that baguette set me off thinking about all sorts as I drove home…I went past a road I used to live on, a place we used to go for food when I was young, various places I’ve worked, through the place my grand parents used to live, where my dad used to work, a garage he refused to use, various roads I’ve not driven down for a while and noticed a few places that have closed.

By the time I got to where I was heading (My mum’s house) ahead of one of the necessary visits, I was about ready to jack it all in, but I remembered that the weekend had already had some joy after catching up with some friends I’ve not seen for a while.

4 men, various hair and beard lengths sitting at a pub table with pints of beer in front of Norwich market at night
Messrs Geller, Carnell, Kercher and me somehow looking like Uncle Fester. Outside The Garnet Wolsey by Norwich market

I also recalled the joy of singing along, badly, to various songs on the drive down, and the fact that I was about to go and see more friends. All of the travelling and visiting, etc meant that I was quite late to seeing the interview with Don Paterson in the Guardian last week. When I did see it I thought it was all fairly nondescript, but there seems to have been some “discourse” of late about a comment he made about poets and not being able to drive. It all seemed quite throwaway to me, but some of the reactions showed just how seriously some poets can take things and themselves. I was more reminded of Wendy Cope’s poem about Typically Useless Male Poets.

Oh well. In other news, where do I file my copy of Don Paterson by Ben Wilkinson? The book is a brilliant look at the work and themes of DP’s life, but where do I put it— under Don or with Ben’s books on my shelves???

I was reminded again of Don Paterson when I saw the news this week that Charles Simic had died. Simic is a poet I admire, but don’t know brilliantly, despite reading his Selected once—this may explain why). I make the connection with Paterson as I once saw them on the same bill at the Southbank. I think it was when DP was making his famous speech about leaving poetry to the proper poets (or words to that effect), but I could be wrong about both. I remember being enthralled by both, but not quite getting Simic. I’m still not sure I do, but I like it. That seems to be enough.

I’m going to include a poem that I have marked in my copy of his Selected Poems 1962 – 2012. It’s neither my favourite or his best, but I like it and it feels apt enough.

Charles Simic

Charles Simic is a sentence.
A sentence has a beginning and an end.

Is he a simple or compound sentence?
It depends on the weather,
It depends on the stars above.

What is the subject of the sentence?
The subject is your beloved Charles Simic.

How many verbs are there in the sentence?
Eating, sleeping , and fucking are some of its verbs.

What is the object of the sentence?
The object, my little ones,
Is not yet in sight

And who is writing this awkward sentence?
A blackmailer, a girl in love,
And an applicant for a job.

Will they end with a period or a question mark?
They’ll end with an exclamation mark and an ink spot.

Charles Simic, taken from New and Selected Poems 1962-2012, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

I’ve not written anything this week, and the running has had to take a back seat due to a nasty case of knee knack. I was trying to do RED January – aka Run Every Day, as I have done for the last few years, but I had to stop on Wednesday as my right knee is starting to hurt too much. Stairs are becoming an issue, and I think I’ve overdone it. Using Dr. Google, I think I’ve given myself Tendonitis, so rest seems a good idea. It’s annoying, but better to get it right before I star training. I want to run a marathon this year, but I also want to be pain free. I’m 46, FFS, not 106.

But rather than whinge some more, let me point you to the following

  1. The fact that Strix are back and taking submissions. The long delayed issue 8 landed on my doorstep at the start of the week. It’s filled with much wonder, but I was very taken with Roy Marshall’s poem ‘Attachment Theory’.
  2. I’m late to pushing it your way, but the latest issue of Poetry Birmingham is filled with all of the good stuff. I’ve not run the numbers here, but it feels more article-based than poetry-filled for this issue, but I recommend it for the poems and for Jeremy Wiley’s article about TS Eliot. You’ll have to buy a copy for those, but this interview between Camille Ralphs and A.E Stallings is also of interest, if for no other reason than because it’s made me pause and question my attitude to poets writing about the classics
  3. The first two episodes of Early Doors are finally on the iPlayer. This may be my favourite ever TV show. I hope as more are transmitted that the whole series will be there for catching up on
  4. I’ve discovered my blood is even more special than I thought. I gave my 20th donation this week and was told my blood is Neo only. My O neg blood goes to save babies. I am now developing a God complex

Finally, I managed to rescue this from work. I’m working out how to incorporate it into readings.

Mat wearing a rubber horse mask with his own round glasses over the top
Why the long face…feeling hoarse, etc

Back next week, hopefully feeling a little more chipper


35K running. 28 last week, 7 this week after the knee issue. I’ll be back.
4 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
4 days since drinking.

1 trip to Maida Vale and Primrose Hill to see a mate.
1 sarky mate’s son.
1 return to work
1 trip to Norfolk
1 drive back in the pouring rain
2 dropped kebabs
1 visit to an ill uncle
1 visit to an ill friend
1 being woken up by a dog licking my face
1 belated Xmas lunch
1 knee injury
1 sleep in this morning
1 blood donation – my 20th

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished: Caution, Horses
0 poems worked on: Caution Horses, Popular Mechanics In The Local Night Spot, Personal Bests
1 submissions: Strix
1 withdrawal: 192. It had been 36 weeks—my longest ever wait. I think that’s enough
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
30 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
2 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Will Eaves: Exposed Staircase
William Gilson; Spider Time
Strix 8

Zooms: None

The Archers
The Innocence Mission: Glow
A.O. Gerber: Meet me At the Gloaming
Lee Michaels: Carnival of Life
PJ Harvey: Rid of Me
Plains: I Walked With You A Ways
Carly Rae Jepsen: The Loneliest Time
Bill Callahan: Reality
Steven R Smith:A Sketchbook of Endings
Chelsea Carmichael: the River Doesn’t Like Strangers
Lisa Germano: Magic Neighbour
Mary Lattimore: Slant of Light
The Church: Uninvited, Like the Clouds
The Associates: The Affectionate Punch
The Astronauts: Fire Down Below
Atoms For Peace: Amok
The Auteurs: New Wave
Averkiou: Throwing Sparks, Wasted & High
Massacre, Massacre: New Dawn, New York
Avi Buffalo: At Best Cuckold, ST
Bat For Lashes: Lost Girls, The Haunted Man, The Bride, Fur & Gold
The Bathers: Summer Lightning, Sunpowder
Beth Orton; Weather Alive
Big Thief: Capacity, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
Laura Stevenson: The Big Freeze, Sit Resist, ST
Lift To Experience: The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads
The Archers
The Reds, Pinks and Purples: Dust in the Path of Love
Gladie: Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out
Self Esteem: Prioritise Pleasure
Sharon Van Eaten: We’ve Been Going….
Shearwater: Rook
Shelleyan Orphan: Humroot, Helleborine, We Have Everything We Need
Damian o’Neill: An Crann
Don Peris: Ten Silver Slide Trombones
Miles Hunt: The Custodian
The Shipping News: Save Everything
Sinead O’Connor: I Do Not Want What I Do Not have
Smashing Pumpkins: Gish
Sparklehorse: Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, Good Morning Spider, It’s a Wonderful Life, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
Spiritualised: Everything Was beautiful
The Staves: Good Woman, If I was, Motherlode EP
Taylor Swift: Midnights, Red (Deluxe)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
The Bevis Frond: Sprawl

Happy Valley
Slow Horses (with my mum)
Am I Being Unreasonable
The Mosquito Coast


New Welsh Reader
Michael Laskey: Thinking of Happiness
Strix 8

There’s always, always a Half Man Half Biscuit song for the occasion

Charts (Hah) (What are they good for?)

Apologies to Edwin Starr

Xmas was lovely, it was great to have my mum here with us, to talk to the extended family via various Zooms or Facetime, and to have had some nice evenings with friends, but I was kidding myself that I was well. This cold/cough seems to be a bastard in the sense that it lulls you into a false sense of security/well-being and then comes back to clobber you twice as hard.

And so, this hasn’t been the end to the year I’d planned. I had hoped to continue my streak of not being ill at Xmas. I’d hoped to have got my running back on track by running a half-marathon on the morning of NYE. At the time of writing that is looking unlikely. I had hoped to have got organised enough to have found a poem to publish, but I’ve barely read anything in the last two weeks and haven’t had the chance or wherewithal to get permissions to share.

I note this blog managed to maintain its place on Matthew Stewart’s end of the year blog round up, so I’m grateful for that. This post may see me removed. And it’s always nice to discover new blogs. One I’m saving up to read is Jeremy Wikeley‘s I”ve had his article about reasons to unsubscribe from blogs and mailing lists saved for a while, and while it seems to have been removed from the blog it promises to be a good read. (Message me and I’ll forward it on). It feeds in nicely to Matthew’s other post about the future of poetry blogging

Personally, I have no idea what I plan to do with this in 2023. I’d imagine it will be more of the usual gibberish. I’ve enjoyed the selecting of poems, so I hope to do more of that. My book is finally due out in 2023 (Woo hoo, it’s becoming real), and I’d said ages ago that this place might describe some of that process…so there’s that, you lucky people… I don’t know if I’ll manage a weekly thing—it felt like a good discipline, but it’s entirely self-imposed and so I can change it if I want to. I can’t imagine there will be much clamour if the frequency changes..(This is not a “Woe is me” moment—that was when I mentioned the illness. It’s more a case of there being too many things to read).

2023 will, I hope, be a more productive year. And a better year for everyone and everything. It’s hard to recall good points of 2022 when it all feels quite bleak here and abroad. I’m sure there are thing that will come back to me.

However, 2022 has been a year of less running and less submitting. The former has been because a mixture of injury and illness. the latter was partially driven by the first half of the year being about working on poems for the book, many of which have already found homes. This has, in turn, meant I’ve written less new stuff to send out. There’s also been a general malaise about me that I’m slowly emerging from. I’d also argue, and I don’t have the stats for this, that I’ve written more reviews this year and that has also had an impact.

In the week that I’ve entered the longest wait for an acceptance* and because I’ve made them, here are the charts for this year. Apologies to Edward Tufte and the like, there is much I could do to clarify things and improve these, but given that’s part of the day job, I’m letting that slide. I know there’s a day left to go, but I can’t seen any editors accepting anything this side of 2022.

* I won’t withdraw them yet as it will mess up the charts…

Submission numbers are down year on year by a third
Acceptances are broadly in line. They perhaps could be better based on the TBC number, but if wishes were horses, etc

It’s nice to end the year on a publication, and if it can’t be a poem, it should be a review. So here’s my hot off the press review of Jo Bratten’s book, Climacteric.

Update on 31st Dec, the very next day Nell published this review of Sarah Heming‘s Night After Night In the Quiet House. It made more sense to post this in 2022.

I hope your 2022 had many high points and your 2023 has many more. Thank you for reading. See you on the other side.

THE LAST WEEK(and a half or so) IN STATS

11K running. Piss poor this week due to illness
7 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
3 days since drinking.
1 sleepless night
1 sore foot and a slightly achy knee
1 cough/cold and a relapse

1 Xmas lunch
2 x boardgames
5 boxes of tissues
6 new pairs of socks

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished: Caution, Horses
3 poems worked on: Caution Horses, Popular Mechanics In The Local Night Spot, Personal Bests
1 submissions: Resonance
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
24 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

0 review finished: Sarah Hemings: Night After Night
0 reviews started: Sarah Hemings: Night After Night
0 reviews submitted:
2 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Ben Wilkinson: Don Paterson
Seamus Heaney: New Selected Poems 1998-2013

Zooms: None

The Archers
Terry Hall:Home
The Specials: ST, More SpecialsCourting: Guitar Music
Rachika Nayar: Heaven Come Crashing
Aoife Nessa Frances: Protector
The Innocence Mission: Geranium Lake, Glow, Hello I feel the Same, My Room In The Trees, See You Tomorrow, Small Planes
Elaine Howley: The Distance Between Heart & Mouth
Pixies: Doggerel
Pale Blue Eyes: Souvenir
Panda Bear & Sonic Boom: Reset
Sylvan Esso: No Rules Sandy
The Oh Sees: Levitation Sessions Vol.2
Charlotte Cornfield: Highs In The Minuses
Vince Guaraldi: Merry Christmas Charlie Brown
Matthew Halsall: Salute To The Sun (Live), Fletcher Moss Park
GoGo Penguin: Fanfares

Everything Everywhere All At Once
Batman Trilogy
Avenue 5
The White Lotus S2
We Own This City
Santa Claus: The Movie
Knives Out: Glass Onion
Violent Night
Banshees of Inisherin
The Grinch
John Wick
John Wick 2 Pearl Jam: The Ten Show

Christopher James:The Invention of The Butterfly
Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal #9
Strix #8

Book Flo ordered
Xmas presents Chocolates & Beer from work-related things
Christopher James:The Invention of The Butterfly

Andrew Bird, from his album Echolocations

A Bat(tlestar), Galactico from Heron in

I had considered employing ChatGPT to create this week’s blog, but despite feeding it all my previous posts, tweets, emails, and letters, the AI still couldn’t quite capture anything like the level of gibbering, so forgive me for the gibbering* that follows, it’s all me

*Apart from the poem and the links, they’re all good.

Incidentally, there’s a good article here about ChatGPT, what it can and can’t do, and the implications for humans.

As with last week, I’m going to link to a few things as this week has been too busy to think about much else.

This week has seen a long serving star of the scene, someone that always delivers, but has yet to win the ultimate plaudit and accolade finally achieve the pinnacle of their chosen field

No, not Lionel Messi and Argentina winning the (Men’s) World Cup—at the time of writing that isn’t guaranteed, France have just pulled a goal back. Christ, now they’ve equalised—where else do you get live commentary, eh?

No, I mean Matthew Stewart and his appearance on the final Poetry Planet podcast of the year….I’ve loved all of the PPP’s to date, but go and have a listen to this one. Matthew makes a lot sense…and says the word “Exactly” a lot.

When you’ve heard that, it would be worth spending some time reading the following.

Bad Lillies. Issue 11 is out now. I can’t lie, I’ve not read it yet, but the line up looks very strong, so I reckon it can’t fail.

London Grip – I did read this all yesterday, and despite theme of poems about poems and mothers, what stood out for me was Glenn Hubbard’s Heron poem. I think it resonated because I saw a heron on the roof of the house behind mine this week.

A Heron sitting on a roof, the roof is rusted with snow. The day looks quite grey. A bare tree partially hides the heron

Also launched this week is the latest wave of Iamb A Poet. Wave 12. Bravo to Mark for another gathering of excellent poets. I’m still working my way through it, so it won’t be fair to pick one out as yet.

This was an interesting article about someone I thought I’d heard of, but I’m not 100% sure that’s true. Rod McKuen appears to be have been what could almost be called an Instagram poet, but in the late Sixties. The article charts his rise and fall. Enjoy.

Finally, before it’s too late, if you haven’t then check out Jo Bell’s Writers Advent. Lots of handy tips to be had here for the writer in your life (and let’s be honest, that’s you.) Other writer’s Advents are out there. Read them all, or don’t.

Despite the Naush Sabah article last week abut submitting less, there’s still always time for some submission advice, so why not have a read of this article from Wendy Pratt.

And this reminds me, earlier in the week I saw a link to an article about how to deal with rejections. I can’t find the link now, but it did remind me of the patented Riches method. Stand by, this is complex stuff.

If you receive a rejection from a mag or journal you should simply read the rejection and move on.

Keep practising.

Finally, not a link to an article, but the singer and radio presenter, Cerys Matthews does a lot for the poetry world, so she warrants a note here. I was listening to the last album by her first band, Catatonia, this week. The album is called Paper, Scissors, Stone and a lyric to the song, Fuel stood out.

“Go ask the government
you voted in on trust
where is our fuel…?”

It came out in 2001, but seems about as pertinent as it has ever felt. **Ben Elton voice “Liddle bit o’ politics”

Release The Bats

I’m too young to recall this first hand, but I am lead to believe my mum once had to shut herself in the bathroom at our first home while my dad ran round the living room attempting to catch a bat our cat had brought in.

I’ve not seen the latest version with R Patz in, and it’s arguable that the world doesn’t need more Batman films, but I recall enjoying the Christian Bale trilogy as directed by Christopher Nolan. However, I think the best Bat-related film is the one below.

While I can’t imagine my mum commentating in the same way as this excellent video, but I’m pretty sure my dad’s dress sense is represented.

And finally a poem

All of this bat talk is lovely, but why? Well, I was reading Space Baby by Suzannah Evans this week. It’s a book that has been sat on my TBR pile for a while, roughly since the start of the year, largely because the reviews and mags kept coming in and pushing it back down the list, but I’ve been chomping at the bit to read it.

Copy of Suzannah Evans' Space Baby. Images of space and mountain ranges on a planet in space.
My copy of Space Baby with a Space pen above it earlier today

I first came to Suzannah’s work when I read her Smith|Doorstop pamphlet, Confusion Species. I loved the whole thing, so when her first full collection, Near Future, came out, I ordered it almost immediately, and was very happy to review it for London Grip.

I can’t prove this, but in my head, Space Baby sees her work getting a little bit more distance from humanity (despite or perhaps because of the titular poem), and yet it’s never been more about humanity as these poems pick apart what we’re doing to this planet and the life within its atmosphere, and what we might do when the time comes to abandon ship. And more.

Oh yes, the bats.

Despite the it having nothing to do with them, the moment I read the poem below the “memories” above about my mum, and the bat video were set off, and I knew I’d have to have this for sharing here. Thankfully, Suzannah agreed.

What is it Like to be a Bat?

after Thomas Nagel

For a bat to be a bat, I mean,
to use its whole body as an organ of sense

to rattle through the high-pitched dusk
feeling the geometry of cave walls

crunch the exoskeletons of mayflies
and taste their sticky wings

to sip in flight from the surface of a river
to ground itself and elbow up

ping back into the air
like an elastic band

to swaddle itself with its arms, grip
and swing from its feet

to slow its metabolism into winter, wake
with the hunger of a season’s sleep

to tangle with humans in the lofts
of old buildings, feel them lumbering

slow as planets through space
to zip between their heads

long before the gasp.

Published with permission of the author. Taken from Space Baby, Nine Arches Press

I love the way the couplets grow and shrink back, almost like a bat sending out their signals via echolocation. The way it’s one long swoop of a sentence, barely punctuated, but never leaves you out of breath. It also feeds nicely into the themes of the book as a whole, the bat far more connected to the world that surrounds it as an “organ of sense” than us human with our lofts in “old buildings”, and it could be me, but I read that as the buildings are abandoned.

Go, read more of Suzannah’s work.


9K running. Piss poor this week due to icy conditions, attempted more today, but impending lurgee and an aching knee caused us to bail out at 9k.
3 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
1 days since drinking.
1 sleepless night
1 sore foot and a slightly achy knee
1 impending cough/cold

1 really fucking busy week
1 day off to write (may have impinged on the above, but fuck it)
16 cups of coffee
8 cups of tea
0 trips in and out of London

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
4 poems worked on: Caution Horses, Popular Mechanics In The Local Night Spot, Personal Bests, Bed Poem
0 submissions:
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
24 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
3 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Suzannah Evans: Space Baby

Zooms: None

My Morning Jacket: Live Vol2; Chicago 2021
Polly Paulusma: The Pivot On Which The World Turns
Jadu Heart: Freedom
The Brian Jonestown Massacre: Don’t Get Lost
David Bowie: Low
Dawn Landes: RowDead Meadows: Force Form Free, ST
David Crosby; If Only I Could Remember My NamePaul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott: N.K. Pop
Death Cab For Cutie; Asphalt MeadowsCass McCombs: HeartmindMall Grab: What I Breathe
Catatonia: Paper Scissors Stone
Katy J Pearson: Sound Of the Morning
Širom: The Liquified Throne of Simplicity
Bernard Butler & jessie Buckley: For All Our Days That Tear The Heart
Catherine Anne Davies & Bernard Butler: In Memory Of My Feelings
Stanley Turrentine: Up At Minton’s Vol 1 & 2
Explosions In The Sky: The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
Andrew Bird: Echolocations:Canyon, FingerlingsAndrew Weatherall: Qualia
Fujiya & Miyagi: Slight Variations
Gastr Del Sól: Mirror RepairGene Clark: Echoes
Gillian Welch: Harrow & The Harvest, Hell Among The Yearlings, Revival, Soul Journey, Time (the Revelatory)
Glenn Jones: Against Which The Sea Continually Beats
REM: Automatic For The People
Stella Donnelly: Flood
Stephen Fretwell: Busy Guy
Planet Poetry: Matthew Stewart
Rachika Nayar: Heaven Come Crashing, Our Hands Against The Dark
The Archers

Strike (bloody awful)
The Mosquito Coast
Slow Horses
The White Lotus
Argentina Vs France

Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen
Present for a friend
Present for my wife on behalf of my child

Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen
My Faber Castelle Fountain pen was returned after being sent off to be repaired
Present for a friend

Andrew Bird, from his album Echolocations
HMHB. Best song about bat walks ever

Bontempirary Poetry and the Poetic NPS

Ok, lot to get through this week so strap in, grab a brew or glass of whatever (NB it’s currently 11.30AM on a Sunday…even I don’t want an actual drink now…but that could have something to do with last night…look away, these are not the drinks you’re looking for.) **pours out the last of the coffee**

First things first, some things for you to read at your leisure

The evergreen issue of poetry reviewing

It comes as no surprise that there are many different takes on this. I have no answer.
I read and enjoyed Gerry’s article here about an invented persona allowing a reviewer to be more critical with the reviewing. I’m not sure the article warranted the lines “Contemporary poetry has grown far too po-faced, solemn and performative and overly linked, perhaps, to personality — including that of those involved in its critical reception.” They feel both the point of what the article was written for and also utterly superfluous to the rest of the article. I’m pretty sure lumping “contemporary poetry” together is as pointless as saying eg pre-Raphaelite painting…or 60s rock, etc. What’s really being meant is, I think, a few people, but I am quite probably wrong. Also, I’m now thinking about what Bontempirary poetry might be. No idea why.

However, that aside there was much to agree with in the article, and much to think about and put back into my own reviewing work. I suspect I do fall into the category of overly “blandly laudatory”, although I’d hope not. Having been raised to praise wherever possible it very much plays into my own insecurities as a reviewer to attempt any criticism…a fear of being wrong, etc, but let’s see where we go in the new year. Much like long letters vs Short and the old-time equation, I wonder if it is quicker to write a “nice review” than a critical one? When word counts are limited, does the positive require less backing up and therefore space than pulling something apart? I guess a finished object takes up less space than the constituent parts laid out, but that’s a shit metaphor, so don’t spend any time on it. Ooh, hang on, I’ve just reviewed myself in a critical way in a short word count…Mind you, it was also a shit review…And so on and so forth.

I thought Elizabeth Rimmer (NOT BELINDA, sorry to both) had an interesting counterpoint to the article here. If, as Elizabeth notes, reviewing “doesn’t have any impact on sales”, what is the point of reviewing? It will have been covered more extensively and intelligently elsewhere, but for me, it’s still about engaging with the text (however laudatory or not) and driving awareness through the review. As Elizabeth notes,
“Neither Haggards nor The Well of the Moon have ever been formally reviewed, and though it hasn’t done sales any harm (would you mind if I casually mentioned that Haggards is being reprinted for the third time?)”, so perhaps even that isn’t true, but I think it has to be.

I know I’ve written the first and or only reviews of certain books, and that the review is just one part of getting your book out there. We, as writers, need to be hustling as much as we can to generate sales. If we don’t, we can’t complain when we don’t sell. As much as I’d love to not engage in the murky world of commercial practices, publishers want to sell, poets want to be read, publishers can’t do it all (especially in poetry world) and we can’t all be like PJ Harvey and sell poetry off the back of a successful music career. Reviewing space is tight, etc…All the same stuff you will have heard repeated in a thousand articles about the state of poetry and poetry reviewing.

(NB Not having a go at PJ Harvey. I love her music and haven’t read the book, and I totally get why the press, etc promote her over a “smaller poet” as she will drive clicks, etc. Getting isn’t the same as condoning, obvs)

However, a word-of-mouth sale still generates the same sale price as a review, but where did the awareness come from for the word to leave the mouth in recommendation?

I’ve now started thinking about a poetic version of the Net Promoter Score. NB I’m sure you’re like me and marketing scholars like Mark Ritson and think NPS is an utterly pointless metric…issues with the point and timing of the collection, the fact that perfectly acceptable scores like 7-8 are coded as neutral scores and thus ignored, the fact that it’s often asked about ridiculous subjects like recommending a banking app, or I think I was once asked about recommending a leading DIY retailer having purchased a bag of sharp sand. I didn’t respond.

So while NPS isn’t great, perhaps things like sharing screenshots on social media might be a new form of NPS…is it copyright theft??? Probably, but it also feels, for the most part, like an endorsement. I try to avoid photos of poems to avoid copyright infringement, and it’s not possible to endorse or share everything, but for example, I had to share this week’s The Friday Poem entry by Richard Meier because I loved it instantly. And it’s already out there in the ether, so it’s easier/safer to share. In fact, that’s almost the point. What an odd state of affairs we find ourselves in when we can share stuff posted online, but not a copy of a printed page. Oh, it’s almost the same as when TV studios didn’t think about digital broadcast rights when considering Video on Demand. I’m sure you’ve thought the same.

While I’m on the subject of TV, I enjoyed this article earlier in the week about the subject of the alleged “ITV Curse” and England’s footballing performance. The ratios weren’t helped by last night’s performance. My colleague at work had some similar digging into the results on ITV and BBC and what does for ITV is the number of draws. If I recall correctly when you add draws to wins, eg Not losses, we are basically neck and neck, but I like that this article tries to look at it with a number of more qualitative factors woven in. And the we can just blame Bob Wilson Anchorman (of course there is a Half Man Half Biscuit song

To draw (eh, see what I’ve done) this reviewing stuff to a close, and I’m sure this will be the end of such articles and discussions—it’s truly put to bed now, I’d like to draw your attention to this article by Jeremy Noel-Tod (esteemed critic and lecturer at the UEA). It absolutely highlights how you can engage with something and shows something I’d like to have more of in my own reviews…It also contains some excellent poetry-scene “beef”.

Finally, because I forgot to post it last week, my review of Tristan Moss’ ‘The Cold War’ is up at Sphinx (what a treasure trove that place is and how sadly I will miss reviewing for it). I note when searching for a link to the sales mechanism of Lapwing Press it was these Sphinx reviews that came up first. Is that evidence of the power of a review or piss-poor SEO on behalf of the publisher, or both, or neither? Who knows?

You’ve just got to accept it

In a year when my acceptance “stats” are basically half what they were last year, it was helpful to have read this article by Naush Sabah (and congrats, Naush, on the Michael Marks nomination for Litanies. I reckon it was my review what helped, obvs.) Congrats, as well to the eventual winners…Shane McRae and the folks at Bad Betty Press and everyone else that won an award).

Among the fairly standard advice about submissions, read the mag, be patient, etc, the advice to “publish less. Next year, send out fewer poems. Rack up fewer rejections. Narrow the list of magazines that you’d like to appear in.” is sage stuff. An editor in their own right that suggests we might edit our submissions in terms of numbers as much as in terms of editing the actual poems: I like it. I’ll claim I’ve done exactly that for now, but I’ve not crunched the numbers of the subs-to-acceptance ratio yet—that’s probably next week’s job. (How novel, Mat, an end-of-year stats post.)

I’m hoping a few mags will come back to me before the end of the year, but most are several weeks at least away from their closing or reply-by dates (and Christ I wish all publishers would include a minimum replying time, and clearly mark it from either the point of submission or the point of the window closing. I think it would half the level of grumbling (some from me) instantly.)

While I’ve not had an acceptance for a while now, I was pleasantly surprised that a poem that was accepted last year has finally gone up at the Mary Evans Picture Library site. It’s an old poem of mine, and one that took a while to come from idea to publication, but I quite like it. It’s not my usual kind of poem, but perhaps I like it more so because of that.

I think I may have taken my new author photo last night

And finally a poem

I’ve wanged on enough, let’s have a poem. Earlier in the week, I picked up my copy of Michael Laskey‘s ‘Weighing The Present‘ from my TBR pile. I could have sworn I’d read it, but I hadn’t. It must have been his New and Selected poems, The Man Alone. I’ll direct you to this excellent essay on Michael’s work by Matthew Stewart as he discusses the work in far more depth and with more clarity than I can. I’m pretty sure it was Matthew that pointed me towards Michael’s work in the first place. I’m ashamed to say Weighing has sat on the TBR pile for a year or more, but I’ve read it now and I love it. It’s quietly powerful stuff. And I could cheerfully have chosen almost any poem from it, but I was drawn straight away to the poem below for a couple of reasons.

1. A dear friend of mine has just come out of hospital
2. The poem was the result of a commission by The Poetry Trust and was written as part of a residency at the Norfolk And Norwich University hospital in 2009. My dad would have been in and out of the N&N at that time (more in than out for quite a while) and the N&N is where my brother and I were born (albeit at a different site). And the N&N was where my friend above was.
3. My cousin works there now in the radiography department, and another cousin used to work there in the mortuary
6. My nieces were born there
4. My Nan died there a few years back
5. My uncle (dad’s brother) is undergoing end of life support via N&N presently
6. It’s frosty outside and I’m looking at our blackcurrant plant (I’m the green-fingered one in this house, obvs)

(Sweet baby Jebus, that took a darker turn than I expected)

It doesn’t always, in fact rarely, takes a personal connection to get into a poem, but in this case, everything about it just hits a little harder. There’s every chance I was wandering the same corridors at the same time as Michael or the porter.


Back in hospital again today,
no fun, but let’s hear it for the porter
who stopped and asked was I lost.

And for the old boy I was sat next to
whose affability lightened
the wait in that windowless room.

He told me he’d worked from fourteen
on a fruit farm; how to save blackcurrants
from frost, they’d burn fuel oil in drums

all across the fields, smoke it off.
With greengages though, how each tree
comes up with a bumper crop

every seventh year, never fails;
how unproved branches breaking
will make it make new growth.

Published with permission of the author. Taken from Weighing The Present, Smith Doorstop

I love the way there is an optimism and a lightness to the poem, between the affable old boy, and the recovery of the greengages or protection of the blackcurrants through a potentially harmful “treatment” can lead to something better, a kill or cure state of affairs.

Now, speaking of kill or cure, I think there’s a Bloody Mary* waiting with my name on it. It’s now 2.30PM, so it’s more acceptable. NB I’ve not been writing this drivel solidly since 11.30, I’ve been out to get stuff for dinner and get coal for the fire.

*cup of tea and a packet of biscuits

I include this as a nod to my published poem and because the song that comes after it on the EP is called Kelso Dunes and dunes made me think of the opening to the Richard Meier poem I linked to above.


27K running. 17 yesterday, and 1 slow and 1 fast-ish 5k during the week.
1 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 days since drinking.
1 sleepless night
1 sore foot and a slightly achy knee


1 really fucking busy week
1 day off to write (may have impinged on the above, but fuck it)
16 cups of coffee
8 cups of tea
1 Client Xmas Party (in November) and a trip to the pub after
2 trips in and out of London
1 potential boyfriend on the scene for my daughter

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
8 poems worked on: Caution Horses, Popular Mechanics In The Local Night Spot, Personal Bests, Bed Poem
1 submissions: Poetry London
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
24 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
3 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Rialto 99
Michael Laskey: Weighing The Present, Living By The Sea.

Zooms: None

Polly Palusuma: Fingers & Thumbs
The Reds, Pinks & Purples: Mountain Lake Park, Summer At Land’s End
Habibi: ST
Jeff Tweedy; Together At last, WARM, Warmer, Love Is The King, Showbiz Kids, Chelsea Walls
Gladie: Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out
Saxon Shore: Four Months of Darkness
Caspian: Live At Larcom
Planet Poetry: Sarah Barnsley
Cassandra Jenkins: Play till you win, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
Acid Klaus: Step On My Travelator
Roger O’Donnell: Seven Words For Love
Craig Finn: A Legacy of Rentals
Caitlin Rose: Cazimi
Drugstore: White Magic For Lovers
Smashing Pumpkins: ATUM-Act 1
Lee Fields: Sentimental Fool
My Morning Jacket; Circuital, It Still Moves
Echo & The Bunnymen: Evergreen
The Cure: Wish
Sharon Van Etten: We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong
The Orilelles; Tableau
PJ Harvey: White Chalk
Plains: I Walked With You A While

Slow Horses (S2)
The Man Who Invented Christmas
England Vs Senegal
The Mosquito Coast
Portugal Vs Switzerland
England vs France

R’s Xmas presents

Michael Laskey: Between Ourselves
Haslam: Lunar Moths

It must be a sign (for water)

You join the Riches household at a momentous moment, we have just finished putting the Xmas decorations up. Normally we would have waited at least another week, but it’s been the kind of week (and year for that matter) where we feel like some sort of cheer was required. And hey, we march to the beat of our own drum, so yeah….or whatever.

Photo of a Christmas tree with baubles and lights. Books and a lamp in the background
Taken by my beloved, not 100% sure how she got the tracers on it

Because we’re about to embark on our other family Xmas tradition of watching a film together on a Sunday evening in the lead up to Xmas (Mainly Xmas films, obvs), time is tight today, but I do want to post a poem—especially as I have permission to do so from the poet themselves.

Given the last thing we put on the tree was the star, this poem feels even more timely. It’s Each Star is a Sun by Jo Haslam from her second collection, ‘The Sign for Water‘. Sadly, the book appears to be out of print, but it’s one of the earliest poetry books I can recall buying in Waterstones, Norwich. I hadn’t read the book in years, but stumbled across it on my shelves last week. I knew I had to post something from it, and asked Jo’s permission. Out of the two I suggested this was her preference, and it’s the perfect choice.

Cover of Jo Haslam's collection The Sign for water. Black words on orange with green stripe down left side.

I love the way the poem contains an element of the magical, and alludes to the way that we know the science of things, but still ascribe some sort of magic to the light that reaches us from such a distance. The way the lines of the poem seem to expand and contract like a galaxy and the universe seems entirely right.

Each Star is a Sun

Although we know that each star is sun, we call them stars.
And though the glass whose rim we run our fingers round
is spun and fused from sand; though water not heat
wears sand down and glass shatters when its rim is rung
we trust glass to drink from, sand to walk across
and not wear down, the stars to come out.

And though we know that booming sound inside a shell
that we say is the sea, is just an echo made
by any enclosed space against our eardrum,
the beating we say is our own blood, our hearts
can be another one’s. We hear it magnified
when the womb expands or when we hold someone.

And glass shatters to vibrations from your guitar’s
plucked string, not from the high pitched sound
they say is wrung from galaxies. The planets pulse
although they have no light of their own, give back
the sun’s reflection; and when they swing
it’s only an apparent shift in their position. They come

Orion, Aldebaran, the Winter Hexagon,
wanderers sometimes that dazzle us.
Look up, light’s travelling to us still,
heat from this yellow star we call a sun.

While trying to find Jo’s contact details I discovered that I had totally missed her other collections and pamphlets, so I’m slowly remedying that. Her pamphlet, Lunar Moths is on its way to be via The Poetry Business as I type (allowing for the postal strike. Don’t forget to support your postie) as is her Templar collection. I’ll see what else I can get ASAP…must buy some Xmas presents for people other than myself at some point.

NB Two poems in a row by poets called Jo… do I go for a hat trick?

Right, time for movie night.

The Apples In Stereo, Seven Stars. This song seems somehow fitting (and it’s one of my favourite songs ever).


20K running. 15 yesterday, and a 1 of fast-ish 5k during the week.
1 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 days since drinking.
1 sleepless night
1 sore foot and a slightly achy knee


1 really fucking busy week
1 day off to write (may have impinged on the above, but fuck it)
1 tumble dryer fixed.
15 cups of coffee
8 cups of tea
1 Staff Xmas Party (in November)
1 Sunday brunch
1 Xmas Decorations putting up session
2 trips in and out of London
1 moody teenager

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
1 poems finished: Sponsorship Opportunity
8 poems worked on: Personal Best, Under the Surface, Paws, Writer’s block, Bed poem, Hellraiser, Engineering, Sponsorship Opportunity
1 submissions: Butcher’s Dog
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
19 poems are currently out for submission. NB some are simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

1 review finished: Jo Bratten
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
3 reviews to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


The North #68
Poetry Wales

Zooms: None

Mazzy Star: Among My Swan
Okkervil River: the Silver Gymnasium, The Stage Names, The Stand-Ins
Essential Logic: Land of Kali
Edena Gardens: ST
Gladie: You Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out (three times in a row), Safe Sins
The Archers
The Verb: Liberation Narratives
The Cure: WishBuilt To Spill: You In Reverse,There Is No Enemy, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
Seren Poetry Podcast: Kim Moore
Girl Ray: Girl
Goat: Requiem, OH Death
Gomez: How We Operate, Whatever’s On Your Mind, A New Tide, Out West
The Hold Steady; Open Door Policy, Open Door Policy Live, Live London 2019
My Morning Jacket: At Dawn

The Mosquito Coast Ep 1-3
Uruguay Vs Portugal
England Vs Wales
Slow Horses (S2)

Hold Steady Tickets
Michal Laskey: Between Ourselves
Jo Haslam: Lunar Moths, Road to Kiso
Vodka to make raspberry vodka for NYE

William Gilson: Spider Time
Will Eaves: Exposed Staircase

Magic Darts*

I’ve never been very good at sport. I think I’ve mentioned playing for the village cricket team as a twenty-something and while I could bowl a bit, I was essentially there as a warm body to make up the numbers. I also played rugby for a while as a teen, but I had the same sort of impact there, and while in the under 16 team was often farmed out to the under 18s as cannon fodder/to make up the 15 needed. That said, the U-18s had their cigarettes brought to them instead of half term oranges, and had a better time in the clubhouse afterwards, so there was that. We will gloss over the time I cycled home full of Guinness and cider and fell off my bike on a muddy path, waking up with said bike on top of me.

However, I think the pinnacle of my ability to make up the numbers was one evening while sitting in my local pub and was press-ganged into joining the pub darts team into playing—again, I have feeling I’ve mentioned this, but hey ho. We went to Alysham’s Black Swan. I have no idea how the game went, or how I played, and hadn’t thought of it for a while, but that night popped straight into my head this weekend after reading this poem by the wonderful Oliver Comins over at the excellent Wild Court.

It’s been what can only been described as an absolute kick-bollock-scramble at work of late (no, there are no other phrases that work. I’ve tried them all), and that has left me struggling to keep up with reading journals, emails, books, road signs…anything really. And that starts to build up a pressure, a feeling that I’m not reading enough, not being engaged enough. That is likely entirely wrong, and very much a pressure of my own making, but it’s there and if I stop I worry I may never start again.

That won’t happen, but it can sometimes feel over-whelming trying to keep up with the journals that arrive, the books to review, the books I’ve bought and want to read, the music to listen to, the films and programmes to watch, the articles to consume…

Every new thing to read/listen to, watch, probably smell, maybe even touch that arrives can feel like email at work does, sometimes. Each one responded to begets another one and so on and so forth. Each journal sends me off to explore new poets, work by poets I know already, but may to have read, new albums, new shows, etc…

It’s all grist to the imaginative mill, but when I caught myself this week signing up to another newsletter I had to pause and wonder if it will ever be read, or will it be like the many bookmarked articles, the emails sat in my inbox addressed to myself with the caption “TO READ”, etc and all sit in the realm of potential knowledge/inspiration or even just fun.

I’ve flung the darts, but they’ve not made it to the board yet. Actually, that does sound a lot like the way I play darts.

Christ, what a load of first world problem-esque grumbling. Sorry, you should have stopped at the end of the second paragraph.

Now, let’s have a look at what you could have won…

Let’s be more positive. I’ve spent some of this weekend catching up on podcasts and the like, and today involved listening to a recent episode of The Verb about first drafts, and was particularly down to what one of the guests said about their work. Polly Paulusma is a singer-songwriter and a folk historian, and she was discussing her work being based on the accumulated knowledge of her work studying folk songs and how all artists are the sum of the things they have read, conversations they’ve had, etc. This is clearly not a new thought, but it fits nearly with some of the gibbering above.

And, of course, not having heard of her work before, now I want to go and listen to that. Damn it.

Despite the manicness of this week, it was listening to another podcast—this time it was Poetry Planet, the Shane McRae episode that got me thinking about a new draft. I was listening to it as I walked along Leather Lane towards the station on Wednesday evening. Something about Shane’s poems got me thinking about the big and the numinous, and an idea entered my head. I scribbled it down as soon as I got on the train. It already feels way worse than it did when it was just in my head, but perhaps that is the way of all drafts.

This week’s poem has appeared at exactly the right time for me. It feels like it links to stuff I’ve said above about overload – that feeling of doom-scrolling. The mention of Caravaggio triggers something I noted down ages ago based on a tweet I saw by the journalist and broadcaster Laura Barton in 2017 about Caravaggio never painting a candle. Not sure if that is a true fact, but I like the idea. One day I hope it makes its way into a poem. It may be enough that it’s made its way here.

I won’t say more about the poem as Jo’s book is one I’m reviewing at present


In the fractured dark we’re all doomscrolling
before dawn, lit up like Caravaggios:

arms stretched across burning beds,
brows trenched like Judith surveying the head

of Holofernes caught against her bright blade,
baffling our morning brains with fresh dread.

In the pale light of refrigerator dawn
we stroke our kettles, wake our computers,

watch the same horrors on bigger screens.
Tag yourself: Salome looking away,

the unflappable crone, the white-shouldered
executioner with pity in his lips,

the head of the prophet on the platter
lit like pearl, all played out, prophecies stopped.

Jo Bratten, from Climacteric, Fly On The Wall Press. First published at One Hand Clapping

Bonus poem by Nicholas McGaughey via the good folks at The Friday Poem just because of good timing—my beloved came home with some pictures she’d had framed this week. The framer was a local man with a dog called Ralph.

NB this link proves my point. Hadn’t heard of Nicholas before and now I have to find more. These emails and sites are a fucking menace for falling down rabbit holes. For example, I just know Matthew Paul’s review of Greta Stodart is going to make me have to buy her work, and I’ve not even read the review. And then there’s the other reviews too, but that’s tomorrow’s reading. Jane Routh is very good on “Hunker” as a banned poetry word by the way.

A fucking menace, I tell you…

And Finally

Something for you to play with/be inspired by is Lyre’s Dictionary Ironically, perhaps, I found out about this via the ever excellent Web Curios email by Matt Muir.

(To steal from Matt’s own site, ” Web Curios is a weekly roundup of stuff that its author – that is, me – has found interesting online over the past 7 days, and thinks worth sharing with its small readership. Web Curios has no real curatorial theme, beyond ‘stuff that its author thinks is interesting’, which may in part explain its steadfast refusal to grow beyond a very niche concern despite its preposterous longevity.“)

To quote Matt from this week’s email, “This is such a nice little toy – “Lyre’s Dictionary is a computer program that generates novel English words based on existing roots and patterns.” Refresh the page to get a new totally made-up but strangely-plausible sounding word, along with its definition; recent examples it’s thrown me include “gymnasis · (noun) the act or state of training” and the frankly brilliant “morsive (adjective) given to biting”, which latter one I am frankly going to start using at every chance I get.”

Have fun with it.

*is a phrase I’ve found myself using in emails a lot at work as a way of passing on an appreciation to someone. I have no idea whether that comes across, or where it came from, but hey ho it’s a thing now.

Polly Paulusma, Back of Your Hand
Poltergeist, Lune Deep – Just because Jane mentioned crossing Lune in her article…


19K running. 13 yesterday, and a 1 of fast-ish 6k during the week.
1 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 days since drinking.
0 sleepless nights
1 sore foot and a slightly achy knee


1 really fucking busy week
1 tumble dryer still not fixed. Everyone pray for the repairman on Thursday.
1 takeaway
15 cups of coffee
8 cups of tea
1 wife’s birthday
1 meal out for wife’s birthday
1 parents evening
2 trips in and out of London

1 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
1 poems worked on: Hellraiser, Caution Horses
2 submissions: New Welsh Review, The Stinging Fly
0 acceptances:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
19 poems are currently out for submission. NB some are simultaneous subs
80 Published poems

1 review finished: Tristan Moss
1 reviews started: Jo Bratten
0 reviews submitted: Tristan Moss
1 reviews to write:Sarah Hemings

Once these are done I will be review free for the first time in about a year. Imagine that. Obvs, I’ve asked for more.

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


The North #68

Zooms: None

Cowboy Junkies: Ghosts, Miles From Our Home, Nomad Series Vol. 1-5, Notes Falling Slow
The Archers
Steve Hiett: Waiting In the Grass
The Verb: Playwrights, First Drafts, Centenerary
The Foxhole Companion
Seren Poetry Podcast: Rosalind Hudis
Planet Poetry: Shane McCrae
Damon & Naomi: the Wonderous World of Damon & Naomi
Dion: Wonder Where I’m Bound
Silverfish: With Scrambled Eggs
Peppermint Rainbow: Will You be Staying After Sunday
The Field Mice: Where’d You Learn Too Kiss That Way
The Cure: Wish
The Lovely Basement: St
Chelsea Carmichael: The River Doesn’t Like Strangers
Dr Feelgood: Down By the Jetty
Laura Gibson: Goners
Duke Garwood: Rogues Gospel
Beth Orton: Weather Alive
Polly Paulusma: The Pivot on which the World Turns
The Go-Betweens: Friends of Rachel Worth, Bright Yellow Bright Orange, Oceans Apart, Send Me A Lullaby
Poltergeist: Your Mind Is a Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)

The Walking Dead – It’s finally over!!!
Stewart Lee: Tornado

Rebecca Farmer: A Separate Appointment
William Thompson: After Clare
New Welsh Review Subscription

Poetry Wales

X Appeal

Firstly, I have to clear up a very important matter. It wasn’t Special Brew that Jon poured over his head, it was Bavaria 8.6.

My fellow erstwhile band colleagues almost never read these posts, but the only comment from them last week was that brief correction. Still, it’s nice to be read and I think that counts as engagement…

The week has been too hectic at work to allow any chance for writing and the like. This afternoon was mapped out for some writing, and I have managed to further drafts of two more poems, but I am pretty sure my cats have been trying to tell me something this afternoon. It’s these drafts aren’t worth pursuing, or that I should take the afternoon off. You decide based on the evidence below.

A black cat sitting on a notepad
Margot helping

It could be it’s the sort of self-sabotage Robin Houghton outlines here, but folks like cats, right? I bet this gets the most engagement ever now…

This week has been busy with work in the run up to the launch of our new streaming service, ITVX. Go, have a look…there’s loads more to come in the coming weeks, but it’s all very shiny now. I’ve enjoyed working on the ads that we’re putting out to launch it. When I say launch, I mean testing them to see what the public think—I’m not a producer, etc. Two of the long versions are on YouTube now, so let me know what you think.

Forgive the lapse into work-stuff, but it’s good to see something I’ve been (a small) part of for 18 months starting to be out in the world.

In writing news, I had some ace news about the pamphlet that has absolutely reinvigorated me on that front. I was starting to feel a bit flat about it all, but on we go. More news on that news when I can say.

And, while I’m pretty sure my end of year stats are going to be down—both for running and for published poems, I did get a lovely acceptance this week from a magazine. This was my eighth attempt to get in there, so I’m very happy…And glad I didn’t give up on them. I nearly did after attempt five.

Normally, I try to link th song to what I’ve written above. Today, it’s because one of the poems I worked on earlier currently has the title Caution Horses, and this song is from the lovely album of that name by Cowboy Junkies.

Cowboy Junkies, You Will be Loved Again.


21K running. 11 yesterday, and a couple of fast-ish 5ks during the week.
1 day without cigarettes…really, really need to knuckle down here to help with the above
0 Days since drinking.
0 sleepless nights
1 sore foot and a slightly achy knee

1 gig at the O2. Florence and the Machine. With my own Florence. She broke her foot (not my Florence) and cancelled the rest of the tour, so we were lucky. Other Florence wasn’t.
1 really fucking busy week
I trip to the launderette. Hopefully our tumble dryer will be fixed this week
1 late night after running club
1 trip to the pub while stuff was washing at the launderette
1 trip to Columbia Road for flowers
1 post trip to Columbia Road stop at Dishoom for bacon naans…mmm, bacon naans!!

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
0 poems finished:
3 poems worked on: Caution Horses, Sponsorship Opportunity, What’ll It Be?
0 submissions:
1 acceptances: Frogmore Papers
0 readings:
2 rejections: TLS, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal
12 poems are currently out for submission. NB some are simultaneous subs
80 Published poems
35 Poems* finished but unpublished
Twelvety poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough

0 reviews finished:
0 reviews started:
0 reviews submitted:
2 reviews to write: Jo Bratten and Tristan Moss

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


The North #68

Zooms: None

The Divine Comedy: Victory for the Common Muse
Mercury Rev: Deserter’s Songs, The Secret Migration , See You In The Other Side
Michael Chapman: Americana, Americana 2
Florence & The Machine: Dance Fever, High As Hope, Ceremonials
Gold Panda: The Work
The Archers
Dropsonde Playlist
BBC Radio 3: Unclassified
The Verb: Narrators
The Clientele: Bonfires on the Heath
Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Kelly Lee Owens: ST
The Cure: Anniversary
Baden Powell: Poema A Guitar
Cowboy Junkies: Caution Horses

The Old Man


A book to review