On holiday this week, nothing to add other than being pleased to find a little bit of Norfolk in the North West.

Next stop, Scotland

Week In Stats

25k running – Nice, need to up this to hit 1500k this year, but I’ll take it.

3 days of a new 7-minute workout. Didn’t feel like the week for it, but I gave it a go for a bit. Back to it some more next week

0 x rejections: Phew, but a few big places I’m waiting on.

2 poems finished

400+miles driven

1 day without cigarettes…

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


The Divine Comedy: Promenade

Mary Lattimore: Silver Ladder

Andy Votel – Songs from Dracula’s Dulcimer

Andy Bell – The View From Halfway Down

The Baptist Generals – Jackleg Devotional To The Heart
Bathyscaphe – ~11034m

Be Your Own Pet-
The Beans – Bassplayer

The Beautiful South: 0898, Welcome To The Beautiful South

Ben Chatwin: The Sleeper Awakes

Ben Watt – Storm Damage
Emma Kupa: It Will Come Easier

Half Man Half Biscuit: ACD, Achtung Bono, Cammell Laird Social Club, CSI: Ambleside, Editor’s Recommendations, ENO Collaboration EP, Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral, Look Dad No Tunes, McIntyre Treadmore & Davitt, No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fucking Hedge Cut, No Regrets, Saucy Haulage Ballads, Some Call It Godcore, This Leaden Pall, Trouble Over Bridgewater, Urge For Offal, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Road, 90 Bisodol (Crimsoned)

Feist: Let It Die, Metals, Monarch (Lay you Jewelled Head Down), Pleasure, The Reminder

Juliana Hatfield: Weird

Sylvan Esso: What Now

Kevin Morby: Sundowner

Jonny Greenwood: Bodysong, Phantom Threads OST

Bernard Butler & Catherine Anne Davies: In Memory of My Feelings

The National: Alligator, Boxer, The Black Sessions, High Violet, I Am Easy To Find

Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison

Continue reading OOO

Alright, Treacle…

It’s been a cold weekend (thank heavens for wood burners and thick socks), and today hasn’t been the most productive one. Flo has been poorly, so there has been a lot of film-watching from the comfort of the sofa.

However, I did manage something I’ve been meaning to do for ages (Buckle up…this is about to get exciting)—clearing the pantry cupboard out!

Yep, that job has been staring at me every time I try to find a jar of spices, or vinegar or oils, etc. It was carnage in there, but no more.

Now it’s organised, tidied and there’s space to see what you need. We do, however, have far too many packets of Suet, and we won’t be needing any Coriander seeds for a while. There were some casualties along the way, most notably this classic that was **cough** months out of date.

While I’ve had to chuck it, it did at least make itself useful by reminding me of this poem by Paul Farley, from his debut collection ‘The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You’. It’s scary to think this book is twenty-two years old…


Funny to think you can still buy it now,
a throwback, like shoe polish or the sardine key.
When you lever the lid it opens with a sigh
and you’re face-to-face with history.
By that I mean the unstable pitch black
you’re careful not to spill, like mercury

that doesn’t give any reflection back,
that gets between the cracks of everything
and holds together the sandstone and bricks
of our museums and art galleries;
and though those selfsame buildings stand
hosed clean now of all their gunk and soot,

feel the weight of this tin in your hand,
read its endorsment from one Abram Lyle
‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness’
below the weird logo of bees in swarm
like a halo over the lion carcass.
Breathe its scent, something lost from our streets

like horseshit or coalsmoke; its base note
a building block as biblical as honey,
the last dregs of an empire’s dark sump;
see how a spoonful won’t let go of its past,
what the tin calls back to the mean of its lip
as your pour its content over yourself

and smear it into every orifice.
You’re history now, a captive explorer
staked out for the insects; you’re tarred 
and feel its caul harden. The restorer
will tap your details back out of the dark:
close-in work with a toffee hammer.


32k running – Not bad, back in something if a groove after a bit of a layoff. Hopefully, I will be able to walk tomorrow

2 days of a new 7-minute workout. Didn’t feel like the week for it, but I gave it a go for a bit. Back to it some more next week

0 x rejections: Phew, but a few big places I’m waiting on.

1 poem finished – ‘Setting Out’, not called ‘Summer Job’, I think. It may be part of a sequence, but that depends on the other parts being finished. I have two of them in the go, but it may need a fourth..Hmmm

3 poems worked on. ‘Summer Job’, and ‘Schröedinger’s Catch’ and ‘Follow That Taxi’

2 days without cigarettes…

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


Charlton Aesthetic
Ta Dah For
Codec Moment
Confluence Call


VA – Good Music To Avert The Collapse of American Democracy Vol1 and 2
Tindersticks: First Tindersticks Album, Tindersticks (2nd Album), Waiting For The Moon, The Waiting Room, What Is A Man Ep, Working For The Man, Curtains, Don’t Even Go There Ep, Falling Down A Mountain
Archers of Loaf: White Trash Heroes (jncomplete listen)
The Flaming Lips: American Head (jncomplete listen)
Galaxie 500: On Fire, This Is Our Music, Today
Gigolo Aunts: Flippin’ Out
Toy: Clear Shot, Happy In The Hollow, Join The Dots
Trespassers William: Anchor
Travis: The Boy With no Name, The Invisible Band
Neil Cowley – Building Blocks Pt1
Van Halen – ST, 1984
R.E.M.: Reckoning
Prince: Sign of The Times
Frank Black – The Cult of Ray, Honeycomb, Fast Man Raiderman, ChristMass
Frank Black & The Catholics – The Black Rider
The Divine Comedy – Victory For The Comic Muse, Absent Friends
VA: Don’t Press Your Luck: US Garage Greats 1965- 1967
Eggman _ First Fruits
Eleanor Friedberger – Rebound
The National: Alligator, Boxer, Cherry Tree, High Violet
The Boo Radleys: Giant Steps (Expanded Edition)
Mina Tindle: Sister
Mary Lattimore: Silver Ladders

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
None this week

Battlestar Galactica S2 E15-20, S3 E 1-2
Ashes To Ashes, S1 E1
Ghosts, S1 E1-3
The Boys S1 E1

The London Marathon – well done to Emma, Rufus and Euan

The Archers



Frogmore Papers 96
The Most Beautiful Molecule – Hugh Aldersley-Williams

A Trophying

There’s been a meme (is it a meme, not sure) doing the rounds on the Twitters in the last couple of weeks that asks participants to name 3 recurring themes in their work. You then tag in other folks and get them to do the same.

I was tagged in this week by Matthew Paul.

I was pleased to be tagged in, but also it struck the absolute fear in me, worrying about whether I can answer the question. Emma managed to reply the same day, and I’ve managed to spend all week prevaricating and pondering on it. And not because I wanted to write about it here, but because I genuinely don’t know if I know the answer. I’ve been looking up and down the poems I have that have been published and those that are “waiting for a home” and keep drawing a blank, bupkis, nada, zilch or the old goose egg…

While I think Matthew is being slightly flippant with his choices— his work is infinitely deeper and more varied than he makes it out to be as you will, of course, know, having bought The Evening Entertainment, obvs—I did, and still do, find myself asking if should I be able to answer this without thinking? Am I over-thinking it?

I don’t think I’m being pretentious and blah-di-dah about it, all I couldn’t possibly reduce my work to three words, etc, but I am struggling with it. I’ve never felt the need to sit down and work out what my poetics are, perhaps this is a sign I should…just as soon as I work out what it means.

However, as I write this I think I’ve managed to work out the answer. I’m going with the following.

1. Moments of frailty
2. Mockery
3. Inanimate Objects finding/Getting a voice

Apologies to anyone that actually reads this, but you are at least witness to Twitter in action, as it would be unfair to post this here without replying on Twitter, so…hang on…

The proof that I did
Also proof that I didn’t

The tricky thing now, I think, having worked this out (and getting beyond the idea that it’s based on anything more than a snapshot) is will I now notice these things more and stop doing them? Should I notice these things more? And should I stop doing them? Oh god…I need a rest.

Anyhoo, enough of this flim-flammery.

Now that it looks unlikely that I will be going back to work in any normal sense, certainly not before March, I’ve got comfortable with the idea of having a home office. I’ve shifted my poetry mags up there and a few reference books, and on top of the shelf sits this trophy.

The only trophy I have ever won

I put it there because I hadn’t worked out where to put it (if that makes sense) and just haven’t found a moment to give it a proper home. However, at least three times this week I’ve been asked about it by people on various work-related Google Hangouts or Zoom calls.

I won it back when I was in my early 20s, home from University (nearly left this as Uni and would have had to hit myself in the face) and still living back with my parents. I may have moved out and into Norwich by then and commuted back at the weekend for games, but it’s irrelevant. Or is it? I spent a couple of summers playing cricket for my local village team. I enjoyed the camaraderie of being around these menfolk, all in their 30s and beyond and all the usual trappings of amateur sport, the teas, the sitting around, the jokes, etc…

I was crap at cricket. I had a batting average of 0.5 in the ’99 season. I was usually stationed at Fine Leg or Deep Square (or my favourite name, Just Backwards of Square – this also gives me my musical choice for later) to keep me away from the action when fielding. This wasn’t helpful, given that I couldn’t throw very far.

Ok, so it’s baseball aka American Cricket, but on the other hand, it is Mariah….

However, I could bowl a little bit of spin, although I had no idea of what would happen with the ball once it left my right hand. While the batsmen didn’t either, neither did the wicketkeeper.

(As an aside, the wickie was a lovely man by the name of John Edge. Our local bobby/Busy, he was a Scouser, and was nicknamed, with true panache and consideration, Edgey—somewhat ironic for a wicketkeeper, I think).

Despite bamboozling myself and Edgey, it did help sometimes to get batsmen out. MY favourite was a chap close to his 100 against us. Our fast (and good) bowlers had struggled against him. I think I was the Fuck it, why not option for the captain. Long story short time, I got him out. And if memory serves, it was before he reached his tonne. I very much enjoyed the time in the pub later.

So it was particularly lovely to see this poem in the latest Rialto by Oliver Comins. Please note there are many, many other excellent poems in the new Rialto (and an excellent couple of interviews), but for now we will focus on this one.

Oliver Comins, from the latest Rialto (Issue 94)

I loved Oliver’s Oak Fish Island and have been enjoying seeing his new work come out across the mags and sites, etc, but this one, alongside the questions about the cup, triggered the happy memory. I wasn’t quite in 8fer territory. I may have managed 3 once, but I certainly recognise the ‘all-night grin’.

And now that I’ve realised that Matthew’s original tweet mentioned Cricket and that I’ve been talking about cricket here—by accident, not by design, I can pat myself on the back and stop.


6k running – Lower, again, this week due to still having what I think is hamstring knack…

2 days of a new 7-minute workout. I will build this up, but it’s a start. Hamstring knack is killing my motivation

1 evening in with a mate that was most enjoyable

2 x rejections: Stand and Marble Poetry

1 poem finished – Was called ‘Buttered Dogs’, but isn’t now

3 poems worked on. ‘Tea Breaks’, ‘Hatton Garden’ and ‘Schröedinger’s Catch’

1 day without cigarettes…

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


Quiet Fire (thanks to my wife for that one)
Trundling In
Oh The Huge Manatee


Philip Glass: Symphonies 3 & 8, Early Works 1969 -70
AdriAnne Lenker: Abysskiss
Smashing Pumpkins :Confessions of a Dopamine Addict EP
Bjork: Homogenic
John Hiatt: Slug Line
Kath Bloom: Bye Bye These Are The Days
Suzanne Vaille: Love Live Where Rules Die
Susanne Sundfør: The Sillicone Veil
Tall Ships: Impressions, Everything Touching, There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here
Fairport Convention: Full House, ST
The Family Cat: Magic Happens
Followed By Ghosts: The Entire City Was Silent
Four Ten:Live At Funkhaus, Berlin 2018
R.E.M.: Around The Sun, Fables of the Reconstruction
Rachel’s: Selenography, Music For Egon Schiele
New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies
The Tallest Man In The World: The Wild Hunt
Robbie Basho: Venus In Cancer
Sonic Boom: All Things Being Equal
OSEES: Levitation Sessions
Kevin Morby: City Music, Harlem River, Oh My God, Singing Saw
The Last Dinosaur: Untitled Piece for Piano and Viola, Hooray! For Happiness
Working Men’s Club: ST
Margo Price: All American Made
Sun Ra & His Arkestra: Holiday For Soul Dance

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
None this week

Battlestar Galactica S2 E7-13
Selling Sunset S3
The London Marathon – well done to Emma, Rufus and Euan

The Archers
Grandbag’s Funeral Ep5: NoseyBonk At Chinawhites

The North 64
Alex MacDonald – Delicious All Day
Gregory Leadbetter – Maskwork
Poetry News
Socks from Jollies
Nine Pins Mug – Get yours here to support a new press

Socks from Jollies
Alex MacDonald – Delicious All Day
Derek Mahon – Selected Poems

Dark Horse 42
Rialto 94

A lovely song from a lovely album….I do actually think these song choices through.

Where Eagles Beware

Just read through last week’s post and discovered the phrase “eagle a fist”. I think, based on what had gone before I meant “waggle a fist”. Eagling a fist is perhaps a golfing term and as far as I am concerned I’m with Churchill on golf. He said it’s a shit sporting not to be bothered with.

I know there’s a more famous quote attributed to him, but this unattributed (and entirely made up) one is far better, IMHO.

I’ve been very lucky of late to have my ramblings picked up and included in Dave Bonta’s round up of weekly blogs, Via Negative. I find my gibbering in among a range of great posts where people make genuine sense, post interesting work of their own and generally look like they know what they are doing, and I am bemused as to how I got there.

However, it’s lovely to see and cheering. I am 99.9% confident that this week’s post won’t make the grade (Double dares Dave!!).

There’s nothing to say this week. I’ve continued my pre-work schedule of writing for about 30 – 45 minutes before switching to day job mode and I think it’s helping. I’ve made some progress on a couple of longer poems that have been hanging about for a while. I think the idea of the graft required to get them anywhere was subconsciously putting me off working on them, but nibbling away at them over the last two weeks has been quite restorative.

It’s interesting that it’s longer stuff that’s being worked on. I didn’t think I was a long poem kind of poet at all. The sustained level of thought didn’t seem like me at all, and perhaps it isn’t. The poems may well be shite, but I like the idea of a concise idea being spread out—if that’s not an oxymoron.

It’s also interesting in these times that it’s taken so long to get into a routine for myself; the work routine happened pretty much straightaway.

I think, for me, the end of summer and the return to school has shaken me out of the stupor a bit, made me accept the long haul of it all. There was a lovely quote from someone on an online research community for work that said something like, “At least if you’re in prison you know when you’re getting out pretty much to the day. Lockdown, etc isn’t like that – it’s the not knowing.”

I’m paraphrasing, but the point’s the same, and it’s taken me six months to come to terms with that. That said, that getting up and exercising then writing and then a full day off work has knackered me out. Today was the first day I’ve slept in for months…it was glorious, but I feel discombobulated by that. I can’t win.

In other news, three lovely things arrived this week that I am enjoying leafing through.


4 days of a new 7-minute workout. I will build this up, but it’s a start.

10.4k running – Lower this week due to cancelling this morning’s longer run – sleep and dodgy hamstrings made me think sleep was the better option

1 evening out with a couple of mates that was most enjoyable

1 meal out with Flo

1 shopping trip to Rough Trade for Flo to buy her first vinyl. Nice.

3 poems worked on. ‘OOO’, ‘Tea Breaks’ and one I can’t decide on a title for

2 days without cigarettes…I was doing well, again…

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


Ornation Under A Groove
The Knights Are Drawing In
The Knights Are Colouring In
You Want A Piece of Me, no…not that one
You Know You’re In The Fire When The Frying Pan Looks Good
Batch Cooking


VA – Door To The Cosmos
Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Glenn Jones – Fleeting

The Go-Betweens
Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express

Stone Goat
World Music
Fuzzed In Europe
It’s Time For Fun
Live Ballroom Ritual

RM Hubbert
First & Last
Thirteen Lost & Found
Breaks & Bone

72-Hour Post Fight – ST and Not/Unglued
Smoked Sugar – ST
Manic Street Preachers – Futurology. (Every 6 months I try again with MSP and every time they bore me to tears)
Menomena – Wet And Rusting
Molina and Johnson – ST
Nice As Fuck – ST
Pearl jam – Gigaton

The Nudes
People Living With Animals, Animals Kill People
A Scuttled Blender In A Watery Closet
Teaching The history of Teaching Geography

Fleet Foxes – Shore
Explosions In The Sky – All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
Fleet Foxes – ST
Bedhead – Transaction De Novo
Ed Harcourt – Monochrome to Colour
Jealous of the Birds – Penisula

El Ten Eleven
Tautology III
Banker’s Hill
Fast Forward

Elbow – Giants of All Sizes
Laura Barton’s It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Playlist
Eric Andersen – Avalanche
VA – Fieldworks:Ultrasonic
Bonny Light Horseman – ST
Tangents – Timeslips
Mint Field – Sentimiento Mundial
Frank Black – ST
Fanny – Fanny Hill
National _ Boxer
John Hiatt – Mystic Pinball
David Axelrod – heavy AxeWilliam Ackerman – Imaginary Roads

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
The latest ep of Grandbag’s Funeral

Battlestar Galactica S2 E2-6
Selling Sunset S2 E7-8
The Truman Show

The Archers
Latest Episode of the excellent Grandbag’s Funeral

Frogmore Papers Sub
Dark Horse

Frogmore Papers Sub
A Nine Pens Mug
Alex MacDonald Pamphlet

Sarah Corbett: The Red Wardrobe, Other Beasts
Dark Horse 42

Echo Location


Just as an FYI, I can barely keep my eyes open at the moment…the reasons for which will become apparent in a moment (is this in Media Res, I have no idea?)

Happy Birthday for this week to my favourite of all of my children. Seen here, not on her birthday.

And, happy birthday today to my most glorious and riotous niece Amelie.

Last night, Flo has a few friends over for a sleepover/party in a tent in our back garden. It feels very odd having other people in the house. Were we breaking some rules, I’m not sure – probably, either way it was a relief for this group of friends to be together…largely shrieking and consuming their bodyweight in pizza and snack items while watching The Breakfast Club. Of course, I walked in when the conversation on the screen was turning to sex…Could. Not. Get. Out. Of. The. Tent. Fast. Enough.

The shrieking finally wound down about midnight and after an early start for running I am cream-crackered.

However, I wasn’t yesterday and I can’t explain why this poem broke me when I saw it (for the second time—having recently read it in Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal #4. Page 62, fact fans).

It’s making me well up again now as I read it again. I love the “Broken like a shotgun” line a lot, it’s such an arresting and powerful image, and maybe the poem triggers more in me than I thought about my own dad, I didn’t care though. It’s a beautiful poem, and had me thinking about the days when we’d carry a sleeping Flo to bed… There are better analyses to be had, but for now this will do. It hits at a visceral level and I’m happy with that.

Please note that his other poem in PBLJ4 is equally powerful.

Get your copy here –

The buy the back issues offer for £25 is great value for money, and I’m pretty sure subscriptions are a-coming soon.

I was also very pleased to discover the work of Jamie Baxter as a result of Matthew Stewart’s (him, again, FFS!!!) success this week with placing a poem in The Spectator.

I urge you to seek out this poem by Jamie. I am going to dig into his poems as soon as I find some more. I understand he’s not got a pamphlet or book out tutee, but I hope this si resolved soon.

And to go and get a copy of The Spectator to see Matthew’s poem. I know there are many things wrong with The Speccie (not least that they continue to give Rod Liddle, T*by Y*ung and James Delingpole opportunities to peddle their racist, shortsighted shite*). However, it does feel like this is a shift into a different world for Matthew’s work. I am sure that Hugo Williams has a very different editorial approach.

The idea of being published in poetry journals and websites, etc is, of course, an absolute dream. He’s been published in a great many of the “biggies” and, still, of course, it’s important to try to get into them. I certainly won’t give up, but when you’re being published in places where the opportunities to be seen and read by folks that may not normally read poetry are increased is a massive achievement, and for that I applaud the lad.

*Please note that I know Matthew does not share the views of that particular bunch of shithouses.

Olivia McCannon

Discovering new poets is always a joyous thing, and late last week I was browsing the Carcanet website for something—I don’t recall what, but I stumbled across the name Olivia McCannon. I didn’t recognise it, so I looked up her work and liked the poems I saw. I immediately ordered a copy of her first and—as far as I can see—only collection.

Out arrived a couple of days ago, and while it will have to find it’s own place on the TBR pile, I looked at the first poem in there and was pleased to see it was about the Liverpool Echo sellers of, er, Liverpool. Or rather, about one specific “man outside Marks and Sparks, / Twice a minute every day for years, he shouted ––‘C’o!

You’ll have to get your own copy to find out more, but it’s made me very happy and nostalgic for my time in Liverpool and the Echo seller I used to hear at the bottom of Bold Street. I was convinced he was shouting ‘New York, New York” instead of “Echo, Echo”. I must also now waggle a fist at Olivia for taking this idea.

I mean I would eagle a fist if my arms weren’t so very tired. I think I’d like to be back here in my newly-arrived hammock.

Thanks to my beloved wife for capturing this “brief” moment of taking stock yesterday


35 press ups, 12-20 sit ups, 20 Trunk Curls, at least one minute of Plank and 10-15 Tricep Chair Dips Mon – Thursday

30k running – Including 15K this morning

1 birthday party

1 lunch with colleagues, including

2 that I’ve worked with for 5 months but hadn’t met before

1 family walk

3 poems worked on. This whole getting up and working on stuff before work has been quite productive. 1 poem nearly finished, + 2 totally redrafted. I’ll keep this going for a while – just need to work out if typing stuff up counts as writing before work.

1 day without cigarettes…I was doing well, again…

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


Crucial intelligence (Stolen from a LinkedIn request I had this week)
Exactly Similar
Photo Ops


Don Cherry – Complete Communion
VA – BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Davy Graham – Midnight Man
The Rolling Stones – Goats Dead Soup
Alessi’s Ark – Time Travel
Alex The Astronaut – The Absolute Theory of Everything
A. Armada – Anam Cara
A.C Newman – Get Guilty

Neko Case
Canadian Amp
Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
Furnace Room Lullaby
Middle Cyclone
The Worse Things Get…..

Collections of Colonies of Bees – Birds
Spinning Coin – Hyacinth
A Certain ratio – Berlin
Mike Polizze – Long Lost Solace Find
John Coltrane – Giant Steps
VA – How The River Ganges Flows – Sublime Masterpieces of India Violin
Fenne Lily – Breach
Wah Wah Watson – Elementary
Bedhead – Whatfunlifewas
Emma Kupa – It Will Come Easier

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
None this week

Bone Tomahawk
Selling Sunset S1 and E1-2 of S2
Bottom S1 E1
Des – E1 -3

Finally caught up on The Archers from Mid- August to now. It’s getting better now folks are having conversations again.

A Hammock
A projector screen

A Hammock
A shirt from Working Title Clothes in Norwich
A projector screen

Poetry Birmingham Issue 3
Rhian Edwards – The Estate Agent’s Daughter

A Raise of Sunshine

Crikey, it’s been a red letter week for the poetries stuff.

1. I actually wrote a poem
2. An actual idea for a blog post occurred to me during the week
3. I attended a brilliant reading for the launch of Maria Taylor’s new collection, ‘Dressing For The Afterlife.’
4. In non-poetry stuff I’ve found my ancient sandals. I feared them lost after our camping trip last week. It was intense, but they were still in the tent.

Maria’s Reading…

I urge you to watch this if you get the chance as not only is Maria excellent at reading, but she reads excellent poems. I’m very much looking forward to my copy landing on my doormat any day now.

*Curses postman for not delivering on Saturday*

Maria was also ably supported by Mona Arshi and Kostya Tsolakis.

Mona’s reading served as a reminder that I have been remiss in not buying her latest collectionn, Dear Big Gods. Especially as I loved Small Hands so much.

Kostya’s reading suggests I’m going to have to buy his forthcoming pamphlet, Ephebos from Ignition Press (Sorry, can’t find a better link).

I had an ideaAlternative Poetry Prizes

Now I look back at the scribbled note what I wrote on the back of a flyer for a youth theatre group that had been unceremoniously shoved through our letterbox this week(* & **), I’m not convinced it is the greatest idea ever, but it’s something .

I was thinking about poetry prizes and the way great poets can be left off lists. A recent example of this is Rory Waterman’s ‘Sweet Nothings‘. In my eyes, it is an excellent collection. Certainly his best work to date (and his other two collections weren’t exactly shabby), but somehow not included in the recent Forward Prize list or even commended.

This is not about saying the list is wrong—the folks on it are there on merit and I get at people miss out. It is, however, hard to see why Sweet Nothings wasn’t included. Read Matthew’s excellent essay at Wild Court on Rory’s latest as well, or just do what Mark here has done and listen to me. Buy the book.

It’s clear that awards are subjective things, and the debate about them will continue from now until the end of time, so we won’t get into that now. However, while everyone wants to win the Best Director, Best Actor, Best Film Oscars, there is much to be said for winning the best On-set Catering award (Subs to check this award exists), and with that in mind I’m suggesting a few poetry award categories of my own.

Highest Simile Count
Lowest Simile Count
Fewest Typos Per Collection/Pamphlet
Most Use of Quotations At The Start Of The Poems
Longest Dedication
Longest Acknowledgements
Shortest Acknowledgements
Most Footnotes
Highest Use of Run-on Titles
Best Use of Italics
Most Sections
Best Use Of The Word ‘Sunbeams’

I’d love to hear if you have any more suggestions.

*Where the bollocks have the paper and pens gone in my house?
** Just to be clear, it was a flyer shoved through the letter box, not the actual Youth Theatre group

An Actual Poem Happened

Yep, an actual poem occurred.

I’m sure everyone with school-age kids is finding it the same, but now that Flo’s back at school, we’ve been spending a lot of this week getting used to a new routine in the house. She’s getting up earlier again and that means we are too. It’s amazing what a difference an hour makes. Please note this is not where I start singing the praises of rising 12 hours before you go to bed, etc. I won’t do that as it’s a shit state of affairs and I’d rather stay in bed.

However, in an attempt to make hay, etc I’m trying to make sue of the time and do my exercises and then spend at leats 30-45 mins writing before work. You take what you can, I guess. I managed it once this week and that was more by luck than judgement, but it happened and the poem that emerged from it wasn’t half bad, if I say so myself and so far.

It’s based on an idea that’s been hanging around for a long time—well, almost a year, in scribbled note form, but sometimes these things just need to just do their thing sub-consciously.

Who knows what will happen next week. I don’t think it’s the sort of ting you can do consistently… I admire folks that turn up and just do the “work”.Perhaps I should do that. Sod it, let’s see what happens if I make a point of doing that for the next week.

See you back here for the next exciting update.


35 press ups, 12-20 sit ups, 20 Trunk Curls, at least one minute of Plank and 10-15 Tricep Chair Dips a day so far

34k running – Including an impromptu and entirely unplanned Half marathon this morning. And a

39th fastest on a local route. All hail the RAB…

1 Half Marathon signed up for – Brighton in Feb next year

2 tip runs

1 family walk

1 poem worked on

1 great bit of news for a friend

0 submissions – The cupboard is pretty bare

1 day without cigarettes…I was doing well, again…

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


If You Had To, Would You…?
The Way I See It
The Whey, I See It…



Explosions In The Sky
All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
The Earth is Not A Cold Dead Place
Friday Night Lights – Studio Demos
Friday Night Lights
How Strange, Innocence
Manglehorn (OST)

Andrew Male’s Motorish Playlist – 
Hannah Georgas – All The Emotion

Harry Nilsson
Nilsson Schmilsson

Sugar – Copper Blue

Pablo Honey
The Bends
Ok Computer
Kid A
Hail To The Thief
In Rainbows
King of Limbs
Daily Mail/Staircase/Spectre/Ill Wind/ Supercollider/The Butcher/Harry Patch/These Are My Twisted Words
A Moon Shaped Pool

Doves – The Universal Want
Craig Finn – All These Perfect Crosses
Jaimie Brockett – North Mountain Velvet
Saint Saviour – Tomorrow Again
Throwing Muses – Sun Racket
Madder Rose – Panic On
Laura Veirs – My Echo
The National Trouble Will Find Me
El Vy – Return To The Moon
Arthur Prysock – Arthur Prysock Does It Again
Prince – Hot August Nights
Bob Mould – Patch The Sky
The Sea & The Cake – ST

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
None this week

Battlestar Galactica S1E3-11
Devs E1-2
Selling Sunset S1 E1-3 – OMG, I am so disappointed and pleased with myself for starting this
2 x eps of Bottom (with Flo… so happy)

Nowt – feel like I’ve given up on The Archers and can’t find the time to listen to Podcasts.

A record player for Flo’s birthday
Florence & the Machine  – Lungs on vinyl for Flo

Flo & Machine LP
Olivia McCannon – Exactly My own Length

Poetry Birmingham Issue 2
Renni Edo Lodge – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Rhian Edwards – The Estate Agent’s Daughter

Beauty in the eye of the Placeholder

Normal service will resume….

I’ve sort of fallen out of the habit of doing this. I think a week away with the in-laws, then various home-based projects and we’re just home from a weekend camping with friends. This has all contributed to radio silence here. Oh yeah, that and having nothing worth saying.

Hopefully I’ll find something next week…But do get in touch with Robin Houghton for her excellent list of mags and submission windows…And Angela Carr has another amazing list of places for you. Oh yes, and the Poetry Directory has just put out issue one of 192 Magazine. It looks excellent so far, but I’ve not read it yet, but I will…

Right now it’s order a curry and settle down to introduce Flo to Battlestar Galactica.


25 press ups and 12-15 sit ups a day so far, and some days there were up to 10-12 tricep chair dips

12k running – Not much – rain and tiredness, but a glorious run yesterday along the cliffs at Dover

1 trip to Imperial War Museum with Flo

0 poems finished – In fact 0 poems even looked at.

1 Shortlisting for a mag I’d love to be in (I’d love to be in them all, obvs)

1 acceptance from the lovely ladies at Atrium

3 rejections: Timed out on Agenda, Sonder and Acid Bath Publishing

2 submissions – Marble and Anthropocene

1 day without cigarettes…I was doing well – nearly 2 weeks and then we went camping…

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


The Jackdaws of perception  
Dude The Obscure
Ten Pint Bowling
To Victor The Sails/Sales

READ/SEEN/HEARD/ETC (A couple of weeks worth here)


Kate Rusby – Ghost
The Bathers – Lagoon Blues
Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death
Frances Quinlan – Likewise

Mark Lanegan Band
Here Comes The That Weird Chill Ep

Craig Finn 
Clear Eyes, Full Heart
Faith In The Future
I Need A New War
Newmer’s Roof
We All Want The Same Things

The Mountain Goats
Get Lonely
In League With Dragons
The Life of the World To Come
Marsh Witch Visions
Moon Colony Bloodbath
Songs for Pierre Chuvin

Steven James Adams  & the French Drops – Virtue Signals

Sugarplum Fairies
Chinese Whispers
Country international Records
Godspeed and Silver-Linings

The Blue Hour

Supergrass – Road to Rouen

Ted Barnes
Portal Nou
Short Scenes

Madness – Absolutely

The Magic Numbers

The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues Boxset
Steven Adams and the French Drops – Keep It Light
Kathleen Edwards- Total Freedom
Stornoway – The Farewell Concert
S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling
Sharon Van Etten – Remind me tomorrow
Badly Drawn Boy – Banana Skin Shoes
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms
Basia Bulat – Are You In Love?
Corin Ashley – New Lion Terraces
Lucinda Williams _ Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
The National – High Violet
Cowboy Junkies – Waltz Across America
Emily Barker _ Dear River
The Delgados – Hate

King Gizzard & The Wizard Lizard 
Gumboot Soup
I’m In Your Mind Fuzz

Lady Lamb – Even In The Tremor
Diskjokke – Staying In
Wendy & Bonnie – Genesis
VA – Those Shocking, Shaking Days:Indonesian Hard, Psychedelic Progressive Rock and Funk 1970 
El Ten Eleven – Shimmered
VA – Psyche Oh! A Go Go: Lost Gems of Malaysia / Singapore Pop Music ’64-’74
Emily Jane White – Dark Undercoat
Mountain Man – Look At Me Don’t Look At Me
Tina & Ike – River Deep, Mountain High
Barbra Streisand – Stoney End
The Ghost – When Your Dead One Second
The Afghan Whigs – 1965

Andrew Wasylyk 
Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation
The Paralian

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
None this week

Cardinal s4e4-6
New Girl – S1E1-7
Gone Fishing S3 E1
The Plot Against America S1 E1-2
Life on Mars E1-7, S2 E2-7
Perry Mason E3-4
Battlestar Galactica S1 E1


Trousers from Howies
Flo’s new school bag
Marcus Brown – A Wicked Pack of Cards
George Kendrick – When All Is Said And Done
Lesley Harrison – Disapppearance
Some Sugru

Lesley Harrison- Disappearance 
George Kendrick – When All Is Said And Done

Hilary Menos – Human Tissue
Abegail Morley – The Unmapped Woman
Hugh Aldersley- Williams – The Beautiful Molecule
Peter Kahn – Little Kings
Jennifer Edgecombe – The Grief of the Sea
Geraldine Clarkson – Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh
Reni Eddo-Lodge- Why i’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Working in broad brushstrokes: let me tell you how, man

Glossolalia (very much the prattle part)

Having alluded to the similarities (or lack thereof) between writing and painting and decorating a couple of weeks ago, the chance again presented itself this weekend to either further extend a crap metaphor or to at least rub salt in the original’s wounds. or both.

(BTW, thanks to Matthew Paul for his suggestion of a poem about painting and decorating by Roger Garfitt. I’m still on the hunt for more.)

Having done all of the prep work a couple of weeks ago, we did the painting of the walls last weekend—well, my wife did a lot of it and I did the last of it when Flo and I got back from Norfolk on Monday.

Let’s really give this metaphor a kicking shall we. If the prep work is the research and possibly the notes for a first draft, then the painting is the actual graft of writing the poem. The walls are the first and second drafts, the cutting in and ceiling (assuming it’s two colours) are the nth draft and then getting closer to a finished product. You’ve covered all the big ground, you’ve got your form and message working in unison.

If, and it’s a big if on an extension pole, we are prepared to accept any of that (and I can’t say I blame you if you choose not to), then this weekend was the final stages: the gloss work. I have spent the weekend taping up and then glossing a lot of woodwork.

I’m going to liken this phases to the putting the final touches to a poem (or story, etc). This is where small words and changes matter, where you change from the roller to the brush, then a smaller brush still (do write in if my technique sounds off) for eg the tops of skirting boards, corners etc. Words come in, words come out. A line is removed here, a stanza is tightened up, a comma comes in, an em dash replaces a semi-colon and then the semi-colon goes back. Until finally, you’ve covered everything.

You dip your brushes in White Spirit, you crack open a beer (other options are available) and tidy away the kit/press ctrl+P. You let things dry. How long you choose to let it dry is up to you. For the avoidance of doubt, I’m saying don’t send the writing out straight away. It always does it well to sit for a while.

And when the paint is dry, or the ink has settled, you remove the masking tape to see what you have and if all is still well.

If there are no drips, no missed bits then you re-hang the pictures, put the coat rail back up, put things back, etc.

This is where you send your poem, etc out into the world.

Christ, I’d love to find myself getting the rollers out soon. And I do mean work on a poem. I’m not picking up the actual rollers again for at least another month. That said, there’s still work to do on the gloss front..and sadly that does mean actual painting.

Media Planning vs Writing Advice

Have a read of a few of these. They are from a post called Know your Enemy. I found them at Andrew Hovel’s excellent blog recently. They are just a selection of them as I didn’t think it would be fair to reproduce them all. However, there’s a link at the bottom of this section to the full set. Before that though, I want you to see if you can work out if they’re either

a) advice for writers
b) advice for media folks/planners
c) a bit of both/neither

  1. Short-cuts and impatience. Excellence requires effort, you can’t get to wonderful without breaking through OK. 
  2. Distractions. You’re at your most potent in the Flow state, thinking without thinking. Slack, WhatsApp, ‘got a sec?’ all get in the way. 
  3. Fear. It’s easier not to try because failure, rejection, they all sting. The people that really change things have been hurt multiple times, they’ve learned to love the scars of war wounds, still afraid, yet do it anyway because when you’re scared you’re on to something.
  4. Chasing popularity. People find new thinking uncomfortable, they hate change, more afraid than you are. Find a way to disagree, but try not to be too disagreeable. I never said this was easy. 
  5. Not wanting to judged in case you look stupid. When pour all of yourself into your work, it’s not just the work being judged, you are asking for approval of you. Fortune favours the brave. 
  6. Ego. You are not all powerful, you are good, but until you can accept what your weaknesses are, you can’t work on them and find wonderful. Ego means you can’t accept feedback – you need someone else someone to tell you where you’re going wrong. There is a fine line between this and committee, but I think we’re agreeing none of this is easy.  Nothing worthwhile is. 
  7. Not asking the hard questions. This is part of fear, we hate asking questions we fear the answer to. The answers can hurt, but at least you know. This goes for far more than work by the way. Be prepared to bleed. 
  8. Caring what other people will think. Get the feedback, love the feedback, but make up your own mind. Don’t second guess everyone, the toughest committee is the one in your mind. 

Please go here and read the rest of Andrew’s post. Whether the answer is a, b or c doesn’t really matter. It’s definitely worth reading the rest of his posts. And for his love of tea.


25 press ups and 12-15 sit ups a day so far, and some days there were up to 20 Squat Thrusts

15.5k running – The 0.5 is very important. Better than last week. yesterday was some hard hill work.

0 poems finished – In fact 0 poems even looked at. A short working week and a lot of painting saw to that.

0 poems accepted, 0 poems rejected. It’s a delicate balance

0 submissions – See above

6 x feedback to a friend on their poems. I love watching a draft of someone else’s work come together. Seeing what they take on board, what’s ignored and why… That’s a post at some point…*Take a note, Riches – you said you’d do this 3 weeks ago*

2 reviews written and subbed. One to go and then I’m taking some time off that to concentrate on my own work.

1 of those reviews published – Rob Selby’s ‘The Coming Down Time’ is now up at London Grip

1 day without cigarettes…and then…Fits and starts, yeah!!

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


The Voyeur of the Dawn Treader
Be Gin again. 
Pack Your Raybans
Stationery Run
Boris Karloff’s Cooling Off
Everybody’s doing the Low Commotion
A Kindness Tribute Act
Login La Vida Loca


Jaga Jazzist – Pyramids
The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers

Some Cities
Lost Souls

My Morning Jacket – Red Rocks 08/02/19

Dinosaur Jr 
Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Don’t Stand Me Down
Tanya Donnelly & The Parkington Sisters – ST

Gwen McCrae
Rockin’ Chair
Something So Right

The Handsome Family – Milk & Scissors
Kathleen Edwards – Total Freedom
Bill Frisell – Valentine
Taylor Swift – folklore
Kate Rusby – Hourglass

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
None this week

Cardinal S2 E6, S3 E1-5
Friday Night Dinner, S1 E1-5
Kelly’s Heroes

The Archers (2 episodes of the epoch catch up. I’m not mid-July now. It’s still annoying as fuck…

Roger Garfitt – The Action & Selected Poems
Martha Sprackland- Citadel  
A footrest from work

Roger Garfitt
The Action
Selected Poems

A pair of trousers from Howies

Connie Bensley – A Leg To Stand On – New & Selected Poems
Ross Wilson – Letters to Rosie
Elizabeth Bishop – Complete Poems (Geography III and uncollected Poems section)
Rowland Bagnell – A Few Interiors

Spooky, this only just sprang into my mind when I wrote the title of this post. Weird, having listened to the majestic Dexy’s earlier in the week.


Busy weekend back in Norfolk seeing loved ones and loved friends. Far more important than blogging.

All I will say is that you should read Iambapoet – Wave Three is out. Chock full of lovely people and great poets.

Do it.


25 press ups and 12-15 sit ups and 15-20 back curls a day so far

20.5k running – The 0.5 is very important. Better than last week as it includes my first 15K for months.

0 poems finished

0 poems accepted, 0 poems rejected. It’s a delicate balance

0 submissions

.75 reviews written- It got too hot

1 days without cigarettes…and then…Fits and starts, yeah!!

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


Bear With Me I Have A Bear With Me


Eat Yourself Whole & B Sides
Everything Changed – Disc 3

Mark McGuire – Earth Star Musick
PG Lost – Yes I Am
VA – Piccadilly Sunshine, Pt11 – British Pop Psych and Other Flavours
The National – I Am Easy To Find
Grassella Oliphant –  The Grass Is Greener

Echo & The Bunnymen
The Fountain
What Are You Gonna Do With Your Life?

Eddie Vedder – Ukulele Songs
Ride – Going Blank Again

The National
Cherry Tree
Juicy Sonic Magic 
Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers
Sleep Well Beast

Is A Woman
AW Cmon

The National – Alligator

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
What We Read Now: Alan Buckley/Rishi Dastidar/Claire Cox – Hosted by Jennifer Wong
Greg Dulli Livestream Gig

Cardinal S1 E3-5

The Archers x 2

Pretty sure nothing has arrived this week

Roger Garfitt – Selected & The Action
A Painting by my friend John

Rob Selby – Coming Down Time

And there’s the rub…

You’ll be pleased to know that Flo’s novel continues apace…I suspect it may well be the best thing written by a Riches ever. More news as it arrives.

That said, I was quite pleased with this

Generally, I quite like to find something that’s happened during the week, make some spurious connection to it and the act of writing whilst warbling on for a few paragraphs…insert a pun or two and, et voila…It’s not rocket science, this stuff. It’s also quite likely not useful either, but on the scale of Rocket Science to useful…hang on, that assumes rocket science isn’t useful—I’ll hang up my market research spurs…bang goes the day job. Bugger. (Can you see the warbling happening before your very eyes?)

Where was I, ah, yes..connected warbling..!

This weekend has largely been spent doing the prep work for some decorating work. I can no longer put off the work my wife has decided we need to do again, and so I’ve spent my time rubbing down woodwork, filling holes and all of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes of painting. Between that, and a nice long walk today, I’ve not had much time to ponder on what to write here (no change there then…).

From today’s walk at Poleston Lacey. Now I think of it, it does look like someone trying to do the cutting in round the ceiling.

And then it occurred (Christ, am I some idiot version of Carrie Bradshaw?) to me that is the act of writing similar, that there’s lots of prep work going on in the subconscious or more blatantly in the act of research, etc before getting the pen to paper? Line breaks as cutting in…

And then I realised that this is an awful idea. And so I’ve stopped doing that. It really would be utter gibberish (more so than this).

Although, I would now like to read some poems about the act of decorating? Has there been/are there any painter and decorator poets?* If you can think of any I’d like to hear about them.

There was a guy called Freddie The Fox who drank in a pub I worked in in my ear 20s. He never showed me any poems…or even mentioned poetry at all to be fair, but he did have a quiff, so y’know…

* I will accept plasterers too. That’s plasterer poets, not plastered poets…There are plenty of those.


25 press ups and 12-15 sit ups a day so far

20.5k running – The 0.5 is very important. Better than last week.

3 poems finished – Post-Surgery Club and the two new things called ‘Ingratitude’ and ‘Wetsuit’.

0 poems accepted, 0 poems rejected. It’s a delicate balance

3 submissions – To Poetry Wales, Atrium and an anthology publisher called Acid Bath Publishing.

1 x feedback to a friend on their poem. I love watching a draft of someone else’s work come together. Seeing what they take on board, what’s ignored and why… That’s a post at some point…*Take a note, Riches – you said you’d do this last week*

0 reviews written or subbed. I’m working on a new one though

1 days without cigarettes…and then…Fits and starts, yeah!!

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


Worn Regards
Another Day, Another Dolour
Are Ornaments Useful?
An Unsolvable Thought Meets An Unaskable Question
Placing An Ouborous Around An Omphalos


Ruth Copeland  – I Am What I Am
James Blackshaw & Lubomyr Melnyk – The Watchers
Bobby Hutcherson -Color Schemes
Courtney Marie Andrews – Old Flowers
John Cale & Terry Riley – Church Of Anthrax 
VA – Next Stop..Soweto Vol.2: Soultown R&B, Funk and Psych Sounds from the Townships 1969-1976
The Band of Holy Joy – Neon Primitives
The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music
Inventions – Continuous Portrait
Suzanne Vega – ST

Cowboy Junkies
The Caution Horses – After reading Charlotte Gann’s post and it triggered a memory of Thirty (not 39) Summers
Lay It Down
Miles From Our Home
Remnin Park
Sing In My Meadow
The Wilderness
Nomad Series #5: Extras
One Soul Now
Open Road

Laura Veirs – My Echo
VA – Psych Funk Sa-Re-Ga!
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Throwing Muses – Red Heaven
Warren Zevon – Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School
Harkin – ST
Pearl Jam – Gigaton
Caspian – On Circles
INXS – Shabooh Shoobah

Hangouts/Video Calls/Zoom/Etc (not for work)
What We Read Now: Alan Buckley/Rishi Dastidar/Claire Cox – Hosted by Jennifer Wong
Greg Dulli Livestream Gig

Cardinal S1 E3-5
FA Cup Final

The Archers x 2

Pretty sure nothing has arrived this week

Sam Gardiner – The Night Ships
Decorators Caulk
Poetry Wales Subscription

Rob Selby – Coming Down Time