Rogue Strands: A Night of Poetry and Dusty Bin

Oh bloody hell, it’s been 10 days now since this event – the event of the century as far as I’m concerned.

And what a night it was: we had a line up to knock any line-up bandy. There was another poetry event on in town that night; I hope it was as good as ours.

I was nervous ahead of things – the thought of performing in-front of other poets is fine, but knowing my work colleagues and friends were coming along too made it seem weirder somehow. It certainly had an impact on what I chose to read – more monologue stuff/less personal stuff.

I will knock that out of myself in future. The urge to read slushy love poems to Rachael while she was in the audience was conquered; largely because she would have pelted me with rotten spuds during the performance if I had.

Our brilliant line up started with Fiona Moore – she read loads from her excellent Distal Point collection and I think was a touch disappointed no one got the riddle in her poem, Dark Car.









Kathryn Gray then read an oldie, a few from her pamphlet, Flowers, and we were treated to new poems from a new collection. I can’t wait to see where that comes out and when it comes out based on what we heard.









Kath was followed by an Open Mic slot from the brilliant Robin Vaughn-Williams and Angelina Demaria. Robin read us a few new poems, but treated us to one from The Manager.

Then the moment came, and it was me being introduced by Matthew. He said some lovely things. It all kind of went in a blur, but I really enjoyed the reading. I noticed as I stood up all the poems were about really stubborn people – I sense a theme developing here. And also, I notice I have a two-tone head.









The whistle blew for half-time and over oranges and iso-tonic refreshments* I had the chance to catch up with an old mate that had travelled up from Canterbury, some work colleagues – erstwhile and current and also I think I spoke to Rachael.

We then had Xaviera Ringeling as our third open mic slot. She gave us the rare treat of live translation from her native Spanish into English. And definitely upped the ante on poets reading from phones – She had the whole laptop there.

This brought us to Jess – Jess read solely from Flood and what a reading it was. I didn’t know the poems beforehand – I bought my copy after the reading, but I was captivated and almost forgot to stand up and intro Matthew to bring us to a close.









Matthew did exactly that, after some rambling and thank yous from me. He read clearly, calmly, intelligently and in between breaking hearts he made us all thirsty and hungry, and more appreciative of white goods sales in Spain. He stuck to material from Knives of Villalejo, but why wouldn’t you – it’s an excellent collection.









After that and some closing remarks— I totally missed my chance to thank the dumb waiter for heckling through a few performances – it was time for people to either rush off or lean into the boozing. Everyone did what they had to do with aplomb.

Lessons from the night include pushing book sales more, more promotion, bring a box to put the money in and make more time for poets. Maybe fewer open mics, but I’m not sure. Oh yeah, and take more pictures and get some video footage.

The main thing is that a) we had a wonderful bill of poets b) new folks were introduced to poetry readings — too often it’s poets reading to poets and it rarely gets beyond that — c) we raised £321 (hence the Dusty Bin in the title) quid for The Trussell Trust, including £97 on the night. Don’t forget, you can still donate here

Rounds of applause all round, I think, especially to everyone that came, but also our wonderful poets. I want to do this again, soon.

The view from the stage


















* A crafty fag and a pint of Pale Ale


Happenstance OPOI

The lovely Helena Nelson over at Happenstance has been very kind in letting me stretch my reviewing wings over at the Happenstance website. She’s been running the OPOI – One Point of Interest- section of Happenstance (NB, I will probably type Happenstance* a lot more in this post) for several years now.

OPOI are kind of what they say on the tin: you take a pamphlet and find one thing to focus on, and here’s the catch – it has to be positive. These are not meant to be eviscerations of a book. They’re a positive micro review and I like the cut of their job.

It was Matthew Stewart that suggested it to me a while back and I’ve been putting it off for a long time – thinking I’d not be up to it, and I may still be right there, but I now see the sense in the whole process – the deeper engagement with a book than perhaps you might normally. Obviously, I read books of poetry closely when I read them normally, but reviewing seems to pull on different muscles, or the same muscles, but harder. It’s something I suspect will help me enormously with my own work. Especially engaging with why I don’t like something. It seems easy to accept a poem at face value if you like it – even when you’re not sure why, but to reason why you don’t like a poem is trickier – or at least I assume it will be when I get to that.

Anyhoo, here are my first two reviews:

Lois Williams’ Like Other Animals 

Rebecca Gethin’s A Sprig of Rowan

Nope, didn’t type Happenstance again, d’oh.

*I feel a bit like I’m quoting from the end of HMHB’s Joy Division Oven Gloves, but replacing the aforementioned Oven Gloves with the word Happenstance. See about 2.30 in to this video


Rogue Strands – An Evening of Poetry

How’s about this then? An evening of 4 ace poets –  and me –  and an open mic slot; that can’t be a bad thing.

It’s amazing what a few throwaway comments can do. After a few idle discussions (and a couple of false starts) we’ve ended up here, and *touches wood* I’m amazed at how easy it’s been.


What a line up. In no particular order, but Fiona Moore, Kathryn Gray, Jess Mookherjee  and Matthew Stewart.

Why would you not want to spend £3 to see that lot read?

I read Fiona’s The Distal Point on holiday recently and was in love with it from page one. It’s a book that manages to be both raw and considered at the same time – often in the same poem which is no mean feat.

Kathryn’s The Never-Never, I read last year after a recommendation and also fell in love with it very quickly. There’s a seriousness and a joy in all of these poems that I am a massive fan of. I’ve not bought Flowers yet, and it appears to be out of print, but I think I’ve nabbed a copy from somewhere.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Jess read before – I was there for the London launch of her BLER pamphlet, Joyride – so I know you’re/we’re in for a treat. I also have her Telltale Press pamphlet, Swell. Jess has burst on the poetry scene after an absence from the world of poetry. Given the speed and volume of work she’s producing, I suspect there was a lot stored up. I’ve not had a chance to read her first full collection, Flood, yet, but this will be remedied. I’m hoping I can get a copy on the night.

Matthew Stewart has been an invaluable ally for me. He’s helped me immensely in the last year or so, but I was a fan of his work long before we met and began to talk. It was reading his Happenstance pamphlets that led me to buying his first collection, The Knives of Villalejo and then effectively stalking him at his launch in London. He reads and writes, of course, brilliantly. His Rogue Strands blog gives this evening its name and is an excellent source of reviews and discussion about the poetry world.

We’re in for a treat. Come and join us and help the Trussell Trust at the same time. Sadly, they need no introduction, but the work they (and other organisations and individuals) are doing is invaluable in these troubling times.

Let us know here if you can make it. Or sign up for the open mic if you want to read.

I hope to see you at the event…Come for the poetry or the beer, I don’t mind which, but do come.

The Cure and Other Voices

I’m very pleased to have made it into the wonderful Other Voices Anthology with a poem written especially for it.









It’s, perhaps obviously, a poem about The Cure. I’ve loved The Cure for more years than I care to remember. I think I would have been about 12 when I first taped The Cure In Orange off the BBC. It was a truncated version of the film, but it was enough to get me hooked from the moment they waded into Shake Dog Shake to it closing on, I think, Killing An Arab. And when I finally saved up enough pocket money to buy the VHS and saw the rest I was in…for life. I started at Standing On The Beach, bought Head On The Door and worked forwards to Disintergration, then backwards to Three Imaginary Boys and by the time I was ready they were pumping out Never Enough.

My friend, John Rance (excellent artist) bought me a tape of their Glastonbury 1990 set, and I finally got to see them in about 1992  in London on the Wish Tour, then Roskilde for pre-Wild Mood Swings, Manchester for Wild Mood Swings and recently at Wembley in 2016

Anyhoo, when I saw requests for poems  about the Cure to celebrate their 40th anniversary by Ali Jones I knew I had to do something. Wild Mood Swings is one of the least popular Cure albums, but I think it’s got some great songs on there (and some dreck as well, but that’s not exactly rare for most albums).

I also worked on the assumption that no one else would write about it..And it worked.

Check it out here.

It’s called Wild Mood Swings and Besides and is constructed using the song titles from the album and the associated B Sides…oh, and a cheeky nod to what came next.

As ever, come for me and stay for everyone else. Massive thanks to both Ali and Andie Berryman

I’m not sure it’s possible to choose my favourite song of theirs, but I’ll leave you with a   couple of beauts from Wild Mood Swings





We’re all out the other side of it. Why do we do it to ourselves? I have very mixed feelings about it – the feeling that you have to write something, anything every day does feel very forced to me, but then when I’m in it it feels good – even to scratch out a haiku about glasses or six lines of gibberish.

I’m not sure I will do it again next year given that I’ve not edited or processed the one I wrote at the same time last year…

However, these are the titles I have from this year. All subject to change and I reckon 28 of them will never get out of first gear, but who knows..who cares?

  1. Wild Mood Swings
  2. Glasses/Spec
  3. Jigsaw
  4. Poet & Reviewer
  5. Speech at the Alternative Oscars
  6. Geschirrkratzer
  7. Teacher’s Outlook
  8. Parkour
  9. Dog & Pony Show
  10. Explaining The Joke
  11. Eddie’s Kennel
  12. Holding Pattern
  13. Sour Grapes
  14. Tea Ceremony
  15. Inspector Sands
  16. Caravaggio’s Candles
  17. Poker Face
  18. Leum Kleun
  19. Komorebi
  20. Inosculation
  21. Screwed
  22. Humphrey Davy
  23. The Time To Cut A Stick
  24. The Market Researcher Falls In Love While Scanning For Answers To Prove A Point 
  25. Notes towards Seeing The Light
  26. Knuckle/Cigarette
  27. Breasts/Awful Simic
  28. Microwave
  29. The Trapdoor Matriarch
  30. The Clothes Horse
  31. Racing Post/Shit Waldron


Publications update and Stolidays

I’ve been off work for the last week and it’s been wonderful. We’ve had a “stoliday”* and done things as a family including the British Museum, and a trip to Margate. I’ve wanted to do that for years and now I have.

* – I can’t say “staycation” as we don’t have vacations. And I remember a band called Stoliday.

It’s been a good year for publications and they’ve seemed to be coming in thick and fast recently. A strong testament to the “send the buggers out” mantra.

My poem The Breaks has been included in the latest issue of Obsessed With Pipework – no link available, but here’s a shot of the beautiful cover…








I was lucky to find myself next to the brilliant Robin Houghton, I’m hoping it’s a case of rising tides, etc.

And the wonderful folks over at The Fat Damsel accepted my poem Wiping My Dad’s Arse. I’m kind of hoping I can start seeing some of the non- “dead dad poems”* get accepted soon. I do write other things, honest guv’nor. Best send some more out/write some more worth sending.

There’s only one more publication to come this year, in Under The Radar (Smiley face) unless I’m lucky enough to get a place on the Primers 3 scheme. I really must crack on with that submission.

* – Copywrite of Kelly at Beckenham Bookshop

Publication day on Atrium

Crikey, it all seems to be happening. There’s been another flurry of publications – After Amaryllis last week, this week it’s the wonderful folks over at Atrium publishing my poem – The Lost Luggage Office

Since Holly and Claire started the site they have been inundated with poems to look at, so I’m very chuffed that they’ve taken one of mine and that I am in such wonderful company.

They’re currently closed for submissions in August, but if you’ve got something ready to go then you can’t go far wrong with submitting to these lovely folks. Even if they say no, it’s a lovely no.

And more importantly, go and check out their own work

Also, I’m led to believe that the new Obsessed With Pipework is in the post- featuring, among others, a poem from me…

*Plans retirement*

Publication day on Amaryllis










I’m overjoyed that the lovely Stephen Daniels over at Amaryllis chose to accept a poem of mine for his site. Not only should you hot foot it over there to read the poem, but, as ever, you should immerse yourself in the other delights that are up there. They’ve been busy this month with a poem a day, so there’s plenty to look at and enjoy.

And when you’ve done that, might I recommend you make a short hop to this site to buy a copy of Stephen’s pamphlet – the wonderful, Tell Mistakes I Love Them.  It’s full of amazing poems, playful forms and wise words. I must remember to get my copy signed.


Photo by Geran de Klerk on Unsplash


#Harkive 25.07.17

The first note I hear today is the sound of wireless headphones being switched on and a disembodied ladies’ voice telling me they are on, before the alternative national anthem of Barwick Green, then the lilt of Clarrie’s voice.

The Archers podcast has become the soundtrack to my walk to the station since the start of the year. The headphones were a birthday present designed to get me back out running; they’ve sort of worked.

Once that’s finished and as I write I’ve got Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden on via Spotify. I moved back to Spotify a month ago after using Apple Music for a year or more. It worked fine, but I think Spotify is better- more people I know use Spotify and so sharing things has become easier. In both directions.

The Talk Talk album was promoted by a discussion I saw last night on Twitter. Reminding me that I’ve not listened to it in years, and that it’s a lovely, lovely record. Perfect for a tranquil commute.

That got me all the way to Waterloo East, so something else is needed for the walk from the station to the office. If in doubt go with a playlist, as my old dad used to say.  So I hit random on a playlist of notional tunes I would use if ever called upon to DJ in an emergency – everyone has one of those, yeah?

That gives me Velvet Curtains by the mighty Quo and No Deal by Townes Van Zandt before I get to my desk.

Switching from the phone to the desktop, I carry on with the playlist for a bit with Moon Life by Secret Circuit. – Here’s the playlist if you’re interested.

As the day proceeds, I’ve moved on to Fairport Convention – distracted by a link in the official Harkive playlist for Dave Swarbrick. The Fairport Convention album is a corker – how ace is Reno, Nevada on the remastered version?

After being pointed towards this list of amazing female made records – I’m playing The Roches by The Roches – it’s a lovely thing, but I need a quick pick me up, so I’m going for the power J-pop of Amiina (not that one) and Signal.  It fairly motors along.

This is followed by Public Service Broadcasting latest – Every Valley.

I’ve spent a long time trying to find a service that will cope with allowing me to upload my full record collection to the “cloud” – the only thing I can find is Amazon Music Library – it can handle more than 200K tracks, but sadly the UI is so bad it’s only useful for using via the Sonos at home.

On the way home, It was The latest Afghan Whigs’ – In Spades and the start of the BBC Radio 4 podcast, Blast – the sound and the Fury via iPlayer radio app.

Finally, I’ve managed to listen to Bremer/McCoy’s Enhed album via Spotify and Sonos. Some mellow jazz as I try and finish a poem I’ve been trying to write for years. I think I finished as the last bars played out. Nice.

I thought that #Harkive would be responsible for more techno-failure earlier. First time it was an iPod melting down, then last year there was an accidental deletion of a large portion of my music collection from iTunes (backed up, thankfully) and then today the volume button on my phone refused to work until a restart. It’s always around #harkive time…*shakes fist*.