Quick one this week due to an imminent camping trip. Thankfully, this blog was inspired by the tweet above. It’s the first time I’ve seen a reference to Srinivasa Ramanujan since I was researching my poem The Society For The Preservation of Workings Out.

I was convinced there was something in the idea of marginalia, doodles, etc and workings out that may go up a blind alley. I figured that not all parts of the route to a blind alley are wrong and started searching for examples of notebooks, etc with great ideas. The poem only really started to make sense when I found the Ramanujan stuff.

I was lucky enough to have the poem accepted by the brilliant Poetry Salzburg a while ago, and as the next issue is on the way, I don’t think I’m doing any harm by posting it here.

The Society For the Preservation of Workings Out

“Failure is not failure nor waste wasted if it sweeps away illusion and lights the road to a plan” H.G. Wells, The New Machiavelli

Come in, leave your textbooks by the doors.
You can set them aside while we fathom
the workings out of left-behind thinking.

Ramanujan’s papers, for example,
are thick with notions proven to be right.
Sometimes we must wait on the world to catch up.

Best to start your digging down among
the deep backlogs on shelves, root through backlots,
unpick threads and off-chances that’ve gone begging.

Stick with crate-digs, strip-mine all our notes
and search hard for sidetracked ideas;
the easily missed, mis-read, crossed out plans.

Centre yourself, look for ways to fine
comb through half-done, never-finished workings
that lost their minds down cul-de-sacs. Listen.

Help us match up schema on the backs
of fag packets, join dots together
and salvage second goes, unmask hidden

calculations, marginal jots among
palimpsests. Clear the blue sky of close calls.
Retrace these steps, find us something to save a life.

I’m sure we all have false starts and the poetic equivalent of construction lines floating about in notebooks, on the backs of envelopes, note apps, emails, etc. Sometimes it’s good to go back to them and see what can be salvaged.

I did this week while working on another idea. Something I’d previously rejected came to mind when working on something else and while it may not quite be setting the world alight at present, it’s certainly sent the poem in a new direction.

Finally, I note the runners and riders have been announced for the Poetry Business Running Anthology. I’m amazed to learn Mick Imlah is in there. I love Mick Imlah, but I’m amazed a man that’s been dead for ten years still had a better submission. (Subs to insert laughter emoji).

I can’t wait to read the final book.


  1. Sandwich Fillings You Never Expected
  2. Nest of Wankers
  3. Sideways Looks
  4. Stunner
  5. Sweet Jesus, That’s Ridiculous…And I Like It

The week in stats:

22K run – Including last night’s run home. It nearly killed me – too hot, no water. Thankfully a pub leaped out at us after 13K

4 pints to rehydrate

1 poem worked on, two drafts this week. First poem in a couple of weeks that I’ve even looked at

One out of office on

1 tent to put up, 3 inflatable beds to blow up

2 mates with interviews at ITV

Read, seen, etc

Read: Oliver Comins’ Oak Fish Island, and finished off reading the excellent Finished Creatures Issue 1

Watched: 30 Rock (I think I’m only 15 years behind the rest of the world now), Ep 3 of Chernobyl, What The Durrells Did Next and Schitts Creek

Listened to: The Archers x 4 & Minor Poet, Gia Margaret, my Absolute Tunes Playlist, The National and The Abyssinians

Loved this single and album, I remember an excellent gig above a pub on a Camden Crawl several years ago.

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