It’s (almost) the End of the (working)Year (as I know it) and I feel finest

Leonard Bernstein!!!

Last week was something of a busy week, I have almost no idea what happened in the world outside at all…something about vaccines and Brexit. A combination of impending Jury Service in Croydon next week (who is being sentenced here??) and the need to use up holiday days at work meant that the Friday just gone was technically my last day at work for this year. This meant a “mega-fuckload”* of work needed doing in order to get things wrapped up. I think I’ve done most of it, and I will still need to be checking in on things in between sentencing old ladies to the death penalty for minor traffic offences**.

It feels very odd to be done for the year with three weeks to go, but I guess I’m not. I’ve still got to go to court, etc, but after the last 9 months at home and the breakneck pace of work since then, I’m quite looking forward to having to actually get up and go somewhere, even if it is Croydon***.

The manicness of it all has meant that I was thoroughly remiss in not mentioning that the lovely Ben Banyard was kind enough to invite me to send him a poem for his new series/feature on his blog called Finest. The idea being a poet sends in what they think to be a great piece of work, or something they feel has been overlooked.

I went with something more akin to the latter. Ben, as I’m sure you know, used to run Clear Poetry, and Clear was one of the places that first accepted my work. One of the poems Clear accepted was a poem called Slarver (Norfolk for talking a load of old shite, and nearly the title for this site, fact fans). The story behind why I chose to give Ben Slarver again is on the site, so get yourself over there. Do read the others, there are some fascinating and heartbreaking stories. Also, keep your eyes peeled for his latest collection, Hi-Vis which should be out next year.

The manicness also meant that my plans/routine/lockdown ritual/whatever of writing for 30+ minutes before work also went out of the window this week, so while I’ve not so much as looked at a poem this week it has been a good week for publications.

The lovely ladies, (Holly and Claire – wonderful poets in their own right) at Atrium published my poem Sparklers at the start of the week. Sparklers is a poem that has been hanging around in notebooks in one form or another for about 20 years. It took the chance seeing of a work colleague on a train station platform (they were standing on a platform going one way, I was behind the glass of a train going the other way) to jumpstart what eventually became this version.

I sent this to Atrium last year and it came back with a note saying how much they liked it, but it felt like it needed to be published in December and they were full for December 2019. I sat, patiently and waited until earlier this year to send it, and some others, in again. This time they were powerless to resist, and I am very grateful. Not least because they publish so many great poems – the Angela Readman poem before mine is awesome, but also because it gives me a chance to use this picture.

Spud, you like?

Later in the week the publishing gods kept on giving, as the Winter issue of The High Window was published, featuring two poems of mine: ‘Selling The Trampoline’, and ‘A Short Survey’. I’m still working my way through it at present, but there are some wonderful poets surrounding me. Simon Richey is one – I have his collection ‘Naming The Tree’ on my shelves, and there’s a poem of his that caused me to buy it. I wish I could remember what it was, but I loved it and it wasn’t in the book, so I hope he gets a new collection out so I can hopefully be reminded.

Both of the poems of mine are ones I really like, Trampoline feels like more of a summer poem to me, but A Short Survey is one I wanted to get right, somehow combining the day job with my writing. I think it’s a vein to explore further, but I’m not going to force it. Both these poems took several drafts and rethinkings to get to this stage.

As ever, come for my poems and stay for the others.

The final gift from the poetry gods this week has been what I think is the fastest ever move from a first draft to final draft to acceptance. I finished the second draft of a poem last week, and after running it by a voice I trust, I sent it off yesterday for consideration towards a chapbook/anthology. I woke up to the acceptance email this morning. While the idea for the poem came in the middle of this summer, I didn’t write anything until two weeks ago, so that’s positively sprinter-level stuff for me.

In a week (if you squint and don’t look at the date of Ben publishing ‘Slarver’) where two places I’ve been published before have taken poems, it’s worth noting that another of the first places to take my work has reached a milestone.

Happy 25th anniversary to Snakeskin Poetry. I think George was the first to take a proper poem of mine back in 2013, my poem about a Knife Thrower’s Assistant. (I’ve subsequently re-written this poem, but having just looked at it again I can see it needs more work before sharing it). He’s also taken another poem in the last couple of years about a person that can’t stop growing…

What an achievement staying open for 25 years is, so congratulations to Snakeskin, and may they continue to keep shedding skins and growing.

Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to the annual tradition of Matthew Stewart’s list of top poetry blogs for 2020 (in his opinion). I’m very honoured to be included for the second year running, but I think the bit I always look out for is the new additions, and Matthew’s highlighted a couple I think I will be reading for a long time.

Have a look over here for the full list. It’s not in order of importance, but I’m saying I won it.

* Technical term
** Obvs, I won’t. Just life sentences
***Just joking, as much as I dislike driving through**** Croydon I don’t mind the place.
**** I like driving back out even more


22k running – Didn’t make my weekly target, but felt the need to sleep in today. 35K to go to hit my entirely arbitrary goal of 1500 Km for the year.

1 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad

0 x rejections: All good.

1 x acceptance – 1 poem

0 poems worked on.

0 poems finished:

3 Submissions: Spelt and Dreich

1 Review written and submitted. 2 to do though, so must crack on

29 days without cigarettes (and one blip on Friday night)

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


Klaus Gnomic
Avant-Garden Centre
Fly-Tipping By JR Hartley


Daniel Bennett: West South North North South East

Matthew Halsall: Sending my Love, Oneness
Taylor Swift: Folklore-The Long Pond Sessions
Grandaddy: The Sophtware Slump, Sumday, Under The Western Freeway, Just like The Family Cat, Last Place
Cafe Racer: Shadow Talk
Explosions In The Sky: Live, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, How Strange, Innocence
Great Lake Swimmers: ST
Greg Dulli: Random Desire
Hop Along: Painted Shut
Hurray For the Riff Raff: The Navigator
Ian Broudie: Tales Told
J Mascis: Elastic Days
James Iha: Be Strong Now
Josh T Pearson: Last of The Country Gentlemen
The Orielles: Silver Dollar Moment
The Beatles: Abbey Road, The Beatles, Beatles For Sale, A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Let It be, Magical Mystery Tour, Non Album Singles, Please Please Me, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Yellow Submarine
The National: Alligator, Boxer
Postal Service: Everything Will Change
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Mosaic of Transformation
Jeremy Cunningham : The Weather Up Here
British Sea Power: Open Season
Sae Higashi: Klangfarben

The Boys: S2E8
The Undoing E1
The Christmas Prince (NB Flo’s choice, utter bobbins)

Zooms, etc
PBLJ #5 Launch

The Archers
Planet Poetry #1 and 2

A running hat

Finished Creatures #4
Orbis 194
Mona Arshi: Dear Big Gods
Poetry Wales #57
A running hat

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