A blatant excuse to play Paul Buchanan’s Mid Air

Tesco Sea Salt and Chardonnay Vinegar crips packet. Blue and silver packaging

Right, first things first…I ate these crisps yesterday. I still can’t feel my face properly. I will be buying them again.

You join me as I sit in the relative shade of my kitchen, the back doors wide open, a black kitten dozing in a white cat tree. My wife is a few metres away working on something, the child is elsewhere doing things teenagers do. It is not as hot as it threatens to be tomorrow, but I have an icepack on my knee. This is not part of some obscure means of staying cool, but an attempt to thwart a nasty case of “knee knack”*

* Trademark Guardian football commentary, possibly by Barry Glendenning. I also believe that BG knows my friend, Lindsay. Linds had a birthday this weekend, and is one of the people I run with – and it’s running that has caused the “knee knack”…

Right, vivid picture painted, scene set, etc…let’s move on.

I noted at the start of the week that there was some kerfuffle on the social medias (thread here—it was a day that ends in ‘y’)—over a poem called Mid-Air by Caroline Bird.

I thought it would be a great topic to discuss here, and then Caroline sort of went and ruined it with a thread of her own that neatly articulates why she did what she did with the poem, and also proceeded to give a lengthy insight into the world of line breaks and decision making. You can read that here.

It’s far more articulate and interesting than any old guff I could write, so let’s not go there.

So, this week it’s just a bit of poetry news,.

  1. My review of Tom Sastry’s, You have no normal country to return to is up at The Friday Poem. It was a tricky review to write, but one I enjoyed wrestling with, and thankfully Tom seems happy with it. Win. Go buy the book, and read the rest of the stuff at TFP. Wendy’s poem is excellent and I have no doubt other articles from this week are excellent too. They are the next things to read when I’ve done this. I was sad that my line about Tom’s style of performance and my coinage of the word ‘Sastrophising” was cut out, but it was for the best.
  2. I attended Rob Selby’s launch of his latest collection, The Kentish Rebellion, on Tuesday night. It was the hottest night of the year so far, but a hot ticket of Rob, Rory Waterman and Camille Ralphs reading was enough to make the schlep to Islington worth it. Throw in chats with Andrew & Kath from themselves and Bad Lilies, Christopher Horton and saying hello to Jennifer Edgecombe (who’s excellent pamphlet is worth a look) and it was triply worth the journey there and then the epic journey home. The trip to the pub afterwards was also most enjoyable.

Along with nature, physics, biology, geography, chemistry, languages, literature and everything else, history is a subject I am exceptionally uninformed by, so I had wondered how Rob’s book would land with me, it being ostensibly about The Kentish uprising of the 1600s.However, I already feel educated for reading it, but I like that peppered throughout it are lines that could so easily work today (and by today I mean modern times and today. And by like I mean it’s both interesting and worrying). There are far better qualified people than me to review the book, but go get a copy here or wherever you get copies of books.

Poem IX is the one I’d love to include here, but it’s already up at Bad Lilies, so get yourself over there for a read, but stanzas like the two below feel pretty much bang on the money and bang on the nose.

They sequester our houses and our woods;
proposition our money, plate and horse.
Our considerable assessments pay our own molesters –
bands stationed on every frontshire and pass.


We are living in a time when all things sacred
are throughout the nation demolished
or profaned.
We all must submit to a militant virtue
as stifling as the sin at which it is aimed.

As that poem is already out there, and as I can’t walk far at the moment, I’m going with something I have to hand. I’ve been working on a review of Clare Crossman‘s The Mulberry Tree today. I’ve just realised it’s another Shoestring Press publication (as is Rob’s), but that’s neither here nor there….what is interesting is that the poem I’ve just alighted on as I flicked through is called ‘Kentish’..


Clare Crossman, The Mulberry Tree, Shoestring Press, 2021

These were her phrases:

‘I see you thousands didn’t!” she’d say
as we scuffed home. One foot in the gutter,
the other on the pavement.
‘Who do you think you are, the Duke of Turkey?’

How well she knew that a penny was the difference
between walking and riding. Her one stout pair of shoes,
and housekeeper’s coat, hair up in a net.
‘Waste not, want not’, her mantra.

‘Are you likely to be took any worse?’
Her response to noise or the getting of steam for colds.
When she clanked and poured from enamel jug to bowl.

‘It was a dark and stormy night, and the rain came down in torrents.”
The beginning of her one story:
Told to us in our warm beds until we fell asleep,
Dreaming of the oceans she described.

Night after night, as we grew up,
cared for and cherished.
The wind changed, and we got stuck like that,

And on a lick and a promise, she was gone.

I love the way Crossman evokes a certain era and a certain school of parenting…The phrases used here are ones I recognise, even if my own mum only really uses the “stuck like that” one.

Paul Buchanan’s glorious Mid Air, from the album of the same name. Paul’s a man that could be said to work at glacial pace, but dear god…when something comes along…Now go and listen to The Blue Nile.
A bonus track by the wonderful Happy Mondays to say RIP to Paul Ryder


14K running. Still knee-knacked. Tried it, seemed ok, but now isn’t.
1 5-miler signed up for in 2 weeks time…fingers crossed
1 trip to central London for work
Seen Live: Rob Selby, Rory Waterman, Camille Ralphs
1 week of taking a hard look at myself
0ish (at least) journeys to dance lessons and back for Flo
0 rejections:
0 new poem finished:
2 poems worked on: New thing…something to do with spiders, and Break Out
0 poems published:
1 submissions: Poetry Wales
0 acceptances:
17 poems are currently out for submission.
5 poems left to submit beyond makeweights
77 Published poems
37 Poems* finished by unpublished
25 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
0 reviews finished:
3 reviews to write: How the fuck did that happen…One underway c.800 words so far
5 days without cigarettes…I was doing so well. Mid week got to me, but back to it.
44 Days since drinking
0 sleepless nights:
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Rob Selby: The Kentish Rebellion
Clare Crossman: The Mulberry Tree
Poetry Birmingham #8


R.E.M: Automatic For The People, Monster
Pandit Pran Nath: Earth Groove
The Fernweh: Torschlusspanik!
Mogwai: Black Bird
Moon Face: Twenty Twenty Twenty Twenty One
Portron Portron Lopez: Ice Cream Soufi
This Is The Kit: Krulle Bol, Moonshine First Goes, Moonshine Freeze, Bashed Out
Wilco: Kicking Television
Anoushka Shankar, Metropole Orkest, Jules Buckley: Between Us
BBC Radio 3 Between The Ears- Capturing Light
The Smile: A Light For Attracting Attention
Explosions In The Sky: The Wilderness
Interpol: Turn On The Bright Lights
The Reds, Pinks & Purples: The World Should be Ashamed
Queen Kong: Couples Only
Stereophonics: Word Gets Around
Interpol: Antics
Lee Dorsey: Yes We Can
BBC Radio 3: Unclassified
My Morning Jacket: The Waterfall, The Waterfall II
Van Morrison: Veedon Fleece
Françoise Hardy: Tous Les Garçon et les Filles, Entracte
Fever Tree: Fever Tree
Baden Powell: Tristeza On Guitar
The As: Fruit
Happy Mondays: Yes Please, Bummed, Squirrel & G-man….
Laura Marling: Short Movie
Fleet Foxes: ST,Helplessness Blues
The Harold Land Quartet: Jazz At The Cellar 1958
Gwenno: Tresor
Freddie Hubbard: Outpost
Kate Jackson: British Road Movies

Love Island


2 x Ted Walker Books

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