Cromer, Fango, Have I Read Enough?

What a week to come back to…at one point about this time a week ago I was pretty sure we weren’t going to be home at all. I was desperate to get back to Blighty, but a cancelled flight and then further delays meant it was looking decidedly debatable that we’d make it home. We ended getting back home at 8pm on Sunday instead of about 3 in the morning, but having left our hotel at 6pm (Turkish time) the night before it had been a long day.

I won’t bore you with the long story about long waits in queues at airports and horrendous hotel stays after the flight was cancelled. And I won’t bang on about the lovely holiday we had before the last stage other than to say that we all loved it. We all felt rested, we all ate too much, I definitely drank too much (but not to excess – I’m learning) and there were no major sunburn incidents (not major, but there was certainly some redness about the shoulders for us all). We met many delightful cats.

I almost wish we could have stayed in that little bubble now, given what we’ve come back to. An idiot for a leader and a king instead of a queen. There’s nothing to be said about the latter that is worth saying beyond I find the whole affair pointless. As to the former, I suspect it will go from bad to worse and it was already a fucking disaster. Did I mention we met many lovely cats while away?

We named this lad Fango…

While the time away wasn’t as productive as our last holiday, I did manage six new drafts…two that arrived just under wire and happened on the flight back. I think the last time I got through 10 or more, but given how slim the pickings have been this year I will take six. Who knows what will happen to them. The ≥10 from last time mostly turned into good and useable poems, some of which should make it into the book, so I have hope. I’m just glad to be writing things again. I also managed to work on a draft I’d started before we went, and have even revived an old poem that had been binned that is now a contender for the book, so I will take that as a win.

I can’t afford a trip to, but probably earn too much to warrant a reduced fee for a writing retreat, so these periods of productivity are useful as a way of setting me up to work own stuff for the rest of the year, or until the next burst. Obviously, if new poems want to come in between then I will not that gift horse (the poem) in the mouth (the spontaneousness).


After a week where we saw the shite outcome of one longlist and one shortlist finally get whittled down (See what I’ve done there), I saw there was an interesting debate online about longlists and shortlists as part of the magazine submission process. There are two threads—one on Matthew Stewart’s Twitter, he kicked it off, like the touch paper lighter he is, and another under Zoe Brigley’s, which is sort of in response to Matthew’s question.

The debate was all pretty good tempered, and the response quite divided. Some in favour, some not .

As ever, I can see that there’s no real right or wrong here. It all depends on many factors…I think how long you take to get a response is probably a big one. If it’s a few weeks and then a couple more for the longlist to become a yes or no then it’s fine. Longer than that then it’s likely to frustrate; it certainly would frustrate me.

I can also see that being told you’ve made the list (long or short) can be a fillip to someone. I can also see why it would be annoying too, so a lot comes down to the recipient and the way they see a glass with 50% liquid in. Incidentally, if you find you have a fence in need of someone to perch themselves on it, let me know.

Having been on the receiving end of a couple of longlistings of late I am grateful for the news. I think I’d prefer to be told that if and when it’s a no. If there’s a shortlisting and the decision is imminent then that’s not so bad, but much as the endless sitting about in Antalya airport last weekend, it’s the waiting that kills you.

I suspect most editors are coming from a good place and want people to feel wanted, so it’s probably a good thing. I suspect some of it is buying themselves some time. Ask me again when my recent long-listing becomes a not this time. (Can you guess which way I tend to describe a glass with 50% of its liquid capacity in?)

Finally, a poem

One of the best things about having been away was the chance to read. I set myself the target of a novel a day, and I think I just about achieved it if I average it out…some days were better than others. I was going to avoid poetry completely— and I’m still reeling that I didn’t take any non-fiction, but it was unavoidable. You’ll see the list of stuff I read while I was away below in the stats section, but one book I enjoyed immensely was Christopher James’, ‘The Storm In The Piano‘. I forget where I saw the recommendation , but I recall being prompted to read his Arc collection, ‘Farewell To The Earth‘, and enjoying it very much. NB the prompt for Storm was here.

As someone that really enjoys writing about characters and imagined situations, Chris’s work really appeals; not least for the sheer inventiveness of the situations, but as work that I can learn from. His control of this situations and the information he imparts is incredible. His blog appears to have disappeared, but I’m sure I recall him saying he’d had a long break from poetry there. I am very glad to see he has a book out again. I need to fill in the blanks in my collection.

My keen reader will note that while I was away I set up a post for a M.R. Peacocke poem. While I was away I received an email quite rightly reminding me that I should be seeking permission to share the poems that I have been sharing. This may mean a slow down in sharing poems for a while as I tend to choose the poem on the day/make it up as I’m going – you may or may not have noticed.

However, on this occasion I have planned ahead and have Christopher’s permission to share a poem. I wasn’t sure what to share, but I note that there is a connection between ‘The Storm…’ and ‘Farewell…’ in the shape of a poem that mentions Cromer. And I also note that my brother cycled to Cromer this morning, stopping at the excellent Grey Seal Coffee shop (yes, I will take a sponsorship deal), so how can I not post this. It also feels oddly in keeping with the encouraging news coming out of the Ukraine about beating back Russia.

Today Cromer is Moscow

Seagulls preside on the spires
and onion domes of Cadogen Road.
There are snowdrifts in the belfry
of the parish church. In the Hotel de Paris;
they’re serving Rassolnik soup
and vodka so cold it makes your glass
smoke with ice. In an upper window,
the ghost of Galina Ulanova looks out
across the waves balanced on a single toe.
At the end of the pier the oligarchs
are watching The Tremeloes sing Kalinka
while on the seafront crab fisherman
dance the troika in their wellingtons.
Ice-cream men wear bearskin hats
and play Stravinsky to summon
the children from their homes
because today Cromer is Moscow.
In the lighthouse they’re reading
Pushkin and playing chess to pass the time.
Down on the beach, old cosmonauts
skim stones into the sea while
beneath their feet, the faces
of the tsars are imprinted in the sand.

Taken from ‘The Storm In the Piano’, Maytree Press

Just because it occurred to me today, and just because of some events (although entirely un-related to the most obvious one), and because the seasons are changing, and because the whole of Beckenham was alive with the sounds of a Drum n’Bass night last in the local park last night, and because the weather has been all over the shop this week, because I have permission, and quite frankly just because it’s bloody marvellous, here is a poem by Matthew Paul. It’s taken from his excellent book, The Evening Entertainment. It’s long overdue a follow up, so come on, Matthew…Get that sorted please.

Queenie Queen

After the storm subsides, you find
your glass garden table in smithereens,
kites of plane-leaves sprawling over the fence,
and the closest to silence you’ve ever heard outdoors.
You’re alive as the young cat who appears once a week,
her eyes like a frog’s peeping out from the pond
your neighbours say you must get filled in.

But as another dreary year accumulates,
like autumn’s rain within a cracked terracotta pot,
you hear instead the last few blackberries –
for bramble jelly, crumbles and fools –
still singing lustily on their bush.

Taken from The Evening Entertainment by Matthew Paul

And finally…

Finally, thanks to the folks at Resonance Poetry for the chance to read at their open mic on Monday. It was nice to read some things I haven’t read live before. And on that note, dinner is nearly ready.

REM – Airportman


5K running. Yesterday was the first run in a while, but my knee didn’t hurt, so I’m hopeful that this is the start of things improving
2 days without cigarettes…I was doing so well..
0 Days since drinking.
0 sleepless nights:

7 hours at Gatwick waiting for a flight to Turkey
4 hours flying to Turkey
1 cancelled flight
1 flea-infested overnight hotel,
1 x 17 hours delay coming back, but one wonderful holiday.
1 mountain of food eaten,
1 lake of beer drunk inc 8 Al Capones

5 poems finished: Settling, Swimming Lessons, Dewars, New Mothers, Ingratitude, Drink With the Locals
8 poems worked on: What’ll It Be, Two Beds, Spider That Bit, Not Horses, Sponsorship, Swans, Cat Poem, A Drink With The Locals
2 submissions: Berlin Lit, TLS
0 acceptances: 1 Longlist for Poetry Wales
1 reading: Foley, No you are, A Drink With The Locals, New Spider Poem, Ad blockers, Apples
0 rejections:
19 poems are currently out for submission.
78 Published poems
35 Poems* finished but unpublished
Twelvety poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough

0 reviews finished:
2 reviews started: Well, read and thought about
0 reviews submitted:
4 reviews to write: How the fuck did that happen…

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Anna Kirby: Where The Dead Walk
WG Sebald: The Rings Of Saturn
Cynthia Miller: Honorifics
Don Paterson: The Arctic
Louis De Berniere: So Much Life Left Over, The Autumn of The Ace
Hilary Menos: Fear of Forks
Max Porter: Lanny
Christopher James: The Storm In The Piano
Ben Wilkinson: Way More Than Luck, Same Difference
Jon McGregor: Lean Stand Fall
Junicherō Tanizaki: Some Prefer Nettles
Seamus Heaney: Selected Poems 1988-2013
Michael Laver: After Earth


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Emile Mosseri: I Could Be Your Dog/I Could Be Your Moon
Luke Sital-Singh: The Fire Inside
Bengt Berger: Bitter Funeral Beer
Television Personalities: Some Kind of Trip: Singles 1978- 1989, Top Gear
First Rodeo: ST
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Fever To Tell
The Albert: ST
Caroline Spence: True North
The Archers
Simon Armitage: Larkin Revisited Going, Going, Aubade, To the Sea, Bridge For The living, High Windows, Talking In Bed, Toads revisited, Love Songs In Age
Larkin/Essay – Ambulances (Raymond Antrobus)
The National – Sonic Juicy Magic Oneida: Success
The Afghan Whigs: Black Love
Jaimie Brach:Fly or Die
Mathew Halsall: The temple Within
Bardo Pond: Is there A Heaven?
Kathryn Calder: Bright & Vivid
Cass McCombs: Heartmind
The Cure: Wish
Joni Mitchell: Song To A Seagull, For The Roses
Andrew Tuttle: Fleeting Adventure
Craig Finn:A legacy of rentals
Explosions In The Sky: Big Bend, the Wilderness
Angel Olsen: The Big Time
The Cure: Bloodflowers
Joan Shelley: The Spur
Explosions In The Sky: The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, Take Care x 3
The Durutti Column: Amigos Em Portugal, Vini Reilly, Short Stories For Pauline
Bill Orcutt: Music For Four Guitars
Pale Blue Eyes: Souvenirs
The Church: Priest= Aura
Julia Jacklin: Pre-Pleasure
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Let’s Turn It Into Sound
Kevin Morby: This Is a Photograph
The Archers
Caterina Barbieri: Spirit Exit, Ecstatic Computation
KH: Looking At Your Pager
The Dirty Three: Cinder, ST, Whatever You Love, You Are, Towards the Low Sun
Joni Mitchell: Mingus
Scrawl: He’s Drunk
The Afghan Whigs: How Do You Burn?
Tenniscoats: All Aboard
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Wilco: Kicking Television
Prefab Sprout; From Langley Park To Memphis
Caspian: Live At Old South Church
Caribou: Suddenly
The National: Sleep Well Beast
Tallies: Patina
Chris Forsyth: Evolution Here We Come
Built To Spill: When The Wind Forgets Your Name
Morphine: Cure For Pain
Oliver Sim: Hideous Bastard
Jockstrap: I Love You Jennifer B
Bell Orchestre: House Music
Rachika Nayar: Our Hands Against the Dusk
David Grubbs: A Guess At the Riddle
Joan Shelley: Electric Ursa
Laura Veirs: Found Light
Sharon Van Etten: We’ve been Going About This All Wrong
My Morning Jacket; ST
Ryley Walker: Primrose Green
Echo & The Bunnymen: Flowers, Heaven Up Here, Porcupine, Crocodiles, Reverberation
Self Esteem: Prioritise Pleasure
The Boo Radleys: C’mon Kids
Courtney Marie Andrews: Old Flowers, May Your Kindness Remain
Madi Diaz: History Of a Feeling

Bad Sisters
Only Murders In The Building
The Thick of It
Grey’s Anatomy
The Good Wife

Don Paterson: The Arctic

Hilary Menos: Fear of Forks
Don Paterson: The Arctic
Bruce Robinson: The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman (Via Jane Lovell)

3 thoughts on “Cromer, Fango, Have I Read Enough?

  1. Pingback: Poetry Blog Digest 2022, Week 36 – Via Negativa

  2. Back in the ’90s, I worked with a Beckenham resident, who assured me and the rest of our colleagues that, even in its quiet moments, the town was like Sodom and Gomorrah, so your being kept awake by a Drum’n’Bass night doesn’t surprise me a jot. Did you count beats like sheep? Thanks for featuring my poem and for the shout-out. Yes, I have another collection written and polished until I can almost see my face in it, but nobody as yet wants to publish it – there’s no rush though. The Bruce Robinson novel is fantastic.

    • Hello sir, I can confirm, having had cause to walk back along Beckenham high street after closing time on a number of occasions that it has retained the ability to impersonate S&G at the drop of a hat. I have learned to stop dropping my hat. I actually had tickets to the D&B thing, but didn’t make it. Friends did and loved it. I’m not a D&B (or even D&D) fan per se, but reckon I’d have had fun. No beats were counted…not with my sense of rhythm.

      All of the good news that a collection is ready. I am bang up for reading it, and will take to all forms of media to berate the publishing world for their shortsightedness.

      I’ve read the first chapter or two of the Robinson novel, I can see I will be enjoying it.

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