Cigarettes and linkahol

I’m assuming that most of you don’t read Strat Scraps. I didn’t either until recently, but I started following it for work reasons. I don’t always keep up with it…but reading it this week I came across the image below and the quotation beneath that

“Workshops are a waste of time. Trojan horses of mediocrity to quote Adliterate. These are a way for people with bad ideas and little imagination to get really, really smelly ideas into the mix. Only workshop when you have no choice. And if you must have one, employ dirty tricks to get what you need out of it (see Rule 11) 11. Use workshops as major tool for dirty planning. If you have the kind of client, or stakeholder group who never approve anything unless it’s their idea, it’s time for a workshop. Just make sure you know what the answer is and structure the day and your moderation on helping folks think for themselves.”

I can argue both sides of this debate. What I actually believe is a mystery.

With regards to the Mackay list, I wonder if I should be using this as a mantra for writing poems. Given I’m not writing any at present perhaps it doesn’t matter.

I’m not 100% sure who to attribute the paragraphs about workshops too, and they aren’t intended here to be discussing writing workshops, but the last two sentences largely chime with my thinking on them. I say all this for no reason other than I don’t have much else to say this week.

Strat Scraps is something of a compendium of links and provocations. I think I’ll do something similar.

I tried to sit and write last weekend.I tried free-writing. There may have been a kernel of a sliver of an inkling of a sniff of an idea in there, but it’s unlikely.

I’m consoling myself with the not writing by reading this sentence I saw in Jeremy Noel-Tod’s newsletter, Some Flowers Soon.

“I think good real living is more important than spreading yourself on paper”.

That article on the newsletter was about the writer, Lynette Roberts. A new name to me, but one I will follow up on. Once I’m done with the good real living, or at least once I’ve worked out what that is.

Finally, some articles that may help trigger some writing ideas for you.
1. Have we finally worked out how to talk to whales?
2. The man who ate an aeroplane
3. The above came from this list of weird stories found on wikipedia
4. Google Street View, but for the moon

Oh yeah, and I haven’t gained permission for any poems this week, but I did mention BH Fairchild’s poem Cigarettes last week. I had a couple of glasses of red wine last night and would cheerfully have chewed down a couple of Lucky Strikes with it if I could, so Fairchild’s poem springs to mind again. I won’t share it here, but someone else did on a blog post ages ago here. His publishers can sue this person instead of me, but I will quote the section below because my friend has just called me and reminded me about Miles Davis’ Water Babies album. My friend is John’s son (see recent posts for details). John loved jazz, and I bought him Water Babies a few years ago. I’d never actually got round to listening to it myself, but I’m playing it as I type. It’s amazing.

I’m looking at the small black scallops above the keyboard,
a little history of smoke and jazz, improvisation as
a kind of forgetting. The music of cigarettes:
dawn stirs and lifts and smoke in dove-gray striations
that hang, then break, scatter, and regroup along
the sill where paperbacks warp in sunlight and the cat
claws housespiders. Cigarettes are the only way
to make bleakness nutritional, or at least useful,
something to do while feeling terrified.

It was Rob Selby that introduced me to Fairchild’s work, and I thank him for it. I’ve only read the one collection so far, The Art of the Lathe. It’s plays right into a world I like reading about, a world where there’s an interchange between manual work and art. It’s a world I’ve tried to visit to a degree in my forthcoming pamphlet…Oh, typing that never gets old.

I had the honour of asking two people I respect to write blurbs for it this week. They turned me down, so I’ve had to go with two mugs that said they’ll sign whatever I write.

Until next time…

A Song that is in some vague way linked to something

Greg Dulli, Cigarettes


15ishK running. My knee is improving now I’ve started trying to stretch my hamstrings. This week has seen 3 actual runs and almost no pain This is encouraging. I am very out of breath. This is not so much.
3 day without cigarettes…This is encouraging
0 days since drinking. **Pours another gin**

1 visit from my mum
1 late night after running club
1 not great curry

0 loose ideas/articles gathered (this allows me to kid myself I am writing all the time)
x poems finished: Several for the book
x poems worked on: Lots for the pamphlet, 1 new draft
1 submissions: Northern Gravy
0 withdrawal:
0 acceptances:
0 Longlisting:
0 readings:
0 rejections:
11 poems are currently out for submission. No simultaneous subs
83 Published poems

0 review finished:
0 reviews started:
0 review submitted:
2 review to write:

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

* To date, not this week. Christ!!


Music r= Radio, A = Audiobook, P=Podcast. The rest is music
Radio 5 Live: Liverpool V Arsenal (R)
Laura Stevenson: The Big Freeze
Jim O’Rourke: Eureka, Simple Songs
Magnolia Electric Co: Sojourner
Songs:Ohia: Ghost Tropic, Impala
Slint: Spiderland
Six Organs of Admittance: Burning The Threshold, Compathia, Companion Blues
Singing Adams: Everybody Friends Now
Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful (A)
Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful (A)
Daisy Rickman: Donsya a’n Loryow
The Hold Steady: The Price of Progress
Sea Power: Everything Is Forever, Do You Like Rock Music?
Thousand Yard Stare: Hands On
Singing Adams: Everybody Friends Now
Charlie Mingus: Ah Um, Pithecanthropus Erectus
Thousand Yard Stare: Hands On
Gomez: A New Tide, Out West
GoGo Penguin: Everything Is Going To Be Ok, Man Made Object, Ocean In A Drop
Fenne Lily: Breach, On Hold
Ultramarine: Folk
James Holden: Imagine This is a High Dimensional Space of All Possibilities
Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful (A)
Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful (A)
Miles Davis: Water Babies

Poetry London
Derek Mahon: New Selected Poems

Interior Design With Alan Carr
The Mandalorian
Fear The Walking Dead
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?


Maggie Smith; Goldenrod
Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful Audiobook

Maggie Smith: Goldenrod
Maggie Smith: You Could Make This Place Beautiful Audiobook
Rishi Dastidar: Neptune’s Projects
Ben Verinder: We Lost The Birds



One thought on “Cigarettes and linkahol

  1. Pingback: And in other writing… – Robin Houghton

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