No man is a Love Island

Finally starting to feel better this week – after the fug of the week before.

Not a huge amount of writing, if any, done, but I’ve worked on a pamphlet submission. That’s been interesting in how it has developed over the course of a couple of months. A week ago it was in themed sections and called one thing. Now it’s flowing a lot more and has a new name.

There’s still a week to go, so I may tinker some more before submitting, but I’m much happier with it now – and my thanks to the two folks that have helped me with it/ given me a couple of amazing quotes to use. It’s very odd to have someone writing about you.

I struggled with writing about myself for bios in the 3rd person, but to have someone write about your work as a bit of blurb is most odd – almost like they can’t mean you. I went to school with a Mat Richies; they must mean him. Or the other Mat Riches who appears to work for Terence Conran. Still, I come above him in Google searches.

This relentless niceness was counterbalanced by a rejection this week from Strix. I kind of expected it and the email was very kind to say they’ve had well over a 1000 poems in for this submission window. It’s tricky and I get that, but this will have been my 4th or 5th unsuccessful attempt. I think that makes it clear it’s time to go away for a bit and come back with something different for them. To use a phrase that’s been made popular on Love Island recently, it is what it is.

It’s all good and I really look forward to seeing what has made it into the new issue. Strix is a fantastic mag that has really established itself as a quality publication over it’s short life so far. I think it will be around for a long time, so I’ll have another crack next year, or maybe in a few months when the perfect poem presents itself.

Are you watching Love Island? I’m hooked, and that’s not the day job talking.

The pictures have come through from Firth on tour. Thanks to my old mate, Andrew Wright, we now have pictures of the mag in Busan, South Korea.

I’m blaming smog for the lack of focus here

In other news, I finally found a bag of old poetry mags that I bought while in Devon. They’d fallen under the passenger seat of our car. I saw them in a second hand book shop at National Trust place in Knightshayes and was intrigued. Obviously a bookshop is catnip to me, but usually the secondhand poetry sections of these place don’t exist or are a bit crap. However, this one yielded three issues of Birdsuit, a mag put together by Helen Ivory, George Szirtes, Andrea Holland and Christopher Reid as part of Norwich Art College. I’ve not read them yet, but Norwich, poetry and a new to me magazine. What’s not to like?

The other mag I found was an old copy of Acumen from October 1989. It features a poem from Dannie Abse called Not In Proper Light that, at this moment in time, I think remains uncollected, and an early review of Simon Armitage’s Human Geography. It’s not what you would call complimentary, but I think his career appears to have coped. It is what it is, yeah!


  1. Pocket Squares
  2. Section by section, we laid the track
  3. Frog, March
  4. Full Court Press
  5. Boxer’s Break


41K run – Including 18k today and 15K on Friday

1 HapWrap drafted for Nell Nelson’s Wrapper Rhymes Project

1 group joined of old school mates – there to support each other when things get too much. It’s made me quite teary.

2 CDs burned – It’s scary how much this feels like an anachronistic act

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


Read: Very little apart from Surveys and survey results. Must try harder this week.

Watched: Love Island, 30 Rock, Schitt’s Creek, and Catch 22

Listened to: The Cinema Under The Stairs Podcast#4, Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars, The Drift – Memory Drawings, Frank Black – Frank Black, Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe, Daniel Maier – The Not Knowing on Radio 4

This was going to be Birdbrain as a nod to Birdsuit above, but I’ll go with this for the chorus in tribute to Eva

Backer Laureate

Not a lot of headspace this week, so not a lot to put here. It’s been a week at work this week, although to be fair it always is.

We’ve got our Laureate in place now. Once Imitiaz Dharker said no it was always going to be Simon Armitage. Dharker would have been brilliant, but I think Armitage will be too. He’s accessible enough for everyone, he’s clever enough for those interested in that side of things. He wears his learning and insights lightly, but there’s plenty of it/them.

I’ve been listening to his Oxford lectures when I have time, and I’ve just finished his Elizabeth Bishop one. I’m going to have read Bishop now, although to be fair, I’ve been meaning to for a while. Her collected work is sat on the TBR pile by my bed, but keeps getting pushed down when new books arrive. I’ve not ordered Armitage’s new one yet, but I suspect it won’t sell out immediately, or more likely there will be enough printed.

Armitage’s Kid was one of the first poetry books I bought. I bought it in Norwich Waterstones – the one in the Arcade. It was Kid with this cover


Having heard him on late night radio shows with Mark Radcliffe, I sort of knew what to expect. I remember hearing him read Wintering Out, Ice and possibly The Metaphor Now Standing on Platform 8 on those shows.

Ice struck a chord with me because of the subtle Wedding Present reference at the start of the second stanza. I was, and still am, a massive fan of TWP, but I was most surprised see a poet making reference to Brassneck in the poem of the same name when I started reading Kid. The subject matter of pickpockets, the swearing, the class references, the usage of football as a backdrop was unheard of to me at the time, so it certainly changed my idea about what poems could be.

I even named one of the first poems I wrote after reading it Armitage Shanks as a sort of tribute. It’s basically all his fault.

And it was this edition of Poetry Review, again bought in Norwich Waterstones that introduced me to poems of his that would go on to feature in Dead Sea Poems. And loads of other amazing poets, including Lavinia Greenlaw, Don Paterson, Jamie McKendrick, Sarah Maguire, Mick Imlah, Kathleen Jamie and some woman called Carol Ann something or other…

I’m not going to go through all of his work as he’s still going strong and I didn’t intend to write that much. Also, I don’t have it all. I’ve not got Xanadu, Twilight Readings, Stanza Stones, Pearl, Still or Black Roses – that said, I’ve got a download of the radio transmission of that last one. Flit is sat on the TBR pile too. So, who next him or Bishop?

It’s insights like these that keep you coming back…


  1. The Court Might Be Yours, And There May Be A Ball In It, But It’s My Ball And I’m Taking It Home
  2. A Chicken And Egg Situation
  3. The Finished Schematics For A Chicken And An Egg
  4. If I Had To Chose
  5. Poem With Backing Vocals

The week in stats:

1 journey to Birmingham and back for work purposes, which afforded me the chance to work on

1 review written for London Grip. Not sure when it will be out, if at all

2 runs, low kilometrage due to a)journey to Brum b) lacking the requisite arsedness c) ongoing lung knack. d) I’m assuming I actually get up and run tomorrow to make the second run an actual thing.

2 scraps of ideas noted down in emails to myself

1 trip to Wembley to watch Leyton Orient with two mates and their dad. Missed you, Geller-son.*

* Also not happened yet at time of writing, but I will miss Geller. I’m writing this early as I may well be in my cups by the time I get in tomorrow.

Sadly, there isn’t a decent video of Armitage’s work with TWP – England, although there is this one. So we’ll have to make do with this. Or should I have gone with a Scaremongers tune?