Monday, 1 March 2021

The Lucksmiths

Wikipedia, and the Internet generally, are dangerous things. Yesterday, I heard the end of Tess of the D'Urbervilles on Radio 4, and looked it up online, never having read it. 

Wikipedia told me that its ending was inspired by Thomas Hardy having witnessed the execution of a woman called Elizabeth Martha Brown, for the murder of her abusive husband, in 1856, and that an Australian band, called The Lucksmiths, had recorded a song about it on their 1995 album The Green Bicycle Case.

Now, that immediately rang a bell, because years ago I read a book about the Green Bicycle Murder, which took place just outside Leicester in 1919. But the album also contains a song called The Tichborne Claimant, which sent me off reading about that particularly long and convoluted affair. Among the interesting things I picked up was that it involved the same Tichborne family as that of the poet Chidiock Tichborne, executed for his part in The Babington Plot against Elizabeth I, although not before he had written the famous elegy you can see on that page.

All of which is a very long way of getting to the point. If you've followed this blog over the years, you'll know that I have a very big soft spot for Australian bands. Two in particular, The Triffids and The Go-Betweens, but there are others. And I think The Lucksmiths will be joining them as favourites. The album mentioned above is excellent, both musically and lyrically, and is more than a little reminiscent of The Go-Betweens, and I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of their work. The follow-up album, I notice, is called What Bird Is That, which has to be a good omen.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus

A bit late, I know, but the sun's starting to break through, and there are daffodils out, so Happy St David's Day!

Thursday, 25 February 2021

What I Do To Get Through

I'm proud and delighted to say that I was one of the many contributors to the above book, What I Do To Get Through, edited by Olivia Sagan and James Withey. It's a book about different approaches to coping with, and getting through depression, and as you might have guessed, my contribution was about birdwatching, and how it can benefit your mental health.

You can buy it here, but of course you can also order it at your local independent bookshop too.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Writing advice

Someone on Twitter posted this link the other day – it's a little compendium of thoughts on writing and writers (and indeed, creativity and life more generally). It comes from a huge variety of sources, so of course it's contradictory, and of course there will be parts of it that you dismiss as absolute nonsense, but there's probably something there to suit most writers, and most moods. Browsing through does make you think a bit harder about your own writing.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Purple Crow – rewild your inbox

One of my poems, Starlings, from my last collection The Elephant Tests, is featured today on Purple Crow, which you can read more about here and here.

Purple Crow promises to deliver all sorts of wildlife-related content to your inbox, from fact-based features to more conversational pieces, and from top-class photography to poetry that focuses on natural history.

There are paid and free subscriptions available, so check it out.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Iamb – poetry seen and heard

OK, I know I've said this before, but I've decided it's time to start using this blog again, and for the reason I initially set it up - to talk about poetry, mainly, although there will be diversions into other literature, history, natural history, birdwatching, and cricket.

So I'm going to start by pushing you in the direction of the splendid Iamb, a website that not only allows you to read the work of a huge variety of poets, but also to hear them read their work.

They've been released in four 'waves' so far, with further to follow, and you can read and hear some of my own poems (both old and new) here.

It's a really beautifully put-together site, for which Mark Antony Owen deserves huge credit – you can also enjoy his own poetry here.

I saw it pointed out this week that poetry publishers have generally been slow to get work out there in audiobooks, the reason being, I suspect, that it's a time-consuming and potentially expensive process, but I suspect it's the future of poetry publishing, or a big part of it. When it's done well, as here, it adds a whole new dimension to the poetry.