Sunday, 29 May 2022

SkyLines programme announced

Nine Arches Press and Writing West Midlands have revealed the full programme for SkyLines, an all-new Poetry & Spoken Word Festival which comes to Coventry from 15-17 July. Tickets are available here.

Festival partners Nine Arches Press and Writing West Midlands, with support from Arts Council England and the Belgrade Theatre, have announced a programme of seven workshops and over a dozen live poetry events, with over 30 poets and spoken word artists appearing. 


There’ll be three 8pm headline acts across the weekend – Hollie McNish appears on Friday 15 July as part of her Slug tour, where she’ll be joined by Michael Pedersen. Director of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen.


Jill Abram will be joined by special guests Jacob Sam-La Rose, Lewis Driver, Alice Richmond and Meg Waters on Saturday 16 July, and Sunday 17 July will feature John Hegley’s stellar headline act Drawings of Dromedaries (and other creatures).


Throughout the weekend, there’ll also be an array of poets and spoken word artists – many of them hailing from the west Midlands region – sharing, discussing, debating and celebrating poetry. Highlights include Deborah Alma, Raymond Antrobus, Moniza Alvi, Casey Bailey, Natalie Linh Bolderston, Alison Brackenbury, Rishi Dastidar, Rosie Garland, Roz Goddard, Hannah Lowe and John McCullough.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Some more current reading

I've also been enjoying dipping in and out of Ian Duhig's New and Selected Poems, a book I'd been meaning to get hold of for a while. I've long been a fan of his work, and the new poems are every bit as good as anything he's done, I think. Again, I'll write about it at more length when I've had time to digest it properly. 

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Some current reading


Since last Monday's reading, I've been enjoying Chase Dimock's Sentinel Species – I'll write about it at more length when I've finished, but it really is excellent.

I've also been browsing through this excellent website, Birds of the Canyons, which Chase mentioned during his reading. It's well worth an hour or two of your time. 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

25 years on – Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

I recently listened to a Radio 4 programme about Radiohead's album OK Computer, which came out 25 years ago now. It was excellent, and it's an excellent album, although I couldn't help feeling that it laid it on a bit thick. Radiohead weren't the only ones dealing with such subject matter then, and their restless musical experimentalism, while utterly praiseworthy, is hardly unique. It just stood out rather starkly against the monochrome mediocrity of much of Britpop.

It reminded me that it's also 25 years since the release of Yo La Tengo's classic I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One. I'd just got into the band at the time, and bought the album as soon as it came out, and it remains a great summer album for me because it's so linked to the memory of that particular May and June. 

Fans would probably argue as to whether it's their best album (I'd say yes), but it's certainly the best single distillation of their restless experimentalism, ranging as it does from simple bossanova love songs like Center Of Gravity to full-on, 10-minute-plus feedback freakouts like Spec Bebop. In between there are spacious instrumentals such as Green Arrow, grungey blasts like Sugarcube (which boasted this superb video), trip-hop pop songs like Autumn Sweater, and harmony-drenched beauty such as The Lie And How We Told It. And of course, being YLT, there are two excellent covers, a foot to the floor charge through the Beach Boys' Little Honda, and an utterly unironic, straight take on My Little Corner Of The World, originally recorded by Marie Osmond, among others.

You can read YLT bassist James McNew talking about the making of the album here, and there's a 25th anniversary reissue out now, with some bonus tracks.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Monday night at the Cheltenham, Poetry Festival

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, but Monday night's online reading as part of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival was a lot of fun.

Los Angeles-based poet Chase Dimock read superbly, and I'm very much enjoying his book, Sentinel Species. His work is disarmingly funny – you're so busy enjoying the wit and humour that the emotional heft catches you off-balance. I'll write more about it once I've read further.

I just wanted to thank Anna Saunders and everyone else at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, and the excellent open mic readers who contributed so much to the evening.

If you want to find out more about what's on at CPF, have a look here.

And if you'd like to read most of the poems I read on Monday, they're available in the above e-pamphlet on sale here, or in my Nine Arches Press collections hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica (available on Kindle) and The Elephant Tests, available here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

New e-book out now!


I have an e-chapbook – Magnetite and other poems – out now from Wild Art Publishing. It collects bird-themed poems from my three full collections along with a couple of newer poems, and matches each piece with superb bird photography from Rob Read (the man behind Wild Art), David Tipling, and others.

Most of the poems that I'll be reading at my Cheltenham Poetry Festival reading next Monday will be from the book, so come along to the (online) event and get a taste of the book.

Then, if you'd like to buy, it's available in ePUB and PDF formats from the Wild Art shop here, priced £7.99. There are some other goodies in the shop too, so have a good look. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The Vanishing Earth: Reading and open mic at Cheltenham Poetry Festival

Just a reminder that next Monday, May 16th, at 7pm, I'm reading with American poet Chase Dimock as part of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

It's an online event and as you'll see from the festival website, it's themed around the interactions between the personal and natural worlds, and the many and increasing threats faced by the latter.

There are open mic slots available, too, and you can book at the page linked to above.

It'll be the first reading I've done for quite a while, but I've really enjoyed preparing for it, and I'm looking forward to the day itself. 

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The first person in poetry

The other day, poet Matthew Stewart tweeted this, sparking off a very interesting discussion about the use of the first person in poetry, and the frequent assumption by readers (and Matthew was talking specifically about critics) that this is the poet themselves.

I don't have a great deal to add to it, but I do find it odd that this assumption gets made with poetry by people who have no difficulty in accepting that a first person narrator in a novel is not necessarily the writer themselves.

That said, I wonder whether it's also a question of degrees for poetry readers? If the poem is written in, say, the voice of a historical character, or an animal, the reader has no trouble knowing that the "I" is not the poet. Does the problem occur mainly when the "I" is not the poet, as such, but a character not that far away from them?