What’s this, sneaking across the screen like a mile-a-minute vine? News of a real-life gig in a physical place! I’ll be in Kew Gardens for the evening, writing instant plant portrait poems as part of Kew’s Secret World of Plants After Hours sessions. Lots of slots with artists, botantical types and writers across the summer – mine’s on 3 July. Thanks to Helen Bowell for the booking.
The brilliant people at the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival have made podcasts from readings from last November’s gathering. Mike Sims and I blew a lockdown bubble and read from Paper Trail in my flat, joining a Zoom reading with Richard Skinner and Olivia Dawson, and Henny Beaumont who illustrated a couple of our poems. Listen along here.
Letterpress published, illustrations by Linda Hughes. Poems, pilgrimages, games & recipes.
I’m going to be publishing again with The Emma Press, the best girl gang that ever there was. is, thinks Pearl is a new poetry pamphlet, due out in Autumn 2021.
Maybe you remember Pearl from her appearance in Paper Trail. At that point she was a brisk and slightly salty waitress working in a seafood restaurant. She also showed up in the Winchester Poetry Competiton, counting helium animals for a high street balloon seller. Always in town with the beadiest of eyes on all she sees, she now has her own book, and I’m very pleased.
Roddy and I arrived in London the same year – me from the west country, him from Scotland. I employed him at the Poetry School, he edited my Salt books, and we were friends. I’ll be reading a poem of his at his tribute event at the StAnza festival on 7 March, and thinking about all we miss.
It feels like I’ve been going to poetry festivals in Aldeburgh since its pebbly beach was all boulders. As I was looking online for photos to illustrate this post, I thought for a flicker of a second how much I’m looking forward to going there again this year … then I remembered. Damn.
I’ll take a step back. I AM taking part in Poetry in Aldeburgh this year, I AM still looking forward to it – but it’s all virtual for obvious reasons. Mike Sims and I will be running a workshop and giving a reading based on Paper Trail, our artists’ book from last year. Sunday 15 November – workshop details here, reading details to come. Though the pebbles won’t be quite as present for the festival this year, the poetry and atmosphere all round will be just as excellent and you should come.
Photo by Ian Wakefield.
Read a short poem of mine on Perverse, Chrissy Williams’ online poetry magazine for ‘deliberate, obstinate, unreasonable or unacceptable poems, contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice’.
It’s a Harrison Ford in his pomp poem, of which I have written a number.
An outdoors indoors Covid 19 project. Outposted are sending maps around the country, asking writers, artists and makers to reflect on creativity and collective solitutde while they add new ideas and locations to the fold out Ordnance Survey maps. There’s a map going round Gloucestershire, where I’m from, and one round South London, where I am.
I met poet Rishi Dastidar in Battersea Park and at the tips of our outstretched one-metre-long arms, we handed over the South London map. His poem references Alexander the Great. Mine is full of conversational computer games. The next step in the daisy chain is Sophie Herxheimer – another exchange encounter in the park, a place I’ve never known in such detail.
That image of the Battersea Park Peace Pagdoa is from BritainExpress.com
Maybe in-person poetry readings will come back soon. Until they do, we have Zoom. Me and Emma of The Emma Press talking about Now You Can Look: 7pm BST, 19 June – register here. It’s webinar-Zoom, rather than look-at-the-audience Zoom, so it’ll be like a very niche sort of tv-watching experience.
Edit: I’ve just seen this review of Now You Can Look for the first time. There is no better analysis of my preferred aesthetic than ‘ants in the wineglass’.
Edit again: replay the reading at your leisure.
To the Horse Hospital, for the launch of Paper Trail!
This gorgeous book has been a long time coming. In 2015, Mike Sims and I started a writing project: we would swap items of ephemera in the post (a postcard, a cereal gift, a mixtape etc) as prompts to new poems. Fourteen poems took us eighteen months – and one of the rules we had given ourselves was to make it a silent swap. No talking about the project till we’d finished. When we did get to the end of the exchange, a giant unbottled conversation led us to pass the poems on to artist Roy Willingham for him to make his own new images prompted in turn.
“To open Paper Trail is to embark on a joyous journey through the debris of many decades. No artefact is too surreal or too small to be overlooked on this adventure – fragments of a meteor, an Aeroflot wet wipe, an artist’s business card, an empty cassette box that once held a mixtape. But not every page holds a souvenir of the past. These items are just the beginning of the book’s trajectory, prompts for a new conversation between two poets and a visual artist. The result is an exuberant tangle of words and images that celebrates the way we live now surrounded by ephemera, eavesdropping and aesthetic echoes.”
The print run was 200, and half of them have sold already. The other half are here.