Sunday, 27 July 2003

The long drive home, Marie streching her driving range, by leaving London for a few weeks and driving most of the way up the M1. no artistic work done at all today. Had a bath, talked to some cats on the street. Had tea with Johnny from next door and done…prison tomorrow

Saturday, 26 July 2003

post birthday reds
Away in London at the moment. Spent a crazy amount of money on cocktails at Harvey Nichols yesterday..Well it was my birthday..Funny being pissed on margaritas wondering around with Stephen & Marie underground and over ground. Packed a lot into the day. Started at the Tate, had a look at the Bridget Reilly exhibition. Clever one trick pony stuff. Op-art, but no soul to speak of. Then we took a boat down the Thames to Tate Modern. Looked at the Bill Viola piece. I marvelled at Stanley Spencer, but then I always do, and was blown away by a piece of Japanese video art of a girl as a 21st century angel playing in Tokyo airport. Marie bought me the collected poems of Hugo Williams, who I’ve been raving about since meeting up with him at Ledbury the other week.

Didn’t sleep at all last light, watch an old episode of Northern Exposure on cable, and marvelled at the strange world of supposed manhood encapsulated on the ‘Men and Motors’ channel.

Five and a half years of relating and loving someone and I can’t be in communication with that person on my birthday. Where is the sense or plan in that? Sometimes I wish the universe would just go f**k itself.

I think I did the best I could with my birthday, spending it with friends, rather than crying into my whisky in Hebden. Today we’re exploring Greenwich. My heart hurts and I’m damn tired. Just putting one step in front of the other, but I’m in the dark as to where this is going, and I’m not afraid of saying I’m bloody scared to my soul.

If you are reading this let me wish you love and a multitude of peace

Music in the house: Prince, Alicia Keys, Massive Attack & The Police

Sunday, 20 July 2003

Run, don’t walk
My birthday is only 5 days away, I shall be 39. I am in so many minds; I am quite scared of being here in Hebden because of the problems of the last 6 months. Six months already!! My stomach turns to think of lost love and friendship. I am not a clever man. I do not understand.

I am in two minds whether to go to London or not, don’t want to be in anyone’s way, exporting my troubles won’t help me be rid of them, but it means I’m not in the vicinity.

Spent yesterday shopping and networking. It is such a job just keeping in touch with people, yet it is the basis that the future will grow from so it has to be done. I bought 9 new shirts, all Indian style things of various designs, but mostly white in colour as it shows off my colour to my best advantage. Hannah was a great help with the choosing. I cooked up a roast chicken for lunch, which has been salad today for tea, and will be soup for tomorrow. Chicken is great, as it makes 3 days of meals.

We were quite decadent and treated ourselves to cocktails at Harvey Nicks, then went for tea at Little Tokyo. I had sushi, and Hannah had a bento box, then it was off to West Yorkshire Playhouse to see a play a friend of Hannah’s had written. It was erm.. Okay. The cast were enthusiastic. Ahem!

Today I took my mum for lunch, bought some car seat covers and made apple and cinnamon muffins. Talked loads on the phone and smoked pipes with Johnny and tomorrow, more of the prison residency. I feel I’ve left already my heart really isn’t in it at the minute

Friday, 18 July 2003

la la la la
Wake up early and try very hard to focus on the work, been floating about a bit too much, and with being at festivals and so on it has been hard to get it together, so I start by doing my morning journal which clears out the crap and lets me get my jobs for the day together.

I have a new shirt that everyone loves, should have bought two or three so I’ll make it so tomorrow. Today has been a day of networking and planning. I realise I’m afraid to let myself have an easy time. I have struggled for a very long time with my life and work that now that I can see an easier path that could be lucrative I’m afraid of it. Still that has to go. Sad news the York’s Lit officer David Cooper is leaving his job. We need good promoters in Yorkshire and it will be diminished without him.

Sunday, 13 July 2003

10th July: She could hear the highway breathing
29 degrees at full sun. Up at 5 am to drive to Milton Keynes. I’m working over the next few months with a group of storytellers, musicians and digital artists to bring a show together called ‘and she was’ which is based on an Indian folk tale about a girl who can turn herself into a flowering tree. I’m creating poetry, and some soundscapes for it. The company I’m working with is called ‘A Word in Edgeways.’ It is going to be very interesting being part of a unit when I am so used to being a solo artist.

We spent the day getting to know each other; there are Phillipa & Allan who run the company, Shelly and Xanthe, a musician and storyteller who work together out of London, and myself. We also had a photo shoot to start getting images of the company together. I felt tired, blobby and baggy faced; so I hope the pictures have some merit.

Went to a birthday party in the evening for the company’s administrator Hannah, met up with Roger Kitchen who I have not seen for years, who just happens to be Hannah’s dad by 10.30 I wasn’t hearing anyone as I was so tired and was completely unable to contribute so it was back to Phil’s flat in MK where I laid away listening to the sounds and shouts around these estate, brutal male voices acting out group identities, pressing door buzzers and being leery until even they went to bed, and good night.

July 11th: Shamanic adventures
Went to the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes. Chatted with on of the Buddhist nuns who tend it and picked a dog rose to make the car smell nice. Picked some hips too, so I can take this wonderful morning back to Yorkshire with me.

Drove across ways avoiding the motorway to Ledbury, harsh roadworks out there. Arrived too hot and was in bed by 9.30.

July 12th: networking
A marathon day of hosting upcoming poets, a very mixed bag. I have to say if what I’m hearing is the future of British poetry then we’re in trouble. Are the British so very without passion and fire? Or is it just English poets? The best poet all day had to be Bob Mee of Ragged Raven Press, who was just reading at the open mike section of the day.

A couple of people came up to me and said they’d seen my stuff in magazine’s and anthologies and really enjoyed it which pleased me immensely

There were a lot of publishers around so I tried to get some of my stuff into their hands, but they were mostly not interested. Some were but there were a couple of complete wankers, who acted like you were trying to poison them by giving them work. It seems if your not one of their mates your not coming in. F**k you, you know who you are. If they are too busy, or your writing isn’t their thing they should just be straight with one, with good grace. Why be a publisher if you don’t want people to show you work.

In the evening Shelia and I went out to Dragon Orchard for a barbeque. Checked out the very lovely piglets running around and drank a tanglefooting amount of their homemade cider. Caught up with a few people, but was so tired that I was speechless after an hour, sitting there silent and tired is not the most gregarious of tendencies so home to bed by 10.30. I miss my own bed so much, but I’m glad to not be in Hebden. Too much sadness walking the streets of my town at the moment. I keep running into Chris and it kills me every time. And it’s the Riverside Festival this weekend, so the town will be overrun. I’m better off away, being poet John.

Wednesday, 9 July 2003

is this what we’ve become?
When you meet someone who was a great love and your only coversation is ‘are you okay?’ Yeah. And it goes both ways. It is F**king sadder than a sad thing.

Today I’ve been getting ready to go off on my travels again and doing a number of writing jobs. Trying to get reviews of my performances so I can get more, and I sent off packs of sample poems to a number of publishers, cross everything. My writing is stronger than ever, and a book is the necessary next step. Massage night tonight so the world is more physical and real. I retreat from this world when I’m in pain, or through learned ways, that I learned when I was growing up, to survive the racism of my hometown and the poverty and lack of understanding at home.

I’m so ready to shake the dust from my shoes, hello Milton Keynes, hello Ledbury

Monday, 7 July 2003

Who is the dreamer?
Did not sleep a wink last night, not a minute after running into ***** and her new man. I lay there all night angry, some rod in my centre glowing. Today was the longest day. Though writing my morning journal cleared my mind to focus on work. I have a huge list to do and it is great. I feel like a writer again, I often don’t feel like one. I seem to be an artistic solver of social problems or an enabler, but not very often a writer. Just took some sleeping pills, am determined to sleep tonight.
5th & 6th July

It’s the time of zooming around the country. My journal entries will probably in fact they are patchy at the moment as I’m literally working and driving and trying to sleep at the moment. This will only last a few weeks as it is my busy time, and I’ll miss it when it’s gone for this year. I do love the poeting life when it takes me places and touches my soul.

Question: how does one learn to let go of one’s limitations?

I’ve been re-reading Richard Bach’s wonderful little book ‘illusions.’ It seems to surface in my life every now and then. Each time I read it, it has new things to say. I’m sat in the churchyard of St Michael and all Angels, in the rose garden. Swifts are wheeling above me and the flat branchings of the cedar tree to my right is trying to tell me something.

The evening event at Eureka on Friday night was brilliant. I took some noisemakers with me so when I was reading some spooky poems I got a few of the kids helping me by whiling the noise tubes around and making whistling sounds. Got to bed at 12.30 is and then up again at 5.30, drove to Ledbury by half nine and had breakfast with my Landlady Sheila and then went off to prepare for hosting and reading a few poems. The gig went very well and I have managed some serious networking throughout the day. Also got to hear some great poetry was blown away my Moniza Alvi’s reading of her soul poems, and my old mentor Jack Mapanje read some powerful work. It was lovely to see Jack again it has been years so it was good to catch up, he is such a lovely man. In the evening Sheila and I went drinking around the pubs. There was a big street party going on but it was damn salsa music and I hate that stuff with a passion. My ex and her new bloke salsa and it actually hurts me to see people dance in this way. My friend and neighbour Jane has the same feelings about it for very similar reasons. So whenever either of us passes a salsa club, especially the local one in Hebden, we spit at it and curse, all part of the healing I hope.

A very boring woman in the pub cornered Sheila and me so we necked our drinks and headed off to the festival hospitality suite for a drink. Ran into John Hegley who remembered me for a thing we did together years ago. It is lovely to be in poetry land. I really don’t want to go back to my old ways of work. I love the way life can be, I love writing and performing more and more as I get older, it’s a bit like breathing to me, not something one can live without.

How does one let go of one’s limitations?

Is it possible to practice the art of manifestation?

This morning I’m going to watch some young poets reading then its lunch and back to Hebden. I’m so looking forward to being here for a few days next weekend. It is the first space I’ve had since the awful day in January when things shattered, and this journey wrote its beginnings into my life.

Can we choose our futures and our pasts?

Love love love

Thursday, 3 July 2003

Eat Them Up Yum

Busy few days ahead, doing some spooky poems with kids at Eureka in Halifax tomorrow night, then its only a few hours sleep and I’m off to Ledbury for the poetry festival where I’m hosting an event and reading a few poems too. Then its back on Sunday and prison Monday and Tuesday. Phew.

Today I’ve just been in recovery mode, although I did pick up copies of my newly reprinted chapbook UMMA, sorted some typos in there for this edition. Can’t wait to get down to Ledbury. I have not been away for ages. I’m back down next weekend and I’ve taken the week off so I’ll stay down for a bit. I’ll have to remember to take my laptop with me then I can keep my journal up to date. I’m thinking of organising some bodywork and journaling weekends with my friend Kay, when the prison job runs out this might be a good way to make some income and give out at the same time.

I’m also gearing up trying to get more readings and workshops. Sometimes I think I fear success and get in my own way. We grew up very poor and I’m sure sometimes I operate as if it's not a struggle then its not life!!

Made a wild mix cd for one of the children on our street. He’s been playing it to all his mates in school so there are loads of children going round singing ‘Fish Heads’ by Barnes and Barnes. It was one of my favourite tunes when I was young. It makes me smile to see it come round again, and to plant some seeds. Hee hee.

Tuesday, 1 July 2003

and the colour is
Grey road, raining, grey sky, driving 6 am, traffic jams, prison, job ends in September, worried sick about money, hope there is enough freelance stuff to survive, have some ideas, evening with friends, want to be drinking champagne.

When the light at the end of the tunnel is really a train
One of those days when you wake up and you know from the start it is going to be a tough one. Different routine though, doing some work for Bury council this afternoon. Ran a poetry workshop for some lovely 15 year olds about what they want in their lives. They came up with some great pieces, based around a simple repeating line pattern using quatrains.

Aside from that though I’ve been in hiding a bit, came home from work and went back to bed, turned the phones off. Then spent the evening sorting poems for a package to send to publishers, and to use at Ledbury festival which is coming up over the next two weekends. Heard from *****, that her daughter considers me to be like a father to her. That made me cry. She misses me and wants to come to visit. I am so glad. It is terrible when relationships end; if the kids aren’t yours you can lose them too. It’s nice to do my journal before bed. An early start for the prison tomorrow. ‘A new dawn and a new day, it’s a new life for me.’ Altogether now, ‘fish in the sea….’