Sunday, 31 October 2004

happy new year

The clocks have changed, and I can’t sleep, as usual. I seem to have gone nocturnal.

Yesterday was spent doing a few Samhain preparations, I always like this time of year when the veils are thinner. For me it is a time to remember those who are gone or who missing from my life.

It must be because of this time of year that I’m talking to my missing ones in my dreams so much, trying to save memories from the numbing loss of time. This is a time to bring lost worlds a little closer. I hope if yr reading this, that you bear this in mind for your own life. Here is a site that explains what Samhain is but I think one has to find ones own way with these things, and for me this time is about family & connection, and prayer for closeness in the dark. If you watch one video or dvd this week, watch “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” it is about this exact thing.

I haven’t written much here since Ilkley ended. I have been just trying to get my head back. I have hit my weight goal, I am now under 11 stones, I was 12stone 9 pounds when I started my new regime a few months back, so I feel great, and it has made me more flexible for my yoga too. I have no clothes that fit me however, everything is for a much bigger man.

This week I’m in Ireland I have a reading and some workshops. I hope to create a personal circuit over then next couple of years so I can tour more regularly. It is strange how important moving around has become to me. I don’t feel like I have a home aside from being in front of an audience. I wish I could come home, but I can’t find anywhere that feels right.

I have done a major update of my website, new photos, new layouts. I am so pleased with the photos, for one its a much slimmer me, and two, Linda, my photographer is so much fun, that the session was an absolute joy. I usually hate being photographed, but this was a lovely session, I will stick with her from now on.

No news on the book front, I sent art suggestions a couple of weeks ago.

Spent a mesmerised evening in front of the TV the other night watching Queen live at Milton Keynes from 1982. I saw them at Leeds a few days before this. The Gig at Leeds was the best thing I have ever been to, and this is such a memory trigger. Love of my life had me weeping buckets.

Music in the house this week:
Miles Davis - Milestones
Queen – On Fire

Thursday, 28 October 2004

John Peel

Dear God

what a loss, the world is a much poorer place now. We have lost our Dear John Peel. Goodbye to all the music

my love and respect to all the Peel family at this terrible time

Sunday, 17 October 2004

Crazy world

So much to write about the last few days, but its Sunday morning so I’ll add bits to this entry over the day, which will be quite nice and conversational. First job of the day though is have a bath then got to get the Independent on Sunday, as I’m in there as part of the Great Day thing from last month, they have been holding back the article to use for Black history month, again I doubt if I’m talked about as we have such mega writers such as Ben Okri and Linton in the photo, but I’m in there, which is what matters.

I need to find a way to get more press interest in my work, while it has been fantastic appearing so much in national press lately, getting them to actually talk about the work, rather than being part of their agenda, seems to be a skill I have yet to master. If you see the paper today, let me know what you think... Off for that bath, back later

its a very sleepy sunday afternoon, just in from a pub lunch with the family, listening to an ancient Jethro Tull lp called 'Stand Up' that Sid at my local record shop has just given me, could just nod off.

the last couple of days of the school stuff for Ilkley were amazing, just lovely kids and I left feeling I'd managed to impart something about poetry to them. the evening reading with my lovely friend Cherry Smyth was such nice fun. We met up for dinner first, before spinning our poems out for a very interesting audience, lots of Arts Council, Programmers and Writers out there, that night, we were graced by the presence of the great Buchi Emecheta. Cherry's lovely Northern Irish voice is one of those voices that one could listen to for hours, and her new poetry is lovely, tender as always, and hinting at a wonderful sexiness

Friday, 15 October 2004

Postman's knock

Postman's Knock

Your letters are like folded moons on onionskin,
suns pleated into envelopes, opaque Mallorcan
You send me things: a diamond ring, a glass
of pink champagne, an antique fan, a high comb
for my hair.
You send me water from the Canaletas fountain;
ripe apricots at Christmas, marzipan
for January the Sixth.
The seasons come and go. You send me virgin snow
from Nuria, a piece of ancient rock
from Montserrat;
the songs of Lluis Llach. I lie in bed
all day at fever pitch and wait
for postman's knock.
The propositions that he pushes through the letterbox
(along with your dispatches) land
like homing-pigeons
in the hall; drive me insane
with their damn cu-cu-ru-cu-cú.

Doroth Molloy

Rock me

A profound evening last night hearing, Wally Serote, Gcina Mhlope and Achmat Dangor, speak about their lives and works as part of the African Visions tour, which joined the festival. Such a moving event, each talked about writing whilst being banned, the struggle in South Africa. They talked about their inspirations, anger, forgiveness, and made me think about my own. It was a dignifying powerful experience just to be in the room with these three awesome writers.

As the UK drift towards creating apartheid in the world with its foreign policies and relationship with the US, it is vital that the lessons so many have died for are not forgotten. It is shameful that we are in this state today, and that Blair and Bush have no idea about diplomacy, these writers told us such stories of forgiveness but not forgetting, we, in this country must remember who we are, and not give our country, liberty, and diverse history away from a few barrels of oil and a few episodes of friends. Raise yourself up Britain, listen to these writers.
News, Info and Weblog

Thursday, 14 October 2004

Good will

Good Will

Sorting clothes, I find our son's old            
jeans, the dirt worn so deeply in            
they are almost tan, worked as a palimpsest,
the nub down to a flat gloss,
the metal of the rivets soured to ochre,
the back pockets curved like shields,
their stitching is like water far from land,
a long continuous swell. Lee,
the pants say in auric print,
LEE, they say in letters branded            
in leather on the waistband, like the voice of a boy's
pants, the snap's rattle, the rough
descending and ascending scale of the zipper,
the coin-slot pocket inside the front pocket.
He had waited inside me so many years, his
egg in my side before I was born,
and he sprang fresh in his father that morning,
I had seen it long ago in science,
I shake out the jeans, and there are the knees
exploded, the white threads hanging
outside the body, the frail, torn,
blue knee open, singing of the boy.
Sharon Olds

Tuesday, 12 October 2004

I wonder

What a few days it has been, I haven’t done a proper entry for a few days as things have been crazy. Last Friday I was judging the open mic competition, which was really good, I usually fear such events, local poetry, for local people I call it as you always get the Royston Vasey types at these kind of events, you know the bloke with the carrier bag of manuscripts and the woman who’s poetry is all childhood trauma. Anyway we were spared any of that this time thank god, and the evening was like a wonderful idiosyncratic poetry caberet, the winner was a great chap with a brutal poem about miners, called Gary Kaye, he’s the poet in residence at Leeds United, poor bugger. Actually I have no opinion on the game of football, I never liked it even as a boy, I was doing martial arts from the age of 8 so football never appealed to me, don’t do anything but yoga these days.

The school run finishes this week, it is sad having to say goodbye to all these kids. It really has been marvellous and the work staggering. You’ll be able to see some of it at the manor house soon.

I had a number of gigs on national poetry day, but the gig in the evening at Bolton library was staggering, such a lovely audience. The Guardian ran their piece on Friday rather than Thursday and what a piece of crap it was, so far off the mark, and politely racist I felt, you know in that lightly ineffectual way. The piece should have concentrated on how we have such a wonderful festival in the north, instead we got condescending stuff about the mushira event, how the festival was rebuking claims against it, that have never been made, and went on about everything but the festival. All poets of Indian heritage are all versed in Omar Khyham, apparently too. The use of the word Asian is driving me nuts, I’m British for god sake, do I have to start calling everyone else Angles, Jutes, Germans, after all there is no one been in this country for more than 900 years, that’s not so long.......anyway the photo was okay, and it was in the main part of the paper, so its better to be talked about than not I guess....mutter, mutter.

The gig with Daisy Goodwin was brilliant, we took turns to read our favourite poems, hosted by the wonderful James Nash, people were scribbling down the poets names, people who didn’t like poetry but just happened to be there or dragged along were converted by the power of the poetry, I found myself in tears at a Raymond Carver poem Daisy read out, just a brilliant afternoon, it would have made a great radio programme, I think.
News, Info and Weblog

these things

These Things

these things that we support most well
have nothing to do with up,
and we do with them
out of boredom or fear or money
or cracked intelligence;
our circle and our candle of light
being small,
so small we cannot bear it,
we heave out with Idea
and lose the Center:
all wax without the wick,
and we see names that once meant
like signs into ghost towns,
and only the graves are real.
Charles Bukowsi

Sunday, 10 October 2004

The Prize

The Prize

Now I am blind
I see you.
Now I am deaf
I can hear your love.
Now that my teeth are gone,
I want to taste your meat.
Now that the daylight is short
I live in your light.
Frailty calls at the door everyday,
he is my company and sounding board,
I tell him of the strength I feel inside.
They cleared the wood to
grow a forest.
The bombs I set
bloom in blood shades,
give pleasure in the garden.
The great impact will come
in forgetfulness,
when the silences accumulate.
John Siddique

Saturday, 9 October 2004

An ending


Fourteen long years she lies oh she lies oh
And love as she lies she dreams in white stone
Colonnade marbled and balcony empty
A broken band brokenly marks broken time
Fourteen years she dreams oh she dreams oh
As dreamer she dreams on, as lover entwines
Her limbs grow round his limbs, she drinks from a bottle
She walks through the city she's lost and then found
Fourteen long years, further back scattered
She sits on some beach and reasons with him
In the secret red moist heart, the most loved and most dark
The flame shaft and fierce dart, the rose-leaf and moss-part
Spreadeagled like starfish, most pain and most fear
Like flower of sea-grass, most fragile and harmless
Most fiery and bloody, most childlike and wrinkled
This starfish, this spider, most wretched and great
"Do not cry for me; let me show you the path on which we neither come nor go"
She smiles at me lake-wide, wet-brown-eyed and dark-skinned
Some dark moon unmoved stalks through our loss
"Do not spend this night with me; I shall make the fallen blind see"
This too another broken toy, from broken girl gift to broken boy
I ask my sea-blue rushing mother: "Shall she hear the lions roar?"
David Tibet

This piece appears at the end of the wonderful CD 'Thunder Perfect Mind' by Current 93

Thursday, 7 October 2004


Renasence (excerpt)

 Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e'er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!
Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!
The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, 6 October 2004

Mr Bleaney

'This was Mr Bleaney's room. He stayed
The whole time he was at the Bodies, till
They moved him.' Flowered curtains, thin and frayed,
Fall to within five inches of the sill,
Whose window shows a strip of building land,
Tussocky, littered. 'Mr Bleaney took
My bit of garden properly in hand.'
Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook
Behind the door, no room for books or bags -
'I'll take it.' So it happens that I lie
Where Mr Bleaney lay, and stub my fags
On the same saucer-souvenir, and try
Stuffing my ears with cotton-wool, to drown
The jabbering set he egged her on to buy.
I know his habits - what time he came down,
His preference for sauce to gravy, why
He kept on plugging at the four aways -
Likewise their yearly frame: the Frinton folk
Who put him up for summer holidays,
And Christmas at his sister's house in Stoke.
But if he stood and watched the frigid wind
Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed
Telling himself that this was home, and grinned,
And shivered, without shaking off the dread
That how we live measures our own nature,
And at his age having no more to show
Than one hired box should make him pretty sure
He warranted no better, I don't know.
Philip Larkin

Tuesday, 5 October 2004

Ring Ring

Its got to the point in the schools part of the residency that the job has become quite liquid. It flows along nicely as were at the two thirds stage. I am out of it with a cold so by the power of Lemsip, I do my poetry thang!. New directions again today, back at Ben Rhydding, but with the year 5s this time, we explore whole new areas of poems as one of the girls makes a fascinating suggestion about line breaks so I build the who afternoon out of it, we also video some of their readings, which is a great laugh.

The morning was spent in the museum working with the rock art but we also had the Guardian in seeing what we were up to, and taking photos, in the afternoon I had the Yorkshire Post interviewing me by phone, about why poetry is still relevant. The piece in the post will be in tomorrow, (weds) or Thursday (National Poetry Day.) and the Guardian piece on the Lit Fest will be in also on Thursday.

Music today: Hawkwind, Apparat, Opeth, and Kate Bush
News, Info and Weblog

Crossing the water

Crosssing the water

Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?
Their shadows must cover Canada.

A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry:
They are round and flat and full of dark advice.

Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand;

Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls.

Sylvia Plath

Monday, 4 October 2004

The negro speaks of rivers

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
     flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
     went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
     bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
Langston Hughes

Sunday, 3 October 2004

Tropical Loveland

My job on Saturday afternoon was to do lead the poetry pub crawl. I have to admit to being quite nervous of this idea, sometimes this type of event is very hi-jackable by a certain type of poet who we have all met, who has never read a poem in their life, and wants everyone to know of their childhood trauma, fortunately we had none of these. The only negative incident of the whole day was at the first pub where whilst reading in a circle, with the permission of the landlord, and many smiles and nods from customers, two of Ilkley’s nice old dears, loudly told us to ‘take our poetry and p*ss off, we’re here to enjoy ourselves not listen to poetry.’ their exact words I swear. The rest of the crawl was great, especially in the older, realer pubs such as the the Midland and the Mallard, and as the beer flowed, I was on gin and whiskey myself. We heard poems about the good old days of 1985, train poems, afterlife poems. Each pub seemed to throw out a theme and so each poet read one poem on that theme when it became clear what it was, strange that each should have a poem on each theme, a and stranger that poetry was so in the air. We picked up a few people from the bars who stayed with us on the crawl, listening and smiling, and occasionally adding in a recitation of a poem they remembered, or that their dads had told them. The crawl was supposed to be two hours, and people came and went but a core stayed together, talking poetry, then going for a meal, then on to watch a magnificent gig with Simon Armitage, Kathleen Jamie and Matthew Sweeny.

Saturday, 2 October 2004

Song - Allen Ginsberg


The weight of the world
     is love.
Under the burden
     of solitude,
under the burden
     of dissatisfaction
     the weight,
the weight we carry
     is love.
Who can deny?
     In dreams
it touches
     the body,
in thought
a miracle,
     in imagination
     till born
in human--
looks out of the heart
     burning with purity--
for the burden of life
     is love,
but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
     at last,
must rest in the arms
     of love.
No rest
     without love,
no sleep
     without dreams
of love--
     be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
     or machines,
the final wish
     is love
--cannot be bitter,
     cannot deny,
cannot withhold
     if denied:
the weight is too heavy
     --must give
for no return
     as thought
is given
     in solitude
in all the excellence
     of its excess.
The warm bodies
     shine together
in the darkness,
     the hand moves
to the center
     of the flesh,
the skin trembles
     in happiness
and the soul comes
     joyful to the eye--
yes, yes,
     that's what
I wanted,
     I always wanted,
I always wanted,
     to return
to the body
     where I was born.
Allen Ginsberg San Jose, 1954

Friday, 1 October 2004

The stolen child

The Stolen Child
Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he can

WB Yeats