Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Tuesday 30th November

Wake up and read ‘fight club’ for a while. Then yoga and breakfast, before Stephen and I head to the Tate, I’m desperate to lay my eyes on some Stanley Spencer’s, the big resurrection painting moves us both a great deal. Look at the Turner Prize stuff for this year, but find it all rather tame, politically safe, and without roots. In a couple of cases the work is documentary not art, as it doesn’t bring any leap of imagination with it. It just plays out.
Off to the new Apple shop in Regent Street. I just want to have a look, and I have a couple of things to ask about my mail system, that I can’t figure out. Everyone is mega helpful, I send some emails. One doesn’t feel like one is in a shop where everything is buy me, buy me, its like a strange members club of some kind. I’m of the opinion you have to watch out as what you own ends up owning you, yet my little Mac, lets me be freer with my work than I have ever been, it doesn’t need lots of attention like my PC used to. I write on the Mac, send my mails, plan my books, turn it off. It does what it’s supposed to. Boring really doesn’t need to be tweaked, or messed with.
Off to Russell Square and Bloomsbury to see Sherry for lunch, I’m going to look over her studio set-up, and advise if necessary. Great news in that Xanthe will be joining us, we have a lovely lunch of pasta, pesto and salad. Yak a huge amount about story, and Ireland, and catch up a bit with each other. I haven’t seen Xan for months.
Xan heads back to the British Library after lunch to continue her research. Sherry, Stephen and I go up Tottenham Court road to get things for Sherry’s studio, that she needs to get things moving. It’s all food today, as after this Stephen and I head off to meet another friend for an early dinner and coffee, a tasty masala dosa on Drummond Street, but the service is very poor. It’s a cold night in London. We try to pack a lot in, but I need to head back to the flat and sleep.

Monday, 29 November 2004

Monday 29th November

The 10.40 to London, writing my diary, watching old sci-fi on the laptop. Looking forward to seeing friends and not working on this visit.
Lunch at the wondrous Speedy Noodle in Brixton with Stephen, catching up on all his news about his new love.
Evening: Dinner with the lovely Anna Goodman, who is a wonderful combination of glamorous PR/ex-party girl and Jewish grandmother, a right funny old stick, you might say. I like people who are just themselves. Anna wants to know all about my new book, but I don’t feel like talking literature for once, or my work, so we chat about family, film, and occasionally stray into how press and promotion might work for the book, but I keep pulling it back, I am trying not to work too much. We can talk about these things another time.


Friday, 26 November 2004


A perfect postbox this morning:
the new copy of The North, great poetry and featuring some critisism I wrote a little while ago.

A fee payment

And contracts for my father story which will be published buy ROUTE next month www.route-online.com


My head is no not in a working space, should be doing accounts but am engaged in a weird form of Brinkmanship with myself.


Caught up with a lot of letters, trying to get people to write to me rather than email, if its personal mail, I don’t like email except for business and nice surprises like last nights.


Wrote a very strong letter to my town’s local website about the despicable methodologies of developers moving in to town, will have to see if they publish it, might be a bit too pokey for their tastes....now then poetry, that’s what I’m supposed to be writing.but there is a pile of washing to hang up, and the vaccing to do:-)


Thursday, 25 November 2004

The marriage of the king

My heart is reeling tonight, you never know what this world is going to throw at you. In the last couple of years I admit I have come to know a lot of fear, as death and losses came to call. A few years ago I was in Paris, where I came across the art of an Algerian outsider artist called Serge Vollin. A book was published about his life in France recently to coincide with a big exhibition of his work. I found out too late and was very upset to not be able to get to see his work.

One of his paintings, I saw that time in Paris, was done with house paint on a cardboard box, it was called ‘the marriage of the king.’ For me this painting said so much about what love actually is, with such honesty, not the way we generally say love with so many things on the back burner. If only we could live our souls ideas for us instead of letting these things get in the way. All this in such a simple painting, and I tell you I wept from my heart.

So I emailed the publisher of Serge’s book to see if I could get a copy, this was about 3 weeks ago. Just an hour ago I got an email from Serge Vollin, his publisher had passed on my very poor French email to him and he was moved by my appreciation of his art, and he tells me I am most welcome to visit and and stay with him. There will be another exhibition of his work next year, and he would love for me to come and meet him. I am so moved I cannot contain my emotion, and yet I know I will be inconsolable if I see ‘the marriage of the king’ again. I want to pack my case now and be on a plane, but soon, soon, soon. Next year is turning into a year of travelling, so many invites to see things, but this invite is above all joys.


Evening with a book and an 18 year old caol ila, and Miles Davis playing slow and tight.

Surprise poems

Sat down at the desk this morning not knowing what I was going to write and somehow managed two new pieces. Spent the rest of the morning replying to letters and talking on the phone.


Had lunch at Brian’s café with john from next door, mostly talking about how the developers are choking this town to death.


It has been a lovely day, sunny, listening to old Hawkwind records and finding poems through laying one line down after the other


Read a very moving email from David Tibet about buying his friend John Balance, and about faith

Goodbye John Balance, Goodbye COIL, Godbye

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

Ready Freddie

Freddie Mercury 13 years gone today.


All phone calls and correspodence today, ended up trying to watch the Tempest this afternoon on dvd but fell asleep by the fire, woke up thirst with a hot head, mial keeps disappearing from my PO Box especially cheques. It is getting beyond a joke, I will report it in the morning and action the police if necessary.


When thou cam'st first,
 Thou strok'st me and made much of me; wouldst give me
 Water with berries in't; and teach me how
 To name the bigger light, and how the less,
 That burn by day and night: and then I lov'd thee,
 And show'd thee all the qualities o' th' isle,
 The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place, and fertile.’

I find myself having more pity for Caliban as time goes on.






Tuesday, 23 November 2004

Blind politics

David Blunket is anti-christ, there he is on Richard & Judy. I'm typing up today's poems and he is gearing up to do to us what Bush just did in the States, employ every politic of fear he knows to win the next election for 'new labour' and maintain power in his blind little world.



Trying to remember the type of shoes teenage schoolgirls wore 10 years ago, for a detail in a poem, I seem to remember they were like big heeled black things...any clues? no its not a naughty poem about schoolgirls, what would Grand Inquistitor Blunket say at those thoughts, of course we don't have those thoughts.


John Balance, he of many names, of COIL, and of magick, is returned to the elements by fire. I didn't know him at all, but his work was never less that inspiring, what a boring world it will be without you.


Monday, 22 November 2004

Breaking through

Chipping away at the ice that has formed over my creativity with weeks of touring about, I write 3 new pieces this morning, going out for a coffee to break things up. Chat to a couple of people around town, but try to maintain my lines of thought as I walk around. Clean round the door and sweep away all the fallen leaves from the garden.


this afternoon type up nine poems including the new three, this is good, I've been feeling like I have nothing new as most work is tied up for the book, not sure what is here, will have to wait for the edits to see what I have really, you can't tell early on often.


Listening to lots of COIL as it is Balance's funeral tomorrow. My love to his family and friends.

Sunday, 21 November 2004

Year end

In bed surrounded by books, Judas Priest's 'sad wings of destiny' playing on iTunes. I want to get lost in a world of art and music. Outside is very cold, got the heating and the fire on. That winter nesting is beginning. Reflecting on friends I no longer see. In my heart it all seems quite simple, out there its too much. I no longer want this world of house prices and shopping. I'm sure travelers know the different ways of the world. Time to travel far? I have the urge to find home and to move. How does one have both these and live properly.

Saturday, 20 November 2004

Warming up

The house is freezing this morning, I finally admit that it is winter and bring in my hardiest geraniums, one of which is still managing a flower. Today I am trying to do nothing but can't help falling deeply into Sharon Olds' 'The Dead and the Living.'


I turn up the heating and go for a walk up the hill on the south side of the valley, from up here you can't see the town at all, it is as if hebden doesn't exist, if only! I keep scouting new places to live but 'home' has not presented itself as of yet. I'm wondering if there is anywhere in the UK that would feed me these days. The trobadour lifestyle I have adopted in the last year is deeply wonderful for me, but I do feel rootless, perhaps this is how it is meant to be???///???


Watched the original japanese version of 'ju-on,' recently remade as 'the grudge.' it a very tense creepy film, just what's called for sometimes, a bit Ring-like but but scarier.


Early to bed feeling psychicly squashed, 1st night at home in a week.


Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind,
As man's ingratitude.

Friday, 19 November 2004

5 books

Fuzzy headed, but dragged myself to Manchester to George Wallace’s reading. It is freezing cold and the sun is so low it is blinding laser light against foggy windscreen. The reading is good, very American, slightly stream of consciousness, post beat, but one of his poems about being wild and free and in love, in San Francisco is very cool. Chatted to people and networked a bit. I bought one of his books of love poems, with the San Fran poem in.

Decided to visit Manchester gallery to see the Stanley Spencer they have, almost in tears at the geometrically clothed people hugging in the visionary cookham. Laid my eyes on the bright red of Derek Jarman’s  ‘Queer.’ I’m re-reading one of his books at the moment, then I bought a dictionary of art and artists to help me with one of the many poetry ideas in my head.

When I get home after a pullover and hat buying excursion to H&M my long ago ordered Sharon Olds’ books have come. So I sit here tonight, rereading Jarman’s – smiling in slow motion, poetry  reading piled up, and art techniques describing themselves into new poems.


Valley boy

Cold day at the bottom of the valley, we even had a toch of snow last night. the garden needs a clean up, that can be my mediation this weekend. sat here trying to get my head together after the gigs in London and Uppingham, listening to the new ep by Anthony and the Johnsons. I find it hard to be out of the hubbub of city noise, and yet I am quite a solitary creature, a gregarious loner....

Monday, 15 November 2004


Spend a little time sequencing poems for The Prize, purely speculative as my editor Michael Mackmin gets first say on his selection for the book. I have had a migraine for 3 days and its actually getting worse so I’m trying not to look at the screen, but boredom is trying to run the house tonight.

Starting to think about the gigs for the next two days, the London show at Sadlers Wells is a biggie. Main thing is what to wear as I have a photoshoot for Dazed and Confused magazine before the show. Hope I can get control of this migraine which is like a sick headache in my whole body at the same time.


Saturday, 13 November 2004


The house has been so full of music, My friend Sherry has been up. Its the second time I’ve seen her in a week as I stayed with her and her family in Ireland at the end of my little tour there. She has brought her Celtic harp, cello and accordion. I am trying to teach her how to record her instruments into a multitrack setup and then how to basic mixes. Sherry needs to put an album together, she’s like an Irish Yann Tiersen. A musical genius.

In the evening the whole family get together to play just for fun, so we add Hannah & Ffion on piano, flutes & low whistle and violin, Euan on harp and piano, and I chime in with some 12 string guitar, we play individual and group pieces, and some lovely Breton music all together, and some of the jams turn into great little pieces.


Saturday, 6 November 2004

One of those days

What a bugger of a day, I’m wiped out, the kids at the school were deeply resistant today, so it was up hill all the way. Though tonight I found a yoga class to go too, it was a very light beginners class, but probably all I needed, as anything heavy after a day like this would have killed me.

Tonight I’m in a bar called Ruby Tuesdays, steak and mash for tea. That’s as exciting as it gets today, apart fro my friend Pete ringing me up, telling me he’s starting a new publishing wing, and would I like to write him a novel, in 3 years I said, I might have a go, I have to build up my prose muscles, but yeah perhaps one day, but there are at least two other books in my head before I can think about that, and I’d like to turn out a few more stories before that.


Friday, 5 November 2004

Welcoming Hitler

America what have you done, are you really so stupid, as to chose a way that is worse than Voting for Hitler? Was there any point to the second world war, now that you are the fascists. The only thing positive that can come out of this is that minds that had become apathetic now might be awake. Anyone who speaks against America can be branded a terrorist. All poets, the telling of what is going on is paramount, word terrorists rise up, tell America how it is.


Wednesday, 3 November 2004


People really do say Feck here, I thought it was just something made up on Father Ted.

The beds in the guest house are the comfiest, but that fry smell is still around. I bought febreeze to try and get rid of it but I can’t. My clothes are gonna stink of it.

School was great, the kids aren’t used to visitors so I have to be quite gentle with them.

Out to Portadown in the evening for my gig. I was quite worried no one would come but it filled up okay and after a quick meal in the local Chinese restaurant with general good fellah, Adrian Fox, I settled into an hour long reading. I love it when it dawns on you from the stage that your audience are enjoying things,

During the Q&A someone who works at the centre told the audience he was on a bus in Belfast this afternoon, and two kids were talking about his poet they’d had in with a goatee beard, called John Siddique, and they were chanting one of his poems...... What can I say to that but cool. They were kids I’d been working with in the day at St Josephs.

After the gig its off to the oldest pub in Portadown, for a great drink in the most beautiful old pub, the conversation is cool and alive. There is something about the Irish turn of voice can be quite open and loving, very different from the English indifference, of course we talked about the shame of America. Perhaps we should boycott all things American like we used to do with Nestle products in the 90’s. Bombs are no good, hit them in the wallet where it really hurts them. I’d love to find such good conversation back in Yorkshire but I don’t think it exists there. What a day, poetry, poetry, Guinness and talk... Feck me


Tuesday, 2 November 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 http://www.cyberpict.net/sgathan/essays/samhain.htm 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. It will be Freddie Mercury’s Anniversary whilst I’m away. I have a tradition each year of watching some Queen vids, and drinking a couple of Whiskies on the 4th of November, at 9.50 pm. I know its terrible sentimental, but he was one of my boyhood heroes, and their songs kept me going sometimes when nothing else would. If your in the mood that night raise a glass with me. I’ll be in a bar in Belfast somewhere, but at 10 to ten, a toast.

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


November news from Poet John Siddique


Thank you for receiving this information and being part of my mailing list, it is lovely to know that you are out there, and interested in this poet’s work. If you no longer wish to receive these mailings please just drop me a line and I will take you off the list.

If you are wondering why this mail appears not to be addressed to you, it is because I have used ‘blind copy’ on the addresses in order to keep your email address private.

My month as Ilkley festival was fantastic, thank you if you came to anything, It was quite an experience and definitely the best festival I have been too. The people of Ilkley made me so welcome, it really is a joy to have such great work in such a great place. Also thanks to everyone who made the BROTHATALK show in Sheffield such a treat, its lovely to play to a sell out audience, and to be so welcomed. Cheers to the folks at Off the Shelf and FOB which is such a nice café.

I have made a major update to the website, new photos, poems, and a better layout, please take a look www.johnsiddique.co.uk

This week I’m in Ireland, doing a gig and some workshops, it will be quite a spooky gig for me as I’m performing in my mother’s home town of Portadown.

Listed below are forthcoming dates and publications news, If you come to any of the gigs please say hello.

Apologies if you get this mail more than once, there seems to be a little trouble sending mail out today

Readings & Appearances

3rd November, Reading at Millennium Court Arts Centre, William Street,
Portadown, Northern Ireland BT62 3NX

16th November, 7.30 pm, Manifest O, Sadler's Wells Theatre, Rosbery Avenue, London
contact NALD for more info

17th November, OFF CENTRE TOUR, Uppingham Theatre, Uppingham School,
Uppingham, Rutland, LE15 9QE. Call 01572 822216

27th November, Newcastle, Part of the 'Off Centre Tour.' TBC

9th December, FourFathers Launch, Headingley Library, Leeds
with James Nash, Ray French, Tom Palmer & Myself.

5th Feb 2005 Readers and Writers Day at Stockport Library, all day event
contact North West Reading Development, for more info

24th Feb 2005, FourFathers, Halifax Library, Halifax, 7pm

3rd March 2005, FourFathers, Central Library, Manchester, 6pm

Publication News

Rialto will be publishing my first full collection early in 2005,

'Self portrait, June 2004, Jalhandar,' will appear in issue 56 of The Rialto, along with a profile on my life as a poet.

Two new poems, 'Kabul,' and 'Standing there and here,' appear in the September issue of nthposition, an online literary magazine considered to be one of the best in the world by 'The Writer's Handbook

''Helping out,' will be appearing in MASALA, a anthology of poetry for children from MacMillan, spring 2005

A Short story will be published by ROUTE at the beginning of December, as part of a collection called 'FourFathers.'

There will be a short piece of literary Criticism that I have written in the next Issue of the NORTH

My Chapbook, 'The Devil's Lunchbox' has now sold out. After the Rialto collection comes out I will publish a new version with some favourite live pieces and older poems which I still enjoy. There are a few things I'll be glad to say goodbye to.

Copies of the Chapbook 'UMMA' are very low, I will be rethinking its contents for a reprint soon.

I have added some examples of poetry to the website you can access the pieces by clicking on the book page

Other News
The Guardian carried a large photo and feature of me at Ilkley on 8th October

The Photo from the 'Great Day' at the British Library appeared in the Guardian Review sat 18th Sept, and the Independent on Sunday 17th October. The 'Great Day,' was a photoshoot inspired by the momentous photo “A Great Day In Harlem.” The gathering - a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary literature - brought together fifty outstanding writers and movers and shakers across prose, poetry, theatre, journalism, publishing, critical and cultural theory and live arts, all of whom have been influential in shaping and defining contemporary British literature – and was the first time writers of this magnitude have been brought together on one platform.

Kindest regards

John Siddique

News, Info and Weblog

Belfast the first night

I got hopelessly lost coming from the Airport, Belfast is a very odd place, you can be in bustling student central one minute, then in a dark run down ‘territory’ the next, as I drive through these various shambles looking for my B+B, the oppressive dark that I love so much elsewhere seems too close here, the rain on the windscreen making it very hard to see.

The B+B smells like a deep fat fryer, oh shit! No way out of it tonight. This place comes highly recommended by the tourist board, my clothes are gonna stink. Emergancy mesures, sprinkle lots of lavender around in the room. Maybe the guy does the best breakfast in the world, maybe the bed is the most comfortable, perhaps I’ll have the best sleep I’ve ever known.. I’ll keep you updated.

I’ve come out, I’m in Clements coffee shop, I’d kill for this back in hebden, its open till midnight, people have bothered to dress reasoably to come out, and I’m left quietly to my own devices, which are, to write my blog, though, I don’t know when I’ll get near a network to post it.

The Northern accent goes deep into me, my mother is Irish, so something in every speech is resonant in me.

Across the road is a very bizarre, bizarre of a shop, MUNNS, juke boxes and venitan blinds????? I guess if I needed either, now I’d know where to go.
News, Info and Weblog

packing again

Packing this morning, off to Ireland this afternoon, I've got very used to packing, have a fine art going here, the secret is less than one thinks you will need. I always bring too much to read however.

music RAMESES - Space Hymns

yeah man..............groovy