Thursday, 27 September 2007

Out of Office Reply

mmm Think I'll call my next newsletter 'Out of Office Reply.' would be kinda surreal.

Think There is a need for a strong cup of tea and a sausage sandwich...

listening to more Debussy...
apparently it's 12degrees out there, feels a lot colder.. 

see you tomorrow down the word mines.

John Siddique's Writing News September 2007

Hello there,
I hope the new academic/school year has got off to a good start for you. It’s gone very wet and cold here in the valley, but I have to say I prefer it going darker a bit earlier. Below is a poem about being a step-parent to tie in with a reading I’m doing for ‘Poet in the City,’ on the theme of family at the National Portrait Gallery, with Wendy Cope and Jackie Kay. Details of the event are below. Hope you enjoy the poem, and see you there if you can come. I will also be speaking at the NALD Literature Professionals Conference this month, and am Blackpool’s poet for National Poetry Day so I hope to see you somewhere out there.

All the best


Other people’s children

He is eight and good at football. His mind
flits blacker and whiter than a magpie
from playstation to plastic sword, chocolate,
internet, to nothing to do, to slamming the ball.
He has a will of iron. Can bend his mother’s
and my love for him like plasticine;
when he wears his stick-on tattoos
in the same place on his shoulders as I have mine,
when he calls me ‘old chappy,’ as we scream
through the air as human aeroplanes.
I want so much to show him the world
I know, make it right for him.
Their Dad shows up every now and then,
it blows this family sideways, the guy ropes
twang off their pegs, until morning comes
and the wind dies down, and he goes off again.
I begin planting and parenting. Applying constancy
at the thin end of myself. But here is the boy
on a Saturday morning, next to me in bed,
hugging his mother and I together,
blowing at my chest hair.

© John Siddique 2007

Originally Published in ‘Not So Many Words’ – Smith/Doorstop
(now part of what I hope will become my next collection)

Publishing news
‘Poems from a Northern Soul’ has just been reprinted, it pretty much sold out it’s first run in under six months, but there are plentiful supplies again.

Stocks of The Prize are getting low, Rialto are at this moment deciding what to do, as they had a problem with the printer they used destroying the bookplates for all their books when the printer went out of business. More news on this soon I hope.

Some lovely feedback on ‘Don’t wear it on your head.’ Suppose I’d better start writing another children’s book then…

A handful of new poems appear in a new anthology ‘Pendulum,’ from Avalanche Books, which will be out sometime in October. There will be a couple of Love poems in a new book from Suitcase later this autumn. And ‘a new poem ‘Elegy,’ is in the first issue of BRAND magazine published by the Creative Write Department of Greenwich University.

Oxfam Video
There is a very nice film of my poem ‘Cheap Moisturiser’ on YOUTUBE, which was filmed for Oxfam as part of their Lifelines poetry Promotion. I’m sure some of you may have seen it already, but here is the link
Please take a look, leave some feedback or a rating and generally help promote poetry in this medium, you can link from this video to others recorded on the day, there are pieces by John Hegley, Wendy Cope, Danny Abse and others.

Workshops and readings etc
4 Oct, National Poetry Day – WORDPOOL – Blackpool (including a poetry reading on a tram)
13 Oct Workshop at Burnley Writers' Circle 
17&18 Oct (Morning), NALD - Literature professionals conference
Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

18 Oct, Poet in the City - 'Poetry and Family'
Reading with Wendy Cope, Jackie Kay,
National Portrait Gallery, London 7pm

Plus a whole bunch of schools, including part two of the Buxton Transitions Project where I will be revisiting young people who are in their first year of high-school, after seeing them just before they went up from primary. As always I am please to hear from schools and educational institutions anywhere who are interested in Literature, Poetry and Creative Writing.

Website updates
Updates on the Children’s website added a page for reviews done by a young writer I met recently who wanted to contribute to the site.

There’s a new layout for the books section of the main website, and a couple of new information pages. The whole site will be upgraded over the next couple of months.

After some very successful time mentoring, I am on the lookout for ways to promote myself in this area. If you have any ideas of databases, lists, good networks please get in touch and let me know, as I would like to do more of this type of one to one work.

Searching for a book
can you help, I am trying to find a copy of ‘Prose Poems,’ by Pierre Reverdy translated by Ron Padgett. Have searched everywhere with little luck, if you know where there is a copy please let me know.

If you listen to podcasts, Michael Silverblatt’s ‘Bookworm,’ show from KCRW Santa Fe is one of the best book programmes I have ever heard, he is the best reader interviewer you could every wish for, and there is so much love for literature in the programme. I’d like to thank Jacob Polley for telling me about it.

Stay shiny
John Siddique

More info at
Children’s website at

'In a world of universal deceit,
telling the truth is a revolutionary act.'
- George Orwell


somedays writing & being creative is like baiting a hook and then waiting to catch yourself..

think I'll have some toast while I'm being patient....just writing my journal & reading my horoscope (yes, I'm avoiding work..ahem) it says..'What makes your love relationship more attractive now is that you are sure within yourself, which is not being attached or dependent on your mate, or searching for energies that you may lack; on the contrary, you radiate energy and want to share it with the person you love. '
Hmm sounds nice..

Listening to Debussy - String Quartet.. & getting excited at the Iron Man Trailer on youtube.. Iron Man was my favourite comic as a kid, well along with 2000AD

as Tharg would say
'borag thung earthlets.'

Friday, 21 September 2007

Chapter Breakdowns

Desk landscape 5
Originally uploaded by John Siddique.

Starting a new chapter of my Novel, working on the overview and finding the things I need to know so I can write this section.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

love and race

so a piece appears and disappears on the BBC today (Funny how that happens with sensitive topics) about how Britain is more fractured along ethnic lines, than anyone would like to admit, and they talk about how difficult so called ethnic tenions are reflected in the workplace, schools, 'in the community.' what this type of report never talks about is how it affects love, try dating in this climate, I swear being brown and a man is such the taboo here in UK, if yr black there is a stereotyping in place that I think makes it easier but like i say if you look pakistani or indian.. well it can be cold out there. I don't use the A word as i find it useless as any kind of reference to who a soul might really be.

Love is something the news never really talks about, the need to belong, to be loved, that is what is fractured, and if we get on to sex if you have brown skin, well we're really into taboo land, fortunatly taboos are there to be broken, and not everyone is like this, but as the UK slides ever further into its rightwing playing with fascism, while thinking it's being liberal and fair future, love is taking a kicking.

what's that stevie wonder song..'love's in need of love today.' better put it on the itunes and see if it can keep my heart open.


here's a thing that's good in the heart and mouth (if you read it aloud you can feel its music and soul)...a poem by ee cummings which sings so deep.

the first of all my dreams was of
a lover and his only love,
strolling slowly(mind in mind)
through some green mysterious land

until my second dream begins -
the sky is wild with leaves;which dance
and dancing swoop(and swooping whirl
over a frightened boy and girl)

but that mere fury soon became
silence:in huger always whom
two tiny selves sleep(doll by doll)
motionless under magical

forever falling snow.
And quickly this dreamer wept:and so
she quickly dreamed a dream of spring
- how you and i are blossoming

rainy day dream away

lovely things arrive today to inspire. it's raining out there, but it's a textured day:

I'm overwhelmed by this mornings post and swimming around in stuff.

the complete ee cummings (yes i gave in and bought it at last, a life time of feeling and thought, to think and feel about.)

the films of keneth anger Vol last been waiting years for someone to sort his films out onto dvd, and they have been restored beautifully.

a stunning led zeppelin concert straight from their mixing desk from 1977

Tickets to see poet Galway Kinnell reading in Manchester in a few weeks, and an invite to the Martin Amis/Will Self bash again in Manchester next week.

so the plan for the day..write my word quota, do a bit of office work.. go for a wrapped up walk with the umbrella to get some lunch, and later do some yoga and swim around in film, music and would have been my youngest sister's 31st birthday, so the candle is lit in front of the buddha all day, and the lesson for me is to love, and write, and read, and live, and love some more, with plenty of forgiveness for others and self in the mix.

late start today as i had early coffee with my friend Yoga John who is a truely stunning teacher, but better still big soul type-a-guy, had coffees in mooch which is more of a gossip club than cafe so i usually avoid it these days..

got a little mention in the bookseller, which is a nice surprise, a piece in support of my local wonderful bookshop - The Bookcase in Hebden.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

settling hard

some days it's just plain hard to settle down to writing, i think it's when you look down the length of the story and see the months lying in wait. it becomes a juggernaught of wishes and expectations. all one can do is write the next word and the one after, and make sure you go for a walk of something when you get to the end of the day's quota.

Joy of joys just had a deadline dropped on me for a piece i have to write aside from the book.. bye bye weekends for a wee while.

updated my kids site with some new pages, i knowa young writer who wants to do some reviews so i have given her a page. and i added a bit of flash to fade images in an out a bit.... 

it is freezing here in the valley today, sunny but very cold, I've been sitting at the desk all day so my energy and blood has gone chilly so I'm off to pretend I'm a cat and lie in a sunlit pool on the inside of the window


Friday, 14 September 2007

back in my house, after a great week on london time. Novel advancing, art seen, friends met, and london's streets stepped...

tired now..more later.. have the song 'magic postion' completely stuck in my head.. where the hell did that sneak in..

my alter ego... has done a couple of remixes for the very hip but strange DisinVectant who operate out of brum.. both mixes are of their fab track 'corridors and pathways.' you can listen to em here

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

london blogging

Marchmont Street
Originally uploaded by connaught.hall.

arrived yesterday..and walked and walked 4 hours..seems like an age since i've been here. walking the village life out and the city life in. coffee, cake and kink, poetry cafe to see what's on, clothes shops, can i see me in those? mmm
stocked up the fridge, and went to see 'lady chatterly,' the new version at the renoir cinema in bloomsbury... struck so many chords esp. the idea of a man feeling at odds with his society because he is sensitive to things, that great blessing and curse of the artistic. but also how certain people we may meet open that up in us. as men the reflections are in woman, nature and god, but not all women, not any nature and not always god...what am i on about..

just been in the depths of my notes, and have a head full of characters talking to me..
just go see the film if you like that sort of thing.. nice to see the male lead of a film not be some hairless bodied foreverboy but someone with my shape ie triangular torso and bigger. i swear the ideas we must get of each other from the media is quite inhuman.



Monday, 10 September 2007

Dark moon

almost the dark moon.. so a week in London for yours truly.. out of the valley and into Libraries.. Galleries, and cafes..and my own churches.(BOOKSHOPS.)  yeah yeah will spend some time writing too... but a couple of days just walking the city will be marvellous.

trying not to watch TV the UK news programmes have been hijacked to be about ..emotional manipulation..rather than news..

so how do you feel about???. is the leading question in every report.. the BBC is broken it is no better..and it's more 'serious' programmes are just argumentative for the sake of it.. it is so tricky to get any real news.. 

this way of being creates a sense of disconnection, of powerlessness, and when this is informed by blame, then of course it's the immigrants, people from other countries..anyone else who is blame.. come on England you used to do better than this..get some therapy and get back to living.

so YES the TV is unwatchable, so I am in the world of films and books, and music.
my own novel is spooling along, and it's like i am looking though the eyes of the book most of the time, it occupies most of my thoughts.
almost finished reading 'zazie in the metro.' i am a slow reader..get jealous of people who tear though books, as there are just so many books to be read.

will read 'Lolita' next as it seems to fit with my more recent reads, and the dancing language of the first para is amazing. the language in zazie is also quite stunning, and it makes the characters so affable.

also loving Michael Silverblatt's KRCW Podcast - 'Bookworm' he is such a sensitive reader and interviewer..brilliant..thnaks to Jacob Polley for recommending it.

two french movies watched this week (seems there's a french influence going on at the minute eh?)
'Tell no one..' which i didn't like much..lacked a true central idea.. and..Histoires De Marie Et Julien..which is long and takes its time to open up, but i really liked it.. think i have thing for Emmanuelle Beart though..
oh! saw another..not here to be loved..a lovely film about two lonely people and tango

music - the re release of 'temple of transparent balls' by the black dog... brilliant..

the essential Francis Cabrel

and a leaked mp3 of a new Alizee song 'fifty-sixty'.. woke up singing it this morning


Wednesday, 5 September 2007

a few pages

watching my novel MS grow a few pages a day. trying to keep going fwd without looking back too much.. that's for the 2nd draft. wonder how people used to do it when they wrote novels with pens in notebooks, i write poetry this way, but long prose..mmm how?

the word count is steadily rising but even if i can keep on going.. i don't write loads each day, even at the speed i go i'm looking at a minimum of eight months more just to get through the current version of the plot outline... and don't hold me to that.. once travelling and tutoring kick back in..who knows..

we'll get there.. 

currently on my board there are ideas for four more novels... but gotta write this one first, and also remember to keep on poeting. one could get very lost in writing a novel. it's very encompassing..

listening to 'Piper at the gates of dawn by pink floyd' in mono of course.

getting into season 3 of Galactica
and eating 85% dark chocolate... i needed a boost after i woke up more knackered than when i'd gone to bed.

Monday, 3 September 2007

hanging over

strange how one can leave things hanging, how they consume your energy on subtle levels, and when a few of these things add together you walk around confused and drained..

finally..submitted ideas for my piece that I've been asked to write by the BBC for the radio 3 Freedom Festival.. I can't tell you what it is about at present, as i need the go ahead from my producer. but if that's okay I can write it very quickly, then once it's lined up for broadcast I'll say more.. but it is not poetry (shock & horror,) it's a two voice drama piece.

Listening to Dizzy Gillespe, and it is autumny and sunny in the valley.. now then must do some plotting on the novel.. a sysiphusian task if there ever was one.

The schools in UK go back this week. so I'm temped to go on holiday.. having had to be stuck in the land of other people's holiday time and stuff for six weeks, it's one of the great freelancer perks of being able to enjoy time when the rest of the world is back to their routines....

Still reading Zazie, still doing my one book at a time thing... it's quite bonkers..zazie on the metro.. that is kind of lolita meets james joyce with a bit of french modernism thrown in.. but it's an easy read, and so bright and naughty..kind of like how you feel if you eat a bit too much 85% dark chocolate...

part 3 of the re-edited Barbican video from 2005