The Spirit in the Dust

   Writing is a solitary occupation. You spend hours, days, weeks, months, years on your own, sitting on your arse, churning stuff out, editing and re-churning, re-editing and re-re-churning, in the hope that one day the results of your efforts will be shared with at least one and hopefully more readers.  Writing for theatre at least holds out the possibility of working with other people – having the joy and frustrations of sharing the creative process. I've never done that. However, one of the reasons I am involved in music as well as writing is having access to that shared experience as part of the primary creative activity. There is the possibility of that magical feeling that something is happening and you are playing a part in it but it doesn't come entirely from you. Collaborating with four others on the project that became THE SPIRIT IN THE DUST has been extraordinary. It started out with Elaine wanting to work again with the Japanese dancer Yumino Seki, whom we'd wo

How Secret Orbit came to be written

  [CONTAINS SPOILERS!] The novel that came to be called Secret Orbit had a long gestation which would be too tedious to detail. For years I’d had a perhaps not very original perhaps pretentious notion of writing my own Divine (secular) Comedy: Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. All three parts were to be set in different versions of London. Secret Orbit was once the title of another associated project, but eventually came to be allocated (initially as a working title) to the part of the trilogy that represented Hell. Of course, Hell is always the most fun to write. The title stuck, and the novel got written. Like the other half-written novels in the sequence, it is structured in 33 chapters, mirroring the cantos of Dante’s original (there are actually coded references to the mirrored canto in each chapter, though I’ve forgotten what some of them are). The framing device is a description of the stages of decomposition of the unnamed protagonist’s body as he lies in his London fla

Not The Jungle Book

In preparation for the twice postponed (because of Covid) trip to India Elaine and I had long planned, I read Kipling's The Jungle Book (Vols 1 & 2). Never read Kipling before, I have to admit. My reading was prompted because the location of the Mowgli stories in the book is precisely where we were headed: the forests of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Actually Kipling had never been there; though born in India, he was shipped back to England by his parents at the age of six to go to school, then returned to Northern India in his early 20s. He relied heavily on folk tales repeated by his father. It has to be said that, for all its merits and demerits (it's quite uneven but has some wonderful writing in parts), it is not a particularly accurate guide to the flora and fauna of Madhya Pradesh. It is of course quite unlike the Disney film. If you've seen that, or dare I say read the book, which is quite out of fashion, you will recognise some names of species. Baloo the b

Bulverhythe Variations with Elaine Edwards

Three texts of mine are included in Bulverhythe Variations , a beautiful 66pp photo-book newly out from photography publisher Silverhill Press, with 32 images by Elaine Edwards taken in the early morning on an abandoned coastline during the Covid period, both of us meditating on isolation and the breaking of symmetry. Have a look and buy it here . And there's also an album of Elaine's keyboard pieces which are part of the same project, together with my narrations of my text: available as a download and a CD on Bandcamp . These are two windows onto the project, a third being provided by our live performance of the music, narration and projection of images – which has happened twice, on 21 May 2022 at Electro Studio Space, St Leonards on Sea, and on 13 October 2022 at The Beacon, Hastings.

SECRET ORBIT - the first chapter (of 33)

   Day 1 You wake in what seems to be an abandoned factory. The pipework and ductwork is of an extraordinary beauty. There is no way out. This is the Holding Pen, whence no-one in reality, despite the stated protocols and procedures and mission statements established by the Management, ever escapes. But hang on a minute. You must have escaped, it’s vivid in your memory; except it isn’t, that’s an illusion, because of course there is no longer any discernible electro-chemical activity in that skull of yours, because, frankly, you have the condition known as brain death. That is to say, your brain stem is no longer in meaningful connection with your spinal cord. That trumps everything. So to say “you wake” or that “you remember you awoke” is fanciful. But there you are. The good news is that this is no abandoned factory after all; actually, it looks uncommonly like your own bed in your own bedroom in your own flat. Congratulations. You made it. What do you think of that? Sorry, your resp

SECRET ORBIT - available for pre-order

Today, Sunday 31 July, is the last day you can pre-order my new novel Secret Orbit AND have your name printed in the back of the book. Grand Iota has had 58 pre-order subscriptions so far, which is pretty gratifying. A mixture of old friends, including some who have never bought a book of mine before, and people I don't know at all. Wow. However ... after the book goes to press (this week) you can still pre-order it. All pre-orders will be dispatched from late August on. So please do. (The book is officially published in the autumn – looks like the publication date has been put back to November.)

Review of my Collected

 A nice review of my Collected Poems . By Rupert Loydell.