Showing posts from 2015

The art of David Jones

David Jones (1895-1974) was one of those I was in awe of back in the day when I was first trying to make sense of poetry (I'm still trying). In particular, his book-length poems, or fragmented wholes, In Parenthesis and The Anathémata, inhabited the same mysterious country as the Cantos or the Maximus Poems: long works, poems that "included history" that I couldn't really understand but somehow connected with in disconnected ways. Not too many of my contemporaries were even attempting such vast syntheses of language, form and culture, Allen Fisher being one notable exception. What I identified with in Jones was his insistence on the materiality of language and all its associations; as he wrote in the preface to The Anathémata : "But, for the poet, the woof and warp, the texture, feel, ethos, the whole matière comprising that complex comprises also, or in part comprises, the actual material of his art." Jones was, of course, not only one of the maj

Five books I read in 2015

Unthank Books asked me to do one of those books-of-the-year roundups, specifically requesting I say something about five books I actually read during the year, regardless of when they were published, rather than puffing new releases. So here, along with those of some fellow Unthank authors, are my choices .

Punkique and Country Life

Exciting day today: first, my novel Country Life got published, and I finally received the author's copies the publishers had promised. And then the CDs of the debut EP, Punkique , by Afrit Nebula, the new band I'm in (with Elaine on saxes and flute, and Jamie Harris on percussion and vocals) were delivered. They'll be on sale soon; in the meantime you can sample our Jimi Hendrix cover here . And pre-order the complete download (four tracks).

Country Life

My new novel Country Life (not so new in that it was started 15-20 years ago, abandoned, then totally reconstructed two or three years ago) will come out from Unthank Books at the beginning of November. I have just seen the proof copy and it looks good. Here's the beginning: 1 light cones Further along the coast, some of the houses have been abandoned. Water has ruined them, their windows are broken, and from their shard-filled spaces dankness emanates; small animals freely go in and out. Once, it’s said, more than a thousand years ago, a whole town slipped into the sea right here, and furthermore they say you can even now hear its sounds on a still night. The tolling of bells, a sad sound because of the overtones it lacks, and even sadder still the cries of traders over their lost livelihoods, over undulating kelp. Now there are rumours of heavy water; there is cooling. Whatever it is, that’s what they say. Whoever they are. And over the weight of that sea, over dead th

Disappear from the Word

A commemorative reading for Lee Harwood, the Red Roaster Cafe, Brighton, Thursday 24 September 2015. This is my contribution: Disappear from the Word: 76 sentences for Lee As your eyes are blue he wrote. He wrote that. You move me he wrote and the thought of you. And the thought and he put the thought into words. I imitate you. That’s what he wrote he wrote the words. A long time ago. The words that remain. Four or five words or more there were more words. He wore a blue shirt. Four or five plain shirts some blue freshly laundered hung on a rail. He was at a distance he apologised this is too depressing he said. Later he was talking about music he was talking. He put a CD of rembetika music into the machine and laughing as he did so pressed the button. There was a blizzard. He is at some distance. I want to disappear from the word that’s what he said. No he didn’t that’s what somebody else said. Somebody said it in the street. Or they said it online. And t

What I think of Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour Party. I joined it in 1989. I had never before, and have not since, been a member of any other political party. I can't remember when I let my membership lapse - a number of years later. It wasn't a point of principle, not the Iraq war or anything like that, just that I was bored with it; it didn't seem to have anything to do with what really energised me. The reason I joined was that I had recently moved out of the south London housing co-operative where I'd been living for the previous nine years, into my own flat – becoming a home-owner late in life – this move being triggered, I'm embarrassed to say, by the time-limited availability of a Thatcher bribe to tenants of charitable housing associations. In the co-op, I'd been in touch with what was happening in local community politics. Now I was on my own. So I thought the local Labour Party would substitute for this. My first ward meeting encapsulated what was wrong. There weren't too many pe


An ironing board is like the bored teenagers on the promenade. The bored teenagers on the promenade are like hurdlers. Hurdlers are like weightlifters. Weightlifters are like gilded gravel in the bowl. Gilded gravel in the bowl is like an orchestra like a loose dressing-gown cord like sutlers. Sutlers are like guests like merchants under parasols. Merchants under parasols are rucked like a curtain. A curtain is like a bullock a bullock is like shadows that follow the shadows that follow are as smart as a griddle cooling against the wall as smart as the jacks on playing-cards that pop up as if they were dogs. As if they were dogs or like a reader who was half-asleep. A reader who was half-asleep is like Neanderthal Man like footprints over the sandflats. Footprints over the sandflats are like a woman who opens a door and hears music. A woman who opens a door and hears music is sagging like a tired dish. A tired dish is like a tape-recorder like scalded tea-leaves like engravings under t


The phenomenon has been observed and it is concluded that it poses a significant threat. There can be no certainty about it but there is a widespread perception that this is the case. There are indications of something impending. It is commonly perceived to be a threat. There has been extensive analysis and there can be little doubt. Extensive analysis confirms what has been widely feared for some time. Researchers confirm that there has been a steady growth in threats such as this over the past year predicted to result in a sharp upturn in the final quarter. Analysts have crunched the data and it is now believed that the threat could increase significantly in the immediate future. The source of the threat cannot be localised. It could arise at any of the cardinal points either within major conurbations or from relatively undeveloped areas. Vigilance should be maintained. The timeline predicts a number of causes for suspicion and complacency should be avoided. Vigilance must be maintai


So now, the latest episode from my A book with no name to see the light is "Infinity", which is included in Unthology 7 , the latest collection of short fiction from Unthank Books. Here's their blurb: Flinch at the things that twitch in the windows a mile up from the city streets. Let text messages lead you towards a man that you already know is going to mess with your head. Find the meaning of life in your own lobotomy. Now, the ghost of Gaudi whispers in your ear, urging you to get yourself another lover, insisting it’s all going to be smooth and comfortable this time. Ruin yourself and drift towards the haunted shores of your youth. Then find yourself back there, returned to the low-down slums of a city in a country that no longer exists, that UNTHOLOGY 7 documented and mapped out for you, and you alone, a long, long time ago. Elizabeth Baines Roelof Bakker Gary Budden Elaine Chiew Adrian Cross George Djuric Ken Edwards Charlie Hill Debz Hobbs-Wyatt Sonal Kohli Da

Tom Raworth collage 1994

Just when I was feeling a bit gloomy – a wonderful surprise in the mail. I wasn't expecting a large package, but when I opened it, a framed picture emerged: a collage by Tom Raworth, signed and dated Cambridge 1994. It had been sent by a long-time Reality Street supporter, in recognition of my "work in poetry over the decades", one of four similar collages he was disposing of because he was downsizing to a new home and no longer had room for much of his art collection. It will receive pride of place in our house in Hastings. Thank you.

No name

For the past year or so I have been writing A book with no name . (This is not the novel that's coming out later this year from Unthank Books; that has a name, which is Country Life .) (Though A book with no name is in fact the name of A book with no name . Got that?) (And I'm writing another novel called The Grey Area , but that is in its early stages, and need not concern us here.) Anyway, some extracts have appeared or are about to appear. Last year, three were included in issue 2 of Litmus Magazine . Now some more. In the very wonderful Golden Handcuffs Review , which has just reinvented itself as a regular anthology, there are six pieces: "Frequently asked questions", "Dialectics", "It", "Nobody there", "Fall" and "Persons". And in Unthank's new Unthology 7 (it will be launched in June - the link shows you the previous volume in the series) there will be "Infinity". I don't know when the e


Welcome to my new blog. Actually, it's going to be a personal website with biographical and bibliographical information and some music too, and a blog attached. But it's still under construction. The blog currently on the Reality Street site will become a purely Reality Street blog and "my" page on that site will then feature only those of my books that happen to be published by Reality Street, and this thing here will be for everything else. More soon.