An Award!

The People’s Vote has finally happened.

And I am honoured to discover that my poem, “Lawrence”, has been chosen as the November/December Poem of the Month by the readers of Algebra Of Owls. Big thanks to everyone who voted, and to the editorial team of Paul Vaughan, Nick Allen and Alicia Fernandez for publishing the poem in the first place.

I’m now the proud winner of both the Readers’ and Editor’s Choice awards at AOO, after winning the latter for “Ride” in March 2017. So the key to success appears to be writing poems about God with swearing in them. Ignore anyone who says it’s neither big nor clever. They’re talking shite.

If you follow this site at all closely (I always hope I’m not just shouting into an empty room, but you never know), you might have noticed it’s been quieter of late. This is deliberate. I have a few poems appearing in journals later in the year that I’ll give a mention to here, but otherwise I’m taking a break from what I think of as the business of publishing poetry, to focus on the writing of it for a while. I don’t know how long it will last. It’s also partly for personal reasons.

Take it easy.

 

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Final poem at Eunoia Review

My prolonged period of hogging the stage at Eunoia Review has come to an end today, and it feels appropriate that it ends as it began – a poem set in a bar, with musical references. This is actually a complete coincidence, one that I wasn’t aware of when I submitted the poems, which were sent – and have appeared on the site – in alphabetical order.

You’ll find “Walking into a bar, midway through Blue Trainhere. My thanks again to Ian Chung for granting me such an extended tenure.

Eunoia Review

It’s something of an early Christmas present to see my poem “At Nemo’s Bar” appearing at Eunoia Review today.

This is the first of ten of my poems that ER‘s editor, Ian Chung, has selected for publication over the coming days (I’m still a little taken aback by this, to be honest) and I’m incredibly grateful to Ian for giving so much time and space to my writing. Another of my poems, “Settlement”, appeared here in 2016.

Best wishes for anything you may be celebrating over the coming period.

 

So how did YOU vote?

Fish

 

So how did YOU vote?

 

Gripping his daughter’s fragile hand,

and mangling the worms of her fingers

fiercely into his own, he spat the words

out into the humiliated air between us.

 

Because I need to know,” he said.

It’s important.” All the other parents –

mostly mothers – were marshalling their

creatively-fed boys and girls back

 

home from school to peel campaign stickers

from their windows and wheelie bins,

weigh up the final reckoning of promises

and lies. I looked first into her puzzled eyes,

 

then his, the seething milk of his eye-whites

coming to the boil before brimming over

onto his turnip skin, and abandoned all

those careful words I’d been preparing

 

in anticipation of this very question.

The same way I always do,” I said.

With a tiny little kiss,” before turning

and ushering myself furtively away.

 

 

first published in Snakeskin No. 243, 2017

Pushcart Nomination

Black MariahIt’s a tremendous honour to have had my poem “Harry” nominated for this year’s Pushcart Prize by the lovely folks at Sleet Magazine.

I’m very grateful to Susan Solomon, Todd Pederson, Jamie Buehner and everyone else at Sleet for their support. The Harry in question in this poem was one of the kindest, gentlest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet, so this nomination is particularly touching, and feels – for me, at least – like the perfect tribute to him.

(If you click on the link to the poem, please be aware that there are five stanzas, not just the three that initially appear. You’ll need to do a little scrolling down!)

Image: Black Mariah by FM.

Under The Radar

UTR FrontThis morning I took delivery of a copy of Issue Twenty-Two of Under The Radar magazine, published by Nine Arches Press, which contains my poem “Hypnotherapy”.

It’s a beautiful publication full of excellent writing. I’m honoured to be a part of it, and looking forward to reading it from cover to cover

I’m very grateful to Jane Commane, editor and director of Nine Arches Press, for choosing to include this poem.

 
UTR Back

Flood #2

20181007_114317

I came home one evening recently to discover that one of the pipes in my bathroom had ruptured, causing hot water to come raining through the ceiling and into the living room.

The consequences were not good. Sofa, carpets, desk – all pretty much soaked and ruined. So it goes.

More poignant is that taking the full impact of the deluge was my modest library of poetry books – including signed collections by Billy Collins and Ben Banyard – and gratis copies of all the print publications that have been generous enough to include my poems over the last few years.

So it goes.

I’m not looking for sympathy. This is first world stuff, and I have insurance (I forgot to ask my insurers whether they could fly Mr Collins over to sign another copy, now I think about it). And it’s kind of funny, really. I’m a great believer that there’s poetry in everything if you bother to look for it, so I’m hopeful that this episode will have sown the seed for something creative further down the line. Maybe it will do the same and provide a prompt for someone reading this? That would please me.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to repost a poem I put on here a few months back. It’s about a completely different type of flood, admittedly, but perhaps with a little imagination (and heat. And books) you’ll get there?!

 

Flood

 

We did not see the swollen river

overtop its banks, failed by the

modest bow of its channel, its

traffic doubled by the bludgeon

of three consecutive moonrises

under rain, waters earth-brown.

 

Instead, we passed a day later,

taken by the bleached streamers

of torn-up grass, stretched like

comet-tails from the lowest boughs

of thornbushes, calm swirls of sand

making fish-loops across our path.