what’s in the poem

I’ve been in the UK for the last three weeks during which time I’ve managed to attend five poetry readings in three different venues. One was an open mike (the regular Tuesday night Poetry Unplugged at the Poetry Café, London), and three of the other events included ‘poems from the floor’ as well as the invited poets, so I’ve probably heard some seventy poets read recently.

I’m amazed how differently different people approach the opportunity to share their poetry with an audience.
Continue reading “what’s in the poem”

words that bind

Last week I helped an elderly friend to clear off some of her bookshelves. There were old library catalogues, and photocopies from way back which she used when she was writing her thesis; pamphlets, booklets, transcripts of lectures, undergraduate essays…

As I watched her tackle the piles of papers, condemning at least 80% of it to the recycling bag, I thought about how bad I am at throwing out words, and decided it’s because words bind in a number of different ways.
Continue reading “words that bind”


Well, the property might be alarmed, but I’m more shocked by the falling educational standards that allow signs like this to be designed, printed and displayed in London streets without anyone correcting the spelling error:

Alarmed by the drop in educational standards?
Alarmed by the drop in educational standards?

the narrator in poetry II

As I said before, one problem when you write first person poetry is that people tend to think of it being personal.

I suppose it is for some writers. Certainly one friend told me that he was the narrator in all his poems, and that all his poetry was based on personal experience. He has several collections to his name and we aren’t talking about adolescent angst or “diary entry” poems, so it’s a technique that clearly works for him.

Of course, one of the first things that we are told to do to make our writing realistic is “write about what you know.” Continue reading “the narrator in poetry II”


While designing course content recently, I’ve been looking at some of the implications of email and blogging. One thing that particularly strikes me is the lack of realisation among most people that what is written on-line is automatically archived long term, perhaps even permanently.

I’ve been posting to usenet news groups for nearly ten years now, and one of my initial concerns was the fact that my thoughts and ideas could appear on millions of screens around the world. Fortunately, that thought bothered me a lot, Continue reading “e-phemera”


morning moon
morning moon

Winding road; the moon
plays peek-a-boo
behind the mountains


Bedraggled autumn afternoon;
a thousand robin’s eyes watch
from the elder tree.


No, not elderberries, but the visual effect is similar
No, not elderberries, but the visual effect is similar