Castilla y León 17/11/2008
Castilla y León 17/11/2008

ivy snakes
scaling trunks of pines

east, west…

… home’s best.

After nearly a month of travelling and living out of a suitcase, I am back in the pueblo in Spain. It’s gloriously sunny, there are huge drifts of leaves, snow on the mountains, cats on the verandah…

Thanks to Randall Munroe at xkcd for his thoughts on the relativity of east and west.


poetry listenings

Being based in Spain, I don’t get to that many English poetry readings or open mike events, so the recent opportunity to go to several in a short period of time has been really interesting.

The two poetry venues I know best are the Torriano Meeting House and the Poetry Café, both in London. Both are almost airless, ill-designed rooms which are over-full with fifty people in the audience. Then again, from what I’ve seen, they don’t often get that many. Certainly not for the whole evening.
Continue reading “poetry listenings”

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.
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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”