sheep droppings and other details

Some people say that God is in the details. Others say it’s the Devil. Whichever it is, and whatever kind of writer you are, details matter.
Continue reading “sheep droppings and other details”

drafts and re-drafts

scarlet seeds of iris foetidissima
all alike; all unique
Years ago, after talking to the Catalán poet Joan Margarit, I wrote down in my notebook:

Form, metre, rhyme etc. are superficial elements of a poem. What gets translated is something more essential.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about poetry translation, and I’m trying to work out what that “more essential” something is.

It’s clear – to me at least – that the complexity of poetry, its inherent weaving of different linguistic techniques, makes it impossible to translate everything: the only way to get an exactly equivalent poem would be to repeat the original. (At which point, it is probably relevant to mention the Borges short story Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.)
Continue reading “drafts and re-drafts”


The most that can be said of the recent weather is that it has been very English. Glorious sunshine and torrential rain.

Yesterday’s mix of seasons brought a stunning double rainbow over the back garden. The photo shows only one of the bows and doesn’t do that justice, I’m afraid.

Continue reading “unseasonal”

work in progress

Although I understand that the UK weather was dreadful over the holidays, I’m not sure that it was really cold; certainly there are already signs of spring about. Of course we’re bound to get some real winter weather later, so I hope Nature has the good sense to be patient.

spray of buds


Tight as apple pips,

buds spiral around
a moss-supple stalk

anticipating spring
when they will split 

and shake free

tissue wings.

That’s a draft, and questions remain:
Continue reading “work in progress”


rainy day break

This morning, I waited in the half-light for a bus that finally arrived 40 minutes late: there was no one about, and the only noise was the rain, an occasional car and a few birds. It gave me plenty of time to think, though it was too wet to get a notebook out to try and capture any of the ideas.

(I suppose I could record memos on my phone, but how you’re supposed to skim through an audio file later, I don’t know.)

Mind you, I actually believe that writing a thought down too soon can ‘fix’ it before it is ready, and I may carry a phrase or image round in my head for days or weeks, occasionally even years, before I finally anchor it to the page.
Continue reading “grey’ku”

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