Monday, November 28, 2005


The RikVerse is currently ranked at No. 949 in the [ahem] Books > Subjects > PoetryDrama&Criticism > Poetry > General category section of, and at 123,788 in the general rankings. I have no idea how good, bad or indifferent this performance is. Do they rank sales daily? Weekly? Annually? Does this mean I've shifted 1 copy of the book? 10? 20? I'll find out sometime after 5 December when will post details of monthly sales and royalties for me to access. But I'm curious now!

Across the pond, reports that the books sales ranking is "none". Fine. Be like that! Barnes&Noble don't even seem to record sales rankings; neither do WH Smith. Oh well - back to making snowflakes.

TS Eliot Lecture 2005

George Szirtes gave the annual TS Eliot lecture last Tuesday at the Royal Festival Hall. Unlike Harry, I did not attend, even though this lecture has proved to be controversial in the past - witness the firestorm Don Patterson's 2004 lecture caused across the heathlands of the muse.

To be frank, George's lecture makes a lot more sense to me than Don's ever did. He presents us with a well developed metaphor for reading, writing and enjoying poetry - the idea of the skater dancing across a frozen lake - backed up by extracts of poems to colour the various points he makes. I found myself nodding often as I read the transcript of the lecture. I also found myself wishing I could write as well as George!

It's difficult to choose a chunk of the lecture to highlight here. This one, on the development of a poem, was particularly mind-sticking:

The intention of the poet is to write the best possible poem starting out with some as yet incoherent perception relating to an experience or set of experiences. The poet is a person who has realized that language is not a tool but a medium: and, what is more, assumes - has to assume - that the instinctive reader knows this as well as he does. The poem explores the medium by executing a kind of dance across it. It sets out across the ice and begins to cut light patterns in it, following some trainable instinct about the direction and way of moving, the notion of meaning arising out of the motion of the dance as a series of improvisations on the pattern. These patterns present the poet with a number of apparently arbitrary possibilities at any one time. But that is the very nature of language: it is what language continually does.

Typically, this section seems to contradict part of Don's lecture, on the purpose of a poem, which I did agree with:

I've said this so many times it's beginning to sound a bit self-satisfied - but a poem is just a little machine for remembering itself. Whatever other function a rhyme, a metre, an image, a rhetorical trope, a brilliant qualifier or stanza-break might perform, half of it is simply mnemonic. A poem makes a fetish of its memorability. It does this, because the one unique thing about our art is that it can carried in your head in its original state, intact and perfect. We merely recall a string quartet or a film or a painting, actually, at a neurological level we're only remembering a memory of it; but our memory of the poem is the poem. A poet exploits this fact, and tries to burn their poems into your mind, and mess with your perception.

Like a crow, I'm torn between which of the two shiny coins to cherish more. Maybe it's because deep down inside of me I'm sure they're both making the same point about why poems are drafted, but maybe where Don sees the biological reality of a poem on a reader George senses that similar processes are happening to the poet as the poem takes shape - but can't quite bring himself to name it.

Anyways, both lectures are enjoyable reads. Also very enjoyable is the film Mrs Henderson Presents, which I saw at the Stratford Picture House. A very nice social commentary based on historical events, well filmed and well acted, with moments of laughter, grief and that funny feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you've eaten the ice cream too fast - all wityhin the space of a few minutes.

Which in turn was almost as enjoyable as the very nice things Scavella says about my poetry on her blog! The feeling is mutual, of course - as people will be able to judge for themselves as soon as Scavella finalises and publishes her Lily series of poems!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The RikVerse is now available at ... - $12.00, or $10.80 to members.

Borders (in the US), Books etc and Waterstones (both in the UK), which are all teamed up with the amazon online bookstore. itself, which was quoting a delivery time of 5-6 weeks yesterday, is now claiming delivery within 2 weeks. They've also upped their stock to 5 copies (one used?!?), which makes no sense to me given the book is POD and the delivery time is still so long. still claim they can turn their order round in 24 hours and will deliver the book to your door within a week of ordering it.

WH Smith (UK) - £5.65 (+ 5 WH Smith clubcard points), this time with a 2-4 week delivery window. I have no idea if this site is also affiliated with, but they don't show the cover shot yet.

Blackwell (UK) - are selling the book at £7.65, delivered within 3-9 days. They admit they have no copies in stock, but the cost of sourcing it is included in the quoted price.

Ottakar's (UK) - list the book at £5.65 though note the price is subject to change - you may need to order it from their brickwork bookshops as I can't see an online ordering facility on their website.

Remember the p&p bit - buy from the wrong place and the cost of the buying the book could double!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Who is Rik (Part 2)?

Well, according to Google, there's only one Rik Roots. Which is nice.

But when I search on the name my mother gave me I get the following hits.

I was born 23 Jul 1847 in Wilmington (Kent), died 4 Jan 1921 in Ipswich (Queensland) and married to Sarah Elizabeth Marsh.

I was born somewhere around 1552, after which I had a partnership with "Alice" and apparently managed to have 5 children (3 sons and 2 daughters) around 1578 in Tonbridge, Kent.

I was in the Class of 66 in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. I think I might be a member of the American Association for Functional Orthodontics.

I was killed after being caught in a mine tunnel collapse at Coen, Queensland on 25 September 1897 - apparently I was a policeman.

It seems that I attended the Hardtner Public School in Hardtner, Kansas as a senior, possibly in 1948.

Back in Kent, I am buried in a church called Seal. My headstone reads: Richard ROOTS died 19 November 1819 aged 71 years. Mary Roots his wife died 16 July 1832 aged 88 years.

12 years before (in 1820) I had been committed to the Chelmsford House of Correction, specifically for the crime of wandering abroad and begging.

The 1841 census records me being a carpenter and living with Mary in Fords Green. This must be a different me, and a different Mary, to the Richard and Mary above.

I was somehow involved in the settlement of New England before 1692, though I might not have been there.

And finally, on 7 December 1826 I gave evidence in the trial of John Cooper, William Newland, Henry Bateman Jenkins and Joseph John Jenkins, charged with theft and receiving stolen goods: I am an officer of St. Mary-le-bone; I went with Mr. Watts to Cooper's house - he lived there with his father - I found there some books, pamphlets, and fifteen plates, which Mr. Watts claimed - Cooper's sister was in Mr. Watts' service. Cooper (aged 16) and Newland (19) were found guilty and transported for 7 years. The others were found not guilty.

Who is Rik?

This is me: "Loner, more interested in intellectual pursuits than relationships or family, not very altruistic, not very complimentary, would rather be friendless than jobless, observer, values solitude, perfectionist, detached, private, not much fun, hidden, skeptical, does not tend to like most people, socially uncomfortable, not physically affectionate, unhappy, does not talk about feelings, hard to impress, analytical, likes esoteric things, tends to be pessimistic, not spontaneous, prone to discontentment, guarded, does not think they are weird but others do, responsible, can be insensitive or ambivalent to the misfortunes of others, orderly, clean, organized, familiar with darkside, tends not to value organized religion, suspicious of others, can be lonely, rarely shows anger, punctual, finisher, prepared"

This is also me: "In many cases INTjs are slim. Their stomach is usually placed ahead of the chest giving them their characteristic posture. Their gait is somewhat unsure, wavering slightly. Sometimes it seems like they are not sure where they are going. This becomes more obvious in moments of excitement. Their clothes are not usually very striking. INTjs do not like to attract excessive attention to themselves and most of the time they stick to simple clothes, often wearing the same style and composition for a long time"

This is me, too: "INTJs are the most self-confident of all types, having "self-power" awareness. Found in about 1 percent of the general population, the INTJs live in an introspective reality, focusing on possibilities, using thinking in the form of empirical logic, and preferring that events and people serve some positive use. Decisions come naturally to INTJs' once a decision is made, INTJs are at rest. INTJs look to the future rather than the past, and a word which captures the essence of INTJs is builder-a builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. To INTJs authority based on position, rank, title, or publication has absolutely no force. This type is not likely to succumb to the magic of slogans, watchwords, or shibboleths. If an idea or position makes sense to an INTJ, it will be adopted, if it doesn't, it won't, regardless of who took the position or generated the idea. As with the INTP, authority per se does not impress the INTJ. INTJs do, however, tend to conform to rules if they are useful, not because they believe in them, or because they make sense, but because of their unique view of reality. They are the supreme pragmatists, who see reality as something which is quite arbitrary and made up."

Are you building up a mental picture of me yet?

Well, hold your horses because, strangely enough, this is me: "Librans are among the most civilized of the twelve zodiacal characters and are often good looking. They have elegance, charm and good taste, are naturally kind, very gentle, and lovers of beauty, harmony (both in music and social living) and the pleasures that these bring. They have good critical faculty and are able to stand back and look impartially at matters which call for an impartial judgment to be made on them. But they do not tolerate argument from anyone who challenges their opinions, for once they have reached a conclusion, its truth seems to them self-evident; and among their faults is an impatience of criticism and a greed for approval. But their characters are on the whole balanced, diplomatic and even tempered. Librans are sensitive to the needs of others and have the gift, sometimes to an almost psychic extent, of understanding the emotional needs of their companions and meeting them with their own innate optimism - they are the kind of people of whom it is said, "They always make you feel better for having been with them." They are very social human beings. They loathe cruelty, viciousness and vulgarity and detest conflict between people, so they do their best to cooperate and compromise with everyone around them, and their ideal for their own circle and for society as a whole is unity."

And here's me again: "The key to the Dragon personality is that Dragons are the free spirits of the Zodiac. Conformation is a Dragon's curse. Rules and regulations are made for other people. Restrictions blow out the creative spark that is ready to flame into life. Dragons must be free and uninhibited. The Dragon is a beautiful creature, colorful and flamboyant. An extroverted bundle of energy, gifted and utterly irrepressible, everything Dragons do is on a grand scale - big ideas, ornate gestures, extreme ambitions. However, this behavior is natural and isn't meant for show. Because they are confident, fearless in the face of challenge, they are almost inevitably successful. Dragons usually make it to the top. However, Dragon people be aware of their natures. Too much enthusiasm can leave them tired and unfulfilled. Even though they are willing to aid when necessary, their pride can often impede them from accepting the same kind of help from others. Dragons' generous personalities give them the ability to attract friends, but they can be rather solitary people at heart. A Dragon's self-sufficiency can mean that he or she has no need for close bonds with other people." And: "Wood has a modifying influence and brings creativity to this sign. Questioning and liberal, Wood Dragons enjoy talking about original ideas and are open to other points of view. They are innovative, imaginative practical and appreciate art in each of its forms. Generally less pretentious than other Dragons, Wood Dragons have an ability to get along with other people. They have the essentials to build a prosperous and happy life for themselves. Still, Wood Dragons are outspoken and at times a bit pushy to quell everyone, even in the most friendly quarrel."

It's all true. I do take pride in my glossy scales.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I am an economic migrant. I've been living in London since December 1988 - just a few weeks shy of 17 years. But for the first 24 years of my life I lived in a little village called Dymchurch.

Nice, you may be thinking! And nice it was too: 10,000 people packed in along 3 miles of coastline; countryside on the one side and a beach to die for on the other. And wind. Lots and lots and lots of wind. Dymchurch lies on the edge of the Romney Marshes in Kent - you'll already be aware of this if you've browsed some of my poetry. The Marshes don't share the local English climate mainly because they're flat and jut out into the English Channel. Instead we got a sort of continental climate, hot and sticky in the summer and cold and wet in the winter. And windy.

In fact some power generating company has just got planning permission to build a huge wind farm on the Marshes. They're going to need good capacitors, because they'll be generating power 360 days a year! I think the wind farm will nicely complement the nuclear power stations out at Dungeness (on the very tip of the Marshes). But lots of people are moaning because they say it'll destroy the beauty of the place and kill birds. Huh? It's Dungeness, for eff's sake! This is the place where Derek Jarman ran away to build his poxy garden (I let my dog shit in DJ's garden, once). And anyway, more birds will be killed by airplanes when Lydd Airport gets planning permission to expand (heh - another saga that's been going on for 40-odd years). And most of the seagulls have already abandoned the seaside for landfill sites.

Which brings me on to the point of this post. There are a few poems around that mention the Romney Marshes (though I think I'm the only person who's ever felt a need to write poems about Dymchurch). One in particular I've grown to loathe:

A Major Road for Romney Marsh
by U. A. Fanthorpe

It is a kingdom, a continent.
Nowhere is like it.
(Ripe for development)

It is salt, solitude, strangeness.
It is ditches, and windcurled sky.
It is sky over sky after sky.

(It wants hard shoulders, Happy Eaters,
Heavy breathing of HGVs)

It is obstinate hermit trees.
It is small, truculent churches
Huddling under the gale force.

(It wants WCs, Kwiksaves,
Artics, Ind Ests, Jnctns)

It is the Military Canal
Minding its peaceable business,
Between the Levels and the Marsh.

(It wants investing in roads,
Sgns syng T'DEN, F'STONE, C'BURY)

It is itself, and different.

(Nt fr lng. Nt fr lng.)

And to make this a fair use of U's copyrighted work, I'll comment on it by saying that:

1) this is a poem by a person who has only ever visited the Marshes, signposted (heh) for instance in her use of the singular "Marsh" - Romney Marsh is just a small bit of the Romney Marshes;

2) if she had done her homework the author would have found out that there is already a major road crossing the Romney Marshes - it's called the A259 South Coast Road and it is a very busy road with lots of heavy goods vehicles trundling to and from the Channel Ports;

3) local people in Dymchurch and other villages bisected by the A259 have been campaigning for bypasses for close on 90 years;

4) you wouldn't be so eager to dismiss the call for upgrading the road with bypasses if some of your friends and aquaintances had been killed or maimed on it; and

5) people who want to consign other people into quaint rustic prisons by denying them the right to the fruits of modern development just need to be laughed at. Loudly. Or maybe taken outside and slapped.

Oh yes, and the poem has no resonance whatsoever for a person who was born and raised on the Romney Marshes. "Truculent churches"? Ye Gods and little fishes! Postcard poetry tied to political rant. And they teach this in schools?

There's more to Dymchurch and the Romney Marshes than this poem, Ms Fanthorpe. I, for one, should know.

Revision: Five reasons why ...

Five reasons why I shall never be a Great Poet

1. I do not read much new poetry
A well-loved book
of poems is like:
a friend come home
to rest his head
in my lap; a cat
in hard covers;
the cracking chatter
of ice cubes soused
with two fingers of aged
malt whisky; the dance
of a lover in bed.

2. I do not like discussing poetry
The way the chatter found its way
to verse was strange; a journey round
the hills of glamour magazines,
celebrity affairs. We passed
beyond to news, the politics
of sex and scandal kept our lips
in spit for ages then - without
a care we parked our switch-back chat
on novels, writers, folks who use
the pen to charm and stroke and trash
each other: critics, poets. I
fell silent then, and drank my beer.

3. I do not like promoting myself
The man who dresses up his shop window
doesn't have a name - not one I know
in any case. And yet I know him
through his choice of colour, trim,
fabric. Metal paints - not matt -
tell me he's a Chancer Man
who tempts and treats his clients
with products dressed to fix their pliant
needs, their dreams and hopes
resolved - exchange some notes
and take away the merchandise!
I know the clever man, his enterprise
to dress his windows, Mister no-name man:
I know he isn't me.

4. I can't abide poetry readings
The beast is circled: the shuffling struts
of wood have inched it through the door
and past the bar until it feels a flat
of cold wall against its back, a stage
beneath its feet. The struts that swirled
around its legs now squat in rows: some of them
have riders, moist and pink with frocks
and shirts and comfy shoes, drink in hand
and rustly prisons gripped tight
in pockets. Their breathless eagerness
scares the beast - I watch it shake,
in spotlights; I watch the torture tool
plug in and amplify. I watch the riders
mount the stage and beat it hard
with similes and strophes. And when it howls
I bow my head: a prayer for poetry,
who suffers for the art.

5. I don't understand the publishing game
Dear sir! I'd like to thank you dearly
from the bottom of my sharded heart
for taking time to reject my verse
in such a pleasant manner. The note
was crisp and white and creased
so clinically, my heart near flew
in admiration. And when I'd caged it
once again it fluttered when I saw
your note matched - line for line
and crease for crease - the other notes
you sent me just last week,
and the month before!

I seem to be avoiding writing my novel. Oh, well ...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Do people hate me?

Apparently not - well, not too much anyway!

The perfect human.
25 Cruelty, 22 Anal, 19 Pushover
Congratulations. You're easy-going, friendly and know when to stand up for yourself. You're perfect. In fact, you're a little bit too perfect. Chances are, hoards of jealous people are plotting your demise at you read this. Tough luck, pal.

(Apparently, most people taking the test end up as a "perfect human". But some of the questions are amusing)

(Edited to take out the graphic bar chart. The test can be found at

Friday, November 18, 2005

Buy a slice of RikVerse for crimbo

I was casually checking through (as one does) to see what was what and found to my delight that my book is now listed for sale here. They're charging $12.00 + p&p, which is the recommended price I chose when finalising the publishing details on - so they're not offering a discount yet. But I was impressed by the speed: warns people that listing can take between 6 and 8 weeks, but it's taken The RikVerse less than 3 weeks. My next task will be to pretty up the display by uploading my beloved "chicken" bookcover image to the site, perhaps add some blurbwords, etc.

If $12.00 sounds steep, then North Americans can pick up a copy from for $10.00 + p&p. But be advised to check out just how much that p&p is going to be, as you may be able to get cheaper delivery from

Anyways, bouyed by this bit of good news I wandered over to the Barnes & Noble website. No luck. As far as B&N is concerned my book does not exist (yet).

Then I remembered that Amazon run a separate UK website. So I checked, and I'm there - complete with chicken - for the wonderful (and frankly unbelievable) price of just £5.65 + p&p!

And there was me thinking my little book wouldn't be available from the online booksellers before christmas!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My problems with "like"

I've always had a bit of a problem with similes and metaphors. Despite ardent attempts by teachers to drum into my head the fact that similes and metaphors are very different poetic tools, I've never bought it.

The reason is simple: as far as I can see, a simile is just one form of metaphor and the only reason to categorise a metaphor as a simile is because it uses explicit comparison words such as "like".

Of course, the story is not as simple as that. There is indeed a thing called "simile" which is different from "metaphor". What my teachers were failing to do was explain why they are different, and how their differences affect the reading of a poem.

Sorry, guys, but explanations along the lines of: a simile states that A is like B, a metaphor states that A is B or substitutes B for A just ain't good enough for me! This is a description, nothing more.

To get to the heart of how similes differ from metaphors, we need to think about what it is that metaphors do in poetry. The conventional line-to-take is that they compare different things, and invite the reader to consider what is being said through the images that arise from that comparison. By saying the king is a lion the poet is not asking us to think of a big cat with a crown on a throne, but rather that the man sitting on the throne has qualities we associate with lion-ness: bravery, resolve, etc, etc (though I think of lions - but not lionesses - as fairly lazy, bullying infanticides).

I don't like thinking of metaphors just as comparisons - it doesn't do justice to what's happening. I much prefer to think of metaphors as models. Sometimes very off-the-wall models, I agree, but still models.

The idea of a model is to try to explain an object, system, activity, etc in alternative, often easier to understand, terms. Just as the map is not the world, the model is not the object. Squiggly lines on a map might turn into real roads, or might indicate elevation - though you won't have to step over elevation lines when you climb the mountain.

So by mapping the essential characteristics of one thing onto another - like our lion-like king - we can get an insight of some of the king's essential, non-physical qualities through the lens of the model-like lion we impose on him.

If the above doesn't make sense, don't worry. I A Richards said something faintly similar (using tenor and vehicles) way back before WWII (and he did it far better than I'm doing at the moment).

Thus if we want to gain an insight into something, we can make a model by imposing the essential (and often stereotypical or archetypal) characteristics associated with something else onto it. And we do this in poetry through metaphor. And simile.

Ah, yes. Simile.

So if we are using two tools to do this modelling for us in poetry, do they have any different practical impact on the reader?

For the modelling, no. Metaphor and simile both achieve the same effect of gaining a new insight into something by modelling the qualities of something else onto it.

But there is a difference, and it does have something to do with little adverbs like "like" and "as".

It's all about voice.

See, every text that you read has something called a narrative voice. It's the voice you hear in your head as you read the words. This isn't your inner voice, because it's not you doing the speaking. It's the words that are speaking to you through the visual, oral and aural bits of your brain.

And just as everybody on the planet seems to have their own sort of personality, so every text can have a personality. Not a real personality, of course, rather a personality that the brain imposes on the voice you "hear" as you read.

But for the purposes of this little indulgence of a post, we can break down narrative voices into two broad and overlapping groups: the "showing" voice and the "telling" voice.

An explanation: if you go to the cinema and watch a good action film with actors all speaking just their own lines and lots of action and explosions, you can think of the film "showing" you what's going on. If you take a friend with you who insists on commenting on the film all - the - bloody - way - through, then you're undergoing a "telling" experience.

Some writing is straightforward: it demonstrates what's going on, gives you some images, chucks in some comparisons and models to help you understand it all and then leaves you to get on with the comprehension stuff. When people talk about "show, not tell" this is what they talk about. The narrative voice is there - just as the film soundtrack is there in the cinema - but it's not intruding, poking you in the ribs to point something out to you.

Other writing insists on doing the poking. 19th century novels were rampant with "and then, dear reader" and "so they went into the bedroom together where we can only imagine what they got up to" intrusions into the text. This type of narrative text is not happy to let the reader get on with it, but wants to turn it into a shared exploration between the writer and the reader (with the writer leading the way).

Now don't get me wrong! There's absolutely nothing bad, poor or wrong about using a "telling" narrative voice, if that is the effect the writer (and the reader) wants. But the modern poetry aesthetic is for poems to have a "showing" narrative voice, a narrator who stands in the background and lets the images and actions do their own magic on the reader's imagination.

And here's the nub of my problem with similes: they are the ultimate tool of the "telling" voice. They are big red flashing neon signposts in the text that "tell" the reader what to think about a particular image or action. They intrude. They nudge you in the ribs, they steal your popcorn and they insist on laughing at all the wrong points in the film. I just don't like (heh) it that much in otherwise modern show-don't-tell poems.

But that's similes for you! Little beggers get everywhere when you're not looking.

So, To try and sum up, here's my alternative definition of a simile:

A simile, in poetry, is a metaphor which brings the narrative voice within the poem to the foreground, helping to explore and explain a particular image, and using words such as "like" and "as" to achieve this effect.

'Nuff said, innit!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Revision: A Walk in the Woods

Sometimes I post utter garbage to this blog. The poem I posted on Sunday was a particularly embarassing piece of garbage. But rather than remove the post that offends me, I have rewritten it into a slightly less obnoxious form:

A Walk in the Woods

This miniature version of man
who has taken my storyline
and spliced it with chapters
from a woman I love takes me
for an adventure.

We are in danger: there may be
pirates in these woods, or wolves:
we beat through brambles and scuffle
dry leaves, their poisons mulching
the air we breathe. Toadstools
dust boots with spores, a trail
for bloohounds to sneeze across
as they hunt the wrongly accused.

My foot breaks the ribs
of a squirrel, the space
where its eyes once rested
accusing me; the remains
of its guts dripping grubs
to the ground, seeking escape
from exposure. They piston
their flesh into the earth
eager to straitjacket
their juices, reorder
white flesh into flies.

And my lover's eyes
borrowed by my son
watch me grimace, shake
my boot: "Mum says
you want to be cremated,
like Nana."
I nod
and smile, wordless.
"You smile funny," he says,
"when you step in shit!"

Sometimes I look at you,
my son, stunned by the way
you write your own book;
the way you rewrite mine
without even bothering
to ask me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Walk in the Woods

Well, I've just posted this one to a thread in Scoplaw's blog (and QED, but that's just because they seem to be moaning about the lack of new blood - serves them right in my opinion) so I might as well post it here for ridicule:

(and just in case people are wondering, the narrator rarely equates to me)

{ahem ...}

The man with my lover's eyes
borrowed in schoolboy skin
took me hunting: not books,
nor answers this time.

Rather he chose to chase air,
excreted leafshit, line by line,
poisons flavouring the gases:
pollen to sprout in my nostrils;
majoram irritants under my foot -
purple rosemary's
executioner's hood.

One foot broke a twig
discarded by a frugal tree;
the other the ribs
of a squirrel,
the last of its guts
wriggling its blowfly form
back to the earth
eager to straitjacket
its juice.

And my lover's eyes saw me
grimace, shake my boot:
"Mum says you want to be
cremated, like Nana."

I nod and smile, wordless
at my lover's eyes'
ability, within my form,
to guess me. "You smile
he said,

"when you step in shit!"

Oh fuck son, you've learned me
already, and I've only reached
chapter four of your

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Five reasons why I shall never be a Great Poet.

So my NaNoWriMo wordcount for Thursday was 0, which by a strange coincidence matches my Friday wordcount. Today i have a free day in which to get my head down and crack on with the writing - except I can't get settled. It really is a bugger!

So instead I drafted an idea of a poem, the first draft of which I post for your entertainment below:


Five reasons why I shall never be a Great Poet.

1. I do not read contemporary poetry
A good book of poetry is like
a friend come home to rest
his head on my lap. My friends
are old, dusty: cats
in covers. The shiny,
new friends must not be trusted -
I read them with adult eyes
and adult eyes
are poor.

2. I do not like discussing poetry
The way the chatter found its way
to verse was strange; a journey round
the hills of glamour magazines,
celebrity affairs. We passed
beyond to news, the politics
of sex and scandal kept our lips
in spit for ages then - without
a care we parked our switch-back chat
on novels, writers, folks who use
the pen to charm and stroke and trash
each other: critics, poets. I
fell silent then, and drunk my beer.

3. I do not like promoting myself
The man who dresses windows
doesn't have a name - not one I know
in any case. And yet I know him
through his choice of colour,
fabric. Metal paints - not matt -
tell me he's a chancer man
who tempts and treats his audience
with products dressed to fix
their needs, their hopes and dreams
all solved - exchange some cash
and take away the merchandise!
I know the clever man who dresses
windows, Mister no-name man.
I know he isn't me.

4. I can't abide poetry readings
The beast is circled now, the strutted hunters
have forced it back and back until it feels
the cold, hard walls against its back, the podium
beneath its feet. They're gathered now in rows
that swirl around its feet and some of them
have riders now, mostly pink with frocks
and shirts and comfy shoes, drinks in one hand
and papers, rustly prisons, gripped tight
tonight ready to torture the circled beast
called poetry, poor art.

5. I don't understand the publishing game
Dear sir! I'd like to thank you dearly
from the bottom of my sharded heart
for taking time to reject my verse
in such a pleasant manner. The note
was crisp and white and creased
so clinically, my heart near flew
in admiration. And when I'd caged it
once again it fluttered when I saw
your note matched - line for line
and crease for crease - the other notes
you sent me just last week,
and the month before!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Chronic word impaction

My total NaNoWriMo wordcount for Friday, Saturday and Sunday has been 0.

I am not ashamed.

I am also happy to announce that the new Wallace & Gromit film was much more fun than sitting at home not feeling guilty about not adding a single word to my NaNo traffic accident of a story.

Life is, indeed, sweet.

Friday, November 04, 2005

POD publishing update

I received my second proof copy of my book of poems this morning - total ordering, printing and delivery time (to the UK) has been under 5 days on each occasion.

The good news (for me) was that this version printed perfectly - no need for further editing and proofreading! Which means that I was able to go to the website and press the magic "confirm" button to start the process of promulgating the book through the various databases listing published books. It's also been submitted to the various online bookstores for their agreement to include the book in their listings - which claims almost always happens. So hopefully sometime in the next 6-8 weeks people will be able to order the book through those channels rather than just from

I've also updated my website and my storefront to give people the chance to preview the whole book. I mean, it's only fair: I'd not risk money on a book of poems by some bloke I'd hardly heard of before if I couldn't test drive the poetry first!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


NaNoWriMo has officially started. It's time to bite the desk, bang the keyboard over my head and moan: "what the fuck am I trying to do?!?"

Surely it won't be as bad as NaPoWriMo. Nothing could be that wrenchingly bad ...