Sunday, October 29, 2006

Moving beyond the RikVerse

This time last year I was busy going through the process of getting my first proper book self-published via those very nice people at It was probably the thrill of that adventure that led me to sign up for NaNoWriNo 05 - an experience I'm not planning to repeat this year!

So, one year on. How's things going? They're going fairly well, thank you for asking. The book has not sold in bucketloads, but then the amount of advertising and promotion I have done for it has been in an order not short of "bugger all" so that's nobody's fault but my own. The important thing is that people who know and like my poetry have been able to buy a hardcopy collection of it - and I hope they're still enjoying the poems now! The thought of my book being lost down the back of someone's sofa, or stored in someone's garage, or (shudder) being put out with the rest of the garbage for recycling is not one I'd like to entertain. I want my book to be owned by careful, considerate and loving owners who remember to wipe the mugstains off the cover before they put it back on their (well-dusted) shelves.

Googling for the book brings up a few surprise results - mainly courtesy of, whose reach across the virtual shopping mall continues to amaze me. Did you know you can obtain the book in France or Germany? I didn't. Even more shocking to me was learning that you can order the book from W H Smith and even Tesco (hopefully gaining yourself some Tesco Clubcard points in the process).

Anyways, there's no point on looking back at old triumphs. Rather, I need to start looking forward to new ventures - for instance (if things go right) I'm hoping to have a new pdf chapbook of love poems ready for download either just before christmas or just after new year. I've already got the title for the collection: the question is, will you have the resolve to download it?

(ps: it's still not too late to order the 2007 Rik Calendar from perfect for Auntie's or Uncle's christmas present - it'll be much more useful to them than hankies or socks).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Is the Periscope worth it?

The trouble with computer magazines is that they come with DVDs full of exciting programs which idiots like me feel compelled to try out. I tried updating my operating system from the 2006 version of Linux Mandriva to the 2007 version, with the inevitable consequences. Everybody form a circle around Rik, point a finger at him and start laughing ...

In other news, in a fit of absent-mindedness I wrote a sevenling and entered it into the pffa annual poetry contest just before dashing off to Cuba. To my surprise (because I'm not enamoured of the form) my poem got selected as a finalist. Now I get the pleasure of writing another one of the pesky things to a deadline - should have read the rules of the competition before entering it! Oh, well ...

Anyways, the Poetry Periscope which I host on my website. Nobody's bothered to add their poetry webpage or blog to the listings for coming up to a year now. I'm wondering whether it's worth continuing with the project. If I hear no shouts from folks about keeping it up then I'll probably discontinue it at the end of the year. I mean, there's plenty of other stuff I could be putting up on my website in its place - like nekkid photos of me in "artistic" poses ...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bunfight at the OK Erato

While I don't tend to post many draft poems to the online poetry workshops these days - I currently lack the enthusiasm to critique in the detail other poems deserve - I do visit a number of workshops on a regular basis. Why? Because I do enjoy a good bunfight, and every now and then a poetry workshop will explode in a dazzling display of anger and bile.

True to form, such a fracas erupted while I was away from a connection to the 'net. Able Muse's Eratosphere had a wonderful slugfest following the (temporary, I think) banning of one of their longstanding members. The denouncements and accusations in the relevant threads are wonderful to read.

So why am I advertising a poetry board's family tiff on my blog? Because it gives me a chance to post one of my (un-workshopped, though it needs a bit of work) poems. And the beauty of this poem is that I only have to change a single letter to make the poem fit the current circumstances! Enjoy!

Serving the Muse

I chose to dine at E's establishment:
a restaurant well marked for style, panache
and quality, a place for nourishment
of soul and sense - at least they kept the trash

at bay when one's inclined to eat good food -
or so I was informed. I ordered boar
and settled back to contemplate the crude
parade of riff-raff shambling past the door.

"My deeply felt apologies," a voice
beside my elbow murmured. Looking down
I saw the chiselled bones of service hoist
into my view. "Why so?" I asked, a frown

across my brow. "We've had to ban the boar,"
the waiter cringed: "It charged around the place
creating havoc, carnage! Such a chore
to clear the mess - we turfed it out, disgraced!"

Nonplussed, I checked the menu once again.
"What else is there to eat?" The old man smiled,
his lips a gruel of soup. "The chicken, plain,
is rather good - a filling dish, par-boiled."

"But rather boring, I'd have thought?" He shook
his head and said: "You do not understand, young sir,
but plain is best - no sauce to hide the look,
no herb or spice disguising taste! The bird

served bland delights the plate. Just try a breast
or two."
I was intrigued, I have to say:
"You use no salt? No stuffing? Just undressed?"
"Oh yes!"
he said. "It is the only way

to exercise the muse! We don't allow
ingredients to spoil the meal, the chefs
must work in peace and comfort - once the row
of discontent is banished, gone, they're left

with harmony in which to hone their skills
and arts! A space where they can learn to shape
their honest, soul-full heart-wrought chicken meals
to feed our guests: a dish you can't escape!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Beautiful country - well, most of it.

Beautiful people - well, most of them anyway.

But how can a country and a people with so much going for them become so seriously fucked up? Power cuts. Water supply problems. Dismal public transport. People living in buildings literally rotting and disintegrating around their heads. Beggars on the streets. Hustlers on every corner of Old Havana - "You wanna buy cigar? Charlie? Girls?" Food is a choice of pork, chicken or fish served with rice and peas, but no interest in adding a bit of flavour. I mean, Mexico's just down the road - can't they be bothered to import a little bit of spice and imagination?

Cuba could be so much: a fiercely proud people; soil that throws up abundances by the waggonload. And yet their major export today is doctors to Venezuela in exchange for cheap oil - what the fuck is that all about?

Cuba's going to change soon - the Old Regime is dying. I really, truly hope that when change comes the Cubans grasp the opportunity with both fists to build a better country - one that provides them with incentives and innovation to make them proud of their history and gives them confidence for their future. They can't afford to have their future shaped by outsiders any longer - they deserve better than to become just another client state (most likely to the US multinationals) again.