Sunday, 14 November 2010

Don Patterson

I saw this quote from Don Patterson posted on Facebook via friend and outstanding poet Helen Mort:

‎''Poet' is less a calling than a diagnosis, and the condition of 'poet' is, I'm convinced, only one aspect of a complex of symptoms - only one of which is a special attunement to the weight and texture of language. It often comes with the inability to drive a car properly, a talent for all kinds of mental illness and an excessive interest in movies and alcohol.' 

I thought this was a really good quote, so I thought I'd share it. 

Being in Canada, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, abundant wildlife and spectacular views, you might have thought I would be flooded by inspiration, but so far I have not been particularly struck.

I did happen upon the line, "You cut quite the silhouette"  but after mulling it over I didn't produce anything further. 

Perhaps the altitude is affecting me more than I think . . .

Thursday, 23 September 2010


I would just like to take a second to recommend the poetry collection, 'Rain' by Don Paterson.
I bought this book recently for a friend of mine as a birthday present, which led me to reread it (in part) myself, and I have since remembered just how much I like it, which is a lot.
I honestly could not suggest you buy this collection strongly enough, here is the title poem, posted on The New Yorker's website, give it a read, I hope you enjoy it.

J xx

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Did a bit of writing.

So, I went to Bristol to see my friend Louise, who I met on a poetry course and who has always kindly edited my work, and one night there we played some writing games, having both realised we had written anything for ages.
And, although what we came up with may or may not have had much genuine poetic merit, we had fun, and so I thought I'd post on here with everything I wrote, so here it is.

From the '10 steps' poem form, where you write a poem by following instructions, such as, 'open the poem with a simile', 'use a phrase in a foreign language', 'make a synesthetic statement,' etc:

The curtains hung like his head as listened to the judge.
Jury to his time, they felt it too, the slow and creeping dread.
He felt he saw the cadence of their swish in the judge's gavel,
swinging down and blinding him with its almighty sound.
He sank like the boat in the frame above the open fireplace,
His weathered hands shamefully clutching his face.
Entschuldigung, es tut mir leid, Oh lord, take back all I did that night.
No! My pride and I admit, Oh God! I'm proud of it.
The well of rage was driven deep, his mother's voice began to repeat
The moral codes she tried to keep, designed to still his fidgeting feet.
But the doors were left unlocked that night,
The pills they fed him were bloody shite and he ran looking for a fight.
He pleads guilty, everyone knows, on a darkened couthouse the curtains close.

Then we did one which is designed to pair up abstracts like passion and trust, or emotions, with things you wouldn't normally associate with them, and I came out with these:

Passion is like a naked mole rat,
wriggling backwards in hole:
It really wants the thing at its back,
but the other mole rats just don't know
why it won't go forwards to its goal,
Perhaps the passion's taken control,
And he's lost all sight of the simple fact
if hed only turn round he'd surely know
exactly how he should attack
His search to posses this pot of gold.
Nonetheless, he'll wriggle and roll
His wrinkled, wierdo, naked back,
Because his passion tells him so.

Freedom is like a roar shaking the darkness:
At least, you'd wish it would be.
you'd want to stand stop some proud rock
and wither the plants and frighten the grass
with the defeaning roar you feel in your heart.
So even though your sheltered office space
confines you to speak from a certain place,
at least inside you dream a savannah,
and how much you want to nail susannah.

Freedom is like the leaves that are just too high
for a giraffe.
the other leaves may laugh,
They may do what the like,
At the end of the night,
They'll be eaten by giraffes
Who may be hungover, and keen for a treat,
Some tasty, within-reach leaves to eat.
But you'll be free,
amongst the upper branches,
While the bullies are turned into
Dung-beetles' lunches.
so even if they make you cry,
Don't worry, its you that's just too high.

That's all, folks.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Not really writing.

So, I haven't really written anything all summer, which is pretty bad.
I've always been a bit of a boom-and-bust writer, by which I mean, I write a lot a lot a lot and then nothing for ages and then having a big glut again.
I have been writing some songs, one of which is kind of a poem I guess, its kind of silly but also a bit sweet, I suppose, it's called 'The Rules':

The Rules begin, 'Don't ever give in.
Keep a hold of yourself at all times.'
But you look in my eyes and read my mind
As you brush your hair back, like I'd laid my hand flat,
And after it's done, there goes my rule number 1.

Rule number two, 'Whatever you do,
Just don't let her find out the truth.'
But you point out the shroud of sun-blushed clouds
So that even the cows needn't hear it aloud
With that way that you do,
And there goes my rule number 2.

Rule number three, 'You've got to be free,
You can't ever give her the drop.'
But the puddles all shiver and the chance they might mirror
Your feet passing over the top.
And trees all lean in to cut out the wind
When you pass and give them a playful grin
So I hold my hands up and ask for the cuffs,
And rule number three's given up.

[then there's a little musical break}

New rule, Number zero,
'Don't be a hero, this time you're playing for keeps.'
When she takes your arm and you're completely disarmed,
In love with the way you feel weak,
When you're kissing her cheek like a gentleman ought,
When you're bringing her flowers and opening doors,
And only her eyes bring your breath up short,
That's my rule number naught.

Other than that, I wrote another song that's really really sad, so I won't put that on here because I'll just seem like a miserable old git.

It's pretty hard trying to cultivate my writing when I'm working full time and doing things a lot of evenings, but I'm just gonna have to try to find the time, I suppose.

Monday, 28 June 2010

sorry its been so long

Sorry about the delay and prolonged absence . . . I haven't written anything for a while, I'm afraid, not for any particular reason, I just haven't written anything for a while.
Anyway, as promised (a long time ago, I know) here is the link to Route 57 where my short story Adam has been published, I hope you like it.

J xx

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Review . . .

Here is a general review of the evening of poetry I read at a while ago with Helen Mort and Ben Wilkinson. It's by someone from the University Paper and to be honest I think they've been a little unfair, and maybe were the wrong person to send to a poetry evening since they don't seem to like poetry very much . . . oh well.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Short Story accepted.

After I made a few revisions and resubmitted to Sam Matthews she's accepted my short story (assuming she has no further questions, which I don't think she will) for Route 57, and it will be appearing in the next issue which is published in June.
Always nice to have some good news considering that I keep getting rejections from poetry magazines, which is completely to be expected but obviously isn't the most positive thing.
So, I'll post a link on here when that goes up, making the whole story available.

I haven't written very much lately, I've had a few lines I'd like to work with kicking around in my head but they haven't particularly gone anywhere so far. Again, this is something to be expected considering how much of a 'boom-and-bust' writer I am (yeah that's right, I applied an economics term to poetry, eat it), and until a couple of weeks ago I was churning out pieces at a pretty good rate. Also, I've been rather preoccupied with writing my last ever essays and putting together thing for when I go to Canada.
That being said, I feel like I ought to cultivate some consistency in my output, and so will try and get a couple of things down in the next week or so, especially considering I have handed in my last ever essay and just have one exam to prepare for.
It will probably end up being about girls, so be prepared . . .

Over and out.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Finally heard back from Samantha Matthews about my short story 'Adam' that I submitted to Route 57, and they said they want to publish it! Yay!
Of course, that was "subject to minor revision", so I've got to give it a quick look at before they'll take it for sure, but I'm sure it won't be a big deal.

That's all for now.

Sunday, 16 May 2010


I finally got around to editing Sheriff Woods, and I've now submitted it to the competition. Here is a little section I particularly enjoyed writing, its from, sort of, the middle I guess. Early middle, let's say.

‘So then the Sherriff stood back up and looked around. His eyes fell on a young man by the name of White, young Jimmy White it was, and the Sherriff’s spurs clicked in time with the dull thud his boots made on the boards as he walked over. His percussive tread made the steely eyes he had fixed on Jimmy somehow more threatening, and you could tell Jimmy felt it in a chill up his back from the way he squirmed under that stare. Jimmy had been leaning up against the windowsill looking out with that hopefulness only known to the young, and the Sheriff span a chair round to put his boot up on, trapping Jimmy in his little corner of sun.
“Afternoon, Sheriff.”
‘Jimmy said, with a voice that shook as much as his hand when I saw him raise a Colt for the first time.’
“Good afternoon James.”
‘The Sheriff paused long enough for one of his rare smirks to curl the edges of his mouth, which just so happened to be the same exact amount of time that Jimmy could hold his breath in before he had to explosively exhale,
“Aw c’mon Sherriff, I’m dying here! What d’you want?! Whatever it is, I didn’t do it, I swear!”
“You know Jeremy James, James?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“Were you drinking with him in here last night?”
“I sure was, we left around midnight, I remember because the church bell had gone off not long before. Of course, I live on ridge side and he lives down the valley so we went our separate ways at the door.”
“You sure you went your separate ways at the door?”
“Well yeah, I told him I’d meet him here today at three o’clock and said goodnight. Looks like he’s late.”
“Something tells me he’s a little more than late, Son. Jeremy James is dead.”
‘Jimmy White’s composure changed at the news, starting in his eyes and ears where the news first hit, then trickling through his body like the water up the top of the mountain where the river’s just a baby. Eventually his whole body was like a wet sack of malt and his eyes, normally as sharp as .45 slugs just pressed into the chamber, thinking excitedly of the moment they’ll be fired, were more like the empty shells that fall in the dust to be trodden on and turn to rust. He slumped against the window and slid down, spilling his drink as his body spilled limply onto the window sill.

I hope you liked it. I believe I should hear by the end of may whether I made it into the short list (of 3) which will go onto the website for further judgement. Fingers crossed till then.

Here's another (minor) redraft of a poem I posted not long ago that I revised after some constructive comments from one Christopher Littlefair (many thanks Chris). I read it at the recent reading with Joe Kriss and Kayo (I don't know how to spell his surname), and it went down very well.


When you look up from your drink
With hungover, listless eyes,
I see the sunrise on an autumn day,
crisp and hung with dew, which slowly
splashes the drowsy trees
shaking the tiredness from their leaves.

In my mouth the words taste like medicine,
as I try to explain, inarticulate and fumbling,
that I have to go away. I drain my cup,
Stand and look at this beautiful breaking day.

Oh, fuck it all. Perhaps I’ll stay.

That's all folks.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Reading went well.

The reading yesterday went very very well, my poems were well received and I got some encouraging feedback from the others reader and one or two members of the audience.
I also took a moment to say to Joe and Kayo how good it was to get to read with them, and Joe said he'd really liked my poems too, and that I should definitely submit some more poems to Now Then Magazine (of which he is the poetry submissions editor).
So, another excellent reading, despite my partially lost voice.

Definitely got to make myself go back and edit 'Sheriff Woods' because the hand in date is Sunday (shit). Also I need to make a decision about which poems to enter into the Poetry London competition that I mentioned before.

So, good things still happening and some more exciting things to come. Hurray!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

a couple of small things.

Working on a little poem that's an attempt to write something funny, but I'm going to play this one a little close to my chest until I've gotten it straightened out, seeing as me trying to be funny doesn't always go very well.

On another note, my seminar group for my Contemporary Literature module had an extended class today with two "Slam" poets, Joe Kriss and Kayo (I think) I-forget-his-surname. It was good fun, Slam Poetry is pretty cool, pretty much just Rap but without music. I ended up having a little go at writing a short section and the Joe and Kayo said they really liked it, in fact Kayo said something along the lines of "you could start a side career in hip hop, I think" which was encouraging.
Those two poets are the headliners for the poetry reading tomorrow night, so I feel lucky to get to read along side some more very talented people. Its also one of my closest friends' birthday tomorrow and I've spent a not insignificant part of this evening preparing her gift, which I think she's going to love (fingers crossed).

So, a few things happening, I'm doing my best to stay active and get my name known a little. What else can I do right now?

Over and out.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

New Poems

I've just had my latest set of poems back from friend and mentor Helen Mort, addorned with her comments, suggestions, flattery etc.
I continue to get a very good response from her which is really encouraging, and my Mum phoned to tell me she thought I was "actually a poet now" after reading some of my scribblings that were sent back after I used an incorrect size envelope: god damn postal service just don't get it man, you can't stop poetry! lol. Still, good old Mum :)
I'm now waiting to hear back from the Route 57 chaps about the short story I sent them, although as I said before I think it'll probably be included just to fill up the space, if nothing else. Hopefully they won't make me edit it too much, and if they do it will all be constructive etc etc blablabla.
Need to get down to redrafting 'Sherriff Woods', so far my brother Nick's comments have been the most critical / productive, so I'll sit down with (at least) them in mind one day and redraft it like a mother's trucker.

I also need to decide what poem I want to send off to the Poetry London poetry competition (first prize £1000, second £500, third £200 and four "commendations" of £75 - big news!) in time to get them in by the 31st of may (oh dear that's this month).

For now, here are two (quite short) poems from the ones I sent to Helen, having edited them. This isn't necessarily the way they'll stay, of course, and comments are welcome.
Carry on . . .


First, hold it gently. Close your eyes, take a deep breath.
Next, a sip and swallow it for that first rush,
then a larger mouthful. Let it stay on your tongue,
roll it to the back and taste again.
Breathe through it, the air will loosen the composition
on your pallet and bring the flavours out.

Don’t speak or try to describe; just take it in.
Then listen to me say it again.


When you look up from your drink,
leading with your eyebrows then your lids,
I see the sunrise on an autumn day,
crisp and hung with dew, which slowly
splashes the drowsy trees
shaking the tiredness from their leaves.

In my mouth the words taste like medicine,
as I try to explain, inarticulate and fumbling,
that I have to go away. I drain my cup,
Stand and look at this beautiful breaking day.

Oh, fuck it all. Perhaps I’ll stay.

I hope you enjoyed them :)

p.s. sorry for swearing.
p.p.s. well, I'm not really sorry. In fact, I quite enjoyed it.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

new idea

I'm working towards writing something that ends with the line,
'. . . as though surfacing from a dream' although I don't know how I'm going to get there yet. I am, however, determined not to write about girls or kissing again, because, juvenile that I am, I know I write about that sort of thing too much. Still, its probably going to take a while to work around to something, but hopefully when I get there it will be fresh / interesting.
I also want to include the line, 'like the water at the top of the mountain, where the rivers just a child', and possibly follow it up with 'like the water dreams of the ocean when it gets too tired.'
Finally, had some reassuring and constructions responses to my short story, 'Sherriff Woods', so am trying to find a moment to go through and edit it into a second draft.

So, that's everything for now.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Short story submission

I have just now submitted an old short story of mine called 'Adam' to Dr Samantha Matthews from Sheffield University for their online creative writing, Route 57. When writing it I tried to engage with something a little deeper than just writing a story, but I feel silly saying what that was and would probably sound really pretentious, or just like a prick.
Let's hope she enjoys reading it, but I think, considering the numerous emails they've been sending out about extending the deadline for submission and PLEASE SUBMIT WORK OH GOD PLEASE SUBMIT WORK I think I stand a pretty good chance of it being included.
Anyway, I'll post again when I hear back from them, for now here's the opening paragraph, perhaps I'll post a bit more if they accept it . . .

It rained. Adam stood by the side of the grave as it rained and felt the moisture advancing through the layers of his suit. It infiltrated the tight cotton weave of his unpressed shirt to rest against the skin of his shoulders and back, and he allowed his eyes to peer through the rain streaked lenses of his thick-framed glasses around at the collected mourners. Black umbrellas shielded dresses of black and he thought of the seeming impropriety of the service’s solemnity, considering his father’s nature. He had not been a religious man, and had asked to be burned in a boat on the sea like a Viking: he had said theirs was a noble race, and he would like to walk in the halls of their dead. However, in the presence of his newly-devout-catholic sister, Adam observed a Christian burial, committing his father into the hands of her God. He felt the priest’s words as they vibrated the air around his head and in his ears, where a multitude of small bones vibrated in kind, like a thousand tiny hands tapping a message in Morse-code. This sent an impulse to his brain which told him a man was talking about his father.

Monday, 19 April 2010


I have now finished 'Sherriff Woods', and I've sent it to around ten people who expressed and interest in reading it via facebook. Once I hear back from them with their feedback I'll collect all the responses in a post on here.

'An evening of poetry.'

Had an excellent time at the reading on saturday, which went very well.
There was a high standard of poetry from all involved, and it was nice to get to meet more poetry enthusiasts.
I think the next event on the horizon is an open mic run by 'speak easy' at the Hallam union, though I'm not sure when that is exactly. Once I find out and if I decide to read I may just post one of the poems I decide to read on here.
Over and out.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Reading on Saturday

Looking forward to the reading at Firth Hall (one ofthe University's buildings) this Saturday. Thinking about what I might read, and am struggling a little to decide.
I don't want to read any of the ones I've read before, so am going through all the ones I have and trying to pick a couple. I'd better do it soon or I won't have time to memorise any of them, as I'd like to do at least one from memory. This is one I'm contemplating doing, called, 'Like Rain.' I think its quite likely I'll do this one as I already know it by heart.

Red from the resheathing sun
Bled into the clouds
As though from the wound it left behind
Dissecting the day.

The new bruised sky that welcomed night
was reflected in your expectant eyes
as your lips made the shape of a kiss
closing round the 'o' in my name.

Like rain, falling on thirsty ground,
I laid my hand on the side of your face,
Kissed its delicate curve,
Kissed and kissed again.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Having to put writing a little on hold at the moment while I work on some essays for University. Back to the writing grindstone later this week.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Sherriff Woods

Written a little more than 3000 words of my short story now, pretty pleased with it and having a good time. So far, 2 toy story references and one o brother where art thou reference, so good times!
I've given a 1600 words version to a friend, will post their response when I get it back.
Once its done and I've sent it in I'll see about posting the first chunk on here or something.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Sherriff Woods

Been working on my short story for the competition, I don't really know if it's any good, but I'm having a lot of run writing it. Here's the first little bit (the very first part, up to "seldome deserve it") we had to use, it was part of the competition guidelines or whatever.

“In my experience those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it” he told me.
“I just say, my name is Sherriff Noah Woods, my word is the law and you are under arrest.” And that is what he would say, I saw him ’rrestin’ many a crooked soul right out there on the street, and every time they would say, “have mercy, Sherriff!” he would just repeat that line and throw ‘em in a cell.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I've written the first few poems for my zombie war poetry idea. They're from the perspective of a girl who fled the zombies into an old air raid shelter with her mum, who turned out to be infected and subsequently died, reanimated and attacked her. She successfully defended herself against her zombie mum, but couldn't dispose of the body because doing so would have meant going outside where all the other zombies were.
Obviously, this girl goes mental, retreating into a childlike second personality, and chalked poems on the wall that are all a bit crazy. Here is an example:

mummy mummy go away
come again another day
go, and take your friend away
tell them I don't want to play
While blood still runs within my veins
tell them they must wait.

short story competition.

So, I heard about a short story competition from the university, which sounds like fun so I think I'm going to enter.
Its got to be a crime story which isn't something I've done before but I think its worth a go. They've given us the opening line, "In my experience, those who beg for mercy rarely deserve it."
I've decided to make it a cowboy crime story, with a Sherrif called Sherrif Woods, who people call "Woody" and I'm gonna try and slip as many toy story references in as I can, short of having a deputy called Buzz and a little slinky dog. . . on second thoughts maybe I won't put so many toy story references in.
Anywho, I think the basic idea is gonna be that a man is found dead and a bandit who operates in the area is likely to be blamed, but then the plot thickens, etc. etc.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Open Mic cancelled

I was going to goto an open mice at The Maypole in Cambridge tonight but it has been cancelled. However, I should be getting together with my poet friend and mentor Helen Mort ( so that should be fun, perhaps we'll talk about my ideas for books and things and I can see what she thinks.
Getting together some ideas for my first zombie poems, more to come as I write . . . prepare from some sillyness there.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


I have an idea for two books at the moment:
Firstly, I want to try and produce a a book that is a collection of poetry exercises. I think it would be called Writers Unblocked, and I'd try and get as many games and exercises together as possible so that it would be a resource both for new writers, writers struggling for inspiration and for those leading workshops and classes who are looking for something to do with their students.
I've been to a fair few workshops etc in my time and so I already know a few, but it would take a lot of research to get together enough for a book, although I think it would be a good book. Also I could put loads of silly little asides in which would be good fun.

b) My next idea is for an addition to the Max Brooks Zombie series. So far Brooks has written such treaures as 'The Zombie Survival Guide' and 'World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.' I think a good addition would be, 'Poetz: Poetry from the Zombie War'. I think it would be really fun to write a book of poetry all from the perspective of people fighting a zombie apocalypse... I'd probably have to write to Brooks to see if he thought it was a good idea and would include it in his cannon. Ah well.


So, I write poetry. I enjoy doing it and recently it seems that other people enjoy reading what I write.
I've done a couple of readings at open mics which have gone really well, the most recent of which was particularly good. This was at the punter in Cambridge and I read two poems, and two of the other poets both came over to say they thought they were very good. Obviously praise is always great but it was really reassuring when poetry is a medium in which I very much feel I'm still finding my feet.
There's another reading in Cambridge on Monday night at The Maypole which I think I might go to, and I'm helping to organise one at Uni (in Sheffield) in April, so lots to look forward to.
For now, here is an example of one of my poems, 'A Night On The Drink', which I read at The Punter on Tuesday.

In the morning, as the sun spills
in where the curtain has slipped
and the wine has stained our lips,
we kiss.

Then you roll away,
the mattress lilts in that familiar way
and your feet are tickled by the rug
where it’s frayed.

You tilt your head and arch your back,
pull your gown from the hook,
where a screw is still loose
in the corner of the rack.

Maybe we’ve got lectures, maybe
Our only worries are our clothes;
And it’s alright that there’s so much
We still don’t know.

As if we’re only kids,
with nothing to dream about but this
or what our friends will think.
And I wish it were true as you lean on the sink.

Then you come back to bed,
the sun spills in where the curtain has slipped,
the wine has stained our lips and we kiss,
becoming seventeen again, in my head.