New micro stuff

Slam Poet

Slam Poet Reading

Welcome once more to the Poetry News Desk. As ever – a short introduction from our sponsor Alam:

Hmm, I think I made a mistake at the beginning of the week (apart from getting up). I enrolled at a poets forum known as poetry free for all where you basically open yourself up to merciless critique of what you thought were your masterpieces…

Now, you get to kick ass too, and it’s quite fun at the beginning digging in, but after a while you begin to wish for at least one real poem – but I have to work my way up the ladder before getting to the good ones. In the meantime I get subjected to people trying to argue that metaphors are in fact adjectives and that my critique was wrong, or I get told off my the moderators that my revisions are too quick – it takes at least three months to revise a poem in accordance with their standards! But, at least a couple gave a decent, in-depth reading of the poem I submitted.

But I’m still in two minds – it takes a lot of time writing the critiques, and it’s quite nerve-wracking having your poems subject to critique, but it must be, it must be!

STOP PRESS! Lars just sent me a copy of his new book Spurious. I am very jealous, because it has been published by a proper publisher, but I’ve still got to send him a copy of my book in return…

Anyway, enough of this waffle, let’s get down to poetry business – I made a little video of a reading of my poem Slam Poet – you can see it here:

I’ve also got a new load of microverse, haiku and tanka. You can read them here.

The Poetry News Desk

A Day at a Northern Beach

I’ve been trying to think of ways of making my poetry more popular, more accessible over the last few weeks. Mainly, I’ve been twittering as many tiny poems as is humanly possible, and you can see the results so far on my micro stuff page.

I’ve also tried reading to music, and video readings, but then my good friend Alam, who is much better versed in all things presentational than I, came up with this:

Now how’s that for an intro?

Of course, now we have to have a poetry spot – and this is it:

The Bicycle Repair Man

Today is a day where my tether is too short, I am tied to an electrified fence, and feel like little children have been baiting me. It is a day when I could hurl my computer through the air to smash against the wall simply for being too slow. It is a day where I could look in the mirror and shout at myself for staring. It is a day where I could scream at the birds for singing or break car door mirrors just because they exist. It is a day of rage for me. And why? Because of the fucking bicycle repair man, that’s why!

First, he took my bike hostage Tuesday last week, while it was helpless with a puncture outside his shop. He said I could have it back Friday for an undisclosed ransom. How much, I asked, but he just shrugged his burly shoulders and laughed manically. Then, on Friday, he said it was not finished, it needed extra parts – definitely tomorrow, he said, his eyes swivelling away from mine. And how much, I asked, a quiver in my voice. Again that wild, manic look of the kidnapper who could do anything – who knows, he said, depends on the bike…

Saturday comes. And goes. A little problem getting the tyre, he says. And any idea of the cost. I hear him smiling over the phone. Perhaps a hundred, but who knows. But it will be ready Monday? No – we’re closed. Tuesday? Definitely. And a hundred? Probably…

Tuesday comes. In my weakened, excited state I approach the shop. But to no avail, he shakes his shaggy head sadly. The hostage had not cooperated, a wire broken somewhere. And the hundred? That was on Saturday – we’ll have to see. Inside I am simmering, but what’s the point in losing it? They’ve got me where they want me and they know I’ll pay. I simmer on, and try to make the best of the rest of the day, but my tether has been shortened, drastically shortened…

Suffice to say I wrote a poem about it, and you can read it

Micropoems, Haiku, Senyu and Tanka

Lazy Writing

The Streets and Me – the poet mix

I have been busy twittering away this week, trying to come to terms with this new medium. On the one hand, if you want to write short bits of poetry, it is an excellent spur for doing so. I, at least, feel obliged to keep sending my missives out, and my vanity curls up and rolls over purring when someone decides to resend one of my little scraps, or joins my growing gang. If you want to join just press the twitter button over there. But this is the nearest I’ve got to feeling really addicted to writing as opposed to sleeping…

On the other hand, I do nothing else. My wife, for example, would like me to wash, I mean wash-up, of course I wash – it’s not got that far yet – but it really is a massive distraction, especially for someone as disciplined as myself.

Still, if I see it as productive, I guess I can kid myself that I am actually working, but is stuff that small and quick reallly work? I don’t know, so of course, I wrote a poem about it called Lazy Writing. You can read it here.

I’ve put the micropoetry on their own page on this site – it’s called micro stuff and you can read it here:
Micropoems, Haiku, Senyu and Tanka

The Streets aka Mike Skinner & co. have put a track out to roost on the net – you download, do something with it (remix it with lyrics) and load it back up, and you never know, Mike might just like it! Well I thought it couldn’t hurt, so I gave it a go, and you can hear the result here:

The Streets and Me – the poet mix

I’m going to do the washing up now…

A Woman in a Cafe

I cannot, as they say, get going today. Lethargy besets me. My flat is crying out to be cleaned, but I just sit there ignoring it. Two days ago I joined the twittering masses at tweeter, as the more observant of you will have observed, hoping to tweet my heart out in small, poignant poems. But today I find myself to be a twitless tweeter. The clock ticks on relentlessly, not having anything better to do with its time, and I have nothing better to do than to listen to its ticking. There is a pile of paper waiting to be corrected and I let it wait, without comment. I am even too lazy to lie down, such is my disgrace.

I just wanted to share this with you all – I thought it might help those of you suffering from this nefarious disease of procrastination to know that there are others out there, suffering…

I also wanted to point you to a new reading I recorded, as I practice whipping my voice into some kind of acceptable shape. It’s based on Hopper’s painting “Automat”:

Snowed In Voices

Several people, well, okay, three, have asked me why I haven’t done any readings yet (although one or two have already said this is not a good idea. Why on earth not? – some of you who have never heard my voice could well ask. For much the same reason as why I never sing in public. Never. The screams and howls of my victims, sorry, audience were too much to bear…

I find my voice to be a terrible thing, all high and nasal and whining – I simply wasn’t blessed with deep, dulcet tones, just as I was never blessed with a toneful ear – tone-deaf is what I am. Sad really, because I used to love singing as a child – until, that is, a teacher with higher sensibilities than my own waded through the hall to tell me to just mouth the words instead of mascerating them, there were, after all, others to think of. I never sang in public again.

So I’ve never really been an upfront performer, either. And here is the catch – nowadays the focus is upon the performance of poetry, especially the author’s performance of his or her work – everybody wants to hear your voice, as if somehow the original tones of the author lend an added authenticity to the work, although in my case I suspect that the only thing my voice lends to my pieces is an authentic experience of either acute discomfort or wallowing boredom. There was one time I delivered a good reading – it was to drums, on a boat on the Elbe, to a crowd of ravers. The drumming and the boat’s engine were so loud only the person sitting next to me heard the story – but he liked it, he really did!

But I don’t want to let anyone down, so I’ve decided to practice a bit of reading in the solace of my bedroom, and to show that I’m not shy you can see it here: It’s called Snowed In Voices.

If anyone wonders about the superb lip synching it’s because I dubbed a video of a different poem with the soundtrack for this poem. It’s just the wacky kind of thing I do when I get bored…

Does anyone still want me to do a reading?

Killing Thoughts

Well, I do hope you all had as happy, successful, stomach thickening a Christmas and New Year bash as I have enjoyed. My wife asked me what my new year resolution was, and I said it was to be a better person. She sniffed loudly and asked whether it might not be better to be a thinner person…

But weight watching is not the theme of the day for today, you’ll be relieved to hear. Funnily enough, after reading Spurious I met an old friend from Essex over the Christmas holiday. Obviously we reminisced about the old days when hope was still young and foolhardy, but couldn’t help being a little jealous of our friend W’s rise to fame – nobody would write a book about us – although we did wonder whether knowing him would increase our sex appeal…

What was more apparent was my friend’s despair at the scope of the change facing British academia in the next few years. It’s not simply the introduction of massive fees, which will serve to hugely reduce student numbers, especially those from poorer backgrounds. What’s galling is the oncoming privatisation of higher education which is especially focussed on Humanities and Arts subjects since they are regarded by the current Government as the most frivolous of the academic subjects i.e. both worthless in terms of their usefulness in getting a job, and so easy that anyone could teach them. Government funding of these subjects is to be axed completely and they should be completely fee dependent. Fees will be kept down by opening up the education market and letting the free market dictate the best solution.

You know, like they did with the water, with the gas, with the steel (remember steel?), the cars (remember the cars?), the docks (remember the docks?), the airports (did a great job this winter), the trains (do I need say anything about the trains?)… It’s going to be good!

But not for thought. I think it’s safe to say that thought – in its institutionalised form, in terms of critical and analytical thought of all forms (not just Philosophy) – will die. It’s not just that Humanities departments will close, which they surely will, but that the ethos behind them will be lost. Sold off, to be exact. Degrees will be effectively up for sale, but the knowledge and skills they stand for are not effective commodities – you cannot buy them, you have to acquire them, you have to work and you have to learn. This is obviously not going to be acceptable to people paying for their degrees – why should they work for what they’ve paid for? You don’t think this is true? Just consider G.W. Bush’s qualifications (BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard) – do you really think he knows what he is talking about? Witness the symptoms of the death of thought…

I could go on and on about this one, but I won’t. I did something much better and wrote a poem about it. You can read it here.

Oh well, it’s back to the ironing board for me…