Monday, 12 February 2018

re. Oxfam scandal, re. UN scandal

re. Oxfam re. UN

In light of the recent and lamentable revelations regarding Oxfam I’m posting a poem about similar events involving the UN, lest we forget that this is a broader issues that goes beyond one organisation. This poem was first published by Thank You For Swallowing in their September 2016 issue (Thank You For Swallowing ).

                                          New Hues of Blue
             UN accused of ‘gross failure’ over alleged sexual abuse by French troops.
Owen Bowcott

Under an Air Superiority sky, shaded
by Steel Blue wings of splayed, corroded metal, we’re grounded on teal terrain, nesting in tents of distressed
Bleu de France.
We call our home M’Poko, an indigo mizzen peopled by soft-centred periwinkles, stuck to the underbelly of the Central African Republic.
Blue-Eared Glossy-Starlings, circling midnight skies, flock here. Sharp-eyed, resourceful – an adaptable species. Hooked beaks thrust under makeshift shelters, stealing our young. The baby-blue and Alice-hued, our vulnerable juveniles pecking a living amongst the rotting and moribund.
Under logos of doves, the innocents
are schooled in a spectrum of lessons
by teachers cloaked in heraldic Azure mantle. Studies of pounding scant pounds of flesh, while furnace-hot hands roast to smalt fragile cobalt bodies, hollow bird-light bones.
Here is home economics for the homeless, strong and weak deals – abiding ordeals – taught by rote, of selling bodies to eat. These birds are the Zaffre, the impure, within the cleft of a double olive branch.
They leave lasting impressions, violet-blue bruises tattooing tender skin, where vermillion blood money mingles with
fetid waves of displacement blues. New
hues to cover the whole picture in this palm- greased wasteland.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Form, Form-Transgressive Poetry

Once upon a time, before university and the wonders of studying the craft of writing as envisaged by academics in an educational institution, I thought of myself as a freeform writer and that Form was archaic, constraining, and redundant. Needless to say, my attitude has changed with exposure to form in all its wondrous guises and now I find myself in the unexpected position of not only searching out new forms but in bending, manipulating, and ultimately creating variations of or challenges to what I encounter. 

This is a practice that has existed as long as the many forms have been in existence as far as I can ascertain so I’m rather surprised to find that poetry that walks a path of exploration meets with such furrowed brows by fellow poetic travellers. Thankfully there are intrepid outlets that actively encourage deviations from the norm so if, like me, you’re creating new poetic paths and want to share your journey, here are just a few of the publishers (online examples where possible) who understand poetic explorations and form rebellions. Good luck with your journey and send me a poetic postcard from your travels.

(These are just some of the over 40+ outlets for my poems but it gives you a flavour of different paths you could be treading...)

Pennsylvania English Literary Magazine (university-affiliated), Smeuse, and Star 82 Review are ‘must haves’ but are print outlets so you’ll have to grab copies to see my work and that of others. 

What can I say about Mark Young’s great print and online resource?  Four of my poems in the current issue include a redacted sonnet duo and a split/merge poem. He actively encourages divergence and has done for decades. All hail to Mark!!!

Jazz Cigarette (now Petrichor)
This is generally a form-free zone but took a walk on the wild side for one issue that celebrated the use of form for contemporary issues. There is a copy of my modern pantoum available at: 

The Curly Mind:
Another great guy, Reuben Wooley has published many of my poems and this online poetry zine is all about the minds wot curl! Care Guide is a redacted poem that is quite lighthearted – just to prove that not all poetic iconoclasm has to be serious – God forbid!

Don’t forget that some universities have magazines with online issues that support innovative poets. Check out The Goose which is the official publication of ALECC (Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada / Association pour la litt√©rature, l'environnement et la culture au Canada) and in my humble opinion holds up academic banner for being open to creative excellence in literature.

Okay, so now you’ve seen that the outlets exist – and these were just a fraction of what is available as you'll see when scrolling through previous posts – and the sort of poems they’ve already accepted…. go submit and broaden the range of form transgressors getting their voices heard.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Text and Images

Manueline was totally new to me before one of the tutors on my art history course brought it up and if its new to you too then here is the low-down on it. It is a Portuguese late Gothic style that has influences of Mudejar (okay, one of my favourite styles) and even Indian architectural ornamental leanings. I was fascinated by the inclusion of what looks like rope – a reference to a seafaring trading nation? – and as I knew that Portugal and later the Dutch had used the Cape Verde islands as staging posts I decided to investigate while I was staying there.
The rope side of things is obviously problematic as it has strong associations with the ‘goods’ that were traded at the islands, slaves. As you can see from the images below, there is a lot of poverty in the islands but I found it inspiring, not least due to a lot of misconceptions written about the archipelago by people who haven’t even visited it. Bizarre!

As always my reaction is to write about what I see and the things that make me go ‘hmmmm’ and I’m pleased to say that the resultant poem ‘If I Could Tell You About Cape Verde’ has just been published by Tropica Laced Literary Magazine (you can see it on their tumblr page: issue comes out in June so this way you don’t have to wait J ). They were kind enough to offer homes to two other poems that aren’t Cape Verde related, one about my grandfathers pigeon shed (a pungent and brutal place) and the other about the harem gate aviary at Topkapi Palace along with two unrelated photographs.

I’d also like to show how a contemporary ceramic artist has responded to African, Portuguese, Manueline, slave heritage of the islands with this beautiful and monumental vase called Africa.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Jazz Cigarette?

So my recent visit to Manchester inspired so much artistic stimulation, conversations, debates and ultimately writing too and I'm pleased to see one of the poems 'Harmonies of Morning' published in Jazz Cigarette's 5th e-anthology. (

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Just Because

Cos’ I see cocooned
exclamations and dormant questions
in foetal positions
the punctuated lives
of rough sleepers
in the crevices
of sleepwalking cities.

Friday, 18 August 2017


how beautiful the rain drops
musically ricochetted off 
rooftops and leaves
while I freeze

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Spice of Life?

So, the past few months have seen me...

sitting my end of year exam (don't even ask!)
heading off to festivals (well it is the summer!)
and spending time in Manchester taking in the sights, sounds, and vibe of the city.

I've been writing too. I've finally got my writing head back on and find that I just can't stop writing about the things that really matter, heartfelt observations of 'life'... and too. I'm especially caught up in the issues of the Manchester spice epidemic; an insidious drug that leaves people like zombies and is so endemic in the city center that folk just walk past as if the afflicted are invisible.

Good news comes in the form of acceptances of a poem about the first woman of colour recorded as a barmaid/courtesan in Londons West End in the 1700's. This will be published by Smeuse in the autumn - September I think. The poem is an erasure and I'm sure it'll look fab in the publication... can't wait to see it in fact.

More good news is that I have had 5 poems accepted by Otoliths, one about a family member who died recently and another about the spice problems - both using unusual formatting so doubly pleased that they have found a good home.

I'll be posting links as and when all the above are published.
It's good to be back!!!