Both taken from my debut chapbook Our Voices in the Chaos.
-and the clouds gather above your head, darker than you thought possible, bringing sudden night and you are now aware this field is too exposed and how you stick out like an antenna over the-
-and the airhostesses are telling passengers to sit down and adopt the position, hands behind the neck, back bent forward and they are trying to remain professional but two of them have tears running down their faces even as they try to-
-and they are gathering in the streets, emboldened by political events you only have the dimmest understanding of, some new leader maybe, and they are laughing and joking, all wearing shirts and buzzcuts, and you are glad you wore contacts and not glasses or else you could have been singled out and for now you hold your breath and walk past, when one says-
-and this the hottest day on record but you are sure it’s fine, the government has a plan or maybe the scientists or someone will come up with steps to be taken and you will listen and shade offers no relief but-
-and no one is shouting now, everyone is in their seats and everyone has adopted the position and it’s very quiet now-
-and the air crackles around you.
Recently on Twitter, I replied to this tweet about keeping a private anthology:
I got into a discussion about my commonplace book and why I keep one. I thought I’d follow that up with a larger discussion of why I find it useful and some examples from the book.
A commonplace book is an old tradition, with bits of knowledge stacked on top of each other. Ryan Holiday has a great explanation if you want to know further. I use it to note down quotes, photos I like and poems that speak to me.
I really love these festive walls in Bedminster. They are all over the street, shop windows and shutters. It makes it feel like a unified community.
I’ve been avoiding the election cycle because its just so depressing. Lies after misinformation after racist dogwhistles after lies. It’s disheartening to see people support the Tories, who have messed everything up over the last ten years. At this point it feels more like Stockholm syndrome.
We’ve found a way to monetize breath.
It’s simply a game changer. Can you feel
the paradigms shifting under your feet?
We are shaking up the world like a snowglobe
and breaking traditions. Each inhale a cent,
each exhale is free. Thats it! Simple!
After all, we are providing a service.
We could flood the atmosphere with
deadly chlorine gas, killing everyone
painlessly and quickly, but we don’t.
We allow seven billion humans to live.
So we are providing a service.
The market has responded favourably.
All hail the market! Praise stock tickers!
We’ve revolutionised food and water,
turned the streets into profit, now we
spin gold from the air itself. Our
investors are very pleased indeed.
If you don’t like it, don’t breathe.
Taken accidentally on my phone in the middle of the day, probably generated by my fingers covering the lens.
I read a poem at an open mic a couple of months back. I was quite pleased with it. Only recently did I realise the central image was almost the same as another poet’s work who I had seen a couple of months before. Without realising it, I had completely ripped them off.
So I looked back at my writing, only to find the problem was more widespread than I thought. Other poems were similar to existing pieces from other poets. One had the same subject matter and even style as a poem I heard months ago. In each case, when I wrote it I thought I was being completely original. Of course, I felt very guilty and will probably remove them from future sets.
In a podcast I recently listened to 1, David Mitchell described inspiration as coming from the compost heap- everything you have read and experienced broken down over time. I like this way of thinking of inspiration because it highlights how ideas are not unique but made up of other ideas, how they grow from fragments.
These poems I had seen people perform had broken down enough that I had forgotten their origin, but not enough to change the original idea beyond what they had done. So the only solution is to be honest, check the origins of my work, then throw it back into the compost heap. Hopefully, these words will rot down more over time and emerge as something different. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and making new work, drawn from deeper down.
… Even under winter’sFrom I Know You Love Manhattan But You Should Look Up More Often by Ariel Francisco
tightest fist some light still slips through
to you, and isn’t that a miracle?
Pauline Seawards shared this and I just had to share it as well. David Byrne sings Heroes with a choir who had practiced for just an hour beforehand. It’s utterly beautiful and hypnotizing.
I also love what David Byrne said about the performance:
There is a transcendent feeling in being subsumed and surrendering to a group. This applies to sports, military drills, dancing… and group singing. One becomes a part of something larger than oneself, and something in our makeup rewards us when that happens. We cling to our individuality, but we experience true ecstasy when we give it up. So, the reward experience is part of the show.Quoted on happymag.tv
Then walking home, I listened to Spanish Translation by Low:
Both songs send shivers down my spine. Perfect for a cold November night.
deep inside your weary bones.
Frost glimmers and grins.
Hello, I’m really pleased to have a new poem at Highland Park Poetry called Fluvial Dreams.All the poems are water themed. Check it out here.
I also really like Storm After Drought by Donna Pucciani. Have a look at all the poems.
- Be active on social media. Don’t just endlessly spam your book, engage with different conversations. Make book marketing personal!
- Get a professional to design your cover. If the book is a romance novel, make sure they include archaic runes, a dragon, headshots of the cast of Saved by the Bell: The New Class and kittens. If it’s a fantasy novel, add two dragons.
- Know your audience. Know who they are, what things they like to read and watch. Know the bars they hang out at. Know where they live. Know what their diary says, the one they keep in the locked drawer. Know the sound their breathing makes in the darkened room as you stand in the shadows, watching them. You need this information for marketing!
- Seek out the old woman who roams the moor at night, moaning to herself in a strange tongue unlike any other language you have ever heard, ancient words not heard on the earth for millennia. Others claim to be deaf to her guttural groans, but you hear her every night, don’t you? Seek her out. You where to find her. Cross her palm with silver but do not look her directly into her eyes. She’s a PR manager and can probably help you out.
- Give up and start drinking. Drink heavily for most of the evening. Meet a man who claims he knows some people in a newspaper and he can get you a cheap advert for your book. Be suspicious, but go along with it because you’re drunk. Go to an ATM. Get out most of your life savings for ‘advertising’. Wake up the next day and regret what you have done. Call the number he has given you over and over, only for it to go to voicemail every time. Check the newspaper every day, hoping that an advert for your book will appear. It never does. Keep checking for weeks. Gradually stop buying the newspaper. Gradually lose hope. Avoid social situations. Retreat into yourself. Spend your days cursing your stupidity. Vow never to drink again. Drink anyway. See that same man in a different bar, years later. He’s happy. He’s laughing. Feel the rage boil in your veins, uncontrollable, like the hurt was only yesterday. Start a fight with him. Realise, too late, it’s the wrong person. Run as he is much stronger than you. Exit into the night, into the cold, into the unknown future.
- Have you tried advertising online? It’s cheap and effective!
Previously published on Pure Slush January 2017
My debut chapbook, Our Voices in the Chaos, is out now through Selcouth Station.
Mural by Xenz.
I love walking past the Arnolfini every day, because I see things like this.
Posters by Kameelah Janan Rasheed for In Between Time
Here’s a beautiful cover designed by Stuart Buck:
I’ve been working on this for a while now and am very excited to share it with you all. I hope you like it.
UPDATE: It’s now available as a physical and ebook.
Order directly from Selcouth Station here.
There is a persistent view that refuses to be shaken that science fiction and fantasy are pure escapism. Usually, this view is from people with limited experience of the genre. People like Ian McEwan, who when promoting his last book was sniffy about the escapist aspects of science ficiton: