Utterly Otterly!

BathtubOtters

Hi there cutey lutraphiles! As some will have heard from my social media trumpets, all is going ahead with my second collection of poetry, Utterly Otterly! Containing poems and illustrations by Yours Truly, all otter-themed, many ludicrous. Also containing the writing prompts I was working from, and my excuses for why I ended up doing something else instead.

You too can pre-order a book, which will be published and sent out in October. You could even fund me further by ordering a print of Otters In The Bathtub (above), or a bespoke otter of your very own! Simply follow this link to my GoFundMe page, which will remain open for donations/pre-orders until we go to press in around 6-8 weeks time.

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My mother’s eyesight

437926-contact-lensNew poem for you, should you fancy a shufty. This one was written a few days ago whilst on a Wolf At The Door writing retreat at Dhanakosa (the anchoring place of my spirit). It’s about my mother searching for lost contact lenses, something that seemed to happen on a daily basis through my childhood, although she swears it was a rare occurrence. Years (and soft contact lenses, and bifocals) later, my unearthed memories of this once-commonplace activity came back to me like hallucinations.

Contact Lens

My mother is blinking like an owl treading water.

She has spatchcocked her palms, is strip-searching

the carpet, patting the sofa down, looking for her sight.

 

The world, transparent and the size of her pinkie-tip,

has fallen out of her eye and now, out of malice,

it will not be found. Or worse, it has sailed away,

 

intrepid coracle, to the dark side of her eyeball.

She tents her lid by its guy-rope lashes. I see inside her

it’s as red as a desert noon. A morbid rolling

 

hoves the fugitive into view. Retrieved, she lathers it

with spitwash, pinions again her Clockwork Orange eye,

and deftly launches the tissue-thin glass bowl. It floats,

 

meniscus on meniscus, world upon world.

Ekphrastic – Agglomerations by Chun Kwang Young

images-1When the madness of the Edinburgh Fringe gets too much for me each August, I pop into art galleries to rest my brain from words. I especially like Dovecot Studios on Infirmary Street, which this year was hosting an exhibition of incredible mixed-media constructions by Korean artist Chun Kwang Young. Here’s a sort of prose-poem response to the exhibition – because you can run from words, but you can’t hide…

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The master works on a cosmic scale. For brushstrokes read boxes, that are not boxes, but triangles of polystyrene clothed in paper. Mulberry fibre, mulberry twine, twisted by assistants, legions wrapping landfill in nostalgia. Medicine packages, tincture of indigo, tinted taupe, dappled with the boxy characters of Korea, swaddled by the acolytes. He chooses the ones whose half-moon nail-beds please him, clean and cool-fingered even in August, blotchlessly cornerfolding crisp, crisp yet downy, the myriad boxes crawl, large and small and smaller, stutter over canvases, mothsoft rubbleheaps, rust-bled stains on the pre-silk, charred impact craters in among the chorus of paper-bandaged apices. In the master’s mind, immense moons of ice revolve in the open space of international galleries. What does it matter, the boys bickering girlsoft at the trestles, but the amiable static of the atelier? Their fingers are white moths, opening and closing. They all eat kimchi with their plain white rice. Their beauty depends on such interlaced tensions.

Ekphrastic project – James Cowie’s ‘The Yellow Glove’

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Oh my dear, it was too, too dreadful!

Mortal mind can scarce conceive –

At least, not yours, darling Vi,

Yours would have shrunk. Violets do shrink,

It’s an immutable law, like death, or gravity,

Or who sits to the left of the Bishop.

“Bother immutability” that silly boy would say,

And therein lies the drastic horror of the thing,

For Pongo positively pushed it this time!

Doubtless the dear old Duchess toot sweet

Snipped him merrily from the Will, singing

“Cold porridge to primogeniture!” So you see,

I simply had to pop back the jolly old ring

And hoof it hotfoot before the bean began blubbing.

It’s a rotten sausage, but there it is.

Now, do try one of mine – they’re Turkish.

Deseeded

I’m very happy indeed to have a poem selected for Deseeded, an online magazine edited by Degna Stone, founder member of the Butcher’s Dog editing team. The call-out asked for work written in response to a prompt from the late Julia Darling, published as a Guardian masterclass in 2005, shortly before her death. It was a lovely prompt, all about instructional poems, which are some of the most fun things to write because they really do ‘tell the truth but tell it slant.’

The overall selection is beautifully curated, and not over-long, so I urge you to just gorge yourself on the whole lot right now.

If you’d like to try writing an instructional poem yourself, here is the prompt , and if you are in the Newcastle area you could go to Live Theatre for workshops and new plays all responding to, and celebrating, the life and work of Julia Darling.

I also strongly recommend you subscribe to the amazing Butcher’s Dog magazine, which will come to you in hard copy twice a year and fill your life with beauty.

Filmpoems : Poemfilms

So I was rejected recently. Nothing new there. Got knocked back by Verb New Voices, who didn’t think much of a proposal featuring filmpoems. I don’t care, I love filmpoems, so here’s a couple of new ones for you. Please contact me if you’re available to re-record the voiceovers, I loathe the sound of my adenoidal toddler-voice.

This one written from a 52 prompt…

This one written from a Buddhist text…

Plus of course, the inevitable sweary rant that is Primavera, recently screened at Stage 2 of Northern Stage!!! Hahahahahaha.

Remiss – miss me?

I feel guilty – I have been more attentive to my Moon blog than to this one. I’ve had plans! An essay/review on sonnet sequences in the work of Eleanor Brown and Patience Agabi, for example. That’s a particularly good figment of my imagination. I have been reading rather a lot of poetry…

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Or I could tell you about the agony and the ecstasy of the everyday poet? For example – I recently had a poem shortlisted for the York Literature Festival. In the last 50 of over 900. But didn’t win. I had poems rejected by Alliterati and Butcher’s Dog magazines, but had ones accepted by Streetcake and When Women Waken

I’m writing poems about the WW1 bombardment of Hartlepool – they’re pretty nifty, but I can’t share until the end of the year when they get published in an anthology. And I’m writing poems in response to the Bloodaxe Archive, but they’re all pants so far, so I’m not gonna show you.

OK, how about this little smidge, written in response to a prompt from the fabulous 52 project, on the subject of ‘praise’.

Praise After Bad Times

No balance to the meal

without a pinch of bitter.

The hunkered marriage-bulb knows

to bide the blink of winter.

Kisses re-risen, purple mouths

open gold tongues.

The patiently espoused

Worth our weight in saffron.