craic

fringe benefits

It seems an age ago already, but last week I was up in Edinburgh, visiting the Fringe with my fellow pandemonialists Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse. We were there for two reasons: to do a gig for the Loud Poets, and to scout out some shows we hoped might be worth bringing to the Wolves Lit Fest fringe next February.

Anyone who’s been to the Fringe will know that it’s chaotic and incredible, and Dave got caught up in that chaos within hours, catching a bus out into the depths of the Lothian countryside (he’s gone where??!!) instead of into Edinburgh city centre. Scottish public transport is trickier than average, apparently, although he still managed to get to the Loud Poets gig first, which shows just how formidable a force he’d be if he got on the right bus more often.

For three days we traipsed heroically from one Edinburgh city centre venue to another, checking out shows we’d heard good things about, shows by friends, shows with intriguing titles, shows with intriguing subjects, and shows we simply decided to take a punt on for no good reason at all. Each and every one of them was a sixty-minute adventure, and we barely scratched the surface of what was there. From start to finish, the whole weekend was wonderful. And now I’m back in the Midlands staring out the window at the rain and missing Edinburgh more than is healthy.

If you haven’t been to the Fringe yet, go. Embrace the chaos. Meet people. Follow your curiosity and see shows for the hell of it. Support the arts. Take flyers from slightly desperate stand-up comics and wish them luck. Do whatever takes your fancy. Just don’t take transport advice from Dave. Trust me, it’s for your own good.


edinburgh again

It’s a strange old time to be a poet. On the one hand, it’s the annual shindig which is the Edinburgh Fringe (hooray!). On the other hand, even the most cursory glance at the news headlines suggests we’re heading to hell in an increasingly speedy handcart and all bets are off as to whether climate change or unhinged nationalist leaders (yes, I’m looking at you, Trump, first and foremost) will steer us over the cliff.

I’ll be honest, I’m finding it tricky to balance those two. My natural optimism is creaking at the seams, and how on earth do you write a poem which addresses the febrile state of things and still engages the reader? I wrote you do not listen, got it published in International Times, and ended up in a Twitter spat with a BBC radio host who took umbrage at the idea anyone could complain about the way his organisation delivers the news. Hey ho. If only he’d bothered to read the poem properly first, eh?

Anyway, I’ll be casting aside my current sense of gloom to spend a few days in Edinburgh with fellow pandemonialists Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse, and we’ll be special guests at the Loud Poets event this Thursday. It should be a lot of fun. If you fancy joining us for an evening of fast-paced, entertaining, and occasionally gritty poetry, tickets are on sale here.

If Boris has his way we’ll be fighting over the few remaining turnips by mid-November. Come and have a giggle while we can.


updated and international

You can generally bet your bottom dollar that the more I recognise the urgency of something that needs doing, the more I discover an overwhelming need to do something – anything – which is totally unrelated and pushes the needs-doing-this-very-minute thing into some incredibly long grass where I can pretend it doesn’t matter. Over many years, this has established itself as a fundamental law of the universe which brooks no argument.

So I can offer no reasonable explanation for the fact that just a few days after announcing that I needed to update and de-clutter my website, I’ve… er… updated and de-cluttered my website. As you’ll see if you take a wander round.

While I was on some sort of cosmic roll, I also screwed up my courage and submitted a poem to the International Times. After all, I told myself, the worst they could do was ignore it. They didn’t, and I’m happy to say that you do not listen was published on their website yesterday. It’s been described as bone-deep outrage, brilliantly expressed and I wish I’d thought of saying that myself. Take a look at it if you’ve a couple of minutes, and see if you agree. Me? I’ll be taking it easy. I think I’ve earned the right.


feet up

It’s been a great couple of months, it’s been a while since I wrote a blog, and yes, those two things are related. Time flies when you’re having fun, you see. And I have been having fun. The last month has seen me doing gigs up through the north-west of England and as far north as Dundee, finishing at Ledbury Poetry Festival last Sunday (which was immense fun, and an opportunity to catch up with a lot of other Midland poets).

I’ve loved trying out new poems in front of new audiences, but now it’s time for a little break. A break from gigs, anyway – I’ve plenty of other things to do. The website needs a wee bit of fettling, for starters, so expect to see changes here once I’ve had a couple of lessons from Dave not-on-facebook Pitt, who knows much more about these things than I do. There’s a load of Pandemonialists plans and projects to push forward, too, and – last but not least – the new book will need knocking into shape.

If all goes to plan, the book will be printed, published, and on sale by late November. By then, I’ll be itching to get out on the road again, and looking for gigs and readings to promote it. So, if you’re a poetry promoter – or simply someone who’d like to see some top-quality, accessible poetry where you live – drop me a line.

And now, it’s time to enjoy the sunshine while I can.


north by more north

We all have little rituals and habits which are woven into our lives. As midsummer approaches, it’s always a fair bet I’ll be packing the camper van and pointing it northwards to Scotland for a couple of weeks of parking up in as remote a location as I can find, waking to the sound of waves on the shore, watching seals, otters, basking sharks, and gannets while I have my morning coffee.

For the past few years, I’ve added a few poetry gigs to my meandering itinerary, because well, why not? That means I’ve read my poems to a packed room in Orkney (my northernmost gig to date) then driven under the light of the Simmer Dim to park by a beach under a star-filled sky.

Soon, a much-loved VW camper van will be trundling north once again, and I’ll be cutting myself free of a world of emails, social media, and poetry websites I don’t update half as often as I should. I’ve half-a-dozen gigs set up along the route, and it’d be lovely to see some of you if any of them are in your neck of the woods (details on the ‘news’ page, btw). No Orkney gig this time – I’m not sure we’ll make it that far – but that’s just a reason to plan another trip north next year, isn’t it?


hitting the road

There’s always something wonderful, as far as I’m concerned, about sitting in an audience and listening to poetry. Every voice is different. Some you may love, some may leave you cold, some will inspire you to go home and write a piece of your own. Perhaps you’ll see a familiar situation in a new light, look at the world in a way you’d never quite seen it before. Maybe you’ll simply be comforted by knowing that someone else is passionate about the things you’re passionate about, that there are other people out there like you. All of this is possible, and all of it is good.

Standing up in front of an audience to share poems can be every bit as enjoyable. I love going to new places (or re-visiting ones I’ve been to before), getting up behind the mic, and hoping my work will strike a chord with the people I’m talking to. It’s a real privilege, and an absolute buzz. And that’s just the gig – there’s also the joy of exploring a new town, or wandering round old haunts. Would I happily spend as much time out on the road as possible? Absolutely. Without a moment’s hesitation. It can be the back room of a pub or an arts centre, a night with a huge reputation or one put on by a few friends somewhere off the beaten track, but it’s the sharing of words that’s important. That connection.

Right now, I’m busy sorting out gigs for the second half of this year. There’s a road trip to Scotland, for starters, which I’m really looking forward to, and I’m always keen to add more. So if you fancy hearing me read where you live, if you’d like a little more poetry in your town, drop me a line. Get in touch, and let’s see what we can sort out. Because nothing beats live poetry. It’s an absolute buzz.


luck of the irish

Some weeks are ones you want to live long in your memory. For me, this week has been one. First, I learned that the video of my poem Impulse was one of the winners in the Culture Matters spoken word competition. That put a much-needed spring in my step. Then I found out another of my poems was runner-up in this year’s Prole competition (you can read the winning poems here). I’m chuffed to bits, and am now putting more spring in bigger steps.

It’s easy to make a song and dance about it, to tell the world when you’ve had some success and things are going well, but I’m no stranger to that sense of frustration and despair that most (all?) poets know. Those days when you wonder if your work has any value at all, whether you’re kidding yourself, whether you’d be better off knocking the whole thing on the head and walking away. So, if you’re a poet or a writer who’s going through that right now, hang in there. Keep watching, keep learning, keep honing your craft.

Above all, keep writing. Because it’s what you need to do.


keeping it global

In late February, after my set at Orators & Opinions, Worcestershire poet Neil Laurenson interviewed me about why I write poetry, and much else besides. Thanks to him for taking the time to pose some very interesting questions. If you’d like to read what I had to say in response, you can do that by clicking here.

This week Proletarian Poetry published my poem ‘desaparecida’ on their website. As you may know if you follow me on Twitter, my friend John Sevigny – and a female colleague – were kidnapped by members of a drug cartel in Mexico early this year. The poem reflects upon that, and the additional dangers faced by women there, as I explain in the blog which accompanies the poem. You can read it here. It is, perhaps, right to highlight it on International Women’s Day, but I’ll leave you to be the judge of that.

Thank you for your continued support for my writing. It means the world.


more gone

Less than two weeks ago I posted the news that more bees bigger bonnets had sold out. Now I’m popping up again to tell you that a fine fine place has done so too. My heartfelt thanks to all those good folk who’ve bought a copy and given it a home – it’s gratifying and humbling to know my work has reached so many people.

A second print run of a fine fine place has been ordered from the printers. If you haven’t got a copy yet and you’d like to buy one, just click on this link.

Looks like I should crack on with getting the next volume of poems together then, eh? No rest for the wicked….


gone gone gone

If you’ve been meaning to buy a copy of my fourth book of poems more bees bigger bonnets, I’m sorry to tell you you’ve missed the boat. The last few copies of the second print run were snapped up at Thursday’s gig in Walsall (thanks, good folk of Orators & Opinions!)

I’m really proud of the work in more bees, and incredibly chuffed that so many people have  backed up my faith in it by shelling out their hard-earned on a copy. Like most poets, I know poetry’s unlikely to make me rich – you’d be bonkers to choose this route as the best way to untrammelled wealth – but it’s reassuring to find that the words I write strike a chord with others. That’s what it’s all about, in the end: communication. The sharing of ideas and experiences and voices. And that’s what poetry’s so good at, which is why I love it.

That’s enough trumpet-blowing for now. Time for a walk in the glorious spring sunshine. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for unlikely bonnets. And welcome bees.

note: the marketing department wishes to point out that you can pick up my fifth book of poems a fine fine place on the ignitebooks.co.uk website. Just follow this link.


put in perspective

It’s only natural – what with this being a website about my poetry – that most of my posts centre on that. Sometimes, though, the focus is rightly wrenched onto other subjects. This is one of those times.

My friend John Sevigny is a US photographer who spends a lot of time working in Central America. Nice work if you can get it, you might think. Except in early Jan, while working in Mexico, he and a colleague were kidnapped by members of a cartel. Over a dozen armed men burst into their apartment, beat the living daylights out of them with boots and guns, dragged them outside, and drove away with them. This is not – sadly – an uncommon event in Mexico, where over 20,000 people have been ‘disappeared’.

What John and his colleague experienced in the following 38 hours is the stuff of nightmares. I won’t list it here. If you want to, you can read John’s article by following the link at the end of this piece. But you don’t have to. You really don’t.

I have no idea why it was that – at the end of those 38 hours – someone took a decision to let them go, but they did. Other people in the same place ended up dead. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, so far as I can see.

One month on, John is recovering in the US, and has chosen to go public with the story of what happened to him. He knows that he has the luck and the good fortune (odd words to use of a man who’s been through what he’s been through, but there you go) to speak out. Firstly, because he’s still alive. Thousands of Mexicans have simply disappeared at the hands of cartels, remember. Secondly, unlike Mexicans who live with the threat of the cartels every day, he’s relatively safe, and can afford to speak.

He knows this gives him an opportunity to use his story to draw attention to what’s going on in Mexico, and what is happening to people there. And – as always – it’s women who bear the brunt of the whirlwind of brutality and violence in the society around them. We live in a world where nameless Mexicans dying does not make headline news, but a US photographer talking about what happened to him in those hours when he was kidnapped… well, that does. Or it can, anyway. And that’s a world of difference.

In an attempt to try and make some good come out of this brutality, we’ve been trying to work out what it’s possible to do. And our suggestion is that making a donation to your local Rape Crisis centre, or an organisation which works with survivors of torture, would be the most appropriate option. They never have enough money for the vitally important work they’re called upon to do.

That might – hopefully – be the positive thing that comes out of what happened. I know John and I would like to think so. And if you want to read John’s account, be warned. It is not, in any way, easy reading.

You can read Part One here.

And Part Two here.


gasping for a pint

I’m tempted to use that as the title for my next book of poems, even though it isn’t entirely true. I made it through Dry January, and while I’m looking forward to sitting in a pub and having a drink again, I could equally happily stay off the booze. But the universe, in its wisdom, has ordained that the 6 Nations starts this evening, and who am I to argue with the universe? Considerably Wet February it is.

So, before I slide under the table in the corner of the local, telling the world and its dog they’re my best mate, here’s a photo of the poem I was commissioned to write for West Midlands Railways as part of a Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists project in conjunction with them. It’s currently on display at Birmingham New St station. Check it out if you’re passing through.

More news once I’m back from the pub in March.


onward and upward

2019. You look away for a moment, and it’s already over a week old, and is busy exploring the world, sticking its pudgy little fingers in the plug sockets, and scribbling all over the furniture with a felt-tip pen. Bless it.

Last year was a lot of fun. Shows the length and breadth of the country with Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists, gigs of my own, and some superb headliners and open mics at our poetry nights in Walsall and Wolverhampton. On top of that, there were astoundingly good reviews for a book I co-wrote: ‘But after the gig…’ the autobiography of Tezz Roberts of Discharge (and a host of other bands). You can read one of them here – and see just why the first print run sold out in a couple of months – if the fancy takes you.

I’m busy making all sorts of plans for 2019 if it keeps away from the plug sockets for long enough to listen. I’ve already got a good number of gigs set up, with more in the pipeline, and I don’t doubt that PPP will be coming up with some outrageous new project or three, too. It’s going to be an exciting twelve months. Bring it on!


that’ll do nicely!

VLR review

When the first review of a book you helped write finally appears in the press, it proper blows your socks off to find out it’s as good as this one for But after the gig….

Thank you, Vive le Rock! I’m so happy to see Tezz’s story getting the big thumbs-up. Even happier that Vive le Rock gave it higher marks than a book about AC/DC. Hells bells!

If you haven’t read this wonderful book yet, do yourself a favour. Pop over to the Ignite Books site and buy a copy, here. 

Trust me, it’s worth it.


one week to go…

I’m a simple creature at heart, with no grand plan for my life other than to follow my nose and see where it leads me. It’s not the most complex of strategies, but it has led me to a place where I’m able to patch together a living from doing things I love.

One of those things is poetry. Another is working with legendary punk musicians to write their autobiography. They may seem like two very different things, but in my mind they’re two facets of the same vital human drive: storytelling. And I love a good story. 



At the start of this year, I put the finishing touches to But after the gig… the autobiography of Tezz Roberts. Tezz lives for music, and has played thousands of gigs with a huge number of bands, which is interesting in itself, but the book is so much more than another rock biog. Read it, and you’ll see what I mean.


Anyway, the point of this blog is to say that – while the book has been selling through the Ignite Books website for some months now – it’s officially published next week, on 1st November. And I’m doing an interview and Q&A on November 6th at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton as part of their ACT night. Doors are at 7pm, entry is free, I’ll have discounted copies of the book with me (and probably a few copies of City Baby, too). If you’re in the Midlands, it’d be lovely to see you. And if you’ve questions to ask, I’ll do my best to answer them. But remember, I’m a simple creature, so plan accordingly….


time for trumpets

There haven’t been many idle moments of late, which suits me down to the ground, but a couple of days ago I stumbled across one. At a loss what to do, I found myself – for no particular reason – doing a stock check on my poetry books. (I’m living the dream, I know).

Turns out I’ve sold over four hundred copies of my volume of poems more bees bigger bonnets. Four hundred. Wow. That’s pretty good going for someone who’s trundling along quietly, sorting out their own gigs*, doing their own thing.

Thanks to everyone who’s bought a copy. There’s been two print runs of the book now, and it’s unlikely there’ll be another. If you want a copy, there’s just sixteen left, and you can get them here. And now, I’ll get back to re-pointing the house. (I’m definitely living the dream)

*please note I’m available for birthday parties, weddings, barmitzvahs, poetry events, celebrating the fall of Tory governments etc etc.


bit more punk

Don’t get me wrong, I love my poetry. There’s something about getting up in front of an audience, spinning your words, and showing them that poetry isn’t the awful dead stuff they thought they learned at school (it’s just people saying words, folks!) which makes me incredibly happy. It can be in a pub or at a festival – like yesterday – or pretty much anywhere, but not many things beat someone saying I don’t like poetry, but that… that was OK.

Yeah, not much beats that.

But I also really enjoy finding untold stories and getting them into print. It’s not too great a stretch for a poet, if you think about it, and I’ve never been someone to settle for having just a single string to my bow. A few years ago I stumbled into working with Steve Ignorant on his autobiography. Then Ross Lomas of GBH and myself spent weeks recording his life story, which became the best-selling book City Baby.

Now, the manuscript for But after the gig… the life story of Tezz Roberts of Discharge, has gone to the printers. I can tell you it’s one hell of a rollercoaster ride. It’s on sale now at Ignite Books, and you can order a copy here. It’s well worth it.

Oh, and if you’re visiting Ignite, my books of poems are also on sale there. Just saying… 😉


collaboration

If there’s one thing the past few weeks have shown me, it’s that collaboration is good for the soul. I knew that anyway, of course – I’ve been working with Wolverhampton poets Emma Purshouse and Dave Pitt for the past eighteen months, during which we’ve created a spoken word show (long-listed for a Saboteur Award) set up a thriving poetry night, and done our best to help local pubs stay open and thrive. Recently, though, we expanded this collaborative way of working to include several other poets from our region. The experience has been amazing.

We were lucky enough to get funding from Arts Council England (thanks, folks!) for our Black Country Broadsheet project, which aimed to take poetry out and about in the Black Country, make more people aware of what’s going on here, and entice some of them  along to the events we’d set up. We wanted to take poetry out of its comfort zone. And we did.

What was hugely enjoyable was the opportunity to get to know other poets better, to hang out together, and to have a laugh. To work together with one common purpose. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a project more. Thanks to Rob Francis, Rick Sanders, Casey Bailey, Marianne Burgess, Bones, Jeremy Grant, and Mogs for throwing themselves into this project and helping make it such a success. If you haven’t heard any of their work yet, you’ve been missing out. Luckily, the broadsheet project still has one week left to run, which means you can do something about that.

So pop over to our Youtube channel and give yourself a treat.


broadsheet

Way back in late 2016 – when myself, Emma Purshouse, and Dave Pitt founded the Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists collective – one of our major goals was to take poetry out of its small-but-beautifully-formed niche and plonk it down in front of people who are convinced they don’t like poetry.

First, we wrote our ‘poets, prattlers, and pandemonialists’ show, performed it in Wolverhampton, and took it to Edinburgh (then Leamington, then Leeds, and on). That was fun. And a lot of people whose first thought is ‘Ugh. Poetry.’ thought so too, which makes us very happy. (some people who do like poetry enjoyed the show so much they put it forward for a Saboteur Award, and we don’t have words to say how overjoyed we are about that)

Now, we’re busy with another of our ideas which first saw the light of day as our collective met in a Wolverhampton pub and set the world to rights over a couple of pints: the Black Country Broadsheet.

It’s a simple idea. Ten poets from the Black Country. Five free events across the region. One specially commissioned video for each poet. 2000 copies of a broadsheet to hand out to people across the Black Country so they can see that poetry is written by people from their neck of the woods, that it can be funny, serious, angry, loving, and yes, they may not like all of it, but there’s going to be something there which speaks to them. That’s where the free events come in, of course. They’re an opportunity to see all these words come alive. And for people to get up and share their own words, if they want to.

You can find out more about this by following @pandemonialists on Twitter, or by joining this group on Facebook. And keep an eye open for copies of our Black Country Broadsheet when they start appearing towards the end of this month. There are some fantastic poets involved in this, and you’re going to love their work. We do.


hibernation

Well, kind of. I was busy making a hot chocolate late last night (yes, that’s how wildly rock’n’roll life at mine is right now) and it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t updated the website in… what? Weeks? Ye gods! In our million-mile-an-hour world, where the expectation of regular cyber-updates is taken as a given, what on earth was I thinking??

Naturally, I had a word with myself. And now, I’m writing this blog to convince you – and myself – that I care. Because truth be told, I’m rather enjoying just cracking on with life. Getting out on the mountain bike. Going to the gym. Swimming. Sitting in and actually reading poetry rather than scrolling through my timeline on Facebook or wondering how may ‘likes’ a post will get. I’m diving into Jo Bell’s wonderful 52 book and spending hours letting my imagination run riot with ideas for new poems, then sharing them with friends and seeing what they’ve made of the same prompts.

It’s all very enjoyable. And revitalising. And exciting. And whatever that Danish zeitgeisty word is that people started using twelve months ago when they decided they were just that bit too old to go clubbing. Hygge. Yeah. That. Not a word you hear a lot of round here, where they just call it ‘staying in’, but you get the drift.

I’ve gigs coming up. The new book is out (if you buy a copy, I promise to crawl out from under the duvet and shuffle to the Post Office to send it on its way). I even found time to send a poem to Culture Matters, who published it here today, bless them. But right now, I’m more interested in getting a sourdough bread mix on the go, losing myself in a good book, and doing as little as possible.

And I tell you what, it’s addictive.


thanks

A huge (and slightly belated) thanks to everyone who came along to last week’s benefit gig for Paulette Wilson. It was a last-minute venture, and we didn’t really know what to expect, how many people would turn up, or how much it would raise. In the end, the room was packed, the bucket filled with donations, we collected over £300 for Paulette, and a good time was had by all.

Thanks to poets Steve Harrison, Emma Purshouse, Paul Francis, Dave Pitt, Bones, Rick Sanders, and Spoz for their excellent sets, to ukulele ensemble Not Quite Dead Yet for raising the roof, and to the Clarendon Hotel for letting us have the venue for free. Thanks, too, to those people who couldn’t make it to the gig, but supported Paulette via the Justgiving page we’d set up. Your generosity means we’ve already reached our target, but the page is still open till mid-January, so we may yet raise more.

Best thing about the night? Seeing Paulette and her daughter enjoying themselves and laughing. After everything they’ve been through, that was priceless. People 1, Home Office 0. Merry Xmas!


paulette

This Thursday I’ll be taking part in a benefit gig in Wolverhampton. It’s got one simple aim: to raise money for Paulette Wilson, a grandmother living in Wolverhampton who’s currently under threat of deportation. If you don’t know anything about her case (and there’s no reason why you would) you can read all about it here.

Poets, prattlers, and pandemonialists is a collective of Wolverhampton poets, and when we heard about Paulette’s case we knew we had to do something to help. So we pulled together this benefit gig in double-quick time so we could offer her some practical, financial support before Xmas. The night will feature a whole slew of our friends, every one of whom gave an emphatic Yes when we asked if they’d be prepared to take part. They’re giving their time and their skill for free, the venue has waived the hire costs, and all we need now is for an audience to turn up, put their hands in their pockets (entry to the night is by donation) and let Paulette know her city stands with her.

There have been times recently where I’ve simply wanted to shut the world out. There’s so much bad news – wars, starving polar bears, anything involving Donald Trump – that I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed. This benefit has reminded me of what we can do when we work together, how the small steps we take turn into something bigger.

If you’re in or around Wolverhampton on Thursday, drop in to the Clarendon Hotel on Chapel Ash. It doesn’t matter if you can’t stay all evening, just grab a seat and a beer and enjoy what’s going on, and throw some money in the bucket. And if you can’t make it, but would like to support Paulette, we’ve set up a Justgiving page where folk can donate to help her.

Because together we are stronger. And every little helps.


england

I don’t know quite how it happened, exactly how it is I fell through the cracks and found a way of life which allows me to put bread on the table while doing things I enjoy (rather than slaving at things which I don’t) but I’m immensely grateful things turned out the way they did.

Last month saw the publication of my latest book ‘a fine fine place’ (my thanks to everyone who’s bought it, by the way). Last week, I met up with Reuben from Trapeze Films to make a video of one of the poems in it. As always, I’m left with a sense of wonder when someone – with skills which I don’t have – takes the vague idea I have for how I think I might like the video to look, and turns it into something which actually works on the screen. And which looks good, too.

A bit of background to the video… the poem was inspired by a question posed by Walsall artist Carolyn Bayliss. She asked ‘What would you say at the funeral of England?’ As someone who’s always been fascinated by identity, I knew I’d have something to say. I just didn’t know what. I ended up writing England, my response to simplistic nationalism. I hope you enjoy it, find something in it which makes you smile, and something else which makes you think.

Oh, and feel free to share it as widely as you like.

You can view England here.


launch

Like a lot of poets, I genuinely struggle with self-promotion. Really. Writing poems? No problem. Sharing them? Yep, that’s fine. Appreciating other people’s work? Of course. But when it comes to making a song and dance about – say – my new book, my toes curl and I  post some kind of mumbled er… I’ve a… you know… book thingummy… online before running away and doing something else instead.

All of which means that although ‘a fine fine place’ is my fifth book of poems, I’d never ever had a proper launch for any of the earlier ones. And I still wouldn’t have, if my fellow poets and prattlers Emma Purshouse and Dave Pitt hadn’t cajoled me into doing it this time round. But they did. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to the Lych Gate Tavern in Wolverhampton last Sunday to listen to me read some poems from the book, have a few beers, and enjoy samosas and pakora with their literature.

For those of you who want one, copies of the book are available… er… on sale… um… you know….

Oh god. There go my toes again.