It’s A Frame Up

Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild. £21,000,000

I am very lucky to know some very talented people. Last night I went to an art exhibition featuring the work of the Hampshire artist Sara Barnes. I often wonder what it would have been like to meet artists like Monet or Turner. Would they have reflected their rainbow of genius as they spoke of ART through the prisms of their isms?  Maybe Monet would have said “What d’ya think of these blue ones I did out in the back garden mon ami?”  Turner might have quipped “I’m trying out a few blurry ones for a change”. The living Gerhard Richter might sidle up and confide “I was doing a job round the corner and I had a few odd bits of paint left…”

What I do know is that Sara paints because she loves what she does and she loves what she sees. The result is a range of pictures that ooze and proclaim the soul of the thing itself. Trees reach up until their tiptoes ache. Poppies bawl out their redness against cornfields. Billowing cumulus cloud  pile and pile in a summer afternoon ecstasy of sun warmed human juice. I have previously described her work as poetry for the eyes and her latest show marches on down that road.

She takes on the female nude, sea-scape, landscape, collage and the odd coke can. She is a painter because she loves to paint and wants you to love it too. You can check out her gallery here. In a week when a Gerhard Richter painting Abstraktes Bild sold for £21million it was a good time to reflect on how we value art. Here are three of Sara’s paintings with haikus arising from my own responses to them.


Ground rooted longing

a calling sky infinite

soul lifts on sap wings






Warmth flowing to cold

horizon sea edge defines

thought kiss beyond mind






A wave break of sun

open yell of heat buzz joy

pulse defies harvest.


Tomorrow I’m meeting the poet Paul Tobin who is one of the star contributors to the forthcoming Gallo-Romano text/audio anthology “Freezing The Frame”. Over the next couple of weeks there will be interviews with all of the poets involved. Since I’m the editor it is all getting rather exciting…

The Poet Lorry Park Drives On.

I have been working. Poetry calls for periods of intense idleness during which I cut grass, drive lorries, fix bicycles, service cars and test the contents of corner shop beer cans for strength and quality. I talk about football and have opinions about deep or attacking mid-field play. Most of this is pure fake ( re-cycled punditry and remembered phrases) but no one seems to notice or are too polite to say. Poetry is not on the radar of my day to day life and I always feel very self conscious about being one. I think there are quite a few others who are like this.

Imagine then my disquiet at setting out to film my favourite subject (me) reading a poem in a public place where anyone could see me. At any moment some person could start pointing at me and declare that I was that old geezer who mends bikes. I bet the poetic  Greats did not have this issue. All the same, I did it and here is the result


My motivation was an invitation from Jeff Hansen to join the team on the at the Altered Scale blog. Here is the man himself talking about his creation. 

Now, for someone like me, this magazine gives me an insight into what artists are doing. The breadth of talent and imagination are staggering. Some of it is on the outer reaches of avant-garde but don’t be shy. Just relax and enjoy. A few days ago I came across Donna Kuhn on Altered Scale. Check this out.

What I love is that this kind of Art gives permissions. We are all squeezed into narrow roles of self consciousness and inhibition. Magazines like Altered Scale open up a whole new trunk. Dip in and dress up.

National Poetry Day

It has been so long since I passed by. Today is National Poetry Day here in the UK. Maybe the wider world did not know that. To be honest, I chanced to hear of it on the radio a couple of days ago. The trouble with being a poet is that I am just not engaged with the world of poetry. I used to try and even joined the Poetry Society. I joined the John Clare Society. I hung out with the National Poetry Foundation.  I went to poetic gatherings and felt entirely out of it. I used to feel as if I should be delivering the wine or looking in while cleaning the windows. I wanted to write poems that were about not being a poet. If I write anything at all which is worthy of the name poetry, it is because I do not feel like one. My ideal reader is someone who does not feel like a poetry reader. This means that my target audience is immense. As a young writer I wanted to say something profound about 10mm and 13mm spanners and their special relationship with nuts. I did not get accepted by editors but I picked up some handy car servicing work. If you are a big tough guy out there and know what I mean about the strange satisfying symmetry of those spanners please get in touch. We could create a special website.

To mark the occasion, the famous landmark advertising display at Piccadily in London  is carrying a poem by the Cornish writer Charles Causley. It is a wonderful poem and if you check out the Poetry Day web site you can see some great poems awarded prizes in honour of the event.

The only way a poet can celebrate a special poetic day is by producing a poem. I have been working in my poet’s overalls at the back of the cave on some new poems. I am compiling and editing a collection involving a number of other writers. I am so excited by the quality and range of the submissions. I’m also going to feature audio and there’s a couple of tracks that just give me a big WOW.  The great thing is that being the self appointed editor, all my stuff goes in without any tears, hate mail or counselling sessions with my rejection therapist. Just between us, I’ve been thinking of getting rid of him but I’m not sure how he will take it.  Here is my poem.


Raindrops hitting the river flow
collision of birth death,
a  coming home to die.
Identity sweeping on and away;
a fluidity of self.
Ripples spreading on
the moving face of time
reaching forward
reaching back

We watched the rain
from the river’s edge,
not lovers then,
two selves as yet
un-drowned in each other.

Let us kiss
and fall as raindrops
to be water, time and no one
but our love.