Poet in Reticence


Oscar’s back!

Last time I was here was November 2014. Since then I’ve been holding it all in like the south heading entrails of my lifetime’s vanity. Guys – poetry and gravity never relent. In the end you have to breathe out, express the urgent bulge of the soul. It’s only poetry so it’s only us who’re gonna notice. You can wear the same waist size – just lower with more over the top honesty. Only the true poets will spot the inversion of dispersion.

And, I’ve got a job. I’m a poet in residence. I’m dressing up and pushing it out on the wham bam instagram at the Virtual Book Café. It’s a run-down-up-town kinda place where the glitzy-glam-slam’s just walking by but the perfume tempts just long enough to hit the membranes of the poetic underclass. And you know who you are. And I’ll sure know who you are.

I need your lips to frame your clips. I’ve put up some footage in mouthage to give you a steer if not quite a bulletin. Sit with an accomplice in your current  café venue or capture the moment itselfie  or just one off the shelf behind the counter. I’m looking for that left bank feel of ristretto  incision or smooth latte reflection.

Do you wanna hang out?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/virtualbookcafe/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VirtualBookCafe/

Twitter: @VirtualBookCafe


Lyrical Salads

A while ago I was listening to a learned radio programme about the ground-breaking publication of “Lyrical Ballads” by Wordsworth and Coleridge, thus kicking off the Romantic Movement in poetry. In those different times, the two young poets wandered off into the wilds, in full poetic flow, discussing art, beauty and philosophy. They needed some cash and brought out a book to fund the trip. Somehow it seems that those opportunities have gone. Even if one did wander poetically and bring out a book of poems, there would be little chance of main stream publication and even fewer people to read it. I suspect that these days the poets would have filmed themselves for You tube with Coleridge hamming up the Ancient Mariner in full Caribbean pirate flow, hoping to go viral. Wordsworth would be tweeting  – “Just seen river near Tintern #mortality #pantheism.”

In that case very little has changed. Although I have never invited poets to wander off with me, (not even the pretty ones), the internet has allowed me contacts, stimulation and influences beyond anything available to the Great and the Dead. A while ago, an American poet Jefferson Hansen mailed me a copy of a small book entitled “The Branded Woman & Other Poems” ( This gentleman had already deranged my satisfied sense of music by introducing me to a band called “Purgatory Hill” play it LOUD!). Inside the book of poems was an invitation to recite them and so I have chosen one called “The Meditating Cougar”. You can hear it here. It is one of those poems that is about nothing much in so far as suffering, chance and mortality are not about anything much. The language is plain and poses no barrier to a reader also just idling in neutral, our own food chain hidden from view, sanitized and packaged. It is a poem that raises the question of determinism and causality in a quiet flat tone that hides the claw hammer of time striking the bell of chance. If that last sentence sounds out of place it is because I am also thinking of another poetic wanderer who has turned up in my cyber salon.

This week, another American poet Jo Von Bargen has published a collection of some of her work “It Ain’t Shakespeare But Oh, How it Glows” which I had the pleasure to review. Whilst Jeff Hansen’s poem is bare of image, JVB’s work is a feast of imagery. I have written of her before and often one of her phrases pops into my idling consciousness. In her poem “Hissing Like Fire” she also chooses a moment from the unscheduled natural world. As an experiment I have recorded it as both a complement and a contrast to the first poem. You can hear it here. I do not think either of these writers belong to a “movement”  as such. The internet has no manifesto but infinite manifestations. Perhaps we are at the dawn of “Manifestism”. I feel so lucky to be here.

I have always needed to read poems aloud in order to come to terms with them. It is a process something like peeling an orange as if you had never seen inside one before. Even then – do you understand an orange? Poets send off their little poem creatures as if into a river – perhaps flowing on to the ocean, catching up in an overhanging branch or circling in an eddy. Some may sink dead for a thousand years until some silt bed dries and a tiny body becomes a treasure. A poem with truth from the polished or the rough hewn hand has an ever enduring voice.

I had a big sky day this week. I was doing some familial child care on a windswept beach, conscious that I had written so little of late. I wanted to do a perfect classic Haiku but in the end I just did what I did. It’s legitimacy is simply that I was there and I needed to justify being one of those old guys mumbling to themselves.

Dome sky stretching day

My thoughts fly out to fill you

But you fill me first.

The Trouble With Sparrows

I’m having trouble with a sparrow. A male has got his eye on a nesting box on the house wall. Before he can move in, he has to establish rights to his territory. This means that the huge flock of other male sparrows who live in the lounge window have to be destroyed. The poor thing constantly sees his own reflection and hurls himself against the invisible barrier. My heart flooded with poetic sympathy and I now live in a dark cave, having covered the window. Seeing the frantic creature reminded me of my own attempts to find agents and publishers. Then, one day as I battered against the glass, the window flew open and I hurtled into the Universe of Amazon. It is rather like that old fashioned night time universe, but the dark matter is darker and the stars burn out with every new algorithm. At the centre there is the Black hole of the Trolls who have so much gravity and density that no one has found a way of  packaging it for sale. I wanted to be the first to review but the force sucked the words off the screen.

I have two bird boxes. One is a mark 1 model which is simply a home for birds. The other is a News International bird box which has been bugged with secret cameras. So far there seems to be far more interest in the original model. Please birdies – I only want to see the timeless wild struggles of Nature on TV with my remote control and a glass of beer. Please fly in.

A letter arrived. Given the recent spate of geriatric mail shots I was expecting some advice on incontinence. But No! Wait – I have won a major international prestigious poetry competition. I gasped and looked round for any incontinence info. No – it’s true and I did it all without entering. It’s a vanity scam of course. Kafka saw it all coming you know.

I did enter a competition. It was some kind of poem to make London laugh – but I was beaten by Prime Minister’s Question Time. Somehow my name and the address of the poet’s cave fell into the grasping claws of the World Poetry Movement who want to give me the recognition I crave in a leather bound coffee table. I kid you not. My special edition will be produced in this format. My coffee table will be called “Stars in Our Hearts”. The real issue here is that this reveals the extent to which every thing is for sale. I entered a competition in good faith and my details are shuffled off to some hovering hawks who know the struggles of a poor sparrow against the merciless window of fame, adulation, incontinence and supermarket lager.

Soon I’m going to write a poem, although it might be a story. I have been reading a new collection of short stories by an accomplished writer Claude Nougat. The book is called “Death on Facebook” and is very much of our age. Here are the Amazon links. For the next couple of days it is free!

Amazon USA       Amazon UK    Amazon Germany    Amazon France   Amazon Italy   Amazon Spain

The Poetic Truth

How exciting it must be for you, dear readers, to see that I am opening this blog with some statistics: poetry sales in the UK amount to less than 2 per cent of the market. If you take out the “dead poets”, the genius of rhyming comedy, Pam Ayres  and the anthologies such as “A Thousand Poems about Cats”, you are left with very little indeed. The marketeering literatti place the average reader of poetry in the over fifty age bracket. My revolutionary scheme to provide a book of poetry with every new pair of spectacles has so far not yet been approved by parliament. Opponents suggest that this would deter people from attending eye tests.

Now, far greater minds than mine receive money to write about all this, bemoaning attention spans, social media and “uncultured” education in schools. Of course, some of this might be true but there could be other reasons. This is my list:

Visibility. Out of sight is out of mind. In my youth I used to race bicycles. Once a rider gets away and round a bend and disappears it does not matter how hard you try. That thread of awareness has snapped. Once a generation loses contact with an element of culture it has no continuance. Country dancing, croquet, smallpox and the eating of rabbits ( in the UK) have all gone that way.

Now, I hear you say – you promised a nice juicy list. Well, just be grateful that I keep my lists short. VISIBILITY is the entire issue. No one will like every poet. Having rubbed shoulders with some real “up the backside” airy fairy poets I can report that I have not liked many of them. My favourite poet is an Indie like me.  Poetry has machine gunned itself in the feet and both legs with its inaccessible elitism. Dear old Pam Ayres, Benny Hill and popular music composers have kept the comatosed patient alive in the public mind. Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond et al have done more to keep the concept of poetry alive than any poet laureate. We poets must remember that this is a world where in many households either a stereo playing music or a TV playing across 300 channels occupies the whole environment while anyone is awake. It has been a revolution that the “Greats” could not have shouted down. OK Mr Tennyson – your friend died and you wrote a poem – so what? There’s been 4 murders and a car crash since lunch time on channel 18 and no one is writing a soppy poem about that!”

My own view is that poets have still got the guns. They have the ristretto fix in the internet café. The new media of music and video mix is there to be taken. Folks may never again sit under the summer boughs with a book of verse. They will pick up a phrase or an idea if it is delivered to their antennae and we fellow poet citizens of that same world put it there for them.

And the point is…
My poetry collection “I Threw a Stone” is FREE on Amazon this weekend, Sat 28th and Sun 29th January. It is available in Kindle format and has an active table of contents (so you can skip between poems). It also includes a link to a FREE MP3 audiobook – with all the poems read by me.  This can be played on your Kindle too – so you can read or just sit back and listen.  For a sample click here.

Roll up, roll up get your free poetry here……
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Watch the video trailer for ‘I threw a stone’