Flash Words – A New Collection From Paul Tobin

Taunton Fest 8.11.14

Nothing flash. Nothing but the poetry, the whole poetry and nothing but the poetry

It’s been nearly two years since I felt I had anything to add to the mania of colliding digitalia we have created for ourselves. Single issue mobs of panic stricken petitioners charge up and down the decks of our suffering steamboat shrieking their shallow formulated brands of SOS messages. A million tweeters rocket celebrity tinsel and cute kittens into an ever accelerating particle belt of orbital noise, superficial synthetic outrage or nano second joy. And it never pauses or stands back from itself. If it did; it would stop. It won’t.

Imagine then the joy of picking up a book of poetry conveying the commanding calmness of a poet reaching an important maturity. Now, come on – no poet thinks he/she is important. What an odd word to choose. Yet, for me “Flash words”,  the new collection by Paul Tobin is important in that it defines where we are and hammers down a marker of sincerity. Paul’s work isn’t showy. His style is flat like a plate of steel. His words slot in like rivets – the right degree of hardness, a tight push fit. It is a poetry made with hand tools, some worn eccentrically to impart the hand that holds it, the mind that knows the feel and balance of its task. There is no machine welding – some seams are left un-filed. There are no nods at fashion. Each poem gets the shape it has arrived at so far. In twenty years he might go back to it. Poems finish off poets. No poet ever finished off a poem.

I read Paul’s first collection “Blessed By Magpies” some time ago and invited him to join a group of international poets in “Freeze Frame“, a text and audio anthology I was editing with a view to promoting the spoken realm of poetry. Since then I have read his contribution to “Juncture 25” which show cases the work of a group of West Country poets.  Unlike me, he exposes his work in progress for critique on his blog “Magpie Bridge“. Brave man indeed.

Taunton Fest 8.11.14 003

Paul has a thing about magpies and all things black and white

Yet I was not prepared for “Flash Words”. His work has overflowed the previous vessels. Added to his blunt observation of unvarnished life in such poems as “Man Shaves The Head Of His Monkey” there is now a deep sensuality. In “Cherry Picking” we arrive at a “dark sweetness that longs to tear its skin”.  Time and time again his poems feel for a metaphysical pattern such as in “End Of The Line” and in “The Birds Return”. In the latter migrating birds arrive. The poet says “You have no say”. It is a thought to fill at least a day unless of course one had already thought it. In my 65 summers, I had not. Many of his poems mature in the mind overnight and I suspect many 4.am contemplations. Referring again to “End Of The Line” it was only now as I write that I saw the continuum from the process and vocabulary of production to the process of the “end”.

In “Tipping Point” the pasting up of a poster becomes a metaphor for the failure of our materialism to adhere properly to our souls. How delicious to contemplate this issue in terms of “friction of the paste”, and “cumulative capillary power of the water”. I won’t say anything more about this poem because I want you to read it.

Only Paul Tobin could conceive a poem about “1979: A Typical Friday On Top Of The K Unit Dechlorinator.”  Working men’s hands are on tools and equipment. Human minds populate an industrial landscape. A “bursting disc”, “a deluge valve” and others form the proud esoteric jargon of unfashionable forgotten men, bleached out by the clean glamour of  digital wealth and un-scarred hands.

“Flash Words” contains a body of poetry only possible from the mind of a lifelong poet. The range and scope are those of an accomplished thinker. Poem after poem convey a preparedness to hide nothing – not the meaning when it would seem cleverer, nor the emotion when it would be easier to pull out of the dive.  I know poetry does not sell so I urge you to buy this book and savour it. If no one buys it, it will matter only to those who miss the chance. To quote the poet himself, the “Ice has been scribbled on the inside of your window”.

I am so happy to have this book here on my desk. It won’t be going anywhere else. All of us held in the gravity of poetry may sometimes dream of weightless flight or migration to some richer planet with paved roads and rules of law. Then we read a poet and know we can never escape. Paul Tobin is that very thing that no man can call himself without some doubt in his heart. It is the gift of others to call a man a poet. All other prizes are baubles and mortality.

Freeze Frame Anthology – Published

Santa maybe

Santa may-be

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a reasonably serious old bloke who has scribbled poems for about 50 years. Finding myself posing in a Santa hat holding a Kindle Fire device for a picture to be captioned with punny quips made me wonder if I had lost the plot. If I appear disrespectful to poets and poetry I do apologise. O brave new world that has such peep-shows in it. Such is the circus of the modern book world. Apparently some fiction writers are so busy on the road that all their stuff is done by ghost writers. Seemingly it’s the brand that matters. It seems incredible to me. Perhaps I won’t beat myself up over the Santa hat. If it makes poetry more accessible and unstuffy then it has to be a Google plus. I defy anyone to ghost write in the style of any of the six Freeze Frame writers.

Far more importantly, the book is out there and up on Amazon. It was delivered without anaesthetic during the night, about 24 hours premature but at a good weight and with powerful voice. This is not the end of course but at least everything is all together and in one place. The stars are the poets who had enough faith in me to join in and risk all to be part of the Freeze Frame project.

Tomorrow evening 1800 hours UK (GMT)  – 12 noon USA EST – there will be a launch party at which all can meet the poets. There will be readings and comments and hopefully a few silly hats.  This takes place on Facebook with a live link to a Google+ ‘Hangout’ – you can watch us all having our virtual champagne and reading a selection of poems from the collection.  Here’s the link:

Stop the world – FREEZE FRAME – it’s the launch party!

Find the book here:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Amazon Germany
Amazon France
Amazon Italy
Amazon Spain
Amazon Japan
Amazon Brazil

Ho Ho Ho!

Shore Thing

That’s done it then! My e book “I Threw A Stone” is out there. They pushed the button last night for the Amazon Kindle  launch and on the basis of two promo sales, I zoomed into the charts at No 42 ahead of some guys called T.S.Eliot and Shakespeare. Now look chaps, try not to get too fed up. There’s loads of writer support groups out there for when you’ve had a bad day. I think I’ve slithered down the ratings now to a depth from which you cannot ascend without a decompression chamber. I am pleased with the presentation of the book. I am hoping that by adding a free audio file that some extra value can be bounced out of the poems. When I read poetry to myself from a book I try to imagine how the writer would have stressed different words. When I go to poetry readings and “performance” events I find that the jingle jangle jostle often defeats my concentration. The judges of course are you ladies and gentlemen who doubtless will be jamming the servers at Amazon as you tear one another to shreds in the lunge to get your copies. This e publishing business has had the effect of winkling me out of my taciturn shell-back  life style. I have found myself performing all sorts of media pirouettes that I would not have imagined possible. In order to do the book trailer I ended up on the sea-shore at Barton on Sea. It is great fun of course and ego-massaging to be the centre of attention. If I’m honest I know that for me creativity does not flow from “performance”. You can see my starring role here.

In this new world of e books and tweets  I do wonder if the media  mincer will allow the whole writer to carry on. The traditional poetic wanderer, stamping the hills and staring out of windows in seedy cafes must still exist. I guess guys like that are not exactly publisher’s PR material. Many of them have smelly feet and ask you for a coin or two for a cup of hot whisky. I am so lucky in that I have my partner, Jill and the technical know how of Gallo-Romano Media. I’m a shambolic old duffer with a pencil. I get so frustrated with all these computers. Sometimes I just start shouting “Control alt number lock 467” and I don’t care who hears me. Apparently it’s very rude. I said it once to a nine year old I.T professor and he nearly died. Here are some links to my book. For Amazon UK here. And for Amazon US here.

As I have said already, the main point of this collection is that it comes with a free 45 minute MP3 audio album. If you buy the book you can easily get the audio onto your Kindle.  There is a web address in the book that you type onto your computer, this downloads a file containing the album.  Connect your Kindle via its lead to your computer and copy the contents of the album into the Kindle Music folder. You can then listen to me performing the poems whilst you follow the words. Gallo-Romano Media commissioned a young talented musician to compose and perform a piece for the title poem – which appears on the trailer and the full album.

Thank you to everyone for everything.  I am now going back into my poet’s cave with my pencil…