03 June 2016

New website

This blog is no longer active. You can find my new website here.

Cheers for your continued support!

26 September 2015

Louise Bourgeois at the Museo Picasso, Malaga

I have been impressed by Ms Bourgeois before, and have watched a short documentary, some time, somewhere, where Tracey Emin spends time with her at her apartment in Paris. Emin was very likeable, Bourgeois a mysterious tiny bone-built creature. The exhibition at the Museo Picasso was sensual, bloody, intimate, discomforting, funny, tragic - an absolute beaut. I went with the Esteemed Aunt and our young charge, the junior doctor, neither of whom are huge gallery fans - but they both came away with a lot to say, and much of it emotionally charged, replete, a sense that especially for the Esteemed One it had really affected her. 

Bourgeois is an intensely personal artist, and her eclectic use of texture, shape and style does not hide the pulsating, visceral, sensory explosion of her work. It was quite exhilarating. 

And of course, there were her spiders. Which I loved. But the junior doctor thought then somewhat second rate. 

I am clearly thrilled by and in awe of these marvellous insects of destiny. 

Bolaño at the Matadero, Madrid

The Swimmer and I went on a visit to the Matadero, a place I hadn't been to for years. I'd been to a rave there many years ago but since it has been so beautifully renovated I haven't. It made the Swimmer throw up her hands with joy. 

It's an incredible space and, de repente, we came across a Roberto Bolaño exhibition. I've read a few of his sprawling, over-spilling works and so far so good, but I have made a list of more to read. At the Archivo Bolaño the Swimmer and I were presented with a huge array of personal effects, pamphlets, family photos and youthful manifesti. 

It was more of a trawl and a moment to cherish the cool and quiet of the gallery in an extremely sweltering Madrid. But one thing caught my eye especially. 

I love these 'ridiculous and heroic' poets of ages past, I love the emotional plea to read, and I love this late 1970s work that was his last collection of poetry and published four years after his death, and dedicated to his son, Lautaro.  

Look after your books! Read the poets! Listen to their song! 

24 September 2015

Two heroes

When I was in Madrid I took the opportunity to greet two heroes. I stood in front of them, and thought, and said their words, and thought of friends, and smiled. With Lorca, I touched -- his spirit is strong and is very invigorating. 

                 (Benito Peréz Galdós)

Barcelona, the Jewish quarter

These few posts are just catching up on a long sojourn in Spain. My interest in Jewish history comes from two areas: firstly, because having spent so much time in Spain over the past 12 years I resent its deeply Christian-centric modern view of history; secondly, because more recently I found out that my great-great-great (and perhaps one more great) grandfather came over from Germany (Brunswick) sometime in the 1820s or 1830s. He settled in Bethnal Green and started a dynasty of cabinet makers. I went to his shop, now a house, in Bethnal Green, and it was opposite a synagogue that would have been there I think even then. I was there with the Photographer, and later he and I went to Siena, where we visited the synagogue, very near yet so far from the pomp and circumstance of the big churches and cathedrals. We loved it. So now I make more of an effort to see this side of European history. I also went to the synagogue in Córdoba. Again, quite tiny and beautiful.

The synagogue in Barcelona's Jewish quarter had such a low ceiling I had to almost crawl to enter! But it was worth it. There are also some even more ancient remains. The Sinagoga Major de Barcelona is supposed to be one of the oldest in Europe. It's medieval, as is the quarter where it is found. I was on the hunt to find out if Spinoza's father had worshipped here, but I think I was just having a daydream. Anyway, a tiny and marvellous hidden gem. 

22 September 2015

'collared dove / a browncream flutter'

This blog's been having a rest. Time compressed itself, then expanded out, and then dimmed - but the blog was here all the time, or at least hanging in a virtual cloud, waiting for me to come back. Where have I been? What have I done? 'What is illuminated – where is it I see, the collared dove / a browncream flutter in the peripheral – / on gazing upon the lion on its column & the town’s/ squat gate, with the arrow loops?' Is that a horse, cantering furiously in the corner of my eye? Or have I got an eye-twitch? Why is my music suddenly silent, as if a tiny elf had slipped under the table and cut the wire to the machine? Why is one of Francis Bacon's half-faced popes blazing a trail into my brain? Why is Henry Miller's 'work schedule 1932-1933' such a crucial part of my daily ritual? Why is my garden full of spiders? Why did I swear at my laptop yesterday? How can two brands of camomile tea have such different flavours? Why do I still love that t-shirt with the otter on, even though said otter has faded and now resembles a penis? Is that penis the true symbol for what the otter thought it represented? Am I a cock? Where is my music? Where is that bloody elf? 

I'm really sorry I can't answer any of these questions.
I can, however, offer you a few morsels of poetry to keep you feeding at this trough of shame. I had one of my poems published at New Boots and Pantisocracies, which is Andy Jackson and Bill Herbert's post-election poetry project, which has now grown legs like a caterpillar and marched well past the one hundred days it allotted to itself. You can read 'Masters' here. I also wrote a poem for Jack Thacker and his project at the University of Bristol, about a seedy bath-house that would have been outside Bristol city limits when it is set, in Coleridge's time. If you want to read that you will have to download the app, which is a rather marvellous state of modern affairs, and is called 'Romantic Bristol: Writing the City', which you could download for your smartphone here. I also wrote a review of Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson's collection #UntitledOne, which is a collection of Neu Reekie's finest moments, for Sabotage Reviews. I also wrote an article for the trailblazing journal that Kevin Williamson is involved with called Bella Caledonia. That article is called 'Franco's Face' and you can read it here.
Should have some more poetry news soon - and some readings. Will keep my huge and constantly transmogrifying readership posted. Don't go asking too many questions.

15 September 2014

Be The First To Like This anthology

Check out the new anthology Be The First To Like This (Vagabond Voices) featuring Michael Pedersen, Richie McCaffrey, Niall Campbell, Theresa Munoz, Janette Ayachi, me and others.

12 March 2014


My poem 'Munich', about Unity Mitford & Hitler, at Janette Ayachi's Undertow Review here.

that is the direction this is the decision

Jovanotti - La Linea D'Ombra

La linea d'ombra la nebbia che io vedo a me davanti per la prima volta nella vita mia mi trovo a saper quello che lascio e a non saper immaginar quello che trovo mi offrono un incarico di responsabilità portare questa nave verso una rotta che nessuno sa è la mia età a mezz'aria in questa condizione di stabilità precaria ipnotizzato dalle pale di un ventilatore sul soffitto mi giro e mi rigiro sul mio letto mi muovo col passo pesante in questa stanza umida di un porto che non ricordo il nome il fondo del caffè confonde il dove e il come e per la prima volta so cos'è la nostalgia la commozione nel mio bagaglio panni sporchi di navigazione per ogni strappo un porto per ogni porto in testa una canzone è dolce stare in mare quando son gli altri a far la direzione senza preoccupazione soltanto fare ciò che c'è da fare e cullati dall'onda notturna sognare la mamma... il mare. 
Mi offrono un incarico di responsabilità mi hanno detto che una nave c'ha bisogno di un comandante mi hanno detto che la paga è interessante e che il carico è segreto ed importante il pensiero della responsabilità si è fatto grosso è come dover saltare al di là di un fosso che mi divide dai tempi spensierati di un passato che è passato saltare verso il tempo indefinito dell'essere adulto di fronte a me la nebbia mi nasconde la risposta alla mia paura cosa sarò dove mi condurrà la mia natura? La faccia di mio padre prende forma sullo specchio lui giovane io vecchio le sue parole che rimbombano dentro al mio orecchio "la vita non è facile ci vuole sacrificio un giorno te ne accorgerai e mi dirai se ho ragione" arriva il giorno in cui bisogna prendere una decisione e adesso è questo giorno di monsone col vento che non ha una direzione guardando il cielo un senso di oppressione ma è la mia età dove si sa come si era e non si sa dove si va, cosa si sarà che responsabilità si hanno nei confronti degli esseri umani che ti vivono accanto e attraverso questo vetro vedo il mondo come una scacchiera dove ogni mossa che io faccio può cambiare la partita intera ed ho paura di essere mangiato ed ho paura pure di mangiare mi perdo nelle letture, i libri dello zen ed il vangelo l'astrologia che mi racconta il cielo galleggio alla ricerca di un me stesso con il quale poter dialogare ma questa linea d'ombra non me la fa incontrare. Mi offrono un incarico di responsabilità non so cos'è il coraggio se prendere e mollare tutto se scegliere la fuga od affrontare questa realtà difficile da interpretare ma bella da esplorare provare a immaginare cosa sarò quando avrò attraversato il mare portato questo carico importante a destinazione dove sarò al riparo dal prossimo monsone mi offrono un incarico di responsabilità domani andrò giù al porto e gli dirò che sono pronto a partire getterò i bagagli in mare studierò le carte e aspetterò di sapere per dove si parte quando si parte e quando passerà il monsone dirò levate l'ancora diritta avanti tutta questa è la rotta questa è la direzione questa è la decisione. 

27 November 2013

Ungrasped, all is holographic

Busy times. I gave a paper at the Bristol Poetry Institute's 'Translating Poetry: the Impossible Art' at the University of Bristol, organised by poet Rachael Boast and the University's Danny Karlin. It was a great event and some great papers were given. It was fascinating to watch Don Paterson in conversation with Robert Vilain, and other appearances from David Harsent, Sean O' Brien and Landeg White. A very eclectic conference with a nice feel that it wasn't purely academic but had a public and accessible face. I think the BPI will push this aspect of themselves over the coming months and years. It was also good to continue spreading the work of Leopoldo María Panero.

As usual, I drift through the cold with hardly a sense of myself, but there are intense flashes of light, innumerable glories, strange silences and muddled expression to be pondered. I stole the title from Balzac - cheers Honoré!

…de plâtras incessament près de tomber

Ungrasped, all is holographic, passing near to unseen.
A tissue paper proof inscribed butterfly         eye       iris       grey

We derive everything, plastic, old years streaked with paint’s
watermark. Loose, diaphanous slow diamonds,
dark optics ghosting around spheres of light              it doesn't matter

There's not much foundation left        chain    wind    gristle
Other visuals: bow-shaped accumulations of water to luminous arabesques of bone

strange latitudes, subsumed whorls. Progress is diagonalized,
whacked out of its plane                                                         a mimic.

O navigation. Bodies fat with water - fitful, vagrant potential                      as in sleep