Monday, 30 May 2011


This Andromeda looks a bit anxious about the Kraken

Burne-Jones paints his Andromeda fairly relaxed considering the
monster next to her. Her body language is quite flirty, obviously
Perseus is looking pretty hot whilst killing the Kraken.
Andromeda seems to be backing away in fear or is
she testing the temperature with her toes?
What a great pair of legs.
These Greek myths were just
an excuse to paint naked girls...

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Why everyone should go and listen to poetry...Hit The Ode

I went to Brum the other night to Hit the Ode at The Victoria pub, and what a fine night it was. So many vivid poets in one dark little room, it was rather splendid actually. A real buzz of excitement as each poet brought their own personality and style to the stage. Something for everyone, even people who swear they don't like poetry. I think if those people just went, brought a pint and sat back they would be amazed how words said out loud can take you places and inspire so many emotions, from elation to disgust!  Really, one poet can recite a poem that reminds me of the pain of being a teenage girl, the next can be ranting about something I want to stand up and disagree about, but both emotions are welcome : it is essential to feel vivid emotions rather than just the comfortable blandness that TV generates, so everyone should go to cafes or pubs and listen to poets. This is my new advice to those suffering boredom.

So, Hit the Ode, the open mic spots were interesting and varied. Some were hilarious, making the crowd bellow with laughter! Long Lost Frank was cocky in his delivery, confident as he performed with a pint and his queue jumping poem was spot on,  I had a massive grin on my face. I especially enjoyed Louise Stokes with her witty and effective use of accents. Ddotti Bluebell made me laugh out loud with her marvelous poem about hair. She was also great at evoking different characters through accent and mannerisms. However the poem also touched on the pressure girls feel to look beautiful and reminded me of my teenage anxieties. Very moving.

Then there were poets who made me think (cogs were whirring loudly as each line sunk in to be thought about later, did I agree or disagree and WHY?)  Laurence Inman read a cynical and comic poem about the negatives in teaching which made me chuckle, as I am about to do some work experience as an English Sixth Form teacher and I was sat next to the fabulous Fergus McGonigal, who is also a teacher. 

Mr Morrison had a laid back delivery that worked so well as it allowed the audience to absorb his words, the pauses allowed the space for it all to sink in, however I felt uncomfortable with his second poem and the view of women it contained, yet I cannot fault his performance, which was good as he didn't let a few stumbles stop his flow but carried on and held the crowd.

Now, I am not a professional review person so I don't know/ remember the names of the other open mic guys, not because they weren't any good but because my memory is limp after having three babies in quick succession. The one young girl had just won a comp and this was her first performance, she read a few poems but the third, the comp winner was very good. It was about Anna Akhmatova, the images were precise and delicate and I really enjoyed it.

Now to the headline acts...

Laura Wihlborg & Oskar Hanska:

Oskar and Laura were from Sweden and it was a real treat to hear them. They took it in turns to perform and they were like two sides of an intense coin, Laura cool, still and poised, Oskar emotional, passionate and restless. I enjoyed all their poems. Oskar's poem about the drama between lovers was full of observations that I related to instantly, but my favourite of his was the one he performed in Swedish. Incredible and mesmerising, I didn't need to know the exact when the abstract sounded so beautiful, I really loved the sound of the Swedish words.

Laura had a vulnerable, tense delivery but not nervous, it was incredibly polished and deliberate and worked brilliantly. She was kooky and I liked her surreal poetry.  Her poem about calling from hell for an airline flight was astonishing. Really brave and exciting. Likewise her poem where she used recordings when she had called travel agents to request a holiday to 'find herself' was audacious really and I loved the freaked out voice of the travel agents.

Luke Kennard

All poetry nights I have been to there is always one poem that is the stand out poem of the night and for me, at this event, it was performed by Luke Kennard. He rushed in and rushed out, he was charming and told anecdotes and went off on a tangent, all of which was entertaining but it was the poetry that was brilliant.

The last poem was in eight chapters and was about a talking wolf who moved into his flat. I have later found out that the wolf is a recurring character in his poetry books and I really want to read more of his wolf poems now. To say I like animals that talk is an understatement. I am writing my dissertation on talking animal characters in contemporary Native American fiction so the wolf character chatting to Kennard about his posh voice was not odd but my everyday reading. The dialogue between wolf and man was sharp, clever and funny.  An alter-ego to allow a polemical voice? To say the things the poet cannot? Here is a link to one of the wolf conversations discussing alter-egos, so make up your own mind about it. But go and see Luke Kennard if you can.

Adam Kammerling

Was from London and he was very talented. He performed a seriously funny poem about working in a cake shop and one about kidnapping people who do not tip. He used his whole body, face, voice to tell the stories. He raps as well as performs spoken word poems and he used his rapping expertise to parody a rap contest. Witty and perfectly performed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Part of Eve's Discussion by Marie Howe

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,
and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still
and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when
a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,
very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you
your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like
the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say,
it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only
all the time.

Photograph: Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty images


the soundtrack for today

mazzy star

Monday, 16 May 2011

This song by Smog is running through my head this morning

Let's move to the country
Just you and me

My travels are over
My travels are through

Let's move to the country
Just me and you

A goat and a monkey
A mule and a flea

Let's move to the country
Just you and me

Let's start a...
Let's have a...

My travels are over

listen to it if you like

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Bard for Worcestershire

The Worcestershire Literary Festival is proud to announce a competition to find the first ever Worcestershire Poet Laureate to be appointed during the launch night of the Festival on Friday 17th June 2011 at a prestigious event taking place in Worcester Cathedral, starting at 7.30pm.

The first Poet Laureate will be appointed for a period of one year and we are looking for someone who will be an ambassador for the County of Worcestershire, who will attend key events and write poems about special occasions throughout the year.

One day left to enter!!

Enter Here

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My poem, Hedge Brown, is included in this lovely book about Shropshire Butterflies

Come and celebrate Shropshire Butterflies - in poems, art, and real life!

Come and celebrate Shropshire Butterflies - in poems, art, and real life! The Dower House Gardens June 11th, Gardens open at midday.

You are invited to come with a picnic, chairs, rugs, cushions, family, friends.

Come at any time that suits you. From between 2 until 5 pm there will be poetry performed in the garden (or church if its raining).

There will be art from the book exhibited in the church. The book Shropshire Butterflies - a poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire will be on sale, 6 weeks before its official launch plus you can buy Katherine Swift’s books; and other books, cards, artwork by the poets and artists involved in the Shropshire Butterflies book.

Each ticket costs £5, ticket sales going to the charity - Butterfly Conservation, as is part of the money from the sale of the book. Tickets can be bought by emailing Nadia Kingsley on or on the door on June 11th, 2011.

Venue: The Dower House Gardens, Morville Hall, Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV16 5NB

Thank you to Nadia Kingsley for doing such a wonderful job of organising and editing this lovely collection of art and poems.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Virginia Woolf

"Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money."

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman."

"When you consider things like the stars, our affairs don't seem to matter very much, do they?"

"I am rooted, but I flow."

"There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, 'Consume me'."

"Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack."

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

Friday, 6 May 2011

paper is better than a kindle at poetry readings

This is a luddite post, despite being written on a laptop

but paper is great, it really is

because you can take it out of your pocket and read your poem to the audience

rather than staring at a blank screen because your kindle has failed you

I sat in audience and I felt for the poor fellow, but I did feel like shouting 'paper!' at him

Monday, 2 May 2011

staying up too late watching films I have already seen before

brooding came naturally
Gladiator, that is the film keeping me awake tonight. I thought, I'll just watch a little bit and then go to bed, but now the clock is still ticking and I am still watching. Russell Crowe is excellent in this film, so vengeful and his thighs are splendid in that gladiator skirt thing. Have a soft spot for that talented old drunk, Oliver Reed. He steals this film in only a few brief scenes.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


The only certain cure for death is sex,
All else to dusty shadows and burnt soot,
Children give endless life and few regrets.

Think, freezing yourself is too complex,
A fool's quest and you know in your gut,
The only certain cure for death is sex.

Seeking for the fountain of youth will vex,
Instead aim for that umbilical cut,
Children give endless life and few regrets.

Genes are not the only heirloom objects,
Any nurtured child continues you, but,
The only certain cure for death is sex.

Don't waste time in life forgetting the next,
Soon you will be buried in a soil rut,
Children give endless life and few regrets.

Grasp at false hope and cast spells and hex,
Years will still run and that final door shut,
The only certain cure for death is sex,
Children give endless life and few regrets.