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Preview: Andrew Faraday Giles

Andrew F. Giles' blog (2008 - 2015)

I'm not dead, but this blog is

Updated: 2018-03-06T06:48:55.299+00:00


New website


This blog is no longer active.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

Cheers for your continued support!

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! 


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. 


'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.[...]

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.(image)



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

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. (image)

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 tomberUngrasped, all is holographic, passing near to unseen. A tissue paper proof inscribed butterfly         eye       iris       greyWe derive everything, plastic, old years streaked with paint’swatermark. Loose, diaphanous slow diamonds, dark optics ghosting around spheres of light              it doesn't matterThere's not much foundation left        chain    wind    gristleOther 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[...]

Badger Runs, holloways, stunted trees, hedgerows


I'm pretty obsessed with the badger runs that I have been finding around my family's place in North Devon.I saw a badger the other night - snuffling its way self-importantly up the road at the back of the house. Noisy. Big. On a mission. During the day time these badger runs are just mysterious portals into a netherworld I can know nothing about. I also like weeds, or plants that behave like weeds, or aliens. Along the hedgerows of Devon they look like jewels.I can't tell you the way to the badgers, but there is a beautifully-named town in the other direction. It overlooks the sea, and boats. There is a train station there. I locked eyes with a bearded Spanish man on the little train as we drew into the station the other day; he looked like he might have been a badger in another life.Opposite this sign there is a stunted tree. Badgers worship here, and pass by into the netherworld.These are old ways, after all. I've just received Robert Macfarlane's new book 'Holloway', and can't wait to read it.[...]

Really you


RoamingText messages drain the sensefrom the way the body floweredinto athelete’s limbsin finishing positions Hand-held candles are conversationsin themselves, can be heard above the busy signals, busy fingersI am a dead ringer for myself:hyper, momentarily, then quiet again, telling youyes your new jumper is really you© Andrew F Giles 2013[...]



There is sun. The corner of the wall facing me is peeling slightly. Above the scuffing is an invitation to a wedding. My speakers are covered in a slight film of dust. I have a jar of safety pins, the sign from a cask ale that reads 'Boxing Hare 4.1%/ Maxim Brewery - Spring Chocolate Ale', an empty cup, a pack of Golden Virginia, a whiteboard marker. I am surrounded by books: Carmen Laforet, Leopoldo María Panero, Proust, Blake, Pound, and a book called 'Disremembering the Dictatorship', about Spain. Then Duchamp, Bauman, Habermas, Lukács; further up poetry books - Duffy, Lochhead, Transtromer, Bukowski, Imlah - then some Iain M. Banks: he gives himself a year to live. Imlah already gone, and Donaghy. Quite a lot of writers die a bit too young. I'm reading Agatha Christie's 'The Secret Adversary', a welcome break.  Otherwise, I am listening to Keaton Henson, a lot of hip-hop, and writing. I have a poem out in the recent edition of B O D Y. About Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, scientology, Hollywood and the Real. You could see that here. All good. (image)



It's nearly the end of the year. Time has passed, as is its wont.For now, as this is likely to be my last post until the New Year, I'll leave you with the poem Andrew Motion longlisted for the Rialto prize, which is a favourite of hare-lover (and painter) Claudia Massie. This poem is also dedicated to her son, Luca.Baud is an old word for hare. When I lived on the Carse of Stirling they were my constant familiars. Here's Durer's famous 'young hare':BaudEveryday child a muckle band of bauds crouch flatly in a private ringchucking & staring across the carse, or do such strange other things now that winter is dead & their forms unfrozen. One lanky baud lopesup the tarmac & stares glassy-eyed into the fenced-off garden & mopesbefore cantering off bandy-hocked - two months before the same baudwas hungry & wistful in the heaped up snow, never closer then the fordthat crosses the old carse road a way north, cutting icy blades with his teeth.Just so the muckle band creep to the fence & when folk are within their reachrace together to a new private ring & dance outside human grasp, long legs& ears jerky like the wind that spring has quickened. Then silence. Time lags.They take to their forms, switch them daily. The private rings disperse or die& the bauds drop leverets on four feet & tell them to run. The old bauds cry& settle into their last shapes but the wee bauties scratch & gallop & grow their magic quickly, they want in to the ring; they learn to keep the secrets of air& body quiet inside, then flare sometimes blue like a harebell's autumn flame as they run with the passing ghosts that blur beside them & no-one can name.[...]

The Rialto/ Scottish Review of Books/ Literary Dundee/ Screech Owl: Autumn 2012


I recently reviewed the elegiac, mysterious 'The Old Ways' by Robert Macfarlane for the Scottish Review of Books. I explore the appearance of ghosts and the spectral nature of wayfaring that Macfarlane recognises along his way, and if you feel so inclined you could read that here.I've also got a poem coming out in Literary Dundee's most recent anthology. The Dundee Literary Festival is well worth a look - loads of interesting folk will be there, the Makar Liz Lochhead being one of them.I was inordinately chuffed to have my poem 'Baud' longlisted for the Rialto (with the RSPB) and their 'Nature Poetry Competition'. I once wrote a very rude poem about Sir Andrew Motion, so am glad he has decided my more recent poems are not quite so bad. May that never show the light of day.Grant Tarbard at The Screech Owl is already clocking up an impressive bunch of poets - George Szirtes, Rob A. Mackenzie etc. The poem I wrote for Edwin Morgan is on there now - it is called 'The Gypsy Principle'.There are a few good online poetry sites out there now - some established, some newer. Helen Ivory's 'Ink Sweat & Tears' is well-regarded, prolific and well-presented. She published my poem 'Wyoming' a while back. This is turn led me to meeting (virtually) the lovely Josephine McCorcoran who runs 'And Other Poems' - she has an ever-growing selection of excellent poetry that is well worth a look at. My 'Astrology' is also there.[...]

Magma 53


I've got a new poem in Magma 53, edited by Rob A. Mackenzie & Kona Macphee - you could buy it here if you were so inclined(image)

What a Card!


I am a massive fan of science fiction novels. One of my favourites is Ursula K. Le Guin's novel Left Hand of Darkness, which deals, in part (although in typical Le Guin style the scope is much wider) with questions of gender. The main character comes from a neuter society where gender has no bearing. I found this book incredibly enriching. Imagine my joy when The Artist, whilst turfing out books, handed me a few science-fiction novels I hadn't read (like all science-fiction readers I am a consummate geek and will usually have read the ENTIRE SERIES said book belongs to fifteen times). One of the books was A Planet Called Treason by Orson Scott Card. Imagine my further joy when the main character, a virile, war-mongering male, grows breasts and is cast out from the kingdom. I was hoping for another gender-questioning marathon to brighten my day. I haven't quite finished it yet. But whilst checking out Orson Scott Card's info online I notice his words in a recent article:"The dark secret of homosexual society -- the one that dares not speak its name -- is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally."He is a Mormon, like Mitt Romney - also 'shaky' to say the least on gay rights.  I am going to finish the book but that has sucked the enjoyment right out of it. I'm wondering if an author's opinion on social, political and cultural questions outside of their novels should really affect us as readers? It does me, I have to say. There's a anti-wideboy rap song (I forget the name) that says something along the lines of: how strange it is, that we listen to James Brown's love songs whilst he in his spare time beat the shit out of his wife (I think it sounds better rapped, but Blogger don't do sound effects). Makes you think twice about getting down to a Brown song. Ach, who knows. But if you are not put off by any of my leanings, head to the Scottish Poetry Library website and check out 'Soldier II', held by Roddy Lumsden to be one of the top twenty poems of the year. Who am I to disagree? I would like to make it clear at this point that I love ponies and rainbows, if that helps. Mr Scott Card would not approve - but Liz Tayor and Joan Collins most certainly would.[...]

Mary Beard is the Thinking Person's Thinking Person


Mary Beard is all. Samantha Brick & AA Gill - shame on you. AA Gill I met your Dad once, he was a gentleman. You, it seems, are not.(image)

A Cold Eye


Despite Scottish poet Richie McCaffrey's recent suggestion that poets should read as much poetry as possible, sometimes it is a relief to return to one solid mind, much revered, consistently instructive. Although Richie is right, of course. I especially appreciated his assertion that poets should always read and support the journals and magazines they submit to. In my guise as editor of New Linear Perspectives, I once received a submission from an American poet who shall remain nameless. Shortly after, an NLP e-newsletter was sent out, whose mailing list said poet asked in no uncertain terms to be removed from. I suggested he stay on the newsletter mailing list if he expected his poetry to be considered for publication. He sent back an e-mail in large font, blue ink, which said "Fuck you, asshole". This comment itself was poetic in its way - shame that feisty sentiment didn't find its way into his poetry.   Back to the point; one solid mind. I often return to Michael Donaghy's poetry. Gutter published my geeky paean to the man last year. He was once my teacher at an Arvon Foundation course in Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath's old place in Yorkshire. I didn't really know him, he wasn't a friend. He was like a hero at the time - I was only 15 or 16. He has become even more of a hero since, as his image grows, expands, mystifies with time. More of him in a moment.   I've been discussing with my friend the Artist the merits of activism recently. A lot of middle-class acquaintances seem to be taking the world's problems on board and saying something about it. Part of the discussion pointed toward a feeling of embarassment - an almost cringeworthy nature - to some of these outpourings from privileged westerners. However, another side of the argument centred upon righteous anger, and a feeling that there was a need to express it in some way. At the moment I feel myself leaning more towards a sensation of indignation, but the problem still remains - how to express that. Certainly, I am no political poet; the likes of the extremely erudite George Szirtes have fought for, and stand blazing, on that platform. But there is no harm in attempting to express this indignation through poetry. This all sounds wishy-washy, I know, but there is a deeply old-fashioned, very British spirit at work (perhaps even a sort of guilt) that disallows activism on the premise that is rather infra dig. De trop, as I said sniggeringly to the Artist. But it isn't really, on second thoughts, a time for sniggering. Everyone has the right to speak out. Should everyone speak out? I can't answer that question. However, poetry as an artform is bound to pose a series of questions, and create a platform at least for speculation.   Sally Evans of Poetry Scotland recently published one of my poems, about the London riots of Summer 2011. Later she sent me an e-mail suggesting I send it to Alan Morrison of The Recusant, a socialist poetry journal, who are about to release The Robin Hood Book, an anthology of poetry and writing that takes its name from the "Robin Hood Tax". He duly accepted it, and also one of my father Willie Giles' poems - he writes his 'end-of-capitalism' blog The World According to Willie here. These poems could at least be a way for 'kith and kin', as Morrison puts it, to question actions they feel may be unjust and thus place the argument in the public sphere.   Michael Donaghy wasn't a political poet either. He was too wise, perhaps. Too fun. He saw beyond mere politics to a subtler fabric that binds and undoes the universe. H[...]

Snow & Memory: Here, Boy


Aah. The log fire is burning. Monkey the cat is starting to get that look of deep bliss on her usually supercilious face. Kate Bush is singing about snow, and memory, on the stereo. I have been reading quite a lot of Spanish author Julio Llamazares' books, especially Luna de Lobos (Wolf Moon), his novel about memory and the Spanish Civil War, and his poetry La Memoria de la Nieve (The Memory of Snow). Llamazares sees snow as the embodiment of memory - fleeting, intangible, imbued with mystery. Spanish cultural memory is often represented by intangibles, especially ghosts, the spectres of trauma; Llamazares' poetic landscape of snow and ice, full of fleeting ghosts and strange codes and symbols, seems the perfect, if somewhat obtuse, reflection for Kate Bush's recent album 50 Words for Snow.   Much has been made of another 'return to form' for Kate Bush. But she has been slowly and organically evolving unlike most artists of her age. She has noticed the change in her voice, and adjusted her register accordingly. Instead of the ebullient and wilfully weird lyrics of her earlier songs, Kate Bush has become more poetic (or rather, less obvious) over the years. I especially love the new album for that ambiguous link it makes between snow and memory. She revisits earlier themes. In 'Lake Tahoe' she imagines a reflective surface (the lake) that holds the image of a woman, and the song becomes an elegy for the woman's relationship with her dog, but also her relationship with time (I especially like the subdued dog noises at the end, a nod perhaps to the frenzied barking of Hounds of Love). The people in Bush's new album are able to transcend temporal boundaries. Her duet with Elton John imagines a relationship that spans hundreds of years. Whereas previously Bush has written intensely personal songs,or songs veiled with strange imagery, here she unites the two with a thrilling concept. Snow is time. The human experience is eternal. 'Here, boy - you've come home!' she sings over the tinkling of falling snow. I may be biased. Any song that is a paean to a fine hound lost in time is a winner with me.    Like Llamazares, Bush deals in ambiguities, silences, and questions the progress of time as linear. It's easy to wax lyrical about Bush  - especially as I am a lifelong fan, and the fan sites and reviews and musings are numerous - but this album is a pleasing milestone along the progression of a singer who realises that she must grow old, that time must pass, and that change is a given. I rather like that simple truth on this album.   Anyway, that to me would be a more pleasing attitude at this time of year. Not the fanfare of capitalism, but the quiet and inexorable passing through life of individuals. The question would be - what to do in that short space of time? I've got it wrong so many times and can offer no answers here... but will continue to listen to 50 Words for Snow and try and eke out some meaning:Her eyes are open but no-one's homeThe clock has stoppedSo long she's goneNo-one's homeHer old dog is sleepingHis legs are frail nowBut when he dreams, He runs... ('Lake Tahoe')I'll hopefully have some news in the New Year. Submitted lots of new work to various competitions and magazines, and applied for my doctorate, so out of all those sent pieces of paper something should come back.It's been a beautiful year, sometimes harsh, sometimes silly, sometimes scary, sometimes shaming, sometimes joyful. I learnt shit-loads. Show yer face, 2012.     [...]

POE-NERO II/ Poetry Scotland/wrong



There is a question hanging in the air, like a rancid bird strung to a cloud. This means: the question will probably have a negative answer. Why is my Blogger page not working? I cannot add links. I'm going to kick up some stinks. It is really doing my head (in). I might go to bed, instead. Or see red. Or make someone DEAD, preferably the person who invented Blogger.

I am supposed to be telling all and sundry about the article I wrote about Panero for NLP, an article that replies to a year's worth of translators and editors and fans buzzing around the last one I wrote. But instead I am going to jump into a boat. But not gloat. (this looks pretty budget - but click on, my clickers)

I also have a poem coming out in Poetry Scotland called 'Violin'. I would provide you with a link. But you have to go and buy it - it is only £1 - and if you read my interview with doyenne of Scottish poetry Sally Evans, you'd know that. Unless you are a cat. Or a fat-cat. In which case it would not interest you at all.

Man alive! I cannot even use italics! This is making me sicks. I really want to pummel you with sticks, Google-Blogger of Despair. Like an angry dominatrix. What a fix.

It will not even let me add a photograph. I would laugh. But I won't. Instead I will fix that problem. With Balzac! Wasn't he a rotund gentleman?

Today has not gone as planned.


Gutter 05



My nod that says gracias to the great Michael Donaghy (via folksters the Unthank Sisters and Alasdair Gray's great folk novel 'Lanark'), 'Unthanks', and the poem I wrote about a weird old family heirloom, a book of Rupert Brooke poems that I found, 'Soldier II', come out next month in Gutter, the Scottish magazine of new writing.

Ambit 2011: The Youth Issue




New poems 2011: Ambit & JERRY


I've been concentrating hard on some new work this year. That's right - there are things to do apart from hare-watching and Kate Bush-lovin'! I do have a sort of day job as the editor of Scotland's online arts & culture journal (alongside visual arts editor, artist Claudia Massie) New Linear Perspectives. This year has been a magic monster-truck ride for NLP but there is a lot more to come. The submissions keep pouring in, it's a deluge I tell ye. I've put my translations of Panero's work aside for now - as I am becoming more and more involved in an academic focus on his work, I've decided to let the translations breathe awhile and come back to them at a later date. I just hope he stays put in his sanitorium until the day comes when I can let loose his wild, unfettered, genius vision on an English-speaking world.This year I've been working on my own poetry, and have six poems coming up for publication this summer. Fanfares on trumpets played by young hares have been sounding up and down the valley.The first two will appear in Ambit: the Youth Issue. Ambit to most poets is a much-loved publication, run by the indomitable Dr Martin Bax and the stage for many greats to cut their teeth - such as Carol-Ann Duffy (who later became a poetry editor at Ambit), J.G. Ballard and Eduardo Paolozzi. Take a look at the very first issue from the Summer of 1959, which Ambit have posted on their website and which includes a very entertaining foreword from Dr Bax himself. The first poem is a English-French hybrid that channels the spirit of Maigret whilst acknowledging his later, darker American inheritors. Claudia Massie (who is admittedly biased) calls it "blistering stuff, a sort of noir-hop cauchemar fantasy", which I loved. But who doesn't love a hugely exaggerated compliment from a dear friend. It's so bloody quotable it's untrue. The second focuses on Piers Gaveston, the lover of Edward II, who was given all sorts of favours by his one true love but was eventually beheaded. He is normally represented as a simpering homosexual, and it was up to yours truly to put the record straight.The other four poems will be featuring in the very excellent JERRY magazine, which is on to its third edition. It is run by Emily Wolahan (a successful poet in her own right) and Ethan Hon, and has already featured some marvellous work. I'm so delighted to be a part of it. Infact, I whooped out so loud the day the email came that the blackbirds flew from the trees like half-mad bullets trying to shoot the moon. All very poetic. Please don't quote me on that. The poems for JERRY include a whimsical imagining of the great pioneer of wildlife sound recording Ludwig Koch creeping about the set of Sally Potter's film Orlando - a very favourite film of mine. Tilda Swinton, I've been trying to get you interviewed for NLP for months. I draw a line at camping outside your house - for now. But I have an eraser. Others include a paean to another great hero, Allen Ginsberg, and a strangely musical memorial to the victims of the Japanese tsunami. I told myself for days I will not write a memorial poem but it just came out. I am pleased with it, others may not be - but, I ask you - it only lasted on the news for about a day, a much worse and less controversial incident than 9/11 but who is talking about those people now? Nobody. And still the western world bays for Muslim blood. It is at moments like these we need to turn to poetry, methinks.I've j[...]

Soup: how they roll


I am to blogging what Bono is to humble pie. Not frequent bedfellows. Sin embargo, in the spirit of Kate Bush, who has re-imagined songs from two of her albums, the blog is going to repost some poems I wrote a few years ago. They continue to amuse me and the Artist, at least. I've just been re-visiting Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate via the joys - wait for it - of an audio-book on my ipod. Only three years ago I was delighting in slipping disc after disc into my portable CD player and watching the passers-by whoop and grimace in horror and disbelief (equal amounts). Thanks to itunes I am now able to inhabit the Mitford then whilst traipsing the Scottish now; I am fully modern and laugh out loud as I loll. It reminded me of a sextet of soup-drinkers I wrote about a few years ago, thought it might be time to re-visit them too. This is the story; six dead writers eat soup. Gore Vidal isn't dead, actually, but he has always kind of acted like an aloof sort of ghost - I mean he isn't the guy you turn to for line-dancing and bourbon, and never was. I also hope he lives forever - it isn't hard to imagine a creaking, sharp-boned Gore intoning and looking markedly disinterested as the world turns. And the rest will do their thing - this, my friends, is how they roll. With soup.Ted Hughes:Cracking pepper intoBrothy depths recalls theBrackish marshy moor;Here I lie, Nature’s son,Sucking in soup and my soulAs I gulp it down, barking.Gore Vidal (no music here, just a ticking clock):This soup; my endgame, andAmerica’s last soup, embitteredWith corrupt carrots and theLast aristocrat of the modernEmpire: Me! Cold dishClutched in my cold dead hand aloneExcept for my close circle of carefully selected famous friends.I shall never speak of them.Sylvia Plath:Suppe, monstrous soup ofMy loins and one final mealBefore bed; lead – my headSwims in it:Ach suppe,You really did it this time.Patricia Highsmith:As we slice the onion, slicingBy rote – who knows why the knifeSlips to a passing throat,Ripping the jugular? Tom andI’ll consult the severedHead in the handbag, readers.Nancy Mitford:Admit, soup-making isGhastlyMindboggling and to top itAll Non-U. I ran a soupKitchen in the blitz – utterHell, too awful, and theClothes too English. Admit.Edith Sitwell (set to music as yet unwritten):You’ll remember I make soupWith the hands of a cripple; croupDictates these Elizabethan moon-boiledPoetic talons must not be soiled,But photographed.I’m not at all the type to cryBut this soup rankles. Why?[...]