Saturday 23 October 2010

Almost at an end.

But hopefully this doesn't mean the end of productivity!

It's been brilliant having some dedicated time to think about my writing - and also having the space to spread 45 poems all out over the floor without having to move them to go to sleep or let other people use the space. I've been wandering over them clutching a cup of fresh coffee and speaking them outloud to the pond. It feels very indulgent to walk about in socks in my warm little cube, pondering the best order for my poems to go in, and editing ones that aren't quite working, and taking some time just to look and watch through the two sets of french windows. I saw a woodpecker yesterday, a great spotted woodpecker I think, and some sort of bird of prey swooping very low over the site today, flustering the resident crows and jays into an awful lot of noise.

It's going to be hard getting home and having to go back to work - though talking to the other writers here makes me realise how lucky I am to work where I do. It's amazing what people have to put up with in order to make space for time to write, and I feel disproportionately privileged to be where I am, so at least that's nice. There are so many hours in the day that could be spent writing, though, and that's a difficult thing to lose now I've realised I am actually capable of sustaining creativity for a prolonged amount of time.

Saying that, when left to my own devices in the evening the other day, I did go to bed at 10.30pm. 10.30! Ha... that's very early indeed. I think it's got something to do with the lack of noise and telly, how I haven't missed telly! (Though I am looking forward to catching up with tonight's Strictly, Casualty, and Merlin. And this week's Holby City. Oh dear. I shouldn't have started thinking about it.) Radio 4, however, I have missed. The radio I brought with me doesn't like to find radio stations, so to stop myself having to listen to white noise, I've been downloading Radio 4 podcasts... and not enough programmes have podcasts!

Anyway, yes. Going on a retreat is a marvellous thing to be able to do, and I would recommend it to anyone who writes/paints/sculpts/draws but who doesn't normally have the time at home to pursue it for a number of days. Even staying this one week has improved my poems no end - especially with Polly's guidance and encouragement - and made me much more confident in what it is I'm trying to say. And much  enthused about the possibilities for saying it. And, perhaps most importantly, almost convinced that other people might be interested in hearing it.

So, I'm going to go back to it for the rest of the day, and try to write a poem on the theme of 'naked' for a zine I'd like to be involved in. There's been a lot of editing and reading aloud, but not that much writing this week. This is good, as it's what I was aiming for, but it would be nice to have a couple of new poems to take away with me too. Wish me luck!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

I am here. I am writing. I have run.

So things are going pretty well, really. I've had my first meeting with Polly and it seems like my work has enough going for it to carry on... and that I've already been doing all of the usefully organised things like entering competitions (Picador Poetry Prize... fingers crossed) and sending work to magazines and collating work into pamphlet as well as collection form. I'm still not sure how to progress in approaching publishers, but I think it means being very selective and reading their back catalogues (more than I already do) in order to find a place where I think I might fit in, should they choose to take me on (fingers crossed). This is opposed to the scattergun approach to submissions, which I think can work against you.

There are just so many other super-dooper poets out there. It is a little alarming to think of all the other people doing scarily similar things to me and keeping their fingers similarly crossed for exactly the same things. It's a wonder any of us gets anywhere, really.

The cube is a super place to sit and work, anyway, and highland cows keep wandering past my window, drinking at the pond or ripping up great mouthfuls of grass with their surprisingly powerful tongues. A duck had a little fishing expedition on the water this morning, too, and I'm sure I can see frog noses or something popping out every now and then. There are a couple of beautiful jays flying about as well. Just enough excitement to keep me from going mad with isolation, but not enough to distract me from the creative pursuits which brought me here in the first place. Excellent.

My first frost of the year was experienced this morning, and I made myself run out in it in order to get the full experience of being present in my surroundings. I think it worked. Today has been my most productive so far, though I have a niggling feeling that I'm coming down with some sort of chesty cough. More fingers crossed for that one, though they're crossed for the negative rather than the positive this time.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Oh questions. Poemy questions.

Okay, so when I decided to go on a Fielding Programme retreat, I thought great. Some time away to work on my collection. I'll have all my poems, and I'll edit all the ones I don't hate, and something will emerge. I do still think this, but it's dawning on me how much work editing actually is - and why I go to such seemingly great lengths to avoid doing it, without even realising until hindsight kicks in. I am more than a little daunted about sitting in a room with Bookbook and 'putting a collection together'. I actually have no idea what this actually, minute-to-minute, involves.

Also, I have questions. Questions that I know don't really have definitive answers. Like, what's the deal with adding new poems? When is it too late to add new ones, which haven't had as much time as the others to settle and mature? Does it run the risk of becoming disjointed, if you keep old ones as well as adding new? Does anyone's voice really change enough for anyone but the author themselves to notice? Should I just save new ones for the next collection? What if I want some of the poems to be gathered together in subject-matter in a pamphlet-length collection? Should I try and get something like this published before a collection? Is it okay to have poems in both?

I'm sure Polly will be able to help with these questions, but for now I feel like I'm about to leap into some sort of poemy abyss of indecision. I guess I'll have to have a good go at discovering my own answers to these questions next week, even if it's just for the sake of getting my money's worth. I am taking my running shoes, and my swimming costume (in case there are any tempting-looking lochs and half-decent weather) for physical, worthwhile thinking-time distraction. And my camera, for non-related creative distraction.

And Teach Yourself Writing Poetry - just in case.

Friday 8 October 2010



Here I am again, full of apologies again, but this time for a much bigger gap. I have been contemplating what to do with this blog, as it has recently come to my attention that some competitions and publications see previous publication of poems on a personal blog as disqualifying them from consideration. This is a problem, as I'm sure you can imagine, as there's no point in writing a load of poems and then not being able to send them anywhere (not that success and acceptance is usual, but you can't live your life so pessimistically that you don't take these things into consideration!)

So. What to do with a creative blog that I can't really post poems on any more? Yes. Well. This is the question. As you can probably tell, I haven't actually come up with an answer to this dilemma, so here the blog remains.

I am going on a retreat at The Fielding Programme in a week or so, so perhaps I could blog about the process of trying to put a collection together whilst staying in the beautiful surroundings of Cove Park?

Perhaps you would be interested in hearing of my new barefoot running addiction? No? Can't say I blame you. (My new shoes are the coolest though. Really.)

How about I ditch it all and you follow me on Twitter? (@sophiefbaker). Hm, I don't like that idea. 

I think the creative process could be interesting for me to write about - mostly because I struggle with it a lot - and really, that's what this is about, isn't it. Self indulgence. So that's what I'm probably going to descend into, with the occasional poem or notes. I hope that's okay.

Thursday 29 July 2010

It's been wild.

And the aftermath of winning an award has been extremely strange. I've been in Culture Magazine! And I'm in it again! And I've bought a netbook (Bookbook to its friends)! And I'm going on an Arvon course! And I'm going to the Fielding Programme for a week in October!

And yet, and yet.. the writing is still going too. Miraculous, non?

And I know I haven't shared any here, but it's all getting a bit crazy, so I'm not sure what to make of my poems at the moment. Clearly my own opinion of my work is worth virtually.. nothing. I never expected to be in this position... yet here I am. And it is still as embarrassing and marvellous as the minute I found out.

I promise I'll post some soon.


Friday 25 June 2010

Well crikey.

I am humbled, and slightly embarrassed, but this is my writing blog so I guess it's okay to post this here...

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Noodley noodley noodley noodley noodley

I have just been reminded of how much fun this is to say. Try it. Go on. No-one's listening, I promise. In fact, keep saying it, over and over, until you get lost in a brain loop cul-de-sac and can't get out. Fun, innit!

More people should do with this poems. In fact, next time you read one you like, make sure you read it aloud to yourself; try a 'poetic' voice, then your normal voice. Try emphasising the line breaks.. then the rhymes (or resonances).. then nothing at all, and just saying it as if it's something you're just saying.

Do you like poems? Try this: Poem-a-Day. Does what it says on the tin. With really good ones. You might find one you want to read to the room on there.

There was an Alice in Cumberland party last Friday. I was dressed as a Momerath. Not that you could tell. Those there are my legs on the left.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Readings readings...

Well May was obviously a quiet month after the splurge that was April, but here I am back after doing a real, actual, live reading at Free as a Bard at the coast (Trojan Rooms, Whitley Bay) last weekend. Needless to say, I survived the experience - it's been a long time since I got up and poemed in front of an audience - and live to write another day.

Ah yes, writing. Well, I don't have anything new to share with you at the moment, as I've been concentrating my creative efforts mostly on redrafting and organising poems which already exist (not least a couple of the worthwhile ones from NaPoWriMo). I have, however, done a little bit of photography here and there (which you can follow in full at my Flickr account). So in the tradition of Catalogue25, when I would quite often share an image with you instead of writing a poem, here is one I made earlier.

On a slightly different note, I do blog a little more regularly over at the Mslexia blog, should you ever be in the need of a few handy writing links, or a glimpse into Mslexia office gossip...

Wednesday 5 May 2010


That was a very intense month for poetry! I did enjoy myself, though. There's nothing quite like the pressure of one-a-day to blow cobwebs through the writing muscles. Those metaphors don't work together. Maybe I've worn myself out, imagistically.

Anyway, it did enough to get me thinking about my pamphlet, and I've moved beyond thinking about it into the realms of doing something about it. So... give me a few more months and I might have something to work with! You never know, it might even include one or two of the new ones written in April..

In the meantime, I don't have anything else to share yet. But uh, watch this space? I guess?

Friday 30 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #30 - It's too dark for cats

It’s too dark for cats

Eiders were an answer in the crossword today
and I remembered ducks and how they shout with every wingbeat
as if protesting their innocence to the air. And then I looked them up
and we are their predators along with peregrine falcons
who don’t use their feathers for duvets, but may do for nests.

I’ve seen a lot of ducks around lately, and have even sought them out.
I’ve laid trails of grain to attract them, and taken photo after photo of them sleeping.

Thursday 29 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #29 - How to be a fashion designer

How to be a fashion designer

Take in all the angles, by which we mean those of limbs
as well as light. Infringe the privacy of anyone you can
with their measurements. Reach a deal with the sky –
it has your career in its sights. Record colours you feel
as abstract feelings and tantalising flavours of macaroon.
Remember the best temperature of the year. Aspire to it.

Don’t let the body be recovered, even after many years,
and make sure any memoir is frayed. We are not saying
you must control what it is of you that’s seen,
but you must control what it is of you that’s seen.
Blurry is better, but keep the material in sharp relief
on other people’s tits. Don’t be afraid. Cut, cut, cut.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #28 - Phone calls

Phone calls

It was not busy as we talked, and no-one could hear
save you, who stood with one eye on duty and one on me,
your face filling up with concern. You were not the first

I had told but the third, and this was reflective
of where you stood with your back to the room
and your two feet still on the wooden floor.

Excitement filled my lungs almost as quickly as the words
on the cool night air as I walked home alone, one ear
on the chatter of a homecoming, one on the swish of trees

Tuesday 27 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #27 - I spend National Tapir Day at a zoo...

I spend National Tapir Day at a zoo, but do not realise the significance of the date until I get to the tapir enclosure late in the day.

There was never any question of the shape of their snouts but
as a flexible version of a nose
perfectly at odds with their surprising heft,
it does not seem unreasonable of me to
require a demonstration before I leave. None is forthcoming,

though the creatures are less than a metre
away and there is
plenty of food for them to be snuffling out
in this sorry excuse for a tapir

Monday 26 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #26 - Possession


I woke to the news that you’d given your parrot
to the gas-man. The only impact left to me
is other people’s reaction to the news.

I remember possessions like water to you
– so easy to give away. A room
with piles of alphabetised CDs and a clean, fresh bed

hardly slept in. False wings up high in the corner.
There is no surprise left in your disappearance
and even the parrot, so I’ve heard lately, has unlearnt your name.

Sunday 25 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #25 - The threats hang like stone-coloured clouds

The threats hang like stone-coloured clouds

Behave. If you don’t behave, you’ll get no
That’s not yours, is it? No, it isn’t.
icecream. No, or pop.

So sorry, he seems to have a mind of his own when it comes to

Don’t put that in your mouth! It’s
whether or not to listen.

dirty. See? Not nice having sand in your
Get away from the dogs!
teeth, all gritty. Yuck.

I don’t think they want to eat sand from your spade
Don’t pick up other people’s rubbish. Oh,
and they might think it’s okay to eat you.

okay, well, don’t play with it – let’s just dig a hole
The sea does sound like it’s roaring, doesn’t it?
and bury it there. Go on, dig!

Saturday 24 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #24 - An old flame walks past wearing red sunglasses

An old flame walks past wearing red sunglasses

There are nets to keep the pigeons
from the sandstone windowsills but nobody looks up.
They are all on the pavement warmed by the sun
save one man in a hurry in the shade,
and the postie is in his short-sleeved shirt – the second
I’ve seen today. And aren’t there so many roads to cross?

A protective dad rests his arms across a small girl’s shoulders;
a woman slips her hand into her lovers as they step from the curb.
I must be the only one still in this city today, the only one watching
-- except a blonde-haired boy rushed by his push-along parents catches my eye
and won’t let go. I feel seen and wonder if they do:
this man leaving William Hill with a slip as long as his muscled forearm,
this well-dressed teenage boy in the back of a topdown car,
this girl only just small enough for her pram.

And across the road, waiting, there are so many secondhand guitars for sale,
and all of them affordable.

Friday 23 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #23 - Naturalist


And here she lies in an unnatural habitat,
naked and fully aware of her surroundings.
She sits in one pose whilst many others, mostly of the opposite sex,
scratch around on what looks like paper,
using crude mark-making implements like burnt sticks
or chunks of white rock, seemingly trying to depict
what they see. How extraordinary,
and if we take a closer look – they don’t seem to mind us
stepping in, as long as we don’t break their concentration –
no one picture is the same.

Hang on,
there’s a pause. Maybe if I step in to the centre,
careful not to touch this enchanting central creature,
close enough for some of them to see...
yes, there you go. They’re even drawing a version of me.

Thursday 22 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #22 - Out on the hills

Out on the hills

Flinching from the squaw of a crow,
a man rubs rust the colour of spicy peppers
from the gate post he was leaning on.
Sounds seem closer to him today
than other days, and the smell of seasons changing
might be on the wind. He wouldn’t know.

He isn’t fooling anyone with trainers like that
on terrain like this, and the sign might have said
this way but now he is more-or-less lost.
More or less of anything would not be desirable,
he thinks, as the fierce light glints on the rustle of grass.
Things are unsustainable – he has not thought

ahead and brought lunch, or a jumper – but
he finds himself unable to contemplate change.
So much so that he’s dizzy with the thought of it:
all that stuff that might cascade
without a moment’s notice; all this space
to lose it in and nowhere to hide.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #21 - And so we arrive at the imperfections

And so we arrive at the imperfections

This means my underarm hair is growing back.
It also means that you’ve caught me
in more than one position of which I would be unhappy
if you’d taken a picture. You haven’t taken a picture.

There is nothing perfect about trust.
There is also nothing perfect about the way my brain lurches
around new-found corners using your words
and passing them off as my own.

I have my eye on you. Just so I can count
the imperfections, you understand, as qualities
it seems easy to overlook. I will not reveal them
given all the exuberantly fruity chocolate money can buy.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #20 - I'm a fuckin' hero

I’m a fuckin’ hero

But who do they think they are, putting me here?
Do you know what I’ve done? Nothing,

and there you are, mapping desirable characteristics
of your own onto my flexible nose. There are snots up there

and I am still human with a predisposition for falling
from high places. Watch out down there.

Monday 19 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #19 - The logistics

The logistics

I am trying to control the speed of my heart
and you are not helping with that throwaway comment
and my ground is shaking and the words
have not found a way out of my mouth yet,
but they are forming. There is nothing stopping us.

Agreement turns into symptoms
I will list for you later (nausea, twitching, a quickening)
but right now I am forming denial around logistics
I've been adding up in the absence of a plan.

Sunday 18 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #18 - I am like a cat

I am like a cat

But I am not who you think I am and I have two names
as well as a problem. Perhaps even three, though you will never know
what I call myself. I have the feline qualities you all desire

in a creature. That wiggle just before I pounce is adorable,
so I’m told, and I play rough but with my claws in. Mostly.
So many people state independence as strength.

I am loathe to disagree except, really, it is the neediness you crave –
with a contrast so it all appears worthwhile. I don’t mind pretending,
but what does this say about you?

Saturday 17 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #17 - She asks a question

She asks a question

And she keeps on standing, expecting
some sort of answer from posture, even,
or sigh. And his face remains still and his heart
is pounding out of sight when he opens his mouth
to cough. And she is already hurting
though it’s hard to tell, and the grip that he has
is more than the fact it is raining outside.
And the distance between them keeps growing
and stretching and yawning whilst neither of them moves

except for the blinking delivering tears
down one of their cheeks. Will you let me go?
she ventures again but the rain keeps falling
and they can’t move and the beige walls
they decided on years ago look like only the sun can cheer them
if only it shone. And she stays unanswered
and he still won’t speak though he moves to leave the room.

And if only the physical proximity they shared
had anything at all to do with it.

Friday 16 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #16 - Café


Here the cups stick around for longer
and the coffee may as well bend time
in its inky depths. We all feel taller
for eating here and it is not just our ears
that keep growing as we natter on
about each others’ weaknesses.
There are no clocks but that is not all
there is lacking: there are no children either,
just the elderly and those with a lust
to wile away the sort of time a child has
forever to realise. To re-enter the world
is to realise how short everything else must be.
Even my feet seem longer,
my toes more able to take the weight.

Thursday 15 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #15 - The comfort of endless scrutiny

The comfort of endless scrutiny

Occasional birds snap my eyes across a sterile white-out sky
I see through high-set windows. This room is monotony,
rows of bottles with labelled content and goggles
reflecting strip-light white.

A clatter brings me back and we are driven to sudden words
though it is nothing that will stick. My memories
are like the distant windows: so far above the day-to-day
they seem experimental, avant-garde.

What I will remember are days like these flayed bodies
in exacting standards of sterility, dreams of white-walled rooms
and so many little pieces of thought, gathered
in a bleak and chemical silence.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #14 - Holiday equipment

Holiday equipment

I have decided to take two cameras              – two cameras to carry, you say
because it reflects more readily                    despite my sore shoulders
what I might see with my own two eyes        and I welcome the distraction.
One is for instant frames of nostalgia           One is to fill with pictures
we will gaze at just after the event               with our faces smiling from a recent past
that we can barely remember                        that will still have the power to surprise
however much we look at them                     on our return, and months after.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #13 - Poem beginning with a line from Norman Dubie

Poem beginning with a line from Norman Dubie  

In the near field, an idle, stylish horse raised one leg  
and brought it down, with some force, onto the ground.  

The ground was hard that day, from hours drying in the sun,  
and the tremor made a dull noise that roused the sparkling bees

from the daisies they had been feasting on nearby.
And because they were roused from their small-scale feast

we were sorry for them and remembered how hard it must be
for a bee in this world we are creating for everything

with our concrete, our chemicals, our countless untold wonders
of technology. And because, all of a sudden, we were worried

our own food lost its appeal and we left it resting, while we thought,
on the spotty blanket where we sat. And it was sweet and so a wasp came by

getting high on sugar, grooving its stripy legs to music
only the nearby molecules could hear. In the next field

the idle, stylish horse had stopped stamping and was eating its hay again.
The bees had settled and we went back to our cake, waving the wasp away.

Monday 12 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #12 - The chair sang to us like an old music box

The chair sang to us like an old music box

We didn’t mind the chair, it was as it was and there was no changing it.
What really got us was how the whole house spoke in tongues:
cabinets tinkling and string chords echoing through pipes we thought empty for decades.

Even new objects took on the music once we were all moved in: a chorus of trumpets
from the mop and bucket, all quiet like it almost wasn’t there.
None of us believed in ghosts, but as the walls rattled a washboard rhythm
we would look at each other, startled, trying to decipher intent from the notes.

We never wrote it down, never tried to record it. Perhaps we fancied that in the house’s tongues
there was a message of delight through the major chords – or pain in the minors –
too personal for any equipment to track. Like intruders we’d tiptoe from room to room,
cocking our heads at the slightest tune, refusing to hang pictures, play music, wear shoes.

The house, in the end, took its toll on us. Living a silent life
was never something any of us had planned. Now we keep our shoes on and sing.
I still keep an ear out, though, when it’s quiet at night. I’m sure I’ve heard the armchair join in.

Sunday 11 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #11 - Decaffeinated over you

Decaffeinated over you

I didn’t choose you because of your affect on my heart
and its quickly quickly. You keep me up
past bedtime and I don’t like that, sweetie.
You make me need you once a day, five times.

I don’t like how much control you have when I do say yes,
or how it comes that I rely on you to do that.
And so this time I didn’t choose you, darling, this time
I chose a softly softly version with a lack of sting to my heart.

And you, you don’t even know what it is to want or need
but I’m sorry, honeybunches. Sorry nonetheless.
I didn’t choose you this time because you give me palpitations
but when they calm again I will be back in touch.

Saturday 10 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #10 - On a birthday night out

On a birthday night out

Balloons and a short-stemmed daffodil
someone had rescued on the way, its head
lying loved between the pint glasses. A bunch of cards
propped on the tables and a glass of wine.
Some empty chairs. Some low-level music in a shared venue.

More than one conversation about your nipples.
You said you know who your friends are
on a birthday night out
and I knew what you meant.

Friday 9 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #9 - The family waits

The family waits

They sat still in winter coats like limp marionettes
alone with thoughts of their own dampening armpits.
Outside even the puddles were frozen thicker than your finger,
stowing winter underneath. Cold enough to make the memories stick
like blackcurrant jam. In here they gathered as if a campfire blared
from the chimneystack, all staring at the blackened grate. All still.
Somewhere in their collective memories a fiddle played
against the strum of a guitar and the room,
filled with the bruise of winters past, shifted slightly.
The snow fell in sheets on the city winds, shaking the windows and doors.

Thursday 8 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #8 - Perhaps he is

Perhaps he is

a waterproof coat, an extra blanket,
new shoes which never hint at blistering
the whitened skin on the soles of my feet.

The whitened skin on the soles of my feet
does not know how lucky it is
not to know blistering.

Perhaps he is homemade gloves or
the signature which does not say my name
but whose loops and Ms seem to spell me out.

I do not have Ms in my name
and I cannot remember a time without handmade gloves
since learning to cast on, cast off.

Perhaps he is the ring of the bells
someone brought back from India for me
and their gentle song every morning by my bedroom door.

I had not thought of them as singing until now,
but as an annoyance that might wake others
as I leave the room early to shower.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #7 - they had been standing kissing

they had been standing kissing

a blue cardigan and a black toggle coat
the click of tangled buttons
they stumble closer trying to undo the mess
she is thinking how smooth his face is on hers
and about the love of another

Tuesday 6 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #6 - So many birds, and all of them oblivious.

So many birds, and all of them oblivious

Dinosaur feet. And what if their own evolution spoke?
What could it say? It would have the voice of a goose,

perhaps, or softly softly pigeon. How about this one,
where the swan is set against the backdrop of a frozen lake.

Beautiful, but what is speaking? The ice, this time?
The broken bottle? The cold webbed toes of a royal white bird

tired of swimming? Or is it me, in all of them,
and my awkward frame or too-quick summing-up.

So many birds, and all of them oblivious,
and all of them just sitting there, or swimming.

Monday 5 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #5 - Poetry as possession

Poetry as possession

I carry them with me, these beasts
of magic. There is only room for six:
we all have our favourites. Possession
is overstatement and there is no guarantee;

they change with the moods of things
with the state of the weather
with however it is they conceal themselves
when my back is turned.

There is no leaving them behind now
they’re in from the cold, balled up in my pocket
where they click together like marbles
with the swing of my walk.

Sunday 4 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #4 - At the edge of outerspace

At the edge of outerspace

Pulling 5 Gs in the upper troposphere
he reminds himself how easy it would be,
how flimsy this all is, to punch a hole
straight through to outerspace.

No-one would notice at first except
all the greenest tips of the tallest trees
would start to flutter, break free and travel upwards
towards the hole. Soon clothes from drying lines
and paper waste would gust up too, and whole plants
with their root foundations waving.
Eventually, with one last gasp
of the escaping oxygen, our own bodies
drifting up and out, we’d look down
at a barren world in wonder
of what kept us there so long.

Saturday 3 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #3 - Grilled hamster feet

Grilled hamster feet

I used to lie awake with worry of what to save
if the house caught fire: a whole cage
plus hamster or armfuls of possessions

- warm clothes, some shoes, a painting of a horse;
photograph albums, novels to read,
sketchbook; my favourite duvet cover - instead.

Indecision and consequence. I might sleep
by the time the fear has faded enough to ignore
but my dreams are of grilled hamster feet,

the blackened stripes of hot metal bars scored deep.
And all the saved things hugged close in the night outside,
the smell of singed fur drifting through the heat.

Friday 2 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #2 - Realtime Weather Processor

Realtime Weather Processor

And so it has finally come to this:
a sudden sense of freedom from the wind in my hair.

My eyes water with the gust of it but here I am
on my way; runny-nosed and full of courage,

volumes of air all on my side. My skirt
is a contradiction of directions

but today everything travels with me,
even the storm-heavy clouds.

Thursday 1 April 2010

NaPoWriMo #1 - Way Out

Way out

They say he comes from California, a head of
close-cropped hair and a passion for the novae
of the Milky Way. Trapped in his own perspective
with his eyes to the stars, they say he is immovable
and compromise-free, the sparkle of desire on his skin.

Looking up from my own head glue I catch sight
of him glistening out of context, eyes down. There is a moment:
denial but no way out. They say a lot of things about us
but it just boils down to love: he loves everybody
and me. We are sky-bound on my trust that it’s enough.

Monday 29 March 2010

Flexing my writing muscles...

.. with another reworking from Catalogue 25. All in the name of practice!

Upon the movable earth

It's the hole in the road that does it,
makes him test the ground at rest.
It seems firm like before but he can no longer know

the impact of his weight or the weight
of the sky. He clings to the fence that holds
him back from falling in; pulls slowly on the reigns

his mum holds with one clenched fist.
A revelation like this takes time to settle. It will be years
before he remembers the fury of his own ignorance;

how he cast it off with the tethers
which no longer held sway tied to anything
upon the movable earth.

Friday 26 March 2010


I have made the pledge, I have signed myself up and counted myself in. One poem a day for a month, this April. It will hopefully bring back some (pleasant) memories of daily composition. Anyone else taking part?

I'm looking forward to it. With trepidation.

Monday 22 March 2010


Another poem from the Back-catalogue(25). Or, perhaps, 'one from the vaults!'

Stooge contemplates a law of physics

An accident of gravity, I am hovering above stage planks
in Newcastle’s Theatre Royal when it dawns on me
how long I have lain for him.

I have pored these hours over amateur mathematics
trying to figure it out; the wonder for me is not in suspension
but how things must always fall.

They say gravity is an overlap from another dimension,
a dimple in the shape of our continuum, an equation
no-one can override. I have not yet got it all ironed out.

Sometimes, when I drift off, my dreams are of waking naked;
all eyes on my gooseflesh skin.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Believe it or not... actual poem! Reworked from an old one from Catalogue 25. I knew there was a reason I did one a day for a year: the fun of editing poems I'd forgotten about.


The man I am hugging is decidedly taller
than I'm used to and wearing a leather jacket
in a fetching shade of red. We are skewiff,
my head towards his shoulder out of line.
We are not alone, but I feel only our own hearts
beating. I am contained; in possession of his shoulders.

My arms tighten, my grip is stronger. I test myself
against his ribs; he responds by breathing. Our breaths
stretch us out, give us purchase for the deepening hold.

With my eyes closed it is not just his heart I feel
but the veins themselves; tissue fluid whooshing between cells
all calling for combination. There is no way out
but through. It feels for the longest time like stalemate.

My arms are shaking. I am lighter than blood
through his head through his knees through body cavity

I am lost in a singular us. I hear a sudden silence as now
and break out gasping. We turn to each other. His coat is open
where a button is missing; on my chest its imprint remains.

Important, time-consuming tasks that have prevented me from blogging so far this month:

  • Working my way up to the Pokémon League with Hetty, Josephine, Therese, Valerie, Wayne and Phyllis.
  • Getting the Mslexia directory into a state that is passable for publication in issue 45.
  • Watching Skins. And getting quite upset at the latest plot turn.
  • Thinking about blogging.
  • Blogging elsewhere.
  • Reading Twitter.
  • Going on adventures with Craig.
  • Tidying.
  • Getting my Northern Promise application together.
  • Reading Bleach.
  • Considering my poems, and then deciding that I really need some new ones.
  • Drinking coffee (decaf).
  • Reading the Guardian.
  • Looking at design blogs longingly. (Ffffound and Yay! Everyday, particularly)

These also all apply as reasons I have not been writing poems.

Oh! This means I have constructed a blog post whose entire reason for existence is EXCUSE. Excellent.

Sunday 7 February 2010


So I have decided that it's about time to collect my work together into a pamphlet. This is more difficult than it sounds, because although I have had a few poems published by magazines here and there, I have not had anyone look at a collection of poems and tell me that they work like that. This means, basically, that I am completely unsure as to whether any of my poems are really good enough. This is coupled with the unfortunate phenomenon which means that the longer ago I wrote a poem, the less I like it; so my recent habit of not writing means that I don't have many poems I like any more.

So, um, oh dear.

Still, I am getting an entry together to apply to a seminar that might help, and will hopefully send in an application for a Northern Promise award (gotta be in it to win it, however unlikely!) so I have my fingers crossed. Trawling through old poems is hard work. Trying to express why I need help doing it, in order to be in with any chance of help, is even harder. I have been procrastinating all day with Zelda and Pokémon - and cleaning the oven and reading comics and watching Casualty and Star Trek and sorting out photos on Flickr and drinking tea and making Chilli. And now, writing a blog post!

...and even posting a poem! A Renga written with two other members of the Salsa writing workshops, Josephine Scott and Rowan Ferguson:

White light casts no shadows
the sky has been full for days.

I watch a wader
brave the river.
Its purple head-feather bobs.

A pause grabbed mid-morning for champagne
Rushing all day to catch up,
evening poems only dent the surface.

Under the railway bridge
the rain cannot reach me.

We watch the shifting clouds
for a glimpse of the moon-
it doesn't appear.

Now... hop to it! (This isn't part of the poem. And it is addressed to myself. Bye-bye!)

Thursday 4 February 2010

An extra blog! AND I am still here.

Hello everyone!

I am aware I have not been blogging much. Or uh, at all.

There are a few reasons for this shoddiness (none of which, surprisingly, involve knitting. Some of which involve the new loan of a DS...), but one of them is THIS. Read me here too, why doncha! It is work-related, but hopefully interesting. Perhaps more interesting.

Also, I have joined Flickr in an attempt to organise my photographing in a more useful way. Link's in the left column there.

Oh, and I promise at least one poem this week. At least!

....hey! Get off my back already!

Tuesday 19 January 2010

A poem.

The Falling

And so we come to the domestic avalanche,
that great weight of silence that does not wait
for the night, that forces us to gamble its steadying.
A muffled crack, a naming in your ear,
a slow slide from the church roof onto graves.
The first time any of us have looked up for days
or conceived of the white as anything but beauty.
There have been icicles forming for weeks;
and so we come to their falling. Swift. Soundless.