Posts Tagged ‘Matt Merritt’


What is ANNOYING me this week?

Trying to make things simple in a complex place.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

New Projects


Asleep in the back – Elbow.



Last week my delight was potential new projects – Well here is the first that provides poets and writers an opportunity to contribute to a new anthology.

I am delighted that THE STROKE ASSOCIATION (East Midlands) have asked me to edit a book of new writing which will be published as an anthology to celebrate their first 20 years of raising awareness by providing high quality, up to date information for stroke patients, their families and carers.

The Stroke Association is registered charity whose work reaches out to all regions of the country, providing links to support groups, information and funding research into prevention of strokes.

Simon Cook, Head of Operations at the Stroke Association East Midland says

2012 Celebrations

This year the Stroke Association is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

• 20 years of life saving research
• 20 years of providing emotional and practical support to thousands of stroke survivors
• 20 years of stroke prevention
• 20 years of giving life after stroke

We will be putting on a series of events and activities to get more people than ever supporting us.

The regional team for the East Midlands decided that as part of the celebrations we would like to produce a book of poetry, short stories and photography. We felt that this was an excellent way of bringing people together as everyone in the region – staff, stroke survivors and volunteers are able to contribute. We also felt that we would like to produce something unique and tangible which will leave a legacy long after 2012 has become a distant memory.

We would value your contribution to the book to help us achieve our ambition of producing a high quality collection which can be sold – hopefully raising awareness and valuable funds.

The theme of the collection is “20” in line with the anniversary. This can be interpreted in any way you wish and should set a challenge for you all to work with!

Many thanks.

Simon Cook

For my part I am seeking poems, flash fiction or short-short stories (less than 1000 words) from writers who wish to contribute. The work should be based around things associated with the number 20. This can be the theme of the piece but anything that has an association with 20 is acceptable.

Such as a poem on any theme that has 20 lines or 20 words or 20 syllables (Fibonacci Poetry), for example, or a piece of flash fiction in 20 words. You could produce a piece in 20 minutes or hours or days. These would all be acceptable in terms of the brief as would any other approaches you take to explore the number 20.

The aim is to create and publish some great new writing as an anthology that stands alone as a book that represents the best of writers.

There will be a limit to what can be included and so the pieces will be selected by a panel, looking for the best writing and creative use of the subject matter.

The project will also involve some workshops with staff, carers and stroke patients to enable some contributions from some new writers.

The closing date for entries is Monday 8th October 2012 and entries can be sent me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk  please include your name and contact details in the emails and make the subject of the email The Stroke Association.

The Stroke Association would like to keep a copy of all the entries, as a legacy of the project in celebrating their 20 years of excellent work in supporting stroke patients and their families.

Once the book has been produced there will be a launch with readings at a venue in Nottingham, which contributors will be invited to attend and to read their pieces.

So get your pens out and write a piece in support of this wonderful charity and let’s help them celebrate their 20th anniversary with the very best of our creative writing.

You can out more about the Stroke Association at: http://www.stroke.org.uk/


Last Friday saw the Leicestershire poet Matt Merritt, deliver his wonderful workshop.

Matt Merritt

Matt explored ideas around gathering words as participants explored the site, then stripping them away into artifacts to be used in a poem and the spoil to be reviewed later to create a second poem.

Matt then went onto the concept of Edges often used in Anglo Saxon Riddles, where a theme is explored with out direct reference to it.

Poets Ponder

Matt’s final exercise was to consider a modern building in Polesworth and to write what Archaeologists would discover if the dug it up in 1000 years time.

Three great approaches to creating poetry that the participants agreed they will take into their poetry toolkit when writing poems in the future.

A window frame – a stone mason’s muse.

Thanks go to Matt for providing such great inspiration.

You can see more on Matt as his blog http://polyolbion.blogspot.co.uk/

The remaining workshop dates are as follows.

Friday 17th August 10am to 2pm with Jacqui Rowe – the workshop is entitled Object to Poem – Poem to Object – the workshop will use tiles to inspire new poetry in particular Haikus which you will then be able engrave on to a tile to create a new artifact.

Sat 25th August 10am to 2pm with Maeve Clark – the workshop entitled Fragments of Time – the workshop will explore artifacts in great detail and explore its previous life and its current life and future life. The 25th will also see a full day of activities which will include a stone mason working on site to create a replica piece of a window that has been found on this years dig (see photo above) and also a tile maker who will be demonstrating how the floor tiles (tiles are big part of the dig this year). I also believe there will be an opportunity for people to make their own tiles. I will also be gathering words and limericks from the visitors. It should be a really great day.

Sat 1st September 10am to 2pm with Jo Bell – the workshop entitled Strata’s – will explore the layers of Archaeology and compare them to the strata’s of our own lives.

PLUS POETRY EXHIBITION ON THE HERITAGE OPEN DAYS 7th – 9th Sept – with Readings on Sat 8th Sept.

All the events take place at Polesworth Abbey, Polesworth in North Warwickshire.

These workshops are an exciting unique opportunity to discover new themes in response to the Archaeology and I would encourage all writers, from beginners to published poets and authors to come along and find your muse.

There will be opportunities throughout the dig for writers to go along and observe making notes or creating new pieces in the peaceful haven of the Abbey grounds so even if you can’t make the workshops do find sometime to go along and soak it all up.


Limericks are coming in with an amazing amount of ideas and themes, however I am still looking for Limericks on the theme of Archaeology, these will be judged by the Archaeologists.

I am also receiving words from far and wide (well Oxford is the furthest so far) for the collaborative poem I am still looking for words to be included in a poem. Visit the Dig the Abbey website (www.digtheabbey.co.uk ) and take a look at the activities and send me your words as impressions of what you see. Also tell me where you are located in the world so that I can estimate how far your words have come to Polesworth using MapCrow.

You can enter by sending your words and limericks to maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk.


I am hoping to be able to stage an afternoon of poetry performance at Cromford Mill in Derbyshire next spring. The theme will be around the project previously mentioned on this blog GRAFT.

GRAFT incorporates the lives of working men and women in mines, mills, factories, fields and workshops that made this country the workshop of the world and saw the first industrial revolution, that was so expertly depicted in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony of the Olympics.

The lives of poets such as Alfred Williams, Tommy Armstrong and Ann Moss provide the inspiration to create a new narrative performance piece through contemporary poetry.

If you are interested in contributing to this project then please contact me at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk.

Other Potential Projects.

And to on top of all of this there are on-going discussions for further projects – So WATCH THIS SPACE.


Readings in August and September

24th August – Spoken Worlds at The Old Cottage Inn – Burton on Trent.

8th September – THE FIZZ at Polesworth Abbey celebrates DIG THE ABBEY through DIG THE POETRY – readings start at 3:30pm.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The London Underground.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Lunch at the Ritz.


Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin.


I went down the London for the weekend, a quick trip to grab a show and have lunch at the Ritz, as you do! The show was We Will Rock You which was absolutely excellent with a great cast, fantastic staging and of course a story that was extracted like a found poem from the songs of Queen. The Ritz was also something really special, something everyone should do at least once in their lives. The dining room and the waiters are a gentle piece of theatre which sees you as the diner centre stage, as the performance makes you feel like you are in the leading roles. For some this will appear to be something completely natural, going to The Ritz for lunch is a regular thing to do, but for jobbing writers such as myself it was an extraordinary experience. Not to be missed if you get the chance.

I came home to find that this blog had been nominated not once but twice for The Liebster Award, I was both flattered and honored that Sarah James and Gary Longden had both nominated this blog for the award.

What is more I think this a great idea, I am regular follower of blogs, some of which I mention in this blog, indeed if you look in the panel of friends blogs to the right – you will see some of the blogs I follow.

Counter-nominating a proposer is not in the spirit of the Award; however I would recommend both Sarah’s blog at http://www.sarah-james.co.uk/?page_id=7 and Gary’s blog at http://garylongden.wordpress.com/ as I follow them regularly.

Now I should explain what it all means…

Leister is a German word meaning dearest, and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.

If you receive the award, you should:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favourite bloggers and keep it going!’

My five nominations of blogs I follow on a regular basis apart from the two from my nominators, and these are in no particular order.

1. Polyolbion at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com/ is the blog of Leicester Poet and Wild life journalist Matt Merritt – Matt’s blog takes its name from Michael Drayton’s great work, I have to admit that is Matt had not already used it I would have called this blog Polyolbion. Matt covers everything from book and reading reviews – to future reading dates. Matt always gives a considered insight to his subjects and I value his opinions. I have bought several poetry books following his reviews and have never been disappointed.

2. O’bheal at http://www.obheal.ie/blog/ is the blog of my good friends in Cork, Paul Casey runs poetry events in Cork, with a weekly reading at The Long Valley in Cork City. The O’Bheal blog provides its followers with information on upcoming events as well as being the custodian of the legacy of the readings that have taken place in the past. All readings are recorded and held here and are available for you to listen too or if you were there listen to again. Including one of my own from my trip as the guests of O’Bheal in the summer.

3. The Secret Writer at http://secretwriter1.blogspot.com/ – I know who the Secret Writer is as I am part of her writing circle, but if you read her blog you will see why for the moment she wants to remain a Secret. This blog has a chatty engaging style, where she discusses her writing life, editing the novel “Her”, to a personal poetry project based around shoes. She also has an April Fools list of 40 things she wants to achieve in the year between her Birthdays.

4. Fox Tales – Worcestershire based poet and writer, Myfanwy Fox, was one of the first followers of my blog to leave a comment, I quickly discovered her wonderful blog Fox Tales at http://myfanwyfox.wordpress.com/ . I always find Myfanwy’s take on things as amusing, most definitely thought provoking and layered with a sense of realities that are often missed because we never look beyond the façade, Myfanwy does dig deeper and often sees that there are a mountain of un-answered questions to be discussed.

5. Here Come the Lobsters – Garrie Fletcher’s blog – http://herecomethelobsters.wordpress.com/
Garrie’s blog includes some great book reviews, comments on the news, ideas on writing and most recently his correspondence with a corporate internet provider. Like Myfanwy, Garrie can often point out the things that hide behind the façade.

Last week I attended the first of what I am sure is going to be many Folk and Poetry evenings in Ashby. The Goblin Folk and Poetry club was well attended with standing room only in the Giggling Goblin Café. Our host Brian Langtry, who has a large amount of music and theatre work to his credit, started the evening with a few songs. There was definitely a theme of working songs and poems, the former mining communities of the Midlands were giving a voice, particularly resonant was the song about the Dirty Thirty -30 Leicestershire miners who did strike when their fellow workers went against the strike action and worked the pits in the turbulent times of the 1980’s. – I think I will take along some of the poems that are to be installed on the next phase of the Polesworth Poets Trail. This event will also be a great night for reading poems developed out of the GRAFT project. – The next one is on 13th December at the Giggling Goblin Café in Ashby.

The Dreamer by Wendy Morthorpe

My adventures into STEAMPUNK continue – We now have a venue and a date for the UK launch of Rach Gee’s book Mars on the Rise – we have managed to secure the Century Theatre at Snibston Discovery Centre for the evening of Saturday May 12th 2012. The Century Theatre has a really interesting Industrial History and is the ideal location for launching a Steampunk novel.

You can secure your invitation to the event by sponsoring the launch for a small upfront fee of £20, which will give you an invitation for you and a guest to the evening. Plus as a sponsor you will get a signed copy of the book plus a package of materials which includes photographs and steam punk / Victorian themed goodies.

We are in the process of confirming two bands to perform on the night and also some other attractions that will enable you to immerse yourself in to the world of Victorian Science Fiction.

If you want to be a sponsor then please contact either Rach at rae@glasscompletelyempty.co.uk or myself at maldewhirst@yahoo.co.uk; there will only be 100 sponsors – so it is a chance to become part of a unique group who attend this very unique event.

For more information on the Century Theatre’s interesting history you can find out more here.

MY Lost Poet for this week is ADELAIDE CRAPSEY (1878 – 1914)

Adelaide Crapsey (circa 1905)

I have always been interested in pushing all forms of poetry into new directions and my experimentations have seen some success as well as a lot of failures, but as the scientists amongst you will know, it is what you learn from the failure of the experiment that gives you the knowledge to pursue your success.

Adelaide Crapsey was also not bound by the conventions of poetic form and went ahead in her short life to develop two distinct forms that have kept the interest in her work alive. She is though still only known amongst some of the academic circles.

Adelaide was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1878 to the Episcopal priest Algernon Sidney Crapsey and his wife Adelaide T Crapsey, Her father, himself not adverse to controversy following charges of heresy that saw him stripped of his Ministry.

Adelaide grew up in Rochester, New York attending public School in Rochester and later Kemper Hall a Episcopal preparatory school for girls in Wisconsin. She then entered Vassar College from which she graduated in 1901.

Her career as a teacher was delayed following the death of her sister Emily, but in 1902 she took up a post at Kemper Hall which she held until 1904, when she moved to spend a year at School of Classical Studies at the American Academy in Rome and then taught for two years at Smith College in Massachusetts.

She herself was in poor health and in 1911 was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which she kept from her family and continued with her teaching, until she collapsed in 1913. Her final year was spent at a private cure cottage in Saranac Lake, she returned to Rochester in August 1914, finally succumbing to her illness in October.

In the years prior to her death she wrote much of the poetry for which she is best remembered, Her collection Verses was published by Claude Bragdon in 1915 with later revised editions published up until 1934.

Her Poetry.

She created a variation of the 5 five line, 22 syllable form known as the Cinquian, influenced from Japanese forms such as Haiku and Tanka. Her version of the Cinquian uses Iambic metre and 2 syllables in the first and last lines with the middle three lines having 4, 6 and 8 syllables, see her poem Triad below.

She also developed an epigram in the form of an iambic rhyming couplet held with in the title which is an integral part of the poem, as shown in the example below On Seeing Weather-beaten Trees.

She was further remembered by the poet Carl Sandburg in his poem Adelaide Crapsey which was to keep the interest in her cinquain forms from become obscure and forgotten.

An example of THE AMERICAN CINQUIAN developed by Adelaide Crapsey in her poem Triad.


Three silent things:
The falling snow … the hour
Before the dawn … the mouth of one
Just dead.

An example of Adelaide Crapsey’s Epigram Form.

On Seeing Weather-beaten Trees

IS it as plainly in our living shown,
By slant and twist, which way the wind hath blown?

Some further links.

Adeliade Crapsey’s verses on the web:

Karen Alkalay-Gut’s biography of Adelaide Crapsey.


November Readings

22nd Nov – Poetry Bites – Birmingham. Guest Joseph Horgan
25th Nov – Spoken Worlds – Burton – Guest Ash Dickinson

December Readings

6th Dec – Nightblue Fruit – Taylor John’s House – Coventry.
13th Dec – Goblin Folk and Poetry Club – Giggling Goblin Café – Ashby de-la- Zouch.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Traffic lights – everyone of them seems to hold me up.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Elford Ale and Folk Festival.


Mirage – Camel


My post this week has been prepared on Sunday; this is due to a very busy week ahead.

Starting on Tuesday – when I will be M.C. at THE FIZZ at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey when I will be introducing the wonderful Leicester Poet Matt Merritt reading from his latest collection Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica published by Nine Arches Press. Matt is a wild life journalist and this is a major inspiration in his poetry.

Matt has been a great promoter of Polesworth as a fan of Michael Drayton, Matt’s blog is at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com, taking its name from Drayton’s great work of the same name.

Please do try and come along.

Wednesday sees the Mad Hatters Writers in Atherstone and Thursday sees me attending The Runaway writers in Burton.

Friday is Spoken Worlds in Burton – it was not last Friday as I had first thought – good job I found out before turning up. So I will be at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton, where they serve some fine real ales and once a month Gary Carr delivers Spoken Worlds, a mix of Poetry, Theatre in an event with its now famous “three halves” – I will probably give my Nuneaton Poems as second airing.

SATURDAY is the GREAT WEST MIDLANDS POETRY RELAY, which will see ten poets of which I am honoured to be one of them, travelling around the Midlands writing poetry in a relay race with one poet passing the baton to the next poet who will add the next part of the poem.

The relay starts in Stoke on Trent and then on to Burton On Trent, The next stop is Polesworth where I will take the baton before I pass it on at Hatton Country world, following with Worcester/Droitwich, Malvern Hills, Bromyard, Highley, Telford and finishing in Stafford. The Poets will travel on a minibus being collected as they take the baton, The poem will be read at each of the locations as it grows on it journey around the Midlands.

The ten parts of the poem will be attached to ten pigeons from the Birmingham Pigeon Project and released in Stafford, back to the loft in Birmingham, the final order of the poem being decided by the order in which the pigeons arrive back at the loft.

The event is part of a series of events organised in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

I am really excited about taking part in this journey, meeting and working with the other poets, which at the time of writing I do not know who they are, which makes in even more intriguing and of course the final order that the pigeons bring in the poem.

I will write more on the blog next week about the experience.

For more information of times and destinations then check out the following website and if you can be in any other locations to hear the poem being read then please do turn up to be part of the audience at these unique poetry readings in these unusual poetic places.


My lost poet this week is a Bush Poet from Australia.

Most people’s experience of Bush Poetry is the song Waltzing Matilda, with its tale of the bushman brewing his tea, when a sheep appears, which he takes to eat only to be caught by the owners and three policeman and it ends with the bushman committing suicide and forever haunting the place, it was written as a poem by Banjo Paterson in the 1890’s and later put to music to become an unofficial anthem of Australia and all things Australian.

It seems strange that such a sad tale should come to be a representative identity of a nation; it’s maybe the way that singers seem to perform it in such a jaunty almost comic way.

It does however have a myriad of words that are quintessentially Australian, Swagman, Billabong, Billy, Coolibah Tree, Jumbuck and Tucker and even the title Waltzing Matilda, which is slang for walking on foot (Waltzing) with a bag on your back (A matilda), or dancing across the country with your bag as your partner.

Which makes sense of some of my parents sayings (although they were English), instead of asking where I was going, I was more likely to be asked where I was waltzing off too.

Bush poetry is full of these types of rhythmic poetic words, that are poetry in there own right without any need to put metaphor, simile, alliteration or any of the other poetic devices around them.

The origins of Bush Poetry is as an expression of everything Australian – the landscape, the language, the cultural identity coming from poets who lived in a nation defining its identity.

It is a very definitive poetry of a specific place, the spirit of which is encapsulated in the words and slang, which reveal the cultural motivations of the people. If I were to use these words to describe Warwickshire, they would just not work.

Banjo Paterson was born Andrew Barton Paterson in 1864 in New South Wales, growing up on remote farmsteads in the outback, surrounded by wide open spaces where horses were the main form of transport, this was to become much of the themes of his poetry which he wrote from the city, where he was a lawyer.

He was educated firstly by a governess and then when he had learnt to ride a horse at a bush school. Later he attended the Sydney Grammar School where he excelled in his studies and as a sportsman. From here he became and articled clerk as firm of solicitors and by 1886 was admitted as a qualified solicitor.

In 1885, he started submitting poetry to the Sydney edition of the Bulletin under the pseudonym of The Banjo after one of his favourite horses. In 1890 he wrote one of his best known works The Man from the Snowy River, which was taken to heart by the nation, this was followed by a collection under the same name.

He became a war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age during the first Boar war which saw him sail for South Africa; on his return in 1903 he married Alice Walker, with whom he had two children. It was in this period that he published a collection of Old Bush Songs in 1905.

During the 1st World War he failed to obtain the position of a war correspondent and instead volunteered as an Ambulance driver, serving in France where he was injured and for a time reported missing. Later in the war he was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. When he was discharged from the Army in 1919 he had attained the rank of Major.

On his return to Australia his third collection, Saltbush Bill JP was published and he continued to write articles for the Truth and the Sydney Sportsman into the 1920’s

He died of a heart attack in 1941 and it has been said that in his lifetime he was second only to Kipling as the most popular poet writing in English.

A part from Waltzing Matilda and The Man from the Snowy River, his other notable poem is Clancy of the Overflow.

I am discussing the work of Banjo Paterson as a way of introducing Bush Poetry, as he wrote a piece that has a more global recognition. Other worthy poets who are from the Bush Poetry school are; Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968) key works – My Country; and Henry Lawson (1867-1922) Key works – Freedom on a Wallaby, The City Bushman and Up the Country.

I chose Bush Poetry for a couple of reasons, the first being that it is poetry of place, full of the spirit of the place, which is of particular interest to me for the themes for my own poems. I also chose them because the Australian Bush Poets Association (ABPA) is based in Tamworth, New South Wales, which is also close to my heart as I live in Tamworth Staffordshire.

ABPA continue the traditions of Bush Poetry, through promoting poets such as Banjo Paterson, but also in developing new voices of the modernist Bush Poets.

Here are some links for the Bush Poets.

The Australian Bush Poets Association

The Man from the Snowy River – By Banjo Paterson.

Banjo Paterson’s biography at all down under.

Website for Dorethea Mackellar

Biography for Henry Lawson


Readings in July.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.
22nd July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

In August.
2nd August – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s – Coventry.
8th August – O’Bheal – Cork – Ireland.
10th August – The Whitehouse – Limerick – Ireland.
19th August – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Having to learn HTML because my website won’t do line breaks.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Rock Houses at Kinver.


Paul Weller – Illumination.


My thoughts this week are turning toward doing a major new project, this will be a personal project involving film, sound and poetry with may be other artistic mediums such as dance, if it develops into something that allows for the incorporation of these themes without diluting or compromising the piece.

This is something that I have been thinking about for sometime and at this stage the ideas are only as stated above, something with film, sound and poetry. There is no story or theme, no idea for sound other than experiments to create audio vistas that are not music, although they make have some musicality about them. No ideas for the film, other than the images should challenge the viewer to make connections; with the words and sound and their personal experience.

I want to almost take a space and create a spirit for it that lives in the space for the period of the performance.

I see the process as something organic that grows through the process of developing it; this will be a ritual piece, where the development of it is perhaps as important as the showing or performing of it.

But then, I do tend work this way on my own pieces, such that the writing or filming is a process of bringing forth new learning, new understanding and most of all the pleasure of the subject. Immersing myself in the culture, heritage, ideas, philosophies, people and place.

The process usually starts with Google, searching out obscure references, looking for the unusual little know fact, then forming an idea which then goes into the thinking and walking phase where quite often the original fact is lost in the depths of the journey to the final piece.

I visit places and talk to people, find the spirits adding in their stimulus to the piece, each thread on its own bobbin, like wool or cotton, spun from different sheep or different plants coming together in a single piece of cloth, then cut and sewn into a fine fitting garment, the source of the threads become distant and remote, lost.

It is the experience of the process of the development that gives a full understanding of the finished piece, this is often lost to the audience who views it as a completed composition – sometimes such that they do not understand it, cannot see how one motif overlaps with another, how one set of words arrive at the point that they do and why it is important that they come in at the precise point.

With sound and film imagery we have become accustomed to fast moving beats and scenes, there is a formula used in the industries, which churn out thousands of hours of popular culture nearly every day. The idea of 2 minutes 45 seconds for a sound came out of the need for records to be played on the radio and this was deemed as getting as much coverage and radio play for a variety of artists. But this in turn has changed our ways of thinking, changed our expectations.

I want to break away from this, with sustained images and sounds, I want to stand on the mountain top and listen and stare and I want it to last longer than 2 minutes 45 seconds. You don’t go through the dangers and physical exertion in climbing the mountain to stand there for 2 minutes 45 seconds.

For me it is always the journey and the experience rather than the arrival, I want to change this for me, such that the arrival is something that sits on top of a mountain and has a knowing, understood, recognised presence.

I hope to share some of the journey with you through this blog. Let’s see where it goes.

Congratulations to Sarah James, one of the Poetry Trail Poets whose first collection “Into the Yell” has won third prize in the Rubery International Book Awards for 2011. This is a fantastic reward following the hard work in developing and just recognition for a wonderful poet.

There is no resting up as Sarah is now joint editor of BE Magazine, which is part of the Worcester Literary Festival. It will be an on-line publication initially but is planned to be produced as a hardcopy in the future. The magazine is open for submissions and can be found at http://www.bemagazine.co.uk – check out the submission guidelines for details.

Whilst I am discussing Worcester Literary Festival, congratulations also to Lisa Ventua on what was an excellent festival in Worcester, with the right mix of established writers and grass root aspirations – an inspirational approach – I will watching out for new work being developed as a result of this mix of experience and ambition.

My LOST POET this week is Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825)

Barbauld was born Anne Letitia Aikin in the village of Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, her father was the Head teacher at the dissenting academy and the Minister at the nearby Presbyterian church. In her childhood she was surrounded by the boys who attended the school, whose boisterous ways she was to adopt much to her mother’s disapproval. She also had a great thirst for learning, again her mother thought this um-becoming of a young woman, who she feared would find it difficult to find a husband as someone with learning who could articulate an opinion. This was a comfortable upbringing which saw the family move to run the academy in Warrington, where she was to meet her husband a descendant of French Huguenot’s, Rochemont Barbauld.

It was shortly before her marriage, that she published her first collection of poem, entitled simply as “Poems” (1773), this was to receive much critical acclaim and went into four printings and built her a considerable reputation as one of the best literary voices of her time from this single first collection.

Her poems covered many themes and were to provide great inspiration to later Romantic poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth.

It has been suggested that women poets in the Romantic period, had a distinct literary voice and further that Barbauld as a dissenter had a unique voice among her contemporaries and that she therefore from her outsider position had a duty to write social commentary.

Fearing that she and her husband may never have children of their own, they adopted one of her brother’s sons, following which, she then began to write educational studies for children, inspired by the need to educate her adopted son.

She became involved in politics in the 1780’s, writing essays on themes relating to repeal laws on the rights of Dissenters and on the abolition of the laws relating the Slave Trade in support of William Wilberforce, whose bill to abolish the slave trade had just been rejected by Parliament. She was concerned about the Nation taking responsibility for its actions and that each individual should be responsible for the acts of the Nation to which they attached their allegiance.

Her marriage faced difficulties in the early 1800’s when Rochemont’s mind became unstable which resulted, fits of anger all pointed towards Anna and in his eventual suicide in 1808, leaving Anna distraught.

In 1812 she published a poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, on the verge of the Napoleonic wars. Her satirical anti- war poem described Britain as a power in decline and that America as the power in the assent. The poem was vilified by the critics, which shocked her so much she refused to publish any of her further work.

She was lost to literary world and this was finalised when the Romantic poets who had once lauded her as an inspiration, abandoned and dismissed her, now that they were the leading lights in the literary world.

She remained unread until the 1980’s when feminist critics started to review her work and to put her in her rightful place of one of the best poets and writers of her generation.

The image at the top of this section is the Nine Muses of Great Britain (1779) by Richard Samuel. Anna Letitia Barbauld is depicted standing at the back by the easel gesturing with her left hand.

Below is one of the most powerful verses in the poem Nineteen Hundred and Eleven, powerful for its prediction on things to come some 100 or so years later and powerful because one can but think that it still holds as true today as it did then.

And thinks’t thou, Britain, still to sit at ease,
An island Queen amidst thy subject seas,
While the vext billows, in their distant roar,
But soothe thy slumbers, and but kiss thy shore?
To sport in wars, while danger keeps aloof,
Thy grassy turf unbruised by hostile hoof?
So sing thy flatterers; but, Britain, know,
Thou who hast shared the guilt must share the woe.
Nor distant is the hour; low murmurs spread,
And whispered fears, creating what they dread;
Ruin, as with an earthquake shock, is here,
There, the heart-witherings of unuttered fear,
And that sad death, whence most affection bleeds,
Which sickness, only of the soul, precedes.
Thy baseless wealth dissolves in air away,
Like mists that melt before the morning ray:
No more on crowded mart or busy street
Friends, meeting friends, with cheerful hurry greet;
Sad, on the ground thy princely merchants bend
Their altered looks, and evil days portend,
And fold their arms, and watch with anxious breast
The tempest blackening in the distant West.

Some links and further information.

Eighteen Hundred and Eleven at project Gutenberg.

The Anna Letitia Barbauld Website

Anna Letitia Barbauld – The Voice of Enlightenment – By William McCarthy (Amazon Page).


THE FIZZ 8 with Matt Merritt is coming up on the 19th July as Polesworth Abbey, please do try and come along and here Matt read his poems from nature.


Readings in July.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who can’t flex themselves away from their own agendas!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A Festival of Poets.


Brian Eno – Drums between the bells


This last week saw the culmination of three months work to organise the Nuneaton Summer Poetry day with the event itself.

My part in the day was as the poet in residence, observing the events and writing about them on the blog at http://nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com

The day started early and I arrived in the town to see the market team installing the last of the blue and white gazebos that make up the covers over the market stalls. They had been up far earlier than me to get them all into place so that the stall holders could set out their tables and start displaying their wares in time for the first customers who were starting to enter the town by 9:00.

As I said, I was early so headed to a coffee shop to grab a much needed eye-opener and to write my first two poems of the day ‘Early’ and ‘Coffee at 9:00 am’, I was joined by my partner in crime for the organisation of the day, Rach Flowers, who was dressed in her spectacular black dress and boots that any female Goth would be proud to wear.

We proceeded to meet the artists from Art Alert who were decorating the benches, inspired by poems that I had provided them, from Michael Drayton to Wordsworth to Blake and some modern poems, including one of my own, one from Mark Niel, the minstrel poet for the day. The benches were covered with cushions made from wall paper and included a newspaper inside of which was a copy of the poems that they used to inspire them.

It was interesting to watch to town folk as they were unsure whether they could sit on the benches and Art Alert had to put up signs to say “Please Do Sit on the Benches”, which I am sure one or two people managed to put the word “NOT” into when they read it. The easiest way was to lead the way and sit on the bench with my poem on which I had my photo taken. This seemed to do the trick and before long people were sitting on the benches and reading the poems in the newspapers.

I managed to get some words to use in a poem from the Art Alert team and very soon had the basis for my third poem ‘Benches’.

Art Alert also brought along a bright blue tree from which we hung poetry kites and other poems to make our Poetree, it was originally planned that the bench poems would hang as fruit from the tree, but as these were now in the newspapers, the tree was a little bare at the start of the day, but as the day progressed the poetry kites became the leaves and fruit and added to the colour of the day.

My base for blogging was the Community Café, which was proving a difficult venue for people to perform as the local people were not sure what to expect, Colin King was holding court in this location story telling and engaging with his audience, getting them involved with where the story went next.

I wrote the poem ‘Community Café’ as I sat and updated the blog, using the line ‘bending his words around the ears of Saturday’, where ‘Saturday’ is used as a collective noun for all that normally goes on in the town on Saturday, the market, the shoppers, the meeting of friends, they are always there.

Colin made full use of the space walking through it and projecting his voice with its wonderful Irish lilt. It is certainly as sense of theatre that helps to engage an audience; Colin was never static and could not be totally ignored.

This highlights the difficulty of working in such spaces, many poets read at poetry events, where they have an audience that has come to listen, an event such as this is challenging because most of the people have come to do their shopping, meet with friends and do their normal Saturday routine. Poets and story tellers can be ignored, unless they provide something that captures the imagination.

People don’t necessarily have to stop to listen; they can still wander along hearing the words as they float through the market stalls. There is also an argument that reading a poem out-loud in the street or anywhere is a ritual and that it does not matter whether anyone is listening, purely reciting the words as an act in itself is a worthy thing to do.

People like, the Brazilian Poet Márcio-André de Sousa, who I had the pleasure to meet in 2009 when he filled the Tin Angel Bar with sound poetry at Night Blue Fruit in Coventry. He ventured out to the Chernobyl Nuclear site in 2007 on what many considered a suicidal trip, purely to read poetry to the landscape, to the shell of this devastation, which he did for six hours.

What ever your thoughts on performance and the need or not for an audience, then I think events such as Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day needs to cater for both; those who see it as a ritual and those who want to engage with an audience, things to be considered for any future event.

The idea of a collaborative poem came to me quiet early in the process, I did it back in March with the Children at Birchwood Primary School in Polesworth, where we played with Kite Poetry and they gave me words to form the basis of the collaborative poem to be used on the poetry trail. I really liked the idea of words coming in to Nuneaton from all over the world and then being shaped into a poem that in some way reflected the day. Calls for words were put out on Facebook and Twitter and through the blog. Face book friends passed it on to their friends, and thanks to Gary Longden who really took hold of the idea and sent it to his friends in far distant places, many of who responded.

I was interested in the words where they would come from, who else was thinking about Nuneaton and poetry, but could not come to the town itself, I wanted part of the festival to be accessible through the web, that it was a global event with its heart in Nuneaton.

I received words from across the globe, the farthest being from Waipu on the North Island of New Zealand 11,269 miles away, from the words provided I composed the poem ‘In a Single Moment’ which drew its theme from the 60 second slam and the idea that whilst the poets in Nuneaton were performing then around the world at the same time the other events were taking place. Unifying a set of individual acts in to the events at the Poetry Day. It seemed to me that the words were just as important as the places and the people who had sent them and that the poem should reflect this.

Since the day itself, another poet has also taken the words and created her own poem, which I hope to post on the blog in the next few days.

My last poem posted on the day was my poem ‘Nuneaton’, which I will admit was written in the days on the run up to the event rather than on the day itself. The reason for this was that I wanted to present the town with a more crafted poem, but also get my mind into the right state for writing as in the weeks running up to the festival I have not written much apart from this blog.

The poem uses the River Anker, which runs through the town but has been diverted under the streets and so as you wander around you may not know it was there, it uses the poet searching for the river on market day as its theme, and how this once sparkling ribbon in the landscape has now been replaced by the glints from the market stalls, until the poet spots the movement of the people and reflects that they flow as if mimicking the river.

The day finished in the Crown pub with an open mic, compered by Milton Keynes Poet Laureate Mark Niel who organised the slam and kept things flowing at the Fountain poetry stop. The night ended with music from the Folk band, Folklaw who were excellent and should not be missed if you get a chance to see them at festivals and venues around the Midlands.


My Lost Poet this week is not so much lost but yet to be discovered by most, despite having a well respected international reputation.

Marcio Andre (1978- ), as I mentioned above he is a amongst other things a sound poet, sculpting not just words but the manipulation of echoes, reverberation and sustained waves of sound into audio vistas.

This is not music and poetry, not talking over a jazz drum and bass line. The sounds that Marcio Andre produces often do not sooth and seduce the ear when they start, they often differing clashing sounds which as the piece progresses merge into an audio vista, which has all the wonder of the earth being formed. You have to stick with them, let yourself become accustomed to them, let you mind have time to work out what is happening and how to respond.

A tree grows so slowly that we do not hear it and we can appreciate the full grown beauty of it as it takes its place in the genius of the landscape. Yet if it grew from a seed to a full grown tree in seconds, morphing from the land, then all the sound that it makes as it grows happens all at once and every creak and ache would rupture the air filling it with sound as if something was being destroyed. The end result would not be any less beautiful, still the tree, still in its place in the landscape, but the noise would resonate and maybe change how we view the tree.

To me Marcio-Andre does this with his sound poems, providing us with the opportunity to stand in the landscape or enclosed space and hear things that we would not otherwise hear or even conceive.

Marcio-Andre is the first living poet to be included in this list, he has a significant body of work for his young age and is still developing, experimenting and following his thoughts, it is therefore inappropriate from me to try and encapsulate him as the poet in a few paragraphs, it is best that you search him out for yourself, on the web and in performance.

If you get the chance to hear Marcio-Andre sound poems live then it is an experience not to be missed, there is a video on website (no 7) of his performance at Night Blue Fruit at the Tin Angel, but it doesn’t capture the electric atmosphere of actually being there, the building, the shabby furniture and the audience were all part of the experience, it was as if the whole performance was viewed and heard from inside the loud-speaker, that you were not an observer/listener, but you were a channel for the sound, a biological-amplifier that was plugged into the sound system.

Start at his website which I have included below:


THE FIZZ 8 with Matt Merritt is coming up on the 19th July as Polesworth Abbey, please do try and come along and here Matt read his poems from nature.


Readings in July.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Technology that is supposed to speed up my ability to do things, but cannot keep up with me!

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Pear Cider over ice.


Bert Jansch – Legend the Classic Recordings


The last week has seen me updating the blog site for Nuneaton Poetry Day, with the programme for the day and information on those taking part.

Check out the blog at: www.nuneatonpoetryday.wordpress.com

My evenings were filled with readings and performances, with the monthly Night Blue Fruit at Taylor John’s in Coventry on Tuesday last week. The evening started off slowly with a few poets gathered in this intimate music venue with Barry Patterson reading a couple of Matt Merritt’s poems as a way of promoting Matt’s forthcoming reading at The Fizz in Polesworth on 19th July.

I followed this with a couple of poems, finishing with my now well practiced piece “POP”, for which I feel a new found freedom in being able to recite it with out having to read it from the paper, this is so liberating and allows me to deliver more drama to the piece.

During my reading about 20 students fromWarwick University crept in and I appreciated them giving due reverence to me as the reader as they stood and listened.

Following on with Tony Owen whose latest collection The Dreaded Boy gets is regional launch at the Inspire Bar, this Wednesday 15th June.

Colin Dick, the well respected artist, poet and teacher, read from his notebooks and then sat and sketched the performers as they spilled their words into the mike. I think there is something really special to have an artist capture the evening in pencil and charcoal, it captures the atmosphere of the evening with the dimmed lighting creating listening shadows that hang from ceiling and in the corners, these are all flashed out with a photograph, but not so in Colin’s sketches.

Barry Patterson read his poems for the poets trail, of mining and acid ponds and then forgot to read his poem that will appear on the trail about giving advice to the Geordie Lad heading into Pooley Pit for first time.     

There were further readings from Martin Brown, Josie Allen and Tori Truslow who read from her macbook, much to the delight of the Warwick University students who had come along especially to support her.

The evening left me tired with the satisfaction of having bathed in real poetry as I arrived home and slipped into sleep at around 12:30am.

The next Night Blue Fruit is on 5th July at Taylor John’s Coventry at 8:00pm – Open Mic. Free entry, all are welcome.

Wednesday saw me attend the Momentum Scratch performance at Nottingham Playhouse where Colin Henchley’s play Sin was performed as one of five ten minute plays that had won a place into this final evening of performance for the Momentum Scratch Competition.

Sin was by far the darkest and most serious of the plays that were performed on the night, which is important as I feel that there is not enough of this type of play being written or commissioned, as writers focus on the public’s apparent need of comedy. Whilst Sin may not pander to this market, it is in my opinion of greater value, because it makes us face our tolerances and prejudices and reassess our values.

Don’t get me wrong comedy very much has its place, but it can only really be a true voice if we understand our values and can then make a judgment on when something is funny and when it steps over the line. Tolerance and Prejudice come from within, from our experiences, from what we consume to feed our experiences. Our diets have to be balanced.  

Sin, sees a Jew and Homosexual play out their prejudices’ as they travel on a train. This is all shaped around the sin that they are about to commit, that being, to marry a young couple though neither is ordained to do so, having lied to the couple that they have the authority to perform this ceremony. As it plays out there is a realisation that this train is heading to Belsen and that this act, though a Sin in the eyes of the Jew, would at least allow the couple to meet their fate, thinking they were man and wife.

Colin always tackles difficult subjects expertly, with respect and understanding. He is not afraid to explore taboos to gain a better understanding of our moral make up. He has a great ability to unravel the story as the dialogue progresses and to affect the audience into thinking about the subject. There is humour in this play, which at the beginning raised laughter, it was noticeably subdued after the revelation that they were on their way toBelsen, even though there were still funny lines after this point.

The characters prejudices’ get talked through and there is an understanding that develops as each of them reveals their stories and sacrifices, though neither gives up their on belief in who they are.  The barriers are broken down and they declare a friendship and put aside the concerns about the morality of the bogus marriage they are about to perform.

There is no doubt that these two men are courageous, brave enough to stand by what they believe, even though as it is revealed in the play, neither has to be there. The Jew was not born a Jew but had converted to Judaism and the Homosexual was caught in a situation of his own making, so as to implicate his lover who had informed on several of their politically motivated anti-fascist friends. 

This was all expertly delivered in ten minutes through Colin’s words, though this would seem an impossible task taking on such a big subject and delivering something of great value in a short space of time. As the intolerance within the greater intolerance is resolved. Colin delivers this skilfully, with a complete, believable play.

The performance was delivered by the graduate actors from the University theatre school and was really well done; however, I do think the director missed something by not delivering the poignant last line of the play as written in the script; an omission, which I did not understand as I felt it hammered home the situation and the conditions in which the characters found themselves. But then I am writer and not a theatre director so what do I know.

I still think the last line as written, is worth repeating, it was the start of the marriage ceremony of the young couple, Karl and Marika.

“Karl and Marika, you come here voluntarily with hearts prepared….”   From Sin by Colin Henchley © 2011

Thursday saw me reading in Birmingham as part of week of workshops and performances led by Jan Watts at Erdington Library, it was a really good evening with a range of local poets all delivering their unique voices and styles. It was reviewed by Gary Longden whose kind words on my reading are much appreciated, you can read Gary’s review at:


I also much appreciated Gary Carr reading his poem “50”, which he wrote following my 50th Birthday party last year, it is poem that means a lot too me and really reflects the evening and my relationships, I never tire of hearing it, though some may think that is a little self indulgent, any way thank you Gary.

This week will see me attending Tony Owen’s book launch on Wednesday and at Leamington Peace Festival on Sunday.

Can I apologise to those of you who complained that there was not a lost poet last week, something I will rectify this week, but thank you for sharing my interest in re-finding these poets.


My lost poet this week is John Clare (1793 To 1864)

On Saturday, I spoke with Judith Allnatt, whose second novel The Poets Wife, explores John Clare’s life from the viewpoint of his wife. Her book is written to promote Clare as a poet, using a voice that is even more over looked, that of Clare’s poor wife Patty, who not only had to endure his mad genius, but also the prejudices of the critics, who saw her husband as The Northampton Peasant Poet and left him in the shadow of his richer contemporaries of  Byron, Shelley and Keats.

Clare would easily fit into the domain of my GRAFT project which explores the lives and works of labouring poets to inspire the creation of new pieces. I chose a Miner, a Railway Factory Worker and A Weavers Wife for the project as I felt they were lesser known than Clare, but never-the-less had I chosen an agricultural worker then Clare would have been the poet of choice.    

Clare was born in Helpston, Northamptonshire in 1793, the son of a farm labourer. His education was brief but gave him the basic skills at reading and writing that allowed him to explore his poetic muse in the nature and countryside around him.

He lived in times that saw great change as the Industrial Revolution forged its way acrossBritainand the enclosure acts saw the English countryside change and many farm labourers abandon their roots to seek work in the towns and the new manufactories.

His first love was Mary Joyce, whose father a more ambitious prosperous farmer forbade her to have anything to do with him.

His break as a poet came in 1820, the same year that he married Martha (“Patty”) Turner. His first volume of poems, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery was published too much acclaim and the following year his second volume Village Minstrel and other Poems was also published.

However, following this, his work though admired was not promoted as much as that of his contemporaries, Byron, Shelley and Keats, whose early deaths and notoriety far outshone that of the farm labourer with a growing family and responsibilities.

Clare found himself trapped outside the worlds of early 19th Century celebrity and that of the illiterate farm labourers, with whom he had grown up and lived among. This along with his lack of success in his writing and constant worries about money to support his large family; led to his depressions, diversions into alcohol and his eventual incarceration in the High Beach Private Asylum inEpping Forest in 1837.

He leaves the asylum in 1841 and walks back toNorthamptonto be reunited with his family; he believes he is married to Mary Joyce, his first love. This is a theme that Judith Allnatt explores in her book the Poets Wife, as Patty has to put up with his erratic delusions and though she is the loving caring wife, it is the first love, who is now dead that he visions as his wife.

He was later committed to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum where he wrote perhaps his most famous poem I am. The poem reflects on the sanctuary of the asylum and the alienation that he feels from his friends and family, his love of nature and the countryside, reasserting his individuality. It seems ironic that his poem entitled “I am” is written at a time when he thinks he is Lord Byron, whose work he has re-written, or Shakespeare.

“I am”, is often referred to as Clare’s Last Lines, it has a metaphysical feel to it, and is certainly of the quality of his contemporaries and his earlier poems.

Clare is often seen as being only a nature poet, but he is more than this and wrote on themes of love, religion and politics. Following his death in 1864 – he disappeared and remained unnoticed until the late 20th century when there was an academic reassessment of his work, which saw him rise to be recognised as one of the most important poets of his generation. 

But despite this recognition by academics, he is still more widely lives in the shadow of others.

Links for John Clare:

John Clare at Poem Hunter


Judith Allnatt author of The Poets Wife : http://www.judithallnatt.co.uk/

The Poets Wife (Amazon Link)


The John Clare Cottage Trust: http://www.clarecottage.org/

The Selected Poems of John Clare – Penguin Classic (Amazon)



Readings in June and July.

17th June – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

19th June – Leamington Peace Festival – Bandstand Stage – Time TBC

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield.

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who moan about the same old things but never do anything about them.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

A wooden, elastic band powered car.


Various versions of One Bourbon, One scotch, One beer.

My favourite is the John Lee Hooker version followed by the George Thorogood version.

I can’t think what the Glee version is like – maybe I’ll give that one a miss.


I am inspired by the Secret Writer’s, April Fools list of 40 things that she has never done before and wants to do before she reaches 41, you can see her progress on her blogspot.


My list is to find 50 lost poets. Poets who were either popular once but have gone out of favour, or had a modicum of success in their day and have been somewhat under appreciated.

The first poet on my list is Michael Drayton (1563-1631) who is often eclipsed by his contemporaries, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and John Donne. If these four had been the Beatles then Michael Drayton would have been George Harrison. A very talented writer, who was overshadowed by the extra-ordinary talents of those around him. Though having said that, I would not want to say which of the other three would be Ringo Starr.

Drayton was born in Hartshill, Warwickshire, to a farming family, who were tenants of Sir Henry Goodere of Polesworth. It was Sir Henry who brought young Michael to Polesworth as a page and provided him with an education in the school room above the Abbey Gatehouse. Drayton developed his poetic skills in the company of thePolesworth Circle, which included Jonson and Donne, along with the architect Inigo Jones.

Drayton wrote his Ideas Mirror, a set of sonnets that declared his love for an unknown lady, who we now know to be his patron’s daughter Anne Goodere, his love was unrequited and Anne went on to marry another, but she remained friends with Michael and the other poets and they were often guests at her marital home in Clifford Chambers. See http://www.bartleby.com/214/1004.html for more details.

Ideas Mirror contains one of the poems that we have included on the Poets Trail, To the River Ancor, where Drayton confides in the river of his love for Anne and how she inspires him along with the forest Arden which he alludes to the Greek poets comparing it to the valley of Tempe and the river itself, which he considers his Helicon.

Another poem in the series is perhaps his best known “Since there is no help let us kiss and part”. The full collection can be read at http://www.luminarium.org/editions/idea.htm

Perhaps his other best known work is PolyOlbion, his description of the landscape ofEngland, which to me as poet who explores landscapes is a treasure of descriptive, historical verses that allow us to compare the landscape four hundred years ago with our landscape today. PolyOlbion, Many Albions or Many Englands is a concept that still hold true today with the many diverse cultures and traditions that make up our country. Along with the development of the land, through the industrial revolution and now the industry has waned, the re-generation of the natural environment as we have seen at Pooley. I wonder how much of the landscape Drayton would recognise if he were to wander around Polesworth today.

PolyOlbion was written using Dr Philemon Holland’s translation ofCamden’s Britannia, as it clearly follows the same structure asCamden’s work.  Dr Holland lived and practiced inCoventryand it is most likely that Drayton had access to his translation. More recently Paul Farley revisited PolyOlbion with his Electric PolyOlbion for the BBC.

A reprint of Polyolbion in three parts is available from Amazon


The Leicester poet Matt Merritt is also a promoter of all things Draytonian and has his PolyOlbion blogspot at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com/

Matt will be the guest poet at the Fizz in July.

The classroom where Drayton was taught is now part of the development of the holiday lets at Polesworth Abbey Gatehouse.


I admire Drayton, most of all for following his own path, writing on subjects that interested him, his language and style maybe of his day, but it is never-the-less engaging. The cottage where he was born is no longer there and his classroom is now a lounge come dining room. However the fireplace in front of which he wrote Idea’s mirror is still there and this is now our Tempe as poets place their hands upon it before reading at the Fizz.

My list of lost poets is included after my Coming Soon Doings, watch it as it grows.

Last week saw me reading through the submitted poems and making my selections, which will be discussed with the other judges before the final selection is made. This has been a particularly hard task as there are so many great poems.

I am meeting over Easter with the other main judge to decide our final selections to be presented to the group for confirmation. Then the work can begin with the interpretations into the installations, in time for them to be installed in early July.

It was good to see some sunshine this weekend, let’s hope it lasts. After Easter I will be working with two poets to make films of their poems, one a suspense filled montage that will be filmed at night, the other retracing a walk to meet a love, with a twist at the end.

Tonight sees me at the Shindig in Leicester and Thursday at a meeting to discuss Nuneaton’s Summer Day of Poetry – followed by Spoken Worlds at its new location The Old Cottage Inn –Burton-upon-Trent. 


Just a couple of readings in April.

18th April – Shindig Leicester – The Western, Western Ave, Leicester. – 7:30pm

22nd April – Spoken Worlds – The Old Cottage Inn – Burton-on-Trent. – 7:30pm

List of Lost Poets.

1. Michael Drayton – See Blog 18th April 2011.

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