Celebrating the Bard

A quick post to mention that I am reading at an event to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday. It’s part of the South Downs Poetry Festival, (of which more anon), and is hosted by my publishers, (it still, even after three years feels weird to write that!), Dempsey & Windle.

I shall be reading Sonnet 50 alongside a very short poem of my own that links to the theme of that particular poem.

Eventbrite link here should you be interested:


The Front Room

A brief post to plug an event I am involved with tomorrow evening. The Front Room run spoken word & live music events in Portsmouth and the surrounding area. These are usually held in the (excellent) Hunter Gatherer in Southsea, but obviously at the moment are online.

You can pick up the event via the Front Room’s Facebook page. I am contributing three poem films – it’s the first time I have done anything like this (where I have made the films myself rather than using the skills of an established film maker). Any comments afterwards would be appreciated – always looking for ways to improve!

The three poems are;

The Transmutation of Geese

Metamorphosis in a Copnor Garden

The Domestication of Ghosts

The first and third poems can be found in Landings, the second one is brand new, written for tomorrow’s event.

Link for the event is;


Snow Q – Reimagining the Snow Queen

Last week I was at a world premiere (not something I get to say very often!), held at the Square Tower in Portsmouth . Three Polish-connected artists, namely poet Maria Jastrzębska, fine artist Dagmara Rudkin and composer Peter Copley came together to collaborate on a project inspired by The Snow Queen story by Hans Christian Andersen.

Held at the Square Tower, in conjunction with Tongues and Grooves, I thought it was excellent. I didn’t understand everything, (much of the dialogue is in Ponglish (a combination of Polish and English), but to me, that was part of the point of the piece – the alienation that is felt my so many in society, especially those marginalised, whether through sexual orientation, mental health, or immigration (all three of which were picked up seperately as recurrent themes of this production by different audience members).

Poetry itself pretty much always exists outside the mainstream, and many poets, myself included, often write about marginalised aspects of society. This production was very thought provoking. More information, including details of future events, can be found at the following link;

I first came into contact with Maria when I was putting together my film project on poets of exile for the BBC Big Screens, and have heard her read at various events organised by Tongues and Grooves (one of which I hosted). She is an excellent poet, and I highly recommend her collections. Incidentally she also has a blog which is worth following, here:

As for Tongues and Grooves, I’ll write a separate post later, but you can find additional information, including one of my poems at; https://tonguesandgrooves.com/

Learning the Wild Geese

I’m not very good at memorising my poems, and am in awe of those poets and spoken word performers who can stand on stage and recite their work without having a paper prompt.. Despite having read some of mine 30+ times I remain unconvinced that my memory is good enough, and always have a safety net to hand.

I am therefore beginning to regret my decision to be part of an event on March 1st at the Theatre Royal Portsmouth, where alongside about twenty others I will be reciting someone else’s poem from memory – especially as the poem I have chosen, Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, is very well known.

I love this poem, from the direct statement of the first line, the conversational tone of language, the use of repetition, internal rhythm and subtle imagery. It takes a lot of skill and effort to create a poem that seems so effortless and unforced – as a comparison compare this to the haibun I posted earlier (Springwatch 2029). I know which is the better poem by far – and if you think it’s mine then thank you, I’m flattered – but you’re wrong!

You can find plenty of other articles about this poem online ( I really am beginning to wish I had chosen something more obscure!) but if you are going to follow any one link then choose this one – an audio recording of Mary Oliver reading Wild Geese


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and soft pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


An Interview with a Poet

I’ve just started reading (and very much enjoying) We Are The Lizards, Margaret Jennings first published poetry collection. Margaret is also published by Dempsey & Windle, and I will be interviewing her as part of Portsmouth Bookfest on February 17th – in fact, it’s the first event of Bookfest this year – no pressure then!

If anyone has any particular questions they would like asked, please let me know in the comments below

Details on the event are below –

An evening full of poetry: an interview with local poet Margaret Jennings, readings, discussion and the chance to share your own work.

About this Event

An Evening of Poetry – brought to you by T’Articulation.

 A convivial soiree with local poets, published and from the spoken word circuit.

An interview of Margaret Jennings, Portsmouth’s recently published new poet, will be conducted by Richard Williams who has a most excellent collection of his own with the same publishing house. This will be followed by themed readings from the work of a number of local poets. We will also delve into their techniques. Following on, there’ll be opportunities for the audience to share their own work. Oh, and a surprise on the night, if we’re lucky – which we will be because I’ve just had availability confirmed.

Food and drink can be bought from the cafe, throughout the evening.

A book stall of poetry books by local authors (who would love to sign one just for you) will be complemented by secondhand offerings of anthologies from other, well established, poets.

For further details, and to book tickets to this and other Bookfest events, please go to http://www.portsmouthbookfest.co.uk/2020-festival-programme/

This event is organised by T’Articulation, a Portsmouth based writing collective, who have their own Facebook page listing various events, including open mic readings, here. They are a friendly bunch and won’t bite if you want to have a go! https://www.facebook.com/TArticulation/

Oh and you can find more about, and buy Margaret’s book here; https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/margaret-jennings.html