Friday, 29 July 2011


I was planning the poetry workshop I am running at the Cock & Bull Festival this Saturday and I got to thinking about writing tips as I wanted to give those attending as much information as I could.
This is what I came up with:
o Always have paper and a pen on you for when inspiration strikes. This does not have to be a full blown concept; it could be a line or an idea, a snippet of conversation or something written on a wall. (The front cover of my book came from a piece of graffiti on the entrance to a Metro in Barcelona. I get lots of ideas as I do other things; the secret is to write them down.)
o No matter how amazing your first draft is, revise it. Then revise it some more.
o Be critical, ask yourself what does this poem say? Is it clear to you? If not revise it some more.
o Read it out aloud, better still get someone to read it for you, think about how it sounds.
o Never be too in love with a line. Sometimes you have to take out your favourite line because it doesn’t fit-save it, you may be able to use it elsewhere.
o Look at your poem and think does it still work if I take this word out? Remove any excess words. Make it lean.
o Then leave it alone for a week or two-if you can. Time grants a more critical eye.
o Show it to people, join a writing group, get feedback and learn to structure your opinions. Get a writing buddy, so you can give and get constructive feedback on your work.
o Read as much poetry as you can. Not just the poets you already like with but different ones. Get an anthology and read a poem a day. Pay attention to how the poets structure their work; ask yourself what you can learn from each one as you read it.
o Look at different poetical forms (rondels, villanelles, and tankas are just some you could explore) then try to write your own. You don’t have to show them to anyone but it will give you insight into the poetical process.
o Lastly just keep writing.
This is the best information I can give. I’d be interested in hearing your pointers and tips.
Here’s a link which might be useful :
Have a good weekend.

Saturday, 23 July 2011


Apologies to Bob Marley for purloining his title, I know he said everything far more eloquently then I do but there is much to talk about, today; this week I have been consumed by the work on the comics. I have been fine tuning the second, mapping out the third (I have the end of the story firmly in my head and parts on pages of my note book) and am thrilled (no other word will do) by the first sketches of the characters and the world. I have never really collaborated with anyone on a story before and it is turning out to be an exciting experience.

I used to write songs with my guitarist when I had a band as a student but the work was firmly demarcated then, I did words he the music. I honestly think that neither of us had much insight into the creative process. Now it feels vital, alive and I am enjoying the process immensely.

This time next week I shall be both performing at The Cock & Bull Festival and running a poetry workshop. There are still tickets; the whole weekend is only £65. Check out the music here:

There is also a poetry slam on the Sunday. This has all the making so of being a very special festival.

Speaking of festivals I’d like to remind you that I am the Festival Poet at Purbeck this year. Here is the web site:

I will be running two workshops and writing throughout the weekend. This is the third festival and the indications are it will be even better than the last two.

The other focus of my time is attempting to write a play for a competition, more information about that soon.

The school holidays are with us, and I reminded of my mother’s old saying “Teacher’s rest, Mother’s pest.” The M5 will be crawling along today, and tomorrow and next weekend, do yourselves a favour come festivaling!

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Cock & Bull Festival

I am looking forward to this very special festival on the 29th to the 31st of this month. It takes place near Bath and has a really interesting line up of musicians, poets and artists. It is not your run of the mill festival, but offers a great selection of activities, from theWild Food and Medicine workshop, through to the sheep shearing and yoga. I am running a poetry workshop on the Saturday and will be reading around the site as well.
On the music front there will be sets from Joe Driscoll, Sheelanagig, Benin City, John Fairhurst, Kasai Masai, Artful Badger and many more. I think this will be a great weekend with a really different and exciting set of activities and music.
The profits from the festival go to Jamies Farm a charity aimed at supporting young people who are excluded from school. You can find out more information about this worthwhile charity here:
You can look at the festival website here:
As the tickets are limited to 500, this will be no crowded, souless, commercial experience but a small, friendly festival set in the beautiful countryside of Somerset.
I look forward to seeing you there and talking about poetry.