Friday, 14 March 2014


A couple of poems I have been working on this week. Both very straight forward and simple and I hope with the universality of a good poem.

In Bristol my favourite bookshop,
located at the top of Park Street,
sells remainders at two quid a pop,
cash, no cheques, no cards.
I have spent hours roving
from book to book that took my fancy.
Today I discover it is now a bookies.
This is I am informed, the joy of the free market,
demand will give us the shops we want.
I am not betting on it myself.

It was as described. I was driving up Park Street and happened to see that the bookshop had gone. It’s true I am not a frequent visitor to Bristol but when I go I always made a point of spending time in said shop. Should I clarify that a bookies is a betting shop?

There is something inviting about a good bookshop and for me, something even more enticing about a remaindered bookshop. Here you will find the unwanted books, the over printed and dead in the water no hopers. The books that otherwise escape your radar.

I have a collection of Chinese poetry 200-1000 CE that I bought for a pound in the early eighties and still enjoy today. It set me off reading poetry from other cultures though I have doubts about translation-a translated poem is a different poem.

This second poem wrote itself quickly but took time to smooth out. I tried a number of different formats but settled on prose poem as the most effective form.

With the self-limiting logic of the truly ignorant, this bloke once told me that if you can’t spell a word then you shouldn’t use it!  I did not reply that at school I had been judged word blind and if I followed this advice I would never have opened my mouth. That was over forty years ago. I wonder if he has managed to break out of the social construction in which he was attempting to imprison me.

Again it is a true story. The memory can cascading uncalled into my head the other day and as it did so I thought, there’s a poem in this. We are all the sum of the social constructions we grow up in.

Two things to leave you with: You can download the marvellous Emily Kraemer’s last album for free here; and listen to Anne Briggs sing Blackwaterside while you do so.

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