Friday 28 August 2015


More from the Marjons workshop. 
The above document is an application form for the College of St. Marks in the 1880's. I used this and another person's form as the basis of the third workshop task.
The idea that came to me developed from thinking about the form and how small the spaces were for the applicant to reply. The man in question obviously had a full time: born in America; moved to England; trained and worked as a cobbler; joined two different strands of Christianity; a very interesting life.

The Word had reached in, kissed his heart,
sloughed off all sin, remade him in grace.
He saw the only possible course,
souls to save through education, transmutation,
he will bring this light to others.

He cannot write all this Good News down in the space provided.
What do you think?
Needs a little revision possibly open out the moment of revelation. But the idea works.
I am afraid I cannot work out how to transfer the last archive image, a clipping from a local Plymouth paper in 1969. It has a photograph of the first intake of student teachers in Plymouth, this is prior to the then College of St Mark and St John moving there from London. Its a long story but the then college moved to Plymouth in 1973 but had run a satellite B.Ed. in the city. The women posed by a photographer interested me.


I suspect a low news week,
examine this faked photographic opportunity,
a pretend weaving class.
Wooden poses of what the photographer thinks education looks like

The headlines tells a truth but fails to add
that the men will be paid more
and have better jobs from the start.
This news clipping is an echo from a war that is still being fought.

The difference in pay between men and women was worse in 1969 and shamefully it has not been eradicated today. It seems incredible in the twenty first century that one's biological gender can affect one's earning capacity. But perhaps that is a discussion for another time.
Here's the magnificent Annabelle Chvostek singing Peter Tosh's Equal Rights.

Friday 21 August 2015


On Monday I facilitated a workshop. The focus of which was to use some more items from the University of St Mark & St John's archive to spark poems we can use at our October poetry reading.
I began the day with a quick exercise. Think of an card that describes something from the archive. Perhaps there is a photograph on one side.
For some reason or other an event I have not thought anything about for thirty plus years came into my head.
The photograph is of the view from my window when I was a student. Half of the people in featured where my house mates. One Sunday night a rather drunk student stood in about that spot and attempted to seranade the woman who is standing in the photograph.
Of course this drew us all to look out of our windows, just in time to see the singer step backwards and his foot though the borrowed guitar.

exhibit: 3B47i5.

On one side of the card a photograph of an acoustic guitar broken in half. The sound board is shattered.

On the other side if this:

hesitant of tune
he sings with passion
too drunk to care
his late night serenade
all our laughter
as he steps back 
and puts his foot through his mate's guitar
This next poem was inspired by a clipping from a paper describing the first curriculum of St John's back in 1840.
There is plainly an element of social control in this curriculum, how the educational opportunities of the lower classes are to be chanelled. 
I thought about how the student teachers needed to master all the skills they would teach and how much I had liked Technical Drawing when at school.


pencil pointed til it could tear skin

he wipes the wooden set square
graphite smokes his handkerchief

turns the paper when told
reads the question three times

a rough sketches
the lines barely feather the sheet

in time he presents three elevations
his text could be mistaken for print
I did not want to write anything about social control aspect of the curriculum but I wanted to convey the idea there is a beauty in simply doing a task to the best of your abilities.
Here's a couple of videos of Anna Terheim.

Friday 14 August 2015


I have been working on this poem for a couple of months. It has been hard to get it into a shape I like. I had the first half but could not see where it was going. 


We walk inside a tube of air,
all curved white tile walls,
under the River Thames,
but that's not the strange part.
Cyclists, mostly men, I note,
on top range mountain bikes,
and in all the right gear,
hurtle towards us.
It's 6:15, going home time,
and they are ever so eager,
to face the two mile challenge
of office to train.
I wonder if their work lives
in the counting houses of Babylon,
are as fantastic an illusion
as this scramble under the river.
It is based on a true event. One Monday evening in June I was in Greenwich foot tunnel and I was faced with scores of cyclist riding into my face. This annoyed me [especially as there were no cycling signs all over the tunnel floor] but I could not help but be amused by their top range bikes and cycling gear. I have seen less well equipped cyclists on top of the Quantocks - where you really do need a mountain bike. I suppose this poem is me venting my spleen.
The photographs are from our return journey.
I must have my misanthropic head on at the moment. Here is another sketch.

At last a taxi.
We clamber in to a monlogue,
his days as this small town's
bass guitar, heavy rock hero.
Put it all down to Vanilla Fudge he confides.
I remember them I reply.
Keeping to myself my opinion:
bloated, bombastic, sterile rock.
With this acknowledgement,
he feels free to eulogise them
all the way to our campsite.

This is not to be taken seriously. The link takes you to a performance by said band from 1968.
On a more melodic note: Hurray For The Riff Raff singing The Body Electric. This is an amazing song with a video to match.

Friday 7 August 2015


A simple poem to start with this post.

3am Thought

mirrors litter the wet square
I look at my feet
realise each shallow puddle holds a cosmos
I must navigate a path
that does not ripple a single looking glass
for I shall not be the destroyer of worlds this night
This second poem has been rewritten many times. This draft has a different focus to what I had initially imagined the topic would be. 

I see her once in a while
each time we have changed

this relationship
a spit
of sand
times oceans
one day
none of this
will be here
but today
I spy
a path

Does it work for you? I think its vagueness is a strength. Not sure about the layout. I think I need to let it be for a while.
Here's the new Beirut single. Their last lp was superb. I have great hopes for the new one, not sure about the concept behind the video though...