Saturday, 31 July 2010

August Events

August is an incredibly busy month for us. We're intent on getting to the final stages for all of our four new Sidekick Books projects (you can see cover previews for two of them here). We're also finishing and launching the 16th issue of Fuselit, Jack, which will be launched at a Fuselit 5th birthday celebratory event which I just need to dash off and confirm now ...

On Sunday 1st August, I'll be reading alongside Kevin Reinhardt and poets from the floor at the Torriano Meeting House, kicking off at 7.30pm, on Torriano Avenue, ten minutes walk from Kentish Town. I will debut two collage-sonnets there, both based on 'fake' or impostor works - an LP of (Million Copy Sellers Made Famous by) Tom Jones but "recorded by a different, brilliant artist" and a novel called Alistair MacLean's Death Train which is not by Alistair MacLean.

On Tuesday 3rd August, I'll be reading alongside John Osbourne, Sarah Hesketh and others at the launch party for Pen Pusher 16, from 7pm at the Betsey Trotwood, Farringdon Road, between King's Cross and Farringdon. I'll give the collage sonnets another go, but I also hope to finish a second draft of a monologue (in rhyme royal) in response to a question asked during an interview with MI6. It takes in Romanian castles and mutilated crayfish, but is also about trying to craft your own fate.

On Saturday 7th August, Kirsty and I will both be playing songs and reading poems at the UKAlive reading at the Big Green Bookshop, a couple of minutes from Turnpike Lane. Again, it all starts at 7pm. I have to write some new songs this week for it.

On the 18th, we're both reading somewhere else, but I think that might be private. I have a plus one if anyone really wants to come!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Rice Planting Songs #16, 17 and 18

Spent all weekend doing work for our upcoming books and for Fuselit: Jack. Here's three recent rice planting songs:

Rice Planting Song #16
Diners Club 22.07.10

(n) when Qs suppose not As
but a confession.

Rice Planting Song #17
Diners Club 23.07.10

One windblown witness
withdraws, his grateful grin rough-
edged as a cutlass.

Rice Planting Song #18
Hull306 26.07.10

Dear Captain Ranjan,
assure you ship does not require
'starboard love engine'.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Rice Planting Songs #13, 14 and 15

I've got to start posting more than rice planting songs and Microfiction Club! Thing is, the landscape of the internet is changing - Facebook is sucking up most of my comment time, to the extent that I even have much constructive to say about the latest developments.

Let's see. The Forward Prize shortlists were announced today! Unfortunately, out of all of them, I've read one book and one poem, so not really in a position to say much except that at first glance, there's nothing to get excited about - the usual names in the 'best collection' category, and some new stuff in the 'best first collection' category.

Here are the rice planting songs for the last three days. I'm afraid they're, at best, pretty rough.

Rice Planting Song #13
Diners Club 19.07.10

Three arbitrators
pick at a dinner spilt by
colliding waiters.

Rice Planting Song #14
Diners Club 20.07.10

The translator steers
between two styles of music,
storms crowding her ears.

Rice Planting Song #15
Diners Club 21.07.10

It's indigestion
of a sort - this reluctance
to answer questions.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Microfiction Club, Week 3

Microfiction Club has had something of a rough ride since the heyday of its success in week 2. Week 3 went well enough but was somehow not uploaded, and weeks 4 and 5 have struggled due to my imminent, then deeply occurring, holiday in Wales. Hopefully, the parties behind this unique experiment will pull themselves together over the coming weeks, but in the mean time, here are the long delayed stories from week 3.

Let’s Go Somewhere to Eat
by Jon

The man at the till hands you your paper-wrapped sandwich. You didn’t want to pay the extra to eat in the cafĂ©, so you head out. Hoxton Square is nearby – just round the corner, in fact. But when you get there, you find that the grass is scuffed to dry dust, half the square is fenced off with no explanation and every bench is occupied by one or more muttering, spitting drunks.

There are tables and chairs out in the streets, some in the shade, but they all belong to the food outlets. You know better than to approach the grounds of St. Leonard’s Church.

You try your office. The kitchen is full – six of your co-workers crowded round the one tiny table. There are seats at the meeting table but Jon is eating his lunch there. Jon is awkward to talk to – or rather, he’s awkward not to talk to. Most people who don’t talk, they’re easy to eat with, but the way Jon doesn’t talk, it’s like he’s expecting you to say something first. All the time. It makes you uncomfortable.

The newly refurbished East London Line boasts trains with modern air conditioning systems. The carriages are gloriously cool. But you don’t want to get too far from the office and besides, you left your card wallet at your desk.

The sun digs murderously at your crown and grates across the back of your neck. You sit down on the edge of the pavement, the passing cars nearly scraping your knees, and you start to tear into the paper.

by Chris

It was a software fault, the technician said.

The Grand Overseers were not pleased with this, and waved their antennae in a manner severe enough to make the technician quiver slightly inside his carapace. What, they asked, did he mean by 'a software fault'?

It was the only explanation, said the technician. Physically the machine was fine, untouched, all its components in the right place, in working order and connected correctly. A short while ago, however, it had malfunctioned. Initially the speaker system had begun to make regular bursts of high-pitched, high-volume noise without reason. Then the machine had begun to leak fluid (presumed to be some type of coolant) from its sensor systems. Finally (and the technician hesitated a moment before continuing) the machine had propelled itself into the technician via its motor systems, causing some minor bruising to his main carapace and damage to one of his antennae.

The Grand Overseers chittered anxiously. How could a software fault lead to such a dangerous malfunction, they asked. Surely this had to be a physical defect in the machine?

With the greatest respect, the technician explained, he believed that the fault was caused during the recent rearrangement of the machine laboratories, though he had not as yet ascertained how. It seemed apparent that the machine had worked faultlessly for the last twenty solar cycles, while situated within the cluster it had originally been placed with. It was only when this cluster was closed down (the Grand Overseers, he hoped, would remember that two of the newer model machines of the cluster had been put into use elsewhere, while the other older model had been disposed of) that the problematic machine began to malfunction. He was confident that, with time and resources, he could track down the source of the problem and...

The Overseers clicked dismissively. What would such a task achieve? Machines were cheap. Why, they even had machines solely for the purpose of making more machines! Why spend more resources on a single broken one?

The chief of the Grand Overseers waved the technician away imperiously. Dispose of the faulty machine and replace it, he commanded. There was no point in attempting to diagnose its mysterious malfunction.

After all, it was only a machine.

Rice Planting Songs #10, 11 and 12

Just back from a week in Anglesey. Arguably not an adventurous holiday but you couldn't pay for the events of the last night, when high winds and high tide brought the raging estuary, replete with madly dancing boats, right up to our front door. I had to rescue one of our recycling boxes in my dressing gown and was nearly picked up and dunked by a sudden gust!

Great area for birdwatching too. Anyway, here are the three rice planting songs I did before leaving. So far I've managed to keep to the aim of one for every working day:

Rice Planting Song #10
Republic of Sudan 5.6.10
I'll say this of oil:
the bright, the dull, the damned dull,
it gathers them all

Rice Planting Song #11
Republic of Sudan 6.6.10 
The spat off-stage is
not entirely discreet. This
is quite outrageous.

Rice Planting Song #12
Republic of Sudan 7.6.10 
It's art, not science:
dressing well but not so's to
outshine one's clients.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Vintage Poison's 99 Red Balloons

On Saturday 10th July, poetry collective Vintage Poison will be holding the second of its outdoor events, 99 Red Balloons. As you've probably already guessed it involves 99 helium filled red balloons.

Each balloon will have tied to it a blank tag and here's where you come in. They're offering 99 people the chance to claim a balloon for themselves and write whatever they want on their tag. It could be a joke, a poem, a wish, a secret, your phone number - whatever you like.

To claim your red balloon, you need to do be available to turn up the afternoon of Saturday 10th July, for a balloon releasing venue in central London.

The afternoon itself will not just involve balloon releasing but will also be a bit of a picnic as well as music, poets, bad stand up comedy etc.

If you fancy joining the fun, email to get involved, and if you're available and genuinely interested VP will send you the details of where to turn up.

For more things Vintage Poison, sashay to

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Degenerate Sweethearts and Rebel Scum TONIGHT!

Hallo one and all! If you're in Soho tonight, I'm reading at Degenerate Sweethearts and Rebel Scum, a rapid-fire night of poetry hosted by Joe Ridgwell and Jenni Fagan at the Coach and Horses (W1D 5DH, nearest tubes Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square etc.) and it would be great to see you there. It's a teeny £3 to get in. Doors open at 7pm and the advice is to get there in good time.

Those peddling their wares tonight include Paul Ewen, Michael Keenaghan, Iona Davis, Steve Finbow, James Rippingale, Joe Duggan, Kirsty Irving, Ashley Stokes, Lee Rourke, Scurvy Bastard, Mark SaFranko, Dan Fante, Dave Oprava, Mark Walton, Darran Anderson, Jenni Fagan, Vic Templar, Joe Ridgwell, Tim Wells and Kevin Williamson and I believe Michael Curran from Tangerine Press will also be there.

The page to see

Time Out!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Rice Planting Songs #7, #8 and #9

I can't pretend these are going well! Still, I'm keeping to the rules - one for every day I do my job. As on #9, I'm switching to three lines, I think.

Rice Planting Song #7
Lower Mill Estate v HMRC 28.06.10

What god of pain gave
the order that all courtrooms
be filled, wave on wave,
with bust chairs with moulded arms?

Rice Planting Song #8
TVK Hull No.7 29.06.10

Yesterday, the air
filled with operatic voice!
Today, a jackdaw
fills in, his tenor quite coarse.

Rice Planting Song#9
Leedon v Hurry 01/07/10

The mics can pick up
the sound of minds being made,
each hush and scrape.