Another Crossing – Khadijah Ibrahiim

Learning to Read #17 I believe that good poetry is a fluid thing – it speaks in many ways to different people, and in different ways at different times of your life. It might be the narrative of a single moment, or a description of a single place or an expression of a single emotion,…

Tony Harrison at 80

Performance #2 Part of the Leeds University celebration of Tony Harrison at 80, this was a double header – firstly we had the striking and rather brutal reflection piece “The Gaze of the Gorgon” and then we had an hour of the author reading selected pieces of his own work. The Gaze of the Gorgon…

Zig-Zag Girl – Brenna Twohy

Learning to Read #16 I feel I should mention this up front – there is a *but* to this review. This is a collection of very “me” focussed poetry collection, it is brief to the point of almost being too short, *but* it has some genuinely beautiful images and some stunning moments of impact. You…

A NSFW Tanka (sorry!)

Learning to Write #24 (It’s only the last one, which contains a swear word and I should apologise for, but it felt entirely appropriate) In his collection of haiku (“Anchorage”) David Cobb quotes some advice he has about writing haiku for 25 years and then publishing just the ten best poems from the whole period….

How I break Angels

Learning to Write #23 I wrote this ages ago, and tried my hand at knocking together an abstract video for it (link here). It’s about good people and the ways we discourage them. I like the idea, although the execution is rough and ready. It’s all part of the learning curve 🙂 The poem was…

National Poetry Day 2017

Learning to Write #22 This year, the theme for National Poetry Day was Freedom. My response was a bit sixth form love poetry but, hey, sometimes that’s where the words take you 🙂 This was a response to a lovely line in Swallowtail by Brenna Twohy. I was going to use a simple moth to…

Three More Tuesday Tanka

Learning to Write #21 Autumn has arrived, and these three tanka reflect different aspects of the season. Sort of. Cricket isn’t designed for autumn is it? Wet grass slows play down, and the chilly wind makes it harder to keep your pint steady in the stands. And politics. Autumn is the season of party conferences in…

Raking Light – Eric Langley

Learning to Read #13 What a contrast. At the same time as I was reading Olivia Gatwood, I was also reading this book. On the one hand; street wise, personal, straight talking oral poetry. On the other hand; complex, compelling, crafted, dense poetry that you kind of have to keep a dictionary on hand to…

Leeds Pride 2017

Learning to Write #17 I apologise, this is slightly churlish of me. I really enjoyed being part of the Leeds Pride 2017 parade, it was great to see families out there in the thousands (proper thousands, not Trump thousands), celebrating diversity. The rush of walking down from Millennium Square, high fiving the crowd and seeing…

Blurring the Line

Words and Faith #4 Two pieces to share, from that big space in my personal Venn diagram where poetry and preaching intersect. Firstly, I read a blog about the sacrament of place – those physical spaces where we particularly experience God’s grace. This struck a chord with me, because I’d preached the previous Sunday on…

Dirt – William Letford

Learning to Read #11 Firstly, if you get a chance to see this guy perform, take it. The way that he brings his words to life, with cadence and accent, and an easy charisma – it really transforms what you have on the page. I saw him at the 2017 Kendal Poetry Festival and the room…

General Election Haiku – The End

Learning to Write #16 The final few, we’re here – polling day! Brutal, exhausting, variable in quality…. But enough about my daily election haiku 😉 It’s been a blast, and I’m glad I’ve done it. It has been hard to work quickly and put something out to a deadline when it is only 70% done….