Sunday, 3 July 2022

Summer / Break by Richie McCaffery

Due to having a generous mention in the acknowledgements section of Richie McCaffery’s third full collection, Summer / Break (Shoestring Press, 2022) and  having kept up a long-distance, email-based friendship with him over several years, I don’t feel I can review his new book with any degree of independence or objectivity.

However, suffice to say, Summer / Break is an excellent example of the poetry I enjoy reading. Apparent simplicity, delicious poetic leaps and achingly resonant object-led poems have long been McCaffery’s trademarks, but his recent personal upheaval seems only to have driven him further and deeper in a quest to find the means of expressing and transforming extreme emotions. Completely and utterly recommended!

Friday, 1 July 2022

To be studied or to be read?

Amid all the recent talk of certain poets being added to or removed from this or that syllabus, I started to wonder whether it's better for a poem to be studied or to be read. Deep down, I suppose I fear the heart of a poem might be ripped out once it's submitted to the strictures of an exam or a grading system, although its inclusion in a syllabus clearly means it will reach more people.

Of course, the counterargument lies in the chance of encountering a sensitive English teacher who shows students how to read for themselves, thus adding to their own autonomous interpretations. I know, for instance, that I would never have learned to appreciate many poets without the help and encouragement of Richard Hoyes from Farnham College. However, I've got the distinct impression that such teachers are being squeezed out of the system...

Monday, 27 June 2022

A poem by Tristan Moss

Today’s featured poem is by Tristan Moss, taken from his new pamphlet, The Cold War (Lapwing Publications, 2022).

By approaching its devastating subject matter aslant via an extended metaphor, this poem is packed with implicit questions. Therein lies its power, wondering, for example, how we verbalise our reactions to death and grief. And then it ponders what type of driver we are. Or what type of mourner…


a van
speeding down the motorway,
backdoors flailing
boxes falling out.
Some drivers keeping their distance,
others trying to get by,
or some like myself
picking up what’s been left behind.

(Previously published in issue 203 of Snakeskin)

Friday, 17 June 2022

My review of Stewart Sanderson's The Sleep Road on Wild Court

My review of Stewart Sanderson's first full collection, The Sleep Road (Tapsalterie, 2022)) is now up at Wild Court. In both individual and collective terms, The Sleep Road is a significant collection. You can read my review via this link.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

My second full collection

Massive news for me: HappenStance Press will publish my second full collection in November 2023. I’m delighted/chuffed/overjoyed, etc, etc, to have the chance to work again with Helena Nelson, one of the best editors around.

What’s more, HappenStance books are gorgeous objects in themselves. Now to keep chipping away at my ms, only sixteen months to go…!

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Poetry Birmingham Issue 8

I'm pleased to report that I've got two new poems in the forthcoming issue of Poetry Birmingham. What's more, they're in excellent company...

Friday, 20 May 2022

My article on Ben Wilkinson's poetry

My article on Ben Wilkinson's poetry is now up at The Friday Poem, tracing his development from his first pamphlet through to his second full collection, Same Difference (Seren Books, 2022). Here's a small taster...

...Same Difference sees Wilkinson concluding a process that began with The Sparks, resolving the co-existence of accessibility and erudition in his poetry, and employing a coherent and cogent method that combines allusion and directness of speech. By resolving these potential clashes and making them work in synch he’s already generated an approach that’s highly unusual in the context of contemporary UK poetry... 

You can read it in full by clicking on this link.