Sunday, 27 March 2011

a million ways to measure the sun...

My friend Steve is launching his book tomorrow.

I've only known Steve a couple of months, even though we're both poets moving around in the same circles. I went along last minute to a reading in Manchester, and there he was, this slightly tired but interesting looking fella with a woolly cap, standing at the mic on a very wintry Manchester evening. He started reading this poem called 'The Mills are Dead', and for a number of reasons, I tuned in more than I had been doing the rest of the evening. It was something about his rich Rochdale accent, there is something that says home to me about an accent like that. And I love mills. And his poem just spoke out to me that night. It has a real grim sense of the closure of the mills and all the detail of a time and place that died with them.

Anyway, a few hellos later, and some emails and coffee, and chat, and we're doing a bit of writing together. And then 'A Million Ways to Measure the Sun' comes through my letterbox.

A bloody good collection, I think. A real mix of intimate and industrial, his poems are stripped down, gritty and beautiful. They explore the darker, grimmer parts of life, as well as the more physical and real emotion aspects of being... He has a way with words and images that builds distinct sensory details into a broad landscape.

Here's 'The Mills are Dead so you can see what I mean...

The Mills Are Dead

Backboned of redbrick
guttural fuck from
the three day week,
the operation of bread
strike led darkness
scuffed end of the canal,

the mills are dead now mate;
the mills are dead.

The bones don't know
white finger, sluice-gated
pike faced, algae flushed
cheeks of the bar; after hours
poker hands, cribbage board
matchsticks; picking gristle
from Capstan teeth, kind of
open door neighbourhood kid,

Cos the mills are dead now mate
the mills are dead.

But I reckon your mother would know -
sure as a fiver on the flags
of a Sunday morning, organ playing
Afro-Caribbean lady - ginnel calling
her late husband to the pulse
of the cossack's daughter, shipped
over, shaving potatoes sobbing by the kitchen sink.

Cos the mills are dead now mate,
the mills are dead.

Anyway, I wanted to let people know about the launch. If you're around Manchester, come and hear him read. His voice reading these poems will be worth it...

And if you can't come, have a look at his book which is available as a download or a print copy.

Or have a look at his website. He is an amazing photographer and artist as well, man of many talents... And he's got short poem films on youtube.

And here is the man himself...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

A little round up...

I'm writing another short story commission, very exciting and on the hush hush, can't say much about it, although I am venturing into science fiction for the first time, and hope it will be worth it. I have a couple of readings coming up in April, that I will 'announce' in due course... I have written the odd poem this year, some reviews (online soon...) and am kind of nearly almost writing a script, just need to find the TIME.

Work is a stress. I'll say no more. It's necessary and sometimes rewarding, but I wish I had more time for myself.

I'm loving PJ Harvey's Let England Shake and Radiohead's King of Limbs, both are on repeat, and I'm not getting bored of them. I'm getting hooked by Mad Men. I loved The Fighter. I wish I had more money because there is a ton of music, film, gigs, theatre I would love to indulge in but just can't. I've not seen my friends as much recently and miss them, come on lovely friends, let's get together...x

Probably one reason for having less time is that I'm still enjoying a bit of romance. I'm squeezing him into my already busy and very full life, and he's very lovely, I can tell you. Ha. And he's not run a mile yet. Even after experiencing my grumpy emotional witchy side. Watch this space...

And of course, my allotment. I've been a bit slow getting started with the allotment this year. But thought I would give you a sneaky peek...

My new greenhouse! Thanks to Eric and Young Dave, I now have a beautiful square greenhouse. Eric acquired me it from freecycle, picked it up for me in three different trips, and the two of them put it together, with donations of flagstones from John the Gardener. I'm so lucky and very very pleased.

It has been cleaned, hosed down, dug over, and is now planted with many seeds... today I have planted tomatoes, aubergines, cabbages, broccoli, sprouts, squash, basil, sweet peas, sunflowers, leeks, and they are in my new greenhouse waiting to germinate. Also planted outdoors parsnips, radish, spring onions and beetroots.

I need to get my bum in gear and dig dig dig so I can plant everything out when it's ready. I have loads more seeds to plant, and potatoes chitting nicely in the kitchen. I have missed the allotment. I'm finding it hard to find the time and motivation to fully get back into it, but I think these lighter nights will help, and hopefully soon a bit more warmth. It's still very bitter out, up here in the north.

Ugh Politics

Politically, I'm very annoyed. (This is ongoing). Annoyed about the cuts, upset by the cuts. More people I know being made redundant, not just in the public sector but the impact of cuts is being felt in a lot of places. I've been signing petitions left, right and centre, and not randomly either, but there are so many children's centres, libraries and other such goodnesses facing closure, I feel the need to sign my name to so many important things. All places I use during my work or personally, all places that I know are valued in the community.

I've marched and had a shout about it in Manchester a few weeks ago. I'm not sure what good it will do but I was inspired by all the kids on the march, handmade banners from families trying to stop cuts that will affect them, and a lot of passion.

The big protest is next week of course in London on March 26th. I've decided not to go for a number of reasons, but I really hope the people that can make a difference notice and give a toss.

So, add to that my other angers

... anger at Sir Philip Green (the 'owner' of the Arcadia group, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, BHS, Burton etc) for his £285 million tax dodge), Vodaphone for not paying their 1.6 billion tax bill and all the other tax dodgers. Come on you rich bastards, pay up and then we can pay nurses, the police, social care, and public workers the money they deserve instead of pay freezes, cuts and redundancies.

... anger at the banks, I don't need to keep going on about why... why on earth are this government not making the banks pay for their mistakes and implementing the Robin Hood Tax

... anger at the government, which increases every day. Cuts in the short term will only cost more in the long term. And now here we are involved in a military attack on Libya, which I don't agree with, and where is the bloody money coming from for this? If we can afford expensive wars, then we can afford to put some money into our libraries, nurseries, and stop penalising the poor. Another link, this time to UNICEF's brilliant new Mind The Gap Campaign highlighting that 1 in 3 children in the UK LIVES IN POVERTY...

Anyway, cough, splutter, breathe.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

time (or lack of it)

So, there are the same twenty four hours in the day as usual. But they seem shorter, or perhaps they get filled quicker than I want them to. Where is the bloody time going? How come I have so little time to do everything I need and want to do?

Sometimes, all I can manage is to get to work, feed myself, make sure I have clean clothes. And even sometimes one or two of these go amiss. And I don't even have children. I have no clue how parents manage to fit everything in.

I mean, yes, work is very busy. I've been working the same hours as usual, but they seem to be very exhausting hours that require a lot of energy and concentration. But, I've always had a demanding job.

I'm not trying to be anything near a domestic goddess. If I can make it to the supermarket, wash my clothes, and cook a few meals, then the week has been a success. But, the house is a bloody pigsty and I don't know how I can find the time to clean it. The cat is moulting everywhere. The floor needs sweeping and I can't remember when it last saw a mop. I desperately need to fix the drawers that are falling out of my wardrobe, and the bathroom needs a good scrub.

It's not the way I want to spend a Saturday though.

Today, I felt cross and grumpy and completely out of sorts. I wanted to go to the allotment and get on with a million jobs down there and get some fresh air. I wanted to go on the demo in Manchester against the cuts because who knows whether I will still have a job later this year. I wanted to see my friends who I am seriously neglecting. I wanted to spend a bit of time with my new love, who I hardly have any time for. And I had a dozen jobs that needed doing. How on earth am I meant to fit everything in.

I felt cross with myself, stomped around, was snappy. I made a decision and then felt bad about the other people or things I was not getting the time for.

Ugh. Bleugh. Phf.

I've sacrificed a Saturday night to do jobs, just so I don't have to do any tomorrow. And I'm so bloody grumpy anyway, that I wouldn't want to inflict myself on anyone.

Please. Tell me. How do people do it? Especially those with kids? How do you stretch time? Get everything done? Still find time to relax sometimes? Find time to sleep?