Monday, 31 December 2012

Never Trust a Mayan - 2012 in Review

Now that sufficient time has passed to get over the fact that the world did not cave in (you just can’t trust a Mayan can you?), it seems an apt moment on the eve of the New Year to reflect on those things that actually did come to pass.  

2011 had closed on a high after heading immediately from a gig to an airport to flee to the gorgeous land of Istanbul to present an academic paper with my sister in theoretical ramblings Amy Christmas (now Audebert). 

 The remedy for the inevitable Istanblues in the New Year arrived in the form of the, frankly gorgeous, Grist Anthology of the Best Poetry 2012 which included my wee piece ‘Perhaps Praying’, with the added bonus of allowing me to share a webpage with the likes of Simon Armitage, Alexei Sayle, Melvin Burgess, Joanne Harris, Ian McMillan, Lemn Sissay and some obscenely gifted writers.  Here’s a link to the appropriate post:

Speaking of fellow ‘Grist’ alumni Simon Armitage, the year also saw the culmination of work on the Yorkshire Cultural Olympiad Project: Stanza Stones.  This was a project I’d been (to put it poetically) totes chuffed to be a part of and Simon’s poems look wonderful in their rightful places as part of the landscape, and the anthology is a beautiful object which includes my tribute to the ‘King’ and the landscape itself – ‘The King of Nab Hill’.  Again here is the link to said post if it should tickle your fancy buttons:

It has also been a year filled with some great spoken word events which I have done my damnedest to ruin with my attempts at music, in addition to my poetry of course.  Some of the highlights here included the Festival of Rivers, led by the inimitable Miles Cain, another guest slot at Harrogate’s Poems Prose and Pints with the Indigo Rising UK team (more on that motley bunch later), the Ted Hughes Festival in Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge (culminating with a very drunken slam in Ted’s old house), and many more my frazzled brain will remember the moment this post is published.  But the highlight for me personally (being as entirely self-obsessed as I must be) was the Takeover Festival event at York’s glorious Theatre Royal.  With a pair of lovely ladies running the show, I was given the nod to invite my favourite writers and gather together an epic show which lasted more hours than originally planned.  Rather than waffle on about the details here amidst so very much other waffle, I shall just say once again here’s a link – this time to a review of the show itself:

Back to that motley bunch at Indigo Rising UK – we continued to press on with our fledgling publication and it is looking lovely, thanks in no small part to our wonderful managing Ed – Jem Henderson, the short story Zen monk we know as Steve Toase, the previously noted long-suffering soul sister of mine Amy Audebert, and my fellow poetry editor Dani Cross who moved on to grander business, and in her place one of the most talented young writers currently gracing the eye (and ear) balls of the local writing scene Vicky Bartram.  We’d love to see your work by the way so click the link below and fling us your scribbles:

Having been studying (and now lecturing) in York for quite some time I also found myself being invited to be part of the York 800 celebrations.  This included interviews, a busking marathon, and an anthology and accompanying cd published by Stairwell Books.  This one of several anthologies I’ve been fortunate enough to find my work weaselling its sneaky way into and the link to the Stairwell Books site – a veritable cornucopia of brain-wrinkling writing – is here:

I am genuinely humbled by the warmth with which my writing has been received and this year has continued to humble me into a dribbly puddle of coyness.  So I thank all the magazines, journals, websites, and publishers who’ve deemed me worthy of inclusion.  With so many talented writers putting their work forward I always feel I should be sweating like a marine in a maths test, but once again I’m indebted to the generosity of some top notch editors. 
Speaking of top-notch editors, Dom Smith the fearless leader of the salty ship Soundsphere has continually brightened my year by flinging albums my way for review and also trusting me with two accredited tickets to the Download Festival.  It was a weekend of miserable weather, mud, and music and it was marvellous.  For more of the thoughts my fable of the weekend can be found over here:

And finally, the year was darkened by the tragic loss of friend and editor of Open Wide Magazine, James D. Quinton who took his own life on the 6th of September.  He will be greatly missed and he owns the dubious distinction of being a huge supporter of my work since our paths first cross some years ago.  Canon Taff were kind enough to publish a tribute and epigraph I penned for James.  They could never do such a wild mind, talent, and character justice but they are available here:

A wise lady once said to me that if, at the end of the year, you look back and realise that you have not shed tears of both joy and sadness, only then should you consider it a year wasted.  So, I guess we didn’t do too badly : ).   

So what should 2013 have in store?  Well, hopefully the completion of my PhD studies, more lecturing, more performances, more music, and my first collection ‘Taking the Long Way Home’ due out from Stairwell Books early in the year.

Happy New Year and happy scribbling all.  Thanks for reading – always.


Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

Snow (first published by the impPress 2012)

Today the streets are blank pages
as though the storyteller misplaced
both the inkwell and the tale.

The path leading down from the house
has faded, fallen from its bones
below a threshold of deafness.

The silver, winter chains of light
sketch vague outlines of what hides,
unable to speak, beneath.

The day shrinks to something small
and sinister. You begin to despair through
the unreadable fog at your feet.

And then you see the first December
footprints glittering like a narrative in the snow.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Soundsphere's tunes of 2012

Looking for something to brighten up your earballs? Why not have a pootle along to Soundsphere and check out our picks for the tunes of the year? Then tell us how wrong we are :-D x

Here be the link:

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Splattering of Reviews on this Samhain Eve

Due to the large volume of reviews I’ve been fortunate enough to be requested to do in recent months, it seems rather gratuitous to blog links to them all.  As such here’s a few links to some of the releases which I deemed particularly noteworthy.  SoundSphere much appreciates the clicks : )

First up local York lad Mark Wynn and his beautifully titled: 'James Dean Makes Me Insecure, Why Does He Have To Be So Shexy'

Next up - the first half of Stone Sour's new concept opus: 'House of Gold & Bones Pt.1'

And last and possibly not least, they're young, they're brash, they're headed for a bright future, We Are Carnivores released their first EP 'Carnival'.  The debut from the Hull mob certainly impressed my earballs.

As always do feel free to tell me just how wrong I am : D

Take it easy squeezy.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Of Leaf and Wing (for Dani and Col on this their special day)

What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
of love and memory – Jack Spicer

There’s a reason wings always come in pairs.
From raven humble to butterfly proud,
it takes a twin beat to fight back the air,
push against gravity, to dance with the clouds.
Life was a labyrinth for one lonely leaf,
her wild reds dulled to a shadow of fire,
it made stars quiver, it made willows weep.
Those days her song was a poltergeist choir.

But one day another, red as heart’s blood,
came rolling through gales ‘til they met with a kiss.
This day their stems became entwined for good,
the two red leaves hung together in bliss;
this day to be bound in love and in trust,
when “should you need me” became  “should you need


Sunday, 28 October 2012

York 800 - Book and CD

Commissioned as part of the York 800 celebrations of 2012.

This anthology features work from some of the finest poets and storytellers in all the land (and me too), accompanied by photos and artwork chronicling the history of our fair city.

Both book and CD can be found at the link below.

Happy reading and scribbling folks : )

Friday, 19 October 2012

Friday, 12 October 2012

Sympathy for the Devil: The Cyclical World of Howard Marks

Soundsphere asked if I'd do a wee industry spotlight on Howard Marks for the AllSaints Basement Sessions.

Who, I ask you could turn down such a task? Not I says I - must be all that Welsh blood in my veins.
If anyone should care for a peek then just click here:

Please to enjoy ; )

Monday, 1 October 2012

In Memory of James D. Quinton

Last month writer, editor, friend and boss James D. Quinton sadly took his own life.
Whilst a fuller tribute will be published once it becomes possible to articulate the loss in a comprehensible way, here is a short elegy in memory of James.

A beautiful tribute by Adrian Manning is available here:

My thoughts are with his family.  He will be greatly missed - a gifted man and one always willing to believe in others before himself.

Street Psalms (in memory of James D. Quinton)

‘the edge is there
I know it’s there
because it calls my name
and some days
I feel like running towards it...’ (from Seduction)

These streets will always be yours.
Dressed in a double-layer of cloud
the pearls of your fingertips mime a cigarette.

A four-walled world made boundless
by your imagination.  You’d strike out
into that borderland nightly

to beat out your exile in every step and word,
and return with the morning tapping stories
from your boots, scattering night-songs like sawdust

across the floor, the ineffable etched
into your face – another chance to paint
light onto the skin of light.  And yes,

had you been a canvas lost in Paris
in the early nineteenth century, Picasso
may have painted his greatest work on you.

You who would always push for the edge
and thought something of my nothings.
You who will never stop reminding us

that a whisky-tongued stranger
lighting the borders with a cigarette
will always have stories to teach us. 

by Steve Nash 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pressed by Unseen Feet - New Anthology Out Now

Wonderful new anthology of spooky poetry and prose featuring my poem 'Hutch' (yes THAT one) and also including work from some of my favourite writers available here:

'Funny how terror stokes the semantic fires...'

Friday, 7 September 2012

With thanks to Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot - Album Review

My review of Nine Black Alps' upcoming album Sirens is ready for your approval here:

Possibly the first rock album review of the year to contain Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot? Bold claim I know : D

Monday, 3 September 2012

Album Review @ Soundsphere

Looking forward to Essex boys - We Are the Ocean's upcoming third album (and first without Dan Brown)?

You can check out my thoughts here:

What's the worst that could happen?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

York Stories

Recently I was asked if I'd be willing to be interviewed for the York Stories 2012 website.

You can find the result and stories from far more interesting folk here:

Please to enjoy : ) - I shall not as the sound of my own voice makes me cringe.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

New Poem in Snapping Turtle Press 3

The new issue from those punky monkeys at Snapping Turtle Press is available now.

Number 3 - themed The End? - features my new piece 'The end when it came' accompanied by artwork from Carrie Millinger.

There's more wonderful words and artwork in there from the likes of Henry Raby, Oz Hardwick, Malin Bergstrom and more.

Check out their facebook page here:

Or catch Henry Raby at the Edinburgh Fringe:

Sunday, 29 July 2012

For my dear friends on their wedding day

A Dance of the Sands 
 (A villanelle for Amy and Bertrand)

  “Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches 
 Et puis voici mon coeur qui ne bat que pour vous.” 
“Here are fruits, flowers, leaves and branches, 
 and here is my heart which beats only for you.”
                                                     -Paul Verlaine

From Juno beach to the spring of Al Ain,
two steps taken in a dance of the sand,
they found each other two halves of one grain.

Encased in an hourglass, each shell the same,
the sheer walls reflecting a world to withstand,
from Juno beach to the spring of Al Ain.

Though life may unbalance all sand remains
in chambers entwined at heart with a band.
They found each other two halves of one grain.

One heart lightens the other takes the strain,
fixed and equal as the clasping of hands.
From Juno beach to the spring of Al Ain

they are proof that here destiny can reign,
across the chasm of two separate lands
they found each other two halves of one grain.

From Juno beach to wherever the sand
they flow together with his in her hand.
From Juno beach to the spring of Al Ain
they found each other two halves of one grain.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Profiles and Poems

I was recently given a profile on a new site showcasing Yorkshire-born or based poets. Apparently my work is "blunt and bloody" - I'll take it :-D
You can find the profile here: Here's to the North x

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Album Review @ SoundSphere

My thoughts on The Gaslight Anthem's upcoming album - 'Handwritten' can be found over at Soundsphere. As always - please to enjoy and then tell me I'm wrong in the most creative way you can :-) Click here for the review:

Monday, 9 July 2012

New Anthology - Stanza Stones

A few weeks ago we finished up work with Simon Armitage on the Stanza Stones Cultural Olympiad project.
The book includes Simon's original pieces commissioned especially for the project and my piece - The King of Nab Hill. More details about the project can be found at the Ilkley Lit fest site here:

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Download Review @ Soundsphere Magazine

I was lucky enough to be sent to Download Fest this month to cover it for Soundsphere Magazine. Please take a look and tell me how wrong I am :) For mud and music click here:

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Indigo Rising UK Issue 2 - available now

Issue two of Indigo Rising UK, featuring such talented writers as Miles Cain, Rose Drew, William Heathcote, Jennifer Cook, Kerry Ryan, Steve Toase, and many many more(including me). 76 pages of loveliness all for free right here:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Converge York

For the past two years I have been fortunate enough to be involved with Converge York running Creative Writing courses for users of Mental Health Services York.

We now have a small publication showing the wonderful talents of some of our students. Converge York offers a variety of free courses in the Arts and more details can be found at their website here:

 Converge York is perhaps best summed up by John Clare the Director of Mental Health Services York as he says: "Over two and a half years of innovation, creativity and passion, with moral support and not much money from agencies, a genuinely recovery-focused method has grown, people from all backgrounds with all sorts of abilities learning together and creating art work of real value. This is a great project with a genuinely exciting future.”

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Catch me on the radio

Catch me and a selection of other Grist authors on Gaia Holmes' show tomorrow (Sunday 15th April) 4-6pm on Yorkshire’s finest – Phoenix FM.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

IMPpress Issue 3 Out Now

The new issue of IMPpress is out now featuring my poems '1453 (after the Hagia Sophia - Istanbul)' and (rather appropriately for the current weather) 'Snow'. The issue also contains wonderful work from the supremely gifted Amy Christmas, and Rose Drew - how can you go wrong?

The publication is available here:

Friday, 30 March 2012

Album Review @ Soundsphere

My thoughts on The Used's decade-marking LP 'Vulnerable' can be found here:

Please take a glance and then tell me how wrong I am - I know you will : )

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Friday, 9 March 2012

A re-post, A new blog, and a Plug

One of my favourite living writers has finally decided to join the blog-realm. You can find her work here:

Coincidentally - the first poem she has posted 'Distance' is one which I stole a line from as an epigram for one of my first published pieces way back in 2009 which you can find below.

January 22nd 2008 (Published in Ouroboros Review 2009)

"Your world seems as far away as my mind" (Jennifer Cook)

Not that morning, the morning
after – the tomorrow as it were –first
there comes the waking, ignorant
as a creature still asleep in a tree cut down.

Then, following a shuffle through
the detritus of spent party poppers,
the name and face leaps onto the
buzzing screen. The room smells of rain.

Locking the door the morning dark requires
stiff fingers to fish for a phone to guide the key.
What used to be lighters are now mobile phones
that's simply the way it is.


Still enduring Class A hang-
over from a declassified night
stumble amidst the rain-cleansed grasses
as the solemn dew curdles to a thick soup.

The headache is painless so split
a fifth of absinthe or worse. Clapping crowd
ready; lift the heavy guitar
(more axe than ever) and pause on the stairs.

The stage awash with a week's worth of sweat;
one pair of eyes - filled with the knowledge of what
happened - equally glazed beneath the orange
glow issued forth from plastic palms aloft.

What used to be lighters are now mobile phones
that's simply the way it is.


That night seeking the familiar
comfort of popcorn perfume and dark
a performance to turn away academy eyes
and though they look now it is no less deserved.

Each of us, breath held, longs to be
nothing but him as he slides, with the
fibre-optic elegance his
talent allows, into anyone but himself.

Guaranteed is the award for the mimic
that gets to show the world his young chess moves
in the inevitable biopic being
fought over pre-script in studio depths.

What used to be lighters are now mobile phones
that’s just the way it is.

Friday, 24 February 2012

In Good Company (ideas above my station)

The new Grist poetry anthology - A Complicated Way of Being Ignored - is soon to be launched, and the Grist author page finds my humble name (and big ole mug) sitting alongside the likes of Simon Armitage, Alexei Sayle, Melvin Burgess, Joanne Harris, Ian McMillan, Lemn Sissay and many more obscenely gifted writers.

For the proof click here: