This is my voice

I have had my knuckles rapped by a couple of people for not updating on here for a couple of weeks – and I’m sorry! I am! But I was swept up doing things and writing sentences of the entirely fictional and occasionally poetic sort, and also the world as a whole appears to be going through a period of being worse than usual. I find it difficult, sometimes, to add to the noise of the internet with my own petty past-times when there’s so much more going on. It’s been that sort of month.

But here we go, adding all the same. I finally sent my application for the Word Factory apprenticeship off last night (there is still time to apply for this, and it’s very very worthwhile, so if you like writing short stories I strongly suggest you check it out and then send something in before 1st September. Also, please wish me luck!) and in it I mentioned my ‘regular’ blogging. Cue massive pang of guilt. In fairness, I did start a fairly (ahem, very) ranty post about where I grew up and how it’s impossible to escape the ‘ooh, what’s it like’ conversation when I meet new people and how I get tired of people expecting me to be an authority on somewhere I haven’t really lived in about 12 years and where I lived for slightly less than a third of my life. You will find this choice of subject ironic/laughable when and if you see what this post is closing with.

So, in the past three weeks, I’ve spent a day hanging out with Priya from Riding the Bus in LA and having a good catch-up; I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy twice (the second time with additional friends&goodmeal bonus); I took part in the Sunset Swim at Brockwell Lido and rediscovered the joys of swimming with no wetsuit and no training goal; I saw the first two parts of Porgy & Bess at Regent’s Park Theatre before the show was rained off; I’ve been to Beautiful Days festival and discovered another five or more favourite bands (including, top of the list La Chiva Gantiva and Carolina Chocolate Drops). I don’t know – I can’t even remember what else. Which is a shame and why I should stay on top of this blog more.


Obviously the writing continues. There’s been a mini flood of rejections (including three in one day, for three different stories, sent to three different magazines in pretty much three different months – that was painful!), and this weekend I will be sitting down to sort out what’s where and re-send things. In amongst the rejections, I’ve been writing and sending. I entered the Ambit poetry comp, and also the Proms competition because why not. The longer story limps on (handwritten while I was at the festival because I’m that bloody dedicated).

Rob, the editor of Bare Fiction, has been organising a launch party for Issue 3 of the magazine, the London branch of which will be on 24th September {<-corrected! I originally put October for this). I’ve offered to read at it (not something I ever thought I’d say, but hey ho!) You can come. I’ll put up more details when it’s finalised.

Speaking of reading, other good news I recently received was that a poem I entered for the Manx Lit Fest Poetry Trail has been accepted for the trail, which means it’ll be appearing on a poster in Lower Douglas on the Isle of Man. If that’s your stomping ground, do keep an eye out and I hope you like it. Unfortunately, my day job means that although I am going over to the IOM for the festival, I can’t get there until the day after the Poetry Trail launch and Poetry Slam (which is being judged by Mark Grist this year). Which sucks, because I was looking forward to them both (although it doesn’t entirely suck, because if I was there for that, I’d be missing the Bare Fiction launch). My little sister, also a poet, won the Poetry Slam last year and will be taking part this year and I wanted to see her do her thing – so I actually cried when she told me she’s been asked to read to close the festival and that THAT was happening an hour after I was supposed to be catching my flight back to London. I couldn’t believe I’d screwed up my travel times so badly.

BUT, in a world with credit cards nothing is impossible, and that is why I’m now catching the red-eye back on Monday morning and going straight from the airport to work.

And in a world with phones that record voices, there’s no reason not for me to read the poem that’s going to be on the Poetry Trail even if I can’t do it in person at the launch. So here it is, my little bit of sentimentalism. Yes, it’s a bit clunky and my reading aloud is also clunky. Also, yes, I know my accent is weird – that is why where I’m from comes up in conversations with new people, and that is why I was going to write an annoyed post about a place that clearly I still sometimes miss very much:


View of the rock from a hard place




It’s been seven years of city sights. Metropolitan, we are. World-wise.
But still my gaze slides west past high lights and Chinese lanterns
searching for a glimpse of spike-yellow hills, a flash of Irish sea.

People who’ve never been there think of a rock that should’ve sunk.
Barely worth a breaking wave, to them, barely a fistful of soil.
There’s not even a proper god – just a minor celt, a sea-splashing boy

playing with candyfloss mist, playing king of the castle where the cats
have too little and the sheep have too much and nights drift silent –
the darkness draped on the stars, unpunctuated by foxing screams.

Them that’ve never been sniff and dismiss as we sit idling in the street,
stand cramped on the platforms, clogged, smogged and choking,
rushing for room, minding the gap, chasing a spit of space.

There is sky stretched unbroken and sentinel seals escorting you home,
and the dance of sand-hoppers on weeded, dusk-damp sand.
There is wild garlic air and the treasure we buried in the garden
and there is the fields and there the mountain and
there is the sea, the stone cliffs and home.

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