Tuesday, 30 March 2010

the poetry bus, she is here!

as the tfe poetry bus pulls up at the swiss stop it's a simple task ahead. pick one or more of the above images, pop them back on the bus and take them for a poetic journey.
short, sweet and simple. enjoy!

mario susko

the all

as a child I thought eternity
began whenever I stopped to count
the invisible stars in my room
because I ran out of numbers
trying to outpace the squeaking
of iron springs behind the paper wall.

when I kissed my grandmother's cheek,
her skin smelling of churned butter,
I knew she wasn't dead for I too
could lie in my bed with a wooden cross
in my hands and hold my breath forever.

I believed pregnant women were smugglers,
carrying, after the war, sacks of potatoes
or coal under their dress, and I learned
through fear, having seen a horse drop
out of a horse, I hadn't come from an egg.

there was so much unlearning
later in to be done, about the suitcase
full of maps with shortcuts to life
after life, a tree that could hide
its shadow, and words bring salvation
when ripeness starved its fruit to death.

sleeping in a different bed every night
to outguess random targets practitioners,
I came to see the all as a counted nothing.

this comes from mario susko's rather fabulous eternity on hold, another poem from which you can hear on the march 21st stanza podcast here at about six minutes in.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

victor rodriguez nunez

Hablando Solo

Sera posible esta conversacion
con el silencio
Y sin que median luces
tintas de todo
Sera posible esta conversacion
que tal vez solo oye
el viento sordo
Que no puede ni rastro
ni la palabra polvo en una copa
Sera posible esta conversacion
sin interlocutores
ni testigos
Como decir
entre la nada y nadie

Todas los voces son aquella voz
que nunca has escuchada
La voz de las estrellas desveladas
La voz azul del polvo y del agua caida
La voz del musgo que se ha vuelta piedra
La voz del arco iris y el relampago
Todas las voces son aquella voz
que calla en tus palabras

Speaking Alone

Could it be possible
this plain conversation
with silence
And without lights smeared with all
Could it be possible
that perhaps only
deaf wind hears
That neither sign
nor the word dust remain in a glass
Could it be possible
this conversation without partner
or witness
Like saying
between nothingness and no one

All voices are that voice
you have never heard
The voice of watchful stars
The blue voice of dust and fallen water
The voice of moss turned to stone
The voice of rainbow and lightning
All voices are that voice
quieting in your words

trans katherine m. heden

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

salt in the wound

three weeks off the bike for the mystery knee. disastrous interactions with the nhs. and still the knee's no better. i'll have to bite the bullet and see a doctor. then the tricky mri negotiation which means something along the lines off - i'll send you for an xray. no you won't i need an mri. i'll send you for an xray. but i need an mri. i'll send you for an xray. okay then how's about you refer me to this guy? why him? because he's the one recommending i need an mri. i need to xray you first. what about i go private. oh we won't cover any treatment if you do that. you won;t look at the result? you need to go for an xray. and on and on and on.....

so avoiding that particular hell i decide to get the bikes out of the shed, what with it being spring, do some maintenance, take my wheel down for a rebuild. all of which i do. then, for a treat i think, well i'm sick of this bear like body, i'm going back out on the bike. so i change the tyres and meet up with the tuesday boys. whereupon i make about a half mile before my front mech breaks.

but where you ask is the salt in the wound? and what is that white bad boy doing at the top of the post. because, dear reader, prior to the knee shenanigans i had a blether to the bike shop guy about bike to work. we skirt round a few price issues, i fill out a form. i go in today and he's all where's your form gone. and i'm oh you know i don't the hp-ness of it and i've got this knee thing going on at which point he goes - it's in a box in the back of the shop....

the box in which i see its white loveliness. so knee or no knee this is what i'll be having my touring fun on later in summer. oh yes....

Monday, 22 March 2010


and we went off to stanza for a rather lovely break. this time we stayed instead of trekking back and forth, getting a wee housey thing in the centre of town which, aside from the poetry, allowed us to see the students up close (never pretty) and, more importantly, easy access to the cake shop.

we kicked off with colin will and matthew sweeney on gregory corso and georg trakl respectively. i have big grey areas in my knowledge of the beats, or at least that time, and corso is one of them. that'll be another book of poems to buy! trakl was already on my to do list and matthew sweeney gave him a proper sounding. not a man for questions tho.

we bailed out of that, t to a lecture by grevel lindop on myth, which she says was fabulous, and me for my 'intimate reading' with seamus heaney. time was tight but on the way who did i see lurking at the doors of waterstones but rachel. i was a man on a mission but at the same time mother swiss raised me better than to walk past someone i know so i waved cheerily (this might have something to do with the fact i'd actually managed to see someone. i'm notorious bad at this. t has the carer role when it comes to this. there's so-and-so. where? there. here? now pointing. where? now holding my head and directing my eyes etc etc). far from 'wandering the streets' i spent sufficient time with rachel that by the time i got to st leonard's i was ushered in by a flustered looking student and plonked down by the man himself. and that's the story of how rachel keep the nobel prize winnner waiting.... ; )

truth be told i'm not the biggest heaney fan and i'm not super familiar with his work. what i was doing there was to see what a person had to say, who had lived the life. what. a. winner. i'll say it again. what a winner. not only did the poetry make so much more sense when he was reading it, he was such a nice guy. sure i bet he has his moments like the rest of us but, given what must be a wearying task as times, he was a total gent. i did maybe have one question for him in the end but it was complicated and to be honest i felt a bit out of place in the company. he had this new thing he wanted us to read to him. i was mad for it but the others weren't. a shame for his sore throat. and he's funny, big time. we saw him the following day dotting about like the rest of us. a great guy who i will never think of but with warmth.

we did showcase events and listened to poetry in german and gaelic among tothers. we went to poetry breakfasts where the highlight surely had to be stepehen halliwell reading a bit of the iliad in the original. we heard moniza alvi at the same gig and she did some excellent new stuff but it was the iliad that stole the show for us.

emma jones and karen solie were a fantastic double act. i've been really into jones' the striped world but hearing her read from it solved a couple of problems i've had with it. karen solie, who i hadn't heard, was brilliant. never will there be a better poem to a tractor. we were buzzing when we left.

we saw john apkata and linton kwesi johnson. apkata was excellent, t in particular really liked him, but i got increasingly irritated with him over the performance. he's a young guy and he took full advantage of that privilege. i liked the verbal dexterity but by the end i felt like i was being badgered by mormons. they were burning crosses in nova scotia a couple of weeks ago, not that you'd have known it in apkata's performance. he just wants to make the hip-hop and smoke dope. all of which sounds unfair and a bit harsh in retrospect and it probably is, esp as i didn't get the chance for a banter with him, which was a shame as he seemed to a decent, funny guy, brimming with enthusiasm and energy. for the record tho, i have grown a coffee tree and unlike john apkata, i do know the difference between a coffee seed, a bean and a berry.

everyone stands on the shoulders of giants and in apkata's case it was linton kwesi johnston. it's been so long since i saw johnston that i'm unsure if i may have been there when he toured with siouxsie and the banshees. whatever, the man i remembered reappeared and he'd got old! if anything tho, his presence has only increased. he did a range of older stuff and back down in memory i remembered stuff like the new cross fire, things that seem strange and distant now. none fo johnston's power has disappeared, if anything that anger communicates even better and, for those of us who might imagine such things have gone away, in his voice it's only too easy to remember and realise they haven't.

who else did we see? lewis mackinnon came to read in gaelic from nova scotia, will stone, whose book on trakl i have, read some of his own poems. we saw the charming victor rodriguez nunez from cuba who was just a joy to listen to and reassured me that my spanish hasn't disappeared as completely as i sometimes think it has. to finish on sunday we say mario susko who was brilliantly fiery in terms of both humour and tragedy. i'd never heard of him before and he really was the find of the festival. i'll post and/or link to more about all of these in due course.

were there any downs? sadly a couple. the student helpers it appears, have very short attention spans. they need to be out and in, banging doors and generally shuffling about. photographer types seem not to have grasped that you can silence the noise of their cameras, preferring to punctuate the readings with the constant beeping of their equipment. t was particularly enraged by this. and then the open mic, both nights, was unbelievably noisy. true there were student elections on so there were a few non-poetry types in but in the main it was people who'd been in to other performances or worse, working, who were doing the most gabbing while people were trying to do their thing. i've really been up for the open mic in the past but in the circumstances this week, it was impossible. next year they maybe want to move it upstairs.

these are minor things tho. overall it was brilliant. both me and t thought the lineup, for us, was the best yet. we came back in the van babbling and bursting with energy. what a great thing to have on your doorstep, lots of poets, lots of challenging contradictory ideas and the space to discuss them, people to meet, things to say. i loved it and i'll be booking my holidays for next years just shortly.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


you've got to love them. except maybe when they decide your garden, much of which has barely survived winter, makes a jolly toilet. t says that ornage peel puts them off. i'm willing to try it. otherwise kitty will be getting a nasty surprise if i catch him!

Saturday, 13 March 2010


the book is out! hurrah!

it can be purchased here

i should start the blog tour soon so if you're up for it form a orderly queue and no shouting at the back!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

fernando pessoa and why portugal's cycle lanes have a something extra

O Tejo from Abilio Vieira on Vimeo.

i picked this up across at copenhagenize. what a lovely idea!

the keeper of sheep goes along something like this

The Keeper of Sheep II

My gaze is clear like a sunflower.
It is my custom to walk the roads
Looking right and left
And sometimes looking behind me,
And what I see at each moment
Is what I never saw before,
And I’m very good at noticing things.
I’m capable of feeling the same wonder
A newborn child would feel
If he noticed that he’d really and truly been born.
I feel at each moment that I’ve just been born
Into a completely new world…

I believe in the world as in a daisy,
Because I see it. But I don’t think about it,
Because to think is to not understand.
The world wasn’t made for us to think about it
(To think is to have eyes that aren’t well)
But to look at it and to be in agreement.

I have no philosophy, I have senses…
If I speak of Nature it’s not because I know what it is
But because I love it, and for that very reason,
Because those who love never know what they love
Or why they love, or what love is.

To love is eternal innocence,
And the only innocence is not to think…

trans richard zenith

you can find this and more pessoa here

Sunday, 7 March 2010

bike update

there should be a bike update, even allowing for the coldness and the salty condition of the roads which, although they're being a bit recalcitrant to move, isn't the reason why there isn't one.

no, it's been a whole week off the bike for me. not because of weather inclemency or work but because of a nagging knee problem that appears to be coming to fruition. what can it be? a tendonitis that no-one so far can get into? or, as seems more likely pending x-ray, some sort of stress fracture to the bottom of my femur. whatever, it's very frustrating, especially given the lack of symptoms other than pain, and i guess about now it's starting to get to me.

it;s got to the point i'm even thinking about swimming! definitely some sort of prolonged stretching as without exercise my body's letting me know. t says its complicated by age. which, most likely is true, but not so very helpful! lol