Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Two haiku

Here are a couple of my haiku that were published in the latest edition (Feb 2017) of Blithe Spirit, the journal of the British Haiku Society.

on radiator 
     -- too late


in fine circles
growth of many summers
in the wooden bowl

Transitory lives

Happy to have this poem published in the March edition of Visual Verse. (Link below)

Transitory lives

If she shakes her hands silver rings will fall
like splashes of water. If she could shake
her hands. Her fingers are traces of smoke,
phantoms in the light of dawn. Once strong, firm,
they’d push back wild hair while her hitch-hiker’s
thumb stood determined to stop all the lads;
and she’d hold onto the motorbike guy,
until the next brief stop in a life on
the move. Now, the skin is transparent. Her
fingers cage a butterfly that trembles
on the soft skin of her palm; fragile wings
flutter in the arch of her gentle grasp.
At 5.23am, a long sigh
escapes her, and at last they fly       free.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Cellar Bards 2017

At the start of 2017 I was pleased to become a co-organiser of The Cellar Bards, the popular live literature event held regularly in Cardigan's Cellar Bar (where else would you find Cellar Bards!).

We meet on the last Friday of each month (not August or December) and often have a special guest as well as open mic slots for our very talented local writers.

I do all the organising – booking guests, make funding applications, publicity; while Dave Urwin is our compere.

The video above was very helpfully put together for us by David Powell and shows a few highlights of the February 2017 event, which was a pure open mic night. Good to see a couple of musicians bringing a song or two into the mix.

We have some great plans for the rest of 2017. Already on the scheduled are:

Maggie Harris, who will be reading from her stunning new short story collection, Writing on Water (Seren) on March 31.

Martin Locock will be with us at the end of April with his latest collection.

Roger Garfitt is our guest in May with his poetry and the new jazz CD composed by Nikki Iles – In all my holy mountain,  a celebration in poetry and jazz of the life and work of Mary Webb.

June 30th will be our fifth birthday and we’ll be celebrating with the wonderful Natalie Ann Holborow, whose first collection was published by Parthian last month.

Our meet at the end of July will be a pure open mic night, giving a chance for all our talented local writers to share their work

In the autumn we’ll have the totally fabulous Sophie McKeand, and the wonderful Mark Blayney as our guests, plus others soon to be announced. More details and more links will be posted later, in the meantime to keep up with our events check into our Facebook page:
That page is not only about our event, we also share news in there that may be of interest to writers and performers everywhere.

Our thanks to Literature Wales and Parthian Books for their generous sponsorship, and always to The Cellar Bar for the fantastic venue.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Alternative facts in a post-truth fake news world

In one of our poetry groups we challenged each other  to write a sestina. I had to have a go. I found it very hard to keep to the pattern of using the same repeated words at the end of each line, in a strict order for each stanza. However, the current talk about ‘fake news’, ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts.’ gave me an idea for a subject that may work. Here’s the result, a first-attempt sestina in the (imagined) voice of George Orwell.

Alternative facts in a post-truth fake news world

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.”  George Orwell, in his novel, 1984.
Do you think ‘alternative facts’ are new?
I invented them at the Ministry of Truth.
That was how the Party turned its lies
and our beautiful language into Newspeak,
created thoughtcrime and doublethink,
among other words. It was an easy language to learn

but there were many things people had to unlearn
too, as the old language made way for the new.
It was all that world war two propaganda that made me think
there was always a different way to make the truth
mean something else, new ways to speak
to make the stories seem true, even though they were lies.

I told you back then how they made their lies,
how people worked to change facts, to rewrite, unlearn,
to destroy words, to make ways to use doublespeak
that ruled out the possibility of imagining anything new,
so there was only one way to see the truth
so that truth itself becomes irrelevant. Think,

think, what is happening today. Don’t you think
your own leaders have found the way to turn their lies
into a new kind of 21st century post-truth?
They give you all those new words to learn
and you take on all the views in their fake news,
in this novel way of talking, this all-new way to speak.

And the powers will notice the way you speak,
thought police will see what you are thinking,
and you won’t even know that your language is new.
That it’s full of alternative facts, yes, lies –
fabulous new so-called truths for you to learn --
and none of it has any relation to the actual truth.

If you repeat it enough, everyone will believe it’s true:
War is peace, freedom is slavery, it’s just doublespeak.
Ignorance is strength. It’s so easy to learn.
They will tell you 2plus2 is five and you’ll think
it is true.  You will believe this and all their lies.
They will destroy your words, so you can’t imagine anything new.

Alternative facts, fake news, you can’t think
how to speak to burn all their lies.
It’s superdoubleungood --  now there’s a new word  you can learn.