Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Drafts against the frost

Some poem drafts that have kicked and stuck around since October.


that make hard line
fascist policy normal
display lack of understanding
and thought

again return
to the darkest of pasts
Progression means testing all with

Not fear
nor suspicion
Like the old saying tells,
All strangers are not yet friends known
to us.

Untitled - Cake?

Waste time
on adventures
collecting carrot cakes
No ordinary shape holds more hope
than cake

Exciting times coming in Dustjacket Towers, expect a flurry of posts by the end of the year as winter falls around us.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Another draft poem

Jukebox communication,
Calling out for Miss Chien,
Stare deep into my eyes, you womble.
I want your love, I want your love.
Pull up to the bumper, curb, carwash.
Please don't take my man, Joleene, take me.

On this dreamy dreamy night
I've got Mr Sandman with me.
Dancing, drinking, singing, sinking
the evening from dusk till dawn.
Every day in every way, rave on.
I'm your brown-eyed handsome man

you're my girl at the bus stop.
Ship it music brain, say what you really mean.
No one shaved their head with a jumbo jet,
Or entered the room like a wrecking ball.
You can't show me who are the lonely people are,
The hound dogs, sun steelers, teenagers in love kicking teenage kicks.
My heart is equally uneven parts lying lyricists,
Nothing else makes sense,
I'm just a boy in love.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Bears! Woods! News! Bears In The Woods News!

A special Bears in the Woods News customer service feature on customer service, for customers using services. Tests have found that if one uses a false name when calling customer service lines they will not get the information one is seeking. Eleven out of ten times this proves to be true.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Notebook substitution

Slip in hand, wager set,
It only matters when there's money in it.
Tell that to the social worker, the nurse on the end of a shift,
Tackling a case load spread ever thicker.

No one ever stole services,
They were just chronically underfunded.
If the collective We don't want to pay for unused services,
Can we start with nuclear weaponry?

What We do with what we have 
is all we have as our legacy.
And the legacy we fight against is the one that         starves services, communities, people.
What equality there is is the level of inequality,
And still we have nuclear weapons that are more likely to see rust than action.

Note: I left my poem notebook at home, and decided to start recording my first drafts here. What will happen to this is it will make its way into my notebook, wait a few weeks while I write other poems, then I'll return to it and see how I can improve it and make it work.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Public information about public houses

You might not be aware of this but there's a couple of areas of Leeds 'history' that I'm fascinated by. Architecture, obviously, and the changing streetscape, cinemas and theatres, and the evolving public spaces. One of the really big fascinations I have are public houses. I've heard so many tales about them, descriptions and locations, clientele and staff, and I find them creatively inspiring. It might be a long way off though a project about these places is a distinct possibility. Public houses often serve multiple functions, meeting rooms, folk clubs, a liaison for the evening or long term companionship, and are often located in places that link communities. However, I often hear these tales in other public houses, so have no notes to reference. I know someone told me about a Roxy, though am I getting confused with similar public houses in Nottingham, London, Norwich? I've been in market taverns in London, you know the ones that open at 5/6am for the porters, and I think someone else told me about the Leeds ones, but I can't recall. In an effort to start collecting this information I'm going to start carrying a small notebook. In this I will jot down the things people tell me, any tales I get about the current and lost pubs of Leeds, their locations and the location in which I get the research. I might spend a bit of time explaining what I'm doing but think most people I've met in public houses, friends and strangers alike, would probably be happy imparting their stories.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Competition time

It's the last day of the month so far had a look at the Poetry Kit website's list of open competitions. There's a few going on in August, with more all the way through to the end of November.

I counted at least ten I would like to enter. Thinking about entering poetry competitions was something recommended to me as a means to get inspiration and work to deadlines. I may not enter all the competitions, in fact I guarantee I won't, but I will keep those ideas bubbling up under my writing process.

It is the same with magazine submissions and poetry/spoken word events. I have a slowly growing list of interesting items, and when I am going through my notes and completed work I often think whether I could/would/should submit my work.

This is all falls into my writing process. Though I write primarily for an audience of one, of me, once I have something I am satisfied with it is nice to show it off.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Not a poetry review

Not really, not possible. I'm not sure if I should review in the way that other bloggers review as I feel there tends to be too many spoilers and not enough actual personal reflection on the text in question.

Elsewhere I have wrote about online book reviewers that are around three quarters plot and press release recycle and one quarter actual response (if the reader is lucky). I know there's an audience out there as the writer of the book writes to someone, it's just I'm not in that audience. This then is not that type of review, this is reflection, and you know what Hesse said about reflection[1]. 

Since the start of the year and taking part in one of Jen Campbell's fantastic writing workshops I've been looking to develop my own poetry. Poetry, any writing, does not exist in isolation even when the writer is primarily looking to write for an audience of one; there are many influences, fuel for the flame, inspirations in awe-inspiring corners. All of these things feed into what will become my poetry, either as a direct reference of a indirect opposite reaction.

One of the new-to-me things about poetry is spoken word events. It's not new, there has always been readings and groups meeting in pubs to share there work, it is just that this idea is fascinating to me. What if I had known about them when I was in my twenties, I say to myself, though know that I would have been crippled by self-doubt that meant I probably won't have shown any work (it took some twenty seven years to do that, pop-pickers).

Spoken word events are wonderful. That people gather to share and support, speak and celebrate (mm, missed out on the 's' alliteration) is a great thing. I am making steps into learning about them and will join them, though I'm behind in doing so. Suddenly three and a half weeks off work watching Vinn Diesel films seems slightly unproductive...

One of the most fascinating groups I've found is Mouth Piece Poets of Lincoln, UK. Though I was born in Derby I consider myself 'from Lincoln', and for all the annoying things about the city, there is far much to love and cherish. A lot of my early writing is a reaction to many of the things Lincoln and Lincolnshire presented me with. This wasn't reactionary writing, it was a progressive examination of me, my thoughts and feelings, and my environment[2].

Anyway, back to the poets. They came together and thought about sharing their work (a read through of their website will give you a better run down than I could, without cutting and pasting text). What drew my attention was their event, they have had two nights in Lincoln's Drill Hall, and I thought I'd like to go along and see them when I can. From this I found their Volume 1 book, and in this I found Sam Harrison's We Have To Build A Bypass! 

Here is a poem that presented a Lincoln I was familiar with, though mine was twenty years ago. Poetry can allow for fantastic travels, in time and space and memory and thought, and with this poem I travelled. I enjoyed it a great deal, the whole volume is a good compilation of work, and I'm looking forward to rereading it soon.

Notes and references
1 - Actually, you don't, not here. While I was making notes for this blog post I was thinking a lot about Steppenwolf written in 1927, and how a great deal of Herman Hesse's novel easily applies today. One particular passage, about how nations who look to externalise their internal problems were quick to war, struck me a great deal in response to the reports of shootings in Munich. This in turn makes me think about Peter F Hamilton's solution to solving humanity's problems in the Night's Dawn trilogy.
2 - Oxford comma, ha, mature enough to vote and drink, immature enough to think, 'well done, James' every time I use an Oxford comma.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Laughs in a book-hoarder's house

Me - Isn't there a thing about Oreos and toilets?

Them - If there is I am not searching for it on the Internet.

I - You told me about it, from a book you read.

Her - I don't remember that...

Him - Not to worry, there's plenty of books in this house, you can search them.

And why can't I search myself, you ask, dear Reader. Well, I broke my ankle on Wednesday night while running (more accurately, trying to step around a pedestrian). 

I've already watched three films with Vinn Desiel in, I suspect there will be more.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Just a test

I've recently made a change to my music listening habits. Gone is the preselection of only having a couple of albums on my phone, slowly I will fit it all on.

Partly this is because I miss having access too all my music; partly this is down to taking time on holiday to listen to an album in full.

With that in mind, expect more 'reviews' of what I'm listening, starting today. This morning I've got the Beastie Boys's Hello Nasty playing. This record is always a revelation, starts off bold and then continues to rise. I'm always thrown by the sequence of Remote Control into Song For The Man. 

Intergalactic is one of my most favourite songs. All the elements that go into that song, all the cultural references, both at the time and those that came later (Star Trek Into Darkness, anyone, or Star Wars The Force Awakens).

Underneath it all is simple messages told clearly. To borrow a line from Super Disco Breakin' "because when we're getting down we are all equal."

This is evermore relevant this week and for the future.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Pre-work poetry practice, going through my notebook to find the following lines.

22/3 -
Tin foil, tin can.
Those are the lips that kissed,
The lips that she kissed.

25/4 -
Présélection téléphonique.

And 27/5 -
'Your expanded LAN is the wide, wide world,'
Sometimes more, always growing.

Like the band James, over time pages and pages of scribbled notes become a stanza or two, whittled down through drafts until there's something there.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Yellow-Seventeen Poems

After all the writing and drafting and so on and almost screwing up my notes and emptying them into the bin I managed to exhibit my poems.

I'll be posting one or two other posts about the process, here are the poems in order (along with extra material and a link to the YouTube playlist.

Yellow-Seventeen - James Corah - For Planetine, Wednesday 4 May 2016 - Wednesday 11 May 2016

Artist information

James Corah

Yellow-Seventeen, 2016

Poetry, paper and video

The exoplanets beyond Neptune and Pluto are unknowable to us though to a certain extent they are familiar; they have inhabitants, customs, geographies, atmospheres, weather cycles, origins, and endings. Out there is life, it is other life though still life.

Yellow-Seventeen is such a planet. Yellow-Seventeen is an attempt through poetry to explore the world, its customs, and its inhabitants, delve into its oceanography, and explore its history.

Originally Yellow-Seventeen was to take the form of two hundred and eighty nine Senryu (Senryu being ‘human Haikus’ of 17 syllables over three lines of five-seven-five, two hundred and eighty nine being seventeen squared). This transformed into the more reasonable set of poems in the exhibition through time restraints and just plain rebellion against the restrictions I placed on myself.

Each poem presented here has also been recorded as a video I have posted on YouTube. This is my first exhibition and very much the first time I have shown my poetry to more than a handful of people. It is the first time I have created videos and recorded myself reading poems. The process, like Yellow-Seventeen itself, has been a journey into the unknown.

Yellow-Seventeen would not have been possible without the support and inspiration of the other ‘Planeteenies,’ particularly Ryan Thompson, and from friends and family, particularly Hannah. Special thanks to Thomas Day for both pushing me onwards through regular moments of doubt and for helping come up with the word ‘Yellow-Seventian.’

In our own way we are all Yellow-Seventian, we are unknown to each other until we explore what connects us.

Introduction to Yellow-Seventeen

A surprisingly earth-like planet.
Not unsurprising.
Not earth-like.
Still a planet.

Before you unknowable unknowns,
About a far-off planet.
Not real
Not unreal.
Still a planet.

James Dustjacket’s Travels to Yellow-Seventeen

I travelled through life,
A blind speck of dust with no right to know.
Screaming at the big-wide,
Give me a sign, answer my question,
We are not alone.

I travelled by experiment.
[Redacted by GRAPES*]
[You can’t know this until you’ve discovered it.]
[“Keep backing the rocks together, guys,”]
[You are not alone. We didn’t tell you.]

I travelled unknowable distance.
Crossing the far-wide cosmos,
Searching the planet-filled unimultiverse,
Looking for that revelation in space,
We are not alone.

I travelled and arrived,
I cannot say or know how far.
My feet on Yellow-Seventeen,
My ears hear unfamiliar voices,
I am not alone.

Still my eyes were closed,
Taking in the sight of sounds.
They were not unfriendly noises.
Someone held my handing,
Pulling me forward, onward.
Untutored ears picking out greetings,
Welcomes and hellos,
Their invitations to stay.

I opened my eyes.

*The Galactic Republic Academy for Progression of Equitable Science

Ryu Senior’s Episodes of Yellow-Seventeen History as Senryu

Steam powered transports,
Bringing together far wide,
Isolation ends.
Shaken, shaking hands.
Released, the knife fell. Free. Now,
Change and liberty.
“Fear space invaders,
They come for you and yours” - lies,
They just wanted peace.
Lux kissing cold lips,
Dead, to stop their union.
So starts civil war.
The bombs fell all night.
Blanket blanching on the ground,
The unprepared, dead.
First rain falls. Stable
Lands propagating, all life
Evolves planet-wide
She cried pain, passion.
He sung love and rebellion.
Leaders, lovers, two.
Surf radio waves,
Furthest friendliest hellos,
Making connections.
Disagreeing monks!
Two sides, one side, two sides, three!
Oh, what to cook guests?
Inherited crowns,
Passed on to the elected,
Free through progression.
Slow rising rocket:
“Take me on to the unknown
Space beyond our skies.”
Conflict, endless fight,
Killing Y-Seventians with
Devastating ease.
“The only doomsday
All doomsday devices need
Is their own end. Dead.”
“Fruit pickers unite,”
The dispossessed rally call:
“Break unfair systems.”
Physicists predict,
One may only know their own
Planetary shift.
All things eventually ends.
Then comes the next stage.


Wandering souls lost;
The hammering storms eyes’
Devastating touch, on land all
Lost. Gone.

Sea Diptych #1 - Retreating Tide

Awesome wave, awesome wave,
Wave upon wave of awesome wave,
Upon wave of awesome wave,
Wave of awesome wave,
Of awesome wave,
Awesome wave,

Awesome wave, awesome wave,
Wave upon wave of awesome wave,
Upon wave of awesome wave,
Wave of awesome wave,
Of awesome wave,
Awesome wave,

Awesome wave, awesome wave,
Wave upon wave of awesome wave,
Upon wave of awesome wave,
Wave of awesome wave,
Of awesome wave,
Awesome wave,

Awesome wave, awesome wave,
Wave upon wave of awesome wave,
Upon wave of awesome wave,
Wave of awesome wave,
Of awesome wave,
Awesome wave,

Sea Diptych #2 – The Sea of Life

Rolling seas,
Deep blue, deep, blue waters,
And wide, wide oceans.
Fish, plankton and seaweed,
Hard shells of seashells,
And soft bellies of limpets,
Jostled by the ever flowing, even flowing currents.

Vast oceans,
Seemingly too wide to cross.
Ever connected by tradewinds trade routes.
Kayak, yacht and liner,
Hard tall tallships,
With soft flapping sails.
Moving by ever changing, ever blowing gusts.

Fishing fleets,
Lines of boats trawling along waves,
Trailing long lines of fish.
Hooked, caught and hauled,
Seafood for table,
Seafood for market,
The seas of life on Yellow-Seventeen.

With a 400 year oceanic conveyor belt,
Replenishing nutrients, shaking salts.
A source of life,
A source of food.
The deep blue waters of Yellow-Seventeens.


Ultra-Dexitri put a wall around his property,
Said, all Yellow-Seventians being equal these are for me and mine,
Taking other nearby resources for safe keeping.
Ultra-Dexitri knew the value of nothing,
Except for what he said.
Only a few could be happy.

Trompe-Dexitri put a wall around his people,
Said, all Yellow-Seventians being equal we will remain equal under my leadership,
Forcefully removing dissenting views.
Trompe-Dexitri knew not the collective voice,
Except for what he said.
Only a few could be happy.

Opposo-Dexitri tore down the walls of his property,
Said, all Yellow-Seventians being equal I'll help all,
And tried his best with the resources they had.
Ultra-Dexitri mocked; Trompe-Dexitri smirked,
It is futile to appeal to Yellow-Seventians’ better natures, they claimed.
Except Opposo-Dexitri carried on.
Not everyone can be happy straight away.

Ultra-Dextri increased the value of his property,
And his people couldn't afford it.
Trompe-Dexitri forced more people to share their work,
Without doing his own share.
Opposo-Dexitri tried to help as many as possible,
Hard without Ultra-Dexitri’s wealth;
Difficult without Trompe-Dexitri’s force.
Yet still he tried.
Not every Yellow-Seventian can be happy straight away,
Said Opposo-Dexitri, though if we hold dear to,
And liberty,
We get closer.

Complex Social Relations

Was it love or companionship,
Procreation or simply to pass the time,
This dance I saw before me,
The courtship on Yellow-Seventeen?

It wasn’t hopeless or smothering,
Seedy, greedy, or domineering.
Every dance has many dancers,
And no Yellow-Seventian is an island.

They shout praise,
Of complex social relations,
They cheer and sing:
            “Dear stranger, friend,
            Lover, or kin,
            There will be hardships,
            There will be new borns,
            Fleeting moments of passion shipped over many years,
            Lifelong companionships developed over time
            Almost breaking points and severe strains,
            There will be pain beyond pain,
            Beyond pain beyond pain.
 There will be heartfelt heartfuls of love,
 There will be heart felt hearts full of loss
 We will not avoid it.”

Yellow-Seventeen’s Entry in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

So, you’ve landed on Yellow-Seventeen, have you?
I doubt you quite planned it this way.
Ran out of credit,
Thrown off a spaceship,
Regular stuff that happens, right?

What we going to do now, says that little back-of-head voice.
You’re a frood on a mission, you need credits,
There has to be entertainments - by which you mean drinks,
And there has to be good company.
That’s why you hike, right?

Let’s find a bar, you need a drink or two.
Or ten.
Wherever in the unimultiverse you hail from,
There’s an analogue beer,
Or spirit waiting,
Before you touch the local stuff.

Be warned, that local stuff is pretty strong.
Locals say outlanders should only ever have one.
I had six.
Or maybe eight.
Only out of it for three weeks. Months.

Now, company, you’ve met Y-Seventians.
But they’re pretty unimpressed with drunk outlanders,
Not paying tabs,
Chasing folk around.
Real unattractive, like.

You’re not from Yellow-Seventeen but you want to learn.
You hear about a couple of jobs for likely hands,
Picking fruit,
Servicing transports.
End up invited to some social gatherings.

You drink, sure, but not a ridiculous amount.
You dance.
With a couple of the other pickers you put on shows,
Sing a song,
Do a routine,
Make everyone smile a little while.

Yellow-Seventians like to smile bright.
Not a smile wider in the unimultiverse.
You saw it firsthand,
You made it on your own,
On this yellow-green planet.

Disaster strikes in the simplest of ways.
Your ride off Y-Seventeen arrives.
Say goodbye to the boss.
Say au revoir to the lover,
With a heavy heart - it’s just the take-off, you say - you’re off into the unimultiverse,
And on to the next planet you touch down on.

The End of the World

When the Yellow sun grows red glows white,
Engulfing the future ancient old.
Seismic shifts, plates crack,
The tallest mountains falling into the deepest sea.
I will still remain on Yellow-Seventeen.

When the volcanos spit,
Ash into the sky and lava onto the land,
Choking gas; burning rocks,
Cities devoured by flaming rivers,
I will still touch Yellow-Seventeen.

When the deep blue boils,
Leaving just salts and minerals
Barren lands and dust bowls,
Moistureless influidity.
I will still see Yellow-Seventeen.

When the animals cry,
Scream and bolt and flee.
Panicked stampede,
Crazy horses running blind fury.
I will still hear Yellow-Seventeen.

When neighbours take up arms,
Against each other.
Anger and violence,
Towards strangers and the Other,
I will still feel Yellow-Seventeen.

When it all ends,
Planet split by the enlarging sun,
I will remain on Yellow-Seventeen.
From the first spun-out planet-forming debris,
To the very last thrown-out planet-formed debris,
I will remain as text here,
I will remain as thoughts in process,
I will remain as memories you carry on,
I will remain as Yellow-Seventeen.

Endroduction to Yellow-Seventeen

The exoplanets beyond Neptune and Pluto are unknowable to us though they are familiar; they have inhabitants, customs, geographies, atmospheres, weather cycles, origins, and endings. Out there is life, it is other life though still life.

Yellow-Seventeen is such a planet. While Yellow-Seventeen is an exoplanet, Yellow-Seventeen is an attempt to translate aspects of an exoplanet in a human perspective.

When Ryan Thompson first mooted the idea of Planetine I liked the way the exhibition could be used to explore imaginary planets. Yellow-Seventeen could be my Coruscant, my Middle Earth; I could brew Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and raise replicants.

Science fiction allows this spectacular speculation. Actually, all fiction does, it is not a feature solely embedded in sci-fi. This was my approach to Yellow-Seventeen. This speculation makes the ordinary extraordinary and renders the extraordinary ordinary. Again, all fiction has this amazing power to exaggerate aspects of life and use them explore the human condition.

I didn’t want to overindulge. I wanted to show off Yellow-Seventeen in the same way an Yellow-Seventian might write about earth, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas (Under Milk Wood, 1954), ‘thou I know you will be the first, to see our best side not our worse.’

My original plan was to write two hundred and eighty nine Senryú about Yellow-Seventeen. These proved to be a little difficult to produce, the limitation of three lines of five-seven-five syllables was frustrating. Of the fifty-odd I did produce, sixteen remain. Partly because of my self-imposed restriction I rebelled. I rebelled spectacularly and the result was ‘Yellow-Seventeen’s Entry into the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.’ Like interstellar floodgates opening in the space of a week I had the basics for what you see in the exhibition.

James Corah

Extra bonus material! One of the many ideas that circulated among the Planeteenies was possibly creating a newsletter about our planets, to be called Planet Express (for reasons I will only reveal if you ask nicely). Anyway, here’s my contribution.

Planet Express!

The Fruit Pickers’ Show

Review: A familiar event at the end of the fruit picking season, the Fruit Pickers’ Show is part celebration, part revue, all party put on by Y-Seventians and outlanders. Given the number of hours these guys end up working it is amazing they have the energy to put on such a fabulous show.

Fruit picking on Y-Seventeen is serious business so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the comedy came quick and fast. There were prop sketches involving bananas, Semme Grusto continued the long tradition of mimicking the great and good of Y-Seventeen, and four outlanders put on a sketch they called ‘Four Yorkshire men.’ While there is a great deal of familiarity in Grusto’s act, four men trying to outdo each other for childhood hardships seemed too familiar. This sketch was repeated as a much welcomed encore at the end of the show.

Folkmusic was the order of the day, with instruments from all six continents and outlander worlds represented. Luxo Freem led the audience through a series of national anthems before the musicians descended into improvisation. I said descended though it was more transcendence from all involved, melodies collided and continued, changed and challenged into new forms.

The food and drink on offer was spectacular: Y-Seventian seafood rubbed shoulders with herbs and sauces; soft cheese was used in an outlander dessert with a biscuit base (unfortunately, though this writer had a lot of this dessert he didn’t manage to catch its name); and of course there was a fantastic fruit salad.

Before the close of the show the current chair of the Fruit Pickers, outlander David Flanks, gave a moving speech about the origins of the Show, about raising money to help the pickers on to their next jobs, and about the foundation of the Fruit Pickers’ Union. Understanding is key to life on Yellow-Seventeen for both Y-Seventian and outlander alike, it is ever heart-warming that our fruit and cultural feasts are so plentiful.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Time travel with music

There's a scene in Before Sunset[1] were Ethan Hawk's character is explaining the idea he has for his next book, in which a song encompasses both his character's present day and past. It is an interesting scene, and without spoilers, there's a few things of note that happen that you will just have to watch the film to catch up on.

The idea that music has time travelling qualities is not my own, and I'm not really in the mood to trawl the internet and my book and film collection for references for examples (let's face it, music is pretty self-referential in this aspect too). However, with the release of the latest James record[2], I've been listening to older James records as a reminder of both why I like them as a band and, consequentially, my youth.

We can get lots of reminders of our youths. First up and simple, shopping. A trip to Game recently revealed that said store has a better recall of my previous addresses than I do. Seemingly, when I bought games for my Playstation in 1997 I signed up a loyalty card using my then address in Poplar, East London. When I was presented with this information I got a little flustered, my memories of that house are not overly great (my flatmates were great, the situation wasn't). Yet, there's an odd connection to be found between the then-me and the now-me, a time travelling man[3].

Back to James. When I first started listening to them (John Peel, early nineties radio memories, when I listened to lots of music on Radio 1) it was primarily the name that picked my ears. James, named after me. Of course, Peel's description of them and their fans also helped (think he said cult at some point, though it might have been about Ned's Atomic Dustbin[4]). The singles off Gold Mother[5] struck a cord with me and led me to buying that lp. On tape. Now mangled.

Gold Mother and the following two albums, Seven and Laid[6], provided part of an considerably prolonged soundtrack to my late teenage life. I developed and grew as the records developed and grew. In parallel my life and those records continued to develop over the twenty-four and twenty-two years since, like Brian Eno's Discreet Music[7], initial shapes forming, colliding and then producing new meanings. Which is why in the last week I have been singing Next Lover in St Stephen's Church grounds and Low Low Low on the way to work (well, not exactly sing out loud). 

Most revealing though was Top Of The World. Here was one of my most favourite songs a new, those words, new shapes as I approach being older. 

I should listen properly, closely. Music is a good background soundtrack yet sometimes it is nice to have it there, full attention, like a good book, the experience of just listening.

Notes and references
1 - Richard Linklater, 2004.
2 - What, you didn't know? The Girl At The End Of The World.
3 - Did you catch the reference to the Rolling Stones in this blog post.
4 - Fun, Goon Show fact, Ned's Atomic Dustbin named themselves after a Goon Show.
5 - Original release was 1990, though 'my' version came out a year later.
6 - 1992 and 1993.
7 - Fun, Brian Eno and James fact. Laid was produced by Eno, who seemingly worked out how James worked and produced a second album at the same time, Wah Wah. Eno plays on the latest James record, too.

Lizzie and Sam not Rosie and Simon

Sometimes I amaze even myself[1]. When I looked back at my last proper blog entry prior to arranging my notes for this one, I was thrown by how things revolve.

My last entry was for Planetine. Last week I received news from Ryan, the curator, that we were going ahead. This week we held a meeting to confirm the exhibition would open on Wednesday 4 May 2016 in the Corn Exchange, Leeds. As I made my way through March Planetine came along regularly, I wrote and rewrote poems, made plans and discarded plans, and more than once almost gave up and asked to be removed from the project.

As March hurtled towards the Easter weekend, my thoughts had already settled on what I had wanted to write about. I had chance to do some shopping for books in Cambridge and have purchased some music. 

The books were mostly secondhand, and, aside from my usual authors, some poetry made its way onto my shelves. I have liked poetry for such a long time yet didn't buy a great deal. Full priced books are an investment which I didn't want to risk, where as books like the Forward Poetry collections were very useful yet feel limited. One of my purchases was by Kate Tempest, and I remember the incredibly snooty comments made about it in the introduction of that year's Forward collection.

I had been turned on to looking for poetry books by Jen Campbell as part of the workshop she ran and I participated. This interest was further stoked following a conversation with a colleague who also writer, I had asked her about spoken word performance and from that I came across Leeds University's spoken word society. I think I might give this a try.

Music was more exploitative and less new music exploration. James released a new album in March, so I rattled along to Jumbo Records to buy it on release date. I haven't bought a record on release day for years and then two in two months, James's The Girl at the End of the World and Muddy Suzuki's Good Grief. I would recommend both records.

There was another cyclical thing that happened in March and early April though I figure, dear reader, you don't want to read about food intolerance just yet.

Notes and references
1 - Yeah, another early start with the Star Wars references (George Lucas, 1977).
Mystery note - Can millionaires claim to be street fighting man. I ask as I am neither, though that song by that band does pose some questions. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Bears! Woods! News! Bears in the Woods News

A special message from our editor-in-chief, or chief editor as they are know on the continent:

How did you get my contact details, though men at the witness protection agency said I would be untraceable. Untraceable.

Did Rory McRory-Rory send you? Tell him he's not having any more of Poppy's fingers, we've learnt our lesson, he'll get gnomes.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Planetine: Yellow-Seventeen

While going through some old notebooks belonging to infrequent writer, sometime poet, and some time musician James Dustjacket, the administrative archivist James Corah found a recurring reference to the planet Yellow-Seventeen.

Yellow-Seventeen is not of this planet. Yellow-Seventeen is unknowable to this planet.

This large body of planetary uncertainty troubled James Dustjacket. What if through words there was a way to explore Yellow-Seventeen, what if we could gain knowledge of the unknowable.

Embarking on a voyage of lightyears' of prose, James Dustjacket left the administrative archivist James Corah the task of finding the best, most descriptive passages about Yellow-Seventeen and Dustjacket's time there.

About the project. I spotted Ryan's intriguing invitation for Planetine and wanted to get involved. Aside from the science fiction aspect there is also the element of how we speculate on the unknown and how we represent this uncertainty. Initially I started with the plan of writing Senryū, hence the planet's name, though as I progressed I found myself fighting my favoured form. Seventeen will feature in some way. So will the word 'yellow.'

But with this yellow no one needs to worry about having their house/planet of residence bulldozed/demolished for a village/hyper-space bypass.

Well, not yet, anyway.

Details: Planetine

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Fancy dream

My dreams always seem to dance on the edge of fancy, correct-not-correct versions of non-dream life. There are things that happened in my dreams that I count as happening in my life, aspects of my life that have distinctly dream-like qualities.

One strong dream-memory I have is of taking a sea cruise, falling off one side of the ship, swimming through the wake to find the other side firmly concreted to the land. One dream-like episode of my life involved a French-speaking barmaid called Juliette, the old, old 12-Bar Club, and a club night set up by Martin Dowsing named No Wankers Allowed[1].

One of my recent dreams involved arguing over the use of 'form' in poetry with a Doctor of Law. This is something that happens in my day-to-day life though the denunciation of my dream struck me as noteworthy: "One could argue that 'form' is the technique that allows the writer freedom to express rather than stiffening it. This is the same for 'conventions' for using oils and watercolours in painting, marquetry, joinery, so on. Without 'form' there is no shape."

I can't be sure of this, dreams are not the most reliable sources, though I think the 'form' we so hotly debated was referring to the different styles of poem one can deploy. Poetry crops up regularly at the moment, for projects and just because I want to write more.

And yet in the last few weeks my ideas have been pushed aside through work and personal life, not finding a thread to follow or rejecting the ones that sprang up[2]. One day soon a floodgate will explode.

Ambergris will flood. Jeff VanderMeer has hinted at such. I am making good progress through the City Of Saints And Madmen[3], and with it the slow realisation that VanderMeer might just be one of my favourite writers.

I am not one to review a book by spending three quarters of the words revealing the plot and one quarter being my thoughts. I don't want to reveal the plot and it's myriad of devices, what is the point in me telling you 'X told V that Y was the murderer when Z was manipulating everyone.' There's no joy sharing that.

So we're left with my thoughts and recollections, opinions and memories. Like with his Southern Reach trilogy of books, City Of Saints And Madmen gives me a sense of a fictional world complete where one might visit and touch it. This is not to say VanderMeer's writing is detailed, more to acknowledge that his writing is incomplete like real life. You and I, dear reader, have no way of knowing our world in the same way fictional worlds are presented in a novel.

This is how I find myself in Ambergris, and part of why I am enjoying the book so much. I know that Jeff VanderMeer has hoodwinked me into thinking this way, but then this is his work, his world he is letting us visit.

What a visit to Ambergris it is. There is a sense of profound beauty and savagery permeating through each paragraph. The city lures you in with civilised criminality and naked prophets, where love and romance are undone by staying out too late on the night of the Festival of the Freshwater Squid.

Reviewers tend to score, percentages to help entice readers and sales. I throw caution to the wind, give City Of Saints And Madmen a read, you will thank me later.

Notes and references
1 - Martin is quite a talented musician and writer, and I urge you as a fan[1.1] to check him out.
1.1 - I played bass guitar in his band for about a year, a period of my life that brought some of my most surreal episodes.
2 - Stupid, crappy, nonsensical, subpar stuff I don't want to read so therefore no one should read.
3 - At the time of writing I am about ten pages into The Transformation Of Martin Lake.