After Poetry there should always come Beer


After poetry
there should always come beer.
Bitter hops match
the poets temperament,
slowly sipping dark beer
trying to quell darker thoughts.

Glasses are clunked down
contemplation commences.
Staring into froth,
wondering what will appear.

This poem is the spiritual successor to this little poem that at the time of writing I was unaware would grow into my first book of poetry.

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My Bloody Valentine


There’s unanswered texts on a phone
A discarded present under the TV
A drained bottle of vodka
Bruises inflicted where the family can’t see.

There’s an engagement ring dropped on the carpet
Torn up wedding invites on the floor.
Spilled tablets around the sink
No answer to urgent knocks at the door.

There’s an unopened Valentine’s card on the doormat
Tear stains on Sunday best clothes.
A body sprawled on the floor
A pale lifeless hand on a red rose.

Diversifly


I’m pleased to announce I’ve got a poem in the new anthology from Nadia Kinglsey and Fair Acre Press entitled, “Diversifly” Here’s a taster for you…

It’s great to be featured with some great poets including Brian Bilston, Carrie Etter, Andrew McMillan, Sabrina Mahfouz, Kaite O’Reilly, Emma Purshouse, Amaal Said, James Sheard, and Dorothea Smartt and more. Alongside the poem are also some marvellous pictures and photos of birds that really bring the book to life.

To buy a copy click this link.

Ordered to the Front


Last year I was lucky enough to be involved in a project at the New Art Gallery in Walsall where a group of us wrote poems based on some of the pictures in their permanent collection. Here’s one of the poems I wrote based on the above painting by Frank Holl entitled “Ordered to the Front.”

The morning dispatch shook the soldiers like cannon fire
The regiment is ordered to the front it calmly said.
So despite the earliness of the hour
Sleep was quickly swept aside
As the well-oiled military machine slowly came to life.

Uniforms were quickly pulled from chests
Bearskins removed from cupboard tops.
Wives hush crying babies while quickly dressing them
Daughters wrap whatever food is in the pantry.
Before all join the slow column to the station.

As young soldiers trade quips
Where the clock slowly counts down to departure
Casual bravado hiding nerves.
A shaking hand adjusts a hastily dressed uniform
Or tightens a rifle strap.
Unsure what is worse, the order to the front
Or a surprise inspection from a grizzled sergeant.

The older Men clasp a hand with their silent wife
While holding their rifle tight
Unwilling to let go of either.
Children instinctively know to be quiet.
Remembering their friends, who also saw their fathers off
But never saw them return.

Creative Waste – an interview with Richard Archer


I’ve had a very interesting chat with Paul Morris about my forthcoming book “Creative Waste,” and more. Read all about it at the link below.

https://wp.me/p77qIV-bD

Hopeful Dreams and Damaged Nightmares – a chat with Paul Morris


The cover to Paul’s new book

Walsall poet and storyteller Paul Morris is set to release his new collection of poetry and stories “Hopeful Dreams and Damaged Nightmares” on Saturday 24th February at Southcart books. The event is part of a triple book launch including my own book and one from Matt Humphries, with that in mind I thought it might be fun to sit down with Paul and get some more details about what we can expect from his new book and more.

Q. Hi Paul, tell me about your new book, how did you come up with the title and concept?

A. Hopeful Dreams and Damaged Nightmares, is my debut book. It’s a collection of the poetry and the very short stories I’ve written between late 2016 and mid 2017. It’s quite emotionally charged, dealing with feelings and mental health issues, but, I hope that’s a good thing.
The title relates to the fact that releasing a book was a ‘hopeful dream’ whilst representing the ‘damaged nightmares’ that I experience. I also felt the title sounded like a name for an album chosen by a rock band. I think it’s cool.

Q. What can readers expect to find inside your collection?

A. Emotive poetry, focussing on the negativity of life and mental health issues, interspersed with words of love and passion. The short stories are in the same vein. I write emotionally, about my feelings and am not afraid to convey them. I hope the emotional imagery transmits through.

Q. If you had to pick a favourite piece from the book, what would you choose and why?

A. The piece, ‘In My Arms’. It’s a poem written about and to my Wife. Contextually, it focusses on the pain I once felt and the love I now cherish.

“I am whole when I am with you,
for your light drowns out the darkness,
forcing my static heart to beat loudly,
I evolve in a love so true.”

Q. Can you give readers a glimpse inside your head of your writing process, how do you put your poems together, what inspires you to write and how long does it take you to put a typical poem together?

A. My mind is quite a complex matrix of emotional wiring, I’m not sure readers would welcome a journey there lol. I write my poetry from the heart. It’s either fuelled by dark emotions, relating to my negative proclivities or, words of love. I’m not afraid to speak out about my mental health, so, will share the landscape of my world in verse. It’s a great form of therapy and the key source of my inspiration. Depending on my mood, I can create a piece within minutes, or, it takes days to complete. Sometimes, my poetry ideas, present themselves as inspiration for stories.

Q. After the launch what are your next creative plans?

A. 2018 is going to be a busy year for me, which I’m delighted about.
Currently, I’m compiling and publishing the charity poetry anthology ‘Within Darkness & Light – Volume 2’. I’m also editing and publishing the book entitled ‘Us Too’, which is a collection of real life / horror stories, dealing with experiences of abuse. This is quite a challenge but, it’s worth it, because it’s to raise awareness of abuse and the impact it has on both women, men and children. Proceeds from the sale of both books will be donated to charity.
I’m also currently writing two dark fiction / horror novellas. I might finish one of them this year, maybe.
Poetry is constant for me and I’m always writing. I’ll never stop.

Q6. Where can folks find you online?
Pretty much everywhere lol. Start at https://paulbmorrismedia.wordpress.com and work onwards from there, if interested.

Thank you

Editors note – the great cover for Paul’s book was done by Andy lee from Darkslide Photography.

Four events, four days, one tired but happy poet


So this last – extended – weekend has been filled with poetry, I went to four events and had a great time. Let me tell you about them all….

performing at Caffe Del Nino, photo by Scarlett Ward

On Thursday 25th I was honoured to be the guest poet at Caffe Del Nino open mic in Cannock. Run by the wonderful Scarlett Ward this was a night of great poetry and stand up, poets came from all over the West Midlands and the evening was filled with marvellous verse. Ninos is a wonderful coffee shop right in Cannock town centre and if you can make it I thoroughly recommend adding it to your poetry circuit.

At the Lych gate tavern, photo by Grace Dore

Friday 26th saw me in Wolverhampton at the opening event for the Wolverhampton Literary Festival, a cracking open mic run by Autumn Aldous. We had poetry and music and a great night all round, plus we were in a real ale pub which was a fine bonus.

At Southcart Books, photo by Amy Carter

On Saturday 27th I was back in my home town of Walsall to run the regular open mic at Southcart Books. This was another fine afternoon with a few new poets joining us making for a brilliant and highly emotional day when they shared their work, one of them for the first time.

at Poets against Racism, photo by Jason N Smith

Last but by no means least Sunday 28th saw me back in Wolverhampton taking the stage alongside some superb talent as part of the Poets against Racism open mic. I felt privileged to be invited to perform at such an event where we raised money for Care 4 Calais.

All in all a busy but excellent weekend!

Bullet Verse an interview with Matt Humphries


Matt and Bullet Verse

Walsall poet Matt Humphries is set to release his new collection of poetry “Bullet Verse” on Saturday 24th February at Southcart books. The event is part of a triple book launch including my own book and one from poet and author Paul Morris, so with that in mind I thought it might be fun to sit down with Matt and get some more details about what we can expect from his new book and more.

Q. Tell me about your new book, how did you come up with the title and concept?

Well the title was given me by another poet (Ian Davis) who when I asked him to describe my poetry said “It’s short and punchy,” he then said he thought “Bullet Verse” was a good title. I agreed and absolutely love the thinking behind the books name.
My concept was that I had written a book previously but rushed it and as a result wasn’t proud of it. I am extremely proud of Bullet Verse. I have a theme of trying to provoke thought throughout, I’m no Mike Skinner but I believe some of my work captures an experience a lot of readers won’t have lived. If I can make one reader think then Bullet Verse will have been a success.

 

Q. What can readers expect to find inside your collection?

Most people who know me will say I’m friendly enough but not very confident, my poetry reflects this in a lot of respects. You will find attempts at humour, social commentary, travel and adventures, along with one of my life long passions mental health. Having been through the mental health system as a patient I found myself sitting on the other side of the table while I was working for Mind as a Recovery Worker. I truly believe to quote Eleanor Longdon “That recovery is not only possible, but it is inevitable”. In many respects mental health has been my life’s work.
For the reasons listed above my poetry is often the odd one out. I’m not sure if I write this way deliberately but it’s how it turns out. It’s a reflection of self with a theme of hope running through. Least I hope that’s what it is.

Q. If you had to pick a favourite piece from the book, what would you choose and why?

Can I choose two!! My most successful poem is “Walls,” which took me to the glitzy Great Western Hotel in Peterborough to perform in the final of the Poetry Rivals competition. I didn’t win but it was an amazing experience.

We build walls, we build walls,
We build walls so high
That they nearly reach the sky
When all we really need to do is reach out.

The second one is the Reception which is about a wedding reception, not my own I might add. I wrote it straight off as a bit of a laugh but whenever I read it people seem to like it.

Brothers and sisters conspired to get wasted
Teenage couples planned to get naked
G&T and lager washed down with pork pie.

Q. Can you give readers a glimpse inside your head of your writing process, how do you put your poems together, what inspires you to write and how long does it take you to put a typical poem together?

I think that writers are insecure in lots of ways, I’m no different to that despite my bombastic character. I am writing all the time, on the bus, in the office, in the shower I’ll be thinking of poems, all the time, for me it’s a constant process. Without trying to sound dramatic, in a lot of respects writing was my saviour, since my mom parked on Bath University when I was eight I had am ambition to write. The only lessons I tried in at school were Cooking and English. If I haven’t written anything for longer than two days I feel lost so I’ll just write anything.
I don’t really have a set process, because I’ve always got a lot going on in my head and I work in the community I find inspiration everywhere. I can meet someone with a nice turn of phrase and they might spark an idea for a poem. I’ve always had a burning anger at injustice so will often write about events in wider society. I read but not enough, and certainly not enough poetry. A lot of my reading material is set in youth sub cultures but I find I get so many ideas from this reading matter.
The time it takes for me to put a poem together varies, sometimes they will almost write themselves and other times they will develop over a course of time. I’m still revisiting two or three poems that nobody has seen or heard but I don’t think they are right yet. I admire poets who can produce really polished, thought-provoking work, I aspire to it but I’m not that poet. I’m more get an idea, jot it down, quick edit then post it somewhere.

Q. After the launch what are your next creative plans?

I am currently in the process of writing my first novel set in the week of the 1990 World Cup semi-final. It’s had a lot of incarnations since I first started it in 2010 but I’m working with a Developmental Editor on this version and obviously I’m a very different writer in 2018 to the one I was in 2010.
I’ll be hoping to attend a few more open mics although reading my work petrifies me and I’ll be supporting Walsall Poetry Society in any way I can along with Southcart Books and I’ll probably be posting on Facebook. I would also like to develop my website further and reach a wider audience. In addition I enter quite a lot of competitions, no wonder my wife says I don’t pay her enough attention!!

Q. Where can folks find you online?

You can find my poetry on the book of face here
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100012793715638

Or on my WordPress website Extra Pages here

STOP THE PRESS – As I was preparing this post Matt has told me his book is has reached the final of the Words Matter Publishing book writing contest!

Come back next week for a chat with Paul Morris about his new book.

 

The day I nearly burnt my TV licence


I know a bloke who boasted he’d thrown away his TV set,
Then that he’d burnt his TV licence with no feelings of regret.
Curious I sat him down over a pint and said “listen,
Without a TV you really don’t know what you’re missing.
There’s so-called celebrities dining on testicles and bums,
Tax-dodging millionaires begging you to donate to charity funds.
Plus interfering chefs telling you what to eat that’s good for you,
Then adverts for pop stars flogging you their expensive shoes.
You could watch a talent show where skill doesn’t count if you’ve had a sad life,
Or see twenty women scramble to be a cheesy millionaires wife.
Witness the UK’s yearly humiliation in Eurovision,
Hear Piers Morgan spouting his alleged wisdom.
I even saw Keith Chegwin in the nude on a game show,
Mind you I’m still having hypnotherapy for that you know.”
When I’d finished I thought I given bigging up TV my best try,
My mate smirked, then looked me straight in the eye.
He said, “you talk a good talk, but you know what you should do.”
So I got out my lighter and my TV licence too.

Postcode Lottery


We don’t have much choice on where we’re bought up,
We’re forged by bricks, mortar, schools and pubs.
It’s a real postcode lottery,
And it was WS1 that raised and nurtured me.
WS1, just two letters and a number,
What it stood for I often wondered.
I found out it was supposed to be for Walsall South,
Or what a smeghole, the jury’s still out.

WS1 it’s where I learned to ride a bike,
Where I learned to fight kids I didn’t like.
Where I learned how to wag from school,
Where I learned how to play the fool.
It’s where I first fell in love… with Doctor Who
It’s where I first drank cider and also spewed
It’s where I first broke my arm , my nose and my toe
It’s where I first realised I hated Black Forest Gateaux.

Now I must quickly interrupt this poem to point out that although it seems trivial to hate Black Forest Gateaux it was the Seventies there was a lot of it about. Vienetta my saviour was many years away.

Then we moved away to WS5,
The suburbs, where folk seem more dead than alive.
It was a place to escape too if you could afford the cost,
It was a place where I felt completely lost.
The streets were litter free, birds sang,
To me it was like living in a foreign land.
A land of sunshine and blue skies,
A land which was really a graveyard where pensioners came to die.

So eventually I left there and moved back to WS1
Back to where it had all begun.
I gradually lost my hair so I grew a beard,
I had a daughter , every day she tells me I’m weird.
I flick the V’s when I walk past my old school
I started writing poetry – so I still play the fool.
I returned as they say to the scene of the crime
And I’ll try not to make the same mistakes this time.

Though I make no promises.