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!

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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.

 

Creative Waste is on the way


I’m very pleased to announce I’m launching my new book of poetry “Creative Waste” on Febuary 24th at Southcart Books in Walsall. I’m even more excited to announce that my fellow poetry chums Matt Humphries and Paul Morris will also be launching their new books alongside me making the event a triple spectacular. More details and interviews with Paul and Matt to come nearer to the time.

Seasons


There’s a hush in the wood,
As nature settles down.
Bracing against wind and rain
While winter comes around.

Then green fades to brown,
That succumbs to white.
Frost decorates the trees,
As winter’s jaws bite.