Help support Southcart Books

Recently my local bookshop Southcart Books have come close to closing due to no fault of their own, after a successful online petition the shop has been granted a short reprieve. Here’s the latest news from owner Scott Carter…

we have managed to secure a short reprieve from our landlords if we can hit financial targets they have set us ( better than being kicked out friday ) , what that means in real time is that over the next 6 weeks we have got to sell a mighty amount of books(good job we have 1000s in stock) , so please think of us for your book buying needs either in the shop itself or via our online buying platform , please visit our eBay store below , this is a slight weight off our shoulders but now the real hard work begins

or you can kindly donate directly via this link

Sign and share the petition to save the shop and show your support by clicking here

I would like to add myself that Southcart is a huge supporter of the arts in my home town, hosting free poetry and authors events. I’ve launched books at the shop as have others and I can honestly say that without the shop the town and the artistic community they support will lose out. Please help if you can.


Two calls for poetry submissions

My good friends Matt and Paul both have calls out for your poetry for anthologies they are working on.

Click the pictures below for more details

Creative Waste my latest book is launched and ready to buy.

After a fantastic launch at Southcart Books last Saturday I’m pleased to say my fourth book of poetry “Creative Waste,” is now released into the wild and available to buy. Southcart Books have some physical copies on their shelves or you can buy the book from Lulu publishing by clicking this link.

Here I am reading from my new book, picture by Paul Morris

I’d like to say a big thanks to fellow poets Paul Morris and Matt Humphries for their support and launching their excellent books alongside my own, also a massive debt of thanks is owed to Southcart Books for hosting the event.

You can buy Paul’s book by clicking here
and Matt’s book can be found by clicking here.

A Poem for Breakfast at the Verve Poetry Ferstival

This year I had the pleasure of hosting a performance of poetry from the Birmingham Stanza Poetry group at the Verve Poetry Festival held at Waterstones. It was a great morning with a  lot of talented poets performing, here’s one of my contributions that I wrote specially for the event, Poetry Breakfast.

We’ve got for your pleasure…

Poetry hot from the grill
sizzling, steaming, spitting, sensations.
As you partake
fatty odes and greasy sonnets will
smear your lips, dribble
down your chin forming
a glorious mess, that you will
want to devour again
and again and again.

Poetry smoothies,
stories and dreams, whirling,
dancing and blending together.
Then served with love and
garnished with inspiration.

Poems as sharp and bitter as
the first cup of coffee of the day.
Refrains that cut through your senses
jolting you out of your seat
with their raw power.

Or poems as cool as milk straight
from the fridge. Pure, organic,
fresh words, that you gulp
down with relish,
smacking your lips.

I have heard that some people skip breakfast,
they don’t know what they are missing


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.

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 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

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.


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.