Failure


Today words are slowly
drifting from my pen like
dead leaves quietly spiralling
to the ground, where
they add to the discarded
carpet of poetry at my feet.

Ideas are crumbling like
ash dripping from the
end of a neglected cigarette.
I watch the ashtray fill
with spent verse that
waits to be lost to the breeze.

Inspiration should come
naturally here.
but nothing stirs except
inquisitive wasps keen
to sample the dregs
in my beer bottles.

I feel I should put down roots here,
join the brotherhood of trees in
their silent contemplation.
But I know if I was to stay here
for a hundred years,
I would never capture the
beauty of this place.

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Funeral for a Crow


Descending like a pair of dark angels
the vanguard of the cortege
settle around the deceased.
Always clothed in black
though not here to mourn as
white camera eyes swivel
scrutinising their fellow all splayed out.
As thoughts finish the scolding starts
attracting the rest of the cortege to the vigil.
They join in screeching their remembrance,
wailing a warning until
silence falls, wings flap
the funeral is over.

Carnac Stones


Written after a visit to Carnac Stones

Irritable Vowel Syndrome


I wanted this poem to be an act of rebellion
I wanted to speak not as an old fart but a young hellion.
This should be a rant against the straitjacket of language school put me in
Or a rail against the ill-fitting skin I clothed myself in.
But my words have turned into pretension
highlighting failed aspirations
and I’m not rebelling
I’m just a madman yelling
while my brain is telling me.
Why did you write this poem it’s shit
No audience will want to hear it
There is no heart or wit
Your words don’t fit
Quit you stupid bastard just quit.
And I wonder is there an actual solution
to this internal pollution
Any possible resolution?
Can’t I just push a USB stick into my head
to try to get this unlimited supply of bullshit downloaded
and finally get some peace from all my brain said.

So it’s my brain
and It will do what I say
Or I’ll take its meds away.
Because to be honest my brain does piss me off
Just like me it’s got a big gob.
and me and my brain will probably argue until the day I drop
I win sometimes and also lose but I won’t stop.
And I’ll continue under the guise of poetry
to publicly wash my dirty laundry
this motheaten well patched thing I call my story
Why? Because I’m a poet, this is my therapy.
So I never was rebelling
I was just a madman yelling
That if you have any doubts telling you
That you can’t do what you love to do
You know what to say to those doubts. Screw you.

 

 

This is the title poem form a new collection I’m working on with the talented Paul B Morris, hopefully out at Christmas

The Intolerant Cow an interview with poet Marianne Burgess


It’s always great news when you hear one of your favourite poets has a new collection out, so when I heard Marianne Burgess was launching her new poetry book, ” The Intolerant Cow,” not only was I very excited but I thought it was the right time to fire her a few questions about her poetry and more. Interesting fact I met Marianne through her husband Scott who I once had the pleasure of working with a few yeas ago, more on him later.

Marianne will launch her book at the Café Grande in Dudley on Wednesday 31st, now on with the chat.

Q. Can you tell readers more about your new book the Intolerant Cow? Where did the title come from and what poems can folk find inside?

The Intolerant Cow’ is a great title don’t you think?! I was having coffee with my friend Jill and she was having a bit of a moan , about how as she is getting older she feels she is becoming more intolerant – she turned to me and said ‘I’m such an intolerant cow!’; voila! The title was born! It is a collection of my funnier poems.

Q.You write a lot of poems about your husband, does he enjoy them and what’s your favourite poem you’ve written about him and why is it your favourite ?

Yes Scott, bless him, takes a lot of flack from me ! I think he secretly likes the attention to be honest – and I always run them past him before I ever share them with an audience.
I think his favourite is ‘Vampire’. This was born from the fact that he favours staying indoors even when it’s a nice day; he has pale skin and I once joked that he must secretly be a vampire! I mean coupled with the fact that he absolutely hates garlic and can smell it from miles away….there may be some truth in the poem after all.

Q. When did your love for writing poetry start, how was your journey from writing to performing to where you are now?

I wrote my first poem when I was about 8. It was a simple ‘Roses are red violets are blue, I love my Mummy and she lives me too!’
Poetry has always been a very important part of my life. I write to highlight important events as well as every day stuff – I even wrote poems a few hours after the birth of my children!

Q. Life can be cruel imagine you are stuck on a desert island and have only one book of poetry with you. What Book would you take and why?

Just one poetry book…that’s hard….I guess it would have to be either John Cooper Clarke’s, ‘Life In An Open Necked Shirt’ or a collection of Pam Ayres work….or ‘The Toll’ by Luke Wright….oh dear thats 3……sorry!
I met Pam Ayres after her show in Scarborough around 6 years ago – she told me to never give up on my dream. She was lovely and very down to earth. She is probably my biggest influence.

The fantastic cover to Marianne’s new book

Q. After the launch of your book what are your future poetry plans?

After ‘The Intolerant Cow’ I would like to concentrate on the performance side as well as writing poetry aimed at Primary School age.
I think the best thing you can teach kids is self esteem. The highlight of mental health problems currently shows that many children unfortunately do not possess this…I think pressure from social media has a lot to do with this. My ultimate aim would now be to take this kind of poetry into schools to support children’s well being.

Q.Where can folk find you online and read more of your work?

I do have a blog – imaginatively called ‘Marianne Burgess Poetry Blog’…although it is not really up to date. These days I put some poems on my Face Book page; ultimately I would like people to read my poems through my books which are available on Amazon, or to come and watch me perform.

You can buy Marianne’s book by clicking here

The Intolerant Cow is published by Burdizzo bards

A big thank you to Marianne for taking the time to answer my questions, if you enjoyed the video it as part of The Black Country Broadsheet project from the talented minds of Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists, check out more great videos here.

 

This interview was carried out by Richard Archer for his blog Poems and More. If you copy and paste this article into another blog site please have the decency to leave this sentence in instead of reposting it as your own work.

Do You Want to Live Forever?


She asked me.
“Do you want to live forever?”

“Interesting question.” I said.
It’s a tempting offer.
What if you did make me immortal,
able to defy death,
outlive everyone I hate and dance on their graves.
Happy, until the time comes when
I see my wife die, then my daughter die, then her daughter die.
At what point I wonder would my feelings die?”

She laughed then said.
“You could see Empires fall,
civilisation crumble and this planet crack and burn.
And you worry about three people.
One day you will stand at your families graves
and you will struggle to remember what they looked like and
who they even were. You will walk away
unsure of why you have a bunch of roses in your hands.”

“You say I could see this planet crack and burn.” I said.
But if this world remains as shit as it is now
that is going to be a long wait.
And you say I will be uncaring| just staring at the stars
while around me injustice spreads like cancer.”

She slowly smiled licking her teeth.
“You will have power, you could be the force that changes it all.
You could feed on the rich, pull them down screaming
from their ivory towers, bring justice and liberate the poor.”

“Though once the rich are gone. “I replied.
“All that will be left to feed on is the poor.
Can I still make this world a paradise then,
and what paradise has ever welcomed monsters?”

“You asked me if I wanted to live forever.
Putting my life on pause while the world carries on around me
where memories become sand I can never hold
the king of a broken world sitting on a throne of the dead
Only wanting to be a saviour but never able to shed the name monster.
I think you know my answer.”

Confessions of a Renfield, a chat with author and poet Dan Oram


Dan Oran in full flow

One of the best things about the thriving literary scene in my home town of Walsall is that I’m constantly bumping into exciting performers I’ve never heard before. One of these is the talented Dan Oram an author and poet from Walsall I met sometime ago at an open mic who writes fantastically on a number of subjects and never ceases to entertain audiences when he performs. Over a pint of two the other day he revealed his new novella Confessions of a Renfield will be launched soon and I thought it would be great to get him to answer a few questions about this new book, his influences and love of performing. Please read on and enjoy.

Q. Can you tell readers all about your new book Confessions of a Renfield?

Confessions of a Renfield is about a guy named Jimmy. Now, Jimmy’s life is fairly normal, except for Emily. They share a kind of on-off relationship. Sometimes she’s around, sometimes she’s away, but he loves her in his own way. The problem is, one day, she’s going to kill him. You see, Emily is a Vampire. Jimmy is one of her Renfields. The book covers the worst two weeks of Jimmy’s life as a new & ruthless Vampire hunter comes to town and wrecks his life.

Q. Another string to your literary bow is that you write poetry as well, which came first writing stories or poems and how do you differentiate between writing one or the other when an idea comes into your head?

I have been writing stories as long as I can remember. One of the earliest things I wrote was back in school. We had been given the task of creating a Superhero. I created the character Prambo, a baby with superpowers. The poetry came later. I was going though a bad time in my life and the poetry became an outlet for my feelings and fears.

When it comes to the difference between writing poetry and prose, I think it is the initial inspiration or thought that guides an idea in one direction or another. If I see a conversation or a scene in my head, it invariably ends up as prose. My poetry comes from less-defined thoughts. Many of my poems come from an emotion or a feeling. For example, one of my short stories, ‘Aftermath and After’ came from an image of the characters stood on top of a ruined shopping centre. As I started working through the characters I began to shape a conversation around them. On the other hand, the poem ‘Repeat until Death’ stemmed from my frustration at having to work with what can be described as an ‘invisible’ illness.

Sometimes, I have to run with an idea to see if it fits as prose or a poem and ‘feel out’ what it should be. One good example of this is the song ‘Autumn’ It started life as a short prose piece. Sometime later I adapted it as a poem, but I was never really happy with it in that form. One day I was playing around with my guitar and hit on a chord scheme that seemed to fit the poem and eventually, the poem became a song.

Just to point out, ‘Autumn’ is the only song I have ever written that has been good enough to be performed.

Q. You are quite the performer on the open mic scene and I and I know many others are impressed at your ability to perform rather than read your work. Any tips for poets or writers on how best to get their work over?

Tips on performing poetry and prose, hmm. First things first, if you want to perform your work, don’t read it, perform it. I know that seems obvious, but it is an important distinction. Every poem has its own rhythm and feel. Feel here is the important word. You have to find the emotions in the piece and follow them through, once you understand the emotion, then you can start adding in the performance. The next thing is, possibly, the most boring. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. You need to be able to let the flow of the poem take you along, and that only comes with saying it over and over and over. Listen to the words you use instead of the ones on the page. I find that many of my poems are very different after reciting them out time after time. The final, and most important point of all. Pick a point to stop making changes. Many of my poems are either Open or Locked. You can go back and back making change after change, learn to pick an end point to editing. Don’t forget, that could be after you have performed it a few times.

When performing prose, there are differences. I’m not the type of person who can ‘do all the voices’ and I’m jealous of those that can. This doesn’t mean that you can’t speak with the ‘voice’ of the character. Each character uses different words and sentence structure. If, after reading a section of prose or story out loud, you realise all the characters sound the same, go back and make each voice distinct. This is a good thing for all writers of prose, people don’t usually speak in perfect grammar. Writers are always driven to make sure that everything is spell and grammar checked. When it comes to people talking, the rules go out of the window. If you make your characters speak in a realistic way, then your performances will also be improved. One thing I find does help when performing short pieces of prose is music. I have recited several of my short pieces to music and I have found that it has enhanced the piece greatly. It’s something I haven’t tried with poetry yet. The rules are simple, no lyrics or words are involved as they will clash with the words you want to say and check timings. Is your story long enough? It the piece of music suitable for the story? Again, practice, practice, practice. Also, make sure you have a way of playing the music loud enough to be heard. Some venues will have a set up that supports this but be prepared.

Finally … finally, have fun, enjoy your poems and prose!

The cover to Dan’s new book.

Q. What inspires you? Do you have any favourite authors, poets, musicians that have influenced your work?

Speaking as a creative type, everything inspires me, from rush hour traffic through people’s conversations overheard at a Coffee shop to listening to Radio 4.

Speaking seriously though, my greatest love is reading. I love reading. Not all of it is top notch literature, but books is books neh? I started reading stuff like Tolkien and David Eddings when I was at school, but I think two books changed my view of, well, everything and they were ‘Weaveworld’ by Clive Barker and ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson.

I love cyberpunk with its man-machine interfaces and hyper-real description. I don’t like all of Gibson’s work, but Neuromancer (and the other two ‘Count Zero’ and ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’) has a real emptiness to it. Like a road movie in an urban setting. Despite the pressing mass of humanity surrounding them, each character seemed more alone than anyone. This staccato rhythm of Hyper speed events and the almost obsessional detail of the pauses between them, really gripped me.

Weaveworld is possibly the richest, most beautiful, ugly, sensual, brain-meltingly textured thing I have ever read. the combination of sexual allure and revulsion the book inspires sometimes is breath taking. I still find it a pleasure to read.

On the poetry side, my first exposure to poetry was a little book called ‘You Tell Me.’ It was series of poems by Roger McGough and Michael Rosen. I learned that poems didn’t have to rhyme, didn’t have to go rumpty tumpty tumpty one/ rumpty tumpty tumpty done. Another inspiration, although not always in a positive way, was the school book ‘Dragonsteeth’. It featured poems by Seamus Heaney, Walt Whitman and Ted Hughes. The two that always stood out to me where ‘The Projectionist’s Nightmare’ by Brian Patten and ‘The Computer’s First Christmas Card’ by Edwin Morgan.

I think that, more than anything, the poetry I have encountered since I set off down this particular Rabbit Hole of a calling had inspired me most. I am always surprised and delighted by the poetry I encounter on the local scene

Q. After Confessions has been launched what are your next plans, is there anything else you’re working on or would like to do?

In the near future I am going to keep writing poems as they come to me. Eventually, I’d like to write enough poems to release a small book, but my first love is performing them live.

I am also continuing to work on my full-length novel ‘Welcome Back Victoria.’ This is a novel set in a Dystopian Britain. It’s about mind control, Virtual Reality and a group dedicated to overthrowing the newly crowned Queen Victoria. It’s about overcoming apathy and complacency, standing up and doing what’s right in a world that is conditioned not to think.

Another project I am working on is expanding a long-short story I wrote called Contact Sickness. It’s another sci-fi about contact with an alien race and the effects of dealing with the psychological consequences of that contact. A lot of people know me are aware of the alien race as the ‘Space Badgers’ but I hope to release this as a Novella.

Q. Where can folk find you online if they want to keep up with what you’re doing?

I am still coming to terms with the New Social Media, luddite that I am, but I have a Facebook page at Dan Oram – Author or email me at DanOramAuthor@gmail.com

I’d like to say a big thank you to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions, Confessions will be launched at Eerie Ink Tattoo Parlour in Walsall on the evening of July 20th.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

This interview was carried out by Richard Archer for the blog Poems and More. If you copy and paste this article into another blog site please have the decency to leave this sentence in instead of reposting it as your own work.

The Freevese Poetry Festival – A review


Yesterday Brownhills Community Centre opened their doors to host Walsall’s first poetry festival and after the end of a fantastically successful day I think it’s fair to say the area opened its heart to poetry.

In planning since October last year Freevese is the brainchild of Matt Humphries, Ian Davies and myself Richard Archer, our idea being to run a poetry event that would feature talented poets across the region coupled with the chance for local poets to share their work, all to an audience who might be new to poetry.

So what of the day itself? The festival opened with local comic poet Rik Sanders aka Willis the Poet who shared the stage with some of the areas funniest poets before launching in to a blisteringly hilarious comic set of his own. I think it was fair to say this was the funniest I have ever seen Rik and with the audience in tears of laughter Freeverse was off to a brilliant start.

Next up was the first of the festival’s open mic sessions, headlined by the fantastic Holly Daffurn whose raw emotional poetry shone with warmth and beauty, wowing the audience. The festival was always about allowing local poets to join in so it was great to follow Holly with a selection of the area’s talent all bringing their unique voices to the stage.

This was followed by Rob Francis and Paul McDonald and a selection of their pupils from the Department of English at Wolverhampton University. Rob and Paul read from their published works while their pupils entertained the audience with their poems and stories. It was great to have the festival supported by the University and for them to give their time to perform at the event.

While the Wolverhampton University read the festival also ran a free poetry workshop, organised by Scarlett Ward and Sallyanne Rock the workshop was on the theme of finding your poetic voice and was very well attended. Afterwards poets spoke of how the workshop had inspired them to write a poem on its themes and all agreed it had been a great inspirational event.

Sallyanne Rock and Scarlett Ward at the Freeverse Festival, photo by Scarlett Ward

Following on form this was the last of the Festival’s open mic sessions. Opened by local poet Paul Elwell and finished by another great poet from the area Gerald Kells, a great selection of the region’s poets took the mic showing how fantastic the poetry talent is in the region.

Sadly all good things must come to an end and it was time for the final act to take the stage. Poets, Prattlers and Pandiemonailists are a local poetry collective better known as Steve Pottinger, Emma Purshouse and Dave Pitt who finished the day with a marvellous set of poems that were linked in one way or another. The audience enjoyed poems, on the perils of the internet, lost hats and minicab receptionists, all delivered in PPP’s brilliant chaotic entertaining style.

And just like that the Festival was over, nine months of planning culminating in seven wonderful hours of poetry on the day, after thank yous and cheers it was time for everyone to head home. But not after hearing the fantastic news that Freevese will return next year, hope to see you there.

Richard Archer, Mat Humphries and Ian Davies, photo by Jo Humphries.

So all that remains is the thanks.

Thank you to all out headline acts and thank you to everyone who took up the mic to perform in our open mic sets.

Thank you to Scarlett and Sallyanne for running the workshop.

Thank your to Creative Black Country for funding the event and Wolverhampton University for their support.

Thank you to Brownhills Community Centre for hosting the day.

Special big thanks to Jo Humphries for running the merchandise stall and helping sort out the feedback cards.

Fianlly a big thank you to everyone who attended, helped promote the day on socail media or by word of mouth and took the time to tell us how much they enjoyed the festival.

Here’s to the next one.

 

 

Out of the Darkness


I clothed myself in shadows,
then went searching for
all my hidden secrets.
I found the biggest one
curled peacefully around you.
I left it undisturbed,
a dark lie to remember me by,
as I leave you ignorant to the last.

Outside I flick my lighter until
it reluctantly sparks.
Then with a cigarette glowing on my lips,
I emerge under the street lights
like a B-Movie bad guy.

I set off passing underneath
a patchwork of windows, whose glow
showcases silhouettes, slow dancing
under their shower’s spotlights.
Uncaring I stretch out my arm,
my cigarette falls to the ground
like a fading shooting star.
Before it hits the pavement the bus arrives.

Its windows glow,
like funeral candles.
Inside the terracotta passengers
silently sit,
Indifferent to the opening doors
and the shadow of the driver,
welcoming me aboard, like an old friend.

Slow Train to Tipton


We pull out of Walsall as slow as a summer breeze,
barely moving fast enough it seems to stir the trees.
Once chicken sandwiches are consumed there’s little to do,
than gaze out of the train’s window at the view.
Watching clouds scroll calmly across a hot June sky,
hovering over cranes and scaffolding helping a new town arise.
While we’re overtaken by cars and lorries on an adjacent motorway,
unlike us speeding swiftly on their way.
Then we crawl through yards of rusty stock and freight,
my plans for today condemned it seems to wait.

Two seats down the lad in black denim closes his eyes,
feet and fingers tapping to a song in his mind.
Other passengers stare at phones or blow on hot coffee
stirring and shifting in the train’s uncomfortable seats.
While the red of brick and green of tree,
slowly parade past the window for all to see.
People amble on board at every frequent stop,
starting long journeys or short commuter hops.
As the world turns, stars burn, planets are born then die,
the slow train to Tipton goes steadily by.