Wednesday, 30 March 2011

If the Shoe Fits

Last night, I spent an inspirational two hours at the Sherrier Centre, Lutterworth, for the latest Behind the Scenes poetry workshop, led by Kerry Featherstone.  Mark Goodwin was also in attendance.

The following poem was inspired by:
  • the museum artefact in the photograph (At first glance, the sole appeared to be made of leather. When I picked it up I was struck by its weight).
  • 5 random sentences from a book, chosen by the person sitting next to me.
  • Mark Goodwin's latest poetry collection, Shod (Nine Arches Press).  A real page turner, especially if you know your Bible.

    Cast iron shoe with leather strap
If the Shoe Fits

In the beginning, there was fire,
a son and a father.

The son gave vent to his thoughts
in the fire of his father’s house.
In the fire of his father’s house,
the son wrought a fitting shoe.

A fitting shoe for a man
who ruled with an iron fist.

An iron shoe for a man of iron.
Thus the son gave vent to his thoughts.

An important point about fitting shoes is
the question of scale: weight x height x distance.

Thus the son gave vent to his thoughts:
a fitting race for an iron man in an iron shoe.

One runner, the man with an iron fist,
wearer of the iron shoe.  No winner.

Wearing the iron shoe, the iron man raced
up the stairs of his iron house.

Up the stairs of his iron house
and down again.

Up the stairs and down again,
forever and ever, amen.

Thus the son gave vent to his thoughts.

Mark Goodwin is running this month's WORDshop and, with Steve Carroll, is the booked act at Word!
on Tuesday 5th April at the Y theatre, Leicester.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


On Monday, Jean 'Binta' Breeze invited her students to focus on something they feel passionate about, to write 2 poems: a public statement and a private testament

Here follows my private testament: to a moment in time, a human in need:

Friday 18th March 2011

6.15 AM: alarm-shocked.  Had
7 hours’ head-down
on goose down
memory foam moulded
winter weight duvet over head.
Light dawns: another bloody weekday workday.

Note to self: adopt positive outlook-
good job
decent pay
pays bills
puts roof over head.

Hot shower
hotfoot back to bed with
hot tea, porridge, cats.

Breakfast TV on, let it wash over head, attempt full functioning.
Weather Outlook: wet, windy, 6 degrees
(not in here; here it’s calm, dry, 65 degrees maybe).

News Update: latest from Japan.
Further rescues, clean-up in wake of
earthquake, tsunami, nuclear emergency.
Cut to
camera close-up: a man’s face, sharp-focused
against rubblescape backdrop. 
I’m watching.

I learn he’s a fireman, home
from rescue duty, home
to find
no house standing
no family surviving
no home.

I don’t know what to do!
the newsreader’s translation, redundant.

I read the news in his eyes.

Friday, 4 March 2011


Masterclass in Performance Poetry

On Monday, Jean 'Binta' Breeze, the world's first female dub poet, shared her skills with students on her popular course at Writing School Leicester.  Beginning with a performance of The Simple Things, she demonstrated her power to "seduce the ear, using the voice as instrument" (her words).

We were invited to adopt a voice and to play with rhythm and pace (see poem below).

Hearing Voices 

Tonight's Issue 2 launch of Crystal Clear Creators' literary magazine took place at De Monfort University's Clephan Building as part of the Cultural Exchanges festival.   The evening included readings from the new issue as well as open mic performances; as many different voices as there were poets.  Thus my latest poem (as yet untitled)  had its first airing:

“I want to hear you say,
I am not my mother.

the hardest ground on which to bounce
brittle words.

Ill-versed at first,
tentatively tried for size in cramped cerebral changing rooms,
discarding the misfits.

I           am

She is not the told you so
the over and over No, just go
the oh, so constant slap-down
disapproving glower
spittle thrower
finger pointer
chip on her shoulder
boulder-heavy baggage.
she is the carrier.

No longer.

am       not

Heady, dizzying, too heavy,
heaved out

mu       thu

breathed softer


out to air with all the others
blown about
till used to hanging out together

I am not my mother

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Workshop survivor

Two other poets are jointly responsible for the following poem which had its first outing at last night's Word! open mic:

Last November, John Gallas placed a random selection of objects on the table and invited his poetry students to write about one of them.  It was the reel of Sellotape that beckoned ...

Andrew MulletProofPoet Graves invited those attending his January WORD!shop to consider what we might pack when going on holiday with someone we didn't like.  At least two of the items remain below...

The original word-bites have done a little travelling with me since.  Hold onto your hats
(and, in places, cover your ears):

photo credit:

Survival Pack

1.            A pin
to prick your conscience with a vengeance
and deflate your ego, my erstwhile amigo,
a shock to the head that’ll stop you dead,
a vanishing trick for a puffed-up dickhead.

2.            Sellotape
You’re up to your tricks and I’m up in arms.
Your game’s up!  You’re up to your neck,
you’re scuppered – on your uppers. 
I’m gonna tape your smooth-talking mouth up,
I’ll make sure you shut the fuck up.

3.            Dictionary
You’re gonna eat your double entendres,
I’ll stick ’em up, stitch ’em up, declare war on
words, opinions aired, words, ideas shared,
words are liars with desires, words are turds! 
(Giving vent to indignation’s not as vile as your intentions).

4.            Medication
  • antiseptic ointment for chronic disappointment
  • giant sticking plasters for bleeding disasters
  • anti-inflammatories for painful calamities
  • blunt-ended tweezers: for unwanted geezers.

5.           Credit card (yours)
Write an obit for your wallet!
I’m undergoing training for credit limit straining
flexing your plastic, stretching its elastic
till I’ve had my fill and you foot the bill.
As part of the perks I’m having the works:
I’ll splash your dosh on a super-posh
five-day stay at a five-star health spa,
oil the joints, anoint my finer points.

6.            Notebook and pen
I’ll update my wish list by crossing you off it
re-write my life script, then doubly encrypt it

7.            Insurance
Forever’s just a fallacy, I need a foolproof policy,
so how’s this for a game of cricket?
You’re on a sticky wicket, 
you know where you can stick it.
I’m leaving - on a one-way ticket!