Sunday, 14 September 2014

A draft of something new

I have been working on a poetic interpretation of Ecclesiastes and wanted to share.


Nothing has meaning.
Everything is pointless,
like an inane transient cloud.
A single breath of smoke.

Think of all the tears and sweat
that you pour into your work.
What do you actually gain
from everything that you do?
Generations flourish and then fade
and are replaced by others that pass,
leaving no sign they were ever there,
only the dirt where they once walked.

The sun rises every dawn
and then sets with every dusk
repeating the monotonous cycle
with the same numbing predictability.
The wind blows to the south
but then changes and rushes north,
mindlessly blowing one way then another,
constant in it's confused and erratic mission.
Every drop of water ends in the ocean
but the seas is never satisfied and so
the rivers and streams keep flowing
tediously replenishing over and over again.

Every single aspect of life inspires apathy
and is filled with indescribable monotony.
Each dull thing bores the eyes blind
and deafens ears with mundane noise.
All that has once been will be again.
Every occurrence that takes place
is just an imitation of another.
Nothing is original or new in this world.
Someone might claim or insist
they have something new to offer,
but you can be sure that all it will be
is a rehashed and repackaged cliché.

All than man achieves will fade away
and the supposedly great things
that will be accomplished in the future,
will also pass into nothingness.

One of my favourite Haiku

I have decided this is also a good place to post some poetry I like.

This is one of my favourite haiku by Ezra Pound


In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough



Saturday, 30 August 2014

What's next...


If you have read the posts below about my previous books I hope that they have been of some interest and not too self indulgent.

At this stage I am basically up to date and continue to work on future projects. I am about a third of the way through my work on the psalms and continue to edge towards completion. I will perhaps post a work in progress at some point soon.

I have also been spending every other spare moment working on a poetic interpretation of Ecclesiastes. This is something I have been holding back on because it was something I was looking forward to do. Sometimes I hear a piece of music and it just strikes a chord with my soul in a certain way. One particular example is Fratres by Arvo Part. It just resonates with me. And since I was a teenager Ecclesiastes has done the same sort of thing. As time has gone by I heard that other people held a special connection with Ecclesiastes. I don't know if it is the realness of it or the bitter rantyness of it compared to other books in the bible. I hope to tap into some of that with my version. Again, I may post something up soon but expect it to be ready sometime in the autumn.

But until then...

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Book of Proverbs in Haiku


My first full encounter with the Proverbs as part of my daily life was again through listening to the Daily Audio Bible. Each day there would be a proverb and quite often they would be the most powerful reading but I also noticed that often if there was a more weighty passage then I would be caught thinking about that and the Proverb would just go over my head. I decided to listen to the DAB proverb podcast in the hope that there wold be time and space to sit with the proverb but instead it was a whole chapter read in a 5 minute session. This is a great way of listening to the proverbs in a month but it felt rushed.

I realised that this is often what happens when we approach the Proverbs. They become lost in their anthologised format and drown among each other or we see the full list and try to gorge ourselves on a whole chunk instead or siting with the single proverb for a while.

It seemed to me that the Proverbs were a lot like the short form Haiku poems from ancient Japan which were short, pithy and full of observation and wisdom but contained in only 17 syllables. I wondered whether the proverbs could be translated into the haiku format and so I started to experiment and eventually I kept working through the entire book of Proverbs.

The work on this book was different from Song of Songs. Instead of translating from source I armed myself with a variety of existing translations and dictionaries I set condensing the proverbs into haiku.

I learnt so much in writing this book and it was a great opportunity to write a lot of haiku. So many of the proverbs were surprising and full of wisdom. After I released the book I had a really good response to the book.

I have since thought about how I might get the book published. I would love to see it in print and to see it reach a wider audience but at this time I don't know it that will happen or if that is the future for the book. Having looked into it a bit it seems that the Christian publishing world of poetry is not much different from the non Christian world of poetry and even If the book did get into print I'm not sure if it would mean that it would find a much wider audience. There are more possibilities for this in the US with things like Createspace and Lulu but not being in the US and having a US tax code seems to be a hurdle.

Hopefully I will find a way. Any ideas let me know though...

Solomon's Song of Songs



After Besides I didn't have anything planned.

I always like to have something to work on and like to keep writing if only for my own sanity and enjoyment. I usually like to have themes in mind when writing but there wasn't anything that sparked with me.  And so I thought I would try and write a novel.

I had a couple of ideas, the first was about a vigilante masked hero which lasted for a couple of chapters before I lost hope in the idea. The second idea I had felt like it had some life in it and I began doing a fair bit of work on it but then something else grabbed my attention.

At the start of the year I had begun to listen to the bible (because I'm lazy and sometimes can't be bothered to read) through the Daily Audio Bible Podcast. As a Christian I always felt kind of ashamed that I had never read through the entire bible but it just seemed daunting, but this seemed like a good way of doing it (and would recommend it to anyone!) It occurred to me that there was so much of the bible that I hadn't read, especially the poetry in the bible.

As I listened to the Psalms and the wisdom literature I felt like it was something I wanted to explore deeper.
I wondered why I had ignored books books like Proverbs, Song of Songs, Lamentations and Job. I think part of it was the language but also I realised that I had missed the point that these were amazing poems that maybe just needed to break free and breathe. That isn't to say that the texts are stagnant, rather I felt that something was lost in the antholigised format of chapter and verse, crammed together to save space, especially with something like the proverbs.

When I was at university we looked at translations in poetry and it was something I enjoyed and so the idea of having a go at translating/ interpreting some of the biblical poetry appealed to me and it also provided a good opportunity to get into the scriptures a bit more.

I started working with the Psalms (which I will get into at a later post as it has proved to be a larger task) but in the mean time planned to look at other texts. The first of these was Song of Songs.

My intention with SSOS was to try and present the text as it might have been originally as a song or poem, without setting it in chapter and verse and to work from a literal word for word translation of the original Hebrew, referring to other translations for clarification and from that point to try and capture the passion and meaning in the text. There may be mistakes and errors in my interpretations but I wanted to make the translation my own, to get to know the text and primarily to make it something that I understood. If other people happened upon it then I hoped that they would find something in it.

I published the book through Amazon for kindle and thought I would see what might happen. My previous books had never really gathered any momentum. A few people had downloaded free copies in promotion or borrow and bought now and again but on the first promotional run of SSOS over 400 copies were downloaded and people continued to buy it. I realised that I had done something that connected with people. It was almost as if it had given me a purpose and calling for my desire to write poetry. It was the first step of an adventure.

We'll see if I come back to that novel one day.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Besides




After Inertia I continued to write different things. At the time I was trying to put my energy into another narrative style poem film in the same vain as Inertia but on a larger scale. I continued to write generally but without any real theme in mind. It was these poems that in part came to form Besides.

During this time life shifted. I moved from Bolton, from living alone and doing a job that had no future for me, to Coventry where I was living with a group of musicians and creatives and arrived with a clean slate on the job front. Not long after I had been there and started to settle in I met a girl who turned my world upside down (in a good way though!) As a result though I no longer felt the urge to write poems around the previous themes of unrequited love, beauty in the mundane, etc. I lost steam on the larger project and felt the need to try and find out where my voice wanted to go next (if that doesn't sound too pretentious). At this point I had released Inertia on Amazon and wanted to draw a line under what I had done up until then and so decided to put together Besides.

I called it Besides as a bad word play on B-Sides. I saw this book as a collection of poems that didn't have a home anywhere else, like a B Sides album of songs that didn't make it onto the album.

Some of the poems are a bit more abstract and experimental concrete poems but also some of them have a fun element. My initial hope was that I could release it for free on Amazon to hopefully coax some people into buying Inertia. Unfortunately, I never figured out how to do this properly without somehow breaking the Amazon rules and so I released it anyway and it and it got favourable reviews from people so I am happy.

So yes, Besides. Check it out at any of the links at the side!!!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Inertia




I'm going back a bit but I thought I would start with an introduction to Inertia which was the first book I published.

Inertia was conceived when I was in my final year of University in 2004. The poetry side of it formed a large part of my final project. At the time I was trying to write a poetry concept album, a sequence of twenty poems that told a story. I already owned a few concept albums and thought that the format would suit a collection of poems. My tutor put me on to a few books that already did this to an extent, Craig Raine's A La Recherche Du Temp Perdu and History: The Home Movie, Ted Hughes' Gaudete and Birthday Letters, Tony Harrison's Film Poems, to name a few.

I wanted the story to focus on the everyday and mundane and to almost celebrate those things. I was also introduced to Weldon Kees' Robinson poems which were a huge influence on the theme for the poems. If you haven't read these poems then you should look them up. These poems quite beautifully describe the world of the character, Robinson who supposedly signifies urban man.

Weirdly I also took quite a few influences from comedy shows such as Peep Show, Monkey Trousers, Alan Partridge and Jam. It wasn't trying to write a comedy and it doesn't come through strongly but there is humour to be found, even if it might be a bit dark and weird.

Inertia ended up as a sequence of 20 poems following it's main character though his day. His day begins waking up and getting ready for work, his journey to work and then the time spent in his office and his attempts to woo the girl he likes in the office. After work he finds himself in a chance romantic encounter, followed by the fallout of his circumstances.

After graduating I forgot about Inertia but continued writing. I considered sending manuscripts of Inertia to poetry publisher but I knew that it was very difficult to get poetry published and the demand just wasn't there. I thought about it some more and then wondered if it would be possible to make the book into an actual concept album. I didn't know if and how it might work. I had only ever seen CDs of poetry read by some celebrity and backed up with classical music, the kind of CD your gran might buy. This wasn't something I wanted to do. I recorded the Robinson poems by Weldon Kees along with music and they turned out alright so I began to think about recording the Inertia poems. This all happened at a time when the story of Inertia had become my own. I was working in a job that I was bored of and living alone with my own thoughts of loneliness and unfulfilled longing having just embarked on a doomed romance with a girl I had recently met and had fizzled out. I recorded the album in my flat on the outskirts of Bolton in the winter of 2007. The music comprised of looped phrases played on top of each other with other musical embellishments which I thought mirrored the theme of monotony and it's beauty, within the poems. The vocals were filtered to make it sound like a one sided phone conversation or like it was recorded into a dictaphone and was a piece of found recording.

I was really pleased with the finished album and immediately tried to find a home for it. I managed to self publish the book and audio together at Lulu.com and the audio floated around websites like myspace, soundcloud, bandcamp, etc for a while. This was a bit before e-readers were popular and so there wasn't much take up for it at first.

I eventually released it through Amazon with a selection of other poems that I wrote around the same time with some joy as ebooks became more popular and accessible, but alas without the audio. However, Inertia recently found it’s place at Noisetrade.com, a great website where customers are invited to pay a tip. Both the ebook and audio book are now available together there in one place, as I always hoped they would be.

Whenever I go back to Inertia I still feel proud of it as a complete work (which is strange for me after so many years). If you haven't read or listened to it then I hope that this post has peaked your interest and if you have have only either read or listed to it then I hope that you will get to experience it in its fullness.

For more information and to download either or both book and album visit the links at the side.

Well, that was Inertia!

Bye for now

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

I'm back...


It’s been a while since my last post (which now seems quite outdated). I haven’t had much motivation to blog since then and have instead been busying myself with different things. I was amending details on the blog yesterday though and have seen that quite a few people have found their way here which may be down to the fact the blog address is listed as a website in books I have released and on different pages. It might just be coincidence though.

However, thought that I would try a bit harder. While I can't promise daily rants, opinions and thoughts I will be trying to update more regularly with deetails of what what I am up to and have been up to as well as things that peak my interest.

Since the last post a lot has happened. I have started to publish independently with Amazon, an independent website called Noisetrade and more recently on the Kobo store. I have put out a few different things with plans for more to come. rather than going into them here, over the next few weeks I will try and add posts recapping on some of the things I have published and am hoping to publish, but you can check them out too in the mean time via the links at the side.

Hope to see you back here shortly.

Bye for now