First Draft & Other Happenings

Ok so most people who know me know I have a certain way of approaching artistic endeavours basically I say yes and ask questions later.

This has lead me into some frankly loopy enterprises including dashing between Arran and Edinburgh because I said yes to doing several things while on holiday I found all the ways in which a rucksack is not a pillow that week but had fun made amazing contacts and saw great spoken word. Totally worth it.

Last year I wrote a poem about an anonymous perfume for penning perfumes. This year I wrote one about a constellation which was so difficult I very nearly threw my latop out of the window a few times, the editor liked it.

So when Abi of first draft sent a call out for performers for their second birthday I said yes and thought I’d persuade Becca into it.

Those of you who know Stirred will know we are bit like morcambe and wise.

We have been writing and editing each other’s work for a long time now and while there are other people who have edited my work and I take advice from I find our mutual and editing process to be the most simple and we trust each other to make good useful editing suggestions.

We always explain why we think something should be cut (I always think lines and words should be cut) or why this poem is really a non traditional sonnet or should live in couplets (Becca is very good at structure I am not).

basically it was a no brainer for me to ask Becca to partner up for this special event. She took some encouragement I think perhaps she thought what we have is not as interesting as other collaborations would be on the night perhaps we underestimate the work we make together because we have a familiar way of working.

We have recently involved a third with Steph Pike coming in to write poems where three of us write couplets in sequence which proved (I think) the most popular poem of our set and the one we feared would be the most controversial as it references assaults on women.

Abi founder of first draft did for me the most lovely and well put together set of the evening with a muscian they rewrote a murder ballad to include sensible advice on love and both the words and music came together without one over powering the other as collaborations should be.

I hope that is what people think of mine and Becca’s joint poems or the poems which mirror each other.

Go to the next first draft at the almost any art form goes and they encourage work in progress and the atmosphere created by hosts and audience is inclusive and encouraging.

I will end this blog post with a few announcements and the advice to always say yes to projects and work out the details later.

Ok so we have several events this week I am hosting a world book night event at Fab Cafe: from 6pm at Fab Cafe on Thursday there will readings from 7.30pmish

Next up we have a lovely mirror workshop for you to write some mirror poems for our Stirred event on the Monday: Kim By The Sea at five pmish

Finally Stirred is on Monday and we have Andrew Lawson and Shirley May a line up I believe represents the diversity of poets who we have on and support under the Stirred Poetry Umbrella new and established poets are always welcome! We have open mic slots available at Three Minute Theatre Monday from 7.30pm

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Non Prompt Poem

I somehow came upon this. It is true there is a world war two officers jacket languishing in my wardrobe. I made a poor internet attempt to search records to prove that my Grandfather was an officer but found the records hard to find I am sure many people have better sources than I. However yes the jacket is there.

There is a ghost in the wardrobe it sleeps uncomfortable on a plastic hanger expensively tailored as befits the rank. One of the few things of my grandfather’s I can touch there is that clock bearing that title forever tickless a wedding present for the wearer I have never yet found a safe house for it it to peal in. The jacket lies noticeably cleaned, shrouded in a torn bin liner my attempt at preservation, fear moths, consider museums the ordinariness of this item lowers its historical value the ghost has not been attended properly. I wore this jacket it was last seen in public when I was boyish it was floodlit on stage masquerading as another, further, war the one now celebrating it centenary I had the closest thing to historical accuracy. I forget the lines I spoke and it is of no matter. I worry this fabric can never speak of the wearer’s reluctance and fear.

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Prompt From Day Fourteen Questions

So you may have heard of a nasty little idea called ”women eating on tubes” more and more there is a sense that people can take photos of women and post them without their consent. Obviously these are not quite as vile as upskirt shots but like myself many feminists find the whole thing pretty icky. The ”it’s a joke” defence holds little water with me why is women eating so hilarious? Its because we aren’t supposed to actually eat let alone where other people can see us. Some great feminist had a picnic on the tube in defiance Becca wrote a foundish poem using comments about the site online. It is a reminder that simply to be in the world and act like a fully functional human being can seem like a political act. This poem is not that articulate and I loathe repeated questions in poems but it got written from this prompt:


Are you going to eat that here?

On the bus, on the tube in the street?

Why are women eating on public transport?

why are they not laughing at salads and cheerfully spooning yogurt?

How do they dare admit to hunger and cram sandwiches in?

Don’t they know women’s mouths are obscene and must be closed?

Or a tongue clean as a cat’s stuck out between syrupy lips for no purpose?

We want your mouths open a crack we can wedge open haven’t you see all the pictures?

Don’t they know they are being judged not just for how they look but gluttony?

Haven’t they realised we don’t want to think of them having gullets?

No epiglottis, no digestion in our fantasies can’t they see we want form not function?

The mouth is another hole for our sole consumption must be waiting at all times.

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Today’s Gallery Poem

Ok so we went back to the impressionists and the paintings of ladies with mirrors. However would add the real woman in this painting was a dancer and is not really the poem’s subject. The idea is an old idea of feminity not how women really lived. From the greeks wanting their women to weave and sing and never be seen to today’s effortless no visible make up but perfected face version we have ideas of how women should look and act that is where this went. We took our extra words from the happy prince by Oscar Wilde which is time appropriate.


She is caught in an outside hat. A woman’s hair not often washed then traps pheromones will scent deeply of her womaness and must be covered so as not to attract men, a swarm, crawling like bumblebees on a primrose. She is leaning limpwristed an affectation of sickliness desired to appear pale and wan as if you had lived protected in an airing cupboard folded with your virtue warm and crisp. A fantasy of women whose hands do nothing there are maids with hooks who do up the rows and rows of buttons bone and pearl and shell to arrange that protected hair pile it up nest like over a coddled mind resting in the centre.

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Another Non Prompt Poem Inspired By Manchester Art Gallery

So I have started popping into the late opening of the Manchester Art Gallery with some other writers we do a quick blast of writing usually free writing from an artwork and then the pub. Both bits of this are important. I often feel completely frazzled after work so can find 5-10 minutes of just writing and no talking while looking at art incredibly soothing. This also links to the next Stirred as our theme is mirrors, myself and Becca found two artworks in the impressionist gallery that had mirrors in the event is here:

and the poem which like a lot of mine of late has come out as a prose poem it probably won’t be one later but here is the poem as is which means it was edited down from some free writing with words given as prompts to stick in, I seem to remember Becca accusing me of making up porpoises the book I took the extra words from was very sea focused.

Interior with a lady seated francis cadell

She appears as if reflected. A shadow of enigmatic features only resolving themselves ten feet away as there is a sense of paint unleashed, of the hand being let go, the oils remain unblended. There is a gauzy shimmer, this how your lover looks across a room, an aura, out of focus and holding your attention. This is the world after midnight, this captures what you almost thought you saw at 3am and the light flickered. An almost dream painting with her possible cat porpoisong the sofa like its aware it could be just be her wrap cast off on entering a warm room.

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Napowrimo Replacement Prompt

I used day twelve’s prompt:

So I took the last section of this page: subbed in the world guilt/guilting/guilted for quilting I am not sure where I got this from but remember a literary character calling a quilt a guilt because it wasn’t finished. I then sculpted the text by deleting words and phrases in order. As with all my experimental poetry I ahve followed the process and sound patterns rather than aiming for full sense and here goes:

Uses of Guilted fabric

The earliest guilting was used to make bed covers: very fine guilts are often mentioned in inventories, frequently become family heirlooms. Guilting was also used to produce clothing used for protective wear, padded jackets: worn armour to afford. Guilting in the early years for the guilted worn wealthy.

In many instances guilted items are the work of women  for their own use, hunting . If you look closely you will see that the guilting has been done with chain, worked from the top surface akin to a hook.

The desire to create interesting sculptural effects led to amazing heights of artistry in the hands of skilled wantings. Various stitches create a texture instance laid or are hand tied exactly like pearls, as in pinstuck surfaces




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Non Prompt Poem Brought to you by Hangover and New Bra Power

Ok so I have had a marvellous weekend of poetry an misbehaving the with powerful lyrical political poetry dynamo Steph Pike, we poeted as a an opener for the wonderful Carol Robson’s show finding me the show is  is by turns informative, amusing and a powerful reminder of our capacity to change ourselves and live the lives we were truly meant to. I mentioned her on the radio show today highlighting the fact she has done all the AMAZING adventurous intellectual things she has done after fifty lives do have second acts. To end that ovely emotion I bring you a slightly odd poem winged to me by hangover and the power of new bra, seriously a life altering bra I strapped it on today and felt ready for anything even writing this kind of poem.


How to be ok With Being in a Human Body

Let your leg hair grow for the first time since you were thirteen

feel how soft you are

stop plucking your eyebrows 

learn to love how they look when you do

work up to it

f**** myopic men let them tell you you are beautiful

start to believe them close your eyes feel their body

imagine how wonderful you feel 

with practise you can f**** men who f**** G Ballard

who take a curatorial interest in the shape of your scars

pore over your pores your wrinkles

who look at you right up close their eyes saucers

who breathe you in deep an when you leave

complain their sheets don’t hold your scent.


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