Call for Contributions

I had a great time at the BCU Summer Show last night (and at The Woodman afterwards) for the launch of this years School of English Anthology Lifelines. On the basis of the readings at the event I’m very much looking forward to reading through the rest of my free copy.

I wrote a new spoken word poem to read on the night, which I intend to record and upload soon, but in the mean time here’s my contribution to the anthology itself:

Call for Contributions

After the Call for Contributions for Magma 63

Everybody talks, I imagine
an everywhere fog of incessant buzzing,
a radio cacophony built from the layering of many subtly different frequencies,
a wall somewhere between a The Flaming Lips live experiment
and Lou Reed trying to escape a record contract,
the plurality of voices blending into white noise, blank

verse used in the manufacture of what
is this? Is it a kind of art?               Well anyway,
in a buyer’s market
the tone, or should we say colour of the voice
is a highly commercial property.
Any practising perfectionist will tell you that

these conversations have been rehearsed within an inch of their lives,
starting with a question or questioning
and then falling back on Catholic guilt. Good
conversationalists are often guilty. My God
is often bored. Good conversationalists

are often good listeners,
I mean haven’t we heard all this before?

Craving something more controversial,
we make the established noises (a loud explanation of gas)
and then sit back to wait for peer recognition.

Some of us only know what we’re thinking as we’re talking,
others engage in authoritative discourse
like a conversational tic—expounding on the current conflict in the Middle East
as a favourite party piece.
(Some themes are never out of vogue.)

All of us enjoy a good eavesdrop,
but very few have the talent to make a living out of it.

You see, ideas and conversations are inextricably linked,
and, though we’re often exhorted to publish or perish,

some conversations can get you killed.


The Seed of Hope

Witten in response to the #whimword prompt “seed”.


Perhaps I found my seed just when I needed it most. It was always a comfort to have it with me because I knew one day I might have to use it. I would reach into my pocket every so often just to feel it in there. I kept it there for a week or two at first, and then a couple more, it ended up that I carried that little seed around with me for months and months, maybe even years. Sometimes I forgot all about it. Sometimes for weeks on end I wouldn’t give it a second thought. But it was always there if I needed it. And then one day I did.

I can’t remember what it was about that day. Perhaps that was it, the utter unremarkability of it. I mean, its unremarkability in a series of unremarkable days. Weeks without remark. And then I remembered my seed. And I took the seed out of my pocket for the first time in a long time. And I looked out at my little garden and could see just the place to plant it, down at the bottom of the slope near the boundary fence where it would get the evening sun. I thought about my little seed enjoying the warmth of the sun as I went outside to plant it.

It broke the surface a few weeks later, amongst the first green shoots of spring. Within a week it was the height of a small shrub and by the end of the month it was already as tall as a couple of thee young trees in my neighbour’s garden. By the autumn it was as tall as many of the more established oaks and elms in the other gardens along the road. Trees that have been there for as long as most people can remember.

I’ll admit, the speed at which it grew surprised even me. But I trust my seed, it has never let me down. And anyway, I’ve tested it for my weight, it’s quite secure. It’s such a reassuring presence stood behind me now as I step off.