Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Paris was warm and the chestnut trees were out. Mozilla has a beautiful office. There was a strike but that didn't seem to matter. It just meant a taxi in from Charles de Gaulle and a taxi out to Orly on a beautiful afternoon putting together all the glimpses I have had of the city over the years into a new geography.

Thanks to Kristof Van Tomme at Pronovix for the pictures

Things to note: Montmartre is very hipster as I guess it always has been. Were Alice B.Toklas and Picasso hipsters? I kind of feel that Alexandre Dumas père would have been. Also you can get birch water at Mozilla but I made a coffee instead.

This seems to be a year of revisiting places I have known and assumed I know well. With each one London, Dublin, Belfast, Paris and shortly Vigo there has been a pleasing shake-up and sense of another way of looking.

Last exam and coursework of my master's first year this week and then a summer of possibilities featuring predominantly at the moment: woods, my Indian bird list and APIs.


Postscript: French woodland makes me dream of martins. Montmartre is the mount of the martins. And on the rive gauche there is a Montsouris - hill of the mouse. Luckily they are separated by the river.

Friday, 13 April 2018

In the bathroom with Norman MacCaig

I seem to hang around with poets in the bathroom.

I follow Carol Ann Duffy's principle of keeping poetry handy to read in those spare moments. And I am probably one of only a handful of people living who can claim to have washed Hugh MacDiarmid's bathroom floor when the cistern flooded.

Hugh MacDiarmid's bathroom sink in Brownsbank Cottage

Today I had an encounter with the poet Norman MacCaig a Scottish poet of whom I am very fond. He was a friend of many including Seamus Heaney. And I like the way he opens up a landscape and shows me how, by drawing its lines, we can see its shapes, patterns and pathways all the better. Something I would aspire to. Plus he used to hang out at nice pubs in Edinburgh such as Milnes Bar with other poets: always a good idea.

Coming across his Collected poems, I used them as a kind of divination tool and I Ching.

The outcome was good. Section 3 of the poem No end, no beginning written in 1968.

When you, in your unimaginable self,
suddenly were there, shut boxes opened

and worlds flew out coloured like pictures books
and full of heavy lethargies and gay dances:

when I met a tree, my old familiar, I knew
this was the first time I was meeting it;

and the birds in it singing - for the first time
I could crack the code of their jargon.

And the boredom and the loneliness
in the lit rooms of monotonous streets became

terrible and pitiful - you made me a member
of the secret society of humanity.

The future that had been failing muscles,
sagging flesh, cindering eyes -

all mine, all only mine - swarmed in the air
and spread its new meaning back

into every yesterday. Flux, revolution
emerged into sense, into their own

explanations. I could understand them,
not wholly, but I could understand them

as I could know, not wholly the meaning
of your still hand, quiet look, a way of walking

that takes you from the first garden to the future
where the apple hangs, still, on its dangerous tree.

Norman MacCaig

The only problem with this poetic dark art is that this poem literally has no end and no beginning. I don't want to know for the moment. I am only going to live in the present.


You can find more on Hugh MacDiarmid's sink here And more on Norman MacCaig at his Scottish Poetry Library page here

Stuff coming up in Spring

Mostly it is revision which of course immediately sent me into the hills to take photographs of snow.

You can see that and a few other photos on p&g insta if you are interested.

New poetry is out in Ambit

And also in Northwords Now Issue 35

And advance alert that ink sweat and tears is featuring a poem of mine on April 18th .

I am delighted to be featured in all these excellent publications alongside many other great poets and artists.

I will also be doing some geek stuff in Paris on security for API the Docs so if that is also your bag perhaps will see you there.

Just click on the pictures to find out more. Thanks and more from me once my university exams are  over next month.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Bit late for St Bridget's day

A very pleasurable start to the new year with 2 beautiful magazines Ambit and Under the Radar arriving on my doorstep featuring many delights including some of my poems.

You buy copies here and here.

Garden and bird projects continue and I will post on this in a bit.

Also been hanging around some Dublin universities and checking out Xbox gamertags for ladies.

More on this on insta and twitter - enjoy. I will leave you with the mission of finding your own way there. Tip: if in doubt, look up.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Stuff that is happening now

My computer seems to be predicting the end of days.

However I am confident some poems of mine will appear in Ambit 231 which is out January 2018.

You can find out more about Ambit here.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

New work

If you are interested in new work from me this year:

  • Check out a fresh and multi-faceted magazine The Blue Nib edited by Shirley Bell which the Southbank Poetry Library made me aware of - I have some poems in Issue 13 here
  • A couple of poems in The Eildon Tree - the wonderful and unique Scottish Borders publication driving the arts forward throughout Scotland and globally through the agency of Carol Norris, Sara Clark, Julian Colton and Iona McGregor
  • If you missed it, I had a poem in Open Mouse - btw I suggest you subscribe if you missed it because this is a fantastic almost daily treat of online poetry curated by Colin Will
  • I have a poem appearing in the Abridged Wormwood issue (I can't tell you how natural a fit that topic was - Greg McCartney the editor has a knack of coming up with the most addictive themes for poets and artists; not to mention the impact of the photography throughout the magazine series); there is a preview here
    The physical version of Abridged "is generally available at art galleries and arts organisations in Belfast, Dublin, Derry, Galway. Usually for a limited period as they go very quickly". Free PDFs are also available from the website.
  • I have a poem in the soon to appear Issue 20 of Under the Radar - copies available from the website; take a look at the range of poets featured in previous issues and you will understand why it is well worth getting a copy sooner rather than later as they sell out quickly.
  • If you like a more regular dose of p&g can I suggest you go over to where I post photos taken with a Windows Phone most of the time

Thank you to all the editors and teams for taking the time to read and publish these. Delighted to feature alongside some great poets, artists, writers and photographers.

Bridget Khursheed me and my webcam

Other news: I am doing an MSc in Advanced Security and Digital Forensics at Edinburgh Napier University and still doing my regular geek day job. As usual I am confident I can do all of these things and still write the poetry I want to. It is part of my practice to work and write. A theory borne out by presidential/solder/mother/doctor/lawyer/publisher/priest/spy etc poets everywhere and throughout history. Poetry doesn't stop things happening. It makes things happen.