Monday, 25 July 2016

How to get hold of Roar Stage tickets? the ABC of spoken word 27th August 2016 Stow, Scottish Borders

The very best of spoken word comes to the Borders – the Roar stage at the Stowed Out Festival Saturday 27th August brings you the ABC of spoken word from legend Sally Evans, Editor of Poetry Scotland, current Scottish Slam Champion Iona Lee and Loud Poet Katie Ailes, to ecopoet and rising star Em Strang while Solareye exhales hip hop flava from Glasgow and local rapper Husler shows a day out of Hawick is not necessarily a day wasted. Been wondering what the fuss is about? 

Tickets £12 (free all day main stage music festival thrown in) available here

Katie Ailes (Perry Johnsson)

Oh and did we mention you can bring your kids and there is a train…

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Absent stuff

Well apologies for the quiet. But maybe you liked it. I have been away working in Prague and reading Lorca but not at the same time. Both were fun. But back in the groove again. It is hot here and I am waiting for a gigantic rainstorm to arrive. Also have been waiting for an even longer time to get my head around a grouping or collection of poems and it looks like that might also arrive in a downpour.

And with regard to the quiet I suppose losing a parent takes a bit of getting used to.

In the meantime here are some stars from the Alhambra bathhouse.

And a poem by Lorca...

A Irene García


En el soto,
los alamillos bailan
uno con otro.
Y el arbolé,
con sus cuatro hojitas,
baila también.

Luego vendrán las lluvias
y las nieves.
Baila sobre lo verde.

Sobre lo verde, verde,
que te acompaño yo.

¡Ay cómo corre el agua!
¡Ay mi corazón!

En el soto,
los alamillos bailan
uno con otro.
Y el arbolé,
con sus cuatro hojitas,
baila también.


To Irene García [a man needs a maid?]

In the thicket
the little poplar trees dance
with one another.
And that tree
with four little leaves
also dances.

The rains must come
and the snows.
Dance on the green!

On the green green
I go with you.

[howl] How the water runs
[howl] Oh my heart

In the thicket
the little poplar trees dance
with one another.
And that tree
with four little leaves
dances also.

This is my rather free translation - but I have fallen in love with this poem from Lorca's Canciones likely written sometime between 1921 and 1924.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Full line-up revealed #RoarStage @Stowedoutfest August 27th 2016

The full main line-up for the spoken word Roar Stage at Stowed Out Fest is now revealed. And it is amazing. Five fabulous performers all on stage in the Borders for the first time:

Em Strang, Sally Evans, Solareye, Katie Ailes and Iona Lee.

Impossible to summarise their talents in a few word but p&g might just mention that between them they have multiple slam wins including the Scottish Slam and StAnza slam, the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award, and have published multiple books, videos and tunes, plus performed at Aye Write, T in the Park,  Scottish Parliament, StAnza and the list goes on.

Find out how to get hold of tickets and the details of all the acts on the Main Stage too. This is just the Roar Stage line-up and there will be more acts - including space for you - find out how

Stowed Out is a cracking boutique festival just a short train ride away from anywhere in Scotland. And train and other transport methods are available if you are coming from further afield! More here

#mapofbirds fledgling sparrows

Notes from this week:

Click to see full:

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Creative walks

Found myself walking round in unexpected places on the way to events, readings, plays and other more routine visits to the supermarket or dropping off the kids. A carpark in Newcastle, outside an old nightclub in Dumfries, randoming on the Glasgow subway and Galashiels late on a workday evening.

I like these spaces. The fruitful time I can spend between here and there. The commute. The unengaged freedom.

The way the streetlight might suddenly hit a mundane object. And make things quite curious.

The combination, the presentation, the hit of surprise. The stop I didn't expect to make.

A road that suddenly becomes a slab of light. Or a field becomes a pathway.

As you can probably guess I am in a writing phase. Right now.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Roar Stage spoken word performance space at Stowed Out festival 2016 could be yours

A little bird tells p&g that there is a spoken word appearance up-for-grabs on the Roar Stage at the Stowed Out Festival 27th August 2016.

Free festival pass, t-shirt and something towards your travel expenses - not to mention the chance to perform alongside a fantastic soon-to-be-revealed line up of spoken word performers. Last year Harry Giles, Calum Bannerman, Sara Clark and Colin Will all appeared - to name a few. And Harry even stole the main stage...

And of course now there is a train. More on this year's Stowed Out here:

Send your YouTube videos to our contact address and we will be in touch soon.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Butcher's Dog Issue (lucky) 7 launch at Newcastle Poetry Festival 7th May 2016

A fine and electric issue of Butcher's Dog available now with new work from Roy Marshall, Barbara Barnes, Bridget KhursheedRichie McCaffery and many more.

And in launch at the Newcastle Poetry Festival.

Find out more about Butcher's Dog here And if you don't know this magazine we suggest you look and then do your utmost to get a poem in it.

And you can also see much else at the Newcastle Poetry Festival which runs 5th until 7th May and looks cracking, plus find out who has won the Basil Bunting poetry award, not to mention Sean O'Brien...more on all that here

Dark Mountain 9 out now

Share this gorgeous book. From the Dark Mountain project. Arresting and beautiful new work in images, ecotext and -poetics.

Dark Mountain say:

Humbleness comes from the Latin humus, meaning ‘earth’; so to be humble means to lay oneself low, but also to be grounded, to return to the solid and material. In their own ways, the art works, poems, stories and essays in this volume explore different ways of re-communion with the Earth. Here the certainties on which the edifices of civilisation teeter are replaced with the small, the unpretentious, the discomfiting...

You can find it here

Thursday, 21 April 2016

wetlands, flow, and questions of scale

I am off to Dumfries tomorrow to take part in Borderlands 2 - a gathering that takes us first to the reserve Kirkconnell Flow to learn how to take a geological core sample. I will be bringing my binoculars too for this part. Good place for warblers I think. And then for a workshop in Dumfries the following day.

Looking at the peat layers in the sample feels to me like a very grounding activity. But I hope to be bumping into some different people and ideas too. Which likely will have the opposite effect.

These kind of days feel a little like an open door. And I am looking forward to walking through.

Borderlands describes its genesis:

For a number of years now, a few of us from northern England and Scotland have been making the trek into the deep south to attend an annual conference/symposium type of event, which brings together scientists, artists, writers and other creative oddjobs, to meet, share ideas and enthusiasms, learn and generally network. The common ground is nature, in the broadest sense – (without getting into questions of what is or isn’t natural!).
More information on this ongoing project led by environmental artist Kate Foster, Geoff Sample and Malcolm Green is available here

And will necessarily be also seeking out a bit of Burns once in Dumfriesshire too...of which more later

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Vogon Poetry Generator - @BBC - we want it back

It is a very sad day when one has to announce the Vogon Poetry Generator is no longer working.

Actually it has not been working for a while but I in my haphazard way hoped that:

  1. People would stop using the link on p&g
  2. ...well, it might just magically come back again.
But as you can see if you move your eyes right the Vogon Poetry Generator is the top post on the site. In spite of being uploaded in 2012 almost at the very start of p&g. People, and I assume not just fans of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, have an absolute craving to get creating their own Vogon poetry.

So why oh why in the age of apps and general ease with creating small bits of code that do useless but entertaining things has this been withdrawn instead of being gloriously recreated for a new generation on smart phones?

So join the Campaign and bug the BBC to get it working again. Or write a new one and make some money...

And if none of the above makes any sense to you at all I suggest: Don't Panic.


A sample of Vogon Poetry

See, see the old sky 
Marvel at its big beige depths. 
Tell me, friend do you 
Wonder why the genet ignores you? 
Why its foobly stare 
makes you feel slithery. 
I can tell you, it is 
Worried by your offddddog facial growth 
That looks like 
A mould. 
What's more, it knows
Your clart potting shed 
Smells of grass.
Everything under the big old sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm my cats.

A map of birds

...a brief outing...

The real rabbit

“You have to come out here!” I said. “You've got to do it.”

Silence from inside the house and then she laughs, “It’s your responsibility.” She doesn't laugh very often and never if something is funny. I take refuge in repetition.

“Get out here!”

We had decided to move to the Wood Area in accordance with a naïve belief that it would be good for our children. We have two. Neither had developed differently as a result of exposure to woodland. I have never seen them engaged in formative play involving trees. But the resulting blame for the rabbit must fall onto them.

It is lying on our doorstep. I put it there myself as a kind of homage to the old-style grocery delivery from the days before our food was provided. Wood Area houses resemble the plusher Midwestern small town dwelling of the old United States, complete with verandah and white-painted weatherboards. And I congratulate myself that I had picked a particularly good one, being something of a student of that region; my wife planting out the garden herself. Together we have made a whole and harmonious picture. None of which helps me with the rabbit.

It lies skew with but attractive still with a handsome pelt of white fur; tufted with black to avoid the red eyes of the true albino. The typical mark of the Directors’ care as they struggle to preserve the most attractive fauna. My eyes wander to the step beneath, stained green with the lichen I had transplanted there a few days earlier. I am a lover of the authentic. The rhubarb that sags over the steps, to another’s eyes perhaps untidily, was also developed on purpose.

“Get out here, dammit,” I repeat under my breath. There has been too long a pause for me to recapture my anger. And I know she will come eventually. I bend over the step to stare through the glass of our back door. Inside, behind the decorative insect-net, my wife must be sitting out of sight with our daughter Beth. They are waiting for me to sort it out.

Frankie, my son, is peeping out through the door. Our eyes meet in a kind of collision and I step back and away. In spite of the situation, the first sight of death is too much for his curiosity. He opens the door a little. I notice it was not locked.

“Hello,” I say reasonably. “Can I come in?”

Frankie considers. “No-de-ho!” He is almost twelve and given to impersonations of television celebrities of dubious talent. Television being another concession to our children. I feel unreasonably angry with him and try to hide it by looking at the rhubarb.

“I’m coming in,” I say but falter since the rabbit is on the doorstep where my feet should go. It seems bigger than it is. By the time I reach for the door, Frankie has shot the bolt.

“Mum says you can’t,” he says regretfully. “Not until.” I feel bitterly that his regret is for the loss of the dead rabbit. And when I turn back to the garden, I notice tears coming into my eyes. I face the garden then entirely. I am not going to weaken. She will let me in and she will get cooking.

I hear her low chittering of comfort to Frankie behind me. The boy must have crept back to her. We’re supposed to be the ones in this together. I consider battering down the door but it is built to modern standards. The anger returns and I walk to the end of the garden. I should walk out and leave the gate open leaving them all in the stew. I laugh then for the same reason as my wife.

Earlier we had discussed it all, more rationally, inside the house.

“You have to do it, it’s your turn,” I’d said. We were sitting in our sunny lounge with its wooden floor and, so far, our somewhat scant collection of reproduction furniture. Our whole dwelling unit was a testimony to our shared responsibility. I had been making those chairs and table for the house from kits. My contribution to the inside décor while my wife, as I have said, did the garden. Nothing had been too much trouble in our joint search for a more natural, planet-based lifestyle for the kids.

“You are insane if you think I am going to touch it,” she replied. Her voice was calm and, although she had stationed herself at the far end of the sofa, she was knitting something for the children.

“Calm down, it’s different I know, but it’s the logical conclusion.”

“Of what?” She shouted. She stopped knitting and started playing with the needles, one of her more irritating gestures.

“Don’t do that,” I said. The needles had been a gift from me some years ago before we moved here and were very hard to get hold of. “You’ll break them.”

“Oh sod the needles, David. Go and skin that bloody rabbit. I’ll cook then and you can eat it, and problem solved. But don’t give me any more shit about logical conclusions and recreating past values. We came here because you got a good job. I did the garden because it looks nice. And there was nothing wrong with eating vegetables now and then.”

Her voice petered out at the end because she knew I would not believe what I was hearing. Years of planning and decision-making reduced to coincidence and a nice look. I grabbed her hand and the needles, putting the latter to one side.

“I could have had a job anywhere.” My voice was calm too, although I was not. “You, of all people, know my qualifications.” But she pulled away.

“I am not eating that rabbit,” she yelled, starting to get up. “And neither are the children.”

“But it’s the children’s fault.” I shouted after her but she had already left.

In the garden I reflected, it was indeed the children’s fault that the rabbit had got into our house. A Wood Area expedition as a family one weekend had resulted in Frankie and Beth’s introduction to rabbits. The Wood Area, while it primarily acts as a source of wood for the reproduction business, does have some function as a recreation environment. In both senses of the word: you can spend leisure time there, and it recreates the plants considered useful or decorative. Foxgloves for its digitalis and Christmas holly for example are encouraged. How rabbits got into the picture I do not know. But my children liked them and thought they were pretty and, since this was their first interest in the natural world, my wife and I decided to bend the rules a little and bring one home for a pet.

We had been bending the rules like this since we arrived. All around me in our garden are the plants that strictly speaking are not supposed to leave the Wood Area. I know for a fact that all Wood Area workers have such plants. Maybe just a pot or two, and maybe not on such a large scale as us, but something. Perhaps it was the scale that irritated the Directors or my wife’s suggestion that we eat the vegetables and complete our own personal dream of recreation. It does not matter now, but circumstances had contrived to make my bosses irritable long before we got the rabbit. And a letter came this week telling us to put it back where it belonged.

With the result that after our several tussles, I am now shedding tears onto flowers and vegetables. All desire to leave the garden has gone. My anger has gone. Only the absolute logic of eating the rabbit remains and my shoulders heave at the thought of it. Finally I sense my wife approaching behind me. I didn’t hear the door open but she must have given in at last. I pretend not to notice until she puts a hand on my shoulder.

We kiss. The completion is at hand.

“OK, I’ll skin the bugger,” she says. It is her part.

For along with my love of Midwestern houses, I cherish a dream based on their interiors. The values they represented. Mother at home in the kitchen, Children healthy and active, sun-bronzed and honourable and ready to grow into good citizens. And Father bringing home the bacon fulfilling his part in the picture. The salary. The paid holidays. But also the outings with the kids and the jobs around the house.

And I suppose that is why I killed the rabbit.

© Bridget Khursheed

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


p&g got a nice email about this some time ago - so apologies for not being up-to-date.

It seems to be an ebook publisher that does all the formatting which is surely a good thing. "A tool designed from the ground up specifically for book production andy (sic) typesetting." Whether it works so well with poetry. I cannot tell you.

But as it is free (at least in its preliminary stages) you might like to find out yourself here


Not really been editing poetry in fact. Instead video. Applying effects.

Pimping images to form a row of insets.

Getting just the right music.

All with phone video. So very nice.

I suppose this came about because I was asked to produce a slide to present my work for an event I am going to. And it sent me through a visual door.

Not sure where it is leading but I will keep you posted.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Remembering driving snow...

Commute is a diary of a year’s commute between Darnick in the Scottish Borders to Edinburgh’s Easter Road near Leith. A journey of about 90 miles mostly on the A68 each day. Made in an old red Ford Ka.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Butcher's Dog 7 out now

Butcher's Dog is a biannual poetry magazine based in the North East of England.

Issue 7 is out now with poems including new work from Barbara Barnes, Pamela Gormally, Tania Hershman, Roisin Kell, Bridget Khursheed, Richie McCaffery, Jacob Polley, Julie-ann Rowell, Mark Russell, and Daniel Sluman.

Find out more and submit here

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Wigtown poetry competition 2016

Hooray! The Wigtown Poetry Competition has been launched. With a prize fund of over £2500 it's worth considering entering (or maybe you already have!).

This year there are 3 great judges: John Glenday - Main Category, Catriona Lexy Campbell - Scottish Gaelic Category and Sheila Templeton - Scots Category. Closing date for entries is Friday 27th May 2016.

You can find more information here or here

Monday, 29 February 2016

Beautiful Bare Hands Poetry out now

And we should also mention that Issue 20 of Bare Hands is now open.

Bare Hands is also accepting submissions for issue 21 until the 21st March 2016.

You can view Issue 20 here and find out how to submit here

Abridged 0 - 45: submission call

Why is it always December?

Take a look at the inspiration for this issue of Abridged and then send them some stuff. Deadline 17th March 2016. Easy as that.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

glass ice

water reflection river sea pane pain rockpool reflection narcissus sight

light rain pixel image outline horizon blur smurr water reflection

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Mauricewood Devils Dorothy Alexander @FreightBooks launch 27th February 2016 Galashiels Scotland

Poet Dorothy Alexander launches her first novel The Mauricewood Devils in the Scottish Borders.

'This is an engrossing story about a vital piece of social history. If that sounds dull, be assured that Alexander's finely wrought characters are anything but. Martha and Jess sparkle among the poverty and coal dust, their voices ringing out down the years that have seen too many people lost in industrial disasters. It is an important tale, beautifully told, and deserves to be better known.' The National

The event is from 2.30 to 4.30pm at MacArts. There will be readings and cake. Free.

You know we don't go in much for giving fiction a mention on p&g but very much prepared to make an exception for this subtle, warm, and challenging work.

More details and you can buy the book here More about Dorothy here

Monday, 22 February 2016

Avatars, @gravatar & me

It has been a funny few days.

I have been busy -  I am getting ready for StAnza starting next week preparing my readings. There has been a seedbed of poetry going on and obsessive reading about farming. And of course the day job and then something that seemed unrelated to all of the above, entering an orienteering competition.

Oentries the orienteering entry system allows you to personalise your entry using a Gravatar - the universal avatar creation utility available online. But something that makes avatar creation so simple still doesn't help with one thing. How do I want to present myself?

A lot of people don't bother at all. Does this say they don't care? Didn't bother? Are more interested in orienteering than self-presentation? Or are avatars the online equal of personal grooming? And coming out without one is like coming to work without clean hair and tidy clothes?

Of course this is a sports entry board. There is a part of me that feels an avatar is much more a gaming concept. A better self. An aspirational self. A self equipped to take on virtual challenges. And possibly as in books like William Gibson's Neuromancer leading virtual lives that can get a little out of control at times.

And all of the above complicated by the simple female feeling that I should look presentable and well, OK.

So what did I come up with? Me in a hoodie looking curious...

You can find Gravatar here and make your own investigations And of course if you just want to go orienteering after reading this

The Basil Bunting Poetry Award 2016

Time to have a rustle through your available poems before the 7th March closing date.

This competition is run by Newcastle University and named after the Northumbrian modernist poet Basil Bunting. First prize £1000 and judged this year by Don Share of Poetry.

More details available here

Friday, 12 February 2016


A programme funded by the Australia Council for the Arts: a Geek in Residence is installed to deliver dynamic digital initiatives across an organisation and its community.

The idea being that the techies provide the "skills, information and connections needed to succeed in the digital era". The project appears to be in abeyance currently but I wonder why. It is funny how everyone has become a geek these days so maybe that is it.

But I am still waiting to see some of the really useful filtering/predictive text - multi-thread poetry, Boolean verse, 3D structural holographic towers of words and I wonder who is actually working on this stuff now. Rather than just getting scored up on a really good tweet - of course that is fun too - but...

The old news story is here

And yes there is still just a really small part of me that would be happy if I could open my front door electronically at the press of a button...

Friday, 29 January 2016

New Causeway/Cabhsair @CausewayMag

Couldn't agree more with Brian Johnstone.

"Good to receive my copy of the latest Causeway/Cabhsair in the post the other day. Two poems of mine in here, in the excellent company of Christopher Whyte, Bridget Khursheed, Seth Crook, James Robertson, Sheena Blackhall & Derrick McClure. Look forward to a good read over the weekend."

publish new writing by Irish and Scottish writers in all the languages of both countries. And publish both new and established writers in all of issues. C/C also reviews new publications.

You can find more about Causeway/Cabhsair and how to subscribe here

Fosseway Writers Poetry Competition 2016

Poems on the theme of solitude - I wandered lonely as a cloud etc. If you can do better, try the annual Fosseway Writers competition judged this year by John Irving Clark.

40 lines max on poems; £25 first prize; deadline is 3rd March 2016. £3 for first poem, £2 each for further poems. This is a snail mail competition so send your entry to The Competition Secretary, 34 Wright Street, Newark, Notts NG24 1PJ England.  Cheques made payable to Fosseway Writers.

Contact brendamillhouse at for further guidance. More on the Fosseway Writers here

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Tickets for StAnza on sale now

I have been buying my tickets.

Looking forward very much to seeing Lemn Sissay and Don Patterson on Friday night but I am also loving the German strand with events like Anna Crowe, Michael Donhauser, Odile Kennel, and Don Paterson again in a VERSschmuggel (verse smuggling) reading. I thought this would be the time I would get to hear Sean O'Brien but I have a very strong commitment to being in a forest on Sunday so that is not to be. Excellent line-up all through the festival and that is not to mention the open mics and of course just rubbing shoulders with everyone in St Andrews.

I will be reading myself alongside the fabulous Lindsay Macgregor, Em Strang and Samuel Tongue

Tickets available and all the interesting stuff you could possibly need here

Top tip: Oxfam on South Street do a fabulous spread of all their poetry books. Impossible to resist....

Big Syria Gig 30th January Stow, Scotland

Come along and help support Unicef's work in Syria. Acts giving their time for free. 100% of the profits will go to Unicef.

Tickets now on sale and full details here

Saturday, 2 January 2016

SpokenWord Paris, France

A little taste of poetry when you are in Paris for the price of one small Euro. This claims to the city's biggest and longest-running English open mic night, started in 2006. However all langues welcome.

You will need  to sign up 8pm to 9.30pm in the bar if you want to read. Every Monday Au Chat Noir, 76 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud 75011. Métro Parmentier/Couronnes.

Find out more here