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things are changing

i had to escape. I moved far away, to a very old house down a little lane, where there are no cars, and not many people either. I live here where when you wake up, and it’s snowing outside, there’s no button to press for heating, you’ve got to go outside and gather some logs to make a fire to keep your family warm. It’s so quiet here, it’s a cottage lost in time. A place where you heat the water with coal, and a beautiful area where I’ve got a job at the little rural school across the fields.

It’s not a place to hide away and accept loss, and to cry about things gone wrong, it’s a place to re-connect with the world around you, and to be creative and to fight for believe in life and in love.

I feel home here. It’s where I’m suppose to be, hidden in a country cottage reading newspapers, writing poems, listening to music and embracing life for what it is, not to call it harsh or hard, but to accept the beauty of a single day. Walking home from work, I’ve never seen such epic stars above me which illuminate life. I have no choice but to look up and lose myself in the wonder of it all and marvel at Creation and Gods love for all of us.

Then there is music. I can’t get by without it anymore. We drove into the city today, for I still love the pulse of  electricity around me, and I picked up these albums.

 

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life is beautiful, and yet….

It’s all about words now. I’ve just started a 2 year writing course, and as if that wasn’t enough I’m doing the final writing course on offer at my local adult educational school, and I’ve just got a new job working at a school. Helping kids to read and write, writing my poems, and putting together a book of short stories. That’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple of years, so stay with me. For now there are a few songs to talk about.

I once again had to defend my lov..sorry, admiration, for Norah Jones’ music. “How can you like such shit when you’re into sonic youth and Mark Kozelek?”. I tried talking about how amazing her voice is, how her lyrics are incredible, and just how relaxing the music is but it didn’t get me anywhere. Come on, the guy from Belle and Sebastian asked her to sing on his record! She’s touring the US now, and if you live there or are able to go, please go and tell me what the concerts are like because I’ve never seen her live. You can see the full list of those tour dates here. Meanwhile here’s that Belle and Sebastian/Norah Jones from a few years back

There’s another band out there called Stars, a Canadian band. They’re also not particularly “cool” but they write the coolest little songs. Poppy-love-trash songs about hope in a broken world. Anyway, they made a little film which is fun. You can watch it below.

In case you think it’s all too boring, and you need something to impress the hipsters down at the beat cafe, there’s a band called Algiers who are the music press are calling gospel-political-punk. They make really cool videos too, like this one here.

Last of all I got the new album by ANT. A few years ago when I did proper music journalism, I gave his cd 5/5 and had it down as album of the month. Despite this enthusiasm, for some reason it didn’t go platinum. This new one is lovely too, perfect for cold nights tucked into your blanket drinking hot chocolate. Oh but wait, there’s whiskey in the hot chocolate, because love has gone away and these songs will melt your heart. Please support this guy and buy this, he’s brilliant and we need music like this.

Finally, I need to let you know my German friend Daniel Benjamin and his ace band sea and air are currently touring the UK. Sadly no-where near me, although they are playing in Bury St Edmunds, a little small well off market town where I went to school and I don’t recall a single band ever playing there before. I hope they tore it apart. Catch them if you can on the dates below

Oct 15 UK – BURY ST EDMUNDS, Apex
Oct 16 UK – MANCHESTER, BOTW
Oct 17 UK – OXFORD, Oxjam
Oct 18 UK – YORK, Fibbers
Oct 20 UK – DERBY, Flowerpot
Oct 21 UK – BRISTOL, Louisiana
Oct 22 UK – WARWICK, Copper Rooms
Oct 23 UK – GUILDFORD, Boileroom
Oct 24 UK – CONVENT, Stroud
Oct 25 UK – PORTSMOUTH, Wedgewood Rooms
Oct 27 UK – LONDON, Funsbury Pub

I care about you. More soon xo

the internet reality.

I read a couple of books recently with a similar theme. The novel “the circle” by Dave Eggers, a kind of internet-modern age 1984. Although I would have written a far happier and satisfying tale, it was brilliant but really scared me. It’s about the end of everything that matters, a world where you can only vote with a facebook account, all kids have chips put in them at birth to prevent child abductions and hidden tiny cameras eliminate crime. So there’s no privacy left anymore. Everything must be shared. The other book was not a fantasy, but a reality “the internet is not the answer” a clued up book written by a Andrew Keen. a Silicon Valley insider and journalist about how the internet is, in a nut shell, making us all unhappy while a few privileged dot.com billionaires profit and robots and drones take over all services. Oh and it’s turning us into idiots too and changing our memory and sense of time. Ho-hum

So not exactly happy tales, and certainly not the kind of thing I usually read, but it certainly got me thinking about the state of this little world we share (far too much).

Tomorrow morning I’m going on holiday. We’re staying at a hotel, then we’re off on a boat for adventures. I don’t particularly want everyone to know where I’m going, what I’m doing. I don’t want to share a photo of my kids and I having fun at the beach. Does that make me selfish? It’s important to just experience moments in time with those around you and to reflect on your own existence without posting about it on social media hoping to get a few likes and comments to prove your own reality. I’m not judging, I do it too, but reading Eggers and Keen I realize it really can’t be all that healthy.

It’s what I’ve always loved about writing poems. Everything I write is about myself, relationships in my life (yawn yawn), but I try to do it in a way that doesn’t make sense to anyone else. I’m in love with the mystery I guess, and it seems these days mystery is becoming a dirty word. What and why are you hiding?

So, those are powerful books. I’d really recommend them, but probably not at the same time unless you want to get freaked out. My summer reading now is “my salinger year”, and I’ll be listening a lot to this little punk band you can watch below. More fun soon.

this sweet flame around poem for summer

this sweet flame around by Stephen Maughan

Browsing penny postcard shops offering cheap salvation

in hypnotic and decayed heat

but your bicycle eyes keep me cool, spinning

answers while  this Arizona skyline melts my fears

and digs into my heart

pantomime lizards sing and howl

as I’m pushed out of line at the horizontal bar

talking of eternal dreams gone sour

we don’t connect in a city drowned in

confusion and the black tears of youth

withstanding reason gets harder

when you’re gone and my sleep is hollow

and time eclipses your perfect moonlit smile

until the colours have all turned grey

before the sea breeze calls my name once more

7 July 2015

a delicate truth poem

Once again I was at the poetry club, and so here is my April poem. I’m back in Romania for Open Hands work next week, but back soon for more music and book fun. Stay tuned.


A delicate truth

These spring days I spend

under the pear tree thinking of

shadows and light lost

and the rocky helicopter ride

 

Our thoughts became our souls

until there were no more days

no more royal blue sunsets

to calm the mistakes I’ve made

 

I walked through the golden field

until I found you crying over

a dead butterfly

“things mean a lot”

 

i wish I could drain the pain I’ve caused you

wait until winter and start again

by the broken bridge

of tomorrow’s dream.


 

a new poem

When I have the time I go along to a poetry club. It’s very low-key, and run by my neighbour the shepherd. Here is the poem I wrote yesterday morning for it which the members there seemed to enjoy. Brand new for spring.

Rock, Paper, Scissors

I shut my mind to it all

who cares the stars still sparkle

in this cold black night when the brown leaves

are just like brown paper waiting to burn.

 

the evening will fall and drag me out of to the golden  lake where

you first held my hand and said something about time

could always heal, but you didn’t tell me the

sun hardly shines this way.

 

hope walks against your lies

one day the breeze will settle the clouds, and the sun will

melt your snake skin coat and even your

exotic perfume won’t help you.

 

four thousand tired trees surround this empty heart

I’ll talk to blurry animals about electricity as

a child’s balloon floats by out of time

losing hope to the sky’s fluorescent glow.

ordinary acts of life

I took my excited kids on a little road trip to see their granny in the wild forests of Norfolk this weekend. Nothing better than hitting the road with a bunch of cd’s (who says Norah Jones and Mudhoney don’t mix?), an open road and stopping off on the way for refreshments. I have no strange sense of sadness anymore, and I know it’s because for over a week now I’ve not been on any social media or news/music sites online. Happiness is in fashion.

To think I was worried I’d miss something! Like what happened to that guy who drank 10 cans of coke a day for his Facebook page as an “experiment”? Did he manage to see the dentist? Has he developed diabetes? Oh well now I’ve quit facebook until the spring I’ll never know so I can concentrate on the ordinary acts of life. Hooray.

Actually I’m enjoying reading the printed newspaper more than ever. I read there’s a new Sufjan Stevens album out in the spring, I mean a proper lush summer meadow happy Sufjan Stevens album not some experimental noise trash like his last couple of albums. I then read an interview in Uncut music magazine with the impossibly cool Sleater Kinney, who really just blow me away.

Their “No Cities Left to Love “is the first great album of 2015. I got into them during hazy lost post university days in the early 20th century. I stuck their punk girl rock songs on at the pizza hut stereo where I worked in London when I was 21 and I played it loud, and the customers didn’t seem to mind. It’s really so cool to hear them played on the radio now, and it makes me excited about the possibilities of words and guitars all over again. This blog after all pretty much got it’s name from one of their songs from the late 90’s.

I believe the ordinary acts of life are the best. There’s poetry to be found in every day life. I use to think I’d move to Paris or Sydney and write poems there hanging out with the beatniks and disillusioned. I now realize it’s everyday life that brings out the pure romance.

Here’s the new SK. “We’re wild and weary but we won’t give in”. Enjoy.