Friday, 30 September 2011

Thursday, 29 September 2011


Arrived today from the States: my new book Allotments, consisting of numbers #1-#29 of an ongoing series, with a cover drawing by Basil King. It is in an edition of 200, forty of which are hand sewn and signed by me. Available from Fewer & Further Press.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

the big society in action

I often walk around the Ham Marshes and occasionally call in to The Shipwright at Hollowshore at the junction of the Faversham and Oare Creeks. A couple of days ago a notice outside the pub indicated that Ken County Council had proposed that the area around here, about a quarter of this marsh, might be used as a gravel mine and subsequently an industrial waste dump. The pub owners were understandably alarmed; an excavation like this would put the pub out of business. I trawled a few websites discovering that the Council had been secretive about this. Even the local member for the Borough of Swale hadn’t been told about it. The Ham Marsh is at present working farm land. It is part of a continuum of marshes: Oare Marsh across the creek to the west, and Nagden and Graveney marshes across Faversham Creek to the north and east. Oare and the coastal strip of the other two marshes are maintained by Kent Wildlife as important breeding places for birds. Mining would be a bad enough intrusion but who in their right mind would want to establish a waste dump on marshland? David Cameron’s ‘big society’ seemingly only exists for the ‘big people’ i.e. the mining companies and investors.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

two London gigs

Tuesday night’s Blue Bus reading featured Mario Petrucci and Giles Goodland (above).


Last night Artery Editions launched Strictly Illegal, unpublished poems by John Wieners, edited and introduced by Jeremy Reed with artwork by Gilbert and George, at the October Gallery on Gloucester Street. I’m not a big G & G fan, seeing them for the most part as godfathers to the 90s epidemic of Young Unscrupulous British Artists, but the pieces used in the book, dating mostly from around 1970, look great in context. After a very long spell (it felt like the silence in a Quaker meeting house) the publisher, Patricia Hope Scanlan, initiated proceedings. Then Anthony Rudolf (poet and publisher at Menard Press) read a succinct and modest short piece on his own discovery and evaluation of Wieners. Following this we viewed some good You Tube recordings with images of the poet reading his own work. Finally Jeremy Reed read a selection interspersed with his own poems. Looking rather like the New York Dolls singer David Johansen, Reed tended to over-dramatise the poems, in some cases repeating lines and phrases not present in the text. While he was doing this he scattered party glitter into the air. The nuance and indeed the humour of Wieners’ work was lost in the process. A pity because the book is a fine production and the price (including prints of the G & G works) was astoundingly good value.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sunday, 11 September 2011

a language of birds

Orkney press Brae Editions has just produced this wonderful collaboration between Poet Lesley Harrison and artist Laura Drever. The poems are short and precise resembling haiku though working as statement rather than epiphany. The drawings are beautifully textured , marks made to last, not unlike some of Cy Twombly’s smaller works.

Monday, 5 September 2011

dalmatian over the roof

Could this be the last Faversham Hop Festival? I hope not but whether the event survives the Tory years or not, I wouldn’t want to guess. Swale Borough Council (Tory, natch) pulled funding for the Festival meaning that the stallholders and participants had to sacrifice some of their income (this is the meaning of ‘the big society’ aka ‘small government’). One of the problems with public events these days is the horrendous cost of insurance (in a ‘risk society’ anything might lead to a big payout). As a result of all this the stalls were thinner on the ground and the Sunday parade was a short and bedraggled one. But there were still the bands. These were, as usual, mostly repertory (or original material in some existing paradigm: ‘grunge’, ‘folk’, ‘metal’ &c). Often the music was exciting enough for this not to matter. Early Sunday afternoon The Retrophonic Archive played a dazzling set. They’re a band that do note-perfect versions of hits ranging from sixties middle-of-the-road (‘Music to watch girls by’, ‘Matthew & Son’) through to The Jam (‘A town called Malice’). Yet the band’s enthusiasm and often stunning skills made their derivative style(s) of little moment. The vocalist managed the gymnastics of Sparks’ ‘This town ain’t big enough for both of us’ and concluded (naturally enough) with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Later the sky opened for a little then cleared desultorily. As Get Carter (R & B) played in the light drizzle a helium balloon in the shape of a dalmatian escaped the clutch of its owner and flew across the rooftops.