I have a wide range of interests…

Dungeons & Dragons

I started playing D&D with my father at the age of ten. He was an imaginative storyteller, inventing fantastic stories to entertain us on long car journeys. He always took requests.

Dad taught me a lot about being spontaneous, and this is one of the aspects of role-playing games I enjoy the most.

I live-stream D&D adventures with friends, publish books, and make YouTube videos at The Spontaneous Dungeon Master.

Making and Playing Ukuleles

I picked up my four-year-old nephew’s ukulele one Christmas, and couldn’t put it down. It is an instrument that makes it easy to start making music, but hard to take too seriously.

One thing led to another, and I started making ukulele-like instruments, starting with cigar boxes and biscuit tins for the bodies, and working my way up to banjoleles and solid wood instruments.

I have limited space and no formal training, so I sometimes refer to myself as a “kitchen-table luthier” and a “YouTube apprentice”.

It has brought me a lot of joy. You can see my work in progress on Instagram.

Digital Humanities

From an early age, I have been interested in how computers can help us make art. As a teenager, I wrote music with the help of computers, and one of my first programming projects at university was a haiku generator.

More recently, I have been interested in how artificial intelligence can help us understand everything from what makes a poem interesting to what makes a D&D monster hard to fight.

I also started some initiatives to support greater interest in the arts, including the Transatlantic Poetry reading series and the Poet Tips crowd-sourced recommendations website.

A chart illustrating the trend in words conveying positive emotions in poetry published over time

Carving Netsuke

I first encountered netsuke at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) while living in L.A. as a young man. What struck me most, and still inspires me today, is the expressive, sometimes even humorous nature of this form.

We learn something about the figures depicted, and perhaps even about the richness of life’s ordinary moments as well. It is also a wonderful fusion of fine art and functional craft–it must be able to accompany the wearer through similar moments of everyday life.

It is therefore both refined and robust, carved from hard materials that both retain detail and tolerate, even improve, with wear. I liked them so much, I had to try my hand.