The Space it Might Take

The Space it Might Take (Highgate Poets, 2014)I am pleased to have four poems, including the eponymous poem from my forthcoming collection The Knowledge in The Space it Might Take, the 26th biennial anthology of the Highgate Poets.

It is a pleasure to see these poems beside some of the strongest work over the last two years from each member of this unique North London poetry collective. In fact, I think it may be their best volume yet.

Hats off to those involved in its painstaking production. You can get your copy at the Highgate Poets website.


The Book of Love and Loss

“All the new thinking is about loss. / In this it resembles all the old thinking.”

-Robert Hass, “Meditation at Lagunitas

The Book of Love & LossLove and loss have been very present with me lately. Such thoughts were recently punctuated by the heavy thud of a parcel dropping through our mail slot — my contributor’s copy of The Book of Love and Loss.

The anthology weighs in at nearly 400 poems, and reads like the roll-call at a meeting of the Highgate Poets. It also features English laureates Andrew Motion and Carol Ann Duffy, Welsh laureate Gillian Clarke, children’s laureate Michael Rosen, and Frieda Hughes — daughter of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. I was also pleased to see Carrie Etter’s Birthmother Catechism series represented here as well, having recently heard her read these poems at the Swindon Festival of Poetry.

Following on from the dedication, the work seems to be its own labour of love, and tribute of sorts, to the recently-departed UA Fanthorpe. It also aims to give solace to any who grieve, and seek comfort in the music of language. For this reason, it is an honour to have my poem “The Silence Teacher” among its pages.

Belgrave Press, Bath (Hardbound, 384pp, £12.99)


Highgate Poets Website

In 2006, after moving to Ojai, California from Los Angeles, I helped redesign the Ojai Poetry Festival website. Drawing inspiration from print designs by the late Hope Frasier, I outfitted the site with a newsletter, RSS news feed, and online ticket sales system, as well as information about headliner poets and photos from past events. The site served the group well for several seasons, until the festival recently went into hibernation for financial reasons.

Having recently moved to North London and joined the Highgate Poets, I seized the opportunity to help them put up their new website soon after being accepted into the group. What took weeks of custom programming to create the content management system for the Ojai Poetry Festival only took a matter of hours this time, owing to advances in the WordPress blog software.

Thanks also to a host of software plugins, the site not only features member news, but has a calendar of events, newsletter, integration with the group’s Twitter account, and much more. Going forward, options for selling anthologies on the site or enriching the list of members with more detail is just clicks away.

It is a pleasure to be associated with such a fine group of poets, actively writing and publishing in the UK, and remarkable to see how open source software such as WordPress makes setting up a dynamic website easier all the time.


Highgate Poets Reading at Torriano Meeting House

I made my way down to Kentish Town this evening to hear four members of The Highgate Poets read their work. As a newly-accepted member of the group, I was treated to a brief history lesson about the venue by coordinator Anne Ballard before the evening got underway. It turns out that Torriano House is synonymous with Hungarian Anarcho-Communist Poet John Rety, who founded and ran it as a centre of poetry and social change in North London for many years before his death.

The open reading portion of the evening was just as eclectic as those I had attended in California. The flavour, though, was different. Two older gentlemen sang folk songs a cappella. Themes of opera, atheism, and of course anti-war sentiment peppered the poems from the floor. David Floyd promoted his new pamphlet entitled “Protest.” The walls were lined with ink drawings depicting the horrors associated with capitalist greed for oil. And at the back table, a periodical called Peace News replaced what had typically been promoted at Torriano House — The Daily Worker.

The featured poets themselves took up less directly political themes. Continue reading…