Poetry Evening at Cafe Muse, Manchester, June 12th 2008

Wow, no post for a couple of months, the 2 in one day! Something must be happening!

Well, in fact a friend of mine called Aryamati (she is an ordained Buddhist!), is on a committee at the Museum, and had been asked to organise an arts event, so came up with the idea of a poetry session at the Museum Cafe, Cafe Muse on Oxford Road, Manchester.

cafe muse manchester oxford road

I have not ventured out to live poetry readings/events for some time now, for a variety of reasons, but when I was invited to read some poems at this session, I was more than happy to support it – not only by reading my poems, but also by taking some pics and doing a kind of mini review here on my poetry blog, which I thought would make a nice change from just posting my own poems!

Apologies to begin with, that I did not write down any names as I was taking the photos – so if you appear, why not comment to say who you are!! Also, although I read my poems, being the one with the camera, I do not have any photos of myself! Maybe next time!

Anyway, after Aryamati’s intro, and my set, this serious looking orator drove the nearby chap in the audience to drink!

poetry performance in manchester

The poets soon got into their stride and kept the audience on the edge of their seats with word wizardry:

live poetry manchester

Members of a poetry group read from their works:

cafe muse run by couture, live poetry event

This poet made himself – and the audience – smile!

poets reading in manchester cafe

This veteran of many performances at the Town Hall, gave another fine display of woven words!

cafe muse poetry event June 12th 2008

All in all this was a very pleasant evening of poetry and conversation which will hopefully be repeated soon. Thanks to all involved – and if you have any more to add – please leave a comment :)

Downpour

I’ve been noticing that now this poetry blog of mine has been around for a while, it appears to be established a little in the search engines, and is getting a fair number of daily visitors. This is all I ever wanted – I struggled for about ten years sending off poems, only to (apart from the 2% of acceptances) get rude rejection slips or hints to the effect my poetry wasn’t up to any kind of standard. So I struggled, and even with the acceptances, I would probably have managed a readership in the ten’s, rather than hundreds… Now I’m into the hundreds daily, so that’s pretty edifying – I just hope most of you stick around to read the poems when you get here ;-) In any case, to receive a comment like I did the other day, appreciating the words, and indeed offering a kind of artistic exchange, was a pretty amazing thing to happen, as I think my poems speak for every man and woman – it’s all about communication and expression, so I hope people appreciate the work.

Anyway, realised I’ve been neglecting the blog lately (circumstances are hard, but that’s no excuse) – so even while I may be going through a dry period writing-wise, I do have many poems that I feel deserve to be read. So here goes with a poem from a period that was very creative for me, back in the late 90′s/early 2000′s! The weather had been very hot, and I had been drinking a good deal – when suddenly the weather broke, thunder began to rumble, and the heavens opened, and I couldn’t resist just going out in the yard to let the water flow down and experience it fully – after which I wrote Downpour.

Downpour

Furnace of rain
On roof, hoofbeats
At window, tongue
Of storm drooling:
Just glass and brick
To keep me from the thrum
Of automatic gunfire.

It is this white chaos,
Tracer of rain in night,
Makes me stand outside
And taste the flak
Of clouds, dumdum
Bullets smacking
At the heart of land.

It will not stop.
It will not stop like
My hand that spars
With words in the flurry
Of the pen and page.
It will not stop;
But my flashing hand
Assigns a state of pause:
There, words like rain
Going out to sea,
Falling away like a lover,
Bequeathing a dry silence.

Alcohol

Alcohol has played a big part in my life – sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. All too often negatively! For a long time I spent life in a kind of Dylan Thomas haze of self destruction. The killing factor for me is that I’m a bit of a control freak, or at least I like to be control, and my problem is that my physical tolerance is far greater than my mental tolerance. So I can down a bottle of bourbon, still walk around and appear fairly sober – but inside my brain and my mind are totally gone. Completely. The amount of blackouts is frightening (and the worst thing is, I go walkies on the internet and post on forums, and it all appears perfectly rational at the time, then I get up and can’t even remember what I posted, and most of the time it’s drivel. Even when it still makes sense, I still shudder at it because I don’t remember posting it… And this wet stuff that sends you insane is legal and sponsors sports events, while other stuff, that doesn’t do half this, well it’s illegal. Anyway, I gave up for 6 months at a time in recent years, then get curious. At first the drinking is OK – but very soon the blackouts are back, the dread is back, the “wtf did I do last night?” feeling is back. I wrote this poem years ago – should have learned my lesson then. This is a reminder to myself that alcohol and me should not be put together – too volatile a reaction, that’s all :(

Alcohol

Deeper than a lover’s kiss,
Fire-belly dragon breathing backwards,
Spreads its galaxy of warmth
Through twists of veins
To starburst eyes.

Lights up the void,
Sprouts craters on the moon of mind,
Licks at wounds
The day leaves like sparkles
Scattered on a sea of skin.

Quilts guilt like cloud on sky,
Letting memories go like birds,
Oils the gabbling tongue
In dry-iced, cocktail-hour
Hiatus of thought.

Burns at heart like coal,
Now black, now red, and beating
Its SOS: signalling
Blood-sack filled with fumes
And the clot of knowing.

This is
The crucifixion in amber,
The kamikaze into darkfall,
The abused and abuser,
The wasp-in-a-jamjar desperation.

And over and over and over again,
Rising into spikes of light,
The cat-got-your-tongue-and-killed-it,
Flailing, threshing, fretful,
Never-again morning.

Welcome to my World

Welcome to my blog, which I’ve called Blog Poetica for the time being. It could change – life’s like that, constantly evolving. I have changed so much in the last ten years it defies expression, but that’s what this blog is about. It might seem like a personal blog, but it’s not; it’s my art demanding expression. Anyway, you’ll find out more about me as time goes on – hopefully through my poems.

For too long I let the “powers” that be, ie the editors of poetry magazines, dictate their terms and basically bury my poetry under a morass of criticism, vituperation, personal attacks and rejection. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy some level of success. I got paid for my first poem when I was 18, had quite a few published, and gave numerous performances. I waited for that breakthrough, that elusive moment which stands clear in the mind – “I’ve made it!” It never came, and as the rejections outweighed the acceptances and the criticism dulled the positive edge of the encouragement, I began to feel under pressure as circumstances vied with my beliefs and sent me on a strange path, to be sure. Full time work destroyed my creativity, and what little I had left wasn’t willing to stand up to the constant pile of rejections telling me, in essence, that I was not a poet, that I was not even a good writer, that I basically had no idea how to write a good poem. There were voices, friendly voices, that spoke otherwise, but they were muted by the thousand slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. To borrow a phrase…

But now I’m back, having been through a mill of sorts. I’ve worked out a way of making a living that will give me time to write – and I’m going to self publish through the Internet medium of the blog. Thanks to the internet, I don’t have to bow to the whims and outrageous prejudice of a few poetry magazines editors, whose only aim, as far as I could see, was to destroy the inspiration and kill the spirit of a genuine poet (and human that I am I took their criticisms and attacks personally!). I will publish my poetry here on this blog, and as an experiment I’m also going to see if I can make some money out of the blog – yes, unashamedly, I’m going to make my poetry pay (or cry trying!)

Soit! As the French might say.