Happy New Year

You can tell a lot about people’s lives from their New Year Resolutions. After all resolutions are in effect a wish list for a better, healthier, wealthier life. I find other people’s lists fascinating, although I doubt you will find mine so.

I am putting them up on my blog simply to help me keep them at least until we get to February or even March! So here goes
1. Use my time better, set time aside for specific tasks.
2. Take more time over writing. Revise. Revise. Revise!
3 Take more exercise.
4. Cut down on wine after dinner.
5. Eat less and healthier. I’m never going to make this.
6. Publish at least three books on Kindle (they’re already written) 7.Take a more charitable view of others motives.
8. Watch more cricket at Lords.
9. Listen to more music.
10. Now I’m a member of the Society of Fulham Artists & Potters spend more time painting.

There we are. Simple isn’t it. I am printing this off and sticking it…no not there…above my desk.

The most pleasureable of poets

Pleasureable Poets
The trouble with lists, especially lists of 10, is who to leave out. I’ve read a lot of poetry this year, probably more than at any time in my life so it’s been difficult to arrive at a definitive list.

Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Felix Dennis and Christopher Reid are old friends, so to speak, but I’ve been re-reading them and discovering new poems. And new collections. I particularly loved Carol Ann Duffy’s, ‘The Female Husband’ and ‘The Elms’. Christopher Reid’s, ‘The Song of Lunch’ and Felix Dennis’, ‘Do Whatever Your Heart Desires’ both have been read many times. Leontia Flynn’s collection, ‘Profit & Loss’ was full of good things as was Don Paterson’s, ‘Landing Light’.

My coming trip to India meant that I discovered several poets new to me. Two of the best were Nissim Ezekiel and Jeet Thayil his (editor) book of Contemporary Indian Poetry (Bloodaxe) is a treasure trove of Indian gems – from all over the world!

Lastly I’ve been discovering the poetry of Dorothy Parker again. There’s some very deep stuff there in amongst the wit. Talking of which, ‘The Veteran’ appealed greatly. One more poet, an American, Louis Simpson. I can always find something I want to read from his various collections.
Next Blog: 10 Books that have given me pleasure.

Ive got it on my list

It seems to be the season for lists. Shopping lists, present lists (for Santa and friends) Christmas card lists, the ten best goals of the season (so far) list and the time for critics to list their top ten books, films, music albums etc. So I thought I’d join in.

I have to admit I love lists. It’s always interesting to see what other people are reading or listening to. And particularly when someone clever likes the same things as you!

Over the next three weeks I’m going to compile three lists. The ten poets whose work I’ve enjoyed the most during the year. They might be new to me or I might not have read them for awhile. The ten poems that have given me most enjoyment over the year. The same criteria.

And lastly the ten books, fiction and non fiction, that I’ve enjoyed the most. Since I read well over 100 books a year this will be a tough one, but also very interesting. I just hope I can remember back to January!

Christmas Proseack


Christmas seems to bring out the worst in versifiers and rhymesters. I suppose it is a pretty cheesy time. Anyway I got to thinking whether any decent stuff about the festive season had been written by fully fledged poets.

The answer is not a lot. Well not a lot that’s any less cheesy than anything else. Messer’s Longfellow, Auden, Graves, Herrick, Thackeray, Milton, Rossetti and Wordsworth are just a few who have felt the need to pen a few words on the subject of bells, fir trees, mistletoe, snowy landscapes, Kings and little babes in swaddling clothes. But it seems that no matter how well they start, they all descend into a mess of mushy sentiment.

I suppose the most famous Christmas poem is what has become known as ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ published anonymously in a local newspaper in New York in 1823 and claimed thirteen years later by Clement Clark Moore. Although his authorship is now in question. I particularly like the following two lines”
“He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.”

I can associate with this, it’s down to earth, charming, human - albeit too close to home! My own Christmas verse, ‘They’re Coming To You’ and dedicated to all mothers, is in my book ‘Off My Chest’ – now being reprinted and in stock before Christmas.