Monday, 28 February 2011

You were the one

You were the one who asked me to meet you in the frozen lake, swimming under the gleaming sheet of ice, looking up at distorted shadows and distant birds. The temperature is fine once you get used to it and if you hold your breath for long enough you can turn into a mermaid. But you aren't here like you said you'd be and I'm waiting, drifting amidst sleeping fish and rock hard reeds and suddenly I am desperately alone and impossibly cold.

Annette Greenaway

Friday, 25 February 2011

Things to do after you're 30 (1)

The serendipitous nature of life is a wonderful thing; I was set up to post this even before the previous splendid showcase by FJ Riley of Jay McCleod. It counterpoints everything here. As an addendum to the previous post (and a kick start to the metaphysical meat of this one), I'd like to say good luck in doing line 30 - that's your cue to read McLeod's poem.

I am an interesting statistic - at last. I am one of a growing number of young(er) people who grow their own vegetables and fruit in an attempt to bring down the system. One of life's post-30 realisations is that the most effective rebellion against fascistic capitalistic apparatus is to start local, start immediately and start with yourself: in 'Beat'/Yogi terms to 'Be the light'.

I recently started writing again after quite literally not writing anything for an eighth of my life. One of the by-products of stopping writing altogether is that you have a lot of paper to get rid of. One of the most satisfying things I have ever done is to compost several years' work: it simply becomes more carbon to add to the nitrogen. The process of composting pre-poem research and leaves of notes, keep-sake tickets, multiple drafts, poems with strike-throughs and even bottom-feeding publications is amazingly cathartic. It allows you to be an archaeologist of the self. In short, I have seen where I went wrong. The word 'epiphany' has become something of a cliche, but it was minted for occasions such as these: turning over the soil, in the spring light seeing the first shoots of the year's new life for the first time - all of which are 'feeding' on the soil that is quite literally made of poems.

So. Things to do after your 30, number one: compost your work and go back to the drawing board. It's good for your Cartesian soul. On that note:


We grow best unseen, unwatched, unmarked, unsung -
become bulbous, slug-speeded, pregnant, curved.
Autonomously we writhe the tilth.
Our bodies: edibly rocky; one-purposed:
slim husks of muscle, strain struck against the soil -
sinews swell; primordial gunk gestates
each perfect, papery sac. Each clove muck-hewn
from other cloves and other muck, muck-hewn.
We like cold better than you; whilst you
lazed by winter fires and winter lights we
put down our roots, we founded land: we claimed
your ceded soil, ran up green flags. Danced
our chill defeat of these cadaverous months.

Andy Hopkins

Extract of the Moment: Jay McLeod

Welcome to a regular showcase for the Philistine Press writers ...

This is taken from Jay McLeod's The Republic of Naught, which can be read online or downloaded for free here.

Things to Do Before I’m Thirty

One day it will happen
I'll be the author of my own demise
I'll take advantage of the company drug plan
Contract bronchitis
And then sue them for workers' comp
Get off the crack
Start doing hard stuff
Strike up the band
Start going to bed at ten
Attain enlightenment
Become a bilingual sales rep
Inherit one hundred grand
In Brazilian Reals
And then fake my own death in a phone booth
Go down to the States
Get deported
Rob Peter to pay Paul
Desecrate a national capital
Do my part to fight noise pollution
Become an active member of my alumni association
Set my clock fifteen minutes back
Exacerbate the problem
Explore my feminine side
Try influence peddling
Have an affair with a country singer
And cry about it after
Stop, drop and roll
Live on practically nothing
Prove Descartes wrong
Lose all sense of accountability
Replace it with a sense of taste
Become a fly on the wall
At a counterfeiters' symposium
Knock on wood
Rap on plastic
Forget to floss
Slip a disc
Work up a good lather
Confess to everything and then take it all back
Save all my roaches
Wipe the prints from the gun
Bungee jump using a roll of red tape
Pole vault the Vatican
Stock up on cohorts
Become a captain of industry
Dabble in real estate
Hire a driver
Incorporate Estonia
Then invade Lithuania-
It's showing up that's important
Rub shoulders with royalty
Rub shins with an heiress
Exchange blows with her dad
To speed up the process
Change my underwear six times in one day
Go down Niagara Falls in a barrel
Relocate to St. John from the peanut gallery
Send my ear to the collection agency
In lieu of further payments
Impale myself with a steak knife
In imitation of the Samurai
Quit begging for sex
Stage a coup d'etat
Get jacked up on gack
Rewrite my memoirs
Go into rehab
Take my place of work hostage
Get married to a dysfunctional wife
Keep my maiden name
Have a dog or a child
Stop at the duty-free store
Collect mucho bric-a-brac
Become vegetarian
Rat out a narc in another department
Attend a Paul Westerberg concert
Buy an SUV if the market allows
Jump from the tallest building on Bay St
If things don't work outStorm the beaches of Normandy
Start following sports- both amateur and professional
Take out some insurance
Retreat to my dungeon in Montreal
Weep into my teacups while nobody listens
Measure afternoons with coffee spoons
Get middle-aged
Watch reruns of "the Beachcombers"
Languish in obscurity
Face the music- preferably Beethoven
Buy a bear skin rug and a girl scout uniform for the wife
Take the brat to t-ball games
Yield to pedestrians
Have a heart attack at Wal-Mart
Go on safari
Exit stage right
Lance my own tumours
Stop checking the mail
Join the Raeliens
Win the Atlantic Super Seven
Uphold my allegiance to the Queen
Learn CPR
Turn down the Nobel Prize
And then crash the reception
Attend midnight mass
One fatal Christmas
Die of natural causes after getting hit by a bus

Jay McLeod

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Chilly Gonzalez - I Am Europe

I discovered Chilly Gonzales through his session for the Rob Da Bank show on Radio 1.

I'll definitely be downloading this album.

Great combination of music and spoken word.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Listen With Sarah: Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Some more first-class tuneage from the Free Music Archive.

Listen With Sarah's debut album “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” was released on CD in 2004 and withdrawn from sale in 2005 due to copyright problems. It was re-released in 2007 in digital format without the opening tune "Animal Hop". Here is the full original album free to download.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Rock Paper Scissors (A Love Triangle)

You are made of stone
I am made of paper
I wrap myself around you
And you are mine.

I am made of paper
You are made of stone
You hurl yourself into me
Breaking my heart.

She is a pair of scissors
She opens her legs
Cutting me into pieces.
You stand watching, waiting your turn.

She is a pair of scissors.
You smash her blades apart.
I didn't ask you to do that,
But you did it.

And it's too late.
Too late for any of us now.
The game is over
And no one has won.

Annette Greenaway

Monday, 21 February 2011


Today I will fold myself
Into a paper swan
And float myself down the river
With poems printed on my wings.

Annette Greenaway

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Sundown Lounge No. 246

This week's Sundown Lounge podcast takes Black History Month as its theme. This is a consistently great podcast, but this is a particularly good episode. Thanks to Larry Winfield for drawing my attention to some interesting music, as well as the following videos.

First of all, here's Morgan Freeman's take on the concept of Black History Month. You can see his point, but also you can see how it's an insult to all the people who campaigned for Black History to be recognised as a legitimate part of "history" in the first place.

Secondly, here's a clip from a documentary on Black History presented by a young Bill Cosby:

Nice one.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Kitchen Sink Melodrama

Somewhere in the interior of my skull
I'm aware I'm overreacting
But they were my pickled onions
And that was my final Laughing Cow triangle.

In the future I may grow to accept your faults
And the crimes you have committed today
But I will never forgive you for failing to appreciate
The enormity of the situation.

Annette Greenaway

Thursday, 17 February 2011

about: blank

Let me have what I want
In no uncertain terms
In as much as
Taking into consideration

Give me what I want
Without waffleness
I want to live in a jargonless universe
I want everything to make sense

Let me have what I want
In no uncertain terms

I have forgotten what it is I wanted now.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

In Your Arms

In your arms
There are bones
Sometimes when you hold me
I picture our embracing skeletons
I wonder what would happen if we had no skin
Or if I could climb inside your body
And swim in your juices.

Sometimes I rejoice in these thoughts
At other times
I just want to
turn my brain off.

Annette Greenaway

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Carnivorous Birds: Space-Time Transients Through Hidden Events In The Transpersonal Libido

It's not often you come across music that's genuinely original, so this album (available on the Free Music Archive) is something very special.

Even if you don't enjoy it (and many people won't), you have to admit it's different.

The closest comparison I could attempt to make would be Captain Beefheart, but this is in no way an imitation.

I'll give this a ten out of ten just for the title (and the fact that it features the most bizarre REM cover I've ever heard).

Monday, 14 February 2011

Silkworms Ink

Forgive my lack of an intelligent and considered analysis, but I'm just discovered a fucking brilliant website,

In addition to their blog which is updated daily with various bits of poetry, fiction and music, they also release a new online chapbook once a week. Now howsabout that for prolific publishing?

See the chapbooks page here.

From what I've seen, their releases are all really good. Amongst other things, there's Graphic, a poetry chapbook by Philistine writer, Kristine Ong Muslim.

I'm yet to read them all (and considering how many there are I may not get round to it) but one of the best ones I've seen so far is Hannah Morley's Filmography, a themed prose collection on the subject of (yes, you guessed it) films.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Interview with Frank Burton

An interview with the guy who usually does the interviews round here ...

Frank Burton interviewed by FJ Riley

The Prodigals feels very different to your previous book, A History of Sarcasm. Did you deliberately set out to do something different?

The Prodigals isn’t a million miles away from the short stories in A History of Sarcasm, although it’s a lot darker and more political. The novel was originally supposed to be a themed collection of short stories, but it quickly turned into a novel as the characters developed. These characters were too interesting to write about in short stories. In answer to your question, I suppose I did set out to do something different. I definitely didn’t want to write A History of Sarcasm Part 2. I’ll never write a book like A History of Sarcasm again, and I don’t intend to rewrite The Prodigals either. I’m currently writing something completely different again.

What made you want to write about fundamentalist Christianity?

I’m an atheist myself, but I’ve always been interested in religion. A lot has been written about fundamentalism over the last ten years. I wanted to write about it in a different way, focussing on some of the people I’ve met who’ve converted to these extreme faiths. The job described in the opening chapter in The Prodigals was based on an old job of mine. Brian and Howard are based on people I met while I was working in that job. They’re fictional characters, but some of their experiences are based on real events. There’s a scene in chapter three where Brian and Howard have a massive argument about some obscure theological point which nearly comes to blows. It seems ridiculous, but that argument actually took place.

Music plays a significant role in the novel. Does music inspire you to write fiction?
I suspect music influences me on a subconscious level. I listen to music all the time, and I usually listen to music while I’m writing. I particularly like writing about the way music can influence people - like the way the Pixies song Monkey’s Gone to Heaven plays an important part in influencing the characters.

The novel reminds me a lot of Irvine Welsh. Is this a fair comparison?

I’m not going to pretend Irvine Welsh wasn’t an influence on The Prodigals. I read Trainspotting when I was seventeen and was blown away by it. When I started writing The Prodigals, I wanted to write about religion in the same way Irvine Welsh writes about drugs. The Prodigals also bears a structural similarity to Trainspotting in that it’s a series of stories rather than having a conventional plot. Ultimately I’d like to think I’m a very different writer, but no writer can fully escape from their influences, no matter now original they claim to be.

When you started Philistine Press, did you intend to use it as a means of publishing your own work?

I always had The Prodigals in the back of my mind as a potential Philistine release. It’s been sitting in a drawer for a couple of years and hasn’t been picked up by another publisher. I’m very pleased to be publishing it through Philistine Press because the internet gives me a much larger potential readership than a lot of small press print publishers would. Plus, because Philistine Press is my thing I have complete creative control over the work.

Frank Burton's novel, The Prodigals, can be downloaded for free or read in full online at

The short story collection, A History of Sarcasm is available on Amazon, or you can buy it from Dog Horn Publishing.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Herman Dune, Someone Knows Better Than Me

In addition to my previous post, I can't let this subject rest without sharing the lyrics to my favourite song on the "Next Year in Zion" album. I promise I'll stop going on about it after this :)

Someone Knows Better Than Me

In August I went out to the country for resting
There was a family of swallows in the barn there nesting
I saw the little ones and their feathers were breezy
I pictured their life and I thought it was easy
I said these guys just have to sit there and squeak
And their mother comes back with insects in her beak to feed them

You said, man,
Swallows migrate and it is amazing
They fly from Alaska to Argentina with their little wings
And I said I had never heard of such a journey
But someone knows better than me
Someone knows better than me

And then we were in Stockholm and it was beautiful in July
And the day after this famous Swedish director Ingmar Bergman died
And all the national papers had some special issues
With beautiful pictures and interesting interviews
I figured it was unlikely that they would gather all this stuff overnight
They must have needed much more time than this to write

And he felt rancid
And you said David
David don't you know about obituaries?
They keep them at hand for the death of celebrities
And I said I will never get used to how twisted news can be
But someone knows better than me
Someone knows better than me

And then I remembered one month of June in Coney Island
When I was hiding a bottle of beer in the sand
It was too late for the ride and it was too late for the Cyclone
Then I didn't have a girlfriend, but I didn't feel alone
I didn't need anyone to watch the sunset or maybe my brother
And now every time the sun goes down I hope we will be together kissin'

Baby listen
Baby I don't want to be without you
It would make me so mad, I wouldn't know what to do
I was blind but now I can see
But someone knows better than me
Someone knows better than me
Someone knows better than me

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Herman Dune, Lovers Are Waterproof

As has been mentioned previously on this blog, I can't stop listening to the album, "Next Year in Zion" by Herman Dune. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes music. It really is one of the greatest albums of all time.

The songs are all works of poetry in themselves, and work on the page just as much as when they're set to music.

Here are the lyrics to one particular song, Lovers are Waterproof:

There was blood on my hands & hair on my cheeks
I hadn't got a shave in twenty-five weeks
I cracked the window open, I had a handgun in the backseat
You were going 65 on a waterfront street

& I knew that I could trust you to give me a ride
Like the ocean trusts the moon to give it a tide
& you said "I saw someone being killed once when I was fourteen"
& I said "You don't know where I've been"

We were staying up heading south, we were looking for food
There was a song stuck in your head & it wasn't very good
The chorus was lame, it went like "lovers are waterproof"
I was staring at the palm trees through sunroof

& though the gas was expensive here in California
You had been driving me on until the morning on yeah
& you said "Leave your past behind you & it will all come clean"
& I said "You don't know where I've been"

Then you remembered your trunk, it was loaded with beer
You parked the car & said "David, let's have one one the pier"
You stepped onto the sand with no shoes on your feet
I was hungry as hell & said that I needed to eat

Something more than peanut butter on toast
& that the sunrise looked better on the east coast
& you said "Well David, my friend, you're being grumpy & mean,"
& I said "You don't know where I've been, David."

There was a plane taking off & another plane landing
There was a sign that read "breakfast" by the side of a building
You said "An airplane is nothing if you compare it to a pelican"
& I was hoping that the diner sort of place could be a Mexican

Then I would get a breakfast burrito & speak a little Spanish
You said "A bird is silent & it sure can fish"
& inside they were showing my face up on a TV screen
& I said "You don't know where I've been"

Then you said "Get rid of your beard & no one will notice"
& I said "Baby, no one here is going to call the police.
You see the owner looks nice & the waitress she's pretty
To take any of them down would be a freaking pity"

& you said "You scare the shit out of me, you're going too far
You didn't want me before hopping into my car"
& then I said "Well baby you might be the most beautiful woman I've seen
But you don't know where I've been"

"Well, you might be the most beautiful woman I've seen
But you, you don't know where I've been"

Sunday, 6 February 2011

New interview with Frank Burton

Just a quick one ...

There's a new interview with Mr Philistine, Frank Burton, on Public Republic. It's a good one.

Read the interview here.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Philistine News: Submissions Closed For Now

Submissions to Philistine Press are going to be closed for the next few months. We have some forthcoming releases in the pipeline and are still wading through submissions from the last couple of months. Unfortunately there aren't enough hours in the day to take on any more submissions at the moment.

The plan at the moment is to reopen submissions at the end of 2011.

In the meantime we're going to be focussing more on promoting the work that's already on the site.

If anyone is waiting to hear back from us about a submission made in the last few weeks, we'll be in touch soon.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Smaller Than Most by Kristine Ong Muslim

Philistine Press's new ebook release is Smaller Than Most, a flash fiction collection by Kristine Ong Muslim - a startling blend of bizarre sci fi, abstract surrealism and twisted fairytales.

The ebook can be downloaded for free or read online at


The Taxidermist and the Girls Made of Dead Things

Something grew from the bruises and the open wounds on their skin. Something that had hands and eyes and tongues and swollen lips. Something that would not whimper. Something that could not be killed by sharp objects or radiation. Something that would not break free from the skin.

The girls scratched and clawed themselves open, conveying red across the room. The taxidermist gave them a hand, excising whatever it was that could be severed with a scalpel, leaving their backsides untouched and the hairballs inside their stomachs intact.

In time, the taxidermist had an empire built by what he had managed to snip from the girls made of dead things. He fashioned leather purses out of them. The girls, in turn, slung his creations on their shoulders.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Emerging Arab Voices

In addition to the Beirut39 anthology I mentioned earlier in the week, there is another new collection of short Arabic fiction which I've just discovered.

Emerging Arab Voices: Nadwa 1, edited by Peter Clark.

More information and extracts here.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Incwriters - update

For those of you who've been following my guest blogger spot on the Incwriters website, here's a bit of a shock ...

Incwriters has now shut down. For the full story, visit Andrew Oldham's website.

What a shame this great website has to close. It's popular, it's interesting, and in the seven years it was running it provided a platform for writers and publishers to promote their work, as well as serving as a valuable resource.

Andrew has offered me the opportunity to repost my series of blogs on, so I'll be taking him up on that offer.

RIP Incwriters

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Beirut39 and Ahmad Saadawi

I'm currently reading the diverse and challenging Hay Festival anthology, Beirut39, a collection of prose and poetry by "39 writers under the age of 39" from the Arab world.

One of the highlights is an extract from Ahmad Saadawi's novel, Frankenstein in Baghdad, a grim re-telling of Mary Shelley's novel featuring a monster created from the body parts of bombing victims. I'm not sure if this is a work of genius or just bad taste, but I'd tempted to go for the former. I wanted to read the full novel, but apparently it isn't available yet.

Another piece of writing by Ahmad Saadawi which covers a similar theme is an essay called Image of an Incomplete Body, which can be read online here.

For more information about Beirut39, visit their page on the Hay Festival website.