Friday, 29 July 2011

Alien Poet

A large shout out to Alien Poet AKA Daniel Hooks. Proper poetry and proper music.

The industry is a brutal beast, but I'd like to think this guy is destined for great things.

Listen at and

Some sample tunes:

Fallen by alienpoet

All words become me wind of words mix by alienpoet

Beautifully average by alienpoet

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tom Frankenburg - Free Running

More from the guy who did the Eskimo tune...

See Tom You Tube channel here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Some Eskimo Tunes

Here are a couple of Eskimo tunes. Very different to each other. Not sure which one I like best.

Also there's an interesting debate attached to the first video on You Tube about whether or not Eskimo is an offensive term.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Photo Stories

Very interesting project here with some talented writers involved, including two of my personal faves - Janice Galloway and Tania Hershman.

Here's the blurb:
Photo Stories is an experiment in writing, photography, and design. Photographer takes photo. NFTU puts this in photo book. Author picks photo from photo book. Author writes story. Designer turns photograph and story into a typographic print. NFTU exhibits them then relaxes with a drink. The Photo Stories exhibition will take place at Saatchi & Saatchi this May and June.

Here's the website.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Mighty Mike McGee - If I Were

In addition to the last post, here's my favourite Mighty Mike McGee piece...

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Mighty Mike McGee - Sweet Nuggets

A music and performance poetry retrospective from Mighty Mike McGee ...

Mike has obviously been doing this for a long time, and is thankfully still doing it, despite having released a "Best of" album.

You can listen to the whole thing for free online here.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dean's Dad's Ducks

In addition to Dean Parkin's podcast (see last post), here's a video about his show, Dean's Dad's Ducks - a great concept...

Technically this is an advert for an Edinburgh Festival show that's already happened, but if you're interested in future shows you can visit Dean's website,

Monday, 18 July 2011

Dean Parkin's Soundstuff

Take a look and a listen to this thing ... I use the word thing because I don't want to use the word podcast because I think the word podcast is misleading. This is a series of ongoing audio recordings. ("But that's a podcast, isn't it?" / "Hmmm. Maybe.")

This "series of recordings" was created by the poet, Dean Parkin, between 2008 and 2010 (and will hopefully be added to in the future).

The first "episode" (if that's what you want to call it) is called The Balloon Landings.

The rest are here.

Nice one, Mr Parkin.

Friday, 15 July 2011

White Knuckle Press & Right Hand Pointing

Along similar lines to Pangur Ban Party (mentioned a few posts ago), these two inter-related sites feature some high-quality e-chapbooks, all well worth reading.

White Knuckle Press
Right Hand Pointing

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Narrative Masterclass - John Steinbeck

Even in a teaching day that involved Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale and Paradise Lost, this following passage stood out as a narrative masterclass from John Steinbeck.

It is interesting how frequently I feel myself pausing during a class and admiring a detail (sometimes a minor detail) so brilliant in its execution that it points the way to others. The following character is not a major one. Neither is it the first time he has been mentioned; neither is it the first time we've heard him speak. These are important: too many writers (are you paying attention, Mr Self?)hector the reader with a voluminous description the very second a character hoves over the narrative horizon; readers find themselves browbeaten into submission by adjectives and adverbs. Too often the authorial voice reveals everything, thus showing us nothing. Here the character has (a) been named previously near the start of this chapter, (b) already walked into the room on a previous page, (c) sat down - we've grown accustomed to their presence. This is 'Slim', from Of Mice and Men.

[H]e moved with a majesty only achieved by royalty and master craftsmen. He was a jerkline skinner, the prince of the ranch, capable of driving, ten, sixteen, even twenty mules with a single line to the leaders. He was capable of killing a fly on the wheeler's butt with a bull whip without touching the mule. There was a gravity in his manner and a quiet so profound that all talk stopped when he spoke. His authority was so great that his word was taken on any subject, be it politics or love. This was Slim, the jerkline skinner. His hatchet face was ageless. He might have been thirty-five or fifty. His ear heard more than was said to him, and his slow speech had overtones not of thought, but of understanding beyond thought. His hands, large and lean, were as delicate in their action as those of a temple dancer.

Foregrounding of events? Check. Lexis perfectly fitting and balanced? Check. Sentence styles matching vocal styles of character? Check. Poetic use of defamiliarising work-speech (I’m given to understand that this might be called deixis)? Check. Firm establishing of character? Check. Cryptic AND simple? Check.

We can all learn from that.

Bookninja Comics

Let's travel back in time to the distant days of 2004.

I'm referring to the archive of very funny literary cartoons on the Bookninja website.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Have you noticed the lessons Ben Jonson has to teach us about our (mis)leaders?

If you, like me, have been glued to the media comedy and tragedy unfolding before our eyes – in the fulsome sense of the dramatic genre and its conventions – then you may have come across the wise words on the live blog at

which was fascinating for many reasons. Firstly, it rather wittily implies that if Murdoch had read a bit of Shakespeare then it would have been to everyone’s benefit. Secondly, the wag points out that Shakespeare plays (comedies and tragedies) are full of intercepted letters, and the trouble that (a) letters cause, (b) intercepting letters causes, (c) misreading letters causes, (d) spying on (‘noting’) people causes. This is a valuable thing to think about. Do you think for a second that Rebekah Brooks reads Shakespeare? Even worse is the realisation that she probably did, but she was too busy counting her thuggery profits at the back of the class when the tired teacher swept their hand over their eyes, looked to heaven and asked the silent, passive class: ‘Can you see what the writer is trying to say here?’ It made me think of something wider – something bigger.

A key convention of tragedy is that at the close of the play we get what amounts to a ‘papering over the cracks’. In fact, a tragedy does not resolve; all the characters left alive stand (literally) around the bodies, they swear that ‘this will never happen again’ – and yet the audience realise that it has to: nobody does anything to address the underlining issues that have been brought to a head in the death(s) on stage of the character(s) we most sympathise with. So, we understand that the cycle will repeat, with a new metaphorical ‘cast’.

A tragedy whose spine I haven’t touched since my degree is Sejanus, by Ben Jonson. Those under 25 will know Jonson as the man who wrote the poem ‘On My First Sonne’ – it’s part of GCSE education. Sejanus plays out for us the fail of a cruel, corrupt leader who controls by fear. He is patronised (in the Roman sense of the word) by sycophants and schemers. He is hated, but followed because he has all the power. In the play there is a dramatic shifting on stage: Sejanus goes from dictator to exposed, fallen idol in a flash.

It stayed with me all of yesterday. I picked it out and began to read it again. The parallels are striking between this play and what is playing out in the media court currently. You could take any excerpt from the play, tweak it slightly and use it as a current commentary on the disgusting antics of the media and our political misleaders.

Here a bitter character at the start articulates the difference between those that succeed in Sejanus’ court (read: Murdoch/Cameron’s court) and those that don’t – like the speaker:

We want their fine arts, and their thriving use
Should make us graced, or favour'd of the times:
We have no shift of faces, no cleft tongues,
No soft and glutinous bodies, that can stick,
Like snails on painted walls; or, on our breasts,
Creep up, to fall from that proud height, to which
We did by slavery, not by service climb.
We are no guilty men, and then no great;
We have no place in court, office In state,
That we can say, we owe unto our crimes:
We burn with no black secrets

There is more, and I will indeed post more – I think that it’s a vital comment on our days. Those that climb a hill of creativity, desperately trying for the ‘new’ often scrabble up the scree and lever ourselves to safety: sweatily smug that we have thought, or written, or done something new - only to then notice the bootprints of some previous climber on the ledge. These are tracks of writers who have been this way, and may have been this way better.

This circus without clowns goes on, and on, and on. This is a rich seam. We will come this way again.
Frank has done a superb job of bringing some great (and genuinely interesting, if not ‘great’) free ebooks, downloads and sites to our attention. Sejanus, too, is worthy of a look. Don’t be afraid of iambic pentameter; it does not bite. Go to: We will come this way again.
Andy Hopkins

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Wystan by Will Self

If this opening paragraph floats your boat, you can read the whole of Will Self's short story, Wystan, at the Times website (without the need to get past their paywall).

Chloe dreamt that she was having sex with her father-in-law’s dog, Wystan, a particularly skinny and nervous whippet. The whippet’s claws scratched her shoulders and breasts terribly — his needle-sharp teeth nipped at her ears; what was going on down below Chloe could only intuit, not feel, but the idea alone sent alternating pulses of nausea and shame coursing through her subconscious.

Continue here.

Monday, 11 July 2011

badbadbad - a transmedia novel by jesús ángel garcía

Well, here's a masterclass in how to market yourself as a novelist - audio, video, live events and a preview available online. In terms of self-promotion, García ticks all the boxes.

I haven't read badbadbad yet, but I will do because it looks very good. There are plenty of mediocre writers out there with excellent marketing strategies. García doesn't appear to be one of them.

Of course, that's just my first impression. I shall report back when I've actually read the book.

Here's the link to the website.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Found Pages #8: My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst

I don't want to patronise you by telling you things about Emmeline Pankhurst that you already know. What you may not know, however, is that her autobiography is available to read for free online.

Read the full text here.

The book begins like this...

Those men and women are fortunate who are born at a time when a great struggle for human freedom is in progress. It is an added good fortune to have parents who take a personal part in the great movements of their time. I am glad and thankful that this was my case.

One of my earliest recollections is of a great bazaar which was held in my native city of Manchester, the object of the bazaar being to raise money to relieve the poverty of the newly emancipated negro slaves in the United States. My mother took an active part in this effort, and I, as a small child, was entrusted with a lucky bag by means of which I helped to collect money.

Young as I was--I could not have been older than five years--I knew perfectly well the meaning of the words slavery and emancipation. From infancy I had been accustomed to hear pro and con discussions of slavery and the American Civil War. Although the British government finally decided not to recognise the Confederacy, public opinion in England was sharply divided on the questions both of slavery and of secession. Broadly speaking, the propertied classes were pro-slavery, but there were many exceptions to the rule. Most of those who formed the circle of our family friends were opposed to slavery, and my father, Robert Goulden, was always a most ardent abolitionist. He was prominent enough in the movement to be appointed on a committee to meet and welcome Henry Ward Beecher when he arrived in England for a lecture tour. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," was so great a favourite with my mother that she used it continually as a source of bedtime stories for our fascinated ears. Those stories, told almost fifty years ago, are as fresh in my mind to-day as events detailed in the morning's papers. Indeed they are more vivid, because they made a much deeper impression on my consciousness. I can still definitely recall the thrill I experienced every time my mother related the tale of Eliza's race for freedom over the broken ice of the Ohio River, the agonizing pursuit, and the final rescue at the hands of the determined old Quaker. Another thrilling tale was the story of a negro boy's flight from the plantation of his cruel master. The boy had never seen a railroad train, and when, staggering along the unfamiliar railroad track, he heard the roar of an approaching train, the clattering car-wheels seemed to his strained imagination to be repeating over and over again the awful words, "Catch a nigger--catch a nigger--catch a nigger--" This was a terrible story, and throughout my childhood, whenever I rode in a train, I thought of that poor runaway slave escaping from the pursuing monster.

These stories, with the bazaars and the relief funds and subscriptions of which I heard so much talk, I am sure made a permanent impression on my brain and my character. They awakened in me the two sets of sensations to which all my life I have most readily responded: first, admiration for that spirit of fighting and heroic sacrifice by which alone the soul of civilisation is saved; and next after that, appreciation of the gentler spirit which is moved to mend and repair the ravages of war.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

New Review of Stephanie Newell's The Third Person

A glowing review for Stephanie Newell's The Third Person in Neon Magazine here.

I think I'll quote this bit on the website - "It reads flawlessly, flowingly, with many of the diary entries verging on poetry."

Thanks to Christopher Frost for saying good things about one of our books.

Read or download The Third Person online for free here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Pangur Ban Party

Here's a new discovery -

No doubt I'll be writing more about this site when I've had more chance to read the work on there, but on first impressions, this is one of the best fiction and poetry websites I've seen for a long time.

Pangur Ban Party (no idea what the name means) publish a series of e-chapbooks featuring poetry and fiction, or a combination of the two. Quality work with a basic, no-bullshit design.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Bruno Schulz

I discovered Bruno Schulz through the Guardian's excellent Brief Survey of the Short Story. His entry on this list is well deserved - he's one of the great short story writers.

It turns out there are three collections available to read online: The Cinnamon Shops, The Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass, and Uncollected Stories - all translated into English by John Curran Davis.

Visit for the full text to these three books.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Found Pages #7: The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire

Here's the link to the full text.

And here's a sample...


Death is consoler and Death brings to life; The end of all, the solitary hope; We, drunk with Death's elixir, face the strife, Take heart, and mount till eve the weary slope.

Across the storm, the hoar-frost, and the snow, Death on our dark horizon pulses clear; Death is the famous hostel we all know, Where we may rest and sleep and have good cheer.

Death is an angel whose magnetic palms Bring dreams of ecstasy and slumberous calms To smooth the beds of naked men and poor.

Death is the mystic granary of God; The poor man's purse; his fatherland of yore; The Gate that opens into heavens un trod!