Below, you’ll find links to some of my poems that are online, with a little background information on each of them.
‘Leavers’ Balls’, Times Literary Supplement
This poem is included in my third collection, Sweet Nothings. It quotes from ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine, which was the standard end-of-night song in most of the toilet venue rock clubs I frequented when I was about 20 or so. I didn’t attend my school-leavers’ prom (we had one), but I’m sure it had these consequences for at least one pair of someones.
‘Like Father’, Poetry Review
This poem is also included in Sweet Nothings. When I was about 18, I made a serious attempt to write poems. They weren’t very good. But I had a lot of things I wanted to explore, not least of all regarding my childhood, which was spent mainly in Lincolnshire with interludes in Ireland where my father lived. Early in 2019, I found one of these poems in an old folder at my mother’s house and, encouraged by a friend and wonderful poet who shall remain nameless, attempted to finish what I had once started.
‘Five Thirty-minute Sessions’, The Compass
This poem is also included in Sweet Nothings. I once sought counselling. Counselling works for a lot of people, and perhaps it worked for me, though I’ll never quite know. I had to do it over the phone because I never knew where I was going to be. Then the money ran out.
‘Re: Application’, ‘Re: Re: Application’, ‘Alfreton Town 0, Brackley Town 1 (89′)’, Wild Court
These poems are also included in Sweet Nothings. The first two are about Dr Bob Pintle, Senior Lecturer in Professional Creativity at Peterborough University. He doesn’t exist, though I assure you he also does exist. Bob is a character in several poems in two of my books: Sarajevo Roses and Sweet Nothings. I have blogged about him here. The other poem was described by the Guardian as ‘glamorous’, and indeed it is. The result repeated itself on the day the poem was initially published.
‘The Avenue’, ‘Pulling Over to Inspect a Pillbox with a North American Tourist’, ‘Over the Heath’, Poetry
The first two of these poems are in my second collection, Sarajevo Roses. I used to live in a flat at the top of a Victorian mansion, down a dark gravel track. It felt very glamorous. Then I found an article in the paper. And then I wrote ‘The Avenue’. ‘Pulling Over…’ recounts part of a trip around this beleaguered island with an American friend, who likes visiting castles so he can pretend to fire arrows through the windows. (He’s a married man in his late 30s.) One day, we found ourselves in a pillbox on the east coast. The graffiti was real, and I photographed it and then tried to replicate it on screen in my office – after locking the door. ‘Over the Heath’ is in my first collection, Tonight the Summer’s Over. I grew up in a Lincolnshire village above the Fen and below the ‘Lincoln Heath’. Both are full of farms and fields now, but remain startlingly empty.
‘Driving Through the Pit Town’, New Statesman
This poem is also in Sarajevo Roses. The book contains two poems set in former coal-mining towns in Nottinghamshire (though this one blends one of those with another in South Yorkshire). Margaret Thatcher died in 2013, and very few tears were shed in this part of the country. In 2020, it returned a Conservative MP, though that’s a different story.
‘Access Visit’, The Guardian
This poem is in my debut collection, Tonight the Summer’s Over. My earliest memories include those of many access visits with my father, and that is the subject of several poems in the book. I won’t say anything else about the poem, because Carol Rumens offers a wonderful reflection in the above link. Some of the comments below the line are unhinged, on the other hand – though they’re worth checking out too, if you like that kind of sport.