“A poet of fantastic inversions.” Poetry London

“Multifaceted, mega-fabricated, louche architecture.” Magma

“Voraciously experimental, precociously accomplished.” Poetry International

Double Bill


Catch-up seasons continues!

One and a half poems of mine are published in Double Bill, a new anthology from Red Squirrel Press. It’s the sequel to 2012’s Split Screen, both books being edited by Andy Jackson and concerning themselves with popular culture, predominantly TV, film and music. Whereas I was familiar with much of the subject matter of Split Screen, however (a lot of the shows it covered were repeated on BBC2 in the mid-nineties), Double Bill reaches back toward an era I don’t remember, and consequently, many of the poems are delightfully strange, particularly when they presume knowledge or a frame of reference I don’t share. I prefer this experience to the one of reading a poem that nudges you conspiratorially – “You remember this, eh? You and me? When that happened?” I like to see poems acting as vessels for preserving pop culture artifacts – or rather, something of the experience of living alongside them. It is a good use for poems!

My contribution to the book consists firstly of ‘Biography’, a page-length account of the life of football manager Brian Clough composed solely of website extracts I got from googling ‘Cloughie’. Clough was before my time, so I had a word with my granddad, an ardent Derby supporter, to try to get a sense of the man from someone who’d been there during his brief reign. His verdict was … succinct. So the lines are succinct. As a character and a mythic figure, Clough seems to characterised by bluntness.

The second poem to bear my name is ‘Renga! A Dialogue Between Worlds?’, a renga exchange between myself and Kirsten Irving. The subject we were given was ‘manga’. I asked Andy Jackson whether he meant manga the medium, as in Japanese comics, or Manga Entertainment, the UK licensor and distributor of a multitude of Japanese animes. He said, “Take your pick!”, and we plumped for the latter, since it seemed to make more sense when weighed against Pixar, the subject we were paired with.

Every short stanza of ‘Renga! A Dialogue Between Worlds?’ takes place in a different anime property, with characters hotheadedly shouting across to one another. You could buy the book and try to work out which stanza corresponds to which anime, or you could cheat and check out the tags I’ve used in this very post. 

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