New Poems!

 Many thanks to The Crank for publishing two of my poems. 

The Crank issue 4 is now available for downloading (for free) and perusal, here:

https://www.thecrankmag.com/issue-4 (The Crank website is currently down. If it doesn't get back up soon, I'll send it an alarm clock in the post, and also put the two poems on this blog).

The Crank

Reading poems 3: Beware: Preconceptions can seriously damage your reading

Poetry must rhyme! A poem must tell a story! A poem must be regularly metred! A poem must not include the word television ( with regards, T.S. Eliot)! A poem must be 'poetic'! Poems must be rational! Poems must not make assertions! Poems about children or unicorns or fluffy bunny-wunnies are all sentimental! A poem without commas is like a motorway without service stations! A motorway without poems is like a bad metaphor which is a bad simile! Poems must be comforting! Poems must be easy to understand! Poems must not have a moral! Metaphor must never be mixed! Poems are for other people! Poets must not go around making up new words! Thou shalt not use exclamation marks!

What are your views on poems? I hope you have some. What are your expectations? We must read expectantly. But we must also be extremely wary of any lurking thought which starts, 'a poem must...' Otherwise a poem which does not ... will set alarm bells ringing in our heads which drown out the voice of the poem. As has been often said, poems create their own frameworks; every decent poem needs to find its own shape, its own boundaries, its own rhythm(s) in order to express itself. Form and meaning are certainly distinct, but they are not always distinguishable, and never separable. Some will rhyme, and some won't and some will stretch your definition of rhyme. Some will inhabit and redecorate a sonnet, others will leap from irregular stanza to irregular stanza like a deranged frog. And frogs have their own beauty, which we probably view rather differently from the beauty of a person. 

What I am trying to say is read the poem first on its own terms. Shut out the, 'but this poem doesn't even...' voice and listen to the poem's voice. Be afraid of any overly specific definition of 'poem' becoming a killjoy poem inspector in your head. This poem may be the only way of  saying what it is saying. Good poems almost always will. The last sentence is probably too cautious.

'Aha!' You will say. 'You used the phrase 'good poems'. You must have standards to judge poems, then, or to rephrase, you have preconceptions!' Well, I'm sure I do have some preconceptions, even if I am seeking cures for them. But standards are not the same thing as preconceptions. By all means have standards, by all means distinguish between good poems and bad poems*. Though do hold your standards loosely, for they may be wrong, and they may be preconceptions in disguise. Better to have conceptions, expanded and matured by the reading of much poetry.

Since we've got to this point, we may well ask ourselves what defines a good poem. I am neither brave nor foolhardy enough to attempt an answer, but here are some efforts of others.

'But what specifically is good poetry? It is precise information on existence out of which it grows, and information on its own existence, that is, the movement (and tone) of words. Rhythm, pulse, keeping time with existence, is the distinction of its technique.'                                       Louis Zukofsky

'

R.S. fell to talking about never having succeeded in putting over the one thing that is really good poetry - the suggestion, the elusive something that is found, or rather not found, in beauty, in life, in God - that miraculous suggestion which gives a thrill of the unknown almost.'                                                               

Elsi Thomas, on her husband R.S. Thomas

'The ideal poem, it seems to me, is one you want to pick up and read right away - the irresistibleness of the 'excitement' - and can also endlessly revisit.'                                               Michael Hoffman

Though here is Philip Larkin's warning (admittedly about writing rather than reading).

'It is fatal to decide, intellectually, what good poetry is because you are then honour bound to try to write it, instead of only the poems that you can write.'     

Well, we've got off track (which strikes me as something which is vital and wonderful in some poems, and fatal to others). Here's what I'm trying to say - a poem's goodness is not dependent on meeting pre-existing definitions of what poetry is, it is dependent on the poem and, derivatively, the reader's willingness to engage with it.

As an endnote, I suspect it may be easier and perhaps more profitable (and certainly more fun) to define a bad poem rather than a good one. Perhaps in the next post...


*Some will claim that there is no such thing as a good poem or a bad poem. Japanese critic, Wakamatsu Eisuke, claims that it is in the very nature of poetry that a poem can be neither good nor bad. I refute him thus:

A Very Very Good Poem

The oceanic and

A horse called Claudio Avocadinius...

He spoke! He broke! He came down down down with scabies.

And then...

...

He turned into a DONKEY      

with an        (Boo!)

anthropomorphic

H O O F

Reading Poems 2: Pick up and read!

Before I started reading poetry much, I liked the idea of poetry very much. If someone had asked me if I liked poetry, I would have said yes straight away with a knowing looks and great intellectual-sounding enthusiasm, but in practice I spent very little time actually reading the stuff. The idea of poetry was probably more attractive and deep to me than my reading of poems.

The stupidly obvious thing I needed to learn was that if I wanted to enjoy poems, I needed to actually read them, and to read them expectantly, generously and with engagement.

What do I mean by those three vague terms?

Expectantly

If you open a poem expecting nothing more than a pleasant way to pass a minute or two, then that is all you will get, or perhaps not even that, as it might not prove so pleasant. Instead, I try to go in with the thought that this poem may take me somewhere new, it may expand my horizons, or get into my veins somehow, it may surprise me, or teach me something, or plant a small seed, it may bring joy or sadness, it may show me something of what it is to be another person, may help me understand the world around me, or feel the world, it be revelatory, or pleasant, or give me an idea.

Of course it may be a grotesque collage of words, images and rhythm, which deserves to be burned in the town square, with the good townsfolk dancing around it, singing old songs and telling old stories to drive away the useless and life-sucking words.

Which brings me to my second point.

Generously

Which is to say, that unless there's a very good reason, I try to read with the attitude of the first paragraph, not the second. And if I get to the end, I try (not especially successfully...) for my first thought to be, not 'what a load of pointless tosh', but 'I think I've missed something here', 'let me see what a second reading might bring', 'I have things to learn from this poem'. And then to head back to the beginning with fresh expectation.

I also try to focus on what resonated, rather than on what I didn't get anything out of. It may just be one phrase, or a snatch of rhythm, or a single striking simile, but that is enough to get me back reading looking for more.

              'definitive poems spring into presence and stand there blinking and lashing their tails'              Czeslaw Milosz                                                                                                                                

Czeslaw Milosz
just about to blink
and lash his tail

I do have a disclaimer, though. If I read a poem, and there is absolutely nothing that excites or interests me then I tend to abandon it and move on to more promising territory. I'm sure I miss out in this way, but given the huge amount of good poetry around, I'd rather not linger around just in case. I would make an exception to this disclaimer for any poet who I normally enjoy, or respect, or if I have another reason for thinking that there must be value in going back to it.

Which doesn't bring me to my third point.


With Engagement

"Poetry is an art of concentration. You need to concentrate to write it, and you need to concentrate to read it."                                                       Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage
concentrating

In other words, if you want to deal faithfully with a poem, you must focus on it, pay attention to the rhythm, the words, the flow, the texture, the meanings, the metaphors etc. And to think as you read, to feel, to explore. Why describe x as y? Why juxtapose a blade of grass with gut-barging? How does the rhythm change feel? What about the weird and exam-failing punctuation? It means listening carefully as you read, being ready to experience it with mind and heart and five or more senses.

It may mean opening up a dictionary (or, if you like reading Geoffrey Hill,  opening up English, Latin, Greek, Spanish, Italian, German and French dictionaries, encyclopedias of obscure court figures from Ancient Rome, Polish journalists, German mathematicians, etc.), or checking some geography or history. It may mean many readings.

The level of engagement will depend on the reader and the poem and the time of day, but unless you mean business with a poem, it is unlikely to mean much to you.

Which doesn't bring me to my snuck-in fourth point.

Read Widely

Poets of different eras, genders, nations, style, poetry schools, subjects, popularity, aims, backgrounds etc. Short poems, long poems; metred poems, unmetred poems; happy poems, sad poems; clear poems, confusing poems. etc. etc.

And lastly... for anyone who doesn't know what to pick up and read, here is a list (which is not going to obey point 4; apologies) of poetry collections I have read recently which I thought were excellent.

In no particular order:

Michael Symmons Roberts: Corpus

Alice Oswald: Memorial

Robert Frost: West-Running Brook

Charles Williams: Taliessin Through Logres

Pauline Stainer: Tiger Facing the Mist

John Donne: Holy Sonnets

谷川俊太郎など: 今日は誰にも愛されたかった

R.S. Thomas - Experiments with an Amen 


Reading poems 1. Meaning

When I read a (good) poem, I still feel like an infant staring at the stars, amazed by what I see but with limited understanding of what it is that I am looking at. I am going to reflect in this post (and possibly this series of posts) on the act of reading poetry, mainly for my own benefit, to try to help myself be a better reader, but if this is even a little help to someone else, then that would be a splendid added bonus.

Thematically, this is probably not the best place to start a series on reading poetry, but 'meaning' has been on my mind, so that is where we shall start.

For me, the basic principle is this: that the aim of reading a poem is not to extract the meaning, but to experience the poem. If you get to the end of a poem and say, 'I get it. It means this!' and think that is the whole of it, then either the poem did not have much to offer, or you have not read it as a poem, but as a self-help book, or a versified dictionary. You have taken the poem out of its habitat, swabbed its tongue for a sample, and let it escape you. It is seeing the animal (in this case, the poem) in its natural habitat, alive, wild, moving, hunting, sleeping, mating, which enables you to truly know the beast.


"(Creating a poem is) the creation of something with a new life of its own...  It is the entering-in through the senses and through the mind, of another existence."
                                   

                                                              Charles Williams

And it must not be tamed, for what use is a tame poem?

Does this mean that a poem has no inherent meaning? Many have concluded so, but they tend to betray themselves when they write about actual poems by talking about meaning. I do not find the argument convincing. Let me try and briefly (read, inadequately) lay out my thoughts on this immense and controversial matter.

Anyone familiar with fractal geometry or related branches of mathematics will know that there can be such a thing as a shape with finite area, but an infinite perimeter. A good poem is somewhat like the reverse, a finite perimeter with an infinite interior. Each reader, and each reading, may find a new place in it, have a different experience of it, take a different route through it; there are potentially an infinite number of ways of experiencing the poem, and therefore an infinite space in which meaning can be found. But it is a bounded space (though only a fool would attempt to define the boundary), it's not a free for all, there are things it does not mean, there are paths it will not allow; the poem both creates and defines the infinite space it offers to us. To put it another way, possible meanings may be endless, but they are not directionless.

John Redmond, in his otherwise splendid little book 'How to write a poem', is ensnared by that rabid two-headed evil which roams the earth, The False Dichotomy. This horrific beast leads him to conclude that because a poem does not have a single fixed meaning, and because reading a poem is a subjective act, a poem has 'no meaning'.* But a good poem does not have no meaning, it has many meanings, and because the poem itself is an object (albeit a wild and indefinable one), the act of reading is not 100% subjective, though it may be 99% so. The poem says something, and the meanings we may find must have some relationship with the words, the syntax, the sound, the context, the flow, the argument, the rhythm, the line breaks, the title, the punctuation and so on.

If you like, the poem provides the space, and we provide the experience. This is where subjectivity comes in, from the life, the experiences, the feelings, the worldview, the doubts, the fears, the level of awakeness, what we have done immediately before reading etc. which we bring to a poem each time we read it. Think of even a single word, 'sea'. This is a word with a central meaning, or at least a base for meaning. But how we hear it, how we feel it depends on our experience of the sea (and much else, of course). The word 'sea' while representing the same sort of thing, leads to a wide range (an ocean, indeed) of possible meaning. Imagine how and what the word communicates for someone who has never seen the sea, someone who has lived all their life by it, someone who has swum with dolphins, a marine biologist, someone who has lost a loved one in a tsunami, someone whose only experience of the sea is holidays in the Costa Del Sol, someone who has just watched Jaws, someone who gets seasick etc. etc. You could start including vicarious experiences too - whether you prefer the paintings of Turner or picture postcards from Brighton, whether you have read Moby Dick, or To the Lighthouse, or The Old Man and the Sea. 

To my mind a poem, with its multiple words and the relationships between each one, is a much more complex version of the above. The poem forms a starting point (dare we say a meaningful one?) from which our minds leap out from (there may be too many metaphors in this article...), and our engagement with it draws from both the poem and ourselves (as well as much else**). In this way, our reading of a poem is both personal and universal, both unique and shared, both guided and free.

So, when you read a poem, by all means search for meaning but whatever you do, do not search for the meaning***, do not tame the poem, do not treat it like a crossword clue, even if it reads like one.**** Experience the poem, and let meaning come from the experience. 

I suppose finally, I ought to say what I mean by meaning. But what can I say? Meaning may not be something you can tie down in words. From the poem's perspective, the meaning is the poem (one remembers the great short story writer Flannery O'Connor's reply to an interviewer who asked her, 'Can you summarise your latest story?' She answered, 'No'. For what would be the point of writing the whole thing if it could be adequately summarised.) From the reader's perspective, though, there are slices of meaning one can easily grasp (what happened to who; the flow of a sentence etc.), the meaning in its fullest sense in the entire interaction between the reader and the poem. Can you summarise it? We can talk about it, for sure, but any statement of meaning will always be less than the full meaning (unless the poem is doggerel).

Here are three poems you could explore and see what you find (click on the title to read the poem):

'Break, Break, Break' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

'Death, be not proud' by John Donne

'Pelt' by Michael Symmons Roberts


* With apologies to John Redmond for over-simplifying his argument. Do read the book for yourself, I find it very helpful and thought-provoking. And to confirm, the beast in question is not John Redmond, but The False Dichotomy, which I hold to be a vampire thought, sucking the life out of anything it bites.

** See future posts, if I get round to writing any, and if you can be bothered to read them.

*** After exploring a poem myself, I love to hear what others have made of it, and this always enriches my own experience of it.

**** I'm aware that the issue is significantly more complex than I can adequately cover in a blog-post. Indeed, this is true for many big issues. So, blog-readers, beware! Or, why not try a book...

  

Reflections on modern Japanese poetry 5: Iijima Koitsu and the pain and healing of poetry

   Many people turn to poetry at times of difficulty (if only they would turn to it at others times too - it would do wonders for poetry sales), and poetry has a reputation as a medium of healing. But the reality seems to be somewhat more complicated than that. Fiona Sampson points out, for example, that the claim for poetry to be intrinsically therapeutic is called into question by the significant number of poets who have taken their own lives.

飯島耕一(Iijima Koichi)'s poem 母国語 (Mother Tongue) explores this theme of poetry and suffering (among others) through his experiences of living for six months in another country and language.

In the half year I spent abroad
I did not once think
I want to write a poem
I forgot myself
and walked around the place
When I was asked why I wasn't writing poems
I could never give an answer

When I came back to Japan
after a little
I couldn't live without writing poems
Now I understand
at last the half year I could walk around
without writing poems
I have come back inside
my mother tongue

   The next stanza is not easy to translate*, because Iijima dissects the Japanese word for mother tongue, 母国語 into its three elements - 母 mother, 国 country, 語 language. Our English 'mother tongue' lacks the middle word, 'country'. After drawing out these three elements, he continues,

This half year when I was telling myself I am cut off
from my mother, my country and my language
I walked through reality
without getting wounded
In me   there was almost
no need to write poems

His half year abroad was no less real than the majority of his life spent in Japan, and yet there was an alienation attached to it, but an ambiguous one. He was 'telling himself' that he was cut off - a sort of self-caused, self-proclaimed alienation, but not a total one. However, this cutting off from three major influences on his experience of life thus far (mother, country and language) rendered this reality one that hung loosely to him, or one that could not penetrate to the deep places within him, and therefore couldn't wound him. And if there was no wounding, there were no poems, no pressing need for them; he could walk aimlessly through reality without them.
    Whilst I am no deconstructionist, there is no denying that our experience of much of life is mediated through language, and therefore 6 months immersed in and experiencing life through a foreign language of necessity transforms, or translates, that experience.
    We have lived in Japan for nearly 10 years now and the Japanese language no longer feels alienating, or even much like a foreign language. We have been through births and deaths, hopes fulfilled and dashed, bad health and good, and walked with people through all kinds of suffering and joys. I even took my first wedding as a Christian minister here. All in a Japanese environment, all mediated through this particular language, the language which has become my language for prayer, for reading and teaching the Bible, for much of my thinking. Our experience, then, is very different from Iijima's 6 months, and we have long ceased being able to 'walk through reality/without getting wounded.'** I do feel the need to write poems. Anyway, I digress. Let's return to Iijima.

In April, Paul Celan
threw himself into the River Seine but
I feel I understand
what this Jewish poet did
A poem is a thing of sadness
They say that poetry corrects the language
but that is not what it is to me
Every day I am wounded by my mother tongue
Every night, I must set off
for another mother tongue
It is that which makes me write poems   that which makes me exist more

   As much of life is experienced through words, so wounds come to Iijima through words, whether directly, or indirectly. And then there is a further mediation, the 'another mother tongue' of the penultimate line. Presumably a wordless one***, a felt one, one unique to him. It is here, in this deepest of places, that he travels at night bearing the words and wounds of the day, and it is from here that he returns with other words - his poems.
   So was writing poetry a healing process for Iijima? Healing may not be the right word. That final line suggests something different; an enlarging, a deepening, a further enfleshing of his existence; and yet the relationship is not poetry -> existing more. It is 'another mother tongue' -> poems+existing more. The relationship between the latter two is left ambiguous; indeed the effect of poetry writing on Iijima remains unsaid; perhaps he did not know what it was himself.**** The whole flow of the poem, however, gives a sense of urgency and depth and necessity***** to the writing process.
   What he does tell us is that 'A poem is a thing of sadness'******, illustrated by the reference to Paul Celan's suicide (I assume the mention of his Jewishness is intended to bring to emphasise that despite the great difference of worldview between the two, they had this same instinct), and that poetry is not, for him, a corrector of language. This may suggest that poetry and its purpose for him was much more a personal one than a public and communal one.
 
So were does all this leave us? Is writing poetry therapeutic? Was it so for Iijima? At the very least, I think we can say that for Iijima, it was a necessary means of expression, and a necessary response to the wounds which language inflicted upon him 'every day'.
   If I may mention my own experience (presumably I may since this is my blog), I do find writing poetry therapeutic and, indeed, have been strongly urged by a doctor that having a significant time of writing every week would be greatly beneficial to my mental health. I am very happy to follow his prescription! Though I am not sure I know what the link between the proposed health benefits and the actual writing and content of poetry is. It may just be at the level of having that time by myself each week to reflect, explore and concentrate on something I find stimulating. Or it may run much deeper. The words themselves, the thought and feeling expressed in those words, the discoveries made in the dance with words which is writing.
   So, is poetry therapeutic? I suspect this is not a yes/no question, but a highly subjective one, with a
different answer for different people. It's a bit like asking, is foreign travel good for you? If you are mugged, your apartment is full of cockroaches and you spend the whole time running between a bed and a filthy toilet because of something you ate, you would likely answer quite differently to someone who had seen beautiful scenery, enjoyed the food and various cultural experiences, and met the person who later became their beloved spouse. For the writing of poetry, it will depend on what you write, how you write, why you write, and probably how well you write too. Indeed, different poems will likely have different effects on the writer, and the effect of a well written poem will most often be unpredictable, at least until the writer is well into the writing process.
Would you like Geoffrey Hill to be your therapist?
    The same can also be said of reading poems. Is that therapeutic? I guess that the reading of say, Shakespeare's sonnets, Edward Lear's Nonsense verse, and Geoffrey Hill's, 'The Triumph of Love' will not leave you in the same place as each other. And the effect on each reader will also vary depending on the circumstances in which it is read.
 
Where is this discussion taking us? Well, how should I know? You'll need to think it out for yourself if you want a clear answer. Or even better, why not go and read and write some poems and see what they do to/for/in you (and your readers). Or, this may be a question which can only be answered in that mysterious 'another mother tongue'.
     But what I do believe about poetry is that a good poem is a territory for exploration and discovery and as a mediator can translate the world and ourselves and other people and thought and feeling and sensation and whatever else you can think of. And so both the writing and reading of poetry have the potential to do much for and in us. But what that will be - wounding or healing, enlarging or condensing, bedbugs or a luxury beach-side cottage - that you won't know until you embark and explore.*******


Kuroda Saburo and the poetics of humanity

三木卓(Miki Taku), the novelist and poet writes of 黒田三郎 (Kuroda Saburo (1919-1980)), ‘He was a poet who had a constant interest in people living as people, and who always spoke of this through his poems.’ You see this, for example, in his collection ‘With Little Lily’ which is entirely made up of vignettes about him and his daughter. What is interesting, though, in this collection, is that some of the incidents he writes about did not happen, or he has greatly changed them. We are all familiar with the concept of poetic license1, and the liberty of the poet to craft his material; however, for a poet who sets out to write of humans in their humanness, of the human experience of life, of what it is to be human, it creates an interesting tension.
                One of Kuroda’s other big themes is that of alienation and the solitude it creates; that is, according to Kuroda, I can never fully know (or even know to any great degree) another human being or how they experience life, and therefore am, in a sense, cut off from the rest of humanity. It is in this context that he tries to write of humanity – in particular, his own, as he felt that the experience of others was too far beyond his grasp. However, this same thought would render it impossible to convey his own being and experience to others. Nonetheless, such poems can open out our own ways of viewing the world, and draw us that bit nearer to the experience of others.
                Kuroda’s inventions and transformations are meant, I think, to point beyond simply what happened in his life, to his subjective experience of those events. That is, an altered or staged event might better communicate to others his inner life. Along these lines, the other question his poetic interests raise is which most accurately describes our humanity - what actually happens to us and what we actually do, or how we experience those things? To oversimplify a complex existential question, the answer would seem to be both. What it means to live as a human or better, as me in particular, must be rooted in what happens to me, and what I do, but is not reducible to those things. Two people may experience precisely the same event and experience it very differently. We are neither mere machines, nor are we independent from our environment; we are also not simply the sum of what happens to us. Kuroda’s semi-fictions, then, are intended to describe events through which we might glimpse his experience of elements of his life, even though his descriptions of the actual events differ from the facts (in fact, precisely because they differ from the facts).
                What then for poetry? What do we take from Kuroda’s thoughts? Whilst differing from him in various ways*, I think his approach helps us reflects on the beyond-ness of poetry, that is its ability to go beyond relating mere facts, and to communicate to us the emotion, thinking, connections, and dare I say, meaning of diverse human experience. But not simply to communicate an experience, rather to lead the reader into a new experience of their own. Robert Lowell’s famous words, ‘Poetry is not the record of an event: it is an event,’ come to mind.2As do the less famous words of Gregory Wolfe, ‘Great literature moves past communication to become communion – a journey of mutual discovery that takes place between speaker and hearer, an encounter that both have with a mystery that is both a presence and something experienced in the present.3
                All poems, whether they intend to or not, and whether they’re any good or not, tell us something about humanity and, in particular, about another human. If they are good, they will likely tell the reader something about herself too. But a poem can aim at not simply telling, but also involving and expanding, using concrete situations (whether factual or not) to take the reader on a journey into hearts and minds, their own and others’. I forget who said, ‘You yourself are not literature,’ but I’m glad they said it. Writing down your experiences honestly and openly is no doubt a very healthy thing to do, but that does not in itself make it good literature. Literature, as Kuroda saw, can and must do more than that, and give us a glimpse beyond ourselves, and beneath surfaces. And factual situations and constructed symbolic ones are both essential tools for creating poetry which takes us beyond4.


The amazing poetry/moustache competition!

Here it is, the competition of a lifetime! Fasten on your moustache, switch on your poetry brain, and see if you can answer these extremely difficult questions.

Question 1

Identify which picture is English character actor Terry-Thomas, and which is Japanese modernist poet 吉田一穂(Yoshida Issui).













            Question 2

Identify which of the following quotes are from one of Terry-Thomas's films, and which are from Yoshida's major poem, 白鳥.

A) Oh, don't be so ridiculous. Nobody loves a Tax Inspector. They're beyond the Pale!

B) 野の花花,謡ふ童女は孤り

C) 燈を点ける,竟には己れへ還るしかない孤独に

D) There are two crooks here - and both of them are you!

E) And yet, on the other hand, if one will go around marrying persons who pop out of cakes, it's bound to be, well, rather catch as catch can, isn't it, sir?

F) 砂洲は拡きく形成されつゝあつた

Question 3

Who has the best moustache?
A) Yoshida Issui
B) Terry-Thomas
C) Oldham Athletic FC
D) The winner of the World's Best Moustache competition 1997
E) You
F) Lloyds Bank

Question 4

Think of two words which rhyme with moustache. Use them to write a limerick which wins the Forward Prize for Best Poem.

The prize

One winner will receive a calendar of badly translated haiku, a hair each from Yoshida and Terry-Thomas' moustaches, and a small pot of margarine.

How to enter

Write your answers on a hirsute postcard, and send it to your uncle (don't forget to include the 10 pound fee). In the absence of an uncle, take your postcard to your local bookshop and insert it in a copy of 'Uncle Vanya', or 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.
The winner should present themselves at their local police station (we can take no responsibility if you are arrested/sectioned) and claim the prize.



New Poems!

 Many thanks to The Crank for publishing two of my poems.  The Crank issue 4 is now available for downloading (for free) and perusal, here: ...