In a parallel universe, the Canterbury Tales were written and performed by the Mamas and the Papas. This video gives us a glimpse of that universe. Beautiful and mad. Courtesy of Lucian James.

If you’re in London next Monday 17th November, you might like to pop along to the Troubadour where I’ll be reading a couple of poems as part of the Poetry School Poets evening.

As well as some other students from the School, tutors Tamar Yoseloff and Mimi Khalvati will be reading. Even if you can’t make the reading, I recommend you get hold of Mimi’s new book The Weather Wheel, and read it all in one go.

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Poem: ‘The Illusionist’, in The Rialto

June 26, 2014

My poem ‘The Illusionist’ has just been published in Issue 80 of The Rialto, which has been one of my favourite poetry magazines for years. The poem is loosely based on an experience of watching the filming of a TV magic show, one of those rare instances of what might be called poetic déjà vu: […]

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Lark in the Morning: The Verses of the Troubadours

March 31, 2014

We all know vaguely who the troubadours were: those minstrels with (in Ezra Pound’s words) “trunk-hose and the light guitar” who wandered through the middle-ages, serenading ladies outside their windows and dodging jealous glances (and arrows) from the lord of the castle. They mastered the game of courtly love, or fin amor, and inspired generations […]

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Machi Tawara, Mount Fuji Tanka Calendar

January 10, 2014

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting Machi Tawara when she visited the UK to read at the Ledbury Festival. She kindly gave us a copy of her latest book Mount Fuji Tanka Calendar – a collection of tanka for children and adults, with illustrations of Mount Fuji by U.G. Sato. From the publisher’s […]

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Charmless and Interesting: Robert Archambeau on Conceptual Poetry

August 3, 2013

There’s a thought-provoking article article on the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog, by Robert Archambeau: What Conceptual Poetry Lacks And What It’s Got. In case you, like me, were wondering what he means by conceptual poetry, it turns out to be very similar to the more familiar (ahem) concept of conceptual art, i.e. work in which […]

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‘The Whitsun Weddings’: In the Midst of Life We Are in Death

July 17, 2013

‘The Whitsun Weddings’ is usually regarded as one of Philip Larkin’s brighter poems: a beautiful evocation of romantic love, with newlyweds riding the train to London against a backdrop of town and country scenes. The visual detail is gorgeous, like a succession of paintings by Constable, Lowry and Beryl Cook. In the context of Larkin’s […]

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Machi Tawara at Ledbury Festival

July 12, 2013

When I edited Magma 34 I was thrilled to publish the first translations in the UK of tanka by Machi Tawara. Tawara is a superstar in her native Japan – her first book, Salad Anniversary, sold over 2.5 million copies and she’s a familiar face to TV audiences as well as poetry readers. This Sunday […]

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Reading at the Magma 55 Launch – Monday 25 February

February 21, 2013

My poem ‘The Future’ is published in issue 55 of Magma Poetry, out now. I’ll be reading it at the launch next Monday 25th February, at The Troubadour, with other readers including Penelope Shuttle and Clare Pollard. Tim Kindberg and Karen McCarthy Woolf have a great theme for the issue – The Soul and the […]

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Reading at The Shuffle, Saturday 26th January

January 24, 2013

This Saturday 26th January I’ll be reading some of my poems at The Shuffle, hosted by Jacqueline Saphra at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. There will be ‘feature sets’ from Peter Armstrong, Fran Lock and Anne Berkeley. Rowena Knight and I will be reading shorter sets, and a ‘short star turn’ has just been […]

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“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care”

January 17, 2013

As an absorbing evocation of Shakespeare’s life in London, Charles Nicholl’s The Lodger: Shakespeare on Silver Street is up there with Peter Ackroyd’s biography and James Shapiro’s 1599. Starting with the one surviving fragment of Shakespeare’s recorded speech, from a testimony in a civil court, Nicholl ferrets out a mind-boggling array of facts, inferences and […]

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