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Obscure Alternatives (part 1)

Keep the headphones on. It was about this time last year that I made a surprise appearance on Mark Radcliffe’s Music Club with my first, my last and everything – a section in the show where you tell the story of the first record you bought, the last record and the record that means everything to you. Simple really and at least fifteen minutes quality airtime on national radio. I say surprise because to be honest I’d completely forgotten I’d written the piece and did slightly cringe at the few Black Sheep enhanced descriptives but, nevertheless, it was great fun arriving home to a barrage of text messages and emails (3) saying how much people had enjoyed my selections. Unfortunately due to cutbacks the show is no longer available and as I can never change my first record I’ll give you that one – Le Chic with Le Freak. And, I suppose, a complete fluke that 2013 turned out to be one of Nile Rodgers biggest years. The other two you’ll just have to guess but to be fair they have now changed.

Although proudly sporting a little yellow Music Club badge is great fun, the selection criteria was a little restrictive. What music fans really want to tell the world about are the lost and unknown gems or the turning points in artists’ careers. In other words; have you ever heard this? Or, they were doing this, and then did this and that’s what led to this. See what I mean.

The idea of this little feature came to me after reading Mark Kelly’s excellent new Marsden Poetry Trail in which, I’m delighted to say, he has chosen a poem of mine together with other more famous Marsden poets to create a stunning nine mile walk. If you’re thinking of visiting the area in the future then I would heartily recommend the walk, not only for the poetry but the truly wonderful landscapes that we are lucky to be able to call home. I smiled at Mark’s summary when he talks of leaving the poets behind on the hills with David (me) and Simon (Armitage) discussing obscure bands from the eighties. I smiled because, although I can’t speak for Simon, certainly this Marsden lad has had many of those discussions amongst the heather and cotton grass.

By Mark’s own admission the trail is a work in progress with notable absentees including the wonderful, Jo Haslam. There’s very little of Jo’s poetry on line which is a shame because she deserves a much wider readership. No doubt it’s because of the digital absence that Mark found it difficult to align a place to the poetry. If available, I would recommend Jo’s heartbreaking first collection, The Sign for Water from which I’m certain The September Swimmer would find home on the trail somewhere. In the meantime, from the equally wonderful collection, On the Kiso Road, here’s the poem Woodbine courtesy of Josephine Corcoran’s great blog, andotherpoems.

In other poetry news I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be joining those fantastic folks at Words on Tap to take part in an open mic showcase as part of the Headingley LitFest on Friday 14 March. I’ve been working on a collection of new poems and this will be a great opportunity to release a few back to the wild.

So this episode’s choice track is The Tenant which comes from Japan’s second album, Obscure Alternatives (good title, I thought). The album was released in 1978 six months after their debut release, Adolescent Sex. The track, The Tenant marked a turning point as the band began to move away from the New York Punk inspired industrial soundscape and Sylvian began to take more control over production values. The sound indicates the direction Sylvian would later pick up on his solo albums and also showcases Mick Karn on fretless bass and saxophone. One year later, Quiet Life was released and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Hathowrn Halls – the review edition

I’m sat watching breakfast television crunching on Aldi’s very own Special K inspired Benefit when one of the dullest questions is put to the once stage diving Nostradamus of all things public order who’s soon to become the new cheeky cross legged chappy of Saturday night TV.

Mr BBC: So why did you decide to do The Voice?

Ricky Wilson: Because everything in my life that’s turned out good started with me saying yes to something!

It’s a good reply and a philosophy I like. Yes we all know the real reason is because the Voice pays loads of money, is watched by millions and, here’s a coincidence, the Kaiser’s have a new album due out in March but, say yes to something, what’s the worst that could happen?

I agree it’s a slightly flawed science, much like the once beleaguered trade union who, trying to prove that a high percentage of their membership died within five years of retiring, found their figures to be slightly flawed after realising that only dead people had been counted (think about it).

So, bizarrely, it was the words of Charles Richard ‘Ricky’ Wilson and my own twenty second rule (more of that later) that led me to say yes to Write Out Loud’s co-founder, Julian Jordan, when the email came asking if I’d consider reviewing some poetry.

It was a step into the unknown.  I rarely buy poetry books – and yes, I do buy poetry books – on the back of reviews as many leave me cold and don’t get under the skin enough to tempt my fingers towards the wonders of PayPal passwords. So, was I selling my soul to dance with the devil for a free book? Well, no, and the twenty second rule sealed it.

Now you might think I’m going slightly off piste but stay with me. We Bought a Zoo is a film that was released in 2011 and was based on the memoir of the same name by Benjamin Mee. Now apart from the fact that both the book and film have, as you might guess, something to do with buying a zoo, that really is where any similarities end. So when in 2013 the DVD finally arrived in our household we had little expectation. Now here’s the claim, if you haven’t seen it, do, it’s brilliant. Directed by Cameron Crowe (who coincidentally made one of the best rock and roll movies of all time with Almost Famous) and featuring the music of Bon Iver and Jónsi (guitarist and vocalist of Sigur Rós) the film is beautifully crafted and has become a let’s watch again family favourite.

Towards the end of the film, Matt Damon, playing a rather more fortunate Benjamin than in the book, suddenly re-tells the story to his children of how he met their mother, Katherine. Without spoiling the film Katherine died of a brain tumour and her absence in the film acts as the tear making factory until the end, that is, when Matt, or Benjamin, explains how he walked past an unknown Katherine sitting in a restaurant and decided that he would be brave for the next twenty seconds of his life and go in and speak with her – it was twenty seconds that would change all their destinies. See, the twenty second rule. So now if I need to decide on something and within twenty seconds I really can’t find a good reason why not then my fate is sealed and the answer is yes.

So, as a result of all this I did review a book and with the help of news editor, Greg Freeman, it eventually made it to the page. It was an interesting and challenging experience and one which I’ll happily repeat. It certainly wasn’t easy and I now take my hat off to those reviewers who really do care about the work. You can read the review of On Light & Carbon by the very talented Mr Duffy here.

January seemed to pass in a blur of birthdays (5 immediate family) and community celebrations following Yorkshire Water’s plans to destroy the only listed spillway in the country being rejected (please see Save Butterley Spillway to add your support) and culminated in a very special weekend away in the fair city of York to celebrate Imbolc by way of the Guardian’s top ten real ale pubs. Also added to the list was the very special Black Swan who were hosting the fabulous ABCtales at York. I’ve been a member of ABCtales for nearly a year but without any excuse had rather neglected my part on the site. This might have caused some embarrassment when I realised after the reading that I was sitting next to new editor, Luke Neima, but his enthusiasm for the project is infectious and simply spurred me on to post more items, one of which, I’m delighted to say, was cherry picked.

The highlight of the weekend came, however, from the most unexpected source out in the sunshine without any real ale or poetry in sight. Twenty Two years ago whilst in between jobs living in an attic bedsit with shared facilities we affectionately called my garret, I was searching around the FM stations trying to find something interesting to listen to. This was a time of no television due to my inability to lie; if I couldn’t afford a licence then I couldn’t have a television, I couldn’t, so I didn’t. It became one of the most enlightening years of my existence. Suddenly I stumbled upon Johnnie (?) Walker who’d invited ex New Model Army stringsman, Ed Alleyne-Johnson in to show off his hand made electric purple violin. What’s not to like. Ed then went on to play the Oxford Suite Part 1 from the aptly named Purple Electric Violin Concerto and it blew me away. Recorded live, played live, the skill and musicianship took me completely by surprise. As did that very same unmistakable sound drifting over Parliament Street on a cold but sunny Saturday afternoon in January.

Unbeknown to me, and despite his success, Ed has continued to busk throughout his career, so although this was the free gig of the century for me, locals as locals do in the UK (see France where if anyone slightly looks at an instrument a crowd appears), simply walked on by, albeit lighter of coins. Ed treated us to a number of tracks from his double CD, Echoes (crowd pleasers) and found time for a quick chat in-between tunes. I treated myself to another CD from the man, well it had been twenty years, I said. Twenty two, he corrected.

So for this week’s musical interlude get your headphones ready and enjoy Oxford Suite Part 1. Afterwards have a look at some of the busking videos, he really is amazing.

The Hawthorn Halls (the anniversary edition)

As the weight of 2013 finally see-sawed to a staying position where the New Year could creep towards an unlocked door then it was time for the wave of reviews, top tens and ponderings to crash against the Windows. At what seemed an unstoppable pace, my hotmail doormat became loaded with lists of the best music, books, films and gadgets and gradually I began to lose the will so, with the type of wild abandonment that only a forty three year old knows, I did the one and only decent thing – turned the computer off.

You might have guessed – I was in a mood. I know that some people shudder at the annual round-ups but for me it’s great fun. Somehow time has an ability to trick you into a false sense of security until you suddenly find yourself sat in the same chair, at the same table, on the same day with the only difference being is that a year has passed between you and your memories.

This was my first full year as a poet (I’m using the term loosely as someone who has had some poems published) and a blogger (very loose term as someone who tries to write a bit and share the odd poem and some good music) and one in which I tried and tested a few ideas, allowing the blog to grow into the armchair of organic ramblings where it now sits. It’s just about there but with each new week comes a new idea so watch this space, as the marketers say.

Amongst the poetry round-ups where Greg Freeman’s excellent review of the year for Write Out Loud, Josephine Corcoran skipped to all the good bits bringing back some great memories of the Derwent Poetry Festival whilst Robin Houghton’s Poetgal blog is quickly becoming a favourite with a chatty style and great insights into the world of poetry publishing. Both Josephine and Robin also celebrated the blog of fellow poet, Anthony Wilson, who’s series, Lifesaving Poems has been a personal favourite throughout the twelve months.

I first came across Anthony’s story at the beginning of 2013 and was immediately struck by the honesty and integrity of his writing.  Perhaps it was the fact that at forty two I was the same age as Anthony had been when he was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; perhaps it was the family, the children, the home, the job, the friends and everything else in his life that mirrored my own which the disease tried to break. I immediately ordered the book Love for Now and read it in a couple of sittings. My wife thought I was being a little morbid after discovering what the book was about and that I wasn’t secretly indulging in romantic fiction. The book is described as a hymn to everyday living and in a year in which cancer has broken the lives of both close family and friends it’s sometimes worth being reminded to stop and count your blessings.

Anthony recently published the most read Lifesaving Poems of 2013 and I was sorry to see that my favourite from the year wasn’t on the list. Swineherd by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is a poem that seems to resonate the more it is read. It is shrouded in its own mystery and all the more better for it. In response to Anthony’s post I commented that Swineherd was in my new top ten. The sentiment was right but the world is too big to have top tens. Perhaps I should have said it’s a poem I’m jealous of, one I wish I had written.

The reader and keeper shelves are sagging under the weight of new purchases this year and of particular note in the anthology section are Sculpted – Poetry of the North West edited by Lindsey Holland and Angela Topping and 1914 Poetry Remembers edited by Carol Ann Duffy.

Sculpted was launched at one of the monthly poetry nights organised by Sarah Corbett at The Bookcase in Hebden Bridge. I’m keeping quiet about these wonderful evenings as it’s already hard to get a seat but for November we listened to Peter Riley telling stories of his trip to Andorra which inspired the book The Glacial Stairway published by Carcanet. Another favourite, also published by Carcanet is Parallax by Sinéad Morrissey. Finally the long awaited debut collection from Helen Mort landed on the doormat proudly wearing all its South Yorkshire colours. At first glance everything about Division Street seems perfect and the recent release of government documents from 1984 will only serve to enhance the power of poems such as Scab. This is a book I need to savour.

In the world of prose, in 2013 I discovered two masterpieces. The Music Room by William Fiennes and To A Mountain In Tibet by Colin Thubron are both exquisitely written and deserve to be read by everyone. The shelves are already being filled with more Thurbron and the anticipation is wonderful.

Musically, 2013 was a mixed bag and we should have known something was afoot when David Bowie made a surprise release in March with The Next Day – possibly the best album cover ever? Go on – I dare any other artist to simply stick a white square over one of their previous best album covers when they’re two years a pensioner.  Musically it’s as sharp as anything he’s done in the last twenty years and in parts his voice sounds alive with the excess of the nineteen seventies.

The album of the year – and yes, in a musically indifferent year there is just one – comes from an artist who, admittingly, I’ve struggled with over the years. I nearly got Murder Ballads, I very nearly got Dig Lazarus Dig but finally I’ve really got Push The Sky Away by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It is absolutely startling and deserves to win every award going. Here’s to the next year with more poetic ramblings, a dose of good music and a few surprises along the way.

All the best,

David.

Higgs Boson Blues by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The Hawthorn Halls (the days edition)

days 012

As metaphorical toes curl over the edge of winter’s precipice and the solstice gets its coat, I’m wondering again where the days have gone, how another year has simply dissolved to memory.

A few weeks ago the poet, John Siddique tweeted that Charles Bukowski’s 1969 book, the days run away like wild horses over the hills, was a hash tag favourite book. He’s right and the title is probably one of the best titles for a poetry collection, ever.

The twitter feed reminded me of the early nineties. U2’s album, Zooropa introduced me to Bukowski. The title of the book signals the end of the track, Dirty Day as the band chorus above the Eno and Lanois darkly intimidating Berlin inspired production. It sounded wonderful but at the same time unsettling. It was the boy chasing the setting sun, discovering only more land beyond the horizon instead of the sea. It was the setting sun, something lost.

days 004

In the pre- internet age of twenty years ago, searching out Bukowski’s book wasn’t as straight forward as it might have been, particularly as I had just returned from the big city. Back home in the village of Marsden, locals were still trying gauge how they should react to the local lad, Simon Armitage, who had just had a couple of poetry books published.  If writing poetry was strange then buying poetry books outside of an A-level course was utter madness. Sadly, bookshops seemed to go along with this train of thought making the browsing and buying experience almost impossible.

Then I blinked and found myself hidden amongst forty years or more having a twitter conversation with a poet. Someone had let the horses out. John explained that he was on a mission to strip down his writing even further and Bukowski was acting as mentor (albeit from afar). This should be something to look forward to and if the days run as fast as they have done, the book will be with us in no time at all.

This edition’s play list is to celebrate my successful grasp of two tickets to see Pearl Jam next year at the fantastic Leeds Arena. The band have been hovering around the Halls for twenty years or more but this will be the first time I’ve had a chance to see them live so I’m going to indulge. I’m holding on to this horse with both hands.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQXP6TDtW0w

Aldeburgh: events and links to poetry and folk songs

A wonderful post from the poet, Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury

Aldeburgh Poetry Festival:

                                       Singing in the Dark: links to poetry and folk music

 I recently gave a talk on poetry and folk songs at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.

Below, you will find all the poetry and prose quotes I use, with links to their sources. These include quotations from Edward Thomas’ daughter. There are also links to all the singers and songs praised in the talk. The music links include some marvellous performances. Worth seeking out!

because I faced the sun for them

and cast the dark shapes down

still they will sing me, warm and free,

though I am locked in ground

From ‘Breaking Ground’, by Alison Brackenbury.  Published by Carcanet in Selected Poems, 1991

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Poems-Alison-Brackenbury/dp/0856359246

‘I’ve nothing left but the skin on my bones.’

‘I’ll play for the bloom off your skin,’ he said.

[…]

   Now elder stems grow

  Through a broken chair

 …

View original post 1,323 more words

The Hawthorn Halls – the sock edition

It’s not often that a poet’s sock is handed to you in the local pub and rarely is it as exciting as the insulated brown one that was dangled in front of me last night whilst squeezing the last of the Butterley bitter out of my shrinking pint glass. This sock has a story to tell.

The sock in question was the one made famous by Simon Armitage during his mammoth trek down the Pennines during the summer of 2010. The walk, which was later chronicled in the fabulous book, Walking Home, relied on people paying Simon what they thought he was worth following readings at various locations each evening. He was paying his way with poetry and the sock was employed as a means of collecting the rewards.  As far as a sock’s life goes, this one’s had it pretty good. It must have wondered, however, what it was now doing in the Riverhead with a bunch of strangers after such celebrity.

The sock was in the company of the poets, Michael Stewart, Julia Deakin, Gaia Holmes and William Thirsk-Gaskell who were preparing to set off to the Ilkley Literature Festival by walking the 47 mile Stanza Stones Trail.

The Stanza Stones consist of six poems by Simon Armitage. Each of the poems have been hand carved by Pip Hall into ancient quarried rocks at atmospheric locations along the trail. The walk covers the 47 miles between Marsden and Ilkley. Each of the poems focuses on water in its many forms and, mysteriously, there is another stone, the seventh stone, which, at this time, remains undiscovered. You can find out more about the trail here Stanza Stones

cotton grass 012

Enjoying its break from retirement and having been sent to Michael rather enigmatically from Simon without any note or explanation, the sock was collecting for charitable causes following some excellent readings by all four poets as a way of launching the project, aptly named, Walking the Line.

Members of the public are invited to join the walk over the next three days which will also see readings taking place at Hebden Bridge, Saltair and finally, the Ilkley Literature Festival. You can find out more by visiting Walking the Line. I had hoped to join the team for the first leg but a rather unfortunate incident with a scaffold board and bag of chicken food has left me receiving strict orders to rest.

Having returned to normality after an extraordinary summer that saw great holes being excavated in my front garden (more later), European road trips and sun, poetry has once again come back into focus with lots of exciting events.

Last weekend saw the fabulous Marsden Jazz Festival (I’m sure there should be an international in the title somewhere) host the fourth Poetry Jam. This was the first time I’d managed to make the Jam due to work commitments, and what a fantastic event it was. Hosted by Write Out Loud’s very own Julian Jordon, the family friendly event saw poets from across the country lining up to read to the packed out pub. You can read an excellent review here Marsden Jam

In other news, I’ve had a couple of new poems accepted for publication by two excellent on-line journals and also two poems have been selected by Templar Poetry for their latest anthology, Peloton, due for release in November. I will be reading at the launch event of the anthology at 12.00 on Sunday 03 November during the Derwent Poetry Festival. The full programme can be accessed here Derwent Poetry Festival .

In the Halls this week, getting heavy rotation alongside excellent new albums from Lanterns on the Lake and Pearl Jam are Embrace whose new album will hopefully be released in the next twelve months (Embrace fans will understand). While we wait, here’s the poetic Higher Sights from the debut album, The Good Will Out. I’ll put a sock in it now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJBoolS6JXo

The Hawthorn Halls (the hitchhiker and the accountant)

Whilst not in direct competition with the digital surfers who come across my site with weird and obscure search terms, I thought I’d give those boffins oiling the gears of the oodle doodle search engine a bit of a Murray return.
Injuries by a rubber mallet served up some surprising results and none more so than the wonderfully titled injury suffered by baseball players known as Mallet Finger. Here’s the link to everything you need to know about Mallet Finger if you feel the need, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-mallet-finger.htm

Too much time on his hands, I hear you say. Well, yes. Time and more specifically on the left hand a blue splint provided courtesy of A and E which is currently trying to do the job that my ligaments should be doing. It’s a long story but as a tease it involves an accountant, a drug, an ambulance, an insect and a spade. I may tell all one day but for now, suffice to say, the thumb looks like an extra from Wallace and Gromit and the radial nerve is doing a super job at disabling my whole arm. I’m hoping a visit to the consultant on Monday will alleviate my current daytime TV misery – It’s amazing how everything suddenly becomes a mountain and even with a mixture of Codeine, Paracetamol and Naproxen, anything other than watching Shane from Boyzone choose a new house in the country is proving a little too taxing.

The whole incident has reminded me of the career defining moment seven years ago when I was just finishing building a garden wall and becoming a little over confident with the use of the rubber mallet to tap stones into place. That time my thumb was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the block of rubber bounced off the tip leaving a shattered bone in its wake. I’m told it’s the same phenomenon that causes stadiums to crumble as the concrete fails against the movement of the crowd (don’t worry folks; the problem has now been designed out). Where a metal hammer just hurts, a rubber mallet will send shockwaves through the hand shattering bones and causing pain that even several pints of beer will be unable to moderate. On that occasion I couldn’t remember having a bet with the nurse but she seemed pleased with her success following the return of the x-rays in the sobering daylight.

Discovering new music is always a real delight. As a teenager it was fantastic to stumble across a band and then spend however many weeks it took to beg, borrow and sometimes buy all their previous releases. Age, together with a spotty computer crashing site, does limit this opportunity of discovery but every so often a band or artist comes along that deserves the investment. The National was probably the last band which sent me on a journey of discovery to see how a group of musicians had got to a place where chords and time changes sent hairs on neck skywards. Check out Terrible Love if not convinced.

Today the baton is handed to Peter Bruntnell following his new release, Retrospective. I’m wholly aware that his music will now be forever associated with splints, pain and suffering but with the tantalising prospect of the Azores high coming to visit together with the hammock needing to be aired then I’m sure he won’t mind me hitching a lift through his back catalogue.

The Hawthorn Halls (the saltwater edition)

If I was to step out of my front door and leap in to the air and whilst doing so grow wings then I would almost certainly join the crows to see if they do, in fact, fly in straight lines. It would be quite easy to tell by simply watching the passing towns below; first there would be Hebden Bridge to my left and then over moorland towards Colne before dissecting the M6 at Kirby Lonsdale and coming into land at Windermere or possible Ambleside to avoid the tourists. I might, if feeling adventurous, carry on towards Scafell Pike but perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m guessing it would take little less than an hour travelling at a constant speed and I would most definitely be home for tea. Regardless of all this, however, I still do not live in the North West.

Although, due to the Yorkshire watershed, I will never be a North Westerner, it was still a pleasure to hop over to Hebden Bridge (albeit by car) last week for the launch of the new poetry anthology, Sculpted. Described as the poetry of the North West, Sculpted is a collection of poems by sixty two of the NW best contemporary poets and to prove it, six of those poets crammed in to the sell out (yes, sell out) launch on a wet and windy Thursday evening.

Hosted by Hebden’s very own independent book shop, The Book Case, the line up included readings from J.T. Welsch, Andrew Oldham, Melissa Lee-Houghton and John Siddique. Also adding to the impressive line-up were the book’s editors, Angela Topping and Lindsey Holland.

J.T. (I don’t know and didn’t dare ask) opened the show and for me was the surprise hit of the event. There’s not a hint of red squirrels in his poem, Formby which he opened with and immediately mesmerised the audience into silence. Buy the book for this one poem alone and read it out loud in your best American accent to fully appreciate the playful use of language and imagery. And if you’re familiar with Formby, you or the kids won’t be disappointed by the lack of squirrels.

Angela Topping’s The Visited brought back some wonderful memories of being dragged around to people’s houses by my mother and very simply just popping in for a cuppa. This was something that just happened, and whilst mums would be knocking on the neighbours it was just as likely that the neighbours would be offering the courtesy of three knocks on our own door before tramping in and plonking themselves down at the kitchen table. Imagine Facebook in real life and you’re somewhere near.

John Siddique was the last to read and it was a joy to finally hear him in the right environment. The last time I saw John was in a busy Waterstones in Bradford where he battled against the piped pop hits of the day and where the manager had very kindly provided only three seats for the audience. You may not be surprised that there was only one shelf of poetry, tucked away at the back of the shop with a fantastic collection of Larkin, Duffy and Shakespeare (sales, however, were down).

John began by reading his contribution to the anthology, I Think of You in which he tenderly uses the sense of a place, this being ‘Spring Wood’ at Hardcastle Crags to recall a lost love. After several poems from earlier books, John ended the evening with poems from Full Blood. His moving introduction that recounted the horrors witnessed in Woolwich earlier made the poem, Thirst particularly thought provoking and, in many ways, healing. http://www.johnsiddique.co.uk

Many a fine wine was drunk throughout the evening and it was a joy to meet so many wonderful poets and supporters of poetry in one swoop. The continued absence of wings meant that I could only watch the wine being soaked so eventually bid farewell and joined the one road out.

Lying next to John, in an editorial sense, in the anthology is a new poem from the very hard working, Kim Moore. Being Married retains the same voice that created many of the poems in her wonderful, prize winning pamphlet, If We Could Speak Like Wolves. I’ve been a fan of Kim’s poetry since reading some of her work through The Poetry Business but refrained from buying a pamphlet as I’ve been trying to catch her live at one of her many readings – it seems that Kim could also possibly do with a set of wings after following her adventures on the blog. Sadly work commitments have led me astray so it was a nice coincidence that together with last week’s Sunday Poem, Kim announced the arrival of a PayPal button on her site. Without further ado, the button was pressed and two days later the pamphlet arrived, signed and with a thank you note. Find out more at http://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com

Also on the reading list this week is Gillian Allnutt’s How the Bicycle Shone, Garry Ely’s Angel Visits and, courtesy of the PBS, Michael Symmons Roberts’ Drysalter. You may not see me for a while.

Musically, the Heavy Rotation award this week goes to The National with their new release, Trouble Will Find Me. What, with the lack of wings and everything, it’s been on constant play in the car which is a good thing as with any The National release, several plays bring gifts from music heaven. As a taster, here’s the opener which will very soon be taken its leave from the Halls and probably flying into a digitally sundrenched North Western sky.