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Snow

All through the day snow has been falling

like stars out of place or angels or prayers; slivers of universe

with millions of possibilities that if singled out and caught by

a warm hand will pale to a tear

leaving only a memory

 

of a feathered touch or eyelash kiss.

From within we watch the new night sky

filter out its blanket of white

silencing the ground as it mimics

a clean sheets over our bodies.

 

Slowly the wind strengthens and like a wolf

the once silent fall becomes

an orchestra of science as

snow twists past street lights,

spirals over houses and dances past the last

 

bus that now takes a unknown diversion.

Snow defying gravity, soaring,

flailing and falling

onto a frozen landscape

that we watch developing

 

like a photograph;

the paper restless in chemicals,

a world in darkness with only

a muted oxide glow to guide our hands

and the sound of wolves now scratching at the door.

 

The snow shoulders farms

against the moor, fills lanes

once engraved through land,

amplifies the essence of our existence

and brings the last moving traffic to a dead stop.

 

We look down upon the village,

down towards the snow globe centre

where a clear web of lights

that once spiralled out from its core

slowly disappears.

 

Children make their escape to first floor rooms

taking treasured possessions and shelving

photographs, books and computer games

for safe keeping. They watch from relative safety

the commuters clearing driveways

 

throwing salt stone and filling kettles

ready for the bite of a morning unknown.

The snow and the wind continue

and together they conspire

to cover everything, leave nothing undone.

 

In the dawn grey light the children jump

from their bedrooms

and slide into drifts where garden walls

once stood. Without boundaries

the commuters give in and turn over,

 

their driveways scarred but slowly recovering.

At the reservoir skaters erect temporary

fencing and jostle for space

practising the latest toe picks and steps

in time to the click of the make shift

 

chair lift that now runs the length

of the banking much to the water board’s

disliking. An old man argues with a group of

German ski enthusiasts, who, unable to build houses,

are offered the chance

 

to take part in the first Pennine slalom

made of frozen sheep and stone. The snow continues.

And in the village where cars no longer exists

dog walkers turn out en-mass, carrying their plastic purple bags,

but deciding to turn back, much to each dog’s delight,

 

next to where the last bus was abandoned

with its lights still on and windows steamed and the driver

reported missing in the last hour as per company policy. The new school

head clambers over the football pitch regretting the early morning text

but looking at the plus of trying out her new coloured boots, one piece suite

 

and combination head scarf that works as both casual and smart.

The snow continues. Warning signs that have flashed

through the night go out.

The wind howls. Roads disappear,

as does the ground floor of that row of terraced houses

 

nearest to the river now frozen to the shape of claws.

An Australian, visiting relatives for the first time, joins a group

of Finns who have all been prescribed light

and feel short changed. They make out

at a self built sauna hidden out of sight with a discarded barbeque,

 

garden shed and a selection of furs smuggled under clothing.

The Australian’s relatives, in some desperation,

follow snow angels on tree lined paths and join the group

naked in the drifts. The snow continues.

And last to move is the farmer who makes

 

a half hearted attempt to clear the lane

but misjudges the weight of the counterbalance

and upends like a duck, slipping from his seat to become

caught by the Saint Christopher around his neck

now half strangled on the tractor’s gear stick.

 

We give in and watch the snow fall.

We watch the village slowly fade from sight.

Darkness falls again. Villagers make their escape to higher ground,

walking on rooftops, as streets begin to drown.

First to go is the pub, then the bakery and the gallery.

 

Then the post office, convenience store

and charity shop. Gone is the off-licence,

the take-away  and flower market. Also

the doctor’s surgery, news agent,

haberdashery and selection of newly

 

opened cafe bars and restaurants

catering for individual tastes.

Gone is the police station, swimming baths, library

and school. And on the outskirts, where property

 

once made a better investment, the  Social,

Conservative, Liberal and Band clubs are all going under.

And the snow continues with no sign

of it ever petering out. From the hills

we see the distant city glow, the only

 

light in the valley, as the people hunker down

in make shift shelters where we listen to the sound

of our breathing amidst the cries of wolves

that leech out in the cover of snow. And we wait for the thaw,

wait in reverence with cold empty hands.

 

Snow first appeared in my debut pamphlet, Flowers by the Road, published by Templar Poetry in 2017. You can purchase a copy from the Templar Shop

#February

So it seems the secret of navigating a cold Pennine February is simple: publish your first poetry pamphlet and launch a solo exhibition of new paintings inspired by the poetry. No problem…

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Flowers by the Road

Flowers by the Road became a reality after the collection won Templar Poetry’s Portfolio Prize in October 2016. The publisher planned an official launch party at Keats House in London on the 28 February 2017 so all I had to do was write, edit and re-write in time for a fairly generous deadline. That was the initial plan. It all changed, however, when Huddersfield Literature Festival offered me the opportunity to launch the pamphlet in my home village of Marsden as part of their support of local libraries. The only slight problem being is that these events coincide with National Libraries day at the beginning of February. Oops. Fortunately Templar agreed to bring the release date forward and before I knew it I was stood in a library full of people waiting for British Sea Power’s No Man is an Archipelago to finish on the pre-launch playlist so that introductions to begin.

You can see pictures of the launch event here.

Back in November 2016 the volunteer group, Friends of Marsden Library who had agreed to host the event at Marsden had secured the services of Simon Armitage for a night of poetry and library fund raising. It was during this event that I met some of the people who would be supporting my own event and afterwards, following a few celebratory drinks, where I agreed with local gallery owners, Sharon and Kevin, that it might also be a good idea to commit to a solo exhibition to coincide with the launch. Unsurprisingly I woke the next day with a slight hang-over.

The idea behind the exhibition was very simple: the paintings would have some connection with the poems in the collection. From this I began to plan a series of images inspired by single lines from various poems; the result being that the line of text serves as an introduction to the narrative of the painting rather than the painting simply being an illustration of the poem. Eight paintings were finished in this style and finally exhibited alongside a number of other works.

FOX (1 of 1)

A Fox Walks Across Our Path, Still Looking

The exhibition continues throughout March with pictures available to takeaway on the day.

Gallery

Enjoy Art, Marsden

We eventually made it to London, enjoying the sights and making the most of our trip with visits to the Theatre and the Hockney retrospective at the Tate. Whilst the launch did clash with the premier of Kong at Leicester Square it didn’t seem to impact on audience numbers, so much so that after I finished my reading a late comer had pinched my seat! The wonderful Ellen Cranitch followed my reading with a spell-binding performance of poems from her latest Templar collection, The Immortalist.

So that was February. Now with feet firmly back on the ground and the sun making a re-appearance it’s been a time to get back out in the garden and do some digging.

The Blue House

The Blue House

Marsden Launch – pre-launch playlist:

Walls – Kings of Leon

The Ghosts on the Shore – Lord Hunron

Eyes to the Wind – The War On Drugs

Don’t Panic – Coldplay

Picture of You – Richard Ashcroft

Icebox – Rougue Valley

29 #Strafford Apts – Bon Iver

Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteem

Magnificent – Elbow

No Man is an Archipelago – British Sea Power

Flowers by the Road

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Marsden Launch

 

The first launch event of my debut poetry pamphlet, Flowers by the Road took place on Wednesday 8 February to a full house at Marsden library as part of Huddersfield Literature Festival’s celebration of local libraries. The event coincided with library events taking place across the country to celebrate National Libraries Day which launched on the 04 February. It was wonderful, if a little nerve-racking, to see so many friends, family and supporters of poetry and libraries turn out on what was a bitterly cold mid-February night. Heartfelt thanks to all who came and made the event such a great success.

Friends of Marsden Library have created a picture blog about the event which you can see by clicking this link

The next launch event is at Keats house in London where I will be reading alongside the wonderful Ellen Cranitch. The event is free but booking is required. Find out about the event here

Flowers by the Road can be ordered direct from Templar Poetry – please follow this link

Please get in touch via the contact page if you would like me to read at an event or to request a review copy. Thank you.

Flowers by the Road

My debut poetry pamphlet, Flowers by the Road (Templar Poetry) is now available to order direct from the on-line book shop at Templar Poetry. Price includes free UK shipping.

The collection was a winning entry in Templar Poetry’s Portfolio Awards 2016.

To order a copy please follow this LINK

Thank you

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Flowers by the Road – 2017

Tile Art

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House 2016

Brand new for 2016 – ‘Tile Art’. Images are created through a variety of processes using artist’s watercolour paint and finished with a coat of varnish. A selection of paintings are currently on display at Enjoy Art in Marsden near Huddersfield. I’ll be adding more to my Artfinder shop soon. Thanks for looking.

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Beach Hut 2016

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Night Swimming 2016

 

 

 

Good Fences…

Good Fences

Good Fences

 

Good Fences – oil on board – 20 x 20cm (ex frame). The final image from the ‘Storm’ series which is now available to purchase from Enjoy Art, a wonderful independent gallery based in the village of Marsden near Huddersfield.

The landscape is the Yorkshire Dales looking towards Ingleborough. The title was inspired by the Robert Frost poem, Mending Wall.

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For a musical interlude here’s the sublime, and appropriately titled,  After The Storm by Mumford and Sons filmed live at the 2010 Eden sessions (just in case you were missing the sunshine).