My Roots are Showing Again


I recently took part in the Stay Up Your Own End poetry project writing poetry about the area I live in and I thought I’d share my poem on my home town of Walsall called “My Roots are Showing.”

it was great fun to take part and to record a poem I’d written about Walsall as a video, the rest of the poems can be found here and are well worth a watch.

Quick shout out of thanks to Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists for running the project and Creative Black Country for funding it.

The Stay Up Your Own End Poetry Project and Competition


I’m very proud to be involved with a new local poetry project run by the talented Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists aka Steve Pottinger, Dave Pitt and Emma Purshouse, here’s the details (supplied by PPP) on how you can get involved if you want to.

Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists have a new project. It’s a commission from Creative Black Country, called ‘Stay Up Your Own End’. If you’d like to join in we’re looking for poems about different areas of the Black Country (no don’t have to be from the Black Country to submit, but the poem does have to be based here). Here’s the information…

For the first of our ‘Stay Up Your Own End’ events, commissioned by Creative Black Country, Walsall poet Richard Archer has given this prompt to get you started on writing a poem about some aspect of life in Walsall borough.

“Impressions about a place can be formed from any contact, long or short. What is your take on Walsall? Good or bad? How has living in, discovering, or visiting Walsall had an impact on your outlook? What impression has Walsall made on you during these times of lockdown and isolation?

The UK has many impressions of Walsall, some good:

The Art Gallery
The beautiful Arboretum

some bad:

Walsall obesity crisis
Gang violence in Walsall

and some odd:

The Giant Walsall Sinkhole
The Walsall Anarchists Bomb Plot

What is your impression of our borough?”

Write your poem about Walsall, and email it to  poetsprattlerspandemonialists@gmail.com by midday on Sunday June 7th for the chance to win a £25 prize.

All poems will be posted on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1293834050753852/ and read by poet Heather Wastie who will pick her winner.

Happy writing!

Meet Me at the Hippo


We always met at the hippo
it’s a local tradition that we adopted.
Sitting by Walsall’s concrete enigma
sharing our chips with greedy pigeons
chugging MD 20/20 down,
as the town ebbed and flowed around us
like the drift of flotsam on the canal.

Then chips finished, paper and
bottles were shoved in overflowing bins.
We’d flick away the stubs of Marlboro lights
stagger off to indie disco nights,
saying to the hippo.
“See you again soon.”

But as the years danced by we
just stopped returning, as
joints stiffened like concrete and
hair became striped with hippo grey.
We swapped wooden benches for an IKEA sofa,
chips are now delivered, along with
craft beer bought by the ASDA delivery man.
We changed
but so did the hippo.

You see that hippo
that carefree hippo of the people
also grew up.
I passed him the other day
outside the library,
perhaps he’s turned intellectual ?
Anyway, I asked him why
he turned his back on the people who loved him.
He’s still thinking
about his answer.

 

yes my home town does have a statue of a hippo just like in the picture and for many years it was always a popular place to meet.

The Walsall Hippo


Solitary concrete guardian of Walsall,
unmoving in your eternal vigil.
Never sleeping day or night,
uncaring what the elements throw at you.

The town’s stone Mona Lisa,
smiling enigmatically at passers-by.
Patiently posing for visitor selfies,
never complaining about pigeons.

I sat on your back when I was young,
now I bring my daughter to perch on you.
Hoping that in the future,
You’ll be here to help keep up this tradition.

The fantastic Lost Haiku project, poetry in the wild


A good friend and talented writer and poet James Josiah has started a wonderful project on Facebook and Twitter called lost haiku. The premise is simple, members of the group write haiku, James prints them off and leaves them on his travels for people to find and enjoy.

Here’s James description of the project

I’ve written a load of haiku this year, like 50+ so far and I couldn’t really figure out what to do with them and I’m not really into the whole publishing my work thing any more (long story) So what I’m doing is printing them off, laminating them and then leaving them out in the wild for folks to find and… I dunno maybe share them or hide them elsewhere?
Now I don’t go very far so if you would like to help me disperse them that would be great. If you’d like to contribute a haiku or four that would be tremendous.
I’m on twitter as @losthaiku and will be using the hashtag #losthaiku as well (I’ve also written this info on the back of the ones I’ve left out thus far)

I’m a member and big fan of the project and I’m proud to say one of my haiku was recently released into the wilds of Manchester, where hopefully someone will find and enjoy it.

If this project seems like fun to you it’s easy to get involved, click here to follow lost haiku on twitter here

Or ask to join the Facebook group by clicking here

 

 

Postcode Lottery


We don’t have much choice on where we’re bought up,
We’re forged by bricks, mortar, schools and pubs.
It’s a real postcode lottery,
And it was WS1 that raised and nurtured me.
WS1, just two letters and a number,
What it stood for I often wondered.
I found out it was supposed to be for Walsall South,
Or what a smeghole, the jury’s still out.

WS1 it’s where I learned to ride a bike,
Where I learned to fight kids I didn’t like.
Where I learned how to wag from school,
Where I learned how to play the fool.
It’s where I first fell in love… with Doctor Who
It’s where I first drank cider and also spewed
It’s where I first broke my arm , my nose and my toe
It’s where I first realised I hated Black Forest Gateaux.

Now I must quickly interrupt this poem to point out that although it seems trivial to hate Black Forest Gateaux it was the Seventies there was a lot of it about. Vienetta my saviour was many years away.

Then we moved away to WS5,
The suburbs, where folk seem more dead than alive.
It was a place to escape too if you could afford the cost,
It was a place where I felt completely lost.
The streets were litter free, birds sang,
To me it was like living in a foreign land.
A land of sunshine and blue skies,
A land which was really a graveyard where pensioners came to die.

So eventually I left there and moved back to WS1
Back to where it had all begun.
I gradually lost my hair so I grew a beard,
I had a daughter , every day she tells me I’m weird.
I flick the V’s when I walk past my old school
I started writing poetry – so I still play the fool.
I returned as they say to the scene of the crime
And I’ll try not to make the same mistakes this time.

Though I make no promises.

 

Gone but not Forgotten


They used to brew beer here,
The brewery gates never seemed to shut.
All day the best grain and hops went in
And beer that made the mouth water came out.
I remember glorious clouds, with a hoppy scent
Settling gently on my estate.
“It’s brewing day,” my dad would always say,
As my senses tingled on the way to the bus stop.

Sadly the tuns and coppers are now empty
The once busy floors are now quiet,
Except for the mice and cats.
All has been left to rot and rust,
Because they used to brew beer here.
But now the gates are never open,
They still make it elsewhere under licence
I don’t think it tastes the same.

 

Dedicated to Highgate Brewery.

Happy Black Country Day


 

Happy Black Country Day, and what better way than to celebrate than with a poem about my home town of Walsall which is a proud part of this great region.

 

My Roots are Showing

Air cushioned souls
descend a cobbled hill.
Worn stones with tarmac patches
wind past a church that
casts a shadow
over a town built before it,
But now living in it.

A town built on
lime and leather,
saddles and soot,
an arboretum and an art gallery,
Highgate mild and pork scratchings.
Foundations built to last.

A town where we’re not scared
to roll up our denim sleeves
to show our tattooed hearts.
A town I joyfully bounce through
pen in one hand, pasty in another
trying to capture its soul

Diverse Verse 2 is ready for launch


Late last year I launched a call for poets for a poetry anthology for charity entitled “Diverse Verse 2.” I’m pleased to say the book is at the printers and we have a launch date.

On the 27th May as part of Southcart Book’s open mic “Diverse Verse 2” will be launched. The official Facebook event is here if you are interested, it should be a great day with lots of superb poets reading and hopefully I’ll sell a few books for charity.

Help Support Southcart Books


Southcart Books my local bookshop and supporter of the arts in Walsall needs your help. I’ll let them explain and introduce Project Mayhem.

 
WHAT IS PROJECT MAYHEM ?

Right then here we go with an explanation , apologise for it being overlong but I feel a proper explanation is needed.

Here at Southcart books we have constantly been bombarded with stock both paid for and donated and we feel it’s getting out of control , I’m giving 100s of books away every month & we still can’t cope , we now have about 3 times as much books in the storeroom & kitchen than whats on display on the shop floor & we would love people to eventually get to see them , no good having all those books if they can’t be seen is it ?

What we would like to do is open 3/4 of the storeroom (an extra 200sq ft ) , to customers as additional shop floor space , as you can imagine this comes with considerable cost so we are hitting it 3 fold.
1. a long running online sale to raise extra capital
2. seeking community based funding from the government ( blood out of a stone I know )
3. launching a crowdfunding scheme to raise capital.

What the money would be spent on…we have a couple of plans depending on how much we get.

Low funding…block off the kitchen and fill the storeroom with bookcases.

Medium funding…make the storeroom look the same as the main shop floor , bookcases plus all the additional trimmings.

High funding…remove part of the shops wall to really open up the shop space.

We are not asking for money off you directly in this economic climate and we fully understand that some people do not agree with crowdfunding businesses so if you can’t help us financially we would really appreciate you sharing our ideas and funding links.

If you can help financially we are offering you stock for pledges like we did last summer plus people/businesses can sponsor areas and bookcases.

Many thanks for reading & we always encourage your feedback , here is the link.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/southcartbooks

plus here is the link to our online sale with up to 95% off some higher priced items

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/m.html…

So can you help? You don’t have to donate money – though that would be cool – even if it’s just liking the Facebook Page and spreading the word every bit helps. At the same time why not support your local independent book shop, pop in and see what you can offer.