Thursday 8 April 2021

Somewhere, there in Mslexia

My photo-poem 'Somewhere, there' was recently published in Mslexia 88 in their 'Eyeverse' section. I really appreciate the fact that this publication has a space specifically for text-image poetry submissions. I often find it challenging to fit in my photo-poems into existing publication formats; whether that is an editorial decision to include only text, use images alone or as illustration only, or due to the constraints of the format, i.e. print costs. So thank you Mslexia for this opportunity. 


Thursday 7 November 2019

Photo-poems in The Evergreen IV

I have two photo-poems published in the fourth volume of The Evergreen: A New Season in the North is now available from The Word Bank. The final volume in the series breaks with the tradition of Allan Ramsay and Patrick Geddes by featuring only female contributors: editorial, prose fiction and non-fiction, poetry and illustration. 
The guest editor for this volume, Lucy Ellmann, was shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize for her novel, Ducks, Newburyport.
The contributors are:
Monica Datta       Janet Dick       Elizabeth Elliott     Lucy Ellmann             Helena Fornells      Kylie Grant     Joyce Guthrie    Ellen Hair   Anjum Hasan      Judith Hertog   Astrid Jaekel         Kristen Lowman   Lesley McAra     Catherine Marshall      Lila Masumoto    Chiara Organtini    Petra Reid      Suzy Romer          Effie Samara        Alice Tarbuck      Rafaela Taylor            Maria Vlachou                 Phoebe Weller     Shelagh Wright
On 21 November 2019 at 8pm there will be an event with readings from the volume at Topping & Company booksellers in Edinburgh with Lucy Ellmann and contributors.  
Copies of The Evergreen Vol 4 are available here for just £15 and post-free within the UK only. PLEASE NOTE: for Europe add £5, for Worldwide add £7 or if you are local to Edinburgh and want to pick up in person, at the Summerhall Shop. 

Friday 23 August 2019


Who are you?

When I get home, I don't know what to talk to you about. 
Who are you?


..and I just asked about the scones, 
you know,
and I just wanted confirmation
you know?


Ich werde mich nach Draußen sitzen
 - I'm going to sit outside
A most profound conclusion
So full of meaning and weight
when said in German by a man,
with a voice like stone, gravel and sand
as if to say,
there is nothing temperate about this place
humidity wraps around his words
the air, though heavy, is put in its place
cloying and sweet, his voice dry and deep
There is no equilibrium between the man and this place
yet he is so mild and agreeable
as he leaves his wife in the temperate house

Photos in the Temperate Lands greenhouse which is free to enter at the Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh.
Poems based on conversations overhead in the Botanical Gardens and during the Edinburgh Festival. 

Friday 9 August 2019

Hashtag Let's Stay Together

It’s the year 2025. The benevolent dictator is Dominic Cummings. The Houses of Parliament have been turned into a holding area for livestock to feed the army of Even Greater London. The MPs, now redundant, have been eaten. Democracy is only understood by the population to be a small tailor shop on Saville Row that makes the benevolent dictator's breeches. 
        The once popular TV reality show, ‘Love Island’, has become a gulag for captured members of the ragtag underground resistance group, the Tina Turners. The group tweets their plight from prison with the hashtag WhatsLoveGotToDoWithIt. The Turner rebels who are still at large attempt a coup by breaking and entering into Democracy and sewing the Magna Carta into the Benevolent Dictator's breeches. Unfortunately the Taileroo courier takes a wrong turn at Deptford Heights Council Estate where the Great Dictator resides, and the courier, her bike and the breeches disappear for ever into an arthouse cinema which plays The Dictator by Charlie Chaplin on an endless loop. 
        For security reasons, Dominic Cummings employs a personal impersonator: the actor, Benedict Cumberbunch. No one knows anymore which of them is which. Benedict Cumberbunch has three chips implanted into his neck, containing code to three characters he played during his career: Cummings, Sherlock and Dr Strange. His own personality was wiped on B-Day when all actors had to choose between characters they had once played or themselves. Without fail, no actors chose to play themselves. Musicians also had to choose one song to inhabit and keep, or have all their songs and compositions wiped from human consciousness for ever. More often than not, musicians would choose to wipe their personality and memories so that they could embody and preserve one song. Likewise writers.
         The Tina Turners, not to be daunted, plan another coup, promoting it with the hashtag BreakEveryRule on Instagram. They want to activate Dominic Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange character, by cutting out the other chips with razor blades. There are naysayers in the group who proclaim 'We Don't Need another Hero' whilst others say that the plan is 'Simply the Best'. Cumberbunch/ Dr Strange, it is argued, could potentially reanimate the other Avengers who are trapped inside the 100m thick Even Greater London exclusion trellis, in a substrate of liquid amber and Nigel Farage’s fag-ash berg. 
        Only one Avenger has managed escaped to the Other Lands, which are rumoured to be located across a stretch of H2O sort of South of Even Greater London. The importance of this stretch of H2O to the UK economy ‘had not quite been understood’ by a Brexitbixer, also called Dominic, back in the day. After B-day it was decided that no one else should understand it either. This was just one of the few (read many) wisdoms of the Brexitbixers preserved in the Little Red Napkin, upon which plans, dreams and trade agreements had been scribbled in biro, had fallen on the floor of a Wetherspoons,  had been stepped on, and soaked with a spilt pint of beer, but had, against all the odds, survived. This napkin became the focus for the New Age religions that sprung up after the instalment of the Benevolent Dictator, many of whom were driven insane trying to decipher its obtuse and misleading scripture (and appalling handwriting). 
       Boris Nonsense is still Prime Minister but has to share Number 10 Downing Street with the Queen. Buckingham Palace has been requisitioned for egg and spoon races to divert the general public from food shortages. The Queen and Boris Nonsense spend their time playing Blackjack. The Queen, who now no longer had servants, is still trying to learn how to use her hands. While deciding to twist or stick, the cards slips out of her hands to the floor, upon which she shrieks disgusting expletives. Boris Nonsense often takes advantage of the Queen’s butter fingers by peeking at the next card in the deck as she bends down to the floor. According to her, she would have sent him to the tower by now, such a terrible liar and cheat she had never encountered. But the truth of it is; they are both prisoners, trapped inside Number 10, guarded by Farage’s Angels, an elite troop of fag-smoking, lager-drinking louts with an unhealthy orange fake-tan pallor who are armed with steel edge poisoned Wetherspoon coasters. ‘If I die of old age’ the Queen says to Nonsense with pathos in her voice, 'it won’t be any worse than having to live in this Wetherspoons pub conversion of number 10.'  A tear slides down Nonsense's cheek, or is it the rancid smell of beer and sweat making his eyes water? But the wily royal is just trying to get Nonsense off guard, as she triumphantly reveals her hand: an Ace of Clubs, a Jack of spades and the Ten of hearts on the table with a wicked smile knowing she had once again stuck it to that wanker Nonsense. 
         At Canary Wharf, Dom’s army, totalling approximately 2/3 of the population of Even Greater London, populate the former office blocks. Boris Nonsense has just one power awarded him by the Benevolent Dictator, which is to give permission to the vanity projects of the new Brexitbixer Starchitects. There is the Uninhabited Money Laundering Tower, Lumley & Chums Absolutely Flatulent Bridge and Chlorinated Chickens Condominium, which does amazingly look incredibly like a chicken, although unfortunately the poisonous fumes released by the rancid carcases of rotting chicken vaporise any person in the vicinity. 
         The Cutty Sark tea clipper has been lifted out of its dry dock at Greenwich and put back onto the Thames. The river itself has been sold, and is being reconstructed gallon for gallon in the Irish Sea. Meanwhile, the Cutty Sark is drawn by horses along the excavated river bed on caterpillar tracks and carries the human remains of eugenic experiments on the poor (read Elite) ordered by the Benevolent Dictator. What started out as an attempt to prove his theory that the Elite are Elite (read poor) because they are genetically inferior, became a practical way to feed them. Elite remains are turned into fuel/food at the former Sugar Refinery on the Greenwich Peninsular. The second grade ‘sugar’ is distributed by carrier pigeons to the remaining 1/3 of the population who have not been yet murdered by eugenics experiments. The pigeons are bred to have plumage of the Union Jack on their breasts, which never, as far as anyone can remember, ever contained a saltire within it. The birds fly in tandem shouldering the packets of ‘sugar’ between them and then drop them into the outstretched hands of the Elite who live in the slums of Highgate North, and are dependent on the Benevolent Dictator's handouts for survival.
          A small handful of druids selected by the Benevolent Dictator 'bless' the cargo of A-grade 'sugar' before it sails to the Faroe Islands on cruise ships. Wearing Union Jack robes, they walk solemnly in an anti-clockwise direction, mumbling 'Take back control, Take back control'. Only with this ceremony and accompanying certificate, can the A grade 'sugar' be exported. In return the Faroe Islanders provide ground acorns that Even Greater London can use as currency to buy goods from the Other Lands, which although they don't strictly speaking exist, sometimes provide goods to the Benevolent Dictator and the Brexitbixers and rich bastards (read poor). 
         The Tina Turners resistance group comes up with another cunning plan. This time they share it on Twitter with the hashtag Let'sStayTogether. They kidnap the writer, Richard Curtis, who is living at Deptford Lower Heights Council Estate and make him write a character for Benedict Cumberbunch, called Good Will of the People. They idea is that with this new chip inserted into Cumberbunch's neck, the Benevolent Dictator can finally be vanquished. Synopsis: Good Will is from the Elite (read poor) and decides to trash the Man of the People, (specifically the Benevolent Dictator but also Brexitbixers and other Rich Bastards). Together with his stupid Cambridge graduate sidekick and former member of the Foothills, Baldhead, they elevate the establishment (read underclass), and are generally kick ass. When Richard Curtis complains when his funny lines are cut from the script, a Turner member takes him aside and whispers in his ear, 'I don't want to lose you, I don't want to say goodbye, but if you don't stop complaining you will be relocated to the slums of Highgate North'. Curtis finds this all bewildering, as after B-day, he was forced to choose between his own personality and his creative output. He chose Four Weddings and a Funeral, and can't work out how The Tina Turners got in his script and which one of them he is supposed to marry. 
    In the end it is Dominic Cumberbunch who saves the day, or is it Benedict Cummings, nobody knows? One day he forgets his lines, and with that, he remembers who he is, and like a giant earthquake rippling over the surface of Even Greater London, creatives escape from being defined by the one poem, book, film or play that they have been embodying for a decade to save their legacy, and embark on a huge touchy-feely collaborative improv session, getting the The Tina Turners (hashtag ShowSomeRespect) on board too. 
             With their rehearsals complete, they storm Deptford Heights Council Estate and tie up the Benevolent Dictator. They perform a five-hour play in front of him, taking elements of Shiburi, the Japanese art of bondage tying, and fusing it with the energy of stand-up fringe comedy in order to reenact the UK's exit from the EU. At some point after the third hour, Benedict Cummings, or is it Dominic Cumberbunch (?) manages to break free and tweets Gary Verhofstadt : 'Please, Take Back Control. Gary! Hashtag I Love EU, Hashtag EU know it's true. If anyone can save me from physical theatre and Edinburgh fringe stand-up, the European Union can!' The actors decide to work this tweet into the play, praising the Great Dictator for his 'really valuable meta contribution to the mood of the piece'. In the final act, fifty-two actors all pretending to be trees in the 'Sunlit Uplands' scene accidentally crush the Benevolent Dictator to death. This tragedy culminates in a 'reflection session'  with tweets going viral  'RIP Benedict Cummings, great acting, not so great dictating, hashtag MissingYou'. Someone discovers the Benevolent Dictator's complete collection of Tina Turner vinyl and copious bottles of Even Greater London Gin and they decide to have a party, not form a  party. Hashtag ParadiseIsHere
            Unfortunately the mood quickly turns ugly as the group splits over creative differences. There is an argument over who has the film rights to the play. One writer claims the idea was ripped off anyway from a book he wrote ten years ago, producing a book from his top pocket to prove it. The actors' union go on strike citing low audience numbers. This infighting could have let to a bloody creative civil war if it were not for the musician's union who produced an amazing piece of drone music by striking empty gin bottles with Tina Turner Album cassette cases. This awes and unifies the creative classes, which is turned awes and shocks the Elite and Man of the People into unifying. Its delicious frequencies even instantaneously pulverise all Wetherspoon pubs, which everyone agrees is an added bonus. Thus, the new National Anthem is born. The  drone music travelled autonomously across the stretch of H2O causing everyone to remember it was once called the English Channel and that the Brexitbixer Dominic Grieve was actually pretty stupid. The soliloquistic sounds reach the ears of Gary Verhofstadt. He immediate takes it as an instruction to destroy the exclusion trellis around Even Greater London with the help of his psychic powers and a bowl of mussels in white wine sauce and frites. Europe, is again reunited and the Musician's Union is invited to compose a new EU anthem, hashtag SomethingBeautifulRemains. A casting competition is held and an unknown talent, Tina Turner, wins the chance to sing the anthem at the reopening of the European Parliament at a really cute Boulangerie in Monmartre. The Tina Turner resistance group are of course delighted that, although they no longer have a cause to fight, they have now found their spiritual leader. This had been foretold in the pigeon droppings left in Highgate North during the dark Brexitbixer days, though they never dreamed they could witness in their lifetime. Now the Tina Turners dedicate their energies into running her fan club hashtag TinaTurnerReturns

Sunday 2 September 2018


‘Roll up, roll up to the merry-go-round ! Escape the humdrum ! Stories are written/erased, images blur/reappear. A ride that ends where it begins, where no journey is ever the same…’


Art Walk Porty 2018 - "Pleasure Ground"

30th August to 9th September
Merry-go-round is an exhibition taking place at twelve triangles cafe in Portobello as part of Art Walk Porty festival 2018. Artists from the book collective Edinburgh and Elsewhere artist book collective  are showing photos, poems and artist books including Dinda Fass, Elaine Robson and myself
"The merry-go-round is a favourite fairground ride for many, offering the chance to escape from the humdrum, albeit momentarily, into a different world. It is a place where you can travel, but without going anywhere. The ride just ends where it starts. But many things can happen riding the merry-go-round. Memories can fade away or be recollected, stories can be written or conversely erased, images can blur, fade and reappear all within a matter of moments. The ride is repeated but different details appear, other moments matter, new thoughts occur"

If you are in Porty, then come down! 

Friday 13 July 2018

'Like home' in Elsewhere

I am very excited that my review of the exhibition, 'Like Home', has been published on the blog of the Elsewhere: A Journal of Place. 

Featuring artists from South America who explore ideas of place and belonging through abstract art, you still have time to catch this exciting and colourful show which is on until 21 July 2018 in Berlin. The location, a grand corner apartment block in Berlin's Mitte, reminds me the time of abundant unrenovated apartments in Berlin back in the early 2000's and is well worth a visit.  

'Elsewhere is a journal dedicated to writing and visual art that explores the idea of place in all of its forms, whether city neighbourhoods or island communities, heartlands or borderlands, the world we see before us or landscapes of the imagination.'

I have been a fan of the Elsewhere for quite some time, enamoured of the print journal's beautiful design and illustration by Creative Director, Julia Stone, and impressed by the photo essays and high quality writing, selected by Editor in Chief, Paul Scraton. The latest issue, no.4, is available here

Monday 7 May 2018


Which word is the opposite of ubiquitous?
Rare or rainy?
Robert Walker, winner of two poetry contests: You might
use 'local, sited' and in some instances 'specific, narrow, finite.'

Can I say un-ubiquitous?
To Hindus, Jews, Christians and Muslims, God is ubiquitous
I meant by ubiquitous to imply the opposite.
Madonna's omnipresent bodyguards, ubiquitous, ever-present, pervasive

What made you want to look up ubiquitous?
I wanted to describe the turquoise colour
that seems to be on so many houses
in the town I live in.

Please tell us where you read or heard it.
I am an optimist and I love that word.
I saw it in a Chinese restaurant
describing about dumplings

See words that rhyme with ubiquitous
pansexual, symbiote, charlatan, lowlife, kakistocracy
trending now

Another word for ubiquitous?
ceaseless, constant, continual, continuous, incessant, unceasing
a dime a dozen

Love words? Need even more definitions?
Their HQ comprises miles of corridors
with their ubiquitous coffee machines
Synonym of pulchritude

Which word is similar to ubiquitous?
Indifferent or Omnipresent?
Word of the day: decimate
7 May 2018

Did you find this useful?
ubiquitous fog; ubiquitous little ants
[yoo-bik-wi-tuh s] 
It seemed to be ubiquitous.