The View of Suburban Window and beyond

Wotcha gang. It’s weird how web communication works for me. Some weeks I am mad keen to get on line and share my epiphanal discharge with the world, and others I couldn’t imagine anything less appealing. I spent last week away at The Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank, Ted Hughes old farm house, now a writers’ retreat. I couldn’t write blogs very easily there and I got out the habit. But it’s strange, these past few days I’ve scarcely even wanted to tweet. My brain has not been working that way at all. Nothing I had in it was public. And now, I guess I’m coming out the other side of that.

That’s probably because I did a gig last night. A great gig in fact. It was in Wivenhoe in Essex, where I used to live about seven years ago. We had about 50 people crammed into The British Legion for PoetryWivenhoe and it was bloody great. I did two sets, each about 25 mins long. I debuted SCANDAL! and it didn’t bomb and the rest of the new material seemed to hit the spot nicely. I did two ballads (Chip Shop and Cartwrights) but I didn’t do The Model & The Spot, so I’m guessing I’m perhaps one long poem, or two shorter ones away from having enough for a new Edinburgh show, perhaps less if I do a bit more chat. Tonight I’m playing The Oxford University Poetry Society, which is as illustrious a society its name suggests. I’ve done a gig for them before, in 2009, but it was before I had written all but three of my ballads, so I’ll have loads of new stuff for them. I might try and do the new show in its entirety as I have 45 mins.

Anyway, blah, blah, blah – it’ll all come good in the end. I really need to start worrying about getting more of REVOLT! written. The stand-up show will take care of itself.

I finished the Hornchurch poems btw. The final one felt like pulling teeth but on reflection I rather like it. The problem was trying to talk up the charm of the suburbs when I looking down a stunning Yorkshire valley at Hebden Bridge and feeling totally bowled over by nature. That obviously influences the poem below, but it made it hard to write. The difference between my own poems and commissions is that I always 100% feel and mean my own work, even if it is something silly like Jeremy, Who Drew Penises on Everything. However, with a commission it has to get finished, even if you don’t really mean it. It’s the truth that is missing. The mainly matters to me, but I’m sure it’s lurking there for any reader. Anyway, now I’ve done it down, here’s the piece:

The View from a Suburban Window


My northern friends, their thoughts bricked-up with mills
and views that knock the sense right out your heart,
will never see what I can from this sill.
They think the very daybreak should be art!
But like the city folk they play a part
in something else’s life. Bits in a machine,
they’re still swallowed, it’s just a different scene.

We haven’t got the swagger of a city;
the boom of northern hills and sheer, sheer drops;
our neat, suburban streets are far less pretty
than Suffolk’s skew-whiff, wattled Tudor shops.
We’re mostly free of all those well-worn props
of poetry and art, thank God, it leaves
the local people room enough to breathe.

For life is not all ecstasy and tears
and most of us I think are glad it’s not.
We trade adrenaline for fewer fears,
we strive to be content with what we’ve got
and then we dig foundations for our lot.
So towns like these are monuments to peace
it’s narrow here, perhaps, but life is deep.

The other news is that my album – We’re All In This Together – is now available from iTunes (and other mp3 stores, or will be soon). You can ‘download’ it, like the kids are doing these days. Why not do that? Huh? Go on. Click here. More on the album to follow.

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