“An epic collective ode to the underwater realm”: ‘Aquanauts’ from Sidekick Books

Aquanauts is a sumptuous, multi-tentacled haul of visual poetry, highly collectible and creatively inspiring. From the rich broth of the garden pond to the immutable dark of the deep, this anthology plunges us between lionfish, laternfish, sharks and skates, monsters and manta rays, plankton and plesiosaurs.

It’s the first in Sidekick Books’ new series of Headbooks,  a sumptuous blend of the factual and fantastical, the lyrical and the visual – and fully customisable, with scrapbook and do-it-yourself pages to record your own facts, findings, ideas and journal entries. Keep it with you, fill it up, pass it on or stow it way for later enthralment.

Delighted to have three poem-pictures skulking in its brackish waters. Big thanks to editors Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving. Backstroke over to Sidekick Books and grab yourself a copy.

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Out of Place 2017: the Covent Garden performance

At the tail end of last year I was thrilled to have a poem selected for ‘Out of Place’, a collaborative project in which poetry would be used as the inspiration for several new musical compositions, culminating in a performance six months later.

Well, the night of the performance, 3rd July 2017, finally arrived – and boy, was it worth the anticipation!

It look place in the gorgeous St Paul’s Church (also known as The Actors’ Church) in Covent Garden, London and was a magical evening of words, music, song and theatre. The pieces performed were brilliantly creative and ranged from the deeply moving to the joyously fun. It was a great turnout too and after the performance some of us poets joined the composers/musicians on stage for a Q&A.

“Would you do it again?” was one of the questions asked and I think we were pretty unanimous in answering “yes!”.

Don’t worry if you missed it as the whole event was recorded and is available to enjoy on YouTube. Check it out here: Part One and Part Two.

With huge thanks and deep appreciation to project director Nicola Burnett Smith and her fabulous team of fellow composers and musicians: Marianne Johnson, Sarah Woolfenden and Gemma Storr, with guests Annette Badland and Sarah Lambie.

It was an absolute honour and a privilege to be involved!

L-R: Nicola Burnett Smith, Annette Badland, Marianne Johnson, Sarah Lambie, Gemma Storr, Sarah Woolfenden

Here’s the poem of mine that was turned into music (it’s the first piece in Part One).

The Day The Songs Escaped

Who knows where the call came from,
but sure as bongos are bongos, they all responded.
Rising from our bellies they slid up open windpipes,
slipping out unnoticed past unbolted throats.

Radios rolled over as the music made its unspoken exit –
just left, vacated, without so much as a note.
Record collections? Helpless, refrains laid to waste
as the grooves sloped off then stole away.

Come dusk, a few final tunes rolled up their sleeves,
blended with the beats pealing out from evening hymn sheets
and simply, with no fuss, took to the breeze.

For all that time, we supposed we had songs.
For all that time, the songs had us –
by the loins, the lungs, the hamstrings, the guts.