Diary 23rd April

As Mel Gibson would probably say: “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”


Question: ‘What is a magical diary?’

Answer: ‘Put simply, you keep a magical diary by setting your intentions down on paper, where they begin to take on power, weight, and material force, no longer vacuous desires volleying in the cavern of your mind. It’s as simple or as complex as that.


To tread the Mystic Way you must learn to annihilate selfhood and to turn your attention from the multiplicity of the phenomenal world, with its classifying and image-making, its logical reasoning and discursive thinking, so as to attain that ‘simple seeing’ of which the mystics speak; for not until your eye has become single can your whole body be filled with light.


It is only when all outward appearances are gone that there is left that one principle of life which exists independently of all external phenomena. It is the fire which burns in the eternal light, when the fuel is expended and the flame extinguished; for that fire is neither in the flame nor in the fuel, nor yet inside either of the two, but above, beneath, and everywhere…


Remembering your lip
The ruby red I kiss;
Having not that to sip
My lips instead press this –

beyond intelligence

April 17, 2017

Poetry springs from something deeper; it’s beyond intelligence. It may not even be linked with wisdom. It’s a thing of its own; it has a nature of its own. Indefinable.

Jorge Luis Borges
Interview c. 1966 featured in The Art of Fiction

good poetry…

March 14, 2017

What I do know is that when I read poetry, good poetry, I forget to breathe and my body is suffused with something unnamable — a combination of awe and astonishment and the purest of pleasures. Reading poetry is such a thrill that I often feel like I am getting away with something.

Roxane Gay
Losing It,


Prose is not to be read aloud but to oneself alone at night, and it is not quick as poetry but rather a gathering web of insinuations which go further than names however shared can ever go. Prose should be a long intimacy between strangers with no direct appeal to what both may have known. It should slowly appeal to feelings unexpressed, it should in the end draw tears out of the stone…

Henry Green
Pack my bag

Only the weak-minded

November 26, 2016


Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.

Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Angel

Down the Long Night

November 24, 2016


Diary 24th November

Dawn disrupts me. I reach for the breakfast gin but in pouring it, I seem to hear the liquid measure of your steps in my head…


Wasn’t it Keats who said, ‘The poetry of the earth is never dead’? It’s certainly very true, but most of us see without observing; look without seeing. We are blind to all the beauty surrounding us. Here my imagination becomes the universe, and I am swamped by the terrible beauty of that.


They say that love is a corpse, its light gone from the world. I say what bollux. Love spoke this world into being. Even today it can torture, kill or maim any one of us at will. And when we two look into each other’s eyes, love chuckles somewhere behind us, knowing it can turn us both inside out like a pair of pockets if it wants.

Sure gravity holds us in place until we’re ready to leave. But love is the piano accompaniment to the changing seasons, the solitary violin staining the night with its melancholy sound. It is the tarot pack of our lives spread haphazardly across some pavement.

Love, my friends, is very much alive…


Here, ephemerality is perpetuated.

nothing but fragments

November 18, 2016


When I finished the poems in The Lotus Flowers, I came to suspect the orderly structure of narrative – beginning, middle, and end. For about two years I wrote nothing but fragments. I came to think of them as “middles,” as having anti-narrative impulses behind them. I also came to think of them as what a painter might produce, what Monet did when he went out to paint the same haystack every day in different light. For me, that meant allowing myself to take on huge subjects – truth, or beauty, or innocence – and go to that subject every day and have the variant be tone. What would be light for a painter would be tone for a poet.

Ellen Bryant Voigt
Interview with Steven Cramer

Addressing Pagan deities

November 17, 2016


Poetry is the main medium in which the British between 1400 and 1850 addressed Pagan deities. I am very familiar with other British literature and art of the same period, and the relative unimportance of the nature-goddess and Pan in works from before 1800 is sustained, whereas the importance of both gets into every type of source – fiction and non-fiction – after it burgeons in poetry. My critic tells me that my book has discouraged a literal belief in deities, but, on the contrary, the sudden eruption of particular deity forms in the human consciousness is what has long been termed revelation.

Ronald Hutton
Writing The History Of Witchcraft

poetry readings

November 15, 2016


At worst, poetry readings are simply commercial. People are invited to, or even pay to attend, a reading by a poet whose books are on sale at a modest discount and which they sign with some pseudo-personal message. The poet reads at the audience – which is an audience! Meaning a group of listeners. They are not there to read or answer back. They go away with a sense of having been in contact with a celebrity – having heard him or her read.

I must admit that I have never attended a literary festival – no more than I would a poetry reading. But then I attended as few lectures as possible at university. I preferred to do the reading on my own. I am bored when someone lectures or talks at me. But I listen intently in a conversation.

So what is so special about reading with? Is it simply the sharing? But there are other ways of sharing. I have often given poems to the person to whom they are addressed, and my few poet friends and I sometimes send poems to each other. But this is a sequential sharing. First I send the email, and secondly it is read. A poet friend of mine used to write poems to his wife, and leave them about for her to discover. He was too apprehensive about her reaction even to hand the poem to her. At least I hand my wife poems, but I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to say “Listen to this” and read one. Poems can be complex on many levels at once. Most people who read them do so in solitude. And perhaps shed a quiet tear. When I read Isaac Rosenberg’s Dead Man’s Dump I am moved to tears. I know I could not read it in a poetry reading: I would be too upset. Perhaps the painfulness of the poem is why it does not receive as much attention as other poems of the Great War. It is particularly unbearable as Rosenberg was killed in just such an ignominious way as his poem describes: his body was never found.

When Robert Graves read some of his own poems in his lectures as Professor or Poetry in Oxford in the early 1960s people commented on how ‘badly’ he read them – meaning that he stood to attention like the old soldier he was and barked them out as if giving orders before a battle. But I think that if he had allowed himself to read his poems with feeling he might have broken down. The poems were, to use one of his favourite phrases, ‘close to the bone.’ Tellingly, when he read poems by others he allowed more feeling into his voice.

In some traditions, poems can be made emotionally safer by being chanted – as if the chanting controls the involuntary tremor of the voice when moved and reading aloud. An example is Sorley MacLean reading his intensely charged love poems in the Gaelic tradition of almost singing them. In 1961 when I was eighteen and staying at a Youth Hostel in Connemara with friends, we hired a motorboat and its skipper to take us across to the port of Kilmurvey on Aran Mór. The Arans were not fashionable then and saw few tourists. We walked on a hot day several miles to the prehistoric fort at Dun Aengus, stopping on the way in a pub. There was a group of men wearing tweed caps and Aran sweaters, some of them with boots but some with moccasin-like ‘nampooties’ and the traditional woollen ‘crios’ belts. They were standing in the middle of the dirt-packed floor in the semi-dark with the sun pouring a shaft in on them from the door, and one of them was half singing, half reciting a long poetic narrative in Irish. The others were slapping him on the back and pouring drink down him when he paused, and shouting out key phrases or cues. Since they all knew the story, this was truly reciting with not at.

Sean Haldane
Poems: Reading at and reading with

makes your toenails twinkle

November 12, 2016


Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone and not alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own. All that matters about poetry is the enjoyment of it however tragic it may be all that matters is the eternal movement behind it – the great undercurrent of human grief, folly, pretension, exaltation and ignorance – however unlofty the intention of the poem…

Dylan Thomas
A few words of a kind
(See HERE)