24 Jan 2013

Rant Against the Bedroom Tax

Please take the spare bedroom away, we do not want it back
grandkids can sleep on the sofa  as we can’t afford the bedroom tax
so take away the roof of it, the ceiling, walls and floor
but leave us every other thing outside that bedroom door.

Don’t take away the garden where the apple tree bears fruit
it was planted on our wedding day, our love wends with its roots
don’t take away the place where my Dad’s ashes have been scattered
his memory is sacred in our world of family matters,
don’t take away the story of those childhoods turned out great
don’t take away our neighbours, we’ve learned to give and take
and make community from sharing joy, and time, and grief
we have long resolved our differences: accept, respect beliefs.

Don’t take away old Mrs Jones’s stair-lift in her hall
two bedrooms over quota but as least she will not fall
when she is cold, and can’t afford to pay the gas, the water,
her son lives ninety miles away, Iraq took her bright daughter.

Don’t take away this neighbourhood, don’t scatter us like dust
don’t grind us down with poverty, take bedrooms if you must
and take them brick by brick, and break our homes and walls apart
but don’t break up community, don’t place a price on heart.

Don’t make us find new doctors after lifetimes in their hands
don’t pull the rug from under us, don’t shake us where we stand
and move us on to who-knows-where for rents at huge amounts
our homes here, make a profit now, for Council’s bank accounts
perhaps to save some money, cut the rate that rents keep rising
it’s the wallets of the landlords that need cutting and downsizing -
and to save on paying benefits – well, doesn’t that make sense?
Why should private owners get rich at the tax-payers expense?
What purpose, and what logic, what trouble will this madness save?
Hear that sound? It is our ancestors all turning in their graves.

So come and take our empty rooms - their echoes from our backs.
But don’t keep us awake at nights: we can’t afford a bedroom tax.

17 Jan 2013

West of Centre - A Taste of Burning Eye

Get your e-book  HERE!!!


Downloadable e-book
Juicy, punchy, witty, reverent, ranty, rhythmic, sublime, passionate, spicy, surreal, powerful...

"A taster, a chaser, a sample - of the writers that upstart indie publisher Burning Eye Books has a. published to date and b. will publish in 2013 including 23 poets, 2 novelists and a cartoonist."

Ash Dickinson, Sally Jenkinson, Jonny Fluffypunk, Mairi Campbell-Jack, Simon Mole, Harry Baker, Talia Randall, Raymond Antrobus, Lucy Lepchani, Anna Freeman, Rob Auton, James Wheale, Jack Dean, Melanie Clegg, Thommie Gillow, Tony Walsh (Longfella), Mike Watts, Jeremy Toombs, Clive Birnie, Selina Nwulu, Joe Hakim, Michelle Madsen, Rebecca Tantony, Eley Furrell, Dan Cockrill and Tony Husband


8 Jan 2013


My lovely friend Jude Cowan, http://judecowan.blogspot.co.uk/ who is a poet, musician, artist, academic and many other inspiring things, tagged me in this ‘The Next Big Thing’ blog. It’s for artists to blog about their next book, or play, or edition of their magazine, or whatever.

 I shall answer, as Jude has in her turn, these set questions about my 'Next Big Thing' project, before I tag four others. Details of those people at the end of this blog…so, first question...

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I have 2 books coming up and I’m not sure which one to write about because I’m immersed in both their processes right now. They are:

1.    A full collection of poetry, the title of which is Ladygardens, and ideas - if that is what they are - are just an abundant phenomena I have always been prone to. Some poems arise from poetry workshops or exercises I take part in, in order to hone the skill of capturing them in form; some of them appear as visual images that I am compelled to capture; some of them just arrive like sudden shocks. Sometimes the sound of some words leads off into a narrative, or I get a rhythm in my head on a repetitive loop and the only way to make it stop is to write it out.

2.    An un-named, creative book about my (father's side) Lepcha cultural heritage and Lepcha literature. I have just received an Arts Council grant to pursue research for this, in both the UK and in West Bengal, India.

What genre does your book fall under?

1.    Poetry.

2.    Multiples genres: life-writing, poetry, folklore, travel-writing, and so on.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

1.    My poetry characters, apart from myself (I do love Maxine Peake’s acting, what a thought that she could portray me!) would have to be a crowd of Extras from a Ken Loach movie – in an array of costumes; some CGI creatures and entities; some special effects by Spielberg; and an owl, I think.

2.    It would make a wonderful film (in my humble opinion), in which I would like to see currently unknown Lepcha actors given opportunities to play some of the parts.  I can imagine my Dad, if he were still alive, and my Uncle Percy, squabbling over which of them should be played by Jonny Depp. And Maxine Peake as me, of course.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

1.    Contemporary and traditional poetry forms representing a range of experiences and subject matter, in vivid, visual, language.

2.    An adventure that weaves across the divides of time, continents, cultures;representing many voices.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

1.    I have no idea where some of my poems began. Some have been through countless drafts. Some gave birth to themselves very quickly. I only hope that when they are published, I won’t have that dread realisation that any of them ‘aren’t finished yet’.

2.    I am still yet to do that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

For both books: the compulsion to make unspoken truths and injustices known. Anger. Beauty. The love that is at the core of Socialism. Hallucinations. Feminists, past and present. The landscape, especially my local Dartmoor. Strange events and phenomenal people. Family. Humour.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

1.    Many of the poems have been enjoyed by audiences in a range of poetry, arts and literary venues; or have been published in journals and magazines; or are just hanging out in a book being rhythmic, visual, comic, fierce, or strange.

2.    Who can resist an adventure? Especially one that bites back at colonialism, tells tales of mountains and missing grandmothers, London’s underbelly and animal wisdom? And don’t you want to know what Arts Council England are giving their money to, these days?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

1.    Ladygardens will be published by Burning Eye Books, this spring 2013.

2.    I am currently looking for an agent for the other book. The Arts Council do not recognise self-publishing as an outcome that they will fund, so hopefully – no, I’m sure – someone will really, really want it. 

And the people I am going to tag, now, for their blogs to appear by January 16th, are:

1.    Clive Birnie; writer, performance poet, and publisher of Burning Eye Books

2.    Rebecca Tantony; performance poet, writer, and teller or travellers tales

3.    Rebecca Gethin; poet, novelist and writer who lives near to me in rural Devon, UK

4.    Jay Leeming; a prizewinning poet, and one of my favourite voices from across the pond