QUICK, my first collection, was published by Valley Press in 2016, a poem from which ('After The Event') was longlisted for The National Poetry Competition in the same year.

INTERFERENCE, an anthology of Czechoslovak poetry, with a foreword by the poet Miroslav Holub, was published by New Clarion Press in 1992. This had its origin in a theatre collage, with Brett Hornby on saxophone, which toured nationally in the dying moments of communist Czechoslovakia in 1989. In 2010 I was commissioned, with Antony Dunn, by Leeds City Council to produce two poems for marble benches in Kirkgate, Leeds.

In the meantime, my poetry has taken another, more applied, direction. Over the last three years, myself and photographer Lizzie Coombes have created over 125 Poem Portraits of individuals in children's centres, elderly people's homes, libraries, and with voluntary organisations. A Poem Portrait is the merging in one artwork of a poem and photographic image of a person. Exhibited as a group, they form a snapshot of a team, a community, or a group at a certain moment in time. For examples, see Poem Portraits.
Stacks Image 79
poems from QUICK

Return


The last time I saw my father we were smarting from a row.
A classic departure: an open return, and the long local train gathering pace;
I can flash it up now,
him standing there, the pouches of sadness in his face
and the last chance bleeding.

When I walk back from the train I am swinging a summerful of light
on a thumb that has hitched through Italy and France from a Mediterranean port.
I have lain awake all night
on the ribs of a luggage rack, smiling at the thought
of hearing his voice again.

The scene unfolds: the village pattering with talk and shopping feet.
unmindful of this homeric return, the stride, unannounced, up the hill of my birth.
I practice my greetings on the street,
the old quarrel tucked, with others, in family earth.

But this is where the tape spools out, the door opens to black.
And when I call his name in the house, the house does not call back.
Swimming in Nidderdale

For Stas

Love this language. Do, love it.
Take Nidd. River Nidd, liquid, solid,
beneath that stained-green glass
the summer beech leaves
make of light.

River Nidd, dribbling beneath its crone skin
boulders stitched with brachiopods.
Stout. Guinness, here in the shadow.
Nidd meant shining
in older English.

All rivers shine in the eyes of one who loves this water,
knows this place, vale of the Nidd.
And so we learn, before the Viking farmer came,
Romans mined their lead up on that hill.
Nitidus. Latin for shining (not in the school book).
Nitid. Nidd.

Love this language. Do, love it. Roman, far from home,
pronounces the river his, his word.
Tongues, like currents in mineral waters,
roll and rock the word around.
Seasons, kings, centuries, pass.
And so the word, smoothed by usage like a stone,
is Nidd, is mine.

Mistypes 2

Sandwishes

Dune sand wishes to be
splashed, spumed at ocean lip,
churned by storm-brewed breakers.

Soaked sand wishes to be up by the cliff grass,
dry and white, warm
for toes to wiggle in.

Most sand wishes to be
in your bed, in a fold of sheet,
chafing sun-raw skin,

or clashed between
unsuspecting teeth
in a chicken salad roll.

Some sand wishes to be artfully layered
with different-coloured sand
in a long glass cup,

Envies shells their hollowed caves
where sea roars
in the ears of children.
All sand wishes to be separate,
each grain weighed, examined minutely, uniquely-sided,
gifted like diamonds.

Sand remembers rock and boulder,
before rain's pecking, wind's wearing,
ground it down.