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Monday 24 June 2019


About a year ago I wrote a blog post about writing poems in which emotions are personified. Here is another effort:


I snake my way through your ventricles,
spawning venomous vipers
in the chambers of your chest. 

I am the tremors twitching beneath
your surface, your skin straining
to contain my poison 

I lurk like a limpet on ossified hearts
and seep like sap
from sharpened fangs.

I am a writer snapping a pen. 
I am a monkey on your shoulder. 

I am anger.

Image result for anger

Tuesday 18 June 2019



The stars are all so far away.
The sun is very bright.
Don’t make me take a rocket
out into the darkest night.

Don’t strap me, don’t fire me up,
don’t send me up above.
Don’t catapult me into space
far from the ones I love.

The planets are so empty
and those asteroids are rocky.
I’d rather be tucked up in bed
with a nice hot choccy.

Up here there is no oxygen,
no water, always drought.
Don’t make me be an astronaut.
Don’t make me feel spaced out!

Friday 7 June 2019


I was delighted that my book I Don't Like Poetry was shortlisted recently the the 2019 'Our Best Book Award' by Leicester Libraries. The award was voted on by hundreds of children throughout schools in Leicester, and although my book didn't win (that honour went to Looshkin, by Jamie Smart), to have my book read and appreciated by so many children truly was fantastic!

The award ceremony took place at the Leicester Tigers stadium, with hundreds of teachers and children in attendance. I was joined by fellow shortlisted authors Jo Simmons and Mitch Johnson, and we met many of our excited fans! Check out this awesome display that was produced in honour of my book:

In the afternoon I visited the wonderful Caldecote Community Primary School to give a poetry performance. My highlight of the day was undoubtedly when a group of pupil from Caldecote got on stage to perform a poem that they had written, all! I am delighted to be able to share it here on my blog! Here goes:

I Don’t Like Poetry (an ode to a fantastic poetry book)

I Don’t Like Poetry is a fantastic book,
We at Caldecote dare you to take a look.
With teachers, gamers and even dogs,
A read like this clears the boredom fog.

I Don’t Like Poetry is a wonderful book,
We utterly enjoyed having a look.
Once engrossed in the rhythm and the rhyme ,
You’ll not notice the passing of time.

I Don’t Like Poetry is an amazing book,
Every child in the universe should have a look.
The poems will surely make you boogie and dance,
Go on, you’ll not regret the chance.

I Don’t Like Poetry is a brilliant book.
Man, woman and beast must take a look.
We thank Joshua Seigal for this great read,
Surely no one would dare to disagree.

I Don’t Like Poetry is a fantastic book,

Go on… just…. take...a…..LOOK!

A huge thank you to the pupils of Caldecote Community for writing this poem, and the notes you left behind show you were clearly disappointed that my book did not win the award...

Wednesday 5 June 2019


There are faces
in the way the curtains fall.
There are faces.
in the shadows on the wall.
There are faces
in the carpet, on the floor.
There are faces
right outside the bedroom door.

Watch them grimace,
watch them sneer
as you’re cowering in fear.

There are fingers
tapping on the window pane.
There are fingers
reaching right inside your brain.
There are fingers
poking from the chest of drawers.
There are fingers,
far too many to ignore.

Feel them reaching,
feel them prying,
they will grab if you start crying.

There are voices
in the clicking of the light.
There are voices
in the gentle hush of night.
There are voices
in the crackle of the trees.
There are voices.
in the cackle of the breeze,

and they’re coming straight from hell.
So night-nighty then. Sleep well.

Tuesday 4 June 2019


A few years ago, in the midst of an extended episode of acute anxiety, I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I was initially hesitant, for a variety of reasons. The first was that, emblazoned across the cover, was the loud pronouncement that the book is an ‘International Bestseller’. There is a kind of snobbery within me that dictates that if the unwashed masses head in one direction, I must go in the other. That is why, for example, it took me ages to admit that the Arctic Monkeys are in fact pretty good: the mere fact that they were hugely popular turned me off the idea of listening to them. The second thing that militated against my reading The Power of Now was that a cursory googling seemed to suggest that Eckhart Tolle did not have any real ‘credentials’. Here he was talking about something so powerful as getting your life in gear, and he didn’t appear to have a PhD, go to a fancy university or have articles published in peer-reviewed journals. I’ll admit that this concern of mine might sound a bit esoteric, but my upbringing imbued in me an inflated sense of the importance of academic credentials.

However, I decided to give the book a go, and found it wonderfully enlightening. Contained in the book are snippets of what I suppose is Buddhist thought, but I gave myself permission not to be concerned with these ideas in an academic sense. I was in academia before becoming a professional poet, as well as for a couple of years subsequently, and my automatic instinct was to seek the historical provenance of the ideas propounded in the book, as well as to look for holes and fallacies within them. But since this type of thinking was in large part what lead to the episode of anxiety in the first place (and continues at times to do so), I took the very conscious decision not to do these things. I decided to read the book on its own terms, and see whether any of the ideas resonated with me. I decided to get off my high horse, to come down from my ivory tower, and to wallow in the muck with the multitudes. In other words, I decided to read the book as a human rather than as an academic.

Within the book I came across the idea of satori. Now this is a term which is used within Buddhism, and as I have intimated I do not want to get bogged down in academic issues of etymology, history or philosophy. I simply want to highlight the sense in which this term is used in the book, and to discuss what it means for me. Tolle states that satori refers to a “flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence” (79). I’m not sure how the concept is elucidated elsewhere, but I think I recognise what is being described. I look at it like this: the anxious mind is a jumble of chaos and static, but within the miasma are occasional flakes of hope. What we need to do, in the first instance, is to recognise the flakes.

What are these flakes? Occasionally, when I am very anxious, I get the occasional flash of insight. When I say ‘flash’ I literally mean that the feeling often lasts for no more than a second or two, before the waves of anxiety tumble back in. Nor are they flashes that carry with them any particularly oracular truths; they are simply ephemeral sparks of light that say everything will be OK, that none of this really matters very much, that I can handle it, that at my deepest core I am bigger and more solid than the thoughts that are bothering me. I don’t know if this is the way satori is 'supposed' to feel, but it is the sense in which, upon reading The Power of Now, I understand the term. If anxiety is a waterfall of gravel and garbage, then satori is noticing the occasional flake of gemstone within the torrent.

The injunction in the first instance would simply be to notice the flakes, acknowledge their presence. These flakes are what we truly are, they are our essence. I don't think it would work, during a period of anxiety, to be too vigilant about wishing the flakes into existence, or trying to grab onto them too firmly when they do appear; it is more about noticing them, and then letting them pass. Tolle states that satori "only reveals itself to you when you are present" (80), i.e. when you come out from under the waterfall and start paying attention to its constitution. So next time you find yourself persecuted by anxious thoughts, step back a bit. Take a step back and notice what you are doing; be conscious of yourself. See if there are any flakes within the flowing lava of your experience. Notice them. Put your hand out, and let the flakes fall gently through your fingers.

(I would be very interested to hear whether others can relate to the kinds of experience I'm describing. Do please feel free to get in touch or to add your comments below.)