I like poetry. I like poetry for almost the same reasons that I like photography. You can see something, seemingly simple and if it's any good, you can come back to it and stare into it, finding new levels of depth and new possibilities.

There are plenty of bad things connected with poetry too. Badly written poems, poems as therapy, the teaching of a poem's 'meaning' and the general culture of seeing poetry as something for an elite.

For a few years I've been aware of the Poetry Foundation in the States and their magazine. I listen to the editor's podcast every month and, for my 50th this year I treated myself to a subscription. Yesterday my first edition arrived and I've been enjoying it like you might enjoy a good bottle of whiskey. A little bit at a time, savouring what's on offer. I highly recommend it.


Studio Day

With the neighbour/Sovereign Housing problem causing severe upset at home I still had to fulfil a recording date with the band with no name yet. I was torn because while the situation at home was bad, and I felt awful leaving J for the day, I was also truly excited to get this band recorded properly at last. So, for ten hours, I put on my musician head and got on with it.
The studio was Woodworm, out near Banbury. Driving there was like going back in time. Past a house I had lived in with J, past my mum’s place, past the turn-off for somewhere I worked in my teens. When I finally arrived it was to a warm welcome of tea and biscuits. Bobby, our drummer was also there setting up his kit.
Once we had all turned up and got our gear in there was the usual long period of standing around while cables were plugged in, microphones placed and levels checked. When we started playing the first song I felt a palpable sense of relief and had a flashback to a night at my kitchen table with singer and lyricist, Emma. All the work we had put in, not to mention the work that had previously gone in to making the music right, came together.
The day moved on with us recording multiple takes of four songs. There was a brief fish and chips excursion and a visit from the talented keyboardist Colin Henney. After ten hours of work we had the majority of the four songs complete. But then, just as I was getting into the car I had a call from home. The neighbours were pumping their music through the walls and filling the garden with noise and swearing. I got home as soon as I could to find both children unwell and unable to sleep. The neighbour’s noise stopped almost the second I walked in.
The situation at home is still very bad but there is a tiny spark of hope from something we started on Sunday. More later, if this works.
The music was worth the time and effort. When it’s finished our band will have a calling card that will show what we’re capable of. I’m very proud of what we’re doing and can’t wait to share some of it.


Rediscovering 2

In my twenties I discovered the writings of Hunter S Thompson. I found his work exhilarating, exciting and annoying. Sometimes annoying things point the way to parts of our lives that need sorting out. Often, in my experience, people who annoy you are reflecting aspects of your own personality you don’t like. Reading Hunter Thompson was, appropriately, like drinking a particularly good whiskey or four just before a job interview.
Yesterday a friend and I were picking books off my shelves and opening them at random to try and come up with a band name. We were looking for a word or phrase that might connect with the music we were making. This was an almost unqualified disaster but, one of the books I picked up was ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. Dipping into it I rediscovered the great prose of Hunter S Thompson and was hooked again.



As the pressure at home is increasing, one of the many things suffering is my photography. I haven’t lost any enthusiasm; in fact I’d say I’m seeing most scenes as either ‘good photograph’ or ‘not a photograph’. This hasn’t stopped me taking some execrable pictures though. There is just too much to think about to give the time to the pictures. Things will improve. They have to. When they do my pictures will get better as well.

My 365 project is becoming a document of my year in more ways than I expected.

Rediscovering 1

I recently read Anil Prassad’s excellent piece on the Kronos Quartet, available on his Innerviews site. I’ve been a fan of Kronos since the 1980s and have loved many of their recordings for the depth, attention to detail and the sonic, emotional punch they deliver. I love Anil’s writings anyway but getting an extended piece on Kronos was a real gift.

But, while reading, in dawned on me that I hadn’t listened to Kronos in a few years. The problem with having a large record collection and an insatiable appetite for new music is that this sort of thing happens quite often. Music I am passionate about just doesn’t get heard for long periods.
I went back to Kronos with relatively fresh ears, and the knowledge gleaned from the article and… boom! It was as if I’d discovered them all over again.