Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Antony Owen – The Dreaded Boy (Book Review)

I am a frequent blogger as regular viewers to my blog will know and
also where-ever I blog poetry for read and comment if they like.

During this kind of activity, it’s frequent I guess I end up reading
other people’s poetry which is part and parcel and when I can I
like to comment on it.

Without been big headed over this kind of thing, I have made a
few friends and in most of these cases have then later on ended
up supporting them when-ever they bring out a book. (Good
books of course).

With money been tight, which it is in society nowadays,
buying poetry by none friends is a very different ball game indeed

Antony Owen’s poetry is one such case.

I first encountered him on Write Out Loud, I guess what maybe
18 months ago and was that impressed by his poetry, I emailed
Him to ask where to get his book from.

He answered me, and I am shamed to admit it took a good 16
months for me to get round to buying his debut book,
My Father’s Eyes Were Blue which I will review soon and by
the time I got round to reading it, his second collection
The Dreaded Boy’ had just appeared.

The Dreaded Boy’ is a book about war poems. Not the way
Wilfred Owen would tell them but to quote the press release
affecting and unflinching investigation into the violence and
loss inflicted by modern warfare”.

Take for example, the title piece of the collection 'the Dreaded boy',
it is filled with images like

'Where battalions fell /
Autumn poured eyes /
out of spiky cribs /
their beige pupils rolled /
like sky in a soldier's iris',

there is something in this that totally unsettled me in the first
stanza which I couldn't put my finger on which as the piece
develops turns into a holy nightmare.

No answers are offered why, no after thoughts whether the
crime went unpunished – just the event itself.

There is certainly a element of Wilfred Owen in this
in the way the horror is not played over the top,
almost like a newspaper article but the horror here
is played with almost a detachment not as a obersver
which is just as chilling.

Other pieces such as my personal favourite 'Wastelands'
offer no further answers with 'limbs of typewriters' and 'tears
became exclamations', giving a very readable but
downright haunting feel which has a feel of Billy Ramsell
in some places with tons of layers and layers hidden
within in it.


Go here for more details..

Jude Cowan – For the Messengers (Book Review)

I first met Jude Cowan back in the summer of 2010 at Ireland’s excellent
‘Poets Express’ festival which is hosted and ran by Kylyra from Dark World
International and memorised by her singer-songwriting with a uiklee
which seemed to go into a totally different universe to a lot of the rest
of the festival.

This book is totally different to that.

I remember on the way back listening to her début CD with my friend Tony
and now ex keyboardist, Jeff and all three of had a great time listening to 
the CD which did border on poetry in places, but had layers scattered 
throughout it, it made me think of a novel, but a kind of novel I had 
not read or explored before.

This book is totally different to that.

For the Messengers, her début collection began in early 2008 
when she began to write poems almost daily in response to 
the unpackaged daily news footage she was constantly archiving
 for the Thomson Reuters news agency.

The book itself covers a wide range of topics such as Benazior Bhutto’s 
assassination to the Mumbai terror attacks and from the first Olympic Games 
and the election of Barack Obama, she had a array of material to 
draw onto from literally all over the world.

The poems in this book are on the whole generally pretty brief and 
on the whole I think work better for it. The press release that I 
read for the book describes her as having a talent for locating 
the key details which cut to the human centre of a story, which 
I totally agree in pieces like ‘ Iraq: Sifting' where a full story is told 
in just 4 lines or 'Mexico: Warlock' where I particularly like the 
bits in italics 'Hillary Clinton will be the next US President
and 'Central America will almost disappear' which give 
the picture a different form of reality.

This is a book that is different for the amount of topics 
she attempts to cover in contrast to so many books that 
you read by some poets that have two or three ideas and 
constantly, constantly keep returning to them. Jude’s book 
is very different to that in also the way she keeps away on 
the whole from writing about her own life directly and writing 
lots of poems about England and her own life (which I guess 
is more common ground for any new writer).

Speaking personally, I loved this book because I try to keep 
in touch with the news when-ever possible, and I think the 
market for this book will be people who have an interest in 
world-wide history / news which may restrict it’s cross-over appeal.

However, it’s a book that is worth exploring. Just don’t expect 
to be able to read it in half hour, as like the news, there is a 
awful, awful lot to take in.

More information can be read at (including samples)

Steve Garside – A Million ways to measure the Sun (Book Review)

I first met Steve Garside, I guess around the end of 2009 through 
my guitarist Jeffarama’s first tour under the name off ‘Busking for Beer’ 
which was a marriage of poetry and music and again at the start of
2010 when he donated some paintings for the Desparately seeking 
Alex charity night at the Green Room in Manchester that I co-ran.

In a lot of ways, Steve’s début book ‘A Million Ways to measure the sun’ is a
extension to those paintings with words and are littered with double layers
(or allusions in his words if you like) and require several readings.

Take for example ‘The Paper Trees‘.

Bits like 'Flattering the sound of streams
in folds of breeze; the paper trees.

Equidistant lines of fifty in a field
sunlight geo-divided by their honest bark'

This is a beautiful and deep use of language that deserves 
repeated reading over and over until the language starts to show 
something very different.

Another review I read when researching Steve's book said 
'it’s difficult not to become immersed in the deliberate and often 
precise rhythm and choice of his language or become aware 
of how it sits perfectly with not just each individual poem’s 
theme but the book’s overall feeling of inequality throughout
life’s various stages' which I totally agree with, but also 
add the point with Steve's work, at it's best (which is 
constant throughout this book almost completely) 
is in it's layering – like all great painters, Steve's words 
reveal themselves over time.

Another interesting example is in 'Our Teacher took photos of us'
where on first readings I took the piece to be a sad story
about death and the passing of time on for example.. 

'before the dark end of teenage
/slipped from bullying into heroin'

The use of memory here was slight and left tons of
gaps for you to fill in yourself... Was the poet himself there
or was it a story he heard somewhere maybe recently or
a long time ago, and is the back cover of the book linked 
into this? 

Steve's work at it's best for me doesn't even give you half
of the answers, let alone the questions as above and is
a really rewarding read because of that. 


(Book can be bought direct from Amazon on

Monday, 30 May 2011

About Me

I now also have a account on about me..


This can be found as above

Latest News - Week Commencing 22 May 2011

Dear all;

After the mad run-up to the Chorlton Arts Festival last week, it was to be expected that afterwards it would be a bit quieter.

The set at Chorlton Arts Festival, I was really pleased with and have plenty off footage to go through, but so far I have uploaded three videos from the night - these are:





A Coin in the Fountain 

Over the coming weeks, I'll be uploading other videos from the night
but the rest of last week and into the bank holiday was resting as
much as possible and in the process, I managed to do a bit of
writing - I posted a new poem as a blog on write out loud called 
'Escape (
for you to read and have another new one just about done called 
'Maine Road Massacre (1988) and a major revision about half
done of a old favourite called 'Fun, Fun, Fun' which is still the same
but has a new lick of paint on it making it I hope somewhat different. 

This week, with it been a shorter week - I am going to chill on Tuesday
before on Wednesday helping Cathy with her mid week shopping
and then on Thursday going to Guitars and Verse, the night me and Jeffarama
run over in Bolton.

This month quoting Jeff off the facebook page ' Following a fine show with 
Linda Jennings and John Darwin last month, this month we have singer/songwriter 
Jason Johnson (pic) and poet Laura Taylor.

I met Jason recently when he did a gig at the Octagon with Dave Sharp, was 
impressed with his songs and asked him to do G n V. He's coming over from Tameside 
and has just released a new album which I can definitely recommend!

I know Laura from the poety and music scene in Wigan, shes on writeoutloud, and 
writes well and is a great performer, well worth seeing!'.

Of course, there is a open mike section that takes at least half of the show which
is just as exciting where I will be debuting two new poems (Probably my last
two blogged on W.O.L.), so come along folks.

And then on Saturday to see Johnny Depp in Pirates 4, which I hope is better
than the terrible third one.

Have a good week all folks.. 

Monday, 23 May 2011

Week Commencing 23th May 2011

Phew! Last week was quite a week, all in all
And I am still recovering from it now truth be told.

Monday, first of all – I popped over to see my friend,
Rick for a quick beer for his birthday and even had
Time to pop in to see another friend on the way home
Literally who had some thoughts for a rewrite on a
Old poem of mine (which I need to sit down and have
A look at).

Tuesday – It was A Means to an End rehearsals
And we did another trial run at Chorlton’s brilliant
Iguana Bar and had a great time there – got my
Band another gig in June or July when our schedule
Lightens up at Asoustic Wednesdays in Manchester, but
More details on that to follow. Also took some pictures
On the night and perhaps got a few people to come
Along and watch us on Monday 23rd May 2011 (tonight)
Play Chorlton Arts Festival in a full length set.

Wednesdays – Was out Hospital visiting for a sick friend,
But when I got back to Cathy’s sat down and started scribbling
On a new poem which needs a lot more work about football

Thursday – Ended up going over to Freed Up Poets @ The Green Room
In Manchester for it’s last poetry open mike there. Co-hosted again
By original co-announcer Steve O’Connor, the night was a lot better
Than it has been in recent months if I am honest as a lot of people came
Back who started going a while back and it was nice to see some of
These faces again. I, myself was placed on second which was a bit
Earlier than I would have prepared if I was honest and there was
No warning of a running order (unlike previous months) which
Made it harder, but I delivered my newest poem ‘Ghosts of Manchester
Victoria’ and a older poem ‘First Holiday in Ireland’ and was happy
With what I wrote..

Friday was a total break after that, and on Saturday me and Cathy
Went to see Hanna, a new film at the cinema which was really good
With a pounding soundtrack by the Chemical Brothers which I need
To check is commercially available (I hope so). Sunday, I left early and
Went to Chorlton to perform a short set at Chorlton FM which is linked
To Chorlton Arts Festival which was great fun before then heading over
To watch Jude Cowan, a friend from London do the Manchester launch
Of her debut poetry book which was interesting (More on that later when
I review the book).

But tonight, it’s Chorlton Arts Festival.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Puppywolf wants your poetry for 'Best of Manchester Poets Volume 2'

Last Year I had a poem that appeared in my first book ‘Final Appointment’
In Best of Manchester Poets Volume 1 by local Manchester Poetry Press –

Just over a year later, they are now recruiting for Volume 2.    

Reading their website, they advise ‘we are now inviting submissions for the second volume, which will be published in September 2011. You can submit two poems and it’s free of charge to do so. The deadline for submissions is 30th June 2011.
The first volume contained work by established poets and those who had never been published before. We’re proud of this and intend it to continue in Volume 2.
Entries will be judged anonymously by a panel of Manchester poets.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Latest News - Week Commencing 16th May 2011

Dear all;

Sorry for the delay in not posting last week.

Last week all in all turned into one of those weeks where
I didn’t seem to stop.

First of all, there was two band rehearsals instead
Of one in prep for the Chorlton Arts Festival gig next
Monday 21st May 2011.

We also managed to squeeze in a live test run of some
pieces at W.O.L. Bolton where some went down
better than others truth be told, but I debuted my
keyboard live on stage for the first time (Was dead
nervous over that).

I also did a gig for Gemma Lees called ‘Poets take
over the Market’ @ Bury Market where I did about
15 minutes and really enjoyed it, although the weather
was bloody awful.

Earlier on tonight, I also squeezed in another test rehearsal
At Iguana Bar in Chorlton Cum Hardy too which was
Fun as normal.

Over the next week or so, I’m next up to the following: 
19th May 2011

'Freed Up Poets'
Green Room

21st May 2011

'Guitars and Verse'
The Crescent

22th May 2011

'Chorlton FM'
Chorlton Precident 
Chorlton Cum Hardy

(Can be heard online between 1pm – 2pm)

23rd May 2011

'Chorlton Arts Festival'

So it will be all go literally as normal.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Week Commencing - 02/05/2011

Not much happened last week as I got tied up with my birthday and running
around in work making sure everything got cleared before I finished this week
for leave aside from more band rehearsals and another lovely walk in Chorlton's
Longford Park (See above).

The band itself has it's first major gig I guess at Chorlton Arts Festival on
Monday 23th May 2011 at one of my favourite places, the Lloyds Hotel
where we will be performing a free maybe 45 minute or so set, which
I am really looking forward to it.

There is plenty of other gigs on the way, but over this week - shortly
I am heading over to watch my friend Helen Back perform at 'Stirred'
a women's poetry reading at Sand Bar, on Grosvenor Street, Manchester.
Not sure if I really fancy this truth be told, but it's for a friend so I'll hang
around until she's been on and then quietly disappear if needed afterwards.

Tommorrow, with Jeffarama 'A Means to an End' are doing our first
pre Chorlton Arts Festival gig at 'Iguana Bar' in Chorlton Cum Hardy.
No idea when we will be on, but I expect it'll be starting maybe 8.30pm
or so.

Wednesday, I am popping over to other halves to make sure she hasn't
forgotten me, before returning over to Bolton for 'Guitars and Verse'
again co-run by Jeffarama which'll be a laugh I hope.

No plans for week-end aside from seeing other half and hopefully enjoying
this weather a bit more and maybe doing some work on book number 2.

More soon.

Hope you are all good


Andy N