Tag Archives: reading

Advice from poet Wendy Cope on poetry writing

A Guardian article in which poet Wendy Cope offers some excellent advice on writing poetry, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/21/poetry.writing.wendycope.

Wendy stresses the importance of the poet being well read (in the sense of having read a wide variety of poetry, in different styles, by a diversity of poets). She also says that poets should practice writing all variaties of poetry in order to hone their craft. For example a poet who feels most comfortable using free verse, should also practice writing in rhyme.

I shook my head when I read of the man who presented Cope with a copy of his own poetry and stated that he didn’t read other poets as he didn’t wish to be influenced by them. What can one say to such a person? …


How much would you pay for a book?

How much would you pay for a book? Or, to put it another way, how much is a book worth to you?

A couple of weeks back, I was chatting to an acquaintance about books. During our conversation my acquaintance stated that many ebooks are overpriced (he mentioned that some cost £7 or more), and given the low cost of producing electronic versions they should be more reasonably priced. He also went on to state that he bought many of his books in charity shops, with many retailing for as little as £0.50.

The above conversation made me consider the question, what is a book worth? My collection of poetry “My Old Clock I Wind” retails for £2.99 (for the ebook) and £10.99 (for the paperback). Turning to a comparison with the demon drink. I enjoy a refreshing pint of Fosters. In my favourite local the price is £4, so anyone drinking there can enjoy two and a half pints of my favourite tipple at a cost of £10. Alternatively they could (with the addition of £0.99) purchase the paperback edition of “My Old Clock”, or three copies of the ebook (and still have change from a £10 note).

While beer is refreshing it is, by its nature here then gone. In contrast a book can be read many times (whether in electronic or paperback/hardback format). So, weighing my work against the cost of a pint in my favourite local, my book is, in my view value for money. In fact why not do both (I.E. purchase a copy of my book, in any format and enjoy a pint while reading it)!

The above comparison is intended to be read in a light hearted manner. There is, however a serious point to all this. Some individuals who complain about paying £10.99 for a paperback (or £7 for an ebook) will think nothing of buying several rounds of drinks on a Friday evening. Anyone who drinks in central London will know that (depending on the number of people in the round) that this can leave the person paying with a bar bill of £50, and on occasions considerably more.

All this is not to say that some books are not overpriced. I do, for example find it odd when I see ebooks costing similar amounts to their paperback/hardback alternatives. While it is right that authors and publishers need to make a living, there is much less cost entailed in producing an ebook and all things being equal ebooks should (in my opinion) reflect the lesser cost entailed in their production.

As regards books in charity shops, everyone loves a bargain and most people get a warm feeling knowing that there cheap purchase is helping to support a worthy cause. However (to state the blatantly obvious) authors and publishers could not survive where all books to be bought and sold in the second-hand market. Someone has to buy the book fresh off the press, otherwise the whole show will grind to a juddering halt!

In conclusion, books are, in the final analysis (as with any other product or service) worth whatever the purchaser is prepared to pay. A person who is caught up in the social whirl may think nothing of spending £70 or £80 on a night on the town, but ask that same person to buy a paperback for £10.99 and he protests that it is overpriced. While it is undoubtedly true that some books are overpriced, the vast majority certainly are not.

As always I would be interested in my reader’s views.


Short Story

Most of you will know me as a poet. I have, however also published a number of short stories, one of which, “Run For Your Life” is reproduced below. Please note that “Run For Your Life” contains strong language. If you are offended by such language you may wish to skip the below.

“Run For Your Life” can be found in “Dalliance; A Collection Of Poetry And Prose”, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00QQVJC7E.

Wanker flirting with that barmaid like that. He says that he was just having a laugh but I’m sick of it. Everytime we go out it’s the same

“Oh its just a laugh Lucy. Just chill out, get a life”.

“I’ll get a life without you” I told him as I threw my vodka and coke in his face. He was furious but give him his due he didn’t retaliate. He’s a womanising arsehole but he has never been violent.

Its dark walking home. Still its only 20 minutes from the pub to my flat. He’d better not think of coming back there, tosser! Shit its raining. I’ll be drenched. I new that I should have called a cab but I was so het up, not thinking straight.

That blokes been following me for the past few minutes. Don’t panic Lucy it’s a coincidence. He just happens to be going in the same direction as you.

I can’t see his face. That hat pulled down almost hiding his eyes, I don’t like it. Christ he’s walking fast, almost running. Keep calm he just wants to get home out of the rain the same as you. But he’s running straight at you. Fuck the alley’s empty just this weirdo and me. Scream, call for help. But he hasn’t done anything, he’s only running. Shout anyway it will scare him away.

“Help, help someone please help”.

There are no houses around here. No one can hear me. I shouldn’t have gone down this short cut, It saves 5 minutes but its taken me away from the main street. Oh Christ why didn’t I call a cab. Please, please god help me. He’s running now. I can here him calling for me to stop. You must be fucking joking mate I’m not stopping for you! I can’t run in these heels. Off they come. I haven’t been to the gym for ages. God I’m so out of condition I’m wheezing like an old man. My chest’s killing me and I’ve a stitch in my right side. Must rest. Can’t rest he’ll catch you. Must stop for a moment. I can’t. Oh fuck he’s still gaining on me I wish I’d kept going to the gym with the girls. Please, please no he’s almost on top of me. Run, Run Lucy, must get away. I can see the street lights up ahead. Just one more spurt and your back in civilisation.

He’s waving. What the hell does he expect me to do, I’m not stopping! Oh Christ he’s caught up with me. He’s got something in his hand and he’s pointing it at me. God is it a gun? Why me?

“You left this on the bar. God lady you where in a hurry. I thought I’d never catch up with you. This is your mobile isn’t it?”

28 Of Poetry’s Most Powerful Lines Ever Written

Thank you to my friend for drawing this article to my attention, “28 Of Poetry’s Most Powerful Lines Ever Written”, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/world-poetry-day-28-of-poetrys-most-powerful-lines-ever-written-a6944301.html. There are many of my favourites here, including Emily Dickinson’s”As I Could Not Stop For Death” and W. B Yeats’s “The Second Coming”.

Why I am reluctant to comment on the work of fellow poets

It goes without saying that I am delighted whenever readers express appreciation for my work. Its wonderful to know that my poetry brings pleasure to others.

On occasions readers appreciation of my poetry has caused them to contact me requesting that I critique their work. I am greatly flattered when this occurs. However I invariably respond with a courteous decline.

As with all poets, I have my own unique style. This usually entails the extensive use of rhyme. I find an intrinsic beauty in traditional rhyming poetry which, no doubt is a major factor in explaining my use of the form. That is not to say that I never engage in free verse poetry. I do, however this is rare and when I do utilise this form it is, almost invariably in the context of a poem in which rhyme predominates. Where I to critique many free verse poems I would, in all honesty have to say that I did not consider them to constitute poetry. That is not to say that free verse can not be moving and extremely beautiful. Indeed it can and it is worthy of praise as regards the possession of these qualities. It is, however (in my opinion) moving and beautiful prose (rather than poetry) and any comments by me would, in all honesty have to reflect my view of the matter.

More generally, my perspective of the merits and/or demerits of a given poem is just that (my own view), others may disagree. I do not wish to be the person responsible for dampening the enthusiasm of a budding poet. I do, from time to time come across poetry which is (in my opinion) truly awful. When confronted by work of this nature I click away without commenting because (as I say above) I have no desire to puncture anyone’s balloon.

My own style of writing (rhyming poetry) is, I am well aware considered as old-fashioned and overly restrictive by many modern poets and critics. One mans meat is another mans poison. Let each poet plough his/her own furrow, I will not trespass on their territory (other than to comment and/or like if I truly feel that their work possesses merit). Otherwise I shall refrain from passing judgement.