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Showing posts from January, 2015

New Year, New Poems, and the Debut Collection

Hot off the press... I'm thrilled to announce that the Arts Council England have offered me a Grants for the Arts award, to help complete, and secure a publisher for, my debut full collection of poems.

I'll be using the grant to buy the time and space to write two sequences, which sometime visitors to this corner of the net will already know a little about: Kopite Sonnets, commemorating the legendary players of Liverpool Football Club from the '50s to the present day, placing them in the wider social and political history of the time; and The Catch, exploring experiences of clinical depression - stigma and despair; hope and renewal - with the added aim of widening understanding of mental illness. The latter will also include a series of free writing workshops to be held in conjunction with Writing Yorkshire.

Initial poems from the Kopite Sonnets include 'This is Anfield', included in my pamphlet For Real, and 'John Barnes', winner of the Offside Stories: The …

A Hell of a Distance:
inside the mind of a first-time marathon runner

Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us.
Deena Kastor,  Olympic Bronze medallist
I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.
John Hanc, running writer
If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.
Kathrin Switzer,  women’s marathon-running pioneer

We’re waiting on the tree-lined avenue south of Queen’s Park, Chesterfield. 800 or so of us, penned in and lined up along the street, stood in trainers, vests and shorts, jogging on the spot. Stretching, setting watches. Staring forwards.

The last ten minutes have felt like an age.

One of the organisers, a big bloke with a booming voice and superfluous megaphone, is cracking a joke. Can you hear me at the back there? Have you fallen asleep? He talks about the cash raised for charity, the occasion, the significance. The crowds lined up along the miles ahead.

I try to listen, but I can’t take much of it in. I…

"Heard the one about the guy from Marsden village?":
Simon Armitage's Paper Aeroplane: Selected Poems 1989-2014 - review

“How did it get so late?” wonders Simon Armitage in Paper Aeroplane, his new selected poems. It’s a fair question. The recent fanfare of the Next Generation Poets 2014, a promotion touting fresh voices set to dominate British verse, has coincided with Armitage, once poetry’s poster boy for the original New Generation Poets 1994, releasing this hefty retrospective. Twenty-five years have passed since he stunned the poetry world with his debut Zoom! (1989), his voice distinctive, his energetic style fully formed. Since then there have been: 10 book-length collections, a host of novels, plays, translations and memoirs, not to mention a clutch of TV and radio programmes. What surprises is how urgent and contemporary those early poems still read.

“Heard the one about the guy from Heaton Mersey?” hollers “Snow Joke”, the opener from Zoom!. From the outset, Armitage’s combination of coined phrases, cliche and zippy vernacular with a sharp adherence to meter, rhyme and form, worked to winsome …

"For me, he is Liverpool": Steven Gerrard - a tribute

Today marks the end of a footballing era. The conclusion of a sporting career without parallel or equal. Steven Gerrard, Liverpool FC captain and legend, has confirmed that he is leaving the club to move to America and finish his Premier League career.

Sports commentary is famously full of hyperbole, cliché and empty platitudes - perhaps nowhere more so than football. But LFC manager Brendan Rodgers seemed to put it near perfectly with his reaction to the news. “It is almost an impossible task to find the words to appropriately sum up Steven Gerrard and his importance to Liverpool. This is an era where the word ‘legend’ is vastly overused, but in his case it actually doesn't do him justice.”

A local lad done good, Gerrard was born in the Merseyside village of Whiston, joining Liverpool's academy when he was a kid. He made his first-team debut as a last-minute substitute against Blackburn Rovers in 1998.

Since then, he has gone on to lead a truly dazzling career, defined always by…