Fifteen years ago, pretty much to the day, I started work as the arts editor of the Stroud News and Journal, having spent the previous few months turning up on the doorstep and pestering the then editor, Skip Walker, for work.
The arts were booming in the town at the time – SVA was really hitting its stride, Damien Hirst’s studio had arrived in the area, and there was much to be excited about at the grassroots.
I spent six years building up the arts pages in the paper, intertwining grassroots and commercial arts in a weekly forum, and doing my best to keep it alive in the face of the growing demands of advertising space and the utter disinterest of the sub-editors in Newport (who once cut a review I wrote of a play by two women into nonsensical shreds and then had the nerve to top it with the headline ‘Women Have Fun’ – you can imagine the stick I got in the pub for that…). And then I quit, for pastures slightly better-paid.
Matty Airey took over the role a while later, and has for the last eight years done a sterling job of maintaining the delicate balance between the demands of high art and entertainment, both of which play a major part in Stroud’s life. [click to continue…]
Sifting through Blake’s poems on the net this evening, in celebration of his 259th birthday (I was looking on the net because I was unable to find a book of his poems, as most of my poetry books are currently barricaded behind boxes in the small bedroom), I stumbled across his poem The Garden of Love.
The Garden of Love
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires. [click to continue…]
There’s a 20% discount on pre-orders of my forthcoming book of satires, rants and performance poems, Love in a Celebrity Climate, available until this Monday, November 14th, available here. As of Monday, the book will go back up to the cover price of £6.50.
Love in a Celebrity Climate is a furious little book of satirical, political and performance poetry that digs under the skin of celebrities, politicians and other scoundrels, published by Little Metropolis.
It examines, excoriates and laughs at the hollow myths and fantasies that have been helping the ‘live the dream’ generation swallow anything and everything that’s been thrown at them for the last decade or two and is laid out in three sections: Celebrity Climate, an Advertisement Break, and News.
The poems take a swipe at all-comers, be they David Hasselhof, terrorists of any stripe, celebrity cannibals, the England football squad, the Royal Family, Brexit, ATOS, UKIP or the advertising industry or the recent American election.
A number of the poems were written during my time as the Borkowski poet in residence – I wrote around 150 topical poems during that time, but have filleted out the best ones, the ones that have managed to stay news.
Just a little frustrating to read this article in the Guardian, written in the ever-rumbling wake of Bob Dylan’s Nobel award, whilst remembering just how much my father, Michael Horovitz, has championed lyricists in his Poetry Olympics events and New Departures magazines over many decades.
He has continuously sought to pull down the barriers between poetry and music, performing poetry with musicians since the 1950s and encouraging others to do so, and introducing the likes of Paul Weller, Paul McCartney, Patti Smith, Damon Albarn, Nick Cave, Gwyneth Herbert, Peter Gabriel, Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer, Eliza Carthy, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and many more to print, or on stage, alongside poets, in very productive partnership and with equal respect. [click to continue…]
Of the four ways of escape that kept me going throughout my teens – poetry, novels, pop music and comics – the comics were the one that it was hardest to justify financially, and the one that led to most disagreements with my father, who objected as much to a perceived lack of intellectual engagement as to the amount they cost. Which made them that much more alluring, to be honest.
The best of the comics I read fuelled my writing as profoundly as the high art. A line in Gilbert Hernandez’ Heartbreak Soup triggered the first poem I wrote that suggested to me that it might be worth taking writing more seriously. To answer someone who had been constantly ribbing me for reading comics, I cheekily broke some lines from a passage in one of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing comics into poetic form and claimed them (briefly) as my own. The response? “This is good! How do you know so much about Sacramento? This came from a comic? Why, you…”, followed by an affectionate cuff on the arm. [click to continue…]