Sunday, 27 March 2011

a million ways to measure the sun...

My friend Steve is launching his book tomorrow.

I've only known Steve a couple of months, even though we're both poets moving around in the same circles. I went along last minute to a reading in Manchester, and there he was, this slightly tired but interesting looking fella with a woolly cap, standing at the mic on a very wintry Manchester evening. He started reading this poem called 'The Mills are Dead', and for a number of reasons, I tuned in more than I had been doing the rest of the evening. It was something about his rich Rochdale accent, there is something that says home to me about an accent like that. And I love mills. And his poem just spoke out to me that night. It has a real grim sense of the closure of the mills and all the detail of a time and place that died with them.

Anyway, a few hellos later, and some emails and coffee, and chat, and we're doing a bit of writing together. And then 'A Million Ways to Measure the Sun' comes through my letterbox.


A bloody good collection, I think. A real mix of intimate and industrial, his poems are stripped down, gritty and beautiful. They explore the darker, grimmer parts of life, as well as the more physical and real emotion aspects of being... He has a way with words and images that builds distinct sensory details into a broad landscape.

Here's 'The Mills are Dead so you can see what I mean...

The Mills Are Dead

Backboned of redbrick
guttural fuck from
the three day week,
the operation of bread
strike led darkness
scuffed end of the canal,

the mills are dead now mate;
the mills are dead.

The bones don't know
white finger, sluice-gated
pike faced, algae flushed
cheeks of the bar; after hours
poker hands, cribbage board
matchsticks; picking gristle
from Capstan teeth, kind of
open door neighbourhood kid,

Cos the mills are dead now mate
the mills are dead.

But I reckon your mother would know -
sure as a fiver on the flags
of a Sunday morning, organ playing
Afro-Caribbean lady - ginnel calling
her late husband to the pulse
of the cossack's daughter, shipped
over, shaving potatoes sobbing by the kitchen sink.

Cos the mills are dead now mate,
the mills are dead.


Anyway, I wanted to let people know about the launch. If you're around Manchester, come and hear him read. His voice reading these poems will be worth it...

And if you can't come, have a look at his book which is available as a download or a print copy.

Or have a look at his website. He is an amazing photographer and artist as well, man of many talents... And he's got short poem films on youtube.


And here is the man himself...

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