According to John James

This has just arrived. I’m pleased to have work in here along with such good company. Thanks to Kelvin Corcoran, and to Tony Frazer at Shearsman. The cover’s by Bruce McLean. Copies available from Shearsman.

From the Shearsman website:
‘Sadly, John James passed away in May 2018, just a month after launching his New & Selected Poems, Sarments (Shearsman Books) in London. Here friends, admirers and colleagues take their cue from 2 quatrains in James’s ‘Theory of Poetry’, and respond accordingly: Anthony Barnett, Kelvin Corcoran, Chris Cornwell,​ Lyndon Davies,​ Andrew Duncan,​ John Goodby,​ John Hall, ​Alan Halsey,​ Peter Hughes,​ Romana Huk​, Linda Kemp,​ Mark Leahy,​ Tony Lopez,​ Anthony Mellors,​ Ian Patterson,​ Simon Perril,​ J.H. Prynne, ​Denise Riley, Peter Riley,​ Gavin Selerie, Simon Smith,​ John Temple,​ Nick Totton, Karlien van den Beukel,​ Robert Vas Dias,​ Geoff Ward,​ John Wilkinson, ​Cliff Yates, plus a painting by Bruce McLean on the cover.’

Safe as Milk

Here’s a short film of me talking about Captain Beefheart’s Safe as Milk and the importance of it for my writing, as part of the Royal Literary Fund’s Writer’s Talisman series. Thanks to the RLF and to Kona Macphee.


John James

Sad to hear that John James has died. One of the writers whose work I go back to again and again. I met him when he came to do a reading at Edge Hill University in 2005. Such a nice bloke, and a remarkable poet.

‘I reach toward the poetry of kindred
where we speak in a work as we seldom do otherwise’

from: ‘Poem Beginning With a Line by Andrew Crozier’ in Cloud Breaking Sun (Oystercatcher Press, 2012).

No One You Know: 75 Great Poems You Never Knew Existed

There’s nothing quite like coming across a poem, novel, or a piece of music that you’ve never encountered before, especially when it’s been recommended by a friend, and especially when it’s been, for whatever reason, neglected. It’s like sharing a brilliant secret.

No One You Know is the title of a new poetry anthology which will be edited by two good friends of mine, the poets Sue Dymoke and Anthony Wilson.  It will feature 75 great poems that you might never have known existed.

In the words of the editors: ‘The book listens in on conversations between seventy-five leading British and Irish poets and their favourite undiscovered poets and poems, and brings them into the open. We have invited each poet to write about a never-before-anthologised poem that they passionately believe deserves a wider audience and to share both the poem and their thoughts about it with readers.’

The book will be published by Unbound Books, an excellent crowdfunding publisher. To check out the book and the contributors, and to pledge support, click here.

One for the Road

It’s good to have a contributor’s copy of the excellent One for the Road, edited by Helen Mort and Stuart Maconie, available now from smith|doorstop. The poem I have in there is ‘On the Third Day’, originally published in Frank Freeman’s Dancing School. Thanks to the editors. Great to launch the anthology at the Tavern in Cheltenham on Saturday, and to catch up with Helen Mort, Suzannah Evans, Alison Brackenbury and Wendy Klein. And to meet Tom Sastry and Jon Sayers.