21 December 2010

Roslyn Taber

Marilyn in The Misfits (1961)

'You have the gift of life Roslyn. The rest of us are just looking for a place to hide and watch it all go by'.

New review

Out today over here.

7 December 2010

Monster Emporium Press

The small press I am part of has some news, you should check it out over here.

In short -
Tom Moore's new book is out and available for sale and free download!
Girls Who Fight 1 & 2 are now for sale at Housmans!
And we are now taking contributions for Girls Who Fight 3, check it out!
[You can see GWF1&2 and all our other books on the website]

22 November 2010


Another story over here.

16 November 2010

Handmade & Bound: Art & Zine fair

Monster Emporium Press will be selling many glorious books, zines, posters and maybe more this Sunday at St Aloysius Social Club, on the corner of Eversholt St and Phoenix Rd, London NW1. It's from 12-6pm and it is free and will be wicked. COME!

20 October 2010

Anne Sexton revival starts now...

Anne Sexton

A red-hot needle
hangs out of him, he steers by it
as if it were a rudder, he
would get in the house any way he could
and then he would bounce from window
to ceiling, buzzing and looking for you.
Do not sleep for he is there wrapped in the curtain.
Do not sleep for he is there under the shelf.
Do not sleep for he wants to sew up your skin,
he wants to leap into your body like a hammer
with a nail, do not sleep he wants to get into
your nose and make a transplant, he wants do not
sleep he wants to bury your fur and make
a nest of knives, he wants to slide under your
fingernail and push in a splinter, do not sleep
he wants to climb out of the toilet when you sit on it
and make a home in the embarrassed hair do not sleep
he wants you to walk into him as into a dark fire.

16 October 2010

A response to Variable 4, from May 2010

NB: Variable 4 was a piece devised by a friend of mine (and his friend) back in May. See the link for real info but briefly and bluntly it was a living musical composition which responded to the weather around it (Dungeness, Kent) forming an unpredictable and magical 24 hour sound piece. Below is a few personal thoughts I noted on the day.

A pair of lonely blue knickers pegged to the line outside a black wooden house. Pegged by three pegs against the sea wind, which even now in summer is remarkably strong. I pull the collar of my trench coat up, hold it against the back of my neck, a spot sure to attract flu mother always said. G sets up his video camera - shaky on shingle shore - to document the day. Twenty four movements responding to the weather – dependant on wind, rain, humidity, sun...the swoop of clarinet at the border between wild and tame, skirting the forest, dipping a toe in wondering whether to enter and let go of what it knows. But intelligent and keen it senses the border is its only home. Tense and tender. Crisp horizon formed by neat plucks of violin strings. T comes and jams two black sticks into the stones next to me. It is his way of reminding me of him while I am writing and he does not want to or fears interrupting me. Smooth but nervous loops of Ds and Gs on piano make me tense, on edge amongst the sunshine and swearwords drifting up to me from my friends' conversations below. It is a sound that makes me want to be underwater, holding my breath for a little too long then giving in to oxygen. You look like a detective in that coat, T says, breaking the silence between us, wanting a touch, a link. I need a newspaper with holes in front of my eyes, I say. He smiles broad and silly and I sidle towards him a spell. The day is bright and the sea crashes behind me and is translated.

17 September 2010

Medicine cabinet

I recently visited a friend's new house. He showed me around and I oohed and ahhhed appropriately. Being good friends, I didn't feel it was rude to open the medicine cabinet in the bathroom for a little nose around. So I did. And to my delight I found a neatly folded piece of card saying 'Hi Mira!' inside in his small, smart scrawl. My day was made.

16 September 2010

24 August 2010

Translated Arabic expressions written in English alphabet, inaccuracy will reign today...

NB: '3' refers to an Arabic letter to which there is no equivalent in English. It is a sort of 'a' sound but from half way down the throat. If that helps.

1. Baadha mish tal3a min il bedah: She's barely out of the egg!
Meaning: She's too young to be doing...

2. Draat 3l balaat: Farts on marble.
Meaning: To dismiss something as utterly pointless. (This is a fun one to visualise).

3. Waja3 ikhla3 nee3ak: May pain rip off your (masc) jaws.
Meaning: This is self explanatory. (So is this).

4. Mitil adda'l musta3jil: Like fate in a hurry.
This one confuses me, very awkward translation.

5. Min rakab al nas maat a haman: He who watches people/compares himself, dies in worry.
Meaning: A warning...

6. Min tumak la baab al samaa: From your (masc) mouth to the gates of Heaven.
I'm still not sure how to use this one, but I think it is in instances of well wishing.

Judith Ravenscroft

'...And although she rarely sits and stares out of the window, or hesitates when asked to account for her day, since she always has a pile of books to read, letters to answer, neighbours to receive, sometimes it's as if fear catches up with her: she goes to bed with mysterious symptoms, pulls the blankets up over her face, refuses all medicines and comfort until - as suddenly as she succumbs, she recovers, jumps out of bed, throws open the windows, and runs through the house as if astonished to be alive...'

from My Life with Belle

23 August 2010

Alicia Ostriker // A Young Woman, A Tree // 1987

Edward Said

Last two paragraphs of Michael Wood's obituary, full text here.

...Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. Edward liked to quote Gramsci’s aphorism, and with good reason. But he wasn’t a pessimist of any kind, either of the intellect or the will. He was the deepest, most devoted, most unalterable kind of optimist, the optimist who can look despair in the face and keep on hoping. I remember a long argument we had at the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords. The thing went on for about four hours, Edward pacing up and down in his apartment drinking glass after glass of orange juice. I was looking for hope but looking in the wrong place. In the end, I said: ‘But Edward, you’ve got to believe that some day, somehow, things are going to get better.’ He looked at me as if I was mad, and said: ‘Of course I believe that. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be doing any of this.’

I’ve thought of this exchange often as the days have become even darker in Palestine and Israel, and I have come to understand what it means to be an optimist, and what an imperishable optimism looks like. I thought I was an optimist, but I’m just a utopian. Edward was an optimist. A few days before he died he called to talk a little – he had come back from the edge of death, and knew he had, but none of us knew how close the end was – and although rather hoarse and weak in voice, sounded very much like himself, making jokes, insatiably curious and full of spirit. I said: ‘Edward, you’re invincible.’ He said: ‘I’m not invincible, but I’m not giving up.’

Wade through blood

'As for my division of people into ordinary and extraordinary, that I agree was a little arbitrary, but I do not insist on exact figures. Only I do believe in the main principle of my idea. That consists in people being, by the law of nature, divided in general into two categories: into a lower (of ordinary people), that is, into material serving only for the reproduction of its own kind, and into people properly speaking, that is, those who have the gift or talent of saying something new in their sphere. There are endless subdivisions, of course, but the distinctive characteristics of the two categories are fairly well marked: the first group, that is the material, are, generally speaking, by nature staid and conservative, they live in obedience and like it. In my opinion they ought to obey because that is their destiny, and there is nothing at all degrading to them in it. The second group are all law-breakers and transgressors, or are inclined that way, in the measure of their capacities. The aims of these people are, of course, relative and very diverse; for the most part they require, in widely different contexts, the destruction of what exists in the name of better things. But if it is necessary for one of them, for the fulfilment of his ideas, to march over corpses, or wade through blood, then in my opinion he may in all conscience authorize himself to wade through blood - in proportion, however, to his idea and the degree of its importance - mark that.'

from Crime and Punishment
- Dostoevsky

9 August 2010

A collection

My father recently confessed to me that both his father and his father-in-law returned letters he had written to them a long time ago with the spelling and grammar corrected in red pen.

My aunt once threw a pear at one of her sisters in pure rage.

Almost everyone I know has been in a class who has driven a teacher to insanity.

I overheard someone say they knew a man who - finding no toilet paper in the bathroom - wiped his arse with cake instead.

I have a friend who hula hoops exceedingly well. She said, 'I should think so too, my mother was her school's hula hooping champion'.

One of my friends, after having worried her parents and teachers by not speaking in her early years, surprised her mother one day with these first words whilst looking at a plane in the sky, 'shiny like a marble'.

I once taught a little boy who would only write the letter 'x' and the number '0'. His nihilism was astounding.

Women in my family use Andre Agassi stickers on their sliding doors to communicate their being closed after my mother once ran through one of these glass doors thinking it was open.

I recently found out some nicknames of men I love.

I won't share them here.

17 July 2010


sToday J and I wondered at length what is inside an ant. It turns out they have a long tube like heart. They have no lungs and breathe through holes in their bodies. They have multiple brains. One - traditionally, in the head and several other minor brains throughout their bodies. This is why they keep wriggling a little after you squash them.

30 April 2010

Two recent encounters with shadows

'I am writing only for my shadow, which is now stretched across the wall in the light of the lamp. I must make myself known to him'.
from The Blind Owl (1937)
Sadeq Hedayat

Mac with Shadows (1981)
Maggi Hambling
Southampton Art Gallery

15 April 2010

Two new favourites: Robert Frost and Edna St Vincent Millay

by Robert Frost

Never have I been glad or sad
That there was such a thing as bad.
There had to be, I understood,
For there to have been any good.
It was by having been contrasted
That good and bad so long had lasted.
That's why discrimination reigns.
That's why we need a lot of brains
If only to discriminate
'Twixt what to love and what to hate.
To quote the oracle at Delphi,
Love thy neighbor as thyself, aye,
And hate him as thyself thou hatest.
There quandary is at its greatest.
We learned from the forbidden fruit
For brains there is no substitute.
'Unless it's sweetbreads, ' you suggest
With innuendo I detest.
You drive me to confess in ink:
Once I was fool enough to think
That brains and sweetbreads were the same,
Till I was caught and put to shame,
First by a butcher, then a cook,
Then by a scientific book.
But ' twas by making sweetbreads do
I passed with such a high I.Q.

The Penitent
by Edna St Vincent Millay

I had a little Sorrow,
Born of a little Sin,
I found a room all damp with gloom
And shut us all within;
And, "Little Sorrow, weep," said I,
"And, Little Sin, pray God to die,
And I upon the floor will lie
And think how bad I've been!"

Alas for pious planning—
It mattered not a whit!
As far as gloom went in that room,
The lamp might have been lit!
My little Sorrow would not weep,
My little Sin would go to sleep—
To save my soul I could not keep
My graceless mind on it!

So I got up in anger,
And took a book I had,
And put a ribbon on my hair
To please a passing lad,
And, "One thing there's no getting by—
I've been a wicked girl," said I:
"But if I can't be sorry, why,
I might as well be glad!"

13 April 2010

Roland Barthes

'It is under the pressure of History and Tradition that the possible modes of writing for a given writer are established; there is a History of Writing. But the History proposes - or imposes - new problematics of the literary language, writing still remains full of the recollection of previous usage, for language is never innocent: words have a second-order memory which mysteriously persists in the midst of new meanings. Writing is precisely this compromise between freedom and remembrance, it is this freedom which remembers and is free only in the gesture of choice, but is no longer so within duration...And written trace precipitates, as inside a chemical at first transparent, innocent and neutral, mere duration gradually reveals in suspension a whole past of increasing density, like a cryptogram.'

Writing Degree Zero (1953)

22 March 2010

Emily Dickinson

Two new favourites on danger and doubt...

The Soul's distinct connection
With immortality
Is best disclosed by Danger
Or quick Calamity—

As Lightning on a Landscape
Exhibits Sheets of Place—
Not yet suspected—but for Flash—
And Click—and Suddenness.


A doubt if it be Us
Assists the staggering Mind
In an extremer Anguish
Until it footing find.

An Unreality is lent,
A merciful Mirage
That makes the living possible
While it suspends the lives.

9 March 2010

Writing restraint

My old pal gave me a task, apparently I need focus.

The task was to write a story in about 100 words only using words with four letters or under with the idea of 'simplicity' as a prompt.

Touché, Gones, touché.


Gram by gram heat rose, soft like fur or hair over cold skin to warm it only when it asks. To warm up here we have to burn book upon book. It is safe and easy and and we stay dumb and good. We cook eggs in pans over the fire and eat them with salt. We pour the salt in a form to keep us from harm and dig our toes into the dirt for fun. Each page bows down into the fire and each word like love goes away with a char on your brow as you lean in to read.

More please?

11 February 2010

Molly Drake

Amazing poem written by Nick Drake's mother, Molly and read by his sister Gabrielle from the documentary A Skin Too Few.

The Shell

Living grows ‘round us like a skin
to shut away the outer desolation,
for if we clearly marked the furthest deep,
we should be dead
long years before the grave.

But turning around within the home, this shell
of worry, discontent, and narrow joy,
we grow and flourish, and rarely see the outside dark
that would confound our eyes.

Some break the shell.

I think that there are those who push their fingers
through the brittle walls and make a hole,
and through this cruel slit, stare out
across the cinders of the world
with naked eyes. They look both out and in,
knowing themselves, and too much else beside.

9 February 2010

J D Salinger

A lovely obituary from The New Yorker

'I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody'
Franny from Franny and Zooey (1961)

1 February 2010

Extract from 'Imprisoned in the Global Classroom', Ivan Illich & Etienne Verne, 1976

'...Once the graduates of teachers' colleges were given a public monopoly to decide what constitutes good education, they had to use it to disqualify learning which happened outside their control. Schools became the only legitimate recipients for public funds destined for education. Inevitably learning was translated into 'education', and this in turn became a commodity which could be obtained only from accredited schools. The guarantee of a minimum education was translated into obligation to attend a minimum number of years. Soon dropouts, forced into the nether world destined for the so-called a-social, would be denied jobs. But the guarantee does not only work against him who does not use it. The monopoly of schools over education made education into an intangible commodity. It turned the result of learning into an invisible software, which is guaranteed by the code number on the certificate. Those pupils who obtain only the legal minimum find out that they wasted their time in school: what they acquired is devalued on the market because others have more or a newer program'.

'Schools were not originally created with the intent of creating an industrial complex for the production of knowledge; they were meant to give everybody a chance to learn. But they became a form of compulsory insurance of every child's future productivity. The governments of the world all established the monopoly of a profession, giving them the right to decide how much of their expert treatment each citizen should get...'


31 January 2010


(Took my mate to the zoo last week. She said she was scared of the polar bears. I said 'You should see the bipolar bears. They're f*cking mental)

100 Club, London


100 Club, London


100 Club, London

30 January 2010

An Hungarian tongue twister


"for your [plural] repeated pretending to be undesecratable"

I am going to use 'an' before words beginning with Hs now.
It is a small mission.
But it is mine.