Our hearts beat as one...

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Who likes the sound of their own voice? I can remember teachers at school who appeared to LOVE the sound of their less than dulcet tones, and it’s obvious that certain [often male] politicians wallow in their own vocal gorgeousness like hippos in the mud.

But most sane and modest people are slightly aghast to hear recordings of themselves.

Last Sunday I sat on the wall outside my house feeling slightly nervous.

I was waiting to be taken by Mik Davis [above], the charismatic leader of fabulous band The Utopian Love Revival to his studio/ rehearsal room in Bradford to record some vocals. Joolz Denby [below] had written a beautiful poem and it was going to be part of the launch of ULR’s new album later this summer. It all felt very rock and roll being picked up by Joolz and Mik in the band bus, though perhaps my clumsy grappling into the [not very high] front seat was slightly less so.

And then we were in the studio, tucked away in one of Bradford’s many beautiful old mills, and I started to relax. I felt in safe hands with two top artists; perhaps having my voice likened to certain extinct Welsh actors helped. But the ambience of the space, full of art and inspiration, was a major factor.

Mik recorded me reading the lovely poem three or four times. It’s an hypnotic piece redolent of old hippie days, full of wonderful images and beautiful words, which begins

Golden days flow past blessed in the
Toffee coloured sun-dazed high,
The lapis eyed dandy boys tripping in some
Bronze judder of sound falling from
A guitar played like crimson light,
Brown hands moving like the twist
Of partly reclaimed memories

JD1

Having it played back to me was a mingled pleasure and embarrassment, but Mik showed me what he could do with the sound by adding music and rhythm, and it all started to sound rather wonderful.

I’m looking forward to more joint projects with Mik and Joolz. As artists our hearts seem to beat as one….

Joolz Denby’s album The Black Dahlia will be out later this year on Attack Attack Records.

Poetry, performance and other pleasure

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting York Writers in their upstairs meeting room at Brigantes, Micklegate in York. I was the first to arrive and sat in solitary splendour for about ten minutes, with just enough time to get slightly nervous about my evening’s tasks.

Firstly I had to talk to the group [who were of course friendly, warm and unthreatening] about their poetry competition which I had just judged, give feedback on the poems and announce the winners. Like all reputable competitions all the entries had been anonymous, and I had had no idea of the identities of the writers of each piece, even though I do know individual members of the group.

Apart from being stunned by the quality of the entries, every single conjecture about who the writers were proved to be wrong!

Then I read some of my poetry, old and new, feeling very 21st century and radical, reading off my kindle and my iPhone. From there we had a lovely shared conversation about our writing, and I toddled off to catch the last train to Burley Park in Headingley where I live.

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On Saturday I set off to for the Manchester Independent Book Market 2012 ,where I was going to read al fresco, and meet up with some publisher friends. Reading in the rain proved to have a peculiar charm all of its own, with a lovely crowd there who seemed to like my poem from ‘A Bit of Ice-Breaker’ and the sonnet from future collection ‘Some things Matter: 63 sonnets’.

But the real pleasure of the day was to have my kindle loaded up by Comma Press, the organisers of the wondrous two day event, with an ebook made up of poems and prose from all the fab writers who had read over the two days of the market.

I got it for free, but it can be yours of Amazon for 77p,

'The Hat You Wear: The Manchester Independent Book Market 2012 Sampler (The... via @amazonuk http://t.co/R9Fecwix