Between The Ears – Coma Songs

Vintage radio

Between The Ears is a Radio 3 programme that has been producing innovative and experimental radio from leading directors for over twenty years.

I am very proud that two of my poems on the theme of coma, and read by me, will be included in the ‘Coma Songs’ edition of Between the Ears going out on Radio 3 on the evening of Saturday 11
th October, produced by Llinos Jones and Professor Jenny Kitzinger.

The poems were commissioned for the Before I Die festival held at the University of Cardiff in 2013, and were first read there, and then again this year at the second festival in York.

‘Coma Songs’ is a ‘meditation on the cultural representation of comas through music, poetry and interviews with the families of people who have a suffered brain injury.’

This programme is fascinating and heart-breaking, containing sound-bites of peoples’ experiences of coma, and once I got over the shock of hearing my ‘made-up’ words and my voice, amongst those other perhaps more authentic words and voices, I was very moved by it.

The programme airs on the 11
th October 2014 at 10pm. Let me know what you think.

NB The two poems can be found as part of my Poem of the Month [actually three sonnets] for May 2013 on this website.

If I Should Die...


On Tuesday 30th September, at 6.30 pm, I’ll be introducing a selection of my favourite WW1 poems and discussing their enduring power and relevance. I’m hoping that others will come to listen, join in and perhaps share their favourite poetry from this time too.

It’s going to take place in the beautifully refurbished The Arts Space on the first floor in Central Library in Leeds, and will be a friendly and informal event. If any writers have relevant work to bring along and read you would be very welcome too.

The hour long session is FREE but places are limited
, so it’s best to book on 0113 2476016 to be sure of a seat.

Hope very much to see you there.

Btw the picture above is of Wilfred Owen.

The joy of discovering a new writer


Sometimes I come across an exciting new writer whom I want to devour. Mostly they’re not new at all, just new to me. I perhaps read a review glancingly. I see them mentioned in someone’s essential books of the year, or the books they’re taking on holiday, and I can feel myself girding up my reader’s loins. Time for a new voice in my head, for another take on the world. There was something about the description of Linda Grant’s latest novel that grabbed me. Perhaps it was the period, about going to a new Yorkshire campus university in the early seventies. Perhaps it was the title ‘Upstairs at the Party’ with a suggestion of louche, undergraduate days.

When it arrived I gobbled it up, its evocation of my past in its smells, experiences and ideas almost unbearably poignant. The narrator, a young Jewish girl from Liverpool was nothing like me, but Linda Grant evoked a time and an adolescence, a ‘growing up’, which is probably universal.

I’m now halfway through her first novel, ‘The Cast Iron Shore’, a late
-ish debut novel, after journalism and books on contemporary culture. I know I will now read all her novels. She has my attention with her mix of intelligence, ideas, empathy and great writing which fizzes off the page.

She is my new best friend…

And then with the kind of synchronicity that typifies my life as a writer, another copy of her latest novel came through the front door. I’m going to be hosting an event with her at the fabulous Ilkley Literature Festival where we talk about
‘Upstairs at the Party’. I will try not to be too spaniel-like in my devotion.

September and October are full of me hosting literary events. If you search Public Events here on my website, website details of any that you may wish to come to will be there.