Wednesday, 9 September 2020

talk to that & other poems


This is my first poetry publication for two years, a series of poems exploring cities: Liverpool, New York, Munich and Brasília. 

The central poem imagines Federico García Lorca, Walt Whitman and Hart Crane meeting in New York.

This limited edition chapbook is restricted to 53 copies and is published in Tangerine Press's latest 'Walking Wounded' series, alongside new publications by David Keenan and Wendy Erskine. 

Order Talk to That & Other Poems from Tangerine Press for £12, inclusive of p&p. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

john furnival (1933 - 2020)

A few years ago I co-edited a new anthology of visual poetry and the first name on the list for inclusion was John Furnival. Not only had John defined the landscape for British concrete poetry, he had continued to produce so much exciting work well into the 2000s. I spent a wonderful afternoon with John and Astrid, selecting from the artworks which were all over the house, on the walls, in books, in drawers. John's art and life were as one, he was a visionary and the world will be a little dimmer without him. On that afternoon John generously donated some works for the National Poetry Library collection in London, where I work, and those works are now held with the original pieces from the 1960s and 1970s, for future generations to access. For as long as humans have an interest in how images and words collide - which will be forever - John's work will fascinate, intrigue and delight everyone who looks at them.

john furnival, 'statue of liberty' (1977-78)

Friday, 8 May 2020

typewriter poems

I have been using typewriters to create typewriter art and poems for many years, but have never owned a typewriter until now. Lockdown presented the perfect opportunity to fill the longer days and quiet time with the happy thud-thud-thud of the alphabet. I took advice from Barrie Tullett, the brilliant typwriter artist and visual poet, and went for a Silver Reed 500. This is the first work I made on the machine, a further homage to James Joyce.

poetry objects

Over the past few years I have been working on a series of 'poem objects', using a wide range of materials. I later discovered the work of Joan Brossa, who also worked at this intersection between the visual arts and poetry. Each of my 'poem objects' is numbered.

poem object #7 'sound poem'

poem object #4 'the monarchy'

poem object #1 'the solar system'

Friday, 24 January 2020

poems from the edge of extinction in new york

I've just got back from launching Poems from the Edge of Extinction in New York. This anthology includes 50 poems in the world's endangered languages, and the launch at Bowery Poetry included readings from Laura Tohe, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort and Bowery Poetry founder Bob Holman.

It was my first time in New York, a city which has taken on elements of the mythic in my poetic imagination. I took Walt Whitman's 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry', Lorca's Poet in New York and Hart Crane's The Bridge, as companions. The Bridge has become a really important text for me over the past for years, and like all poems that I return to, has aspects which I just can't work out. How did Crane come to fuse Elizabethan rhythm and diction with Modernist techniques? How had he come to live in a room in an apartment in Brooklyn Heights where the bridge's builder, John A. Roebling, had previously lived? And the visions ... Whitman of course, but also an encounter with Poe on the subway. All three poets surfaced in a new poem I wrote over the three days of my short trip, called 'Manhattan : An Imagined Lyric'. This is an attempt at fusing the lyric and imaginary elements in my poetry. Here's one of the brief lyrics that falls between the imagined conversations with Crane, Lorca and Whitman:

Between Brooklyn's construction & destruction,
annihilation, resurrection,
a damselfly conceived in Queensborough Tan,
prototype hatched to imago,
Hart Crane wrote The Bridge in a room
in Brooklyn Heights
where Roebling, its builder, had lived,
watching granite speckle geometrics
in daily accretion

Crane felt a suit at his shoulder,
a ghost in a mirror, hawsing timber
into literature.

Poems from the Edge of Extinction is available to buy here.

Friday, 8 November 2019

new poem: talk to that

I've noticed a trend of people asking 'can you talk to that?' (rather than 'What are your thoughts?, or 'Can you say something about that?'). Maybe it's just a literary thing. Can you talk to that?


There came a point
    in human interactions
when people asked
       ‘Can you talk to that?’
not, ‘What are your thoughts?’
  or, ‘Can I have your view?’
or even, ‘What do you think?’
      but ‘Can you talk to that?’
the abstract became the object
   a mischief of rhetoric
 that removed the person 
      from the dialectic.
  ‘Can you talk to that?’
 What fractal was detached,
    what was the ‘that’
that wanted talking to?
       Heel boy, sit, sit,
  get back
talk now, talk to make it sit,
      the question has fleas!
Lice! Tics!
          Can you thought to that?
Can you think that?
     Can you take a that?
Can you talk
Can you talk to 
   Can        can you
Can you talk to that?

Sunday, 27 October 2019

poems from the edge of extinction

What to say about this book? It began life at the National Poetry Library as the Endangered Poetry Project, has taken around 18 months of research, and has brought be into contact with some of the most exciting and unique poets and poetries imaginable.

A highlight was in discovering a poem in Patuá, the critically endangered patois spoken by people on the island of Macau, near to Hong Kong. I had read on the language database Ethnologue that the language was ‘nearly extinct’. A helpful and knowledgeable academic, who was also a prolific and thorough anthologist of Macanese writers living in Macau, told me that he’d heard carol services sung in Patuá, but had never come across any new poetry that had been created in the language. Another academic, John Corbett, who had hosted my visit to Macau a few years before, had also drawn a blank, but suggested I try Miguel S. Fernandes, a lawyer and local theatre director. A few days later Fernandes’s response left me stunned: 

 ‘Hi Chris to my knowledge I’m afraid I’m the only one writing poems in Patuá these days, and I hope I’m wrong. How can I help?’ 

The book includes several last poets who are also amongst the last speakers of their language and makes a statement about the role poetry plays in activating creativity, engagement and awareness of languages. Not all of the languages in the book are listed by UNESCO as endangered but are included because they represent politicised language, the danger of writing in a sidelined language. Sometimes it is poetry itself that is the politicised language, as with the Afghan women who risk great danger in writing landays in Pashto. The launch of the book took place as past of Southbank Centre's Poetry International festival on 19th October 2019. The performers were Shehzar Doja, James Byrne, Stephen Watts, Nineb Lamassu, Valzhyna Mort, Hawad, Vaughan Rapatahan and Laura Tohe (all pictured below, backstage before the event). 

I have had the opportunity to talk about to talk about the book on BBC Radio London, Radio 4's Front Row (with Laura Tohe, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate) and on The Guardian podcast with Vaughan Rapatahana and Valzhyna Mort. 

Poems from the Edge of Extinction is available from Chambers publishing here.

The Endangered Poetry Project remains open to submissions here.

Friday, 5 April 2019

ambit event at the bluecoat

There are so many exciting and subversive moments in Ambit's sixty year history: Ballard's fake adverts on 'innner space', Paolozzi's 'visual literature', pastiches of mass media, fusions of high and low culture and the drive to create in the face of public 'taste'. The magazine has also included two of my favourite authors, B.S. Johnson and early work by American poet Alice Notley. And like Peter Finch's Second Aeon, this is also a magazine that published visual poetry, with the iconic cover of issue 36 inviting readers to create their own poem from the different elements:

At the Bluecoat event on Wednesday, Ambit editor Briony Bax did a great job of presenting archival texts, including letters from formative editor Martin Bax, between the readings by Tony Dash, Brian Wake and Jennifer Lee-Tsai (amazingly give that all four of us are poets from Liverpool, this was the first time I'd met them). It was a particular joy to hear about how the magazine had lost its ACE funding in the sixties after they had announced a competition for literature created under the influence of drugs. Martin Bax wrote back to ACE stating that Ambit were curious about what people might do after consuming coffee or tobacco. His suggestion was that ACE must have had something else in mind, perhaps heroin or LSD?

Advert by J.G. Ballard on back cover of Ambit 33

The seminal issues of Ambit from the 1960s provided a platform for some of the most arresting and often disturbing work about the body as a site of trauma. This allowed me to read poems from The Triumph of Cancer and make connections between Ballad's apocalyptic depictions of depleted bodies and psyches, and Paolozzi's visual piece 'Relating Chairs to Bodily Mechanics'. As I said at the event, I wonder how the medical backgrounds of Ballard and Bax instinctively led them to explore the potential of invasive, physical techniques such as the collage and cut-ups? This context allowed me to read my poem 'Anarchitecture', from The Triumph of Cancer, for the first time. This is perhaps the most objective piece in the book, and draws on the visual language of New York artist Gordon Matta-Clarke, who created a way of working that involved making holes in buildings:


New York artist Gordon Matta-Clark died of pancreatic cancer in 1978, aged 35. His twin brother had committed suicide two years before. Mirrored cells duplicate. The survival rate is 5%. Matta-Clark made holes in buildings, a practice of cutting through piers to see light, digging a gallery basement that was documented, then filled in. Gaps, voids & left-over spaces. Anarchitecture.

Mirrored cells duplicate. Less than 5% survival rate. The most severe pancreatic cancer is Adenocarcinoma. It is also the most common. It starts in the digestive enzymes; is mostly diagnosed when it’s broke out from the pancreas. It spread as Matta-Clark worked on the cuttings he called ‘probes’ : I just like to get in there and alter it.

Adenocarcinoma. Anarchitecture.

Voids, gaps & left-over spaces.

The latest issue of Ambit can be bought here.

'Anarchitecture' from The Triumph of Cancer, published by Penned in the Margins,

Saturday, 6 October 2018

threnody of radiation

In the first half of the year I wrote a new sequence (which I'm adding to, slowly) called 'Threnody of Radiation'. It's a lyric elegy for recursive depression, a love song, a hymn to Robert Desnos and a homage to Mark E. Smith. I'm delighted that parts 1, 3 and 8 are in the latest Poetry Review. Here's one of the missing pieces, section 4. Farewell Europe.

This threnody
Through the cloister of the underground
In the clasp of the commuter rush
I think of you in threnody of terror
Scanning the faces of thousands for a trace of fear
Crossy Road     Android poker     Emails on property
St Pancras foyers the free world of Europe
I hold the explosive of Desnos
If this weight was a brick it wouldn’t make clearance
Desnos committed to the deep image
In trance states       Dreams        Under drink
Lover, if you suffer pain, never fear the river Seine
The station’s forecourts & throughways
Cleansed silver-grey to highlight the ruffage of flesh
Tatty & textured        Clutching this brick
Digital translates me to a safe equation
Fuck them
This scrotum-lined mannequin
Drawling into a hired iPhone

Is she on benefits or something mum?
Sounds like a lovely existence mum
She needs to get out of all that mum

Mum      Mum      Even cunts have them

The train leaves the restored carcass of Kings X
The poor in its ribs           Nats in the ecosystem
Suits can’t think straight without them
Pylons rig the marshlands
Glistering cars cloned for the sales yard
Containers cruising a high-rise bridge
The paradox of Ebbsfleet International
No one seeks glory in trans-capital terror
I think of you clearly            Your face
Amber eyes of Yes     
This train pulsing to Ashford
I open the pages of Desnos
Meet me today at Montparnasse

Buy Poetry Review here. I'l be reading at the launch event on Thursday 10th October 2018, details here.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

writing dedalus

Toni Morrison said she wrote her first novel because she wanted to read it. With Dedalus, my first novel, I wrote it because I'd read Ulysses so many times. It might have been unhealthy to read Joyce's all-consuming magnum opus for what may have been the tenth time. I bought my first copy of Ulysses when I was seventeen (I now have three). It has lived next to my bed where I should keep my medication. It's spine is fluffing up like the back of a pigeon.

From my first reading I've revisited this book so many times the Dublin it depicts has become more familiar than the road I live in. In 2014 I thought that rather than reading the book again I'd write a novel in response, set the day after, on 17th June 1904. That might just get it out of my system. Four years later and the book has been published by Henningham Family Press in a lovely edition.

Cover of Dedalus, Henningham Family Press 2018

But writing any novel is always a work of obsession in itself, a language world created and lived in by a writer who hopes  in however a distant future  that some readers might also want to live in it. And to write this book, to go beyond reading it again, I had to sharpen my knowledge of Ulysses to the point where I could convince myself that Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom were breathing again.

I also read (and re-read) many books about Ulysses including Harry Blamires' The New Bloomsday Book (Routledge, 1993), Declan Kiberd's Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living (Faber, 2010), Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses (Head of Zeus, 2015) and returned again to Richard Ellman's magisterial biography James Joyce (Oxford, 1983).  At the same time I taught a year-long course on Ulysses for the Poetry School which culminated in my students performing a spoken word piece called Bloomsound at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell on Bloomsday 1914. To write Dedalus I carried around my old edition with me (half a kilo on the scales  I've weighed it) for the best part of that year.

I also took two research trips to Dublin. I was shown around the James Joyce Centre by writer, poet and musician Jonathan Creasy, seeing the original door for number 7 Eccles Street and Joyce's desk. I took my copy of Ulysses to the top of the Martello Tower watching my wife Sarah swim the Forty Foot below. I drank the aptly named Nora's Red Ale in the Lincoln's Inn pub where Nora had worked in a previous life of the building. Bought a lemon soap in Sweny's pharmacy. Walked Sandymount Strand, kicking the sea's rejectamenta in the footprint's of Stephen.

At the top of the Martello Tower, windswept

I was excited by the idea of what might have happened on the day after the now iconic 16 June 1904. Had Stephen had a secret punt on the Gold Cup and won? After leaving Bloom on Eccles Street does he do what he says he's not going to do and spend another night at the Martello Tower? Does he revisit the prostitute in Monto who he owes money to and pay her back? And despite his crippling hangover does he make it to teach in the boys' school, hitting the bottle again in the afternoon (it's a Friday after all)?

The publisher of the book, David Henningham, gave me the language for the ongoing joke in Dedalus: yesterday was an uneventful day, today something might happen. Pursued by the ghost of his dead mother and of Hamlet, things kept happening to Stephen in ways that surprised me and made me laugh. It might also be that Stephen could fall in love on the day after Joyce had first gone out with Nora Barnacle.

The idea of 'the day after Ulysses' led me to consider what Joyce might have experimented with in the era if the internet. In my Wandering Rocks section I used a ‘chain’ technique to bind the characters through language rather than time: specific word in each section is used to transitions the voice to the next character who picks up the same theme. In the way that the internet allows for both fictional and real  dead and living  to live side-by-side, I placed contemporary Dubliners alongside Joyce's characters and added comments found on Twitter. Joyce would have loved Twitter I think, it added to his notion of the litter in 'Litterature'

      Each time I re-read Ulysses I'm surprised that the book is less visual than I remember it. I don't mean in terms of its ability to clearly depict character and scene and for its deep imagery (all of which is there with bells on), but that Joyce doesn't play around too much with typography or visual poetry. This may have to do with his near blindness which led to a much deeper interest in language as sound. When writing Dedalus I wanted to push my novel through the lens of concrete poetry, and to learn from novelists who've explored this area before, from Laurence Sterne to B.S. Johnson (both of whom are massive influences on Dedalus). For me the natural home for visual poetry is within the experimental novel and I didn't write the poetry sections separately from the others, they all poured down the same outflow into my imagine Liffey.   
For my response to Sirens I created a series of sound poems that recycle the language of each section of Dedalus (my own novel) up until this point. The opening section is an overture of the corresponding section in Ulysses and captures the sound of Bloom urinating in a public toilet at Temple Bar. Each section then recycles the language of the sections of Dedalus, playing the sounds of: Bloom zipping up his trousers; whistling; coins rattling in his trousers; the sound of a trumpet; throwing cash to a busker; a literal gust of wind; the bells of the church sounding out Bloom’s relief that he’s spoken to Molly earlier that morning; a seagull over the Liffey and Bloom’s double-checking that he has Molly’s lotion in his pocket, which he's just collected from Sweny's.

Sound poem from Sirens section of Dedalus

In the Oxen of the Sun episode Joyce famously used George Saintsbury’s Specimens of English Prose Style to pastiche the history of literature up until he was writing his own book. In Dedalus I have continued this experiment using the first pages of fiction writers who wrote in the decades following Joyce, selecting one writer from each decade up to 2014: Marcel Proust, Remembrance of  Things Past (1913); Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925); Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind (1936); George Orwell, 1984 (1949); Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955); Williams Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1959); Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963); Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973); Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985); Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces (1996); Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006) and Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (2013).

I've had the pleasure of working with the Henningham Family Press on a few previous occasions, including in my role as National Poetry Librarian at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library. In 2013 I worked with David on making a limited edition artists' book called Clotted Sun which included mini poems from poets buried in West Norwood Cemetery. I write about David in my book In the Catacombs: a summer among the dead poets of West Norwood Cemetery (Penned in the Margins, 2014):

To work with David is to enter into a dialogue in which all book-making dreams are possible - the painful part is having to make a decision ... There is not enough said about the real geniuses in the art of bookmaking (Stefan Themerson and Ron King are two of my 20th Century heroes) and David Henningham ... excites with the same boundless imagination. He is able to make anything, manifesting the spirit of a text in a way that satisfies the eye, hand and mind.

David Henningham working on the covers of Dedalus

As these images show David has created the cover for each book by hand, using transparent yellow paper with gold foiling. The pages are litho printed. What has been a further joy is working with David on the text itself. David has a great editorial eye and brings his imagination to the possibilities for both narrative and stylistic technique. Hardly surprising given that he's a poet and the author of a novel called Foulness (publishers get in line to sign this).

Foiling the covers of Dedalus

David set me a challenge: to write notes for the novel like those in The Waste Land. I took the spirit of that but did something else, creating a subtext in which the characters of Stephen and Bloom are lost in the world of 1980s computer gaming. David responded again, creating a series of visual images which are part map and part exhibition vitrine : in each one can be seen tiny figures (of Dedalus, Bloom and other characters) trapped inside.

Vitrine / Map for the Nestor section of Dedalus, by David Henningham

When Joyce created Ulysses he had little idea how his cultural creation would expand into the psyche of each successive generation. Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom have become bit parts in an industry, celebrated in carnival, imitated and expanded into art. As Stephen says to his therapist in Dedalus: 'My whole being is fatuous. My creator devised my first conception under the title Stephen Hero : what more apt metaphor for the burning of the wings of ambition?'

Stephen's ambition means he could never accept that he isn't the main character in Ulysses. Joyce's joke is that Stephen plays second fiddle to Bloom. Dedalus is Stephen's book and  – after so many years of joyous reading of Ulysses  is dedicated to James Joyce. I'm spending this year with Finnegans Wake.

Dedalus has just been published by Henningham Family Press and can be ordered here.

The launch will take place at the Lockkeeper's Cottage at Queen Mary University at 5pm on Bloomsday, 16th June 2018. The event is open to all RSVP here.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

the poets of liverpool


A port city only cares for two things :
commerce & the avant-garde.
Wet cobbles.
The poets leave the Tate & crowd
into the Baltic Fleet. For their words
the mermaids part their fins.
The Irish left behind some ballads
and the ship owners have drowned themselves.
The poets put a pound in the head of a Baptist
and words chrism its tongue with red beads.
All the trainee corporates are in the barbershops
paying for the privilege to talk property
and not have their necks cut for it.
At that point we move to the Belvedere.
Did you ever meet a poet who’d trained as a barber?
The ones who forget that language stems
from the umbel of ideas are already drunk
and wringing out the taxis.
The poets aren’t even qualified to be poets
but listen, they have a few ideas of their own,
holding the timekeeper in a headlock,
starting the night again at Last Orders.
Loose coins spawn the floor of each bar
and cruiseships line the docks
like the broken shorelines of package holidays.
The poets hold their last coins to the window
 foil suns  
as the ships move like vending machines
over the scrapheap of the horizon.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Captain Beefheart Weekend

I still remember the first time I heard Captain Beefheart's music: the words ran like paint and stuck to parts of my brain I didn't know I had. In 2015 I discovered that Beefheart had first shown his visual art at the Bluecoat in Liverpool. I approached Bryan Biggs, the Artistic Director, who was well aware of this history (and a huge Beefheart fan), so along with independent curator Kyle Percy we began to hatch a plan to put on a Captain Beefheart weekend. We had two aims: to show the links between Beefheart and Liverpool and to explore Beefheart as a Total Artist, moving seamlessly between art forms and defying the borders between them.

My job was to focus specifically on Captain Beefheart / Don Van Vliet the poet. I organised a panel discussion with poets Patricia Farrell, Peter Finch and Sarah Crewe, who all selected a Van Vliet poem and shared and discussed this for the audience (you can read some of Van Vliet's poems here: ). The discussion moved through whether Beefheart's poems are different from his song lyrics, whether he used cut and pasted methods (no - because the poems rhyme!) and if he made good use of reading mistakes to write things that were more interesting than they first appeared (does 'Big Eyed Beans from Venus' come from 'Bug Eyed Beings from Venus'? - John Peel thought so!).

Peter Finch on the inner workings of Beefheart's poems...

Then to the poetry commissions. The poets behaved as I'd expect in any commissioned scenario but more so with Beefheart involved: they invented, subverted, did the unexpected.

Me, Doped in Stunned Mirages, introducing the 13 new poems.

Tom Jenks

Robert Sheppard

Vahni Capildeo

Jeff Young

Matthew Smith

Sarah Crewe


Patience Agbabi

Libby Houston

Patricia Farrell

Alan Holmes, performing with Zoe Skoulding

Zoe Skoulding

Peter Finch

Helen Tookey

And it wouldn't have been completed without the zine, put together by Matthew Smith and Jarg, it includes all of the poems and images form Blue Room. Available from the Bluecoat.

Click Clack: zine including all of the poetry commissions
More photos from the weekend, including the other symposium panels and the live music, can be seen on the Captain Beefheart blog here

Sunday, 23 July 2017

careful with that axe eugen

Here's a new visual poem, a mutual homage to Eugen Gomringer and Pink Floyd....

Friday, 14 July 2017

the ecchoing green : event in the dissenters' chapel in kensal green cemetery

On the evening of 13 July 2017 I took part in an event at Kensal Green Cemetery with Steve Fowler, who was launching his pamphlet Worm Wood / in / Old Oak (Sampson Low) and Tom Jeffreys who was reading from Signal Failure (Influx Press). I read from by book In the Catacombs, shared some work in progress from a future book about Kensal Green Cemetery (working title '100 Statements Against Death'), and finished with my poem 'Cemetery' from my next collection of poems. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

resurrecting william onions at tower hamlets cemetery

Of all of the dead poets I've found so far on my way around London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries, William 'Spring' Onions is the one that seems to have arrived in life via fiction. Onions was arrested over 500 times for various misdemeanours in the East End and eventually used poetry as a replacement for the alcohol which had sustained the first 70 years of his life. One newspaper reporter wrote:


William Onion, the old man whom the Thames magistrate yesterday allowed to go free on a charge of drunkenness, went to the Shadwell Police station last night and broke the window.
He told the magistrate this morning that policemen followed him about to lock him up for being drunk, and that he smashed the window to save himself from being locked up.

Mr. Saunders said: 'The Court stinks with your name, and you stand in such bad odour that all policemen look after you, knowing you are a dangerous man.'

audience gathering at the start of the tower hamlets performance. photo: harpreet kalsi

Between 5-7 December 2016 I performed three evenings of site-specific work in Tower Hamlets cemetery. This was part of the Spitalfields' 40th birthday celebrations. My response draws on my research in finding the dead poets of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries, and will be included in the next book in the series (2018) which will focus on Tower Hamlets cemetery.

 john canfield and chris mccabe. photo : harpreet kalsi

The performances in Spitalfields were curated by Penned in the Margins and included John Canfield playing an acting part and reading poems,  and Nick Murray who added intricate and moving musical layers and live viola. The evenings also contributed from essential input from Ken Greenway, Park Manager at Tower Hamlets cemetery, and the team at the Spitalfields Festival.

audience winding through the cemetery towards the william onions scene. photo : harpreet kalsi

The text for the performance combined a mixture of my own poems, the poems of the dead poets in the cemetery and a short play debating who the 'true' William Onions might have been. Here's a short section of the play which explores the idea of how justice might be done to a dead poet, especially one who was known as a criminal:

John: It was a common enough place for criminals.
Chris: Criminal? Onions was a poet.
John: He became a poet when he gave up being criminal.
Chris: Being criminal made him a poet. The 200 criminal convictions was his education …
John: 500 I think you’ll find.
Chris: The numbers don’t count. He never hurt a soul.
John: December 1898: Doncaster, damaging a widow.
Chris: [check his notes]: That was damaging a window.

nick murray on viola. photo : harpreet kalsi
Expanding on my interest in cross-arts work each audience member was given a badge showing a visual poem which I had written for the events:

badge displaying visual poem given to each audience member . photo : harpreet kalsi

All three evenings were sold out and ended with hot drinks in the Soanes Centre, kindly made available by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery.

My forthcoming book on Tower Hamlets Cemetery will be the third in the series, following:

Penned in the Margins have made a limited edition map of my project available, beautifully illustrated by Frances Ives: