Join me at the launch!

Readers of this blog will be aware that my first poetry collection, Sea Without a Shore, has been published by Maytree Press. I’m getting very excited about the launch event next Tuesday, 2 July, at 7pm in Holmfirth Library.

I will be reading poems from the collection, and there will be guest spots from two fine poets: Jacqueline Pemberton and Alison Lock. There will also be music, refreshments and plenty of opportunity to mingle and chat with other people interested in poetry.

To whet your appetite, here’s one of the poems that will feature in the event (first published in Acumen in January of this year). Hope to see you there – should be a great night!

 The Old Couple
When they were young
their love was a thing of flame.
Colliding like two asteroids
they were magnificent
but sparks would leap from jagged edges.
Incandescent, they would fly apart,
only to spiral inwards once again.
Look at them now,
sitting to watch the sun go down,
still warmed by the embers of that ancient fire.
She leans on him, and he on her;
time has smoothed their curves and hollows,
sanded them to fit each other
like pebbles rubbed together by the sea.

The Illusionist

Here’s a little story I wrote at Meltham Writers a little while back. A prisoner with an unusual skill ….

The sergeant had long since finished his newspaper and was reduced to counting the gleaming buttons on his uniform. Seventeen. A ridiculous amount of buttons, when you came to think of it. He counted them again. Yep, still seventeen.

Well, that was that, then. He looked desperately around the room for something else to divert his attention. Only now did he notice that, in the single jail cell, the prisoner was doing something rather odd with a handkerchief.

“Oi, what you doing in there?”

“Just practising, you know. Passes the time.”

“Practising what?”

“Tricks. I’m an illusionist by profession. A magician.”

“Oh yeah? Seems to me you’re more of a thief and a fraudster. But we’ll let the jury decide that, won’t we?”

“Indeed we shall. Hopefully they will be more discerning than you officers of the law.”

There was a sort of aristocratic charm in the way the man spoke that really irritated the sergeant. But right now he was so bored he’d talk to anybody.

“Show us, then.”

“Oh, I can’t possibly let you see me practising. Trade secrets and all that. I’d have to kill you afterwards.” The prisoner grinned and gave a little wink.

“Well, can you do some tricks for me, then? You know, ones you’ve already practised, like.”

“Why certainly, officer. I charge £50 for a half hour session, £80 for the full hour. I take all major credit cards, travellers’ cheques, you name it.”

“Ha ha, very funny. You know damn well I can’t pay you. I was just thinking it would be a way of making the time pass less slowly for both of us. Or else I can move my chair over by the bars and stare at you so can’t do your secret practising, and we can both sit here getting bored to death.”

The prisoner thought for a few seconds. “Oh very well. I suppose these are special circumstances. Alright, I’ll do a few tricks for you. You might want to bring that chair over here anyway, to get a better view.” The sergeant did so, and the prisoner prepared to begin.

“Behold this handkerchief!” He draped a rather grubby hanky over his arm with an ostentatious flourish. Then suddenly, he clapped his hands and the handkerchief was nowhere to be seen.

“Oh, that’s clever. Where’s it gone?”

“But sir, why are you asking me? I believe you have it yourself.” He stretched a hand through the bars and produced the handkerchief, apparently from the policeman’s ear.

“Very clever. Another one!”

“There’s only so much you can do with a handkerchief. But if you’d be willing to lend me some props, I could show you another trick.”

“What do you want?”

“I need a coin, three paper cups and a pair of handcuffs.”

“All right.” He fetched the items and gave them to the prisoner, who placed the cups on the floor near the bars of the cell.

“Now, just to make it more difficult, I’d like you to put your left hand on this cup, and your right hand on that one.”  The sergeant did so, and the prisoner placed the coin under the third cup.

“Now, remember where the coin is.” He began to move the cup about, slowly at first, then faster and faster, around the other two stationary cups. Finally, he moved it away again and stopped.

“Now tell me sir, where is the coin?”

“Well, I’m supposed to think it’s still under that cup of yours, aren’t I?”

“Think what you like, sir, but I don’t have it.” He turned over the cup, which sure enough contained no coin.

“I think you may have it yourself, sir.” And he produced the coin, apparently from the policeman’s top pocket.

“Very good, very good! But what did you do with the handcuffs? Oh.” Looking down, he saw the answer. They were around his wrists, fastening him to the bars of the cell.

The prisoner reached out and removed a set of keys from the policeman’s belt.

“I hope you enjoyed the free show, sir. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on my way.”

pic (c) Klaus with K 2005

Tim Taylor – Two Poems

Delighted to see two of my poems on The Poetry Village today (click on their post below to read them).

The Poetry Village

This week, to celebrate the launch of Maytree 003, we are delighted to feature not one but two poems by Holmfirth based author, Tim Taylor. The two poems have been chosen because one made the cut and the other, sadly, didn’t. We still believe, however, that The Cowrie Shell deserves a greater audience and we are delighted to be able to feature it in the Village. Personally I really like the Cowrie Shell but unfortunately we just couldn’t make it fit in the collection – the tough choices of poet and editor! So now we like to think of the Cowrie Shell as the hidden track of Sea Without A Shore and it’s only right that we feature it alongside the key track in the pamphlet. Pioneer holds the clue to the title of the collection and inspired the choice of cover art which features the painting, Changing Light by…

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Those of you in or near the West Yorkshire area might like to know that next weekend – 14-16 June is the Holmfirth Arts Festival:

“Three days of concerts, spoken word, theatre, workshops, walks, film, exhibitions, installations, street theatre, circus and a fantastic textile banner parade will fill the streets with a carnival of colour and music. ​Shows coming from all corners of the globe will explore personal, social, political, topographical and digital landscapes in some of Holmfirth’s unique venues and out on the streets of our quintessentially rural town.”

In particular, I’d like to recommend LandLines, a short (13 minutes or so) audio and video installation by Holmfirth Writers Group (HWG) and professional filmmaker John Coombs, with studio recordings of poems (including one of mine) and short prose pieces, accompanied by film and still images of landscapes. Having recently seen a first cut of the film I’m really excited about it – one of the best projects I’ve been involved in! It’s showing in the Wesley Room, Holmfirth Methodist Church, School Street Holmfirth HD9 7EQ from 2-4 Friday and Sunday and 10-5 on Saturday.

HWG has also provided some of the audio content for the “Mythophones”: “solar powered metallic sound stores” created by Dan Fox and Dave Young, which will be in the parish churchyard for the duration of the festival.

And of course, there will be lots of other great shows and events to see – check out the festival programme for details.