Monday, 30 March 2009


Friday morning at 6:15am I was rubbing sleep out my eyes and walking up High Street to the train station. After some unsuccessful attempts to withdraw money from a hole-in-the-wall (apparently £50 at 6am registers as suspicious for someone who usually only gets up to £20, and usually around 7pm) I got the London Paddington Train for 6:29. Or so I thought. Apparently that one left early, so I sat, half-awake, on a still train until 6:59.
I did a bit of editing on Ambition is Critical and then slept most of the way between Bridgend and Reading.

Ultimately, I made my way via tube to the Southbank Centre. I was a bit concerned about finding it in time, but luckily for me, most things with names like "The Royal Festival Hall" have huge-ass signs on the side of their buildings. This was no exception. As I was walking through the door to Function Room 3 I got a call from Lucy, the organiser asking if I'd made it okay. Movie-style timing.

I was there for the Pilot Meeting of the Global Poetry System. What is that? That's what I was there to find out. Long and short of it-- it'll be a web-based interactive poetry project. Sort of like Google Maps but with poetry. Perhaps a bit of Wiki thrown in. So, say you scroll over Swansea on the map and there are balloons that pop up with links to found poetry, videos of events, reader's musings on historical Swansea Poets. For example.

The project is very open ended and the brainchild of Southbank Centre Artist in Residence Lemn Sissay, who was incredibly warm and more than that, was able to talk about Poetry as a Vastly Important Part of Daily and Spiritual Life without sounding like a Big Fucking Hippie.

Which is very hard to do.

The enthusiasm was infectious and though the rest of the day was largely brainstorming with the other Project Partners from all over the UK, it felt just as much like some sort of odd mini-summercamp. The project is very adaptable; I feel it'll be important for Swansea to emphasize new events and generating new material; the guy from Abergavenny is planning his end around one particular poet of local renown, one of the Edinburgh ladies is specifically interested in upping visitorship and readership of libraries, Will from London is looking towards youth work and performance.

So what the Global Poetry System is will obviously evolve with time; but I find it exciting to be working with such a variety of people who are also excited about words and also excited about their own communities. It's huge.

Afters I checked out the Saison Poetry Library and I was supposed to meet Will (london) and Ryan (Scotland via Connecticut) at the bar at the British Film Institute, but I had to hit up a bank first. When I got back they weren't there; either they'd each shown up on their own when the others weren't there, thought "fuck it" and left (entirely possible) or I'd found the wrong British Film Institute bar (also possible.) As was, I sat outside drinking a pint of a cornish ale called Doombar (it was pretty good) and watched the Thames.

It was good. The part about not getting to meet up with anyone in London ended up okay; I caught the train back and read the first fifty pages of Infinite Jest, showed up at Rhod and Guppy's where the whole crew was watching a pirated version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

It was alright.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Feel the Buzz (Cardiff Edition)

“Its a great place to be young,”

He waves his arm; there is construction everywhere,
buildings practically popping out of the ground like
multiple erections or moles granted courage.

The world’s oldest record store in Europe’s youngest
capital. A series of posters for gigs I’d never miss in
my own city.

Whenever I’ve got a Cardiff trip planned, I prepare
an excuse to wield against my Swansea friends’
how-could-you stares—The Other Woman, the Greener Grass, the
place their old best friend never calls from.

“you should really consider moving here. There’s a
scene you could plug into. Gigs every night.”

A Los Campesinos flyer finds itself involuntarily into
my pocket. I shuffle in and out the honeycomb of
arcades, buzzed off coffee.

But the buzz doesn’t last, out the other side is the
monstrous descent of mall-progress, named after
a saint, no-less, glass and metal rippling shower
curtain luminescence,

Looming hideous over the few places I’ve come to know,
a City so desperate to assert itself as such it swallows and
is swallowed by the things that kill it,

You could really plug in here, feel the electricity
like a lightbulb, in a row of lightbulbs, flickering
and waiting for the bin.

okay, it needs work. but now I've got the Bellingham Edition, Cardiff Edition and Swansea Edition. The skeleton of my chapbook is complete and waiting to be filled in.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Chapbook update, travel plans, etc

So I've been oscillating on whether the chapbbok should be 1) a bunch of unrelated poems people will like or 2) a themed batch of connected poems written since I've come to Swansea.
Plus side of 1: Easy and fun to perform. Quick. Versatile to different audiences.
Plus side of 2: Relevant. Challenging. A more rewarding read.

Thinking it over and getting feedback from folks both side of the pond it seems folks are veering towards 2-- but really want both. And so do I, really. I'd like to produce a book I can read from when I don't feel like talking about Wales, but I want the cohesiveness that comes from a theme. So the next week will be polishing and finishing a few pieces I put on the back burner in an attempt to walk the tightrope.

because why do anything easy?

speaking of, tommorrow at 555am I take a train to London for the Southbank Centre's workshop/orientation for all the partners in the Global Poetry System. I don't have a place to stay or much money, but hey-- flexibility. go see some art galleries and shit, come back with a GPS Plan of Attack.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

These kids, I swear, drink nike

for kids back home curious about Welsh vs. English accents, here's a broad stroke. Also a fairly hilarious interview. The band (Future of the Left) is from Cardiff and speaking for camera, so the accent is a bit toned down. But you can still tell the diff between the London interviewer and our Welsh boys here.

. . . this isn't the single they're talking about, nor is it quite representative of Future of the Left's "sound". . . its a bit cleaned up and a bit more march-y than usual. But the video and the song compliment eachother in an odd funny/disturbing way that Falkous just seems to be getting better at. I think 4AD (see also: TV on the Radio, Pixies, Bon Iver, Deerhunter) perhaps wanted something less tweaked to lead off with.
The Pub I work in is not quite as old-fashionedy as this one, but for some reason the one in the video feels very familiar and authentic, for all its weirdness. Perhaps because of all the weirdness, only brought to the surface instead of lingering below candy vodka shots and charted jukebox hits.

If I found any good Gindrinker videos, you'd have those as well. But try Youtubing "gindrinker" and you get a buncha tanned sorority girls falling over.

Monday, 16 March 2009

"I can sell you two cans of Hatred, but you can't open them in here."

The Facebook Site for the pub I work at is called "Rhyddings Hotel, Centre of the Universe." Cough. Cough. Cough. I didn't make it. This probably means, however, that I'm entitled to talk about what happens there as it effects everything to occur anywhere, ever.

so here we go: Superhappy Workfun #1.

There's too much longwinded backstory that isn't interesting to get this one across, but I'll try. There's two of the regulars who come by. One is Huwie, who is nicknamed "the horrible cunt" and then there's Ceri, who's a good few decades younger than Huwie, but is his boss. On and off. It's a complex relationship; Ceri often comes in and asks. . . So. . . any horrible cunts around?
No, no sign of odiousness.
Good good. So it hasn't been that loathesome in here today?
Not that I've seen.

It's good banter. Actually, probably 60% of the truly quality banter from the dailies comes from Ceri-- "I'll take a few pints of self-loathing with a chaser of despair and-- oh wait, you don't SELL dignity here, do you?
So it was pretty la-a-ame when Ceri was in a few weeks ago with a good group of mates I'd not seen before and they proceeded to give me and Simon a good bit of shit.
( Parentheticals you probably figure but I'll say anyway--Now-- Taking Shit is part of a bartender's job. Not enough bubbles in your pint? Here, let me pour your pint into a new glass and top it up, wasting what ends up being nearly half a pint of beer just so that your Fosters is foamy enough. Too MUCH head on your beer? Let's just top that up for you. Yes, it sure IS a shame this isn't a "Real Pub." I'll serve you so much faster when you snap your fingers. Etc.--)

But there's Taking Shit and there's some shit-- when one of Ceri's mates' pint was flat after about three new glasses, well, that's not my fault, is it? Plus by now we've put almost a pint and a half in the waste tray just trying to conjure up some bubbles. So then every time I walk past he complains, cusses at me or remarks that he paid £2.60 for this pint and blah blah blah (he actually paid £2.45.)

This isn't what got Ceri banned. Ceri was just sitting there laughing. Would I have liked it if one of my regulars who I'm always quick to serve actually said something-- anything-- to the effect of "come on, guys, I drink here every day, lay off." Yes.
But I wasn't expecting it.
However, when the lot of them started sending texts to the pub phone aimed at Simon saying things like Next time make sure my pint has bubbles in it, you hairy cunt and similarly hilarious bits (revolving around the C-word. I'll miss it's ubiquity when I go home.) that Simon refuses to serve them. I go along with it, because seriously, fuck those guys.
Meanwhile, the "horrible cunt" is sitting at his stool, shaking his head and politely waiting to be served. Ironies.

So if there's one thing I can say for Tony and Angie, it's that they back up their employees. None of this "customer is always right" rot. Tony tells me that he doesn't want those guys in here any more and if Ceri wants to keep drinking here he needs to issue an apology. Now I don't want the guy banned-- I just want his charming friends to leave me alone. However, Saturday night he comes in and gets into a proper Row with Angie and now he's 86ed. Meanwhile, "horrible cunt" now works for us as a cleaner.

Superfunhappytimes #2
Jane has worked at the pub for quite a while now. She's been in and out of the bartrade for a good long time and the customers like her. She is not, however, good at managing her drinking habits in such a way to line up with her schedule. Even by the Rhyddings standards. Which run along these lines-- "If I can go out and get absolutely shitfaced every night and still show up here and do my job for eight hours, you damn well can too."--Kim.
We don't care about hangovers, blurry eyes or cranky tempers. We do care (or I do) when we get texts at 6:30am asking for coverage of the 11am shift. Hypothetically. Which I did because 1) I'm a sucker and 2) I'm good hearted and 3) I'm broke and 4) all of the above.

So working an unexpected 11-5 on a rugby day was fine; but when Simon shows up and asks if I want to cover him because "he's got to do some shit" well. . . alright. Half your shift. Til 9pm. For an even 10 hours.
But when Simon doesn't show to cover the last half of his shift, well, I'm already on a pint of bitter and sure as hell no one ELSE is picking up the slack. So Angie tells Kim to text Simon "If you're not here in 15 minutes don't bother coming back."

Needless to say, he doesn't show. I'm sure he'll have a story. On one hand I feel bad for the guy -- 22 years old, two kids and what sounds like the banshee from hell to contend with, personally. When he didn't show up for a week and returned, teary-eyed and apologetic, Angie let him back.
On the other hand, I believe Nicola put it best when she said: "Well, it serves the stupid twat fucking right for not showing up. Asshole."

Because at the end of the day, yeah man. We've all Got Problems. But we show up.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

It's like the Awesome Nameless Summer Poetry Project, but will probably get a title soon. Part 1.

Today I got an e-mail from GPS with a contract and everything. Something about invoicing them. I've never "invoiced" anyone before; largely because I'm usually on the other end of that equation and because most of my dealings are with friends. This, however, is with a large, poetry-based corporation.

More on that later. With regards to the Other End of my cash-acquisition, I'm currently working on a new Chapbook to complete in time for a top-secret lock-in fundraiser at Lewis' band's practice space beginning of April.
Yeah, I know.
Something about a "top-secret fundraiser" sounds eight ways to dodgy, but still. . . I like reading in cramped, poorly lit spaces. If my words don't hit people, specks of saliva will.

So I'm currently going through a list of potential poems for this book. I want it to largely consist of pieces I've written (or heavily edited and completed) here in Swansea, I want it to have a strong Sense of Place, but I don't want it to read like a poetry-based laundry list of images and places; I find that heavily themed works get real stale real fast.
So. I've got a list of titles here, some with links to them, others you can easily find on this blog, others are yet unseen in online form and we'll let that stay the case.

First off, the Poems I Wrote Pre-Wales, that for whatever reason I Feel Strongly Enough About to consider including
Story Problem
Zombies and Paint Thinner
Dinner For One
Watching Films About Death
Little Red Corvette
Caleb Barber Loses His Teeth to Meth
Everyone Has Something
Murder Ballads

Poems I've Written in Swansea, More or Less About Swansea or Places in It or about General 'Welshness'-->(*Marks one that needs a good bit of work)
Beneath the Cathedral
Paintings of Famous Satanists
Rugby '08
Rugby '09*
The Cafe Across From the Train Station
Glasgow Weather and Inappropriate Footwear
Carmarthen Train #1
Its What We Writers Do (For Jen)
Christmas Light Gallows*
Tall Drink of Water
Black Pudding*
Isolation Therapy
At the Chip Shop
Beck House D 3.1*
Ambition is Critical*
Swansea-Cardiff Blues (Bellngham Edition)*
Earl Grey
All My Friend Back Home (Start a band about this one)*
Tired Eyes

And These Are About Girls or Concepts or came from Ryan's prompts and aren't necessarily tied to Wales
Donkey Kong Country
New Poem For Old Plasters
We Laughed at the Same Thing (M4W)
Clippers! Clippers! Clippers!
A Little Fear of Drowning
Flicking Ash
24th Ave, NE*
Cities that Exist in Movies*
Children Go Missing Every Day
Context and Subtext
Ways In Which Gloriana Flotsam McGrew Will Probably Die, Since It's Always So Fucking Glamourous With Her (addressed to the subject)
Pigeon Bait
Children Go Missing Every Day
Forward Thinking
Three Counts of Public Urination
Enough With the Cape Already*
Genus, Species and Flavour
I am the tired orphan*

yeah. So about 15-20 poems out of those. Plus a few that are very much in my head but not on paper yet. Some are shoe-ins, but it really depends what sort of thing I want to make and what purpose I want it to serve for me and how long. Which I'll talk about later. I've tagged a lot of places you can find some of the mentioned poems.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Call it romantic predict-a-text*

*for best results, scroll to the video and press play. listen to song while reading the entry. this one is just a song; there's no video to go with it.

First-- A poem from January. You might remember it. This version is slightly edited.

I have met so many girls
with fast laughs and careful smiles
who've known you far too long
whose tired eyes would do
so much better

This, we have in common.

T and I broke up yesterday. It started Wednesday morning when I was walking her to work and I made one of my brilliant "here'ssomethingcasualthatactuallymeanslots" comments about how I could, you know, really get used to this. Then Saturday night at Sin City (there's an entry coming about how all my relationships in Wales have seemed to start or end at Sin City) she writes me a note on her phone about "I think I'm falling for you way too fast."
I think Pantera's "Walk" was playing in the background at the time.
So she came over to mine yesrafternoon, dodged the crowds of baby-dedicators and we hashed things out in my room. It was either going to suck a lot now or suck a lot in a few months; selfishly enough I would have preferred the latter. Because then all the leaving-related-angst could be packed up into one misty-eyed suitcase, i could write a note on the airplane and mail it as soon as I got back. But the intervening months, helping me pack, scribble goodbyes, those would have been hell on her.

So I guess I'm taking this one in lumps.

long. fucking. sigh.