August 11


So here I am, back in England
back in Nottingham

I just moved into a new apartment
and moved all my stuff out of my friend Dave's garage
(thank you, Dave)
so the last few days have been busy
and going through boxes I found stuff I forgot I had
and hadn’t missed
so I threw a lot of it away

and in October I become
(as in “mutate” or “change into” but more accurately “start a new job”)
a Royal Literary Fund  “Fellow”
at Nottingham Trent University
which I’m looking forward to
it’s why I came back

and here on E&D I will perk things up
I know it’s been quiet here of late
but you know why that was, I think

forthcoming are reviews of books by Paul Violi and Charles North
(among others)

and there will be music, because I can go to gigs again
Bright Eyes is here next week, but I have to see if I can get a ticket
and Rilo Kiley in October (ditto)
and lots more, so that will be fun, or should be

oh, and don’t ask me if I miss China




August 13


So, if you've not looked at it lately because the sidebar (over there on the left) never changes, it's changed a bit. Look especially at the "Give In" section, because there's proof that I've finally lost it. Or have a sense of adventure. Or maybe I'm just feeling, what's the word? Yeah ~~ stupid.



August 15


Full Stretch: Poems 1996–2006 by Anthony Wilson
Worple Press, £10

Review by Nathan Thompson

Anthony Wilson’s poetry is often quiet, gentle even, and it’s always well-wrought. That’s not meant to be pejorative, or to damn with faint praise. Reading this Selected Poems is like listening to someone with a really beautiful voice who, even in the most perilous circumstances, always speaks in perfectly constructed sentences. But there are more surprises here than that description implies. Let’s start with the quiet and gentle though. Wilson describes the day-to-day with a sharp eye and an easy-going, readable style:

A man is laying crates of bread,
one on top of the other,
in the boot of a waiting car.

The newspaper boy wobbles on his bike.

(from "Errand")

This is deftly economical writing. No word is extraneous. Adjectives are used sparingly and linguistic dexterity is never an end in itself, though clearly Anthony Wilson possesses it in bundles:

And I have seen dust collect under their beds, there is nothing
I can do to prevent it, visions of gin, gallons of it, before breakfast,
incomprehensible gobbledegook of Tommee Tippee instructions,
Tixylix, dawn-light of Calpol, poignancy of vests in their packets,
blockage of  buggies in swing doors,
and heartbreak of stories by the fire,

(from "Parenthood")

Sometimes, as here, there’s almost the rhythmic Anglo-Saxon consonant banging of early Ted Hughes, though in a quite different, domestic, setting. Allied to this is an occasional Larkin-like bleakness of tone, an urban ennui:

Preferring not to talk we notice
How uneven the body is

in sleep and lie and listen to thoughts
which have no hope of finding voice,
even in these moments
after love, after everything is done, less tense.

Outside the clouds are vacant, lost,
At random.

(from "After Love")

Fullstretch Wilson’s pithy expressiveness makes “Full Stretch” compelling in a way which surprised me. It’s not the sort of book I’d normally get excited about, the sort that would force me to keep reading. The collections that have really grabbed me recently have been those by, for example Vahni Capildeo, William Fuller, Andy Brown, Susan Schultz, Rupert Loydell, M.T.C. Cronin and Elizabeth Robinson (that’s enough now: you get the idea); all writers with clear intentions to push ‘the boundaries’, whatever they are, in order to find new modes of expression and (dare I make reference to content; Christ, I’ll be sacked) new things to express. This is different. It’s a quiet book technically, and Wilson seems content to work within existing parameters. So I admit when I picked up “Full Stretch” it didn’t feel like my cup of tea (it doesn’t have a handle and flowers and say ‘Nathan’ on it, and I haven’t forgotten to put the milk in or boil the water, and anyway I don’t drink tea) but I found I was reading poem after poem, simply enjoying the fluency of the writing and Wilson’s apparent ease of communication, something he shares with our own Mr. Stannard, of whom I was reminded by ‘Time’:

05:00 hours is bad and anything with a three in it,
for example 03:13. Those times between 02:00 and 04:00
are crippling for the next day’s decisions as are those times
on a Sunday and most times during the ravages of February.
Unspeakable times include 04:59 and 01:07 – but for some reason
05: 58 is not a bad time, unlike its cousins 01:58 and 02: 58
who are total buggers and always will be. Among the joke-times
are anything before midnight, the lucid times just after midnight
and those just after making love, with sleep approaching.

That’s just great as far as I’m concerned: it’s poignant, intelligent and funny and you can’t ask for much more from a poem. Well, I suppose you can but maybe you shouldn’t, at least, not always. 

© Nathan Thompson, 2007



August 18


One day about four years ago Emily sent me a CD-R with a selection of tunes on it and I played it all the way through because it was from Emily and one of the tunes was called “A Bowl Of Oranges” by Bright Eyes and although a few people have been known to describe me as cool I am not really very cool at all and at that time I had not heard of an artist called Bright Eyes but this song I thought was really good and interesting because the words were great and also somehow I couldn’t figure out how he got those words to fit Oberstto that music there seemed to be too many of them to fit but somehow he made it work and I figured he was clever and worth listening to and one day quite a long time afterwards I downloaded a complete Bright Eyes discography off the internet and although maybe I still haven’t listened to every song there because there are a few obscure live tracks I’m not sure I’ve listened to I’ve also listened to Bright Eyes so much over the last couple of years that for me he has become essential listening and so I buy the new records when they come out except the latest record came out when I was in China and for reasons I won’t go into here I decided I’d wait to buy it till I got back to England but to tell you the honest truth I haven’t bought it yet I just downloaded it [Listen] but I will buy it because I like to hold CDs in my hands and also I believe in buying records so that the people who make them don’t starve and if you believe that you will believe anything but anyway it so happens that two weeks after I got back to Nottingham Bright Eyes who if you didn’t know already I will tell you now is a chap called Conor Oberst from Omaha was scheduled to play at the Royal Concert Hall here in town and so I thought that was good and well-planned and almost as good as the fine weather we have been having lately which since has turned to rain and then I spoke on the phone with my friend Dave who is only one of the friends I have who is called Dave and having so many friends called Dave gets terribly confusing but this is the Dave I used to work with and I told him I was going to get a ticket to see Bright Eyes and he said he wanted to see Bright Eyes too so I got two tickets which reminds me he still owes me £17.50 and lo and behold it came to pass that the day before the gig I was looking forward to so much because it was my first gig for two years and he’s one of my favourite recording artists Mr. Bright Eyes announced he was cancelling all his UK dates “due to illness”.



August 23


Ok, Bright Eyes didn’t show last week, so all my hopes for a good first gig back in the UK rested with Rilo Kiley at The Rescue Rooms last night. And I’m a big Rilo Kiley fan. They do that kind of quite easy on the ear but with an edge alt stuff (I have no idea how to describe it; there’s probably a good label somewhere but I don’t know what it is. Guitars are involved.), singer Jenny Lewis has a really good voice, and their lyrics are intelligent and, more often than not, sexy and realistic and to the point. Their new record sounds, on first listenings, like it’s had a bit more money thrown at it than their previous records, which is probably the case because it’s on a major label; I’ve had it for a couple of days and it gets stronger on each play. They do good tunes, which is more than can be said for some.

So what happened last night? Well, I’d forgotten what a wanky thing it can be standing around waiting for the top of the bill to come on stage. You’ve tolerated the support, one of those amiable chaps with a guitar (a singer-songwriter, that’s what he was) who wouldn’t know a decent tune if it came and kissed him, and now you’re waiting. And waiting. You wonder what the hell they’re doing back there, or if they’re even in town yet. Roadies are pratting around on the stage. One of them makes a big deal of laying out beer and water for the band. It’s tough work but someone has to do it.

Rilokiley But here they are. The band. At last. Jenny Lewis is “the star” but somehow she manages not to speak to the audience until well past the halfway point in the show. She seems happy and smiling, and she’s in good voice, but it’s left to the co-founder of the band, Blake Sennett over there on guitar, to do the talking. Which he can do, kind of. They play a decent selection of songs, from the earlier records and the new one, which only came out a day or so ago. They’re good songs, no doubt about it. They also do a “cover” of a song from Lewis’s (almost-) solo record that came out a year or two back. To me it all sounded good, but efficient rather than charged with energy. I could've been playing the records at home for all the buzz the band was giving off. But the audience liked it all. At least, they clapped and whooped. But I’ve heard more enthusiastic claps and whoops and there was, I think, a sense of clapping and whooping because, let’s face it, that’s what you do.

I’m sure that by now you’re thinking I’m less than enthusiastic, and difficult to please. I mean, here’s one of my favourite bands, playing songs I like, and playing them pretty damn well, and I’m feeling less than excited. The thing is, they were playing pretty damn well but it was also sounding pretty damn routine and, at times, dull. At one point I perked up: Lewis abandoned her guitar and went on to the keyboards, and for 30 seconds or so and some good strong chords I thought they were going to metamorphose into The Postal Service (a band of which Lewis was a part) which would have been great, but it kind of came and went and another Rilo Kiley song came along and Rilo Kiley songs are not Postal Service songs and I was left wondering what that little burst of electricity was all about. Something, something was missing from the show. A spark of passion. A bit of excitement. Being good humoured and friendly is good. Playing well is good. But I’d trade a portion of those things in for a bit of bite and the odd fuck up, to be honest.

When Lewis got to talking to us, and they got into some of the funkier songs from the new record, things woke up a little, but it was getting late, and her moves to get close to the audience and actually touch hands were routine rather than inspired. Calls for the usual encore were also routine, and somewhat short, and singularly lacking in energy.  Of course, they did an encore, and then we all went home. 

I realise I’ve used the word “routine” a lot; so it goes. It was the word in my mind most of the evening, so I’m using it here.

I really like Rilo Kiley. I’m playing the new record now, as I write this. You can hear the title track by going over to the sidebar. But it wasn’t the greatest gig I’ve ever been to. I really wish Bright Eyes had shown up last week. That was the one I reckon would’ve been hot.



August 28


I’ve been meaning for several weeks now to draw your attention to David Caddy’s Poetic Letters From England. David is the editor of the fine Tears in the Fence magazine. Anyways, at this website David writes at length and interestingly about his poetic heritage and the line of English and American poetry he feels closest to. The “Letters” are also available in audio format, so you can read and listen at the same time --  though I have to say I found that impossible to do, because David speaks quite slowly on the recordings, and my reading was racing ahead of him, even though I was trying to hold back. Whatever, it’s good and serious stuff, packed with information, and particularly strong on the connections between various writers and artists, not all of whom are household names but who have an importance nevertheless.

Also, while I’m here, I’ve just been added to a section of Dee Rimbaud’s website, which is a big mix of all sorts of information. I’m in the Writers’ Websites bit, which is here. It’s kind of strange being on the same page as such wonderful writers, and makes me wonder what the fuck I’m doing there. Probably the only thing Sappho and J.D. Salinger and I have in common is that our names begin with S.  Sappho at least doesn’t need a shave.  As for some of the others, come on  ……

There’s also there’s a brief Q&A on another part of the site. But don’t just look at me (as if…)…. There’s lots of useful stuff lurking there.


And also, finally, I was 55 yesterday, but who gives a damn? My friend Dŏng Yíng sent me some clouds from China.



August 29



Visit here and maybe follow the links .......

.....  I know one of the blokes who dreamed up the machine idea