June 1


Actually, this post is overdue not just because I had a couple of days in Guangzhou (it used to be called Canton) and got sick and wet but also because I had some technical difficulty with the picture here and had to call for help ..... but anyways, Guangzhou is I think maybe the third largest city in China after Shanghai and Beijing. It rained almost all the time. It'd been raining here for most of the week and it didn't stop, but it was rain in a really good way: loud and noisy storms with thunder and lightning and that great heavy sub-tropical rain that absolutely pounds down, and it was so warm that when you got wet you dried out pretty quick -- at least, you did if you got the chance; when it wasn't raining it was so humid you're wet with sweat ...... and now the rain has more or less gone away but the humidity remains. And it's so hot .... but I'm not complaining. Hot is good.

And the wet weather reminded me that Sandra Tappenden sent me something a while back and I've been waiting for an apt moment. This is as apt a moment as there is ever likely to be.


© Sandra Tappenden, 2007

(Here's a little update, 24 hours later: it's pissing down. The kind of rain you can't see through. How do butterflies stay airborne in this? Because they are. OK, no more about the weather. That's enough weather.)



June 5


A Poem by Mark Halliday


The stupid I-self wakes in the morning
after a dream in which my mother could be seen
across the street walking in some serious sadness
in her youth perhaps six years before I was born
puzzled by some absence
and I don’t know what to do with this dream

I swing my feet to the floor
my bony feet faintly moist the body is humiliating
it prevents angelic dignity I move to the bathroom

each day the I-self pursues satisfactions that wither
what for what for
thirteen thousand days since listening to
“Pickin’ Up the Pieces” at 66 Benevolent Street
thirteen thousand days of adulthood
choosing in laziness and cowardice
to avoid learning enough about FORCES that shape these days

instead the I-self floats imagining
sex fame fame sex sex-fame fame-sex
but political science is boring
microbiology is boring economics is boring
even psychology as a discipline is boring
or so mutters the I-self

thirteen thousand days --
each in a better world would build into a dignity of --
at least of seeking –

one night eight years ago in Morgantown, West Virginia
Doug Goetsch and I shot hoops in the dark
and made some astounding three-pointers
though our percentage was low
and later on the steps with Tracy Williams there was
a long real talk
and later in the hall willowy Mary Ruth
glancing back over her shoulder

O stupid I-self afloat outside a series of dreams
long may you bobble!

© Mark Halliday, 2007



June 11


      ......... I was chatting online with a student here at the university – not one of my students but someone I know pretty well, and she said it was weird when I messaged her because at that moment she was reading this and (although she didn’t say it in these words) trying to make head or tail of it. I think she wanted to say “What the fuck is this about?” but was too polite. When I explained that all the names were of female British singers (or almost; I’m not sure Winfred Atwell ever sang) from my childhood and teenage years, and if you ignore the names almost all the situations in it are genuinely autobiographical, she was a little clearer as to what it was about, but I think she’s still a long way from Clarity City, which puts her pretty much in the same place as me a lot of the time. But she’s also in a good enquiring place, and it’s beautiful to see someone tackling something with a genuinely enquiring mind (not to mention in their second language).



June 17


Poems by Rupert M. Loydell


Even on the darkest night the moon is around
in the land of unintentional melodrama and love,

a dramatic monologue waiting to soon happen.
Star's secret light slips into the room through the blinds,

paper textures stand out: tones of beige and bone
briefly appear, synthesized out of air's worn edges.

A woman on the other side of the mountains and you
before the glacier. Gold and silver clouds in the flowing

water, darkness in the soil. A single frog visits our pond,
unaware how many colours are in tonight's painted sky.


A sailboat in a tiny pond.
The temperature of water.

Away from lightning's flash,
my life is lived outdoors,

a tall and neon privilege
lost in a strange country.

Between storm's shout and silence,
a temporary moment of closure,

a new form of accommodation.
I am returning home to die.


An unending stream of deceptive signals,
opinion spluttering like a coffee machine.

You could call it compulsion or vitriol,
a personal crusade or an ongoing debate.

I have spent a lot of time thinking
about argument and have concluded

the opposite is true. Where is meaning,
interpretation, evaluation and expression?

Whisper to preserve my secret: I am
well aware of my own world view.


Model trains in boxes in the loft,
local history papers on his desk.

Photos of now-demolished buildings,
a foundation stone from the rubble.

Unreadable notes towards a book
full of not-to-be-forgotten facts.

That day is not yet here. The situation
has changed. My now long-gone father

has turned to tears and remembering,
an awkwardly choreographed embrace.

© Rupert M Loydell, 2007



June 23


Para2 I’m pretty sure that at least some of the poems in K.M. Dersley’s new “Paranoid in Paradise” are not particularly new. It doesn’t take great detective work to figure this out, because some of the magazines the poems first showed up in are now a part of literary history. I also remember reading them before, whenever. So I’m a little intrigued by the appearance of this little chapbook, because it seems to be recovering some ground. The Derz’s last book, which I reviewed here, struck me as having a change in emphasis, if not a wholesale change in direction, and albeit not a big change; does this new collection say something about another change, back to where he came from? Damned if I know. I could ask him, because he’s a friend, but I’d rather just enjoy the poems. Maybe he just wants to get some older poems back out into the air; nothing wrong with that at all.

Over the years, I’ve written about Dersley a few times. In an afterword to his “Clapgate Terraces” back in 1995, I wrote

“As someone remarked recently, if what you’ve got to say is crappy, then your poetry will be crappy, however well-crafted it might be. Conversely, when what you’ve got to say is worth saying, the air around you when you speak makes for better breathing. People like to listen, and they like to listen especially to someone who bears a passing resemblance to a human being. Poetry is the most important thing in the world, at the same time as it is the most unimportant thing in the world; KM knows how holy the poem is, how brilliant it is to be able to write poems and see them off outdoors to slug it out with the thugs and the angels, but he would never speak of the poem in hushed and reverent tones, which is one reason why some of the people who come out of Clapgate Terraces understand him and listen to the way he writes about his life.”

And most of what I would say now about these poems is exactly that. Only Dersley could come up with

tonight I intend
to walk into that cinema
laugh until my sides

then go to a party
get two or three Guinnesses down
and start acting like Tom Mix

(when you love a girl
you give her
everything you’ve got.
it’s not enough.
you have to give her
what you haven’t got as well.
you can ask me, because I know:
these lines will translate
without much loss of meaning
into most of the
Romantic languages.)

(from “The Looks of Billy The Kid”)


I may not be a particularly nice
but what niceness there is
is my own
and I don’t intend to let you
or any woman
shoot it full of holes.

(from “I Cannot Love The Deserving”)

I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: Dersley’s style and voice is not for everyone. His habit of running stuff like the “outside shite-houses which well and truly belonged to ancient Ipswich” into the same breath as his declaration of having “one or two things printed in thin magazines amid clouds of dust in the churning mills of the Muse” would strike some as a pose or a falsehood or, just as likely if not more so, not what poetry should be. Well, fuck them. The Derz is a one-off, always has been and always will be, and the fact that he knows his craft and can write and celebrate life, his life, in all its marvellous ordinariness and moments of remarkable joy – well actually I don’t know what’s better. There’s plenty that’s different, but don’t tell me they’re any better.

["Paranoia in Paradise" is published by Appliance Books and can be ordered from The Ragged Edge]



June 30


Bloody hell!

Suddenly I cannot get to any Typepad-based websites from here in China, which means I cannot see what you are looking at now. The word “blocked” comes to mind. And the words “China” and “freedom” do not always sit comfortably in the same sentence. Whatever. I can get to the Typepad admin site that lets me post things, but I cannot see the end result. I get to see a so-called preview, but experience tells me that a preview is not always the same as the final product. So, if there are any glitches in what you see now, it’s because I can’t see anything at all. My apologies, but blame someone in Beijing. They have their people to protect.

Anyway, this slight technical hitch will be temporary because I’m returning to the UK at the end of July, and normal (sic) UK-based service will resume instead of this somewhat remote-controlled from the other side of the world stuff. There may be some interruptions in service while I find my way around England again, spend some time homeless and try and find somewhere to live, deal with the culture shock, and all that malarkey, but I’ll try and keep things moving along.

Having said all of which, maybe trying to post a YouTube thing on here is a little ambitious because I won’t be able to test it and make sure it works. Let’s see what happens. This is a clip I found via “The Guardian” yesterday. I have the original version of The Knife’s “Heartbeat”, which was released back in (I think) 2005. This video is of the new live single version. I hope it works. A voice in my left ear is saying this isn’t poetry. Another voice in my right ear is saying this isn’t poetry. The space between my ears, which is largely unexplored, doesn’t give a shit.