Candleshoe jacket 2014

In looking for a suitable sample to put on here, I chose one which is a) short and b) not too complex behind the scenes. It’s a straightforward descriptive piece, but I hope I made it lively and three-dimensional. The real life location is in Leicester, near the DMU student district; I was waiting there for a venue to open, then I could take part as a reader.

As usual in real life, other things happened which I couldn’t get into the poem. I found a whole cucumber on the pavement outside the shop, and two ice-cream vendors were having a turf war because one of them had occupied a pitch which affected the others’ business. I really wanted to put the vendors in, but they didn’t work as part of a poem; and the cucumber would have lent a sharp surrealist touch. But no.

This one appears in the latest collection, The Complete Electric Artisan.


At 5pm the buildings shake their people loose:

the japanese canal with its painted-on lily pads

is an enamelled trackway,

the air is as sultry as a dark peony whose time has come

and I’m outside the 24/7 convenience store

sharp grit in the turnstile of commerce.

The concrete and its small thrust stage

these littered people, spreading –

they are drawn to the urban pocket park

growing its metal lamp-posts,

their bark-chip playground a citadel

with its towers and plastic slides.

Ice-cream charms are spangling the planet

with rusted atonal clangs –

and elephantine, a delivery van

goes nosing the tarmacked streets

a liner at the dock:

petrol in the freighted atmosphere,

a curtain-wall of windows

from the clamorous 19th century

with arterial plumbing clung to its sides

like tied mountaineers, but frozen.



I’m published mostly by Shoestring Press, and you can find their site at http://www.shoestringpress.co.uk. 

sv jacket imageEverything apart from Newborough County (out of print) should be available on Amazon, although I recommend trying the publishers’ site or your local indie bookshop first. SV featured in the Forward Poetry awards for 2002, and helped me to define a style where I felt confident as a poet. You’ll know how important that is!

Newborough County  (Shoestring, 2001)

Secret Villages  (Flambard Press, 2001)

Borderville  (Shoestring, 2011)

Candleshoe  (Shoestring, 2014)

The Complete Electric Artisan (Shoestring, 2017).