is an English journalist and poet. His debut chapbook, Making The Most Of The Light
, was published in 2005 by HappenStance Press
and he has appeared in British and US magazines, e-zines and anthologies, including Magma
, Boxcar Poetry Review
, Poetry Nottingham
He was the winner of the 2004 Plough Poetry Prize, and runner-up in BBC Wildlife Poet Of The Year 2007. He lives near Leicester and works as production editor at Bird Watching
magazine. His blog is Polyolbion
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Show, Don’t Tell
Absence is everything. We know that by now.
It is enough to write of how
the days are marked by a darkness
puddling in the valley bottom like river mist,
that the few bright stars are revealed
as porchlights on the hillsides when morning arrives,
that I know my neighbours only
from their footfalls on rainy, taxi-hour paths.
That it is always turning late in the year. So
you will understand me when I say that
that sound you hear behind me
is not static or the cross-traffic
of a thousand relay stations
but the night, raw and gaping,
hammering, hammering on the skylight.
’d written poetry on and off from my mid-teens, without sending it anywhere (thank God—it was awful). Every now and then I’d get discouraged and give up, but I did keep reading a lot of contemporary poetry, and it was all a bit like quitting drinking every time I had a hangover—deep down I knew I’d keep going back to it.
Then, about five years ago, I was sitting in the car at dusk waiting to pick up a friend from work when I started writing this poem. It started like all my work had up to then—a straightforward attempt to record a particular moment. I think, I hope, that it does that, but it was also an attempt (especially the last few lines) to capture something a bit less tangible. I’m no fan of obscurity for its own sake, but for the first time I arrived at a blend of the straightforward and the almost-grasped—exactly the blend I wanted.
As it turned out, I didn’t finish the poem until about a year ago, but that moment was just the spark I needed. I wrote other poems, and started getting a few published, and I haven’t stopped. I’m still not certain about how it works on its own terms, but I can’t help feeling an affection for it, just because it spurred me on when I most