Tuesday, 28 April 2015

SURFS UP IN SOMERSET

I am delighted to be interviewing my favourite surf band. The multi-talented Tim Baigent, lead guitarist and singer with Lakota 5, Somerset's premier surf band, and all round good guy is here to answer my questions.
I saw there d├ębut gig last year and I was bowled over by the sheer energy of the band. They have chops to die for, energy to spare and the choice of material is inspired. I can't wait for the next gig. 
You can check out the band's website here. There's shed loads of videos for you to dance to but not before we hear about the band:

Why Lakota 5
Our style is early 1960s surf garage stuff - we wanted a name that felt like the music. We’re all big film fans in particular the Vietnam doom fest ‘Apocalypse Now’. There’s a great surf scene in the film and our image kind of fell into place behind that. We’ve always loved a band who ‘look like a band’ - ie Devo, The Ramones etc...so thats it. Oh yeah...there’s a US army chopper called a Lakota.

Who are your influences
Dick Dale, Link Wray, The Sonics, The Ramones, Beach Boys. The Ramones are surf music for the land locked! The only modern band that are currently getting us excited are Hookworms from Leeds - great organ driven garage psych!

Whats in the pipeline
We’ve just done some filming which is up on our website. And we aim to play some local festivals this summer. So far we’ve got confirmed Fri May 8th Cic Taunton, Gumbeerfest Sat 20th June, Newt Fest Sat 11th July and Taunton Live Arts Fest on Fri 24th July, we have a few more in the pipeline but not confirmed yet. After we’ve got our ‘summer offensive’ out of the way we aim to do some proper recording on to tape to give that authentic early 1960s crackle - so aiming to have an EP out in the autumn on our own label.
You seem to use old equipment - is this intentional?
Yes, wherever possible. We’ve lost days on Ebay etc. Our organ magpie Kilgore McCallum has just taken delivery of a 1965 WEM Teiscord. It gives off a great cheesy surfin’ vibe - it sits alongside an old Hammond. 

You have form - being in a band before, tell us about those times
Myself and the drummer were in a 3 piece back in the late 1980s called ‘Poke it with a stick’. We moved to London and did ok - got played on the John Peel show regularly and tours supporting some named bands like the Inspiral Carpets, playing up and down the country. Our sound was not unlike Hookworms. Sonic riff outs - with a toe tapping chorus. But we ran out of steam in about 1990.

Favourite single.
As a band I’d probably say...‘Cinerella’ by The Sonics

Thanks Tim
Lakota 5 also have a Facebook page here.
Here's a video of the band playing The Athena Rooms

Friday, 24 April 2015

THE CORRIDORS CONSPIRED

A revised poem. You can read the last draft here.
I must thank the Secret Poets and Juncture 25 for their valuable insights and constructive feedback. 

Another Poem For Christine

Last night you found your way home,
despite the intervening twenty years,
and the fact I've moved more than once.

Of course it was a dream,
the corridors conspired and turned in to walls
and kept us apart, though I walked for miles,
until I awoke with this poem in my head.

Then there was a choice,
stay in bed or write it down.
I chose, in the grey dawn,
to sit in this comfortable room
and write you another poem.
There are a number of changes, most noticeably the line breaks. Layout can really affect a poem and it is always worthwhile playing about with how it looks on the page. 
As you can see from this work in progress layout changes how the reader approaches the poem.

the thick, warm night reverberates with the echo of the music, I carry an amp to their car, they have a hundred and fifty mile return journey, the house concert is now a party, fat, splat raindrops impact on the road as we walk back to your home, bringing the promise of a cooler night

Not sure it is half way there yet. I feel the it is a poem of two halves that may never meet. Watch this space.
Here is some music from a long time ago, back when videos were thought to be cool.

Friday, 17 April 2015

WINGS PRESS ON AIR

Three brief poems about birds.
I was watching a talk by Andrew Hass in which he outlined how he uses his journal to gather material for poems. He suggested that listeners went for a walk and wrote down six observations. The next step was to juxtapose these notes and to see what evolved from doing so.
Needles to say I could not manage all the directions. But I did produce three poems.


Plucked from a rubbish bag,
a white bread with mould playing card.
With practised skill and one watching eye,
the beak cuts the over soft centre.
The card spins,
middle gobbled.
Wings press on air,
then the seagull is half a street away.
These poems are literally what I observed on three short walks last Wednesday.


six lampposts
six seagulls
one perched on each
they all look to the south
there's a turf war happening here
that's beyond this mammal's comprehension

I like the idea that this world holds other stories than those told by and about humans. In this human created environment, birds are living out their own myths and legends.
I hope the story is evident from the way I have written this one.


A Good Score


Targeted.
The protein rich prize
tips over the edge.

Topples.

Hits the road.

Spills life.

Between the relentless cars,
two Magpies feast on another's child.
Sad attempt to add a bird image, even if it is from a different continent
The wondrous Annabelle Chvostek is touring next month. This is a song off her new cd. Personally I can't wait to see her live again.

Friday, 10 April 2015

AN OPEN SECRET

I think there must be an election on here in the UK. I answered a knock at the door yesterday and was asked by a canvasser if the conservative party could rely on my vote. I impressed by her optimism. You would have to be be an optimist to think that a man wearing a Marcus Garvey t-shirt would ever be considered a supporter of a party that has seen the number of food banks soar under its misgovernment of this country. No Marcus was for justice, equality and liberation for all, not just rich people. 
I was discussing poetry with the mighty Oscar Sparrow recently and we were describing our respective creative processes. I was impressed by the metaphor he used of interviewing words for their suitability. My own method seems to be linking different concepts and seeing where it takes me.
This next poem came from a song title that mention a tightrope walker. Once I had the basic idea down all I had to do was research the physics.

A tightrope walk is an open secret.
Physics explains her graceful stroll:
tight leather shoes to maximise friction;
a taut wire, secured at each end;
a bent pole held in her spread arms
to lower her centre of mass
-which at all times must be over the rope;
plus a head for heights is all.
So she places one foot after another,
and may or may not look down.
We walk a changing line,
bereft of the security fixed points grant,
few see us when we fall,
or sense the small triumph of a day gone well.
Truthfully we are the stars of the show,
but the spotlights are on her
and we applaud the steady, slow procession.
Now an older poem that I have been revising:

Selfie in Black and White

The Magpie told me,
the purpose of this life was to choose.
I want to tell her I'm in it for the poems,
but she knows that already.
So I look at some old photograph,
black and white me,
and decide it's the percentages that count.

Still a work in progress I think.
Here's Burning Spear singing Marcus Garvey.
And here's the whole classic album.

Friday, 3 April 2015

THE QUICKEST ROUTE

The following poem unfurled as I wrote it and headed in a different direction to what I expected, not an uncommon occurrence. The germ of the poem had been an image of discovery. The idea of, by chance, seeing a person in a totally unexpected setting and the conclusions that we draw from this sighting. The end came unexpected as I wrote the first draft.
The difficulty was to get the language of the observer just right. The person talking to the narrator had to be speaking colloquially, there is something about that relaxed speech pattern which type casts the person. I wanted to imply that they were untrustworthy, omitting as many facts as they were saying the narrator.
As usual the title is to follow, when I can think of one.
He tells me that I have to understand the circumstances.
It was the quickest route to get from his new flat
to the cheap plumbers merchants, the one by the railway,
the most obvious, the logical way, economical.
He was not spying on his estranged wife,
I am asked if he looks like a stalker?
Anyway, there he was, driving down her street, slow like,
because of the traffic, and it's near a 20 zone,
when he clocks that bloke from the garage, Wayne,
walking down his wife's side of the street,
two doors away as if he's just left her.
Wayne must have at least recognised the car,
he's serviced that for the last three years,
but he was blanked, and Wayne kept on walking.
Mind you he confides,
Wayne's face told the story, guilt written all over it.
I am asked if I know what this means.
I nod, dry mouthed,
grateful he had not cruised by a minute before
and seen me putting my key into her front door.
Does it work? I am not sure. I do not want to give the impression that Wayne has been to see the estranged wife. How he happens to be on the street at that particular time is a mystery. It doesn't matter. I want the ex-husband to miss the point. 
Anyway here is a brief poem.

Dubai Blues

this is a city in need of sleep
you can see it in the eyes of the service people
who are forced to feed the furnace of the machine
all their waking hours

you can walk the glittery malls
buy stuff for weeks
and miss this simple truth
The photographs continue to bear no relation to the text.
Here's a track from the new Sufjan Stevens lp. I've only heard it once but it sounded up to his usual excellent standard.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

GUEST POST: THE ENGLISH SISTERS

I  am delighted to have The English Sisters  write a guest post. They specialise in stress management and their book Stress Free in Three Minutes is well worth reading. It offers tips that we all can benefit from. Enough from me.

LEARN HOW TO BE STRESS FREE

Words fascinate us, they always have.
Some words appear to be more fascinating than others.
Osmosis is one of those words that brings about great delight in us.

If you look up osmosis in the dictionary you will see that it has two meanings. The first; a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane into a more concentrated one and the second meaning; the process of unconscious effortless assimilation of ideas knowledge etc. It is the latter that really excites us.

You see, we all learn so much through the flow of osmotic action otherwise known as unconscious assimilation.


This is how we learnt how to speak our mother tongue and how we learnt helpful patterns of behavior and it’s also how we learnt those patterns of behavior that are not so helpful to us. The one's that cause us daily stress.

If you were fortunate enough to grow up in a tranquil and serene environment, where both your parents knew how to manage their stress levels, then through the process of osmosis you too will most probably have assimilated wonderful ways of reacting and coping with stress and stressful situations.

If this was not the case, then the exciting news is that you can learn how to be stress-free in as little as three minutes.

In order for you to do this you have to take a deep breath and access the relaxation response within you, which is the exact opposite to the stress-response where worry and anxiety reside.

It may sound difficult to you, if you are feeling stressed right now, however we assure you, you will find it’s as easy as faking a big wide yawn.

Take a moment to fake a big wide yawn now. Allow the muscles around your eyes to relax and enjoy the feeling of your body being soaked up in warm sunlight or whatever you prefer.

It could be your favorite color expanding throughout every cell in your body, a warm bath, or doing wonderfully at your favorite sport; you decide.

You see, your unconscious mind has the ability to allow you to relax and access well-being through the process of osmosis.

You can begin to observe how a flower dances in the wind or how a leaf falls to the ground silently from the nearest tree.

You may begin to notice peaceful moments throughout your day making you mindful of your thoughts and allowing you to melt thoughts that stress you, away.

Bring into your mind a sense of loving peace that comes with knowing that you are a creative being and that you can access peace of mind at any time. It’s simple, simply fake a big yawn and as you do, recall all your favorite thoughts.

Allow these thoughts to cascade into your mind and as you go through them one by one, you may begin to smile. It’s that same smile that you learnt through the process of osmosis a long time ago, when you smiled for the first time…

Keep that smile in your mind at all times and watch how those around you thrive.

If you want to know more then you can read their blog here.

Friday, 27 March 2015

FASHIONING WORD NECKLACES

Recently I was asked why I never enter poetry competitions. I hadn't got an answer, after some thought I replied that this blog acts as a conduit for my work. It is an effective means of reaching people and that, after all, is what its about. So thank you for reading this.

A poem about creation. It is dedicated to the great Oscar Sparrow, a poet of note, of great skill and beauty, that sadly we do not hear enough from at the moment. You can read his blog here.


for Oscar Sparrow

Like us, they speak their words on paper,
it is possible they take longer in the choosing
than these you now read.
Each is carefully selected for sound,
shape, and something only the author is aware of.
Naturally their verse will passport them to the centre.
We are on the outside, beyond the margins,
breathing life into metaphors,
fashioning word necklaces
to decorate our World Tree.
Next a vignette that is half true.


So here I am, sat in this nearly empty pub,
and he's talking about Friday night discos.
How he would come here hoping to bed a foreign student,
to be her brief exotic, erotic interlude.
We've both seen better days, he confides,
but back then this place had class.

I think every poem is composed of the real and the imagined. We draw on life and from inside and fashion these word necklaces.

Here's Oscar reading.
Post Script:
On Tuesday I am pleased to be publishing a guest post by The English Sisters the authors of a series of best selling books that deal with stress management.