Hack Writing

Tony Williams has reviewed The Terrors on his poetry blog. He describes it as an ‘exuberant, coherent and original pamphlet’. I’m really pleased that readers have responded so positively and creatively to this little sequence – opening up new avenues of thought, responding liberally to the material I set down.

I believe Jane at Nine Arches has done a reprint, so you can still get hold of a copy at five pounds.


Poem as bullet

A typographic rukus interrupts
their dense arrangement of wires;

language for its own sake was
alone on top of a cold building.

Steel performs a shedding of skin
in reverse. The snake creeps back

inside. In truth, the whole metropolis
is bleeding from the guts and gums.

To order space when we cannot even
tell the time – to me, that seems absurd.

University of Life, mate. (Up a garret
down a side road with no heating.)

Some scrag in a poncho screaming
How’s your father? to a rookery of

knaves who’ve missed the deadline,
press execute and drop. The signal

to advance arrives, but through a process
of erasure, ritualised in stocks, fails to

register; they slump. Soon it will be 2010.
Incendiary devices are improvised

from the rotting shells of dead poets.

Gravestones & duffil coats


The Terrors, my sequence of Newgate e-missives, has been completed and sent to the publisher, Nine Arches. It’ll be launched on March 29th. Artist Emma Robertson (who is, amongst other things, behind Littlest Birds) has created some beautiful line-drawings to illustrate the pamphlet. See above.

Also, writer/filmmaker Iain Sinclair has read the sequence and endorses it thus:

Dark London history, dredged and interrogated, spits and fizzes with corrosive wit. Language-receipts sustain the necessary illusion. IT MATTERS. It matters: the weight and pace of delivery, the balance of breath. Tom Chivers understands the risks he risks, the play in a taught rope.

Blood, Sweat, Tears and Poetry

Today I spent a couple of hours at the Bishopsgate Institute being interviewed for BBC Radio 3 by Patience Agbabi and her producer Simon Evans. It’s for a programme called ‘Blood, Sweat, Tears and Poetry’, broadcast for National Poetry Day on 9th October at 11.30am. This year’s theme is ‘Work’ so they’ve been interviewing poets who have been ‘resident’ in workplaces (from April to July 2008 I was the Bishopsgate’s first ever Poet in Residence).

Of course, many artists and writers spend their lives in perpetual guilt that they’re not doing ‘proper’ jobs. Seamus Heaney’s famous poem ‘Digging’ – in which the father’s spade is transformed into the son’s ‘squat pen’ – comes to mind.

In other news – I am soon to move into a garret in Aldgate. True enough.

Berets by registered post, please.