I am a poet, critic and founder editor of HappenStance Press. My first collection, Starlight on Water, was joint winner of the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize. My second, Plot and Counter-Plot, was published by Shoestring Press in 2010. I review widely, write a popular weekly blog on the HappenStance website, and occasionally tutor for the Arvon Foundation. I’m an experienced reader/performer with (some say) charm, character and charisma.
About writer's work
I enjoy light verse, as well as the heavier variety. I like surprise. I don’t usually write to commission: I wait until a poem arrives, but after that I beat it into shape remorselessly.
As an editor, I am hands-on. I like seeing a poet develop, grow in confidence and finally soar. To me being a good reader of poetry is as difficult and important as writing well: that’s why I continue to review widely and operate an open submissions policy for HappenStance.
I believe poets, like most other people, need a sense of humour. As a result I write what I call ‘anti-poetry’ (by definition: ‘poems that make it harder for other poets to write poems’) and I cherish irony (though not all the time). For the last decade and I half I have been working on a series of poems about a couple called ‘Mr and Mrs Philpott’. Eventually I hope they’ll have a book of their own.
In supporting other writers, through workshops or mentoring, I’m interested in: the way writers develop confidence in their own individual ‘voice’; in shaping the connection between meaning, mode and form; in developing skill as a public reader/performer; in planning towards publication; in the joy of reading and writing; in the pros and cons of social networking for writers.
Websites featuring the authorHappenstance Press | Blog | Sphinx Review | Linked In |Youtube | Scottish Poetry Library | Soundcloud | Irregular Features | Interview with Author | Facebook | Poet on Poetry
Current events and projects
I am available to do readings of my own work; talks on the challenge of small-press publishing; workshops on review writing; and after-dinner speaking. I can also bring groups of HappenStance poets to talk about their work and read from it.
As editor of HappenStance Press I write a widely-followed weekly blog, often on the theme of poetry publishing. I also publish an annual prose ‘chapter’ about HappenStance: the ‘backstory’ to the various publications, together with what I’ve learned. I co-ordinate and run SphinxReview.co.uk, which features interviews and articles about pamphlet publishers. It’s important to me to de-mystify the publishing process and encourage more people to take on similar roles. I review widely and am a periodic essayist, as well as doing some part-time work for the Scottish Qualifications Authority as a senior qualifications verifier.