Semper Occultus

Sergei Skripal turns out to have been
Christopher Steele’s associate.
During the last presidential elections, 
They had worked together on a dossier
Laced with detrimental footage

Russian operatives allegedly
Had to dish on Donald Trump.
Steele was MI6. An adept officer,
He operated under diplomatic cover;
In Russia and in Paris, and at the FO;

Pillar of a secretive establishment.
After he left the service though,
He supplied the FBI with evidence
Of bribery at FIFA: sterling work
On international soccer that lent credence

To his material on Trump’s entanglements.
Colourful these. Trump hiring prostitutes
To piss on a bed that Barack
And Michelle were said to have slept in
In the Moscow Ritz Carlton.


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The Distance Measured in Days

Click the Link for my novel – The Distance Measured in Days.


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Saturday 7 April 6.30 pm – at The Upper Vestry Hall, Saint George’s Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2SA


Kerry-Lee Powell, Rosanne Wasserman, Eugene Richie, Donald Gardner, Alan Jenkins, Anthony Howell and Fawzi Karim.

Readings at 7 pm. The hall is just round the back of this magnificent Hawksmoor church.

We have taken over this larger venue to celebrate Grey Suit Editions – and our series of Chap-books. Many of our poets from the United States and from Canada have come over to join us. We have seven readers and there will be plenty of refreshment, and it is a FREE EVENT since it is the launch of chap-books by Rosanne Wasserman and Donald Gardner. Rosanne’s husband Eugene Richie will also read with us.

Rosanne Wasserman


Rosanne Wasserman’s poetry embodies the New York School’s fascination with language, form, humor, and irreverence. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1952, her books—The Lacemakers, No Archive on Earth, and Other Selves—include variants on Moore’s stanzas; Pound’s imitation ancient Greek, Chinese, and Provencal forms; centos, sestinas, pantoums, and Oulipo games. Her new chapbook from Grey Suit Editions, Sonnets from Elizabeth’s, is a 42-poem sequence riffing on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese. Her poems, essays, and other work appear in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry, both in print and online. She and Eugene Richie founded the Groundwater Press in 1974, giving many third- and fourth-generation New York School poets their first publications. She has received a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts; attended workshops in Manhattan and Brooklyn led by John Yau, Bianca Stone, Emily Skillings, and Simone Kearney; and interviewed Pierre Martory and James Schuyler for the American Poetry Review. With Eugene Richie, she has written two collaborations—Place du Caruousel and Psyche and Amor—as well as edited the two-volume Collected French Translations of John Ashbery. For twenty-five years, she has taught English and cinema to merchant sailors at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, Long Island.

Eugene Richie

Eugene Richie photo

Eugene Richie was born in Winona, Minnesota, in 1951, and has lived in New York since 1974. He is Director of Creative Writing in the Pace University English Department, where he teaches creative writing and literature courses. His collections of poetry include Moiré; Island Light; and, with Rosanne Wasserman, Place du Carousel and Psyche and Amor. A new book of poems, Views of Little Neck Bay, is forthcoming in 2019 from Gnosis Press. Of his poetry, John Ashbery has said he reveals “the landscape of love we all carry around with us, that we use to accost, identify, and finally understand the ‘real’ one yapping at our ankles.” He has translated, with Edith Grossman, two poetry collections of the Colombian writer Jaime Manrique (Scarecrow and My Night with Federico García Lorca, a Lambda Literary Award finalist); two collections, with Raimundo Mora, of stories by the Venezuelan writer Matilde Daviu; and with Medievalist Martha Diver, tales by John Gower, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Thomas Chester. He has edited Ashbery’s Selected Prose, and, with Wasserman and Olivier Brossard, three bilingual collections of Ashbery’s translations of poems by French poet and novelist Pierre Martory: The Landscape Is behind the Door; Oh, Lake / Oh, lac; and The Landscapist (a London Poetry Book Society Recommendation and a U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award poetry finalist). With Wasserman, he edited Ashbery’s Collected French Translations, a London Poetry Book Society Recommendation and a finalist for the U.S. Poetry Foundation Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism.

Kerry-Lee Powell

Born in Montreal, Kerry-Lee Powell has lived in Antigua, Australia and the United Kingdom, where she studied Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cardiff University. Her work has appeared in The Spectator, Magma and The Boston Review. A collection of her poetry, Inheritance, was published by Biblioasis in 2014. She has also published a book of short stories, William de Kooning’s Paintbrush, with Harper Avenue in 2016.

Alan Jenkins

Alan Jenkins was brought up on the outskirts of London in Richmond, and educated at the University of Sussex, and has worked for The Times Literary Supplement since 1981. He was also a poetry critic for The Observer, and the Sunday Independent from 1985 to 1990. He edited the “Collected Poems of Ian Hamilton” (Faber & Faber, 2009). He has published six volumes of poetry including A Shorter Life (2005) and Revenants (2013). He is now Deputy Editor and Poetry Editor of The Times Literary Supplement.

He has taught creative writing for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Arvon Foundation, the Poetry Society, London, and at the American University in Paris. He was a judge for the Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes

Fawzi Karim

Fawzi Karim was born in Baghdad in 1945, and is now living in London. He is rapidly establishing a reputation as a major figure in contemporary poetry. Plague Lands (Carcanet) was a Poetry Book Society recommendation for 2011. He has been reviewing Classical Music and English Poetry in ASHARQ ALAWSAT, the Arabic newspaper, London, since 1980s.  A second book of his poems is due to be published by Carcanet.     

Donald Gardner

London-born Donald Gardner is a poet and literary translator who has lived in Italy, New York and the Netherlands. Currently he divides his time between Amsterdam and Kildare, Ireland. His most recent collection is ‘The Wolf Inside’, (Hearing Eye, 2014). His selection of Remco Campert’s poetry, ‘In those Days’ (Shoestring Press), also appeared in 2014 and was awarded the Vondel Prize for literary translation. He is known for his readings of his poetry. ‘Donald Gardner’s work is light but not trivial; clear but technically subtle and eloquent. His poetry captures his images in few words: sharply, precisely.’ Leah Fritz on ‘The Wolf Inside’ (London Grip online).

Anthony Howell

Anthony Howell is a poet and novelist whose first collection of poems, Inside the Castle was brought out in 1969.  In 1986 his novel In the Company of Others was published by Marion Boyars.  Another novel Oblivion has recently been published by Grey Suit editions.  He was invited to the International Writers Program, University of Iowa in 1971.  His Selected Poems came out from Anvil, and his Analysis of Performance Art is published by Routledge.  His poems have appeared in The New Statesman, The Spectator and The Times Literary Supplement.  His articles on visual art, dance, performance and poetry have appeared in many journals and magazines including Artscribe, Art Monthly, The London Magazine, and Harpers & Queen.  In 1997 he was short-listed for a Paul Hamlyn Award for his poetry. His versions of the Silvae of Statius have been well received and Plague Lands, his versions of the poems of Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, were a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for 2011. A former dancer with the Royal Ballet, and now a respected teacher of the tango, Howell was founder and director of The Theatre of Mistakes, which created notable performances worldwide in the seventies and eighties – at venues such as the Paris Biennale, the Sydney Biennale, the Paula Cooper Gallery, the Theater for the New City (NY) and at the Tate and the Haywood. Play-scripts of his performances are now published by Grey Suit Editions. He is a Hawthornden Fellow.  Howell is currently curating The Room, a space for dance, performance, poetry and visual art in Tottenham, London.

All enquiries – 0208 801 8577

Details of Grey Suit editions can be found here

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The Melancholy of Making Poetry

Poetry is perhaps the most difficult of arts because the easiest to set about – you don’t need a chisel or a canvas or an instrument or a studio. Writing is eminently convenient. But melancholy derives from the need of the author to dwell on the work. There is shame here, the shame of appearing a narcissist. To return repeatedly to a poem one has written may be compared to returning repeatedly to the mirror to examine one’s own features. It may be compared to masturbation. All too often shame overshadows the compulsion to niggle away at the lines.

But to bring the poem fully into its own presence, the poet may be required to dwell on what has been written, and to return to it, months, even years later. This will not always be the case – sometimes the labour may be easy – but ease can hardly be elevated into a credo, as the next poem may prove difficult to bring into being. The difference between jobbery and genius becomes apparent when the work is an iota away from completion. Do you have the stamina to sustain your own dissatisfaction? To alter the poem is to kill off the previous version, thus admitting one’s own failure as its author. One may feel ashamed that one has got it wrong yet again.

Another version gets screwed up and thrown in the bin. This has been described as mimetic suicide. Leonardo understood this, for artists and composers are also subject to the same requirement to attempt the unattainable goal.

The initial impulse may be released onto the page in a species of trance, perhaps instigated by Dionysus. The subsequent crafting of the poem relates to the ear, to the measure that generates the rhythm, and to concision of expression, and these aspects of the piece are presided over by the rational Apollo. Apollo tempers the molten element of Dionysus, and this also induces a tension that provokes melancholia, as the struggle between these two contradictory forces suggests the suppression of the one by the other. But the hope that out of their feuding will emerge a dynamic equilibrium drives the authentic poet ever closer to completion.

(Frederick Sandys)


See also On The Niceties  and The Needle

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Two Poems by Penny Boxall


Just back from Hawthornden, where I spent a month writing and painting watercolours. And here are two poems by Penny – who was also a fellow, one for Jean Findlay – who plays the bagpipes – and one for me, celebrating a walk we took up the glen (it is more of a ravine) leading one up to nearby Rosslyn Castle.


(‘Preserve Harmony’)


for Jean


The pipes have fainted – all limp neck

and stomach, the air knocked out of them.

You pick them up; they loll.

It does not look promising.

Unfussed, you settle them and start

bestowing mouth-to-mouth although

they’ve never lived. Notwithstanding,

spines bristle and resuscitate.

Launching is the trick: a bid for balance

among chancy toots and goose-chase spurts.

You bloat the bag with your latest lungful,

prompting with a good sharp nudge.

The pipes agree an open span which could mean anything –

in itself glad nor glum, but compatible with both.

The tune’s your call. You’ve got the edge;

we’re asking you to fill in all the blanks.



(‘God is our Guide’)


for Anthony


The river’s cut these rocks out by degrees –

slowly, over centuries. We cannot fathom this.


The path flirts hard with the edge,

tempting fate. We wish it wouldn’t.


It’s disguised with beech leaves

like a wealth of unearthed coins.


The horizon tumbles with loose stones

down the ravine; the water, below, repeats itself.


You sketch. I sit and eat a chilly lunch

overlooking that big nothing, not thinking much.


Round the corner we encounter a couple –

outdoorsy types in defining black, like spies.


He’s urging her onto a sublime ledge,

an empty niche above the nerveless drop.


We could be witnessing a betrothal

or a murder. If one precludes the other.


He squares himself to the terrible view;

she squats, not looking. She’s inches from the brink.


He holds the camera high to get the shot.

I wonder what they’ll find in future


to hold over each other – a lie, perhaps, or

thoughtlessness – and whether that will feel at all like this.



Penny’s book Ship of the Line is published by Eyewear



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Lady Mary Wroth – one of our first sonneteers.

Here is a link to my essay on Sonnets. It is published by the Fortnightly Review.

See also the Corona What went on – in Rosanne Wasserman’s No Archive on Earth

which I had not read at the time of writing this essay.

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Charged Atmospheres

Charged Atmospheres – Alison Marchant

A new exhibition at The Room – 33 Holcombe Road, London N17 9AS

Sat 30 September – Sunday 12 November

 Private View – Saturday 30 September from 6pm – 9.30pm.
Alison Marchant presents a selection of found archival photographs dating back to the 1970s. They depict the interiors of dilapidated stately homes and country cottages.The aged, mottled surface of the photographs echoes the walls and ceilings of the interiors. The dressing table has lost its mirror image, its reflection. While on a metaphorical level these derelict empty buildings, symbols of inherited prosperity in ruin, exist along side another suggested world of homelessness, squatting and sleeping rough.
Alison Marchant studied at The Slade School of Art UCL. International shows include The Photographers Gallery, London; Camden Arts Centre; Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Manchester Cornerhouse; Franklin Furnace, New York; and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art. Collections include : The Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre London; Maureen Paley, London; The Third Eye Corporation, Tokyo; and Franklin Furnace at MOMA, New York.
The exhibition includes:
three analogue monochrome 3′ x 4′ prints on colour paper, mounted on canvas and stretchers.
one 2′ x 3′ print on colour paper, mounted on canvas and stretchers.
one 8′ x 10′ monochrome analogue print, wall mounted.
Viewing by appointment – 0208 801 8577 – 075340 92970
The Room, 33 Holcombe Road, N17 9AS
Events: (more details at The Room website/Poetry and Performance)
XXXXXX7.30 pm Saturday 14 October: Performance Evening with Lee Triming and JoJo Taylor
xxxxxxx x7.30 pm Saturday  4 November: Poetry Reading with

Donald Gardner – to celebrate Donald’s Grey Suit chap-book – Early Morning

Tim Dooley – to celebrate Tim’s Eyewear publication – Weemoed

Anthony Howell – to celebrate his High Window Press publication – From Insidex

Sarah Wardle will also be reading from her Bloodaxe collection – Beyond

£5 entry, then donation for refreshments – for performance and poetry events.


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