I never officially closed it down; I just stopped posting. Anyone who doesn’t yet know the story of the apocalypse that befell in Baroqueland can find it on the blog I started a year and more ago, A Far Cry from Hackney. Though that one has also been intermittent, for perhaps obvious reasons.

The cataclysm came, in any case, and I went, and I spent last summer living out of a suitcase, sofa-surfing, pet-sitting, and visiting friends. Since the end of September/beginning of October I’ve been in Faversham, Kent. You can tell that from my cunningly redesigned header. I overwintered, as it were, in an empty 1780s cottage belonging to old Stoke Newington friends, opposite a restorative little duckpond, and in April (thanks to a work in progress grant from the Society of Authors) I was able to rent a little Tudor garret in the centre of the town – which is to say, in a little red-brick-paved, pedestrianised, medieval street, leading to the market square – a street in which ‘Tudor’ counts as a bit late – for not all that much more than the landlords were trying to increase my rent by, last year.

It’s central, for Faversham. And it’s small. Well, the floors are big enough, but most of the walls are sloping, and the little casement windows, overlooking rooftops on every side, are recessed in deep alcoves. I keep thinking of Ursula Le Guin’s time-travelling short story, ‘April in Paris’. Over two difficult months (& with the help of a couple of kind friends with cars) I managed to get most of my remaining household goods down from London, emptied the garage where I’d been storing things, and continued the massive downsizing exercise begun last year. Last week saw about 400 books leave the premises, and that broke the back of it.

So now I’m living by myself in Kent.

One thing leading on to another, and the main one of those things being time, and life perforce going on regardless, I’m flinging open the doors of Baroque again. As you can see, I’ve had a big Baroque de-clutter, because nothing is really the same now and space is everything. I’ve spent this week dusting out all the cobwebs.

I’m writing a book, loosely memoir, with context and background around the rise of hidden homelessness and precarity in Brexit Britain, which will be published by CB Editions. It’ll be called A Far Cry from Hackney. That blog is where I’ve been writing about homelessness, and the subsequent displacement – though less that, in the recent months, as it feels tedious; I simply have to learn to make it work. Faversham is a lovely little town and has been a kind (if lonely) haven. It’s not anyone’s fault that I’ve been dropped from Mars.

Baroque in Hackney is – as always – for poetry, books, movies, art, culture, general news, and funny stories about things that happened. I’ve been writing off for the new poetry collections, and am in discussions with a few reviews editors, and am making plans for more workshops and things, so there’s plenty to write about. Baroque needs to be about the things that give us reasons to carry on, rather than the opposite. There’s quite enough doom around; I for one am full of it; but Baroque, even not in Hackney, has the power to transcend that.

Please do subscribe, if you want to, so you get new posts as they appear. And if you’re interested in poetry and workshops and things to do with writing, do sign up for the newsletter. The big yellow box in the side bar. That’s going to be starting up again too.

It’s good to be back.

A little flurry of emails over Christmas, and I’m rashly starting a new group with only days to go! It’s a new advanced poetry workshop that will meet on alternate Wednesday afternoons. Starting this week, 9 January, the term runs over seven fortnightly sessions. The group is limited to seven members, so if you join you get to share your work every time and the group really get to know each other. You don’t necessarily need to be published (though many members are), but if this group is a good fit for you, you’re seriously engaged with contemporary poetry and your own writing of it. I run a relaxed, friendly class, jolly and rigorous, with opportunities to share or ask for suggestions, tips on magazines etc, news of readings or the latest poetry scandal, and to celebrate each other’s achievements.

The new group will meet from 3-5pm at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon Road. The fee is £150 a term. And if you’d rather join the evening group, that meets from 7-9 and there are a couple of places, where members have moved to the afternoon one. Just drop me a line if you have any questions, or want to join.

An earnest chestnut in place of a poppy on the centenary of the Armistice

11 November 2018

NOTE: I first wrote this post in 2009, what seems a lifetime ago. Although it seems a lifetime, it is less than ten years, and it was the first year on which there were no veterans of the Great War to take part in the commemorations. It really is not that long a time, one […]

Read the full article →

A few thoughts on Christmas

25 December 2017

Well… maybe I get a little too much time to think on a Christmas Day. The festivities ended hereabouts at about 12:30 and the darkness descended… I had a lovely, quirky cup of tea with a friend who’s alone today – we thought of the Jewish bakery but it’s shut, but a pub turned out […]

Read the full article →

‘So Glad I’m Me’ at the Betsey: so glad I went!

24 November 2017

‘Home Sweet Home’ So, last Sunday. A celebration (rather than a ‘launch’, as it’s already been out for a while, and there were very few copies for sale on the day) of Roddy Lumsden’s new collection, So Glad I’m Me. I will be writing more about this book in due course, as it’s shortlisted for […]

Read the full article →

7th annual TS Eliot Prize workshop: one day, ten poets

16 November 2017

13th January, 11am-4.30pm Ten books. Ten poets. One day. (And what a day it is!) The TS Eliot Prize Shortlist has been announced, and on 13 January, 2018 – the day before the ten poets shortlisted for one of the UK’s two most prestigious poetry prizes will read their work in the Royal Festival Hall – we’ll be meeting […]

Read the full article →

A great day out at the Free Verse Poetry Magazine Fair

14 May 2017

Sometimes someone comes along and does something that, once it’s done, seems like it must always have been this way. Charles Boyle did one of those things when he started the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair, however many years ago it was now – five? Six! That first year it was a pretty small affair, in the […]

Read the full article →

Why, it’s a commendation!

8 January 2017

I’ve recently started entering competitions again. Well – I entered two. And because of the year it was (2016 of course), I forgot to keep notes, so I entered the same poem into both of them. Kids! Don’t do this! So I effectively paid two fees and entered one competition, and probably pissed off the people […]

Read the full article →