Normal service will be resumed shortly, I hope! Meanwhile I am making like this doll and have been pretty much constantly typing on various things since before Christmas. Some of them are documents. And some of them are typewriters. It’s hard to believe that January is nearly over already, but  am hoping to be able to do more blogging in February. Meanwhile…

10891706_1602330729990287_5514950373286868325_nI was going to write about Pascale Petit’s poetry collection, Fauverie, today. It is a fine book. Its poems are spare and precise, and its images are startling and bright.

But then the news came from Paris, and all thoughts of poetry, or anything else besides grief and rage, went out of my head. Pascale is in FauverieJulysmallParis today, sitting in the middle of the news, being a woman who writes poetry, and having the power to write a book called Fauverie – a book that’s full of Paris; a book about the ability to speak and to write and to look – while IS with its uncivilised idiots and unsophisticated cognitive processes does its best to ruin the highly civilised place she does it in. There’s no such thing as ‘here’ or ‘there’ any  more – this could as easily have been London or anywhere else. We are in the realm of the state of mind.

The Charlie Hebdo office had been under police guard since 2011, in fear of just this kind of attack. The magazine had responded to threat after threat – beginning with the 2006 ‘cartoons of the Prophet’ crisis – with satire. It threatened no one, it committed no violence, it just did what it does. It made cartoons. Would you have said those cartoons were kind? Not really. Were they tasteful, or polite? Not at all. But they did often sum up the ridiculousness of the situation in which someone might think a cartoon was justification for killing someone. Might they have been offensive to moderate Muslims? Yes, but then any moderate Muslim might  be more offended by the idea that a cartoonist has been killed for a cartoon – especially in his or her name. So there can be no debate no the grounds of this attack having been ‘provoked’, or the cartoons having been ‘disrespectful’.

There is a lot more to say, and some of it will even be about poetry. And cartoons. And how we in the Enlightened West deal with material that offends us. And maybe different forms of wildness, and what being civilised means. For me it means, above all, the pen, and freedom of it. So I guess that means I am Charlie Hebdo.

That’s all for now. Yours in extreme sadness.

B6wqVIYIQAAPi1SParis, today: people holding up pens in protest

Delayed Reaction: the Free Verse Book Fair, back in September

December 31, 2014

What follows is a post I began and never finished, back in the day when it would have been relevant. This has been very much the story or 2014, and for this reason I am publishing this post as it is. Or was. The year DID happen, even though my blogging of it was fairly […]

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Merry, Faithful and Virtuous: some reading at Christmas

December 30, 2014

Right! We have weathered Christmas here in Baroque Mansions, the last child has departed, and the panettone is getting smaller. The Christmas tree is still twinkling behind me, and so is the balcony. It’s a cold sunny day and I am back at my desk. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly given the amount of cooking and […]

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Merry Christmas, everybody

December 25, 2014

The Reprieve The Christmas tree, so I’ve heard told, grows most lush where it’s most cold. The Star of Christmas, some remark, shines brightest where the night’s most dark. Christmas comes, like all tomorrows, to him who laughs and her who sorrows, we carol out our Christmas songs while sleigh-bells toll like tiny gongs. But […]

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Eyes on the Prize: 3rd annual TS Eliot shortlist workshop

December 4, 2014

Ten books. Ten poets. The most prestigious poetry prize in the UK.* The day before the big prize reading. Yes, it’s time for my third annual all-day workshop on the TS Eliot Prize shortlist ! All ten, count ‘em , ten of ‘em. We’ll be at the Poetry School in Lambeth Walk. This workshop takes […]

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Back from the poetry: Aldeburgh 2014

November 30, 2014

Well that previous post about changing my inactive ways  didn’t exactly come to pass! It’s now been a good few weeks since the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, and the same few half-written posts have been sitting here ever since. I tried to write a post while I was there; I even tried to write just a Facebook […]

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The Train to Aldeburgh

November 7, 2014

Well, Baroque in Hackney must being the running for Least Active Poetry Blog of the Year. But that is about to change, at least for a few days, because I am on the train to Saxmundham, for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. I’m in the way of a no-strings junket; the idea is that the people […]

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