Monday, December 29, 2008

The Art of Procrastination

I find once again that I am procrastinating instead of doing my work. It is exactly the kind of thing that I was arguing with my son about this morning before he went to his dads. What is it with the human mind and the avoidance of the task in hand? It's true I know one or two people who seem to be able to complete an assignment or a piece of work well before their deadline (well one actually) but the majority of the people that I know, like me, leave it until the last minute. I'm not so bad these days that I have to stay up all night the day before a piece of work is due in, but I am down to the last couple of days.

There's more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:

arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.

avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.

decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

I think that I probably fall into the avoider category - Dr Ferrari suggests that the only way to solve this problem is cognitive behavioural therapy.

I think I had better just get on with my work!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Top Twenty for Autumn

After a musically barren few weeks my inclination for listening to music is back with a vengence. I must have sniffed a new album in the breeze because last week I had an overwhelming desire to listen to Snow Patrol. It is great when you have a break from a band and then rediscover them - it is like hearing them anew all over again.

This week the same thing happened with Keane. I bought "Hopes and Fears" by Keane a ccouple of years ago, listened to it a bit and then pretty much forgot about it. Then for some inexplicable reason this week I had a driving urge to listen to it, I had forgotten what a great album it is - I liked it when I bought it but I like it even more now, so much so that I found myself in HMV today buying the next two.

Top Twenty Tracks for Autumn

1. Keane - Bedshaped
2. Pendulum - The Other Side
3. Snow Patrol - Run
4. Elbow - Mirrorball
5. The Levellers - Battle of the Beanfield
6. New Model Army - Green and the Grey
7. Suede - The Wild Ones
8. Kings of Leon - Use Somebody
9. Keane - Somewhere Only we Know
10. The Last Shadow Puppets - My Mistakes Were Made for You
11. Wheatus - The London Sun
12. Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - Ramshackle Day Parade
13. White Stripes - Dead Leaves on Dirty Ground
14. Elbow - The Bones of You
15. Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
16. REM - The One I Love
17. Chemical Brothers - All Rights Reversed
18. Placebo - Pure Morning
19. Pulp - Pencil Skirt
20. Primal Scream - Some Velvet Morning

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Primal Scream vs Kasabian

I was listening to the track "Swastika Eyes" by Primal Scream today (one of my favourites and sudenly found that it was reminding me of another track "Reason Is Treason" by Kasabian. I had never noticed this before but sure enough if you play the tracks one after the other there is some definite similarity although I can't put my finger on what it is - maybe it is the sirens and pulsing beat.

Monday, September 22, 2008

In the Dust

I have been playing around more with the idea of juxtaposing text onto surfaces where you wouldn't expect to see it. I especially liked this pne as the text looked like it had been there for a long time. If you want to read more about artistic process visit my artists blog at:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Edinburgh and all that

Have Just got back from the Edinburgh Festival, the highlight of which, for me was a comedian called Tim Minchin, who was extremely funny (as well as a very good singer). He is coming to Norwich in November and I would higly recommend seeing him if you get the chance. There is quite a bit of his stuff on You Tube but mostly not as funny as his new show - plus you really have to have the whole package with the talking as well as the songs.
I wasn't that impressed with the shows at Edinburgh this year, although there were some good ideas in the shows we saw they generally just seemed to be lacking something.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Lattitude Festival was fun. highlights for me were:

Simon Armitage reading from his new book "Gig"

Gig is not a book of poetry, it is about Armitage's lifelong passion for music and is very funny. Hearing him reading from it made me want to go out and buy it immediately but I am holding out for the paperback.

Carol Ann Duffy who read extensively from her book "The World's Wife".

Franz Ferdinand whose performance was great but who could have done with a little better rapport with the audience.

but the highlight of the weekend for me was definitely Sigur Ros. I have to admit that even though I am a big fan of the band I did initially have some reservations when I saw that they had been programmed as the headlining band on Saturday night. But I needn't have worried they were amazing. Giving an energtic and electrifying performance with great lights and effects.

All in all the festival was great, but it was considerably bigger than last year and they had not increased the size of the venues within the site. That was ok for the outside stages but for the inside venues it was a real problem. It was really hard to get anywhere near to the comedy tent and even the literature and poetry tents were full to bursting with may disappointed people who could not get in. I felt that their biggest mistake though was to programme bands as big as Blondie and The Coral in the Uncut tent, which, was just too small for the crowds who wanted to see them. You couldn't even hear them properly outside as the music from the main stage was too loud.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lorca and The Clash

Is it a coincidence I wonder that one of my favourite poets of all time Federico Garcia Lorca is mentioned in a song by the Clash? Or was I subliminally programmed to like him after spending years as a teenager listening to the album London Calling. Lorca is mentioned in the song Spanish Bombs.

Spanish Bombs

Spanish songs in Andalucia

The shooting sites in the days of '39

Oh, please, leave the vendanna open

Frederico Lorca is dead and gone

Bullet holes in the cemetery walls

The black cars of the Guardia Civil

Spanish bombs on the Costa Rica

I'm flying in a DC 10 tonight


Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito

yo te quiero oh mi corazón

Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito

yo te quiero oh mi corazón

Spanish weeks in my disco casino

The freedom fighters died upon the hill

They sang the red flag

They wore the black one

But after they died it was Mockingbird Hill

Back home the buses went up in flashes

The Irish tomb was drenched in blood

Spanish bombs shatter the hotels

My senorita's rose was nipped in the bud


The hillsides ring with "Free the people"

Or can I hear the echo from the days of '39?

With trenches full of poets

The ragged army, fixin' bayonets to fight the other line

Spanish bombs rock the province

I'm hearing music from another timeS

panish bombs on the Costa Brava

I'm flying in on a DC 10 tonight


Spanish songs in Andalucia,

Mandolina, oh mi corazon

Spanish songs in Granada, oh mi corazon

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

my other blog

I have another blog about art and the written word.
you can visit it at or click the link.


I was watching "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" last night and was reminded once again how much I like the song "My Death." Bowie has done a few Brel covers and he does them really well. They suit his voice and the words are really mournful and poignant. I was disappointed though at the sound quality of the special edition DVD, if anything it is worse than that of the version I taped of the TV in the 1980s.
jaques Brel's lyrics seem more like poetry to me than song lyrics.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We watched a really good film last night called "Once". I wasn't sure I was going to like it but I can't recommend it highly enough. The film is made great by the naturalistic acting of the two main characters and also by the brilliant soundtrack featuring the two leads. The music reminded me a lot of damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan at their best. It is so refreshing to watch a film where the story isn't tied up neatly for you. In the great tradition of European films "Once" is more about what doesn't happen and what isn't said than what is and that is what makes it so beautiful.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Visual Poetry

I got a great gadget today that makes embossed letters on plastic tape and I started playing around with the idea of using it to make visual poetry. This is my first attempt so it isn't all that great but I can already see that there is great potential in the idea. This one isn't really a proper poem - just something that I came up with on the spur of the moment that was in keeping with the wall on which it is displayed.

The problem for me with this piece is that the text seems too removed from the wall that it is displayed on I really wanted it to look more as if it belonged there. However that is very hard to acheive and maybe I am approaching it the wrong way. Maybe I should make the alienation of the text from the medium it is placed in more an integral part of the piece.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lyrics versus Poetry

After reading "The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison" I found myself wondering about the differences between lyrics and poetry. Lyrics are more akin to classical or lyric poetry than to modern poetry in that they usually rhyme and have a clear structure of verses of equal legnth. They also tend to have less pretensions of goodness or worthiness than poetry (unless you're Bob Dylan or Billy Bragg of course). The words can be meaningless or about the most mundane things and it doesn't matter, no one really minds - what matters is how the lyrics scan, the pentameter, the rhyme and how they fit with the music. Just listen to the lyrics of Spandau Ballet, Black Sabbath or "My Sharona" by The Knack for examples of songs that work well but contain pretty meaningless lyrics.

It must be because of the way that the lyrics fit with music that we find songs easy to remember. I am a big poetry fan but know very few poems all the way through. However I can think of loads of songs that I know all the lyrics to and some of them I haven't heard for years. I might find it hard to remember people's names, important apoointments or my shopping list but I can sing you the whole of "Spirit of Radio" by Rush without a moments hesitation! And they're not easy lyrics, if I tried to memorise them like a poem I think I would struggle.

Words by Neil Peart, Music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
Inspired by 'The Spirit of Radio' in Toronto,

Begin the day
With a friendly voice
A companion, unobtrusive
Plays that song that's so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood

Off on your way
Hit the open road
There is magic at your fingers
For the Spirit ever lingers
Undemanding contact
In your happy solitude

Invisible airwaves Crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle With the energy
Emotional feedback On a timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price --- Almost free...

All this machinery
Making modern music
Can still be open-hearted
Not so coldly charted
It's really just a question
Of your honesty

One likes to believe
In the freedom of music
But glittering prizes
And endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity

"For the words of the profits
Are written on the studio wall,
Concert hall --- Echoes with the sounds... Of salesmen."

Todays reading:
Jim Morrison - Wilderness, The Lost Writings
Frank O'Hara - Selected Poems
Simon Critchley - Things Merely Are

Album of the day: Station to Station - David Bowie

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lost in Translation

I am wondering as I am reading translations of poetry by Jacques Prévert and Georg Trakl how much of the original essence of a poem is lost in translation. In a sense the translator is writing the poetry him/herself just using a set of words gleened fronm the original work. For example when a friend who could read German translated one of Georg Trakl’s poems aloud he translated it word by word and it was very different to the translation in the book. In fact in these translations words have been changed for poetic effect. It makes me wonder if as a reader I would want a direct translation from the German or am I happy to read the artistic interpretation of the author’s work by another poet (in this case Robin Skelton). If I read ten different translations of the same poem done by different translators how different would they be from one another? Would I find myself reading ten completely different poems or would the essence of each poem be essentially the same? For me as a reader I think I might like to see a direct word for word translation as well, just to satisfy my artistic curiosity.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I am thinking about enjambment, where one line of poetry runs on into the next line - or is carried over into the next verse. It is not a technique that I use that often. I try on the whole, to make my lines complete, part of a longer sentence maybe but generally I like the lines to have a definite sensible ending place. It feels slightly dangerous to let the lines roam willy nilly over the page. But I am thinking maybe I need to loosen up a bit, maybe I am becoming too constrained. Maybe I should let my words roam free as wild animals on the tundra across the page. What am I scared of?

Narrative Poetry

I like the idea of using a narrative within my poetry. Of maybe using a narrative to link the poems together in some kind of sequence.

The poems that I have written so far this term are in a strongly female voice. They are about loss, fear and regret. About what happens in life - we get older, lose our parents, go in and out of relationships, get stressed out, cope, don't cope...

The charcter in my poems (who may not always be the same character but could be) suffers loss of a parent, she muses on difficult past relationships, she meets up with an old flame and this makes her feel regret about the past (the grass is always greener syndrome)and finally she starts losing the plot until she is driven to consider taking her own life. As the reder we don't know whether she actually did - this is left up to us to imagine. Personally I am torn between wanting an end to her unhappiness and wanting a fairytale happy ever after type ending where she has a sudden epiphany, realises how beautiful the world is and bounces back bigger and better etc. etc.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Autobiographical Art Work

For some artists there is an almost insatiable desire to try and understand and change the self - often through writing and art. Through the mediums of autobiography and autobiographical art work we are holding ourselves up to a mirror for examination. There is a constant striving within us to understand ourselves and to be understood by others. It is as if only we can understand ourselves - our minds, our dreams, desires, wishes, what makes us tick then somehow life would be BETTER, the people around us would have a better empathy and deeper understanding of what we are about.

Women in particular seem attracted to autobiography within their art work. It's as if by getting it out it will make a difference to our lives - almost like a form of counselling or therapy. Maybe it is because women have so many starnds to their lives and that putting elements of these strands into their work ties all the strands together in some way.

Of course it could just be that the artists that produce a lot of autobiograhical work are the more troubled souls. Those of us who have had a difficult childhood, abusive relationships or some other adverity (illness etc). Does a happy well balanced individual have the same need to examine their past or understand why they are the way they are.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I just came across a trailer for "Birth" directed by Jonathan Glazer on You tube. I had forgotten what a visually stunning film it is. I would definitely rate Jonathan Glazer in my top 5 film and video directors - although the top spot of course goes to Michel Gondry. I was first introduced to Gondry's work several years ago via his surreal music videos - my favourite of which is "Let Forever Be" by the Chemical Brothers (closely followed by Daft Punk's "Around the World"). Gondry has themes that come up time again within his films and videos, he is playful and his work has a surreal and joyous quality that many other directors lack.
Glazer's work on the other hand is much darker but he has made some beautiful videos (most notably "Street Spirit" by Radiohead.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Clash on Trial

I was watching "Pop on Trial" tonight on BBC4 tonight and was amazed to hear Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks rate The Sex Pistols over the Clash, who he described as a "pub band" and likened to The Rolling Stones. The Clash have little in common with the Rolling Stones aside from the fact that they both acheived massive success. But whereas The Stones have embraced success and the massive wealth and hedonistic lifestyle that went with it - The Clash were never entirely comfortable with it - and ultimately this was what destroyed them. Comparing the Sex Pistols to the Clash is like comparing Robbie Williams to Bob Dylan or The Spice Girls to The Slits or Patti Smith. Although there is no doubting the vision and energy behind the Pistiols, ultimately they had very little to actually say. They have preached anarchy but they never offered us any kind of concrete vision to replace the establishment that they wanted us to destroy. The Clash, however, were an altogether different kind of band. A band with real and wide ranging musical roots/influences and ideas and Joe Strummer's deeply political views of the world. They sang about things that mattered to them, they connected on a real level with fans and they tried to keep prices down on tickets and records.

On a lighter note one of the other presenters of "Pop on Trial" was Gaz Coobes of Supergrass who I was amazed to see is morphing into Neil young - and her is the evidence:

Gaz Coombes

Neil Young