Accidental Poet

At the start of the week I had the happy news of the publication of my first ever poem. Today I have the slightly mad news (I woke up this morning to find it wasn’t a beer-induced hallucination!) that I am SpeedPoets ‘call back’ poet for April. This all happened quite by accident and I still feel as though I gate crashed someone else’s party.

Stacey encouraged me to go along yesterday, (she was planning on reading and said I had to do it too!) and Friday during the write-in we read to each other a collection of poems and picked the ones we felt worked best. But I was doing this all as an act of support (for Stacey) and to keep pushing my own boundaries.

The beer flowed, the poems washed over us, it was good to among good friends and it was generally just a brilliant afternoon (after a bit of a shaky start!) The three of us (Stacey, Tom and I) all had a crack. There were spaces in the final set so Stacey and I read a second time.

I had completely forgot about the ‘call back’ component of the open mic segments, so when Simon Kindt (whose poetry absolutely blew me away when I heard him perform at the finals of the call back poets last year) read my name out, I was stunned. To have Simon pick me adds an extra aura of surrealness to it.

Almost‘ is the poem that won me the spot (I say it was the poem because my nerves almost choked me when I was reading). It was inspired by memories of the movie ‘Blue Velvet’ from decades ago (the walk down memory lane triggered by a failed attempt to see ‘Blue Velvet’ on the big screen).

Many thanks to The Hideaway and to Andrew for being the most welcoming of organisers and MC.

So, I guess I will be writing more poetry between now and then. And perhaps have to revise my accidental poetic definitions of self.

Ambrosia Published in Vine Leaves #10

vineleavesMy first ever poem’Ambrosia’ is published today in Issue 10 of Vine Leaves Literary Journal. I have to have a bit of a giggle, because it’s a love poem, but as far removed from the angst-ridden and terribly rhymed poems of my adolescent as possible.

The original imagery (of a woman in red stepping from a train onto a grey dismal platform) came in early December, not long after I’d finished writing my novel, my brain broke and poetry came out. While I had various lines of poetry, it took almost three months to bring it all together.

The line about the brulée I recited from Toowong to Wilston, down Coronation Drive, when it came to me en route from Stacey’s place to Lois’s in early February. As soon as I pulled into Lois’s I grabbed my phone and madly tapped the line into notes, so grateful I hadn’t lost it on the trip.

I share the ToC (and ironically, the same page!) with Adam – who also gets to claim the title of ‘published poet’ today. You’ll find us on page 23.

Vine Leaves is a free publication and can be read online with Scribd or can be downloaded as a PDF. Many thanks to the ever-wonderful Jessica Bell for taking a chance on the poem, and those in my writing group for their feed back (especially Stacey who went through it with her trademark brand of razor sharp editing).

Westminster, 1634

Ramsey dropped the half-quatern sack on the grass of the Abbey’s cloister and waited for Lilly and Scott to join him, his mood darker than the London evening and twice as cold. He had sought Lilly out, several weeks earlier at his house on the Strand to discuss the matter at hand. Though he thought he had impressed on the astrologer the need for secrecy in their endeavour and the importance of securing the services of someone familiar in the employment of the mosaical rods, (someone of rank, definitely of experience) and even though Lilly had nodded gravely, given his word he knew of such a man, it appeared he did not. Lilly had arrived at the appointed hour with John Scott,  the former page of Lord Norris, mocking Ramsay even as Scott stuttered his way through questions regarding his experience and the integrity of his knowledge. Opening the door for the two of the, Ramsay swore under his breath at his stupidity in trusting someone like Lilly. The seriousness nature of this investigation, which came with the blessings of both Dean Williams and that of the King, appeared to have been lost on up-start astrologer and his half-wit accomplice.  Within minutes of arriving the first of the uninvited observers found their way into the cloister and Ramsay’s hunt turned into an evening of entertainment for Lilly and his cohort.

Ramsay ordered the six labourers to wait at the southern end and none objected. The mad Scotsman had promised them each a month’s wages regardless of what was found. The walkway was warmer than the damp air of the grassed square, the floor covered in rushes and a low fire stoked for them to huddle around. There was silence as none dared speculated within earshot of the royal clockmaker what compelled him to dig in the Abbey at night.

From a satchel, Ramsay produced a grid map on a sheet of rough paper and took unnecessary time and effort in flattening the folds and reviewing the grid references it in the light of Lilly’s lantern.

“We will work in a systematic manner from North to South, East to West, taking measured steps,” Ramsay stated, his thick brogue crystallising in sharp ivory puffs. He made no effort to modulate the volume. There was no point in trying to keep anything a secret. “You understand, Scott? Methodical. This is not the hocus pocus of your mentor.”

The young man flushed under Ramsay’s stare, but nodded. The hazel rods trembled in his gloved hands. Lilly’s face twitched for a moment and he executed a dramatic sneeze to cover the full extent of Ramsay’s debasement. Whatever illusion of friendly partnership remained, froze with the grass beneath their feet.

The trio walked to the north-east corner, their foot steps carving imprints in the lawn. Lilly took the lantern from Ramsay and raised the wick in both. They moved slowly, Scott with the hazel rods held lightly before him, Lilly with the lanterns at head height throwing as much light before them as possible and Ramsay counting under his breath and notating the map as they went.

The moon climbed high above them, the sliver doing little to illuminate their progress. More lights sprung up in the arched windows of the cloister. The weather and late hour had kept all by the hardiest and most curious of onlookers away but still Ramsay scowled. This was not a public performance, though Lilly had obviously gone to great lengths to ensure it was despite his word to keep their visit to the Abbey a sworn secret. Animated chatter stole across the square. Wagers being taken. Stories compared. By tomorrow evening a furious trade in phantasical tales would be had in all the pubs in Westminster and beyond.

Halfway across the cloister Scott complained of the cold and Lilly of cramps. Ramsay called a halt, checked the time on his pocket watch and drew a silver flask from his satchel, offering it only to Scott.

“Uncover what the Abbey hides, laddie, and you’ll not be grovelling for whims over Lord Norris’s chamber pot.” The young man nodded and fumbled the flask, almost dropping it. “Now that, laddie. That would be a true crime.”

On Anthologies and Small Press Beginnings

Following on from the spate of guest posts last month, I’m talking about creating anthologies and accidental small press beginnings at Emily Craven’s e-Book Revolution today. It is part of the week-long relaunch of the website.

“Digital publishing allows exploration of ideas without a strong, traditional  ‘commercial value’. Many of the financial risks associated with traditional forms of publishing do not apply to digital publishing. This makes it the perfect playground for experimentation.” Read the full article.

By leaving a comment you go into the draw to win one of two wonderful bundles of prizes (one which is the entire back catalogue of anthologies from the Chinese Whisperings and Literary Mix Tapes imprint). So hop on over and share your anthology experiences: good, bad, indifferent!

Other articles in the relaunch of the e-Book Revolution site include:

5 Mind Blowing Facts About Book Trailers – And How To Do Your Own

iBooks Alternatives – How To Make A Book App With Authorly

Author Branding – Being Judged by Your Cover

How To Get Your Print Books Into Your Local Book Store In 7 Steps



I follow,
through endless rows of billowing sheets,
beneath the old Queenslander.
Moving in monochrome,
I give chase;
a game of hide and seek
fuelled by teenage innocence,
amplified by fantasy and desire.

My hand grasps wisps of your silhouette
as you shift and disappear
within the cotton labyrinth.
Until you stop teasing
and slow motion embraces me.
I’m behind you.
Heart pounding.
in the feel of you.

After all these years
of patience,
I awake.
The flutter of sheets,
the warmth,
and you;
a promise.
Stealing away
on each reluctant breath.

BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Words by Nik Perring

BEAUTIFUL WORDS: some meanings and some fictions too by Nik Perring is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

beautifulwordsIt is not a collection of flash fiction, though the story of Alexander and Lucy runs through the heart of it. Nor is it a dictionary, yet it’s arranged alphabetically and includes definitions. It’s not a journal of reflection, though the reader finds out along the way, what brings each word to this publication. And it’s not an art book, though it’s lushly illustrated.

When handed around literary-minded friends it was the catalyst for much ooo-ing and ahh-ing. Shared with old friends it was concluded to be better than chocolates for a birthday present.

It looks, feels and smells like a picture book (minus the smears of snot and vegemite). It’s also a little like the TARDIS! But it’s neither of these either.

So what is Beautiful Words?

Beautiful Words is a literary installation that inhabits the space between the reader’s hands, heart and head. Because of this it can’t help be bigger on the inside (and grow with each immersion). It’s less something you want to read (see Dan Powell’s review) and more something you want to imbibe, slowly, over and over again. Or perhaps be wrapped in, like your favourite set of cotton sheets.

It is ambitious, audacious and absolutely engaging.

There are the 26 words—lexigraphical gems—accompanied by their meanings: crazy words ‘wiffle’, every-day words ‘clasp’, exotic words ‘effleurage’ and totally left-of-centre-words ‘Dravidian’. They are attended by Perring’s explanation of why they are beautiful to him. Riffing off, and woven through, this is the unfolding story of Alexander and Lucy. And better than six steak knives to round out an impossibly good deal, there is Miranda Sofroniou’s vivid, bold and sumptuous artwork. Each element combines to create a multi-layered tapestry that asks you to curb the impulse to race through it (like resisting the packet of Tim Tams in the freezer!); to read, pause, savour and re-read before turning the page.

The inconsistent application of the narrative POV, swapping between Perring’s, Alexander’s (in first and 3rd person) and Lucy’s (in the 3rd) adds a unique and undeniable momentum. It keeps the book from becoming formulaic and repetitive while creating delicious space for expectation and uncertainty. Who is actually narrating… and, does it actually matter?

Breathless in its brevity, the power of Perring’s writing is not just in the economy of language or the stripped back nature of the narrative, but in the hardwiring of anecdotal glimpses (and often nothing more) that tremble with Universal resonance: misunderstandings, love, loss, longing, perfect snapshot moments. His writing breaks all the ‘show don’t tell rules’, yet reveals the narrative arc in such a way the reader is certain they were only ever shown it. Perhaps watching on, in person, as it unfolded on the airplane, in the garden center or the wine bar that night.

Perring mainlines emotions in a way that compels the reader to open their heart to weep bittersweet tears into. He delivers with such ease single sentence gut-punches then switches back to offer promises of love when all hope has fled.

And all this in just 2000 words (give or take)!

The best thing about Beautiful Words… there is more to come with the release of Beautiful Trees and Beautiful Shapes later this year.

**Five perfectly-shaped obcordate leaves**

Beautiful Words is released Monday and available via publisher Roastbooks, Book Depository, FishPond and where all good books are sold.

– – –

nikperringwords2Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers, and recorded for radio. Nik is the author of the children’s book, I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? (EPS, 2006); the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); and he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring