Saturday, December 19, 2015

Podcast: Des Mannay

On this episode Newport poet Des Mannay looks back on an amazing year in which he has been placed in three competitions and had poems in numerous publications. He shares some of his poetry and offers tips on boosting your chances of success in competitions.
He challenges listeners to write a poem about your final message when you have three minutes left to live and offers a couple of pieces of work for inspiration: And Death Shall Have No Dominion by Dylan Thomas and Galliano - 57th minute of the 23rd hour. Share your responses in the comments or to
You can hear poems by myself and Des in response to John Eliot's baby's shoes prompt from the last podcast and a poem by Clive Oseman.
You can read more of Des's poems via the following links: 

I Am Not A Silent Poet - 
Proletarian Poetry - The 'Rethinkyourmind' shop - 
The 2015 Creative Future Literary Awards Anthology - 
Disability Arts Cymru Poetry Competition Free Download Anthology -

Music by Suhov and Zyxz 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Poem: The Remote Console by Des Mannay

 The next guest on the podcast will be Newport poet Des Mannay. Des only started taking his poetry seriously a year ago but he's not the only one having had a succession of published and prize-winning poems since then. There is anger, humour and affection in his work which often highlights social injustice and looks to a fairer, better world. It is not hard to see why his poems have struck a chord with so many.

The Remote Console

Sometimes I look at you
And think -
Just dreaming really....
Then I listen
And start to sink
When you pour out your troubles
I want to drink your heart
But that's kept away
With the silver wear
And crockery
For special occasions
And special people
Not me....
I'm the invisible man
In your estimation
But I'm real
And I'm here
And I care
When things are fine
You run straight past me
To greet a lover
But when things fall apart
And there is no other
You can find me
Tired and alone...
The remote console

Des Mannay

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Podcast: John Eliot

John Eliot talks about poetry's power to tell stories and connect with people if they let it in. He shares some of his favourite lines of TS Eliot and Seamus Heaney and reads some of his own work. He sets listeners a challenge to write a poem about a pair of baby's shoes like the one's from Ernest Hemingway's six-word story and there are a couple of responses to Christina Thatcher's call for mundane poems which are anything but.
To share your poems email

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fufanu – Your Collection

This dark and electrifying piece of grunge rock from Icelandic duo Fufanu is a relatively bright spot on their nightmarish debut album Few More Days To Go. Blistering guitars collide with haunting synths and enigmatic vocals on this rousing number with accompanying fractured and disorientating video. Read the full album review on Drunken Werewolf.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Soldiers of Fortune – Campus Swagger (feat. Stephen Malkmus)

Soldiers of Fortune are not so much a band as an occasional jam session featuring members of Oneida, Chavez, and Interpol with other indie stars dropping by. Stephen Malkmus is among those appearing on Early Risers, the follow-up to 2010 album Ball Strenth.
Like much of the album Campus Swagger is tight, upbeat and rough around the edges. The Pavement front man's deadpan style gets an energy kick as he whoops and rants his way through this raucous session of spur-of-the-moment rock n roll.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Podcast: Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher talks about how writing helped her overcome a difficult upbringing and led to her moving from the US to South Wales. In the six years she has been in Cardiff she has put herself at the heart of the creative writing and spoken word scene and completed a powerful collection of poems about coping with the loss of her father. She reads from this and other work and challenges listeners to write a poem about mundane things. You can post your responses here or email You can read another of Christina's poems here.

You can also hear the abuse poem I wrote in response to Reuben Woolley's prompt on the last podcast and you can read it on the Writers for Calais Refugees site here.

Christina's website is:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poem: Ordinary things by Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher is a poet, writer and educator from Philadelphia. She moved to Cardiff six years ago and is proud to call South Wales home. She will be my guest on the next podcast coming up shortly. Here is one of her poems:

Ordinary things

I'm reading poetry on the train -
it's quiet and, as the morning slips by,
blue and fleeting, you find me.
Even in the ordinary things
you find me. I buy a sandwich,
crumple its wrapper to drown out
the sound of your laugh, the sight
of your beer belly, the smell
of a piss-stained carpet. I gulp
some water and remember your
Adam's apple, how it bulged out
of your neck before I moved away.
I look around the train at the people
and want to be like them, want everything
to be quiet and easy again.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Show: 20.08.08 with Charles Billard

This show features a mix of experimental music with electronics and homemade instruments by Charles Billard - a Canadian artist and musician based in Osaka.

Cusp - Tic Tac Toe
Tom_A - Indie is dead
The psychotic reaction - what's under the stairs?
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Fire
Aidan Smith - happiness is a warm gun
People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz - A Chase posthaste
The Kazoo Funk Orchestra - Munky Nutz
Alex Millar - Lament for Tampon Boy
Sophie Hannah - No Ball Games
Matt Widgery - The Clock Ticks
David Harsent - Toffee
Portico Quartet - Kontiki Expedition
Jet Jaguar - news
Joanna Newsom - What we have known
Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - The Magician's Assistant
Drew Moon - Erogenous Zone
Charles Billard - Cloneliness (half hour mix)
Dion Mcgregor - Midget City
Muxu - Seeing Snow in Summer

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lail Arad – When We Grow Up

London-based singer-songwriter Lail Arad gets up to mischief in MoMA in the video for new single When We Grow Up. This latest offering from the versatile artist is a cheerful folk-pop number sure to lift the spirits and ease the burden of modern life as she reflects: “We try to be realistic, but we're so damn artistic.”
A cheerfully irreverent song packed with wit and tongue-in-cheek philosophy.

The song comes from forthcoming album The Onion.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Podcast: Reuben Woolley

Poet Reuben Woolley talks about his writing and why his ambition is to close down his popular online magazine I am not a silent poet –

He reads a selection of poems and invites listeners to write a poem on the subject of abuse. Some of the poems feature strong language and graphic imagery which, while suitable for the hard-hitting subject matter, may not be suitable for all audiences.

Here's another poem by Reuben:

This episode also features poems by myself and Bel Blue written in response to Fran Smith's prompt on trees. My poem is based on the photo Country Doctor by W. Eugene Smith which you can view here. There are no trees in the picture but there are in the poem.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Show: 23.07.08 with Clare Connolly and Melt-Banana plus Nick Stibbs on Walt Whitman

This show from 2008 is a real mixed bag with live music from singer-song writer Clare Connolly and an interview with Yako from legendary Japanese hardcore punk band Melt-Banana. You can read a more recent interview with the band here. Nick Stibbs explores the life and work of Walt Whitman and there's plenty more music and spoken word besides.

Joe Arroyo - Rebellion 
The Bleechers - Check him out
John Guy - Wells next-the-sea
Moog Cookbook - Novacaine For The Soul
Mr Hopkinson’s Computer - Fools Gold
Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Development
The 3 Amigos - Supersonic
Toma - Forever Flight Of The Friend
Luke Van Egmond - Moments of Colour
Melt-Banana - Free The Bee
Aidan Smith - Murder Ballad
Scott Walker - Jackie
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Canyons of Your Mind
Andre Mangeot - Cloud Burst
The Conservatives - Baby
Magic Phil - Sex, Drugs and Uncle Frank
The Yellow Magic Orchestra - Firecracker
The Man From Uranus - Plastics

Friday, July 31, 2015

Podcast: Fran Smith

Fran Smith joins me to talk about how she discovered poetry. She reads some of her poems and challenges us to write poems about trees. There are also sonnets which we both wrote in response to Jonathan Edwards' prompts in the last podcast.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Podcast: Jonathan Edwards

Winner of the 2014 Costa Poetry Award Jonathan Edwards joins me in conversation and reads from his collection My Family and Other Superheroes. He also sets two writing prompts:

1) A sonnet with a twist – See the poem below for inspiration.
2) Observe people, places and animals. Use your pen as a camera and write a poem from your observations. This technique produced many of the poems in Jonathan's collection which you can buy here.

Share your poems in the comments below or email


You know the sort: they borrow each other’s t-shirts,
wear each other’s sweat under their armpits.
In the pub, you swear you hear one’s voice and turn
to find the other chatting up your girl,
or else you catch one, curling up his lip,
as if he’s trying on his brother’s smile,
or you go to the bar and they both show up.
One has a knackered Transit, the other jump leads.
They’ve one gym membership and their own bodies,
tell the punch lines to each other’s jokes
and if you’re fool enough to bother one,
you’ll find yourself outside with both of them.
You know the sort: the elder has a child
who’s got her mother’s mouth, her uncle’s eyes.

Jonathan Edwards

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Podcast: Mab Jones

On this edition I am joined by Mab Jones who shares some of her poems and talks about her recent visit to Japan to learn the Japanese art of rakugo – story telling. She would also like to hear your poems on the theme of Japan. They could be about anything related to Japan or poems in a Japanese form about anything at all. Haiku are easy to go for or try one of these. You could even write in Japanese.
Post your poems in the comments or email
You can also hear the poem I wrote in response to Will Ford's prompt on the last podcast.

Here's another of Mab's poems you can buy her book Poor Queen here.

“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” – Lewis Carroll

Let curiosity be your guide.
Let the dark that dwells inside
Dare here. Let go of fear
As babies do their mother’s hand.
And at your feet: a doorway, now.
A smiling mouth. Step in. Slide down. 
Let yourself be swallowed whole.
Inside, all your life, you’ve yearned:
Eat me. Drink me. Let possibility
Open wide, consume the you
You thought you knew. Sink deeper.
Fall. Let go of all and, like that ancient
Apple, land. Rise up, then. Stand.
Your naked flesh on newborn feet -
Tentative. Teetering. Testing
Soft soles on an old world’s teeth.
Your eyes, unpeeled. Your heart, a seed.
Prepared for an adventure, here,

That’s furiouser and furiouser.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Poem: Sandstorm by Fran Smith

Fran Smith has written the following poem in response to Julie Prichard's prompt — a grain of sand. Fran is a regular at poetry events in Newport and Cardiff and it's great to have this wonderful contribution. I hope the prompts on these podcasts inspire many more original poems from listeners. You can hear my response to Julie's prompt on the most recent podcast with Will Ford who also has a prompt for you to try.

Sand Storm

Insignificant like grains of sand, molecules of
Shells crushed; a life living once, but now
Ground down to ground catching glimmers of
Sun rays mirroring unity with laser light
Significant for a moment, shining as a star in
Limelight; light moves on, and on and on into
Desert wilderness; deserted in ordered chaos
Blowing up storms of drought causing flesh to
Burn wretched and shrivel to flakes of dust to
Dust to dust: Lost in myriads of desert sand,
Deserted again.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Podcast: Will Ford

Cardiff writer Will Ford talks about his writing, performances and publications and offers advice to other writers. He also offers a writing prompt "There’s something flickering in the corner of my eye and I don’t know whether I should look at it..."
Do share your poems in the comments below or at
Photo by: Yvette Robertshaw Photography

Here's an extract of Will's long poem The Coward which he discusses during the podcast.

The candle on the wooden table
Casts a shadow that moves in the breeze
That steals in between the planks of this hut
In my head I sink down to my knees
Clasping my hands in a desperate prayer
The blood in my veins starts to freeze
In my head I see myself
Thrashing around on the floor
A stray bullet rips at my left side
My guts open up like a door
My insides all outside
Not even the pride
Of dying a hero in war
But what's so heroic about being dead?
Every man one day must die
But not every man will use his last breath
As the fuel to ask himself why
A coward will lie forever condemned
Not just till the day that he dies

To die in battle is to die with honour
So they told us in basic training
Even if just one step is taken
And you slip in the mud that is raining
When the shell impact turns you into meat
There'll be no time for complaining
When shellfire turns you into a hero
And your remains are collected and binned
You'll be remembered for your sacrifice
And the cheerful way that you grinned
But I asked myself in my coward's crater
Where will your medal be pinned?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Show: 25.06.08

The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds
Scroobius Pip - 1000 Words
Mozzy Green - Billy’s Ghost 
Toma - This is not a revolution
Dominic Mulvey - Brotherly Love
Nick Mulvey - I Didn’t Have Time
Tiger Force - Beat This!
Melt-Banana - The Call Of The Vague
The Man From Uranus - Barney’s Dream
Robert Gonzalez - Shoos
Boom Bip and Dose One - Slight
David Francis - Rain
Moth Conspiracy - Number Five
Charles Billard - Transition Shift Final
The Trench Parrots - Irrepressible Urges Of Spring
Norville Parchment - Freedom Breakes
Aidan Smith - Living On Allotments
Clare Connolly - Call You Home
Joanna Newsom - Bridges and Balloons
Dion McGregor - The Wet Parade
The Morning People - The Hardest Word
Niall Spooner-Harvey - Intolerant
Felix Kubin - Fernwarme Wien
Soyuzmultfilm - Chunga Changa
Ivor Cutler - Lemonade
Drew Moon - Transitional Days

Monday, May 18, 2015

Podcast: Julie Pritchard

In the first in a series of podcasts on writers and artists based in South Wales I talk to prolific writer, walker and event organiser Julie Pritchard who shares some of her poetry and challenges listeners to write a poem about a grain of sand. Submit you poems in the comments below or email

Little room big hate

Entering with no welcome
through a narrow minded passage
past ornamental stares of elitism,
misogynist painting’s look down.
Sycophant statue sits in the corner
ghostly Shadows on the wall not on the floor
disguised, whisperings behind closed doors.
Retiring to the top table, where opinions
are dished out from ego centric plates
sly sideboard glances gloat at others mistakes.
Bare shelves left bitter and unpublished
grey ashen cheerless fire
lacking flames of inspiration.
Cushions and curtains remain the same
fresh air loiters around sealed shut windows
they do not like change,
In a small room with big hate.

 By Julie Pritchard

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Show: 28.05.08 with The Pixiphones, Magic Phil, Hollie McNish and Nick Stibbs

This show from 2008 is a real classic with a live session from The Pixiphones an early band of Tom Adams – now a familiar name on the Cambridge music scene and beyond. There are also contributions from several local poets including an early radio broadcast from Hollie McNish.

Drew Moon - Luke's Home
Manu Chao - Merry Blues
Aidan Smith - The Regret Rap
The Trenchparrots - Footprints
Porticillius Gate - Percyval Vanguard’s android wife
Clare Connolly - Your Hat
Melt-Banana - Spider Snipe
Magic Phil - Jack and The Genestalk
Hollie McNish - Fruit and Vegetables
Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
Bjork - Alfur Ut Ur Hol
Radiohead - Life in Glasshouses 
Nick Stibbs on Walt Whitman
Lambchop - The Distance from Her to There
David Francis - Those Summer Chairs
The Morning People - They Did Something
The Rude Mechanicals - Frying the Neighbours
Tricky - Black Steel
Ivor Cutler - Bird Swing
Cream Cheese of Son - Lo to Hi

Friday, March 13, 2015

Show: 30.04.08 with Melanie Challenger

A show with poetry old and new. Melanie Challenger talks about her experiences in the Antarctic and shares some poems while Nick Stibbs talks about the life and work of Rumi. 

Captain Beefheart and the magic band - ElectricityThe Rude mechanicals - Beefheart's Greenhouse 
Amena Khan - Technicolour 
Aidan Smith - Morning was Your Picnic
Melt-Banana - Chain-shot to have some fun
Public Enemy - Bring the Noise
Lou Reed - Vicious
Ivor Cutler - A Bubble Or Two
Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy
Moth Conspiracy - Dracula
Yellow Magic Orchestra - Behind the Mask
The Trench Parrots - My Ex-Girlfriend Walks In
Toma - Lost In The Night
Baby Shambles - Stone Me - What A Life!
Portico Quartet - news from verona
Nick and Cherif - Rumi
Aidan Smith - Lament of a Victorian Prostitute, London 1865
Kazoo Funk Orchestra - Walking Into Lamp posts
Clare Crossman - Fenlight
Belle and Sebastian - Space boy Dream
The Nice - Rondo (69)
Wynton Marsalis - You and Me
Anne Berkeley with Martin Figura - How we learnt to tie a piece of string from the rafter
The Sparkiovoggel - Y'ar what Y'ar
Mr Maps - Life Like Little Soldiers
Muxu - Hishiko

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Freakaholics Anonymous - Fen Invasion

Cambridge duo and former radio show guests Freakaholics Anonymous release their debut album which is as random and kitsch as the Tron inspired artwork. There are tales of love between and eagle and trout, bus driver and passenger and possibly the first disco track on the subject of keeping tropical fish. A lo-fi synth fest with a healthy disrespect for convention.

Have a listen to their Headstand interview here and look out for their freaky multimedia stage show.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

UK Party Leaders' Twitter poems

New site Poetweet creates poems from Twitter feeds. The social media network has become a vital channel of communication for politicians, so what poetic gems lie in the major party leaders’ tweets in the run up to the general election?

An eloquent sonnet by the prime minister starts in St Symphorien cemetery in Belgium and ends in the city’s financial district. Ed Miliband delivers a confused manifesto for an equal Britain while Nick Clegg shows rare passion and vitriol in a sonnet that urges the public to vote and backs industries of northern England and Scottish devolution. 

This is what you get when you feed the party leaders’ tweets through new Brazilian site Poetweet which trawls twitter feeds for material to produce poems in one of three classic forms. You can almost hear Nigel Farage intoning lines about tobacco and the international media in a short sharp indriso, which in true Ukip fashion, ends with an own goal. Not surprisingly, Green Leader Natalie Bennett’s rondel, The Ground, features air, clean water and healthy food and condemnation of fossil fuels. 

If you follow the links you can view the poems on the site and hover over words to view the tweets they were drawn from, and while you’re there have a go at making a poem from your own tweets or someone else’s.

Who gets your vote as the bard of Twitter?

With friends
by David Cameron

St Symphorien cemetery in Belgium
Financial security for them.
Madiba's life at the FNB stadium.
Of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
On ITV's at 10.35pm with and host
Courage and fortitude.
Government will pick up the cost.
Respect, admiration and gratitude.
Happy New Year!
Who've worked hard all their lives.
Labour couldn't be more clear:
Ending sexual violence in conflict.
We must be doing something right."
Of the city's financial district. 

And Abingdon
by Nick Clegg

Vile. This is totally out of order.
Half marathon in April to support
Sure the UK is a world leader.
Today. Well done, what an effort!
Sure you can vote! Register here:
Don't care, jobs lost?
Fans. Unbelievable atmosphere.
The Thames to support bid to host
Industries in North of England.
The public have waited long enough.
We will honour her life’s work and
As the original card though.
Package of new powers to Scotland. 

Equal Britain
by Ed Miliband

Spend valuable time with loved ones
Before they can claim benefits
Barbaric killing of David Haines.
Create jobs and make profits.
Abuse We need zero-tolerance:
Of Rochdale for three decades.
Callousness and incompetence.
A time for restraint on all sides.
Missed from the House of Commons.
And every day he proves them right.
No answers on the key questions.
To BT and CWU working together
Terrorism to be totally condemned.
Next May I'll scrap it altogether:

Has summarised
by Nigel Farage

Have shared tobacco, not chocolate.
Maths or Medical degrees.
Ask for inclusion in a 2nd debate
Your followers who expect better
International media paid no heed:
Admit they've made politics matter
Against the EU Arrest Warrant:
UKIP is elected. Desperate times... 

The ground
by Natalie Bennett

All support appreciated!
Of, but happy to try if invited:
Air, clean water, healthy food...
To fully cover my top corners!
Fossil fuel projects despite pledge
&ignoring views young voters
Are some mushrooms in the fridge!
Issues they'd hope to see raised.
Not prop up a Tory government.
Sigh, not surprised...
Carving. Not a political statement!
Totally opposed: