Monday, 3 January 2011


ISSN: 1476-9867

Neon Highway 10

Contributors 2005

Contributors: 2

Note from Editor: 3

Simon Zonenblick: 4-5

Michael Johnson: 6

Mike Hoy: 7

Robert Black: 7

Gemma Caunce: 8

Ally Coward: 8-9

Matt Smith: 9

Niall McGrath: 9-11

Tolu Ogunlesi: 11

Eugenie Kelly: 11-13

Robert Rogers: 13

Chris McCabe: 14

A A Marcoff: 14

Elizabeth Kate Switaj: 15

Will Daunt: 16

Maurice Oliver: 16-17

Dee Mcmahon: 17-18

Ken Champion: 18-19

Neil Campbell: 19-20

K.M. Dersley: 20-21

Ronnie Goodyear: 21

Dee Rimbaud: 21-22

Alice Lenkiewicz: 22-24

and Dee McMahon

Martin A. Hibbert: 24-25

Kerri Moore: 25-26

Colin Harris: 26

Jane Marsh interviews Bill Griffiths------27-32

Poems by Bill Griffiths----------------------32-40

Short Story by Bill Griffiths----------------41-44

Information---------------------------------- 45-48


Illustrations by Kate Eggleston-Wirtz: (Pages 5/22/ including front cover.

Note from the editor:

Welcome to Neon Highway, Issue 10 which will be followed by two more issues this year. I look forward to Steve Sneyd and A.C Evans being interviewed by Jane Marsh for the remaining part of this year.

In 2006 Neon Highway will be commissioning work, focusing on experimental, pulp, esoteric prose and poetry in 2006. Interviews by Jane Marsh will continue. Neon Highway will no longer be accepting unsolicited work but instead commissioning writers. This will take the form of one issue a year. New subscription details and month to be released have yet to be announced. Updates will be announced on my website or you can email me on nearer the time

I would like to thank all poets who have contributed their work to previous issues and for the remaining forthcoming issues this year and for also helping Neon Highway to establish itself. I hope that you will all continue to subscribe and support the magazine in 2006.

I am also happy to mention that the Neon Highway poetry readings became part of the first Liverpool poetry festival this year on 10th April. The readings have been going for two years in the city and finally we landed ourselves a well-deserved place in the Liverpool Poetry festival with Allen fisher being mentioned along with Roger McGough and Brian Patten who took part in the event. Allen Fisher was guest poet at the Walker art gallery as the first event in the programme, supported by the Culture Company, creating a further step towards diversifying and expanding the local poetry scene.

In this issue, I would like to thank Bill Griffiths for his interview with Jane Marsh on page 27 and for his poems and short story. Thank you also to Kate Eggleston-Wirtz for her drawings throughout this issue.

Alice Lenkiewicz

Simon Zonenblick

The Buddhist

I am a Buddhist. For twenty five years I have lived in this cell, in this Monastery here in deepest China, recanting my prayers, meditating, fasting…it’s a far cry from my upbringing in the swinging streets of Shanghai, that’s for sure! In fact, so cut off am I from civilisation that, apart from the occasional correspondence from relatives-who have, in most cases, pretty much abandoned me anyway-I have little clue what the outside world is like at all. When I first came here, the Chinese Government were just beginning to have friendly relations with the USA, and things looked generally promising. I hope that’s still the case. But whatever the situation, I can certainly not be blamed, here in the mountains, away from it all…

Unfortunately, though, all is not well with me at present. Recently, I have begun doubting my vocation. I have tried fighting it, if you’ll pardon the expression, but it has become abundantly clear to me that this religion, this philosophical doctrine, is no longer for me. I can hardly believe it, but the life which once struck me as the most immaculate form of spiritual existence now appears devoid of meaning and utterly stupid. Things have changed. I have changed. It is the life of an Acrobat which I now desire.

Why? I do not know, but all my waking hours I dwell on it, and every night I dream of it, passionately, insatiably, helplessly…Acrobatics! Oh, my word, I was born to do it!

But how could I possibly acquire such a job? For a start, I have no experience. Assuming there were vacancies for the post, what would I write on the application forms? Previous Occupation? Buddhist Monk? And in terms of references, I would almost certainly be at a loss, since my contact with other Human Beings is extremely limited; even when I do see my fellow Monks it is usually only in passing, and the conversations are of the most basic and commonplace kind. Moreover, my age would surely act against me. How could a man of forty three, and no longer at the peak of physical fitness, possibly hope to pursue the life of a professional Acrobat? And let’s not forget, my total and complete seclusion in the mountains, my retreat from civilisation, has meant that I naturally lost any acquaintance with the practices and normalities of the Human world. I do not doubt that there have been innumerable technological advances since I left the city, and the language of everyday conversation has itself become a maze of words and phrases which, to one such as myself, would prove entirely alien. So much for my aspirations.

No, my destiny is sealed. There’s no way out. I’ve been doing this for twenty five years- twenty five years!

Maybe I made the wrong choice, maybe my chances have been completely wasted, perhaps the very act of describing myself as a Buddhist is now an act of falsehood, for how can I claim an identity of that sort while the faith and belief which must accompany the title have long since evaded my consciousness?

But sincerely or not, I must carry on-praying, meditating, fasting, generally being a Buddhist. And I suppose that this is the life I must live, for the next twenty five, or thirty five years, or fifty years, until I finally drop, having fulfilled my obligations to the end.

Mike Johnson

Mike Hoy


Manhattan is bustling

people push and jostle

buildings shoulder the sky

shadowing churches

into insignificance.

Some bum crows crazy liturgy

not hiding insanity like some.

This hick from the sticks,

a council estate kid,

is walking with a slim chick

cool as the breeze down

Broadway, riding a private lift

elevating into an apartment

stacked with books and feeling

at home in heaven.

Robert Black

Not Time Yet

Bottled cheerfulness pours till he wants no more

Then rests his head on the barroom floor

Where he stares in wonder at a revolving door

Which flicks back and forth, but never closed;

Then an angel smiles from the ceiling above

And lifts his soul out of the evening smudge,

Reaching for his final reward ( time to let go ),

A better place awaits ( he’s letting go ),

Then angel winks and he crashes to the floor.

Gemma Caunce

A Window

Going through,


On the inside, to the outside.

It is the feeling that rips down

holding you,


gasping for air.

To breath is

to be alive,

to give thanks.

On the outside, to the inside,

physically free.

Move away from shadows

Look inside and outside.

Ally Coward

Based on the structure of ‘The Jacob’s Ladder’

There isn’t an end

to the rainbow with a

beautiful pot of Gold

awaiting the adventurer

who dares to approach

a miracle.

It is a ghost

an image that can’t

be touched & disappears

as quickly as Mother Nature demanded it

amidst the rain.

A trick of lights,

a spectrum, boasting &

teasing all the colours that

a painter would need for his palette. The

adventurer is fooled:

by the deceitful bridge

that carries fairies

ogres and dragons from far away lands

to watch the rays of sunlight catch

the rain. Then go.

Matt Smith

for Daniel Rhodes

Photograph of a struggle

Decades old and aging

A burning monk

Sits perfectly still

Oblivious to the flames

His heart safe inside

An impenetrable diamond

While I sit at home

Ashamed of wrinkles

Niall McGrath


On the plasma screen I witness scenes:

A group in camouflage robes giggle like youngsters

About to receive their First Communion,

Their hair glittering like Roswell tinfoil;

Behind them bodies fall past towerblock glass,

See how they cry like Edvard’s pastel friend

As all crumbles into grey dust.

Even the pearl-pale cheeks of a girl with an earring

Crinkle impasto, become arctic crags.

On a high ridge a Buddhist monk meditates to death,

Mummifies his cause, the relief of his valley;

The salvation of impassive burghers whose ears are cocked

Like terrorists’ mercury tilt-switches, straining

To explode into action if the price is right

At the urging of golfing buddies, angel brokers –

Oh, what did the cleric say just then?

Eye off the ball; his hand on a hairless scrotum,

Scratching, tickling, urging with a twisted finger

The innocent to submit under the fist of the fiery-eyed one.

Hand me a plate, garnished with mangetout and carrot,

The centrepiece the raw tent of chicken buttocks,

Tear off legs, stuff its core to make it sweet,

Chop it up like the jigsaw of a Flemish painting,

As dancing girls in leather bikinis stomp and whip,

Gorging the masochist sprawling on the tabletop

Handcuffed to Heaven’s banister

Calling out to those on either side of him:

Franz, write me a certificate, 40 days remission from purgatory,

Heironymous, draw me a picture on the plasma screen

Of prisons in the desert or on a humid island

Where a group in khaki titter as they snap

Photos, posing like gods, imperial hunters who’ve bagged a kill,

Bodies writhing in glorious ecstasy and agony

As they crack the whip for the damned.

Spotlight the body, as the mountains erupt;

As hail sweeps, cuts to the bone, stings eyes,

Darkness surrounds; but the scene gradually focuses

On lichen-damp pumice walls - bobbing upstream

On a craft on automatic pilot, through the arch below the window,

Pray refreshment lies somewhere beyond the flickering screen.

Tolu Ogunlesi


Trapped in an Auschwitz

Of tossing and turning nights,

Voices of springs, harsh

As Gestapo, fill the night

Dreams and Nightmares for sale - As is -

All payments by Valiu-

MCard, slotted into bidder's

Automated Teller - Metabolism!

Our eyes bore holes in the rafters

Ears nibbling at a clock's creeping crumbs

- Counsel of a veteran insomniac,

Mouth building prayer altars

For Somnus at Crossroads

Of Teeth, Tongue and Lips

Seeking mercy, spewed, like gas

From the gauges of a holocaust hovel

Eugenie Kelly


Way down

by the River

Liffey in Dublin Town

I lay my burden down

My cares dem troubles

Let the river wash it

All away and cleanse

Me clean as the new

Day – magic and mystery

Bleach me light

And I will wear that

White dress

ivory pure

The pearl of wisdom

It’s mine now and

In time to be

Coming through me

It’s all arriving

Back at the place

Where we all began

And I want my

Innocence back

Sixties and Beatles and

Flowers in my hair

Naked and bare

I revel in it soft as snow

had enough of


Now I’ve seen the pink dawn

Breaking in the mirror after

my vision

Where I lay down my sword

in the wet

Green grass and blessed it

I let it go and all flow

Let it all fly

And transform into stars in my eyes

And yours ….

And all the right songs are playing,

Melanie and Donovan in the yellow room

In Dublin

The sun shines in my heart

Full to bursting, whole now at long last

Yellow and green

Van Gogh would know

and Donovan catch the wind

John is walking in the garden –

And I feel the goddess rising

Breaking like the day and smiling

All on me and in and through you

My words are gifts god-spell and if the

World says stop then I say go, go go …

All the way to the garden.

Swordplay wordplay

music plays -


I think

I’m home now

Robert Rogers

My back turned against the town,

the river flows across my view,

tidal, broad, flowing slowly

into The Wash, through the fens

mixing with salt here.

The town ,behind me, silent,

noisy only on market days,

waits for no-one and expects nothing.

Old beams giving way to shopping

precincts that empty at five.

From over the river the ferry

begins to glide diagonally here,

three women stand up front

their headscarves flap like pennants

blown on a salt breeze.

The ferryman grins and shows

his dark teeth. The coins

for passage pressed tight

in his palm, the other hand

firm on the tiller guides to shore.

Chris McCabe

a one-eyed poem for Birkenhead

another place, of another select language

imagine how untrue it is –

london news drips into bowlers –

then the presentation of intelligence despite accent

did I say catullus I meant calculus?

back in liverpool

we allowed “ovale” to be scrabbled in

which wasn’t in the collins dictionary colin held

-three distinct definitions around a hole –

soft vortices of the mersey on the tourist route

past a smokable clock (Little Bill stuck 20 to 6)

untelevised dock warehouses

beetle-humped rubble (a.k.a.bootle)

self-cut ups, silk of seagulls

the bank holiday pub’s sporan-latched yard

opened to victorian park, desolate

we laughed

towards the friable background of doubles-bars

& the louche music of money pockets, expectant mothers

A A Marcoff


Beauty and the rock. The rock and the white rose. Earth to earth. Into the heart of the rock she went step by fluted step. She was a Botticelli angel with sun bleached hair long and fair and she walked alone for centuries through the archaic woods virginal and more pure than the forgotten chalice. She was the Botticelli angel and she spoke with the lucidity of leaves rustling in the ancient winds.

A rock, a rock, a dark rock, swallowing adamant and not disturbed by the encroachment of she: it took her, earth to earth and without a threat of ashes even in that vibrant sunlight. She walked into its heart, the rock, with the pipes of Pan lyrical as an elegy of light inspired by her, the woodland angel, and she went musically, earth to earth and without a threat of ashes.

Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Looking Through the Blind Slat Crack

vibrate water membrane oil sheen


underneath breathe

of course, of course

everything smothered used to breathe

devouring the rain

echoes swallowing rings

snake & rat

no two heads

but resolution

(as always

just the next

day extended


in this alley

where I leave

empty shelves

broken chair

only drainage

the parking lot depths

Will Daunt


could be anyhow, anyone, met or reviled

in the mazes of hurried love, shame has revealed;

lies limp in the spiralling genes of the young,

spirals under control, where desire turns to yawn;

might be grandfathers’ moments of groping, or rage

in a terrace, now pulverised, fruits of an urge;

remains in the dregs of each evening ahead,

a dance, an encountered lust, lino or bed;

would be slyly unlikely in God-nearing homes,

but who hasn’t prayed for release from their harm?

was where many swapped flesh in a duct, or a life,

their ill-conceived stretch of coincidence doomed.

Maurice Oliver

"The IMAX" Sonnet

Picture a wind crossing the

gulf. Marathon dancers. A

floor glowing from wax.

Blackout curtains. Crab claws.

The feather of a white dove.

Yellow silk. Oil on oxen

hooves. Ivy gathered under a

half-moon. The plague. Strokes

from a charcoal pencil. Walls

stained in smoke. Three hundred

times. A bamboo flute. Ice on a

river. Herring & dark bread. Two

cracked mirrors. Four onlookers.

Baby shoes. Sailboats. Then sky.

Ancient swords & pistols. A

penny whistle. Scarecrows.

Several clowns. Shadows in the

orchard. April dusk. One copper

lantern. And the night bats stir.

Dee Mcmahon


Blank sheet reflector of white light

Smooth undulating lizard home

Follow the flow

a high-cidine and a low-cidine

a marjorine and a josephine

Malleable marbled worry bead

Punishing pummel

Drum away the anxiety

up under a bush

a rainbow, a jelly bag

Pitch gather

Target scatter

Coordinate the brain drain

a touch the ground

and a turn around

Ken Champion


Tree-dotted land

Like a Lichenstein print

As banking over Barajas

I try to glimpse the Bernabeu

I think of Julie

and our dot-filled night

her face in close-up

tearsplashed cheek

lips a lateral heart

my indigo hair in profile

chiselled nose strong jaw

We gotta end it Johnny right now

Zeros coming in at twelve o’clock

cockpits hazy behind propeller circles

kerpow kerpow kerpow Bam!

Neil Campbell

Time To Think.

A twenty two year old boy

with the original dead-end job

is stuck with nothing.

He is knackered after work

and he goes to bed

before ten every night of the week.

At weekend he goes out

drinks and looks at girls.

He rarely talks to them

and when he does it is because

he has forced himself.

He drinks too much

and gets into trouble

by doing silly things

that he thinks will get laughs.

But the laughs don’t come

-only fists.

When he gets home

he is met with verbal abuse

from his father

whilst his mother sometimes

opens his bedroom door for him

and puts a glass of water by the bed.

On Sunday’s he runs off his hangover

by playing sport.

He doesn’t care whether he wins or loses

and so he invariably loses.

Before he knows what he is doing

it is Monday, and he is lying awake

in the dark looking at the clock,

waiting for the alarm to go off.

K.M. Dersley


that journal decked out as

professional as some

banking or insurance


look at the competition it runs.

from last time’s winning entry

and the commendations

the whole thing has got to be rife

with salmonella.

the best poetry  yeah, but according to

which conspiracy?

I’d rather have the opinion of an honest bus

conductor or dosser

who didn’t have cataracts.

the poetry pantomime

has mercifully been exposed

as a con. poets do not sell like

slimmers or biographers,

don’t make a company

that sort of money.

the marketing men

have long gone back

to publicising quick snacks

and alcoholic sodas.

there will always be plenty

who, with persistence and friends

to back them up

wish to be known as poets,

but the few good poems

perhaps one

perhaps none

in a poetry mag

will get through to

those few verse addicts

with hardly any money

but willing

to send off a cheque.

Ronnie Goodyear

Nick and Judy and Me

Nick was the River Man,

with you spinning, the old stash

forming clouds, a gypsy flowing

and dark brown brows.

Cross- legged sandals under print

and a smoky smell that drew

the power of dancing in waves,

and I asked if I could fall

in love with you then.

Summertime can be an all-night show

particularly when the moon is peeled.

Don’t Bogart you said so I didn’t.

You drew on me and we laughed

simultaneously, forehead and noses

pressed together, quiet now,

as he tells us all he knows,

about the way the river flows…..

Dee Rimbaud


Night crawls in and wraps itself round the town,

Heavy as iron ore.

A dull wind stirs.

I walk into the street, midnight street

And I am tumbleweed.

Electric street.

Empty street -

Abraxas waits in a dark doorway:

Hands soft as death.

I walk past him, whistling under my breath.

Alice Lenkiewicz / Dee Mcmahon


individual sacrificial collective

nouns to name a one

this one, that

as the flood of words wash

through closed lips

you intent on stillness, resistance

wrapping silence in the dense

volumetrics of much

and more

when the moment is lost

to the birth and delivery

of ribbled nodes

I scrape the trip from beneath pink nails

you ignore the motion, focus instead

on sweetness, dank rotting green

the intensity of finding ones roots

ones roots buried deep

he says your country has no culture

this was never the case

this was never the way you felt it as a child

in you I dream a wakening

sap pollen stem you lie,



reflecting distance

gashed memories secreting truth

star studded for sure

curiosity secreting truth

beneath it beneath nothing in this

nothing in this...

diary to be raging in the outward drawer

of mahogany

with pen to quill of past trusting

similar it seems to fragility of wings

or possibility no problem

or velvet labels better at seeing something

helpful to be useful in their service

sacrificing it was here, I promise you it was here

I was there, we were there

inside the water

over the water


one's roots buried deep

addictive upon which

it stands or perhaps

handmade uplifting

throughout wicca or hemp

mislaid batons

handmade of the virgin

detail to be enunciated

swords of every metal

wand unyielding

feted traveller

pentacles and cups

rotting flowers compost

uniform earth belongs to no one

but meagre stepping lords

now to float flawed at gun point

gasping medals gifted

they aim for bombed out subways

slant fever persistent ferrying

licensed backpacks

cupboards inside suitcases

sincere fluidity marked

sun-kissed avery swarmed

blankly docked hiding

a lizards head

M. A. Duxbury-Hibbert

Shooting from the Cuff

In the perverse Sixties glamour

of a London afternoon of heat & haze

bought in cuff links, a medallion

with a Greek owl, a razor kit

with Centurion motif, ribbed polo-neck

in several shades of meaning

six cunning ties with matching shirts

& went back bag-swinging into the interior

of neatly mixed trad & mod, studiously

checking growth of hair & penis, fiddling

as burning issues & scorching riffs

fell into place & the flame

of the hour was kindled

Only practising, but seriously

shooting from the cuff

to catch the light, those old links

of a youth of vicious enchantment

Kerri Moore


He fell faster than stars could shoot,

He repositioned satellites,

Then taking the atmosphere from the skies,

He made beauty.

He made inscrutable the insane,

He made sincere the spirit,

Then came the eternal essence,

Enigmatic of the flame.

He made godsend of his mercy,

Forbore the ideals of the mighty,

‘Til weakened in scrutiny,

He made saintly the profane.

I make communiqué in my lassitude,

I make ladylike my perchance

To complexity, the dumbfounded

Sweet-talk, the captivating cant.

Colin Harris

cigarette butts

we do not exist just to make another

I won’t walk out

until I’ve remembered why I entered

animals will eventually kill out of fear

the knowledge I have no use for will be passed on

but each sentence is preceded and killed by the next

there is a story

but it isn’t worth the telling

what is never begun cannot be finished

what is never finished cannot be left behind

I’m not going anywhere

Interview with Bill Grifffiths by Jane Marsh.

Bill Griffiths - born London 1948, moved north to Seaham in 1990. Taking a first degree in History, he went on to undertake a PhD in Old English at King's College London in the 1980s. Published primarily as a poet, he also writes in the fields of Old English and local history, northern dialect and some fantasy/fiction. He helps edit 'Northern Review' at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne as well as writing and publishing poetry and devising websites. Recent books 'Spilt Cities' (Etruscan Books), 'Durham and other sequences' (Westhouse Books), 'Tyne Txts' (with Tom Pickard, Amra Imprint). Websites:,,, (little press listing). Has campaigned, with Bruce Kent and others, for appeal hearing for long-serving Liverpool prisoner Ray Gilbert (the subject of several of his poems).


Hello Bill. Your poems were first published by Eric Mottram in the Poetry Review. Do you feel that Poetry Review has maintained the same perspective over the years in terms of the kind of poetry it promotes? I confess, I read it rarely due to so many little magazines coming my way but perhaps you could persuade me otherwise.

Back in 1971 or so, Poetry Review was quite prestigious among the ‘properly’ printed and bound poetry quarterlies. The appointment of Mottram as editor was untypical of The Poetry Society (its publisher) but evinced a glimmer of interest in new types of poetry already appearing in print elsewhere (e.g. Fulcrum Press). Mottram set aside the conventional, worthy sort of contributor and gave prominence to younger poets in this country (plus Bunting and MacDiarmid!) and American poets like Duncan, Rukeyser, Zukofsky, Ginsberg, Snyder. As it became clear that not only Poetry Review but The Poetry Society (beginning to style itself The National Poetry Centre) was changing course, there was a growing resentment from the literary establishment, culminating in the Arts Council of Great Britain (which never interferes in its clients’ artistic policy, by the way) vowing to withold its grant unless the elected council of The Poetry Society unelected itself. That would be 1977 or 1978. Their threat worked, and Poetry Review sank back into its unremarkable old ways.

On the relative merits of Poetry Review with Mottram and Poetry Review without Mottram, you can make up your own mind – copies of the 1970s issues should be available in a good library and are still well worth looking at. That the issue still rankles became clear when Sean O’Brien used Poetry Review to publish a review of Keith Tuma’s UK anthology of 2001 and made unkind references to out “Eric Jealous and E.K.Resentment” - widely assumed to mean Eric Mottram and E.K. Brathwaite. Was anyone seriously objecting to the ‘pollution’ of English poetry by American or Caribbean voices? My feeling is that this elite, exclusive version of ‘England’ is a mythical spot somewhere in the South only mentioned when it is necessary to have something to cudgel peasants and provincials with.

Could you tell me a little about Eric Mottram. What kind of a person was he? Did you ever read his poems? If so how did you respond to them? What kind of response did he have to your work? I notice also in your biography that you spent time cataloguing the Mottram archive bequeathed to Kings College. Could you tell me a little about this archive? If I were to go to Kings College and ask about this archive how would you advise me to start my initial research?

Eric was immensely wide-read and immensely industrious. He had not only all the facts (as it seemed) of the 20th century at his disposal, but made contact with every poet he could who showed a bean of inventiveness. His travels included most Far Eastern countries, with (later) India; Switzerland, Holland, Hungary, etc.; and of course the States. He was immensely generous and constructive with his time, and encouraged a great many poets in their writing, as well as helping on many an academic career. At his best, he went to Court to speak up for Bill Butler and Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton in the 1960s when modern poetry as not immune from prosecution, to be publicly branded unfit to teach at a university by the Magistrates who resented his guidance on literary merit.

Mind, decades of campaigning for a more inclusive culture didn’t improve his temper, and I cannot say I felt comfortable in his presence the way I did with Bob Cobbing, exploring the mysteries of the Gestetner Duplicator. An hour or two with Eric was like having your brain pummelled by a master mind-boxer, though in a positive and usually kindly way.

We did not see eye-to-eye on poetry: the essential regard for word-sound I have was just ‘craftmanship’ to him. His style was rather loose and free-line (“spoken words have sufficient rhythm in themselves” he averred), though he developed some interesting dislocations of syntax in later work. He never tried to get me to write like himself, however; there was a tolerance there as well as a lot of self-assuredness.

I might claim to be one of the few people who have read all his poetry (while cataloguing his archive). You could too, but before turning up at King’s have a look at the online catalogue – it takes some reaching via - via academic services…archives…personal papers…Mottram…then the little blue link to the catalogue itself. It’s a fascinating introduction to a great character.

I recently spoke to Lawrence Upton and he said that he and Bob Cobbing had worked on a number of pieces together. What was your relationship with these poets and in what direction did you find your work developing while working with them?

Bob, with a blobby duplicator and a fizzy scanner, ran Writers Forum, a little press (and a workshop) with a definite emphasis on sound poetry, visual poetry and performance poetry. Early associates of Bob were Jeff Nuttall, Keith Musgrove, and ‘Group H’ (for Hendon, Middlesex). Lawrence and I met him at the time WF and The Poetry Society coincided in the 1970s. Most of my publishing in the 1970s (and a fair bit in the 1980s and ‘90s) was done in collaboration with WF – we shared the work, the costs and the final copies. These were poems of mine, but Bob contributed the machinery of printing which was still rare in those far-off days. In other words, he was willing to open his home and facilities to almost anyone with an interesting idea to translate into print. In particular I learnt the importance of unity of content with technique – a unity that extended to format, printing medium, booklet design and – ultimately – performance.

Bob’s workshop was a great means of making new contacts and expanding verbal horizons – there was Lawrence of course, but also Clive Fencott, Sean O Huigin, cris cheek, Peter Mayer, Jeremy Adler, an occasional Dom Sylvester Houèdard ruffling the hair of a young Alaric Sumner, plus Betty Radin with her visual fables… Geraldine Monk and Maggie O’Sullivan were soon to feature as WF authors, but not quite that early on.

What instigated your ambition to study Old English at Kings College London?

In what way did Old English influence your work?

After The Poetry Society debacle, I manage to survive for some time on a few prestigious performances with Bob Cobbing and Paula Claire (as Konkrete Canticle), but increasingly found myself needed to look after my aging parents – not an onerous task, but one that seemed ideal combined with part-time study. About 1974 I had been introduced to Old Welsh by Peter Finch; the side-step to the great literature of Old English was unavoidable. Part-time MA courses were then remarkably good bargains (late 1980s), and I did well enough at that to proceed to a PhD.

Old English has an alliterative pattern to the line; it has certainly boosted my awareness of alliteration; but the rhythm of the line is relatively free (did G. M. Hopkins’ draw his ‘sprung-line’ rhythm from OE rather than Old Greek or Old Welsh?) I like that rhythmic indeterminacy; I think old literatures and languages are an important route to innovation in current culture – think of the impact of Jerry Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred.

The idea of place and dialect I have noticed interests you. Could you expand a little on why this interests you?

Dialect is a descent of Middle English. Place is somewhere to live, an important consideration for every nomadic soul. In the 1980s I was able to secure a houseboat near Uxbridge on the Grand Union, but when the moorings went up from £200 p.a. to £1000 p.a., I retired with good grace to Seaham in Co.Durham (4 hours by train from Liverpool). Having always admired the North-East – its cities and coast, its sense of community, its dark humour (and its Anglo-Saxon speech). The community has taken a battering in the 1990s, but still compares well with the daily warfare of London.

I am fascinated by the fact that you can translate and write in old English.

Could you tell me a little on how old English sounds compared to how it is written?

It sounds odd to the modern ear. ‘g’ was often ‘y’ (giese is our yes), c was often ch (cyrice is our church), sc was always sh (sceotan is our shoot), cg was always dg (brycg is our bridge). The vocabulary was both similar and contained many extra unfamiliar words that were jettisoned in the later Middle Ages in favour of French- and Latin-based introductions. Try my website… go to Old English… to ‘Cuthbert and the seals’ for a text and a sound file.

What is your favourite old English text?


Can you translate this?

Jane Marsh is nothing but a figment of Alice’s imagination.

Jane Mersc is nawuht ac swefn Alice modes.

(Where swefn is ‘dream or invention’ and mod is the root of our word ‘mood’ but then meant the stronger qualities of the mind. Neither Jane nor Alice are OE names by the way, unlike Hilda or Edith.)

I have heard you were once a Hell’s Angel. Could you tell me a little about this episode in your life?

Do you feel it affected your writing? If so, in what way?

A belting twinge in one shoulder muscle where I once catapulted over the handlebars of a bike is one lasting effect. It is strange, looking back, how big and grand outlaws in their early 20s seemed to me as a teenager; now I think of 20-year-olds as mere bairns, no more dangerous than a playground slide.

Culturally speaking, it convinced me I was not cut out to be a hero; so that I paused and thought about what I could really hope to do well at or be useful in (which was poetry); it gave me an underlying sense of the nothing behind our society, which is a resource of a kind; and an enduring respect for relationships of equality.

Of course a decent bike now costs over £10,000 (as against £30 for my Royal Enfield in 1966), so it isn’t really an option as a career any more.

You recently attended one of Alice’s poetry readings in Liverpool. In what way did you feel it was successful and what ways was it unsuccessful. What would you have done differently?

I would have given the reader his or her own bottle of wine approx. 50 minutes before they were due on. Before even that, shift the coffins to one side and put up a few balloons and some bunting. (I mean, the room is imposing, but you have to fight against it somewhat.)

You have been campaigning for a long time for the release of the Liverpool prisoner Ray Gilbert. Could you tell me a little as to what instigated your campaign? Are you and Ray still in touch?

I was wondering through Durham Market Place one morning with well-known poetry figure Nicholas Johnson when I came on a stall manned by the bright sparks of the North-East ABC. Not thinking my guest was likely to want to stop and chat with them, I took some leaflets instead, one of which was an appeal on behalf of Ray Gilbert, then in Durham Jail. I visited him twice there before he was moved away and was impressed by his resilience and commonsense in an environment a degree hotter than Hell. His claim to innocence is not easily summarised: there is a website, with notes on his case by Bruce Kent, if you want more.

Finally, could you tell me what you are presently working on in terms of your poetry and any forthcoming publications you have coming out.

Currently completing a book on the Northern Sinfonia (Newcastle’s orchestra) and a dictionary of North-East dialect past and present. Both due out from Northumbria University. A selected poems is being finalised with SALT (look out for this in 2005). There is a good batch of longer poems meriting reprinting. Online, has recently been completed, and work started on (collaborative ventures of verse, prose, visual, sound). After that, some new poetic adventure will surely turn up…'The Mud Fort' from Salt Publishing, 2004: Basically it's shorter poems 1984-2004, selected and collected together.

Thank you very much for your time, Bill.

Bill Griffiths


Of people

well –

the flexing memory

of verbs


a casual



energy evokes

outer realities



to inner



walking the plank


the virtual body

is bare of face

often hands

sometimes forearms

you can see backs in the warm

the kingly knee

is a sport-stamp

but to bare the throat is aggressive

the real body is at war

the virtual body continues to play


the mouth


and disseminator

blows and burbles

cavity complexities

tide breath

sucking and rocketting

an appraisal

or development plan

the mouth

intervenes in democracy

the palate

and the food



so what that

I am surrounded by pirates


hold the sword

like prescriptive medicine

on the good ship


our century

colourful, colourful

for such ghostly effects



rush to meet us



concessions to predators

the chemists


I sing the node

the first point of poetry

the turquoise pendant versicle

when Astarte

graces me to drink

approximate to my beginning

to be a mammal

(among a rough-hand dark

equalities of contact

they say


there is no need for revolution)

TEKNO (Bill Griffiths)



Years after the grey chrome

token no-sense


UP and AT

That their own word


be the tekno-trident

you pull out of the stone




I arrive

I admire (as it were) the bare walls of the tomb

to find no back-button permits release

the blocks fall

to lock me in

Brutally I’m gar ’d reconnect



In ices

I trickle of lime

to my fridge-box

my gob

to undry fire-anger

surrender me



Consonants are couplers

or carriages

in my train

Like there are puppet-flats

Freyja with corn



Ayam bored

an the whole weight of autumn blue pressing on me

not marvelling

at TV tales of crocuses

‘it amazes me’, they say

as gentle opal ovals of smoke transpire revolve

lung to coffee-cup

sleepily I murmur a ‘twat-head’ at Blair onscreen



The irritated poet and

the useless rubber (writes not)

a lineless mind

that trick us of the spicey air

come bulb, come spring



Sudden stumbling of states

Natural gravity

Like falling asleep



Serious man nods to serious man

dynamic lady sweeps thru, issues orders ‘you and you’

subordinate offers a little information, ‘sir’

rude n ignorant crowds make angry noises finding themselves cordoned in

‘Please remain calm’

I sup chocolate mousse, me, an infidel,

n switch channels.



Who controls the wheels moves time

whirring and rolling


starrish gear

(listen-us, listen-us)

Are you


Do the mouth-tappets dance you?

Perceive dragon turbine?

On the Jerusalem causeway

bended ahead

(always telling you)

The mammal-slain


gesture of antique road maps

of Old Testament warriors

But we excel the wheels

(in a slim chance that)



With what plump surprise

the BBC invade Thibet

for the best bit

is an Olympic swimming pool

the top of the world

has generously acclimatised itself

to Michael Palin

Did he dream well

in Gyantse?



That am little conformable to a midi

But love the woodwork’d piano

When Johannes Zumpe remade the clavichord

to a long square

retaining a wrest-board to the right of the strings

a simple action that projects the hammer

independent of the key

And the key still governs the damper

cloth than felt.

I depress the key. Beyond the pivot

a free-rising jack pops up to

prompt the hammer, its shaft, and layers of leather and felt

each element to move free after for fingers initiative

on its own pivot or guides.

As much as I admire J.C.Bach in London

agreeable to write sonatas for the new technology

new durable wood/metal/cloth

that only need sustainable tempered tuning

to impel the whole of west-music.



And the carol is

the arching of the plank

the rubbing of the sinew

as the moon arranges tides

dead elocution

a nation of language

which decides who to employ

virtue by credence





In excitable oxygen



That thing feed us

Grow coffee n barley

Bears our wars

And it eat us up



I disperse the spells

I send them in ocean

Open zero

Series Z

THE FOG (Bill Griffiths)

I prefer to live in the harbour area. The houses are a little dilapidated, but it is quiet and has a sort of dignity. Inland, higher up, is more lively no doubt, more modern; but the houses are femmer things. ‘Bummlor boxes’ somone called them – cardboard constructions fit to trap a few angry bees.

When we thought of living there, the estate agent’s report was suitably encouraging:

Modest terrace house, unmodernised, 2 bedrooms and oblique view of the sea. Inside toilet. Useful storage sheds in yard. Easy access to old town centre. Quick sale.

Not so close to the sea as to be liable to flooding.

Providing you don’t mind the odd spell of fog –

was the only comment of the person showing us round, delivered with almost an apologetic laugh, as though the fog was somehow their fault, or a particular drawback that accounted for the low price.


Fog occurs when the temperature of the land or sea is lower than the air above it, causing the condensation of milliards of tiny droplets of water that hang in suspension in the air.

The local fogs came from the sea. They were known as ‘sea-frets’…

Sea-frets form at sea, and move inland with the incoming tide. While not so much a health risk as land-based fogs, that often hold particulates of carbon and sulphur, the swift and unexpected movements of sea-based fogs are a disturbing factor in residential areas close to the coast.

We soon learned to avoid them. Though not frequent, they could occur at any time of year, and made driving difficult. People prefered to stay indoors when there was sea-fret, we learned, considering them unhealthy. They made comments, gently guiding us:

Ye’re best bidin’ at hyem while the fog clears. It’s not good for the bairns to be out in that sort o’ weather. Aud Mr Jarvis wad gan out in it, and it did his asthma terribul harm – in hospital he was, in the end. Aa alwez say, Aa’d rather watch the telly than the fog, me.

It was usually possible to avoid getting cuaght. The fog-horn at the docks would start its eerie-ish wail a good quarter hour before the grey fog rolled up our way. You might think it pittoresque and vaguely dramatick but it wasn’t. A minute or two of its clammy dull touch and you soon turned aside into a café or hurried home to be out of it. You began to talk of your chest or matters of road safety, but the truth was the fog had a depressing and discouraging effect; you felt it might tilt you over the edge into almost suicidal gloom.

What it makes me think of –

said my wife –

is unwanted children. Crowds and crowds of lonely, ill-treated bairns, looking for homes they never had. They never speak, but you can almost feel them holding onto you, clinging as you walk, begging you to find them some proper home other than the open sea.

It was an uncomfortable, chilling, near-ghostly thought, suitable to the fog that suggested it. I almost thought I could see some disintegrated confusion of young souls, beings that had never found any love or anywhere to settle down. Those that earn money have limitless respect; even the poor can gain some benefit from government and law; but children have no real status, no adult wit or strength to defend themselves, no title to property, and above all claim on money. They are as easy to forget or dismiss as a dog or a cat, and offer no one any profit. Why waste time on a child when you can watch telly, go to the pub, play a computer game, aim for a better job?

You have been out in the fog too long –

my wife would say, if I touched on these sad matters. Sad, because there seemed so little anyone could do, for the lost children of the past or the present. So when the foghorn sounded, we stayed at home, pulled the curtains, turned up the heating.

There is a particularly good film on Sky, or would you rather watch that investigation into multiple time zones in 19th century Cornwall? Tell you what, I’ll put it on and let you decide…

Wait, I said, I’ve yet to put the cat out.

Oh, not in this fog, do you have to?

It’s been in all day, I said, as I moved to the door. The cat was not inclined to exit, once it saw the fog outside. I didn’t blame it. I kept the door open a minute in case – when I heard a voice shouting from across the road. It was deadened in the mist, but I felt certain it was Ella, who lived opposite.

Who’s that?

It sounds like Ella. She must have been in her seventies, had always lived there, was the last person I expected to be out in the fog.

Oh no, what does she want?

No way of telling. She had a certain reputation in the street, being mildly dull, mentally, which was why her bairns had been taken into care. Long ago. You did not avoid her, but you seldom got much sense from her.

What is it?

I don’t know. Perhaps she’s in some sort of trouble. I looked along the street, hoping to see someone going to her aid, but the fog made it difficult to tell if anyone had heard. A curtain twitched next door, but no one came out. I called out that I was going to check, took a deep breath of home air, stepped over the cat, and made my way across the road to where I thought Ella must be. As I got closer, she emerged to my view, standing on her doorstep, shouting and apparently gone quite crazy. The door was wide open behind her and the fog beginning to drift into her house.

Come back, come back

she shouted…but she was not looking at me, but out into the fog. I took her arm gently, as though to steer her back into the warm, but she seemed determined not to budge.

Can you see them? Out there?

- she insisted –

All the bairns… out there… looking, looking for someone… hoping to find their home…

“Ella, it’s the sea-fret,” I said sensibly. “You need to come inbye, out of this cold air!”

It was as if I had not spoken. She giggled, as if she saw something amusing in the fog; then smiled, as if she recognised someone in the fog; she motioned with her arms and her voice almost chirrupped with eagerness -

Welcome! welcome at last! It’s here ye want! Come yor ways in, sit yorsells doon! Ye’re varry welcome! Bring yorsells in!

And the fog came nearer, seemed to flow round her, sending tentative fingers into the shelter of the doorway. She relaxed then with a long sigh and was calmer, though I still think she did not recognise my presence. It was all the time like she was talking to some other audience, or mebbies just to herself. She spoke, but as if I was not there -

I’m too aad – I dinnut need it, me – Let ’em have thor hyem – and welcome Aa say!

She went limp, and frail as she was, I could not hold her up, but had to let her gently down on the low front wall and there she huddled, her back against the house wall, her chin on her chest, very still. I did not like to think she was dead; could not decide what to do. I found I was unwilling to enter the house to use her phone: the fog had got in there, I could see it sliding ever in, down the hall, seeking out the rooms on either side. Thinking of the old lady though, it seemed my only course. I made as if to enter. The fog suddenly thickened indoors, barring my way; on the stairs and in the hall it seemed almost solid, a fence of what I could almost fancy to be faces. Ridiculous. I stepped back.

To my relief my wife came over then, and she held a torch, and her mobile phone. It was not easy to get an ambulance.

It’s very foggy! Are you sure it’s an emergency? It may take over long to get through the streets at the harbour…

But as we spoke I could see the fog was thinning. We felt for Ella’s pulse – there was none. We covered her with a coat and waited.


Bury Text Festival

‘This is the first British festival exploring the idea that art can be read as poetry and poetry can be viewed as art.’

New magazine; The Argotist online

10th Muse 13

prozac book society

edited by Andy Jordan: £3.50 each, 2 issues £6, 3 issue subscription £9. All prices include postage.. Cheques payable to 10th Muse. 33, Harlington Road, Southampton, SO14 OEW, UK: email

Review by Tony Frazer, editor of Shearsman

Long-delayed and thus doubly welcome, this issue keeps up the good work

of the previous ones. I did like the cover, with its invocation of the

Prozac Book Society suggesting a certain other organisation with the

same initials. Editor Andrew Jordan contributes a splendidly feisty

editorial, which ends with an image of the pharmaceuticals referred to

on the cover and the legend: "Accessible poetry is not necessarily

social or sociable." A truer word was never uttered. As to the

contents, there's good work by Estill Pollock (who seems to appear in

all the magazines that I like), Carrie Etter (ditto), Thomas Warner and

Simon Perchik, amongst others. The reviews section is combative,

personal, trenchant and all the better for it. A rather irregular

journal, but one I like to read when it does appear.


KRAX magazine, c/o 63 Dixon Lane, Leeds LS12 4RR, Yorkshire U.K

Editor: Andy Robson: £3.50 ($7) each. 3 issues £10 ($20 in USA)

Remittances payable to ‘A. Robson’

The West House Books website is up & running at Titles in print, Gargoyles, books distributed, secondhand bookshop, Sheffield Poetry International ... and more ...N E W F R O M F I V E S E A S O N S P R E S S

Bluechrome was launched in the August of 2002 as an independent publisher of poetry and literary or experimental fiction.

PAGES: Edited by Robert Sheppard.

See PAGES blogzine online at

Read a profile of Robert Sheppard at

Reach magazine. Poet, illustrator, Ronnie Goodyer has taken over at Reach magazine. Published monthly, priced £3.50, full details from Ronnie at

If you're writing specifically about Reach magazine, then use

Ormskirk Writers Jo Cowell Short Story competition. Close: 30th

September 2005. SAE for entry form to Ishbel Kargar, The Flat, 62 Greetby

Hill, Ormskirk, L39 2DT. (01695 571748)'


PLACE by Allen Fisher

Publication date: 30 May 2005


234x156mm paperback, 418pp

Price: £15.00

On 30 May 2005 Reality Street Editions will publish the first complete

Text under one set of covers of Allen Fisher¹s PLACE.

Ken Edwards, Reality Street Editions

63 All Saints Street, Hastings, E Sussex TN34 3BN, UK

Tel: 01424 431271


Poetry by Rupert Loydell: A CONFERENCE OF VOICES [Shearsman, 2004],


2003], THE MUSEUM OF LIGHT [Arc, 2003] all available to buy online at

Will Daunt


Poems and images

48, Tower Hill, Ormskirk L39 2EF

Steve Sneyd

Ahasuerus On Mars

Atlantean Publishing, 38 Pierrot Steps, 71 Kursaal Way, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2UY, UK

Elsewhen Unbound: Poetry in American Sfanzines the 1930s to 1960s: Hilltop Press, 4 Nowell Place, Almondbury, Huddersfield, HD5 8PB, UK. Price £2.50/$6.00

Juke James, Esq.

Spelt With A ‘J’ NOT A ‘D’

(a poetic anthology)

Seeker Publications Liverpool. 0151-727 0150


poems / sequences / prose texts / graphics 1988-2004

by ALAN HALSEY: A beautifully-produced large-format 416-page collection, including 90 pages of graphics. Each copy has a CD-Rom in a blind-embossed envelope slotted into the back endpaper. Thanks to support from Arts Council England, the book may be purchased for £15.50 (post-free in UK) from:Five Seasons Press, 41 Green Street, Hereford HR1 2QH: Distributed in the USA by SPD 1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-1409:, ISBN 0-947960-34-1

Emergency Rations by Cliff Yates.

Smith/Doorstop Books, The Poetry Business, The Studio, Byram Arcade, Westgate, Huddersfield, HDI IND

ISBN 1-902382-58-7

Publishing Technique, MaryMark Press

Poems by Lila Goodman, Mark Sonnenfeld, Alice Lenkiewicz

ISBN 1-887379-74-6

45-08 Old Millstone Drive, East Windsor, NJ 08520 USA

Editor: Mark Sonnenfeld

Maxine: A novella by Alice Lenkiewicz.

Forthcoming by Bluechrome.

Further details to be publicized in due course.

Metallic Clouds, Geometric Sky

Audrey Marshall and Peter Faulkner

The Ghosts of Summer Traffic

Some poems from the 1980s

Pete Faulkner

Dream Vortex

A. C. Evans

Twelve Poems: A.C . Evans

Twelve Drawings: Illustrated by Susan A. Duxbury-Hibbert

Lunar Moths

Jo Haslam

Smith/Doorstop Books

The Poetry Business, The Studio, Byram Arcade, Westgate, Huddersfield


ISBN 1-902382-68-4



For the remainder of this year, each issue: £2

U.S: 1 issue $6, Europe 4 euros.

Cheques made out to Alice Lenkiewicz


37, Grinshill Close, Liverpool, L8 8LD

‘Neon Highway’ no longer accepts unsolicited work. The magazine will commission writers in 2006.