NaPoWriMo 4.6: Model


Yup, this is me after my haircut. (NB – OBVIOUSLY IT’S NOT, from my ‘hair model’ Google, it’s apparently the alarmingly-pristine and very-possibly-computer-generated Jerome Kutscher…)

I went for ’round two’ of a ‘model’ haircut this afternoon.

This does not mean that I was then going to be taken photos of (as in the above illustration), but that I was just a human head, with hair on it (and quite a lot, thanks, at 32), meaning you get a cheap haircut from a (very pleasant) trainee.

While I’d love to claim this stems from a desire to nurture the next generation of Vidal Sassoon’s (or whoever the key coiffeurs of our times is/are) – it’s largely for a cheaper, yet rather better, haircut. (And it is a really good haircut, the details of which were slavishly attended to, for nearly two hours…)

When I say it was ’round two’, that’s because the last time I went in, they said my previous barber’s haircut was so poor, that they did some trimming, said to go away for a few weeks, then come back…Like a potter deciding to splat their clay back onto the river bank for a bit, before even attempting to make another vase. Or something.

It’s all very far from the Chloe Sevigny experience of ‘mo-delling’ (I’m trying to master the ‘Concerned Councellor’ and ‘Scratch’ poses for when I’m next there though…)

So then: a poem about the experience of being a ‘model’, in this fairly unglamorous way…


In the porcelain brace, I try to pretend
my neck usually bends this way, to be
a model model. Teacher and student
stand either side, each with a dryer
in my ear, like being dropped
from great height somewhere tropical. 
Tilting my head (‘funny-shaped’)
I’m rotated 360 degrees, like Mr Potato 
finally meeting the microwave. They stand 
mirrored above either shoulder, neither
angel nor devil to glassless me. 

The shibboleths begin: of blending and wedging 
and not-wedging and un-wedging (and I’m
back through a baggy centre-parted curtain
to the Nineties); of overdirecting my hair 
(like some B-Movie star); of scooping 
with the clippers (like my occipital ridge 
is raspberry ripple); of my hyperactive crown 
which must be a compliment (I am 
Errant Prince Van der Graaf!).

While she snips and clips and scoops and tries and trips
it’s as though she is a carpenter, as though I am being made:
a clothes horse, whose ears have suddenly grown
fur – and a hammer, an anvil, a stirrup.

Trunk Career

I like the idea of a ‘Portfolio Career’: something dainty, portable and dynamic…


Less this…

At the moment, though, I’m coining the term ‘Trunk Career’…


More this…

Diversifying doesn’t cover it – and there are no trunk-bearers but me – but it’s all good stuff.

I’ve just started two new writing groups, one with Off The Record Bristol and one for Keystones Mental Health Support. Looking forward to seeing these develop.

Also, I’ve commenced a series of coaching sessions through Creative Industries Finance to develop my  creative writing facilitation with different client groups into a full-time business. So far, it seems it’s going to be immensely useful.

And finally, I’ve been appointed freelance Membership Secretary for Lapidus: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation – which is a great opportunity to support the organisation’s work and meet like-minded writing practitioners.

I’m also tutoring, and other projects and endeavours are brewing, but I’ll save them for a later post!

Write Off!

Starts Tuesday 3rd November

NEWS: I’ll be piloting a creative writing group for young people in partnership with Off The Record Bristol – starting on Tuesday 3rd November.

It’s part of their therapeutic and wellbeing choices for young people, and I’m really looking forward to facilitating enjoyable and illuminating writing (and reading) sessions with those who attend.

Pass it round, see you there. There will be cake – but Taylor Swift is not yet confirmed.

Moving Images 2: Sonic

“A world so flat and fair that everyone gets three lives…”

I’m continuing to write in response to moving image resources online…

This week, I noticed that there’s a whole array of computer games ‘Speed Runs’ (which you can peruse here) – where people screen-record themselves doing a game really fast. So I started writing around a particular game on there to see what happened – but moved on to other remembrances of computer games from my life.

Gaming might not seem like an obvious source of poetic inspiration – but I and many others spent a significant amount of time on Resident Evil, or Super Mario Bros, or – as in this poem – Sonic The Hedgehog. 

I’m also reading Double Bill: Poems Inspired by Popular Culture – so perhaps that ‘zooming in’ on a particular pop-cultural facet of life and seeing where it takes you was on my mind.

It’s not – of course – necessarily about Sonic the Hedgehog…


The surname bristles too close to my pew.
As we shuffle out, I lay down five gold coins
for a hedgehog charity (instead of flowers).

And I’m back to the burnt 80s hues of our garden,
where the grandmother we shared laid down un-
diluted curiosity and cat food there, under analogue flash.

And I’m back to Sonic the Hedgehog: my lurid 16-bit
teens. A modular world of layers, levels where
you could curl into a ball and smash through walls.

A world so flat and fair that everyone gets three lives
or more if you gather those hundred gold rings, or know
the right buttons to press. And that dark screen appears:


Moving Images 1: Fokus

I thought I’d set myself a challenge of writing every week from a public domain bit of film footage, to give my blog a ‘thing’ (yes, ‘a thing’)…

Over the last year, I’ve become more interested in the interplay of video, poetry, video-poetry, poetry-video, film-poetry, poetry-film – or however you’d like to label it. As a poet who loves film, it’s a rich and fertile inbetween space.

There are an incredible amount of free film resources out there to choose from, so in putting them to use as as source material for creative writing, I hoped I might be able to share some of them with you.

I’m going to give you my writing, followed by the film – but you can view them in whichever order you like:


You don’t always know
the door is open
when you’re chained
to the radiator, smoking.

You can’t always see
this trapezial light, or feel
the echoes of last night
that butt-in, splutter-splice
with this bloody morning city.

Your head is the ash
and you’re building it up.
Your head is the ash
and there’s never a tray.
Your head is the ash
but you’re still smoking
smoking smoking.

And you can watch the film here:

This is from the site, which contains an amazing range of film resources – have a look!

What Does Arts Award Mean?

Having had an enquiry about it, I thought it might be useful to post this diagram which explains the Arts Award and what it means in the Qualifications & Credit Framework (QCF).

The Award comes in a few different levels, from ‘un-credited’ (Discover), to Entry Level 3 (Explore), Level 1 (Bronze), Silver (Level 2) and Gold (Level 3).

It’s a very open framework, and a great chance to develop artform understanding, creativity and project skills. I’m accredited to deliver up to Silver level – and this diagram shows what that equates to in the national scheme

I hope it’s useful! Drop me a line here if you’d like any more information.

‘Chainmail’ Poetry School Project – Pamphlet Goes Live!

Our Poetry School Microcommission, Chainmail (for Nicky Morgan) is now in a wonderful PDF flicky book on their website – you can read it here.

It’s been an interesting process and the publication is intriguing and eclectic. We hope you enjoy it!

Please pass on the link to your STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Maths) contacts…


Travelling uphill, my 
gears crunch. We forget
how yesterday felt.
The dog licks my hand,
empathic, going from second
to nothing, engine straining.

The gulls dodging
in front of the wheels
clawing, screeching, ragged
for scraps. The fan belt
sounds like it’s slipping.
Hadrian’s Wall tightening.
Britain’s body turning blue.