Live online reading of 'The Way to Zed' - 7pm tonight for Camberwell Arts Festival

In 2018 I wrote a poem cycle, 'The Way to Zed', a personal journey through the shapes, sounds and histories of the letters of the alphabet.

I was delighted to read the cycle in full for Camberwell Arts Festival 2020.

The reading was accompanied by a presentation of the Tarot designs I've produced based on the poems - these were available in an exclusive online exhibition for the Festival (for a very limited period, so check them while you can)

You can see and hear the reading in full here:

The surreal quest described in the poems is mapped out by the symbols that our modern letters descended from. The corresponding ancient symbols, and the Tarot cards I've chosen to represent the letters, are as follows:

Letter Corresponding ancient symbol In the 'Way to Zed' tarot ABull's headAce of Wealth (Pentacles)BBuilding (in hieroglyphs) and a birch tree (in runes)The EmpressCThrowing stickThe MoonD'A door or a fish'DeathEJubilant manThe EmpressFMaceAce of Sti…

Southwark Festival of Words

This month I've be very happy to be featured in Southwark's online Festival of Words, with three past readings and a new one recorded at home specially for the purpose going online as part of the borough's wider celebration of language and literature. Three of the four poems have been recognised in poetry contests in the past.

This afternoon the final video is going live, in which I share some of the thoughts that went into the writing. That premieres at 4pm today:

All four of the featured readings follow. These will all be available throughout the summer along with readings and talks from many other established and emerging writers.



Wood Have


The Naughtiest Thing - now out as a Glastonbury Broadside Ballad

"Once upon a time in a place called Wheatley
(which means wheat field, and is well named)
there was a field of wheat -
I tell a lie, there were many..."

'The Naughtiest Thing' is the timeless tale of a vicar's daughter committing the ultimate transgression in a wheat field.

This fairytale poem has been published on a centuries-old letterpress as a limited edition broadside of 50 numbered copies, featuring a hand-coloured chaffinch - the namesake of the goblin in the tale it is now available exclusively in Glastonbury bookshops, or for £3 by PayPal to the publisher,

'The Naughtiest Thing' is a work of fiction and any similarity to any former Prime Ministers or Home Secretaries living or dead is entirely coincidental.

A Vanished Kingdom

Edit: regrettably, but understandably, the measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus have forced the cancellation of this event. We and Théâtre Volière hope that it will be possible to stage it in happier times.


Through February and March this year, I have been working as part of a group of writers (including my wife, Erica Viola) with Théâtre Volière on a set of poems inspired by the traces left behind by Europe's lost empires and cities. Together, these traces of an imagined 'Vanished Kingdom' will conjure a culture that never was, and which yet feels very familiar. Coins, pottery shards, epic poems, spells, curses, folksongs, monolithic stones - our unreal land had none of these. Still, we will describe their ghosts.

On Monday 23 March 2020 we'll be performing 'A Vanished Kingdom' as part of the 2020 Marchland Festival at Canada Water Theatre.

A further performance of 'A Vanished Kingdom' will be taking place at the same venue on Saturda…


Chi or qi is a concept derived from Classical Chinese Philosophy. It can be expressed in English as ‘life force’, but also as ‘air’, ‘breath’ and ‘energy flow’. We might compare or contrast chi with Awen, a Celtic word which Bards use to mean inspiration - and which also relates to ‘breath’ and ‘flow’. Sometimes the Hindu notion of kundalini is referred to in relation to Chi. But kundalini does not translate to ‘air’ or ‘breath’ or ‘flow’. Kundalini is a coiled snake.

Me, I have some ideas.
Me, I hope you understand.
Me, I look forward to hearing from you.
Me, I trust you are well.
Me, I want to select carefully.
Me, I have now settled on the theme.
Me, I am attaching a painting.
Me, I work in Property.
Me, I am a very proud and happy Mummy.
Me, I am active and rooted in Community.
Me, I managed to replace my day job of more than 33 years as a legal PA.
Me, I have been running my own business.
Me, I fully sacked my boss.
Me, I came to the UK in 1968.
Me, I was born in Mombasa in …

'Chimera' to be displayed at the Law Society's Art Group exhibition

In July last year I offered an original poem as a raffle prize at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants' Summer Party. I promised that the raffle winner would be able to name a subject of their choosing, and that I'd write a poem on the subject that they could do with as they wished.

At the end of a truly lovely afternoon spent with supporters of JCWI, the artist and law-worker Jagrati Bhatia won my poem-prize in the raffle. In the weeks and months between then and now, Jag and I have been exchanging thoughts over email and webcam about the possibilities of the poem, the theme for which she decided would be 'Identity'. To my great pleasure, Jagrati also told me of her intention to arrange for the finished piece to be displayed alongside her artwork at the Law Society's Art Group exhibition this month.

The exhibition starts tomorrow, Tuesday 14th January, at the Law Society's Reading Room - 113 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PL - and my poem 'Chimera&…

The Last Christmas

Klaus opened up the big red book for the last time that night. He turned it to the last page, and ticked the last three stops: Zurich, Zwickau, Zwolle. Done, done, done. It was always the same three to finish with, heading back North towards the Arctic.
So many years, so many rituals. The reindeer harnessed... the chimneys caved... the brandies downed, at so many firesides.
But tonight there was a new ritual. One he would perform only once. The Arctic Elves had been instructed, and the deer provided for - everything would go on. The world would not even miss him. His image was everywhere, and anyway, they thought he was a myth.
Nicholas the Wonderworker took his sack down off the sleigh. He set it down flat on the snow, and opened it out in a wide circle. The open bag was a portal to a seemingly bottomless pit, walled with 1700 years’ worth of toys. He took a few steps back, adjusted his belt, ran forwards - and leaped in.
Now he fell down the tunnel of toys. At the very top were electric…