'Three of my earliest published works: The Manual Handling Process, Acronyms and Plants deal with trying 'not' to say.'
Substantial interview about my poetry over the years - http://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2021/03/12-or-20-second-series-questions-with_30.html
One of my poems from Forty-Four Poems and a Volta is in Chrissy Williams' excellent Perverse magazine. It's presented in the form of a mobile. It has something to do with the British Empire, Philip K. Dick and species extinction. https://perverse.substack.com/p/perverse-5a?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email&utm_source=twitter
'Having read both these books across a couple of weekends, I’m now clear that I’m reading my current state of mind through them. Of course, contemporary poetry is the perfect genre through which this happens. Abstracted or context-loose signs allow the mind to re-thread what remains concrete, black and white, on the page.'
More here - LINK
A thorough and poignant review of my novel The Wood Pigeons by Billy Mills - https://ellipticalmovements.wordpress.com/2020/11/18/recent-reading-november-2020/. The book is available from great Dostoevsky Wannabe.
Here's an excerpt - 'the opening phrase ‘The living room’ implies a whole world outside, a house, other rooms, a kind of suburban normality. When this changes to ‘The room’, the world narrows to an enclosed box, with the outside present but unknown, and the text takes on something of the nature of a Becket play without words.'
My two ‘William Carlos Williams’ poems, entitled The wind was so strong & So the water arose in little splashes, are now published in the excellent Adjacent Pineapple Six, new issue. It’s not often that I manage to write discrete poems anymore and it’s a satisfying feeling to do so. Thanks to Colin Herd for publishing them. The poems are available here - https://www.adjacentpineapple.com/latest-issue
Some recent reviews - The Ten Superstrata of Stockport J. Middleton and Forty-Four Poems and a Volta
Thanks to both reviewers for their generous and interesting reviews of these books which were published recently.
Mark Leahy reviews The Ten Superstrata of Stockport J. Middleton & Forty-Four Poems and a Volta at Stride HERE
and Steve Spence reviews Forty-Four Poems and a Volta at Litter Magazine HERE
I was the first guest on Stephen Emmerson's new Soundcloud show which asks poets to choose 6 books they'd take into a bunker. Great concept. Watch out for future shows. Listen to the show to find out my choices. https://soundcloud.com/crystalset/post-apocalyptic-poems-ep-1-james-davies
The wonderful Ma Bibliothèque have published a short story of mine entitled The Ten Superstrata of Stockport J. Middleton.
This is the blurb: In the spirit of Philip K. Dick, The Ten Superstrata of Stockport J. Middleton reworks the first page of Dick’s mind-bending novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritchinto ten alternative illusions, retaining, in each case, the fundamental syntactic code of the original text. ‘He’ becomes ‘she’, ‘she’ becomes ‘they’, ‘they’ becomes ‘robot’, ‘robot’ becomes ‘tiger’, ‘tiger’ becomes ‘it’. Such gentle mutations flip the picture yet also leave uncanny traces, generating weaves and trails similar to Eldritch itself.
There are so many great covers of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, making it difficult to choose a single one. A lot of them have a humanoid figure on them. The one pictured above is part humanoid, part outer space and part spaced-out, and therefore represents Dick’s book pretty well. The lead character in my re-write is eponymous Stockport J. Middleton, not Palmer Eldritch. Eldritch doesn’t make an actual appearance in my re-write but I’m sure he’s lurking in there somewhere.
My kids are called Middleton, their surnames. It’s a name we preferred to mine, Davies. A yarn then. Because they are called Middleton when abroad the border control think I'm not their dad; an oversight when registering their names. The security guards size me up and imply that I’m a kidnapper. They tell me I should have a letter from the mother of the children (I tell them that would be easy to fake, which doesn’t go down well at all). Stockport Middleton of course is of course inspired by that great name of our age Brooklyn Beckham. It also has the ring of the Grease actress Stockard Channing for good measure.
N.B. Neither of our children were conceived in Stockport nor are they named after the town. One may have been conceived in Bury St. Edmunds but that hasn’t got the same ring to it.
The Ten Superstrata of Stockport J. Middleton is available here, priced at £5 - https://mabibliotheque.cargo.site/James-Davies-THE-TEN-SUPERSTRATA-OF-STOCKPORT-J-MIDDLETON-2020
I'm looking forward to running this course on March 14th. Below is a description of the course and information to sign up if you're interested.
Get things in order and explore the many uses of the list form with James Davies.
The notion of the list, or the list poem, goes back to our earliest writings, in texts such as the Iliad and countless religious volumes. From poems that we might call “simple cataloguing” to the list’s appearance as a structural device in complex forms, like the sonnet, you’ll find that it’s everywhere in poetry. Indeed, if we take the word to mean that one thing follows another and that what follows is related to what’s passed, and also that most lines in poems can be placed into categories, then the list is ubiquitous to all poems…
In this day workshop you will explore the multiple possibilities of the form through close reading, writing, and some in-class collaborations to see that, in poet and critic Larry Fagin’s words, in order to write a successful list poem, you need to find ‘a poetic bump in the road’.
While exploring this simple, yet endlessly playful and inventive approach to writing poetry we will take inspiration from contemporary poets, including Caroline Bergvall, Miles Champion, and Matthew Welton, as well as a whole host of poets from the past, and by the end of the day you will have produced a diverse batch of new list poems, covering a variety of different forms and subjects, that will rivet your readers.
Saturday 14 March, 10.30am – 4.30pm.
All classes will be in our offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.
A new poetry pamphlet has been published by the marvellous Red Ceilings Press. The book contains 45 couplet poems. I have written 178 poems to date using this structure. This is what Scott Thurston has to say about the collection:
In Davies’ multiverse, everything is alive and unpredictable. In a perpetual motion search for a
container, tubs, pots, boxes, lids, even a bucket, offer their services: ‘what am i now but someone
standing next to a lids’ (sic). Channelling Wittgenstein, Lao Tzu and Robert Grenier, Davies’ double-
line form acts as a strange attractor, drawing in quotidian minutiae alongside visionary
apprehension. This small book is both heavy and light: ‘notice how good i look in this fire engine’,
‘when the final explosions happened’, and to read it is to walk a fine line between comedy and
tragedy: ‘let’s go into those woods / (no)’.
The Red Ceilings website is HERE