Giving voice to the void

An image from Void Voices

March was an important month for me. On Friday 15th I joined Paul Hawkins, Sarah Cave and Pascal O’Loughlin at Storysmith Books in Bristol for a reading of experimental poetry, as part of the Bristol Poetry Festival. We had a great turn-out, and it was good to see some familiar faces there. Paul, Sarah and Pascal demonstrated their brilliance as poets, all receiving enthusiastic responses from the audience. I read some new pieces, kicking off with Cockroach (a true story about my birth), followed by some selections from the first three parts of Void Voices, including this excerpt:

To my surprise, several people asked me to sign copies of Void Voices, which made me feel like a total fraud, masquerading as a proper author. I think I managed to keep up the act though, and I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy it! Huge thanks to Paul Hawkins for organising the event, and to Emily and Dan at Storysmith Books for being such welcoming hosts.

At the end of the month, something even more wonderful happened. Poet and artist ReVerse Butcher, in collaboration with COLLAGE, performed extracts from Void Voices in Melbourne. COLLAGE is: Roger Alsop – Guitar; Kylie Supski – Poet + Photographer; Sophie Manual Breathing Rose – Vocals + Throat Singing; Ozlem Kesik – Multi-Instrumentalist; Eiichi Tosaki – Multi-Instrumentalist + Bimanual Coordination Drawing; ReVerse Butcher – Performance of Excerpts from Void Voices.

“Men behind glass make notes on our appearance, our social networks, our sex lives. One points at you with a finger that looks like a gun.” – ReVerse Butcher performing an excerpt from Void Voices in Melbourne.

The COLLAGE event was filmed, so you can see how my work was interpreted and performed. Here are all three parts:

It was a great honour to have my work performed so sensitively and imaginatively. One day, I’ll have to visit Melbourne and buy a beer for everyone involved!

March was an important month for another reason too. Emma Miles wrote a beautiful creative review of Void Voices for minor literature(s), in which she played on (or with) the poem’s erotic qualities. It was the most engaged written response to Void Voices I have read. Please check it out here!


The Glitch Witch

The Glitch Witch is an audio experience, best enjoyed on headphones in a dark room. 

I wrote the text (which is available in my collection the mannequins are more real than you) and sent it to Abbie Foxton, who recorded herself reading it. Then I sent the audio file to Adam Wimbush, who worked his mad magic with Abbie’s voice and created the astonishing soundscape that is The Glitch Witch. 

Listen to it here.

Broken Reflections

I am pleased to announce the publication of Broken Reflections, a free ebook of adventurous writings by fifteen authors, including Marc Nash and Chimera members Sean Fraser and Adam Wimbush. It’s available in multiple formats from Smashwords

The ebook is the result of a creative writing competition I ran back in July to promote the publication of Mono. You can see the results of the competition and read some of judge Kate Garrett’s comments here.

The writings in Broken Reflections are diverse, playful, surreal and dark. You can get the free ebook here. And for a short time the Kindle versions of Mono and In the Dark Room are free too.

13 reflections on the House of Mirrors

For Viviana Hinojosa

1. There is no point trying to look beyond the surface. The surface is all.

2. The House of Mirrors appears to contain a dizzying multitude of rooms, but in reality there is only one: your bedroom.

3. Visitors to the House of Mirrors are asked to leave their dogs, shoes and heads at the door.

4. The House of Mirrors has several residents, including Eve, the Bird King and a gang of feral children.

5. I left a poem in the House of Mirrors. When I went back for it, the words had multiplied. Stanza breaks were pregnant pauses.

6. Meals and sleep are not permitted in the House of Mirrors; the dreams there depend on your hunger and insomnia.

7. In the House of Mirrors, the concepts of reality and unreality are irrelevant.

8. Many enter the House of Mirrors, expecting to find themselves there. Instead, they are presented with voodoo dolls of themselves.

9. The House of Mirrors is more prison than playground.

10. All roads lead to the House of Mirrors.

11. The House of Mirrors smells of lavender, cinnamon and burning plastic.

12. The House of Mirrors is more theatre than domicile.

13. Windows are mirrors, in which you see a reflection of yourself.


House of Mirrors is an ongoing collaboration with Viviana Hinojosa. You can see some of it here.

Twitterature at the London Book Fair


Trains and coffee. Hot sky. Kensington Olympia: a greenhouse labyrinth, a pleasant Hell.

Barcoded enthusiasm. Stands, displays, declarations, theatre. I wander. 

I’m soon lost. The floor plan creases up. Everyone else seems to know where they are. They exhibit the smiling purposefulness of the comfortably off. 

OUP offers trustworthy sources. 

Omnibus Press offers three masked men.

The London Stereoscopic Company offers 3D Adventures in Hell. 

Miraculous stairs lead me to the first floor. Author HQ. I’m early. I tweet about the fact. #interesting

I bide my time with etcetera.

A phantom has materialised. Warm grin, tweed jacket. “Are you James?” @Elhombredetweed is Mauricio Montiel Figueiras. He is affably real, as is his girlfriend, Ana Luelmo. 
Now the stairs bring @george_szirtes, struggling with a trolley suitcase that wants to be elsewhere.  
We’re all here. 
Julio Trujillo is chair. Words of introduction: Internet, social media, reading and writing habits. Short literary texts posted on Twitter.  
We start with readings of our work. 
George stands and reads some selections of linked tweets. The London Book Fair curls up, licks its paws, watches little birds circling just out of reach. 
Mauricio introduces the Man of Tweed, who takes up residence in our skulls, rearranging some of the furniture so he can sit by the window and look down at the Street of Dreams. 
My turn. I cough up the Bird King. He flounders on the floor, wings wrecked, head a mess.  
The people in the audience seem to like us. Their faces are friendly. Some take photos or tweet.  
Then the serious business of discussion. A mic is passed round. I’m reminded of the conch in Lord of the Flies. But this is a civilised colloquy. We talk about the characteristics of Twitterature, its liberation of whimsy, the power of masks, the creative dialogue between reader and writer. Julio asks how Twitter affects the way people think. Big question, little time. Questions from the floor. 
Our allotted time is up.
George, me and Mauricio 

I can’t provide a comprehensive or objective account of the discussion George, Mauricio and I had at Author HQ. My memories of the event won’t stay still. They scuttle under chairs. Some of them seem to have escaped. But then, who can say for certain what happened last year or yesterday or one minute ago?
An Italian restaurant. Mauricio, Ana, George, me. Shared starters. I struggle to cut up some prosciutto. Red wine. The conversation ranges widely. Sátántangó. W G Sebald. Samuel Beckett. Cats. Wrestling. Children’s books. Maurice Sendak. Twitterature (of course). Mina Polen. Viviana Hinojosa. Aspects of Mexican culture. Film noir. Nosferatu.The Vampyr. Pink Floyd – The Wall. Sam Riviere. My companions wear their intellect and erudition lightly. They are interesting, likeable, generous. I am among friends.  
Mauricio insists on paying the bill. He had invited George and me to the London Book Fair, to speak at today’s event. I cannot thank him enough. 
Me, Mauricio, Ana and George 

The day stretches and looks around. It needs to move on. George has a flight to catch and I’m meeting my brother near Paddington. The two of us head for Kensington Olympia Station. Along the way, we chat. George’s trolley suitcase objects to being dragged across London, and it digs its heels in whenever it can.
Another train. Night. Home bound. A gift from George: Uncle Zoltán, a book of tweets. I’m tired. I close my eyes between chapters. Reading in short bursts. The little book sketches a world.  
The train clatters into tomorrow.


Bespoke oneirographs

Today, I invited Twitter users to tweet me pictures to be incorporated into oneirographs (pictures of dreams). I received an interesting variety, from selfies to photos of flora and fauna. Poet and creative powerhouse Bid sent me a disturbingly sexy photo of some balloons. What follows are the results of my day’s work in the dark room of my imagination. All of these oneirographs were made on an iPhone (using Photoshop Touch and other image-editing apps) and tweeted from my Twitter account, @badbadpoet. The final image was based on a selfie taken by Viviana Hinojosa, my House of Mirrors collaborator.