NO BLANK SPACES

2018 in Books

It’s that time again. Tl; dr: a book a week; more graphic, poetry and creative non-fiction; authorial gender balance (unplanned but welcome); some classics/critics’ favourites continue to mystify (One Hundred Years(!), A Little Life, The Power). Having moved three times, with the latest abode being the most modest (balcony aside), I chose to…

The Ballad of Gabby Godden

This light-hearted poem was inspired by local voices of dissent in my hometown of Folkestone, which has seen significant investment in recent years through projects including the Folkestone Triennial. The Ballad of Gabby Godden She walks on pebbles, not the path Which is her enemy. A drifting raft of driftwood…

She Doesn’t Help Herself

Our family used to make fun of my brother’s girlfriend, then she died. It happened like that.  At the funeral, I remembered where she’d studied, where she’d worked, where she was going.  Afterwards, he said we never knew her. He was right. I knew her name was Claire. I only…

This or That?

Until he got on the telly, Jim hadn’t much interested his father. The show was a game show called This or That? It pitched children against adults. At seven, Jim was their youngest ever contestant. Even John had to admit that was something.  He said as much to his in-laws:…

The Longer and Lesser and More Perpetual Murder

Eight months into my first relationship and fifteen months before it ended, my boyfriend and I found ourselves at his friend’s book club discussing James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. It’s the story of (self-loathing, American) David’s brief, doomed affair with (affectionate, outgoing, Italian) Giovanni.  I spent the night praising the novella…

Why Coming Out is a Creative Endeavour

This was originally published at BookRiot to coincide with National Coming Out Day (NCOD).  HYPOTHESIS: THE ACTS OF READING, WRITING AND COMING OUT ALL REFLECT A BELIEF IN THE POWER OF WORDS TO CONSTITUTE, NOT MERELY DESCRIBE, ONE’S REALITY.  EVIDENCE #1 At 14, I came out to mum. I’ve no memory…

Don’t Fight It

Let me paint a picture for you. It was the hottest day of the year so far. The grass in the park had gone to straw, the clouds were the colour of sky and it was virtually empty. The few others there rarely moved, were barely noticed. Occasionally a cyclist…

Put it Back

“No. Stop. Put it back.”  Note the full stops. Here is a voice that can afford those full-fat seconds.  We’re standing in his kitchen. I put the apple in the fruit bowl. Of course I can’t see through the blindfold but my eyes lower themselves anyway.  Anyway, it isn’t the…

‘Unremitting, Unremitting’

Here is a poem I wrote last year to mark the anniversary of Virginia Woolf’s suicide by drowning, inspired partly by her suicide note. Unremitting, Unremitting A headlong rush that breaks The water’s skin and mine. These shoes give little traction, Slipping down the muddy bank. They were not made…

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