Foody Land

The Sunday market manifests an erudite philosophy.

All that may be done shall be done unto your titbits.


They shall be toasted wickedly, marinated, roasted.

Bacchanalian bits of things shall be peeled and pickled,


Battered, steamed or fried; garnished, peppered, grated.

The texture is to be considered just as much as taste,


Crispy, gooey, tart, releasing novel blends of smell,

Not a part from nose to tail shall ever go to waste.


And you can but admire how deftly she is dumpling

The pork ball with sesame, trickling fish-oil over the shoal


Of desiccated minnows while drizzling the crickets.

Delicious, unless not. Western taste-buds are easily


Shocked – or something gets caught in the back of the throat

And you fear that it may be your tonsils you’re swallowing


Rather than the intimate glands of some Himalayan goat.

Best of all are the dead man’s fingers, the crocodile tear shallots.


Let the market ransack your imagination, turning

Your stomach into your very own haggis. 


Hope that the demon’s whiskers do not bring you out in spots.

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Hot pants drop for cash. Now fallen spears change into silvery

Snakes of light plucked from each lake’s modernist whorls

That lead us where the bougainvillea bush bespoke

For each lakeside testifies to convex curves

And bushes on gated streets. As if it were a bird the fan

Thrives in the sky. Hot pants spreading apart,

Divas change into banana skins. Her billionaire Westerner

Has erected the terminal overpass. Jetlag filled red lights with meditation.


How to shift shape in a loop, keeping your daughters

Rich in silver. Hoardings induce trances.

Admire instead his apples of semen – or, if not, her cars

Instead of Western humps. Reptilian communities

Get too close to slip-roads while thorny trees present themselves

To blot out the airport overpass. Oh, but ever larger Nagas

Offer formidable barriers briefly tusked in steel skin.

Everything slows for rivals lit by that drop in culinary affairs.


We lighten the bow string later. A case of snakes reflected

Proof of the Divas origins. Smooth as angels pale as the locals

You string together a blue chain lengthening behind litter bins.

Here the gates erected changed to the more distant

Complexion of powders with the rising up they get for cash.

We branch off from the storm into a rival hood.

Taking off silk and their coils instead

Such harlot shores slip their five blue skins.


A fence slides away from trident rows along such fitted gates

And lanes beside men the gods look very like.

Divas shape the skin’s pastes – though skins are never rents.

On while away into rest. Time protects the fallen sentence

From the knowledge worms that dine on a god’s discarded phrases.

So how to cruise the angels with many heads.

Serpents such as your seven snakes go looping

Under corralled scaffolds. How to string the sentence


As if it were a bow. How to string convex phrases

Together in a chain of looping curves as if you were the bird

With that rising terminal. Ever larger hoardings go up.

They get erected on scaffolds, erected to blot out

The sky along the overpass from the airport. Now

We branch off, smooth as silk, taking slip-roads that lead us

In a loop under the overpass, off and away

To gated lakeside communities.


Here, where the bougainvillea thrives,

Everything slows for the humps. Oh, but such gates

Present themselves, bespoke for each billionaire:

Trident gates and tusked affairs, rows of thorny spears,

Modernist barriers and such, in blue steel or rich in silver whorls,

Keeping your five cars corralled – if not your seven daughters.

Never get too close to their bushes though

In case of snakes. Admire instead the fan bananas


Spreading apart behind a formidable fence.

Time slides into jetlag later as we dine beside lanes

Of reflected light lengthening away from culinary rivals

On each lake’s more distant shores. A hood with many heads

Protects a meditation from the storm.

Rival Nagas slip their skins and shift shape

Into gods or men. The gods rest on their coils.

Discarded skins are proof a shape has changed.


Of a silvery blue, the complexion of the Divas

Testifies to their reptilian origins. Snakes change into Divas

As Divas change into snakes, and serpents offer such apples

As induce trances plucked from trees of knowledge.

Skins filled with Western semen litter the bins

Lit by red lights. Pastes and powders lighten the skin,

So that the locals look very like fallen angels.

Fallen angels pale as worms cruise the harlot streets.


Her Westerner, his skin fitted, briefly rents her bush.  



The bird with the rising terminal is the Gawow – which is the Thai cuckoo



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Whatever happened to Hapi?

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Reading at the Torriano Meeting House

I am reading with Naomi Foyle this Sunday (7.30) 18th December at the Torriano Meeting House.

Address: 99 Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, London NW5 2RX

Directions: From Kentish Town tube station walk up Leighton Road for seven minutes
and turn left onto Torriano Avenue. Map

There are always readings from the floor.

Phone for enquiries: 0207 267 2751 / 0207 482 0044 / 07542891492 (Susan).

E-mailTorriano Meeting House

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Three Titles from The High Window Press

The High Window Press has now published three books of my poetry. I am very grateful to David Cooke and to Peter Jay who designed them so beautifully.

From Inside – 2017 – Chilcot, Arkan, Dick Cheney, the Middle East: subjects that find expression in these poems which explore the genre of “Immoralism” – a notion developed from the writings of André Gide and the personae of Robert Browning.  We are taken beneath the external face of society. They employ a trope perhaps more sinister than irony. Their author taught in prisons until he was taken off the books for helping the inmates write material the authorities deemed inappropriate. Meaning here has a swingeing accuracy, which is remarkable, coming from a poet who pioneered abstraction in the seventies. Further information  ISBN incorrect – £9.95

           Songs of Realisation – 2019 – In this book, urban imagery gives way to the muddled ground just beyond London: woods and marshes, villages on the up and estates fallen into dilapidation. Central to the collection are three Songs of Realisation. In Indian literature, a “Song of Realisation” is a poem that realises divinity. The nature of matter on, below and above the earth provides inspiration for a description of Epping forest, the Chauvet cave and the Hubble telescope. These “songs” draw on mythology, archaeology and particle physics. A leitmotif is the notion of Shiva as creator and destroyer, conceived as a dancer, on axis. Meaning is both created and destroyed in each section, while the intention is to cause thought to express itself as a dance. Family history and childhood get explored in the poems that conclude the book. Further information ISBN 978-1-903006-16-0 – £9.95

           Invention of Reality – 2022 –  “An editor once told me that when it came to my work she was apprehensive about turning the page. I mix reassurance with uncertainty. I doubt she’d be able to cope.” A sequence of dizains celebrates Hawthornden Castle. After that, we take a tour of Europe – as did the castle’s owner William Drummond. Returning to an England mired in confusion prompts a shift towards a darker tone bearing witness to the state of affairs. A final sequence imagines a poem from the afterlife by Iraqi Fawzi Karim who died in 2019. Further Information ISBN 978-1-913201-28-9 – £14.95

Anthony Howell’s first collection, Inside the Castle, came out in 1969. In 1973 he was invited to the International Writers Program in Iowa. In 1997 he was short-listed for a Paul Hamlyn award. His versions of the poems of Fawzi Karim were a PBS Recommendation for 2011. He was the founder of The Theatre of Mistakes and is editor of Grey Suit Editions. 

Individual copies, review copies and trade sales may be ordered through Tangoshiva

(Tangoshiva is the easiest way to order)

For trade discounts please contact the author at

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On One Younger Than I Am

Algernon Newton


Taken all too soon, a friend has flatlined and is now

Out of the picture. Which picture is meant? What does it show?

Immobility? This painting of these clouds above

Those chimneys on that day. Might it suggest just that?


A stillness which is how it seems on some windless

Afternoon? A stretch of grandiose pageantry?

We know its stationary quality for an attractive lie.

Even chimneys have their day. Time’s breezes overtake


The world’s rotation. Also the clouds keep changing

In relation to each other. Some will evaporate faster than

Their neighbours – who may say that they were taken

Far too soon. Some will break, pour down, soaking the lawn.


Some rise up higher, changing their nature, floating

In a sky more rarified. Only in the moment, as we glance,

Is there a coherent view, a fleeting notion of a generation.

Every cloudscape has its hour, and yes, our being here


Conveys a sense of lasting. Yes, we make our lives

Together, even if there are those fated to disappear

Sooner than expected. Generations move like caravans

Crossing the waste. One may start off earlier than the next,


Ending the trek just as the other sights its destination.

Sooner than is meant, we say of one who has made us aware

If only for a while, of how we have made the world

In which we have shared; tapestry woven together by


The threads we are – the scene rolls on only in our relationships.

Rolls on and away, as the clouds have done since clouds

Began – our best hope being that it is with pride

That we can say that we were the clouds that sailed together


And on, beyond the revolving horizon, on a particular day.

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“The Weather” – exhibition at The Room/Poetry Reading/Cloud Performance for Kids

There is an exhibition in homage to Luke Howard ‘Namer of Clouds’ on his 250th anniversary at The Room, 33 Holcombe Road N17 9AS – 15 November 2022-14 December 2022.

Martine Ormerod
Albert Marquet – Waiting for a Ferry on the Danube
James McBey – View of Dunkirk
Johann Geyer – Balloonists – Courtesy of Agnews Fine Art
John Lindoll? – The Broads
Paul Mictchell – Train and Light
Paul Mitchell – 1960s Birmingham Road
Algernon Newton – Chimneys
Arnesby Brown – Pines and Clouds
Anonymous – Clouds and Cows
Anthony Howell – Clouds and pylons
Anthony Howell – Clouds, Steam and Sheep

Kerry Duggan
Kerry Duggan
Luke Howard’s plaque at Bruce Grove

Also included – Sandie Macrae’s film “The Most Beautiful Shadow of a Doubt”.

Open Mike Poetry Reading at 6.30 pm on Tuesday 22 November, and then viewing by appointment after the opening. This is part of a whole series of events in Tottenham – at the Hub Recreation Centre and at Bruce Castle museum.

Full programme here –

And finally Help me Turn Kids into Clouds – call out for kids, parents, teachers, dancers, performance artists – for a childrens performance art event on Saturday 26 November (weather permitting) at 11.30 for 12 at The Lordship Hub Cafe

For the performance, bring a single flat sheet, pale in colour.

Cloud rehearsal with the cubs


Equipment. One single flat sheet per performer. Costume: white, grey or pink.



Fill a shared sheet with the wind. Walk or run with it.  Or each performer may take a single sheet and run as fast as they can with it, so that the sheet flaps in the wind in their wake. Run around an in between other performers, who may be performing another exercise. That is fine. You are the wisps of cloud under and beneath and around the edges of other clouds.


Share the shake of the sheet, one of you at each short end. Rotate your sheet on the spot with a sheet shared like this with a partner – which could be interesting done increasingly fast or slow. Then really slow the action down to doing it so slowly no one can see you moving.

Can you turn inside out? That is, start facing each other and then work out how to turn under your arms and end up facing outwards? Can you reverse and get back to facing each other without twisting the sheet?

Or try folding the sheet so that it is half as wide. The folded width of a single sheet can be held by its folded corner right up next to that performer’s shoulder and the other corner held in the same way by a partner so that the folded sheet dangles down to their ankles.

Now you can revolve in towards your partner, and your partner can do the same. You can both do this standing up or rolling on the ground (depending on the weather). Explore all possibilities. Try working in sixes (three pairs) – what patterns can be made?


Two sheets shared by four performers ducking under and over their sheets. Perhaps this could be done in an avenue of performers – in the manner of English country dancing.


If alone, what can you do with your sheet?…….. Can you put it over your head? Can you twirl round, hidden by the sheet. What else can you do?


Three performers face outwards each holding one corner of the short end of a sheet, thus they are holding three sheets in an outward facing circle, and one performer takes up the sheet at the other short end, but holding the two short-end corners as do another two performers with the other two sheets. Now we have a sort of cloud three-leafed clover. One performer gets into the middle of the circle and improvises with their own sheet, as the other performers step sideways, slowly revolving the whole combination. This requires seven performers. Four sheets.

It can also be performed by six performers forming an outward-facing circle, connected by six sheets, with six performers using both hands to hold the other ends of the sheets. Now there can be two performers sharing one sheet in the centre of this larger circle. This takes fourteen performers. Seven sheets.

To parents, dancers, performance artists, group leaders: this performance will depend on your own creativity and the creativity of your teams. I suggest working with unelasticated single flat sheets – but some of you may get ideas for double sheets. Clouds can be white, grey, pink. Remember, simple actions can look great en masse. Actions can be shuffled or staggered or done at the same time or done in opposing directions. Actions may seem tentative at first, but with practise a very simple action becomes crisp and disciplined. A drone will film the performance from above as well as from the ground, and the best view will be the one from above. Imagine the grass as the sky and we are painting clouds in it.

              Clouds move slowly as well as fast. Instil this idea in your performers. Use acceleration and deacceleration. Sometimes try moving so – which is often true of clouds. So the performance of any of the ideas suggested below might begin fast and end up so slow no one can see any movement – or vice versa.

Repetition will be of the essence in what you do, and the more you repeat, the smoother and the more controlled the actions will become.

              Encourage everyone to come up with new ideas, and use any that seem promising.

              If some of your team are particularly interested in video, create a film team which works towards making an excellent video of the final performance. They will need practise as well, and they may pick up excellent out-takes (short footage of details) which can be useful later.

              I present a few suggestions, but it is up to each team to create its own cloud performance. We might finally do these performances one performance at a time, and then, use the entire field to perform all of them simultaneously. Then we will have a cloudscape! Mixing the exercises, performing exercises simultaneously, or all performing one (such as Exercise 7) at the same time are what will create our cloud performance.

              And on the day, come with macs, and headgear and gumboots – just in case it rains.

              When sharing another performer’s sheet, tie your own sheet around your waist. Work out a fancy way to do this that doesn’t take too long to do.


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On Difficulty in Poetry


A new essay in The Fortnightly Review!

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How Different Countries View War

FILM - Come and See (1985) -

Andrei Martyanov (SmoothieX12 on Youtube) cites the movie Come and See when he explains in the second part of a post called Economics of Military Industrial Complexes in Russia and US how the Russians conceive of war and how the US conceives of it.

A week ago, as I was watching The Professionals with growing admiration for its writer Richard Brookes, it struck me that the ultimate crystallisation of portraiture where America and Americans is concerned is the Western. The genre provides, more than the thriller, which has its roots in the policier of French cinema, a cheap-enough stage (desert being the most of what it needs) for a minimalised, ruggedly pastoral version of America’s tragedies, farces and  subterfuges to find expression. Brookes has been compared to Chekhov.

There’s a gang of vets from some war or another. There’s a deal. Authority is a long way away, and in this case Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin have long since parted with authority. Woody Strode and Robert Ryan back them up. They are all into the deal for the money. Strode is black. A tracker. Ryan is a bronco buster. The logistics of keeping their horses alive is essential to the trek the deal entails. So they are a mixed bunch.

There’s a client. For the money their allegiance is to him. For the gang, violence is expeditionary – they have fought for Mexican revolutionaries – more for the adventure than for the cause of independence. And this holds true for most US military initiatives. They are not fighting for the survival of their families. Essentially they are mercenaries. And the desert backdrop could be replaced by a swamp. A swamp of deals, clients and gangs.

So in terms of genres – America might be epitomised by the Western, France by the policier, Britain by historical costume drama and Russia by the war movie.

Of these Come and See is perhaps one of the most powerful – it shows how, for the Russians, war is conceived as existential rather than expeditionary – the Russian is fighting for the actual survival of his or her family, fighting against occupation and ethnic cleansing. Patriotism is born out of necessity.

Netflix has just brought out a German view of war – All Quiet on the Western Front – after the best-selling novel by Erich Maria Remarque – and here war is seen as entrapment by patriotism.

It also shows us the sheer horror, the humiliating brutality of defeat. This too is a powerful film – and I find it interesting how a book recently published by Grey Suit Editions UK – The Cross of Carl by Walter Owen, a halucinatory evocation – arrives at an expression of the same sense of war as terrifying and grotesque.

Britain’s war films abound in tales of “derring do”, suspense and tension and spies – in the spirit of the SAS or MI6 – and of course, if nostalgically now, the navy.

The Dam Busters, Above us the Waves

and Carve her Name with Pride demonstrate these values.

And America? Well, if we want to be up-to-date, it has to be Top Gun Maverick 2022. Nuff said.

Come and See can be watched for free on Youtube.

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The Canoe

A story by David Plante

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