Thursday, 18 July 2013


I just found that my poem, Baking Bread*, won the Ideas Tap Editor's Brief and I will be spending £250 prize money on fine cheese and champagne!

You can read it here.

* Yes, it does seem to be that I like writing about kneading dough very much and that whenever I do, I am infinitely more successful than any other topic. Probably I should just give up all this other nonsense and become a reader in residence at a bakery.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Beginning

You keep asking me how the world began so sit around, sit by my side and I will start the long process of Tell.

The world began with a tornado. That was the first thing: the spin.

Somehow there was nothing but nothing wanted to be slightly over there in a world that was all just space in different directions and fortunately the nothing that was there wanted to be in the nowhere of the other nothing, so that happened. The nothing began to move.

Slowly at first, circularly, because in the beginning there was no place for corners. The nothing became a small spin, a tiny rotation, a prehistoric vortex at the time before stuff.

And it is quiet in the nothing, in the space, but it does move, it whips around like the gathering noose of a lasso, it rotates. If there was sand, it would draw circles in the sand.

But of course, the thing about spinning is that it cannot stay the same. Spinning gets faster. Spinning goes whee. Spinning is the hands of a clock trying to get ahead of time and even if it doesn't quite succeed, it gets so very excited trying.

So after the tornado gets going, the snap of the whip hits the nothing of real pure air. Don't you know that friction can cause the smallest spark? Don't you know that fire can be made out of nothing? Don't you know that heat comes from the spin and where there is heat, there is the chance for creation, don't you know that that is the way of the gods?

A snap and a crack and a fire is burning beneath the tongue of a dragon, because after the tornado and the fire, there had to be dragons. There had to be creatures in the sand.

Here is a long straight view out over the forever-endless and all that dots the wind is tornadoes like whirpools of the sky, ashing and shooting out lazers of dirt. All that dots the wind is the smoke over forever-burning flames. All that flies in this air is dragons.

I am not allergic to their scales, and I exist yet only in the mythologies that are typed backwards on the skins of their forebearers, and we are so far before cavewalls that I, who am only made of stories, have very little left to say.

I am talking round in circles, heading into and out of the subject, because it is hard to tie together the threads of a shared history that exists only in the tales of mythological creatures that we no longer quite believe in.

I have written the histories of a thousand civilisations and it all comes back to this: The beginning is a foolish place, quieter and less explicable and somehow wilder too. The beginning is a thing we don't have to trust but we do have to acknowledge. The beginning doesn't make sense in our own mouths because the beginning is a place of contradictions, wild and headbucked, wanderlust and witchety.

Of course there are stupid stories, of course there are contralogical dragons, of course, I whisper, of course.

What else is the universe if not changing?

There is a different world and I am not yet in it and it makes no sense that I am the scribe because in the beginning I had no hands to write with. In the beginning, I was not yet a woman...


Monday, 8 July 2013


Tonight I am in my apartment drinking gin and listening to music by all the insanely talented people I've been lucky enough to befriend // tour with // put on in my venues // make fires with in the woods // makeout with in the cities // dress up silly alongside and fall over around Edinburgh // book for festival stages // have happenings with // sit in a tiny office printing album covers for // throw feathers at // forever adore.

It is very sweaty and balmy and summertime and I am in my underwear. The balcony has red lights. The record player is loud.

I have just taken my cello out of its case for the first time in a while and, while I am confused about where my sequined hotpants ended up, I am excited about making noises again.

Things of late have been some heavy shit.

By that I mean: depression, mental breakdowns, tears, breakups, the end of good things, financial freakouts, shaky foundations, woe, oh, such woe.


If you can't afford your life, you might as well be living in a penthouse, playing at being a poet until the world works out.

If you can't stick at one job, you might as well be a writer and a cellist and a philosopher and a promoter and a drunkard and a lunatic and a terrible singer and a brewer and a venue manager and a lady who howls at the moon.

If you can't persuade a boy that it is better to twist like sunflowers, ever-towards the grin, you might as well hold out for yourself.

If you can't play in tune, you might as well play loudly.

You might as well sing like a doofus in your apartment. You might as well go out again. You might as well stop shaking the batea in the mud, you might as well break a window instead and grab your handful of gold.

This is my promise to myself for now. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Her Body Was a Map and an Axe

I told you my body was a map and an axe and that if you followed the paths, scrabbled into the woods, if you found the hollow beneath the boughs of the old oak, if you got down on your precious filthy knees and took your hands to the soil, if you bent over double and buried your arms to the elbows, if you dug, if you found the chest, if you pulled it out and unpacked the papers, then you would find something, I told you.
I told you.
But it was raining.
But the paths were worn down in the soil.
But you had just washed those jeans.
But you don't believe in pirates.
You don't believe in buried miracles.
You have never, ever, staked your life on a promised bag of shiny gold coins.

this may not sound like much

I'm not going to say that if you get the words right then everything else will follow. But. If you get the words down, then at least you will have footholds. Footholds may not sound like much but you come to realize what they are when you start looking for a ground and start falling. Falling may not sound so bad but this is coming from someone who has never broken their neck on the floor. Breaking your neck may not sound like the end, but it's hard to stare wistlessly into the distance when the bones made to support you are limping. Well, you ask, laughing and brushing the hair from your eyes, who ever needed to stare into the distance? Well, you say, I have no need of words or footholds or ground or gazes. You pick up a stuffed giraffe that has clearly been adored through the ages and rub its soft flannel cheek on your own. You pick up a cigarette butt and rest it on your bottom lip so it points at the moon, but the moon has yet to rise, so you just stand in the desert cursing your mother and the day you were born.

Everything keeps expiring. The milk the jobs the invitations the days. Everything is fickle and out of place. I am jumpy at the desk like the desk is a trampoline. Oh, I want to leap on a trampoline. I have never found anything in life as fun as arse over tits over head heels heart. Blindfold my eyes and make me write you a story about the moon and a turnpike and jumping jacks. Blindfold my heart. Let it be unable to see where it's going, try that out for a change. Let me be unable to walk. I am not averse to a sledgehammer to the knees, just as I am not averse to leaping into situations that gnaw at my cartilage and snap at my sinews. I will wait by the window for a breeze and when it comes I will strap these crepe paper wings to my back and try not to be surprised when it turns out they are ripped by a gust from the north.

It may look differently, you may see the bike grease on my knuckles and the fold in my brow and you may surmise that I am just a broken kettle waiting to whistle, getting hotter by the moment, quivering on the hob, somehow bereft of voices. It may look differently but that is because you are the kind of sailor who spent the afternoons in the crow's nest playing dot to dot with the picture books, because you never believed in augurs. I smile a crepe paper smile back into your eyes but the truth it that we need some kind of navigation if this ship is ever going to reach the shore. Aha, you say, as if this is all the stumbled knees you have been waiting for. Aha, but whoever spoke of reaching the shore, Ms Mermaid, who promised that land is better than sea? 

And I know you are right and it's nothing to do with mooring, it's nothing to do with aching not to be adrift. All the truth is and all the things I have are that I want to send a crow in a straight line and listen out for how many hours it takes for the cawing to stop. I want to tie rocks to the ankles of bears and fling them overboard. I want to be all the things every mother warned of. Snapping danger like gum beneath my tongue.