Current and recent projects

New pamphlet due from HappenStance Press
A pamphlet of new poems is due out from the wonderful HappenStance Press in September… as yet untitled!

If You Put Out Your Hand
This CD collaboration with musician Sharron Kraus is forthcoming from Wounded Wolf Press; this is the first time I’ve worked with a musician and the whole experience was fascinating. We’re planning a series of launch events.

Malcolm Lowry – ongoing happenings
In 2009 I worked with Bryan Biggs, Artistic Director at Liverpool’s Bluecoat Arts Centre, and a small but determined group of enthusiasts to develop plans for a festival celebrating the centenary of Wirral-born writer Malcolm Lowry. The festival – which included an exhibition, live literature and film events, a book, and a day-long ‘derive’ around Lowry haunts – was a great success, and gave us the impetus to continue to develop events and research focused on, or taking inspiration from, Lowry and his work. Since 2009 we have hosted an annual ‘Lowry Lounge’ event at the Bluecoat, featuring all kinds of random happenings with a tenuous Lowry connection, and have so far published four issues of The Firminist, an occasional journal of all things Lowry, edited by Mark Goodall, as well as a book (see publications). We’re now planning a conference to be held in summer 2017, jointly with the Bluecoat and Liverpool John Moores University, to celebrate 70 years since the publication of Under the Volcano.

Poetry and visual art
I really enjoyed collaborating with poet and visual artist Patricia Farrell on the project Twenty-Five Views of Japan, combining a sequence of collage poems with collage-based images and exploring ideas of translation across different media. The work was shown at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield and a limited-edition pamphlet was produced by Alan Ward at Axis Graphic Design.

New Poetries VI
It was great to co-edit this anthology, the latest in Carcanet’s acclaimed New Poetries series, with Michael Schmidt, for publication in 2015.

Poetry in hospital
(Not a recent project, but still an interesting one.) From September 2006 up till June 2007 Bea Colley and I ran a poetry reading group for patients at the Walton Centre’s Neurological Rehabilitation Unit in Fazakerly, Liverpool. This was part of the groundbreaking project Get Into Reading run by The Reader, which aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading aloud and discussing texts in informal groups to the widest possible range of people. Researcher Jude Robinson from the University of Liverpool’s Health and Community Care Research Unit recorded some sessions and conducted a focus group with patients to find out what benefits the group had, and I hope that this research will eventually find its way into print. Anecdotally, though, it was fantastic to see the way that patients – often with very little else to stimulate their minds while in hospital, in some cases for months – responded, usually starting off saying ‘I haven’t read a poem since I left school’ and then joining wholeheartedly in discussions of authors from Seamus Heaney to Edward Thomas to Wendy Cope. We hope that this project will generate some significant data on the ways in which sharing poetry together can help people in the most difficult of circumstances, and help pave the way for other similar projects.