previously an Arts section writer
Jake is an English Literature with Creative Writing student who has a passion for poetry, and finds the idea of channelling his left-leaning politics through poems both exciting and genuinely beneficial as a means of stress relief. In his spare time, he can be found reading, laughing and trying not to fall over.
(27.01.17) – Fake News
I’m straight with you.
When it rained I ran across town
and it did rain and I did run
to fly-tip all the sad.
(28.08.16) – Girl Dressed as Fox, Lincoln High Street
Is that her mother whose arm she is touching? She holds a tablet
to the charity shop window and photographs nothing much. There
is nothing much to photograph when wearing a fox-head (which I
think of as brave on a day as hot as this). The tail perks up from
the waistband of her jeans, a wad of fur swaddling a pliable wire.
(13.06.16) – Anti-Confessional 3
I don’t know where I go
but boy, do I go.
traps of dead thistle.
Manholes for ditches.
You’ve been ditched. Remember?
I watched you cough dust and wipe
sand from your eyes. You said
you’d seen me in a past life.
We were here, on this dirt road.
(30.05.16) – London
I find London throwing tennis balls
against the walls of my bank account
when overdrawn and, in despair,
I find it again in the coin London plucks
from behind my ear. Once, I dropped London
in the sea. The dolphins own it now.
Here’s something that will make poetry sound a little more dangerous (but not really), and doesn’t involve tattooing Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ from your neck to your toes: it is said that the poets chosen for the UK’s prestigious poet laureateship are plagued with a curse.
That is to say, the poems written during a poet’s tenure as poet laureate – an honorary position in which there is no strict demand but certainly an expectation for the poet to write original poems for important national occasions – are sub-standard when read in light of poet’s earlier, or later, work.
(02.05.16) – May
Can such delights be in the street, / And open fields, and we not see’t?
I rock up against the banks
in the shore of my sleeping
when a cluster of pollen
tricks its way into my bedroom
like smelling salts.
(18.04.16) – The Debate
This is not rightness or righteousness
the wrongness of your terror
let’s say we say something terrible
(04.04.16) – Ban Ki-Moon Plans a Holiday
Ban Ki-moon wonders if he’ll look much better
wearing a bindi. He Googles to see if they sell
them at the airport. Everyone has been having
so much fun, and now it’s his turn. Darling!
he cries. I’ve booked a ticket to a ‘foam party’!
On October 2nd, 2011, PJ Harvey appeared on The Andrew Marr Show alongside David Cameron. As soon as Marr mentions that Harvey’s then-latest album, the glorious Let England Shake, tackles ‘a big political subject, in this case Britain and war’, Cameron grits his teeth and asserts that he is ‘very keen’ on the album. Harvey’s polite laugh is the kind we all offer when confronted with a mildly xenophobic taxi driver.
‘Do you think they [the government] are doing alright on culture?’ Marr asks. At this point, Harvey gently and articulately condemns the ‘100% cuts’ in her home county of Somerset. She laments the notion that economic growth in Tory Britain is viewed as the only worthwhile goal. Bizarrely, Cameron awkwardly nods, as if a brief and sudden shot of humanity has temporarily penetrated his reptilian hide. She is, of course, swiftly and patronisingly cut off. ‘You’d better go and get your guitar ready,’ Marr says, clapping his hands together. And so the camera crops her out and focuses back on the men in suits.
(07.03.16) – Yik Yak AI
I need you to know I am hungover I need you to know
I went out and got alcohol poisoning I am in bed eating
pizza I am the real deal I need you to know I am the god
of all your comedy give me what I need I need you to
know I am jealous of you but I cannot say it properly
(22.02.16) – I Stand Upon The Watchtower
after Harper Lee
It was February, it was cold, you’d come in
from break time and your fingers
would seize into a rigor mortis claw
(08.02.16) – Standout Pints from the Million
The pennies from the old guy
in the flat cap
with a Brewers Fayre menu
creased in his creasing hands
that old guy
When I told a sub-editor of The Norwich Radical that I wanted to write an article in which I explore the fan-fiction community, his first words of advice were ‘steer clear of mpreg’. You can Google ‘mpreg’, if you like. If you’d rather not, socio-political zeitgeist Buzzfeed offers a simple definition: ‘the term for a genre of art and literature where a man is pregnant.’
This is precisely what fascinates people about fan-fiction: its alleged tendency to veer towards the bizarre, the unknown, and, some would say, the un-publishable (although nowadays the proliferation of fiction appearing online throws the whole question of what is/is not ‘publishable’ into question). Talking about fan-fiction right now conjures that which we have seen before – excerpts of sexually charged dialogue between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes and Andrew Scott’s Moriarty, for example (a pairing so popular that Sherlock co-creator and renowned fan-teaser Steven Moffat wrote a scene in which the two lean in for a kiss, albeit in his usual roundabout, not-quite way).
But of course, we know that not all fan-fiction is like this.
(11.01.16) – David Bowie
My grandfather saw him on the docklands at four
in the morning, a flash in the waning light of a jazz bar,
a man honking his way out into fog with aplomb
(28.12.15) – Year in Review
In response to 2015.
I saw terror through a lens
and the public shaming friendships.
We called it proper work.
Feeling so very comfortable eating churros with a bunch of pregnant women! Just what I needed, the perfect chill yummy food birthday!!!!
(14.12.15) – Talk
When he touches down he is walking, all talk,
cornered in Hallmark by British small talk.
He’s brought whiteness. It made his polls snowball.
(30.11.15) – Letters to Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett, it’s come to this. You know they say the world will end when
BBC Radio Four stops broadcasting? Well, I’ve been playing with the dials on
my Roberts Revival RD60 DAB and I don’t know about you but down my end I
swear the voices are getting fainter and fainter.
Cate Blanchett, look, it’s like this: the world is a ruin, like I said. I’m not pulling
your leg. I wrote a poem called Strikes because I thought talking about
doctors and bombs was really clever, see, because… sure, you get it.
(28.11.15) – How to Spend £130.000
On the flit of hazel dormice
tripping through boscage,
a chaffinch chirping in maddening circles
between the calligraphic twigs,
a wrens’ bingo hall with trinket wins
and a brief presentation on the history
of shoots and shrubbery
(16.11.15) – Paris was the place
Paris was the place where everyone was all stripes and garlands
and the women were just beautiful cats squashed into Rorschach tests
and chain smokers found afternoon joie de vivre in Sartre’s Huis Clos
(02.11.15) – Family Planning
They watched him play alone
with teddies in a queue
for so long
that sometimes when drunk
they made love to be illegal, but
rumour has it the lady from
the tea-shop had her second
in the dark places between
the legal buildings.
It is quite something. I remember the days of children
dreaming of spending their inheritance on books
now waiting patiently, in that English way, for nothing
to happen, staring blindly at the ghosts that besiege
the moon late at night, push it, give marching orders
and last warnings. Those small assassins send troubles
to elected people, young and old, gathering them as books
often do, from bodies, sacred fleshy remains, sea-wood
chewed offshore. The history dividing them: no matter.
for every hunger pang, famished child, books.
(05.10.15) – Lenses
I can’t wait to get out of these clothes and braid
our legs together, hold collarbones like fridge handles
and wait for the glow, then poke your dimples
like they are soft depressions on a hot cake.
I like Evie, for a girl. Rory for a boy. And I like the way
that you are everything, that you hold the world up
as a photograph of a photograph, or how you sing
when you re-enact The Lion King with the cat.
(21.09.15) – Leaders
My teacher covers peanut brittle with a tea-towel
then takes a hammer and smashes it into pieces.
Like a magic trick, she whips the towel off and tells us
to each grab a shard. It is a lesson about fairness.
‘When I tell people that I have recently moved into a house in which my bedroom window looks out onto a graveyard, I get one of two reactions. The first is a wince. ‘That sounds bleak.’ The second is a strange, slightly glazed and dreamy look. ‘Wow. Think of all the writing you’ll get done. That’ll be so inspirational.’
When I joined UEA as an English Literature with Creative Writing undergraduate in 2013, the prospect of my bedroom window allowing me to peek in over a graveyard was quite a dismal thought. As I prepare to enter my final year, nothing has changed. Yet being a creative writing student, there is an assumption that being so close to death in such a striking and obvious way can be nothing but a gift for what is, presumably, my twisted and morose mind.’
(07.09.15) – Ignorance Was a Woodlouse
burrowing into places dark and damp,
tucking itself into a brittle clot
Its womb was the catacomb
where its armour grew.
A wretched place, free from light.
(24.08.15) – An Affair in Three Acts
Look at the way you’re looking at me.
I upped the contrast and bleached my teeth.
(10.08.15) – The Swarm
It was a murmuration demoted from dusk to night-time,
a climb of buzzing cloud, the open mouth of a life-line,
the sparkle of darkness at the end of a tunnel, the vertigo
of a hungry stomach pressed against lorry tarpaulin,
(27.07.15) – Dark Night Strangles the Travelling Lamp
Commander Coates of New Earth Transfers descends
from a helicopter’s exoskeleton and battles the gales
to signal Anna Garvey, protestor, handcuffed to the rubble
of a Wonder. He fixes goggles to his eyes, flashes his ID.
Don’t tell me, he says. You swallowed the key.
(03.07.15) – Go Set A Watchman
Atticus, he was real nice. – Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
the room is ripe with adolescent sweat
pressed periwinkle to our backs as flies swoon
in circuits around our teacher perched on a table
with her feet inches from the ground
and whoever is still awake quietly questions
her decision to imitate Calpurnia’s accent
(29.06.15) – Dawn
with a sleepy eye of triumph
as two cirrus clouds overlap
like milky arms on a ribcage.
(15.06.15) – Robin Song
I descend / Toward the brink… – Thomas Hardy
The robin pegs its washing on the line, following a feud
in which a red snuck its way into whites. Its dark eyes
probe the meadow, robed in dismembered scarecrows.
It seethes at a pinkish shirt, and curtly calls for the culprit
to come forward. I will find you, it chirps, I will take joy
in severing your spinal cord, in hanging you to dry.