Monday, 28 November 2011

Aston Cockaine, Derbyshire's Austin Powers: and other stuff

    I've been doing bits of research into ballads, which have taken me to the wonderful 19th century collection of Derbyshire ballads This includes a ballad about  Henry V, to whom the King of France sent, not the tribute that was due to him in gold, but 10 tons of tennis balls instead. Likewise references to the wonderfully named poet from Ashbourne, Aston Cockaine (yes, surely he is the seventeenth century Austin Powers), an aristocrat with a fondness for gambling, connections to Izaak Walton, and writers such as Massinger, Lovelace, and John Donne. In these days of poetry collections with a fondness for themes, or themed sections, here's a glass to celebrate his "Small Poems of Divers Sorts" - as someone who loves variety, and surprises, a collection that has divers sorts of poems is still, to me, the kind I am readiest to jump into. Or maybe it's just the  pleasure of random dipping that is so fresh and freedom-flying.

    I'm going to be reading next Sunday at Scarthin's bookshop in Cromford - a very informal sort of reading - stay and listen - or drop in while you're shopping. Starting at about 1.00pm, and for just 20 minutes or maybe half an hour at the most. Free, and all are welcome, and the soups, cakes and other cafe treats are of course delicious.  This is to "launch" (hmmm, much more informal actually) a new poem for the bookshop that I've written. Do hope you can come along.
    To just get a flavour of the wonder that is Scarthin's, if you don't know it, start by visiting  It calls itself the most enjoyable bookshop in England, and it's not wrong!

Friday, 18 November 2011

What's that Laureate been doing then? a month later...

A good month, days out, balmy late summer drives to West Hallam, Buxton, Alfreton, Wirksworth, Chesterfield, planning meetings, exciting projects getting ready for the New Year, and writing time too. Quite a lot of time spent on limericks - my tribute to Edward Lear, whose bicentenary it is next year, is a book of nonsense verse and prose called The Nonsense Olympics -  time that was often joyous, with laughter ringing the rafters, and other moments of scansion madness - does it scan? does it? does it? Hopefully it's to print in the next few days, and I'll post more about it soon, doubtless.
                 from Animal Olympics no. 3 - "dodo pogo"        
On which theme, 2 things that may be of interest - firstly, the Derbyshire Lit Festival is running a nonsense poetry and flash fiction competition, and if you're interested just go to And for a great site on Lear in general, there's the very dedicated and wonderful Blog of Bosh He called himself Lord High Bosh and nonsense producer, though he also called himself "Mr Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph" and sometimes "Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps".
         Other good news for me was having a poem published in this month's The Rialto ( I've been much better at sending poems out this year - I forget about it sometimes for a year or two, when I just get too busy with other stuff.
        Going to finish for now with a five-minute haiku -

6 music playing
friday night be bop hip hop -
frog music leaping

ciao for now,  Matt (woops, seem to have lost photo of self on homepage, should remedy or maybe write photo in words...)