Fossil Fool


In the age of the son of Dick
dinosaurs roamed the earth again
funneled and shovelled into rooms of steel and of brick,
grooming in new taxes, fees and contributions
looming over tracks of grey grey grey…

In the age of the son of Dick
Shellfishness was on the rise
oil say – yeah, back to back
to the sound of beating drums
a black hum rising from
your interests – only green concern
is what you make when you burn.

In the age of the son of Dick
we fly our flags with pride
wear our badges, sound our voices
we have nothing to hide, Dave
and it’s not just ‘save the planet’:
We cry divest, divest, divest!
Do not feign interest, Dave
you’ve turned to fossil,
you look like a fool.
The solution? Divest.
Because we won’t rest tonight
we won’t rest tomorrow
we will burrow into your grey
with our orange – and we have no rhyme
but plenty of reasons.
We’re here to stay as long as we have to
as long as it takes, Dave,
until you say – we do different.

Partially improvised piece in occasion of the UEA Fossil Free 26-hour occupation. Read more about it here.



They were huddled in the same room, as if in a crooked nest, some scribbling away, some, admittedly, were typing on small keyboards. At seemingly regular intervals, they would silently squabble as if their worlds mattered more than any of the others. It was a peculiar circle, with more sharp angles than you might envisage – you could feel the tingling tension zig-zagging around the table. There were some lights, but their warmth felt unsure, tentative, even scared of shining too bright, as the shadows would only grow deeper as a result. The trickling noise of tapping on the tables, the clicking of pens, keyboards, thin fingers scuttling across the surfaces, was only interrupted – almost as if on a loop – by a peculiar but all too familiar moan. It would hang in the air for a handful of seconds, haunting all present company, lingering just enough to become uncomfortable, only to slowly dissipate into the incessant scritching on paper, the constant clicking sound of keys.

No eyes looked up, no contact made between the figures in the circle, no movement other than what required for the production of more work, more words, more paper, more screens, more, more, more. Lines building upon lines, stories stacked up precariously and vanishing to other rooms, to other – much wider, much louder, much livelier – worlds.


Outside the building, in the growing chill of that autumn night, people passed by, entirely oblivious to the figures inside. It was as if they weren’t really there after all.


140story – Transcontinental



140story is still running, terribly strong for a tiny Twitter thing. Give them some love!



Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), from Bastarde Senza Gloria.

Beware the bad poets
they don’t just come at night
but roam about
whipping out their lines by day
dumb and overbearing
if you do not turn your ears away
they slither into your skulls
filling them with sickly sweet scents
they’ll make you hurl
but your victim’s face
will smile:
a smile of kindness
lax, fed up
and with no trace of sincerity.

Better a poet who’s bad
than a bad poet.

140story – Tryptich


Story is complete, and summer has definitely gone.



Towards fresh flowing waters
they linked their paths,
channelling the music
the hues and flavours
of a crowd winding its way

with measure and care
around rise and falls of a score
towards a crossroads on the track
stepped across the borders.

They did not change that much
they did not stay the same, either.
They could not stay, so left
goodbyes rolling off the tongue
with ease, at last.

BCLT Summer School – Day 5


The final workshop was given by Sharlene Teo, who delved into psycho-geography, and her own variation: psychic geography. We were asked to describe a room that was familiar to us, lingering on details, even the smallest, if needed.

1. If I sit down at its centre, I can take in all of its corners. The four major ones – the cornerstones, the foundations – and the minor ones, the ones that follow the furniture, the kitchen area, the wardrobe, my eyes. Circling around them, books populate the room, shelves pine for more or for fewer, groan with content. Keep turning and the bed lies down, to one side, covering its own space, in its own time. Turn a little more to find the washing line, clothes hanging, suspended, moisture gently rising as they dry. Lie back, and the ceiling stares at you, blankly.

We were then asked to describe a ‘public’ person, or character, in enough detail for them to be recognisable by other readers. My choice, surprising no one, fell on Eddie Izzard.

2. He has the kind of eyes that show the weird, wonderful, buzzing creativity behind them, rimmed with eye-liner, or eye-shadow, or mascara, calculated and meticulous. He might be wearing lipstick, he might not. That doesn’t really matter. But if he is, it might appear amid a three-day beard, bristled with white and blond and brown – light brown. Or maybe not. He does wear a shirt, and a suit and tailcoats from the jacket, points touching an umbrella as he stands triumphant, ego shining bright, spotlight not needed. Unless he’s wearing a dress, and the sparkles, the glitter, the sequins catch the lights on stage. And that’s when smiles. Mocking. Knowing.

We swapped the result of the first exercise with other participants, and wrote the character into the new setting we now had. Oh dear.

3. …my heels just got stuck. eeeeeeeeeeeh-yes. Anyway: HAMMERS. Let me talk about hammers. You don’t want to talk about hammers? You just want to get hammered? Well whatever floats your boat I suppose. Do you think Noah used hammers when he built his boat? the Ark, I mean? and what if he made it out of perspex, like a see-through boat, to watch all the evil people and animals drown and you can point and laugh and then you’d be evil too, actually… but yes, and god, who is still James Mason, would be up there going craaaaazy:
‘No no, stop laughing or I’ll have to push you off the boat. Noah? Noah, make them stop laughing or just – Jesus?’ ‘ Yes dad?’ ‘I need a holiday.’ ‘ Aren’t all days a holiday for us, dad?’ ‘…yes, well played.’
But yes, anyway – gardening.

BCLT Summer School – Day 4


Eliza Robertson was our leader today, and we focused on voice as ‘an intersection of character and place’. We tried bringing out our own local, personal varieties of English, by adapting a pssage from Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. I failed, it became Tuscan very quickly.

1. Maledetti imbecilli in un paese d’imbecilli – diahane. E unn’é miha colpa loro se ci siam fatti invadere dagl’inglesi. Miha li odio, io. Son imbecili, poracci. Noi e un siam nemmanco capaci di piglianne una a modino di gente pe faccelo tirá nicculo. Sie – governati da buhaioli. E noi icch’é si diviene? Merde. Merde zozze, schifose – merdacce proprio – nemmanco merde di hane, iobono. Miha li odio gl’inglesi io. C’hanno le su cose anche loro. A me stanno su icculo I toscani.

Someone close to that speaker decided to mediate the response:
2. What I believe he’s trying to say, really, is that sometimes we feel like – and this is just sometimes of course – like there could be more cooperation between you and us. I mean, we can be difficult to deal with, sometimes, of course, no point in denying that *nervous laughter*
…but maybe a hand in more urgent matters could improve morale? Only if it’s not a burden…

And it continued.

3. ‘OH! A chi, difficult? Noi? Difficult? Mavvacahare vai, te e i’ tu’ nglese perbenino e cicici e risolini e leccaculi.. gnamo su.’
‘Well. I’m sorry, I just think we could be a little less harsh about some of the complaints. We–‘
‘Ma ndoe harsh?! Io le ho dette come lle stanno le hose, diocristo, se un sapehe icche farci son cazzacci vostri.’

BCLT Summer School – Day 3


Workshop led by Cecilia Rossi, looking at internal and external constraints that translators face, and ‘revealing’ how writers are really not that free either. The two exercises, below, are intuitively linked to their predecessors.

1. On the Difficulty of Imagining an Ideal Ice-cream Flavour.
(After George Perec/John Sturrock)
I would like to lick some vol-au-vent but sometimes I wouldn’t
I would love to lick some watermelon but sometimes I wouldn’t
I would like to lick some xigua but sometimes I wouldn’t
I wouldn’t like to lick some yolk but sometimes I would
I would love to like to lick some zest – I really would

2. Stencil
(After Matthew Welton)
Exactly what I’m reading is: – the sentence comes
And, with it, something synonymous butts my brain
The crowd of words wibble-wobbles; the dictionary lies.

Exactly what I’m reading is: – the silence comes
And, with it, something soporific ties my tongue
The gap of words dilly-dallies; the dictionary sighs.

Exactly what I’m reading is: – the seizure comes
And, with it, something stupefying mugs my mind
The clot of words coagulates; the dictionary cries.

BCLT Summer School – Day 2


Day 2 – Workshop led by Henrietta Rose-Innes, with a fascinating discussion on South African English, its relationship to Afrikaans and the multiple official languages of the country, and how South African authors (such as Antjie Krog or Nathan Trantraal) use, bend and crash the rules of all of them combined. We were then prompted to tell a very brief story in the voice of 13 year olds (mine became bilingual Tuscans, somehow..) not wanting to be understood, as by someone who uses English as a lingua franca, in a high-calibre interview setting, and in response to someone being judgemental or snobbish of our own accent or variety.

1. Mate! mate! Oh! OH! CAHAMI! ..iobonino outside mate look -right?! yeah i know right! it’s like mate don’t even – fucking ledge yeah? no don’t look now. that one’s like – and that one’s like – and I mean like checazz. eh. (DU IU ANDERSTEND) Yeah but — no miss sorry miss just two birds outside. Yes miss, sorry.

2. Excuse me I am not very good my English but what is happening outside please? Excuse me there is two birds I think but I can not see what it is happening do you know? Do you able to help understand do you see that is happening outside? The birds? Why is the birds doing? Please?

3. What I do hope the story suggested, if you’ll bear with me for this next slide, is the following: the interaction between the two specimens, i.e. the birds, can easily be interpreted in the metaphor of collaboration between our respective fields of expertise, as was my aim in the presentation. The end result I am suggesting, however, goes a little further, as a variation on the adage ‘two birds with one stone’ – please excuse the wordplay – in which the synergy of our collaboration is, in fact, redirected and channelled into a strong, focused approach, i.e. the stone, effectively attacking that collaboration from a lateral, yet central, perspective, leading to a striking result. Thank you for your time.

4*. Oh I do beg you pAAhdon – are my birds not specific enough for you? Would you rAAther I used a more specific example? A pheasant, or quail, perhaps? Would you rAAther prefer they were on the grAAss or a pAAth, or the grounds of a cAAstle..? Toodle-fucking-loo, you twat.

(*where AA stands for [aː])