Andrew Motion


It’s 10 pm and I am just back from an evening at The Brewery Arts Centre where I have been listening to Andrew Motion read excerpts from Essex Clay, published this year by Faber & Faber.

I walked into town and arrived half an hour early so that I could have a pint at the end of quite a hot day. Sitting outside in the beer garden, I read through a few poems from a selection of his works (bought for my birthday by my daughter) and indulged myself with a very cold Guinness. Then a few poetry friends arrived (who hadn’t seen me since the demise of the beard) and we had a pleasant chat about how incredibly young and handsome I now look …

In the theatre, I counted fifty people, mainly my age or above, and finished my Guinness to the not unpleasant strains of jazz piano over the PA system. Then the auditorium hushed as a disembodied voice announced Motion’s imminent arrival on the stage.

He walked on and put everyone at ease with his own relaxed and understated presence, telling an anecdote/joke about a meeting between Philip Larkin and Richard Murphy, before explaining the reasons behind the new work and the way in which he had organised its layout on the page. I don’t intend to carry out (nor could I do justice to) a dissection or analysis of the poem, which addresses a life-changing incident when he was 17 years old and an unexpected reverberation forty years later in a meeting at St. Pancras station. Suffice to say, the work is bloody marvellous and I was rapt all the way through (buy this book!).

An hour passed in seconds and we were at the end. He invited questions from the audience, and after a short embarrassed silence, someone broke the ice. Motion talked about his time as Poet Laureate (graciously) and I wondered (aloud) if I could ask a question about Larkin’s attitude/feelings towards the role he’d refused (or let it be known he didn’t want). I also managed to get confirmation from Sir Andrew (which I’d always assumed to be correct) that the railway line from Hull through Goole to Doncaster was in fact the one referred to in The Whitsun Weddings …

… it was; I went home a very happy poet.


Post Script: Just found this advice from A.M.

Four years out of date, but still relevant 🙂


Soooooo …

… this morning on Facebook, a poet completely misunderstood a comment I’d written, bawled me out, trashed my poetry and blocked me before I could explain she’d got the wrong end of the stick. Apparently, I’m some sort of bitter non-entity, jealous of the success of other poets …



And Yet

Added a video to this, but just noticed some slight differences compared with the original text … can’t remember when/how/why they occurred. I need a new brain.

Jonathan Humble's Stuff ... a poetry blog

I read this poem at Working Title (Lancaster) and A Poem And A Pint (Greenodd) once it had been looked over in a couple of competitions. It’s a good poem to use in a spoken word context, but perhaps is less effective when viewed as a written poem. It’s also made an appearance on the Write Out Loud website, where a couple of nice comments were made about it.

And Yet

Curtains remain drawn, as winter comes with rain
like a returning memory. In darkness, early moments
rest on heavy eyes, closed to a wave of sickness.

In the residue of cracked ashtrays and stale alcohol,
sit diary entries of dissolute nights with succubae;
a debt of bad shillings to smother and oppress.

With a switchclick of artificial light, a three-quarter
circular tea stain on the old and damaged veneer
of a bedside table screams normality.

But the mundane hides…

View original post 166 more words

Invitation To Move On by Jonathan Humble

… the whole of the sky?


I am small in the sea, pushed around

by waves that care not for any grain of sand

or stuff that floats in old men’s heads.

Arms held wide and high, that reach and cling

like a child to a parent when things get rough,

when routines fail and muscles waste.

I hesitate, recoil, cower; skin so thin

these cold water blades could spill these guts

for waiting gulls and wash away this name.

I am caught like the sun, falling

and hoping to rise again, the horizon watched

from a base of arched feet, soft soles and toes

exposed to the hidden sharpness of shadows.

And though these whispered sea breezes,

with caresses would show the way,

for that bastard time waits not for me,

until I learn to surrender, immerse this body,

allow these legs to float and lay back this head,

could I ever take in the…

View original post 75 more words

Rainbow Friday by JH

“I once knew this girl. Small like a mouse she was … big eyes. And colourful ribbons; dancing kite ribbons in the playground. Red one day, blue the next and rainbow ribbons Friday. Didn’t say anything in the uniform rules about it; no mention of ribbons. Nothing I can remember about how far the socks must be up the shin. She always wore one half-mast. Always. I wondered how she managed it. Willpower, my Mam said …”

Yes, I know this is a poetry blog, but I’m chuffed to bits by the publication of my short story this week in the excellent Black Country Arts Foundry edited by Louise Palfreyman. If you’ve the time, please have a visit and give it the once over … it would make an old man very happy : ) xxx


Picture Credit:  Back alley, Adeline Street, Goole, by Mick Garratt (wikicommons)

Schrödinger’s Mouse

Out today on the Amaryllis poetry blog, my poem about a mouse …



Schrödinger’s Mouse

Your love of my raspberries has resulted
in this late evening walk in head torch,

to hedges of hazel and blackthorn,
far enough from home to foil ideas of return.

Aware of owls ripping through moonlight,
I kneel in damp fescue and sedge,

clutching this tilt trap of quantum uncertainty;
mouse or no mouse? that is the question.

The trap gate opens. You see me for the first time,
holding the moment in beads of black polished glass,

small body wedged, feet splayed, heart racing,
a quiver of tense, anticipating whiskers.

And in that instant, in that brief connection,
my doubts bubble. This is a good deed isn’t it?

This forced relocation; got to be a better solution
than back breaking death or slow poisoning.

Although I try to convince myself,
I believe you remain sceptical.

I am your nightmare;
the one interrupting your midnight feasting,

the one separating you from all your
blind, deaf and hairless babies,

the one from which you must flee in terror
the second the black plastic touches the ground.

But, unlike Mr. McGregor, as I stumble one mile
back through darkling woods, soft clart that I am,

I’m hoping the owls have an off day
and secretly, despite your fruit plundering,

I’d quite like to see you again.

Published on Amaryllis Poetry Blog January 2018
Picture Credit Fiona Humble