Check This Out: Mythos

Here is an interview I gave to highlight the publication of Mythos, an anthology in which I have two stories featuring. Many thanks to Linda for allowing me to appear on her great blog.

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

With me on the blog today is the awesome Andy Murray. If you’re a follower of his blog, City Jackdaw, you know that he’s a poet who released a collection of poems called Heading North, published by Nordland in December 2015. We talked about that here on the blog. Now, Andy is here to talk about the short stories he contributed to Mythos, the second volume in the Northlore series, published by Nordland in December 2016. (By the way, Andy contributed a short story and a poem to Folklore, the first volume of the series.) Stick around after the interview to learn how you can get your hands on Mythos.

coverreveal Andy Photo

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Andy: 1. I’m at least six-generation Mancunian. 2. I knew my wife for twenty-six years before we got together. I play the long game. 3. I’m vegetarian. 4…

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On Poetry:Interpretation

As I said in my previous post, I’m not normally one who gives explanations about the poems that I write as I prefer readers to take from them what they will. I don’t think my stuff is obscure enough to warrant that.

But, after the publication of my collection Heading North, I’ve been interested to hear about some of the interpretations that readers have deduced from the poems within.

I used to be a postman, and on my round I had to deliver to several blocks of flats. While I was moving up and down the stairs in these flats, the graffiti on the walls would often catch my eye, particularly the humorous and the unique.

A lot of it, though, were candid (or perhaps false) disclosures of who was doing what to who. I think you can gather what I mean. From these squalid revelations was born the poem News On A Stairwell:

Sated on the stories of others,

fed in passing on casual affairs.

On stairwells, glancing,

their legible wares 

are traded second hand

for faltering steps,

and behind hand murmurs

of shallow cares,

where dead unions play on,

play on, laughing.

In salacious nooks

their small town shagging 

goes on, on walls,

spread everywhere.

My wife, bless her, was not too impressed by my use of the ‘s’ word. But, as I told her, the people who wrote these things didn’t use words like fornicate or copulate, so to be authentic it had to be either the ‘s’ word or the ‘f’ word.

A reader commented about this poem, asking if it was referring to Facebook. As I’ve already explained it wasn’t, and this poem had its roots before Facebook existed, but I liked that idea. Things have evolved — these days that type of gossip and dirty laundry are indeed shared on Facebook walls for all and sundry to feast upon Same shenanigans, different walls.

That works too. I’m cool with that.

Another poem, called Summer Boys, has its roots in a childhood memory of the place I used to live. A blazing hot summer in the seventies, I was playing with a couple of other now nameless and faceless children upon a croft, weeds growing amongst the red brick. I can still smell the breeze and the flowering thistles, feel the sun shining down on us, when we suddenly heard the music and fanfare of a passing parade. We dropped everything and shot off excitedly after this blaze of movement and colour. The poem ends with:

 . . .

only to be banished 

when a passing parade

calls them, flying

over stony croft.

They follow behind

in a winding line,

lost and in thrall

to the piper's call.

A reader took this to be a comment on all of the young people today who feel the call to join the military, being led away to these war torn places.

All of us live in context — both the writer and the reader. To me it was a fond memory from a moment in my life, to the reader it was a reference to current affairs in her life.

A similar interpretation took place with the poem called New Year, Morning. The poem begins with the lines:

Half the world is hurting,

turning its face to shadow.

These lines came to me when I was walking my dog early on New Year’s Day. The streets were empty, not a soul in sight, hence also:

The sky is leaden.

The streets are all 

unchartered lanes.

A reader deduced from those two opening lines about the world hurting a comment, again, upon the state of things at the time, what with all of the conflicts and natural disasters that were ravaging the world. She mentioned Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The truth is that I had no such global thoughts in mind. I was actually thinking of all the hidden people inside those houses still in bed, struggling with the effects of over-drinking on New Year’s Eve.

But I do have to say that I love all of these interpretations. People make connections with poetry, lines conjure images and emotions in the hidden parts of our being. Rather than feel the need to correct the interpretations given (even though I’ve mentioned them here purely to highlight the point), I feel that I have made the right decision.

These are my words, my conjuring. Breathe them in and see what you will.

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heading-North-2-Songs/dp/8283310097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485355776&sr=8-1&keywords=heading+north

On Poetry: Cause And Effect

I’m going to break my own rules, self-serving rebel that I am.

I don’t normally give much away about my writing. I don’t like to explain my poems, or give insight into their meaning. 

It’s not that I’m secretive, or have anything to hide. It’s just that I prefer readers to take from them what they will, as long as they aren’t too obscure.

The poems, I mean, not the readers 🙂

But, after a couple of discussions on here, I’ve decided to make a couple of posts about some of the poems in my book, Heading North.

One about inspiration. One about interpretation. 

Cause and effect. 

You may find them of interest. I shall post them early next week.

In the meanwhile have a good weekend. Hope the muse plays game.

Meanwhile, In A Small English Town . . .

Walking through a subway tonight with my nine year-old daughter.  “Wow Dad look-there’s writing all over the walls!” She began to read the graffiti then turned to me all wide-eyed.

“Dad! It’s all swearing and rude words!”

I said (foolishly) “Well don’t look then.”

She looked: “OH MY GOD!!! Guess which two words I’ve just read?!”

Fearing the worst: “Go on.”

“Donald Trump!”

Of The Silent World:Dolores

As a self-confessed fan of both old movies and old photographs, I love this. It is Dolores Costello, who married John Barrymore, and is the grandmother of Drew Barrymore.

I’m sure there are other family members who could be name dropped here, too. 🙂

Oh the days before the world succumbed to sound and colour.

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Song Lyric-Hanging On ‘Til Morning

A lad I know is a member of a local band. He had a riff and outline for a new song, but no lyrics. Being familiar with my book, he asked if I could come up with some lyrics for it, and this is my attempt. Something I’ve never done before, but I think poetry and song lyrics are consenting bedfellows.

I think it works better with the music rather than standing alone in naked print, but here you go.

Will let you know if it makes the radio 🙂

Hanging On 'Til Morning

Satellite town where the sun sinks down
the people are the sheaves
of the concrete fields
stirred by degrees 
by the Pennine breeze

Hanging on 'til morning
Hanging on 'til morning.

The bucket bleed of the rusting heaps
the black cats creep
where the oil sinks deep
wandering free
the schizophrenic streets

Hanging on 'til morning
Hanging on 'til morning

The stifled screams of a dead man's dreams
sit up and watch the clock
and the winnowing fork
taking the drop
on a lifetime's work

Hanging on 'til morning
Hanging on 'til morning


©AJM