Desperate for Words

Poetry, prosetry, revelry, riotry

Desperate for Love in Brighton Festival – May 12th 2009

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d4lmayspecialDesperate for Love is part of Brighton Festival Fringe. May 12th 2009. Please email us at: for more information and details.

With: Francesca Lisette, Jeff Hilson,Gary Goodman, Alan Hay, Wolfy Jones & DJ Steph (Born Bad)

Written by alanhay68

April 26, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Desperate For Love Line-up: Sunday 1st March

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prole_art_threat The 2nd Desperate For Love of this year is to be held on 1st March 2009 at Komedia, Brighton. Poets reading are:

Sean Bonney

Jon Slade

Wolfy Jones (and Rowena Easton)

Rod Usher

With Special Guest DJ.

Starts 8pm. Costs £3.

UPDATE: new contact email:

Written by alanhay68

February 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Desperate For Love: next event

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Blank Open Book_

The next Desperate for Love readings will take place at the Brighton Komedia on Tuesday January 20th 2009. Those reading will include: Alan Hay, Gary Goodman, Rowena Easton and Daniel Kane. (Born Bad) Steph will be on the decks and if the last one’s anything to go by, it will be a great evening. Do come and show your support if you can. Tickets cost £3 and include a delectable chapbook.

Written by alanhay68

December 10, 2008 at 9:12 pm

A prize for Rachel.

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rbdp2At a recent Desperate For love works outing to Jay Clifton’s excellent Tight Lip, we saw the muscular marxist SF writer China Mieville read from his new short story collection Looking For Jake. So yes, I thought he was great, I went straight up to him and told him that after he read, I’m gonna buy his book, but he’s not a poet so why am I telling you about him? Because it turns out that he’s chairing the judging panel for the new £50,000 Warwick Prize. And on the longlist for that prize is the great poet Rachel Blau Du Plessis for her new collection Torque:Drafts 58-76. Imagine how cool that would be, if she won. Maybe it’s something to do with Obama but it quite cheered me to see her name on there, even though everyone knows that literary prizes are inherently ridiculous. Go on China, you know what to do.

Written by alanhay68

December 1, 2008 at 10:39 pm

Geraldine Monk: Proper Haunted

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left hand not visible

She’s a one, Geraldine Monk. I first saw her read back in the late 90’s at a launch event for Iain Sinclair’s Conductors of Chaos anthology at what’s now the Hope in Queen’s Rd, Brighton. She stood out a bit from the rest of the crew, mostly men in poet-suits which were a slightly down-market version of the olive green suits worn by recently sacked TV-AM executives. Monk (is that rude? I don’t wanna say ‘Geraldine’) was northern, pretty strong Lancashire accent, and if I recall correctly was wearing a kind of colourful loose outfit which I associated with post-hippy-pre-punk women who probably had some pagan / feminist thing going on. I went to Lancaster University in the 80’s and it was a big look back then. She read with a gleeful and swervy attendance to the joins and skippy turns in her poetry which I think was from Angles and she did this brilliant thing of kind of conducting herself with her left hand, doing a sort of pliant flower-child kathak dance. only from the elbow down.

I didn’t see her read again until a couple of years ago at the Cambridge Women’s Experimental Poetry Conference (this archive of the event hosted by the wonderful How2: lots there – poke around) where she read from Escafeld Hangings, a long sequence about (in part) Mary Queen of Scots’ little-known internment in Sheffield. She also if I recall read from The Transparent Ones, poems from her time as writer in residence at a hospice. Again she really stood out. There’s a blocky warm presence there, equal parts welcoming, friendly, even slightly scatty, and also demanding, serious. Handler of a strangely opaque beauty, tender and respectful, inquisitive, and with a focus of attention at the level of the word that sees and makes the strangeness almost literally tangible (she’s still pulling the ductile plasms of utterance with that left hand).

The easiest way to get hold of her stuff is to get the Selected Poems from Salt. There’s also a lovely new collection Ghosts & Other Sonnets and that’s what I want to recommend. It’s effectively three separate sonnet sequences, and comes hard on the heels of Jeff Hilson’s exemplary Reality Street Book of Sonnets. In that anthology, Monk’s sonnets are probably at the more traditional end of the scale formally. They’re all 14 lines, 12 and 2. None really end-rhyme but they’re replete with internal musics, crossings and recrossings over the little baby’s-cot-sized spaces. Traditional in look maybe, but they’re still amazingly challenging and strange to get with. They’re often creepy, scary, playing dark domesticity, burnt toast, wardrobe doors redolent of something darker than Narnia, against the cold drowning death of the lost and neglected. They’re initially pretty comfortless. They remind me a little of folk songs that pit the singers place by the fire or in her bed against her lover frozen in a ditch or drowned amid the weeds. Occasionally Monk breaks cover with, for example, an overt reference to the drowning of the Chinese cockle-pickers, references to the war which play low like radio news. There’re lots of birds, seen out of windows. It’s as if the poems, the whole generous lot of ‘em are taking place on a rainy cold afternoon in a kitchen looking out at a wet garden and feeling the inexplicably haunting chill of the cruelty and loneliness and danger and vulnerability of people out there in the world, expressed almost as a character, as a ghost, something implacable. Not too far from the traditional regret and sorrow-filled poetry of the mainstream here one might think. But Monk’s amazing gift is to create such kaleidoscopically inexhaustibly satisfying poems, slyly funny, worked as a clustered brooch, full of invention, learning, music and love for people, that the poems themselves are a crippled sort of placation of the ghost. Creepy stories told against the haunted dark, and the comfort is not in the stories’ content, all drowners and dread presences, but in the materialist gratitude for the generative power of the human imagination present in full effect in the making of them. In the left-handed pulling and plaiting of the words.

Intercapillary Space’ve got a bunch of Monk links here: you could do worse than spend an idle hour or two poking around there. Then you’re gonna want the books.

Written by alanhay68

November 28, 2008 at 3:03 pm

New email address for Desperate For Love

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Please contact us here for information regarding forthcoming events and to be added to our mailing list:

Written by alanhay68

November 27, 2008 at 5:39 pm

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Psychic TV – Thee Majesty

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Written by garygoodman

November 18, 2008 at 7:09 pm

Listen to Frank O’Hara

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Written by alanhay68

November 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm

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Abstract Expressionist, Grace Hartigan, dies at 86

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Grace Hartigan, Abstract Expressionist and one time New York painter has died at the age of 86, reports The Baltimore Sun. Hartigan was a confidante of the poet Frank O’Hara who had posed for her and written poems to her. She said that although he was homosexual, their emotional intimacy was more intense than any she had with a heterosexual man. O’Hara’s biographer, Brad Gooch, believed the lines “Grace/ to be born and live as variously as possible,” which are engraved on O’Hara’s tombstone, were written for Hartigan. The artist credited O’Hara with influencing her on the use of popular culture. O’Hara’s poetry could jump from Picasso and Lana Turner. She told The New York Times: “Frank broke down the barriers between so-called high and low art.” She took to Abstract Expressionism in the late 40’s but not long afterward began spiking it with images of ads and department store mannequins and street life, early evidence of what she calls her “desire to get the balance of abstraction and imagery, like the porridge, just right — not too hot, not too cold.”


Poet stirs up religious storms over new book

Written by alanhay68

November 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Poet stirs up religious storms over latest book

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Patrick Jones, brother of Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers, has caused controversy with his latest collection of poetry. The Cardiff branch of Waterstone’s has accused Jones “of deliberately provoking a “furore” about his latest collection, forcing the company to cancel its official launch”, reported the BBC. The bookseller’s called off Patrick Jones’s book-signing after a campaign by a Christian organisation. The author confirmed that he e-mailed his poems to Christian and Muslim groups and to the far-right organisation Combat 18 before the event in an attempt “to spark debate”. A campaign by activists Christian Voice pronounced the book “obscene and blasphemous”. The bookstore has now released a further statement defending the cancellation, saying: “The poetry reading was organised and planned in good faith between our store and the publisher.”However, it would appear that shortly before the event took place, the author deliberately took provocative action to create a furore around the publication of his book. These actions were taken without prior discussion with the store or their consent and altered the nature of the pre-agreed event. For this reason and because of the risk of disruption to the store, our staff and customers we felt it appropriate to cancel the event.” The issues in Jones’s poems include religion and domestic violence against men. He had this to say: “I sent a few poems to many different organisations on 2 November and I said ‘Please find a few poems. I would appreciate your feedback’,” he said. “I was hoping that maybe they would come out and have a debate. That’s within my rights to do that. Even if they had come out to protest, that doesn’t mean Waterstone’s should give up [on the launch]. That’s freedom of expression.” Er..Yeah? Another blow to the artist in my opinion. Why have some religious organisations been powerful enough to effectively close down one man’s launch? And why is nobody getting hot under the collar about it?

UPDATE: An internet campaign has been launched urging people to boycott Waterstone’s following the cancellation of Patrick Jones’s event. The Facebook protest was launched by mental health nurse Matthew Evans in support of the poet. So far more than 150 internet users have signed up. Join the campaign.

Photograph by Jane Newman Jones. Taken from Patrick’s website