Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Rimbaud is many things to many people. He has been claimed by mystics, revolutionaries, feminists. He is a gay icon. He is a pagan. He is reformed Catholic. He is the first punk poet.

While he was still alive, though having abandoned poetry and buried himself away in Abyssinia, he gained a cult following of young poets. He was the icon of the Symbolists who hailed him as their own.

Since then he’s been a beatnik, a punk, a rock star. He’s been depicted in jeans; with a backpack; with a guitar.

He was the Dylan of his time; or the Patti Smith. He disappeared into Africa like Jim Morrison is alleged to have done – Jim supposedly following the trail of his hero and not dead at all.

For me it went like this:

Firstly, fascination with his love affair with Paul Verlaine. The story had everything: passion, poetry, violence, an abandoned wife. It had drink and drugs and degenerate behaviour. It had unwashed poets struggling to survive, living in squalor, welcoming their degradation, refusing to labour for an honest day’s pay. Their story involved knives, punches, wife-burning, baby battering – and it ended with a bullet in the wrist.

Rimbaud in modern dress
Secondly, he was the hero of my heroes. Bob Dylan read him, wrote a song mentioning him and Verlaine. Jim Morrison acted like the uncontrollable Rimbaud – unwelcome in polite households. 

Patti Smith wrote poetry and songs inspired by him. Van Morrison was a Rimbaldian too. I saw him everywhere – on record sleeves along with scattered Tarot cards and mystic symbols, graffitoed on walls, on the covers of books. 

He was the bliss that I was feeling.

He was influenced by his reading of mystic and occult books – Eliphas Levy, kabbalists, alchemists, Edgar Allan Poe, Eastern religions. I went to his source material and tried to see things how he saw them.

He tied in with my obsession with Dionysos. The Greek demi-god with a human mother and divine father. Dionysos is the Lord of the Dance. The bringer of thrilling music and wailing. The enticer of women, who enchants his Bacchantes and exhorts them to wildness and rapture.

Rimbaud, like Dionyosos, provided an entry point to the mystic realm: The words he used. The images he conveyed. The way he reached for something beyond – and seemed to grasp it.

He made me feel it, see it, understand it.

And that’s why I wanted to write about him.

DELIRIUM or The Rimbaud Delusion will be available as a paperback and ebook later this year.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Now that DELIRIUM is finished and about to go through the pre-publication neatening up process, my mind is turning to ideas for a new writing project. But though I have ideas kicking around, I find I’m experiencing the same bewilderment that I always experience once a book is finished.

I realise I have no idea how to write.

Or rather, I completely forget how I wrote the last novel and can’t imagine how I can ever write another one.

At this stage, the whole process baffles me. Even though I’ve done it before, several times, I can’t see how I can possibly write another 80,000 or more words because I simply can’t remember how it happened last time.

I know it did happen. I have the words in a digital file to prove it. But how did they get there? Who wrote them? How come there are so many of them?

Of course, I know deep down that I will be able to do it again – if I want to. But I always seem to have to add that proviso. If I want to, I can write another novel – but I can’t be forced to do it. I have to let it sneak up on me.

It’s a bit like washing the dishes.

Free Stock ImageI say to myself, ‘I’ll just put the plates in hot water to soak and I’ll do them later’ and then I say, ‘Well, I may as well add some washing up liquid.’ After that it’s a small step to: ‘Since I’m here, I might as well do them while the water is hot.’ And so, by sneaking the idea up on myself, the dishes get done.

And that’s how novels happen. A snatch of conversation gets written down – may as well save it as I might need it later. A couple of characters start forming – might as well jot down some notes, just in case. A few ideas float up from the unconscious. Better write them down or else I'll forget them.

And before I realise it, I have what looks suspiciously like a pile of freshly washed chapters.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


The FLASH500 HUMOUR VERSE competition winners are up on the website.

Winning entries will also be published in WORDS WITH JAM magazine.

Once again judged by me - and I had a great time reading all the poems.

Get your entries in now for the next competitions for humorous verse, flash fiction and novel opening chapters.