Friday, 6 January 2017

"Falling Awake" by Alice Oswald - Poetry Book of The Year

It was a bit vague, wasn't it? A bit devoid of any real comment? I am of course talking about my blog where I boldly state that Alice Oswald's book, "Falling Awake," was "Something For The Weekend, Sir's?" poetry book of the year. It had no substance to it, no opinion, no constructive, positive statement telling why I thought it was such a good book. 

Funny thing is that I have never posted year after year a 'Poetry Book of The Year' here or anywhere else. Not just because it all seems a bit pretentious of me, hardly an expert on poetry, daring not only to voice an opinion of said subject but then having the sheer audacity to select a years best. I did one in 2012 with Barry Hill followed two years later with Janet Sutherland. So in many respects, this is the follow on to the "Bone Monkey."  And what a follow on.

Still, my previous post remains bereft of a why and a therefore as to my selection so, let's put matters right, let me tell you, belatedly, why I enjoyed it so.

Truth to tell I have only two of Alice Oswald's books. The first being the award-winning "Dart," and of course "Falling Awake." 

With "Dart" I felt the whole poem rolled and thundered, splashed and foamed, with the voice of the river itself. Even the little asides, those brief annotations that slip into the verse like herring gulls on a weed covered timber pole screeching their Keow ha-ha-ha-ha, which added colour and texture to the rise and rhythm of the words as they flowed, with liquid ease, through the forty-eight-page poem. Like a gospel choir in response to a lyric sung.

The whole poem had/has a natural feel to it almost as though Oswald had transmogrified herself into on of those screaming gulls and through their eyes, through their very connectivity to nature itself, transcribed their feelings as they scooped and dived over the Dart as it ran its course.

Feral? No, I don't think feral is correct. It was, it still is, something other than that. For me now, the man searching to redefine spirituality without either bowing to magic or mysticism, "Dart" is sort of Tao.  Of course, it needn't be a gull. It could just as easily be a swallow or a dragonfly or a crow. Well, maybe not a crow, as that would be too close to Ted Hughes for comfort but you know what I mean - a bird's eye view of the River Dart as witnessed by one of mother nature's denizens.

It seemed as if Alice had her finger's and her toes deep rooted in the riverbank the better to enable her to allow the truth of what she saw to transfer its earthy, damp, wet, silt-sodden story to be written.

Of course, Alice didn't write her poem in the manner I received it. She wrote it as an old man walking, observing, crossing the land, following the line of the river. An old man with tired legs, tried and tested footfalls, a man as common with the common land as the lines on his hands and face. She wrote it as a bailiff, a man with letters after his name,  An exchange in far off places. She captures, heart, body and soul the river but not just the water flowing, the very life of the Dart with all that goes in it, on it, about it and around it. She gives us, does Alice the daily life of the river Dart in all its glory. 

But that was "Dart" and "Dart" has had many an accolade, many an award, all deserved for Alice Oswald is profoundly talented but this should be about "Falling Awake" rather than me falling into the dream of Alice's making, the reality that flit's in my mind like a dream as it re-runs its images over and over and over again. Now, I'm "Falling Awake."

So then, here we have it, the follow-up to the highly acclaimed "Memorial." Having never read that collection I cannot comment. I don't whether there are similarities between that and this or if "Memorial" stands alone in the Oswald cannon. I suspect not. It is certainly different to "Dart" as that was one long, continuous poem whereas with "Falling Awake" we have a collection of poems. That said, the two books do share the same focus, that of nature.

Alice Oswald may very well be our finest poet, there is strong evidence to support that claim and none more so than here. With her ability to create a free-flowing rhythm, her talent with words, her forensic attention to take the detail of those things she has observed and write them down so that the images she has witnessed come alive with an electricity that is quite incredible. And she does it all with such nimble agility, such poise.

Her thread is those things about her. Possibly the Devon she calls home yet this apparent love of the region she lives in has a universal appeal so that literally anyone, anywhere in the world cab appreciate the poems.

My personal favourite is "Swan" but there are many others that could occupy that space for this is a luscious, rich assembly of poems. This really is a remarkable book in every sense, a book you will return to time and again.

All poems are copyright of the poet. Permission for this poet to post his/her work here has been granted by blog owner. All rights remain with the individual poet and their respective publisher.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Poetry Book of the Year

When I last wrote here it was to say that this site was closing for business in the light of what appeared apathetic disinterest. Perhaps that was disingenuous of me. I'd like to think I got it wrong and that there are poets out there who believe in reading their work aloud. I hope so. I sincerely would like to see this site brought alive again with an influx of spoken word poetry.

When I last wrote here it was December 2015. I apologised that I had not written or rather posted, as I had on previous years, 'Something For The Weekend, Sir's' Poetry Book of the Year. Well, this year I have.

"Falling Awake" by Alice Oswald 

. . All poems are copyright of the poet. Permission for this poet to post his/her work here has been granted by blog owner. All rights remain with the individual poet and their respective publisher.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Until Further Notice....

. ...This site is closed. Apparently my views on poetry being spoken not just read appeals to far too few.  

"Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn't just want to sit on paper, that something about it demands it be heard out loud or witnessed in person." - Sarah Kay

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Poetry Book of the Year

This time last year, filled with passion and hope following the wonderful slew of spoken word poetry that appeared here On Something For The Weekend, Sir? I had the audacity to write the following piece....

Sadly this year, due to three different sets of circumstances the enthusiasm I had at that point has not so much gone as been pushed aside for awhile.

1.The incredible poets who recorded their work have not been followed by others.
2. My intention to keep this site alive by recording my own feeble efforts was thwarted when my PC was hacked preventing me from filming myself.
3. I am currently recovering from another minor stroke and find it hard to type when seeing double ('Tis a bugger and no mistake)

Hopefully, all will be back soon and firing on all cylinders.

If any of the poets who have posted here would like to recommend a book of poetry as this years favoured one, please go ahead and do so!

Friday, 14 August 2015



I am seeking poets to join this spoken word poetry site.

The rules are few and easy.

1. First poet records his words via YouTube then posts them here. He/she leaves it a week then invites another poet to do the same. In effect a spoken word relay that will encompass the globe. It doesn’t matter which language is used – all are welcome. The idea is to spread poetry in the spoken form.

2. As this site is called "Something For the Weekend, Sir?" all posts have to be on a Friday 

That's it. Simple.

If interested contact me, Russell C.J Duffy, by e-mail -

All the best,


Friday, 7 August 2015

Ten Reasons Why You Might Enjoy The World’s Wife - A personal view by Roger Stevens

The World’s Wife (Picador 1999) was Carol Ann Duffy’s first themed collection of poems, dealing with sexism, equality, bereavement and birth. The collection looks at important events and history – from a female perspective and often in a controversial way. She tells the wives’ stories.
1 If you are new to the poems of Carol Ann Duffy I would suggest this book as a good place to start, to find out why she is such a loved and respected poet; or if you are already familiar with her work – come here to rediscover her or just delight, once again, in these wonderful narratives.
2 To enjoy her wit and humour. Her poem Frau Freud could almost have been written by Monty Python, or appeared in Viz, with its exhausting list of names for the male member. And in Mrs Darwin…

Went to the zoo/ I said to Him/
Something about that chimpanzee reminds me of you.
3 To enjoy the exactness and rightness of her phrases.
In The Devil’s Wife - A faint sneer of thunder… In Mrs Quasimodo - the murdered music of the bells… and in Mrs Aesop – that the bird in his hand shat on his sleeve.
4 To discover the real reason why Delilah cut Samson’s hair. An act of love and kindness.
5 To spare a thought for the dilemma of Mrs Midas. The need to put a chair against her door, petrified…
4 Her cunning, clever and sometimes unexpected use of rhyme. As Mrs Winkle returns home with a pastel of Niagara to find Rip Van Winkle rattling a bottle of Viagra
5 Her poetry is honest. Even brutal. If she has something to say, she doesn’t hold back, as in the explicit Mrs Quasimodo.
When the others left,
He fucked me underneath the gaping, stricken bells
until I wept

6 For the rhythm of her lines, the rise and fall, the cadences, that propel her tales, the dash, the joie de vivre.
7 Carol Ann Duffy’s feminism underpins this collection. She has said that in order to find the truth, the female character has to be dominant. In the opening poem, Little Red Cap, she found that the original fairy tale, upon which this is based, was an example of feminism in both fairy tale and English literature. She then found a personal connection within the original story line to help form the dominant female character.
You might ask why. Here’s why. Poetry.
The wolf, I knew, would lead me deep into the woods,
away from home, to a dark tangled thorny place
lit by the eyes of owls.
8 The way she uses these tales to highlight men’s treatment of women. In Pygmalion’s Bride, for example, the tale of a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory, she cleverly finds a modern equivalent. The sort of man that many women know too well.
9 And who wouldn’t want to read about a female Pope…
10 Or a song about Elvis’s Twin Sister who lives in a convent…
I think of it
as Graceland here,
a land of grace
…and prays for the immortal soul of rock and roll.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Ten Reasons Why You Might Enjoy The Book of Shadows by Don Paterson A personal view by Roger Stevens

Don Paterson was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1963. He has won more awards and prizes for his poetry than you can shake a stanza at. He has also published three books of aphorisms, of which The Book of Shadows is one.

1 Who wouldn’t want a book of aphorisms on their bookshelf? And this collection, by one of Britain’s finest poets is a beauty.

2 An aphorism is a terse saying, expressing a general truth, principle, or astute observation, and spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form. And what a great feeling when you read an aphorism and it speaks to you.

3 Aphorisms can be very short and witty.

If I try to write anything longer than a single sentence, I find myself just making things up.

5 Aphorisms can be long and chewy.

Poetry is a mode of reading, not of writing. We can read a poem into anything. A poet is someone skilled in manipulating that innate human capacity to make things sign. They advertise the significance of the form in its shape or speech, build in enough strangeness and intrigue to have the reader read in, enough familiarity not to repel them, and calculate enough reward for their effort. But so much poetry now is all advertisement, or all familiarity, or all strangeness, or all calculation.

7 This is a great book for dipping into. Like a botanist in a boat travelling through the coral reefs.

Almost everything in the room will survive you. To the room, you are already a ghost, a pathetic soft thing, coming and going.

9 If you enjoy poetry but are looking for something a little different… this is a word from the wise.

10 Falling and flying are near-identical sensations, in all but one final detail. We should remember this when we see those men and women seemingly in love with their own decline.

Aphorisms in italics are taken from The Book of Shadows.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Ten Reasons Why… You Might Enjoy Poems on the Underground A personal view by Roger Stevens

If you’ve ever travelled on London’s Underground you will have noticed that, every now and then, between the adverts for mints and temps, there is a poem. It all began back in 1986 as an idea shared among a few friends, Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik and Cicely Herbert. Wouldn’t it be a great idea, they thought, to fill the blank grey advertising slots with poems, for the public to read, think about and enjoy. London Underground liked the idea. And now, thirty years later, they have become a wonderful part of the tube journey. They provide a distraction from the crowded carriage. Sometimes they lift the spirits. They make the journey more bearable. There are several Poems on the Underground books – but here are the beginnings of ten poems showing why you might enjoy them, from the Penguin edition of 2012, published to mark London Underground’s 150th anniversary. And a little quiz – Can you name the authors of these poems? Answers below.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach…
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…
In London/ every now and then/ I get this craving/ for my mother’s food
I leave art galleries/ in search of plantains/ saltfish/ sweet potatoes…
I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paperweight,
All the misery of manila folders…
Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon…
The trees are coming into leaf/ Like something almost being said
The recent buds relax and spread/ Their greenness is a kind of grief
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty…
English Teeth, English Teeth/ Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage/ Aye, each and every one
Aunt Jennifer's tigers prance across a screen
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green…
The highway is full of big cars/ going nowhere fast
And folks is smoking anything that’ll burn
Some people wrap their lives around a cocktail glass
And you sit wondering/ where you’re going to turn
I got it./ Come. And be my baby…

1 Elizabeth Barrett Browning 2 Percy Bysshe Shelley 3 Grace Nichols 4 Theodore Roethke 5 Carol Ann Duffy
6 Philip Larkin 7 William Wordsworth 8 Spike Milligan 9 Adrienne Rich 10 Maya Angelou

Friday, 3 July 2015


When Mum was discharged from hospital we were told she wouldn't last three weeks. I wrote this then, in prose form and amended it after. Since then Mum appears to be recovering. That said, the disease she has simply repeats until ultimately it claims her. However, she is now on the mend....


Thin now, thinner than last week, growing weaker.
Arms like bamboo.
Face gaunt, veined, hollow eyed.
Haunted eyes that follow vague ghosts
Medically all is well, apparently. ...
Unable to walk without aid.
Eats little, drinks less, sleeps a lot.

Drifting somewhere between the flickering of her eyelids and the memories of dad, of me as a child.
When she wakes she smiles seeing me the boy I was.
No longer the man but the son on whom she doted,
All my perceived crimes forgiven.
It is the passing of days.
It is right and proper.
All things must pass but must the passing be so painful for those watching?

Let her have peace.
Let her drift into dreamless sleep.
Rather than this human life unceremoniously dispatched.