This is the first, at 6pm Wednesday 26th August 2015 at the Halifax Cafe with cycling partner and writer extraordinaire, Heather Taylor Johnson:

http://friendlystreetpoets.org.au/2015/08/13/fsp-featured-poets-series-the-halifax-cafe-heather-taylor-johnson-mike-hopkins/

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and the second, starting 90 minutes later, just up the road from the Halifax Cafe, in James Place (off Rundle Mall) at the Coffee Pot, where, along with 12 other poets, I’ll be channelling Kate Bush.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1000941483258059/

 

This was our local for a week. Great pub.

The Fox and Hounds

The Landlord: long grey beard

and long grey hair

pumps the pints with practiced arm

eyes the beer with expert eye

The Landlady: his portly wife

efficient and firm

serves the meals, no flourish or fuss

fit for purpose, built to last

The daughter: stood in doorway

puffs a fag

off to London (or Leeds at least)

only home for weddings and funerals

The drinkers: some are local

some are not

Yorkshire bitter, Australian lager

home grown or foreign import

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

The village of West Witton has an annual tradition. We stayed in a cottage in Grassgill, where the ‘ceremony’ concludes:

Burning the Bartle

Clouds drift behind Penhill, behind the stone beacon which once burned a warning of the Spanish Armada, behind the squat stone barn, behind the walking path which traverses the hill. Below, the villagers carry a huge straw man with mask face, bulging eyes and raggy clothes, down the main street – a guy, an effigy of Bartle the sheep stealer, Bartle the pig thief, Bartle the giant. They stop at each pub, drink beer, chant “Have you seen the Bartle?”, pass a hat around. They carry him up Penhill Crags, his torn rags fluttering; past Hunters Thorn, blowing their horns. Some kneel before the Bartle at Capplebank Stee. They roll on to Grassgill Beck, where they twist his head, breaking his straw neck; onto Wadhams End and to Grassgill End where a pyre is ready to receive the Bartle. Saint Bartholomew’s church bell rings.

http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/england/north-yorkshire/festivals/august/burning-of-the-bartle-west-witton.html

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Yorkshire Dales III – Walls

Posted: July 24, 2015 in poetry
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Walls

 

Stone: stretched

from fell to rigg

from crag to beck

 

grey patched

lichen plumed

pocked and pitted

 

pile on pile

pressed by cow pelt

brushed by sheep shank

 

the land’s flanks

stitched with

drystone ribs

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Yorkshire Dales II – Hills

Posted: July 24, 2015 in poetry

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Some of the hills on the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway are extremely challenging. The worst so far was a long, long, climb out of Grinton, with a cold headwind and very bleak scenery. Sometimes, all you can do is to put your head down and keep pedalling.

Hills

Grinding into a biting gale

chain straining up

a vicious gradient

my rain stung face facing down

to black bitumen, sheep dung

and picked over carcass


Drowned in wind

lung gasp and pulse pound

a car buffets past

veers me vergeward



I am on the verge

but grind on and up

on and up

against the grade

rumbling over cattle grids

reaching false top

after false top

and more and more

bleak moorland

until


lessening and levelling

and dropping to

stone patterned dale

and squat barns

flocked fields and

flat capped villages

stone crossed greens

square towered churches

and bitter beer.


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

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I’m cycling in the Yorkshire Dales and trying to write a poem a day for a week. Internet access is patchy, so they may get posted sporadically. And formatting is not so easy on a tablet

Here’s number one. I love the place names around Wensleydale.

From Wensleydale

(after  Jen Hadfield)

I will take you by Wanlass

I will take you by West Wood

I will take you by Haremire and Tullis Cote

I will take you through Preston Scar to Old Flue


I will bring you down Long Scar

I will lead you up Broomber Rigg


I will show you Loft Skew

I will show you Bellerby Moor


I will lead you down Black Beck

We will run in Spring Gill over Walburn Moor


We will cross over Cross Gill Top

We will fall into Whit Fell and Peat Fell


We will beat through East End Vein

We will beat through Old Stork Vein


We will rest in Hags Gill

We will wash in the icy Swale


We will sleep in Nun Cote Nook.

—–

copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

The Book of Strange New ThingsThe Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard Michel Faber talk at Adelaide Writers Week 2015, and was very impressed. There was some discussion about this book, which encouraged me to obtain and read it.

The book had the potential to be really irritating for an atheist like me, almost to the point of giving up after a few dozen pages. It tells the story of a reformed alcoholic / drug addict, Peter, who has become a full-on evangelical Christian preacher. He wins a job with a huge corporation called USIC to be minister to a race of aliens on a distant planet. Now my logical mind was able to believe in the existence of such a planet and such an alien population. But I found it hard to believe that Peter would never find out what USIC stood for, or why they were engaged in this distant project, or what exactly happened to his predecessor.

Still, I was mostly hooked by the story, despite spells of irritation. The irritation mostly revolved around Peter’s total naivety and impracticality, which contrasted starkly with his wife left behind on earth to face an imploding western civilisation. I also found it hard to believe in the coldness and passivity of the USIC staff at the interplanetary base. Some of the technical aspects were also a touch hard to swallow. And for an atheist, reading a book where many of the characters are called “Jesus Lover”, is also a challenge.

Despite these reservations, I mostly enjoyed the book. It’s an interesting and original premise, the pacing is good, and it holds the reader’s interest right through.

View all my reviews

The FreeThe Free by Willy Vlautin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I heard Willy Vlautin speak at Adelaide Writers Week 2015. A likeable, engaging, laid back man he is, as you’d expect from an alt-country singer/songwriter. He spoke passionately about the fate of brain damaged ex-servicemen in the U.S.A., mostly struggling to survive under the huge burdens of medical expenses and depression.

“The Free” is about one such ex-serviceman, but also about other working poor and marginalised people struggling to keep their heads above water in neo-con America.

It does paint a gripping picture of their lives. But I struggled at times to follow the narrative, which switches between reality and anaesthetic induced dreams. It is in the dreams that the concept of “The Free” is introduced – apparently a band of tea-party type vigilantes (I think). It didn’t quite work for me and left me dissatisfied. But an author worth following.

View all my reviews

I popped over to Tram Stop 6 yesterday afternoon to have a look at the poetry signs and billboard. Looks good. Here’s a gallery of snaps of them. Click on the first thumbnail and it will bring up the slide show.

Tram Stop 6

Posted: May 6, 2015 in adelaide, experimental, travel
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Back in late 2013, I participated, along with several other writers / artists, in a project to write words for a public art project at tram stop 6, about halfway between Adelaide and Glenelg. This is the very grey concrete tram stop:

Tramstop 6 - South Rd

 

I wrote about it here. The project was organised by Mike Ladd and Cathy Brooks for Marion Council

The project is in the process of being implemented. Here are some pics provided by Mike Ladd. I haven’t dropped by to look at it yet. There will be an official opening sometime soon.

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