My live premiere of Incantabulation is now on uTube. It’s not perfect but it gets the general idea across. I may re-record it over Easter.

I don’t know what sort of sense it makes to anyonelse but I feel some satisfaction that over the last six months (actually) I have pursued this particular dragon to its lair, wrestled with its attempts to throw me off and ultimately tamed it. For me capturing these twists and turns of emotion represent the refinement of much despair (at my incapacities /imagination /endurance) into a tangible object, as opposed to so many ‘raids on the inarticulate with inadequate weapons’ that have ended in failure, or resulted in me fastening a very fine sword in a silent stone that awaits some other Arthur to draw it out ... my choral music, which is where my real genius lies. But here in this piece my strengths and weaknesses are on display, and indeed integrated, in a way I'm happy to acknowledge, as an important step towards the elusive inner music I’ve spent my life trying to capture.

Does this matter, and if so to whom? Well, from the deep depressions of my adolescence I’ve been driven by the belief that if I could release this inner music I would not merely make myself whole but provide a template of wholing for others. Right or wrong, the many twists and turns of my life have represented an attempt to pursue the wholing process; yes, selfishly perhaps, but from the feeling that unless I could unify my field of vision (find emotional integrity) I had nothing else to give.

Jung believed that making a mandala was an important part of the healing process of externalising and balancing both one’s light and dark within the integrity of a circumference. So you could view Incantabulation as part of that idea.

We live in dark times and it’s tempting to try to sync with that dark zeitgeist to hitch a free ride, but I have always felt a calling to try to find & express a quality which offers hope or belief in light. This cannot (for me) be discovered simply through prettiness but has to be earnt from the muck and mire of existence. So I have always held to the belief that what I have been shown to express in composition are the sounds which await those who are also working to bring about worthwhile change. And the concept of martyrdom shows that sometimes the most effective way of bringing about change is by ‘losing’, submerging the needs of an individual in the greater goal of bringing a new world into existence. So I have felt my enforced silence was a price worth paying if it is the cost of being true to my principles.

We are all descendants of contradictions, and thus our integration is in and of itself an important resolution that our parents and grandparents need to see played out in this ‘only world of choice’ for them to understand that their lives too were ultimately worthwhile. And so it will be for us when our children take on our dreams and grow them into flourishing realities that we could barely glimpse.


Poem: The Secondhand Book

I am a book, remaindered on a shelf.
  O take me down and dust me off,
    I still can bring delight.
Once I was new and valued for myself,
  My pages bright, my boards of cloth –
    Ah then I brought delight.

Now on the lower shelves the readers browse,
  While I look down and mutely sigh
    I still can bring delight.
There once I welcomed readers to carouse
  With me enthralled and hold me tight,
    For then I brought delight.

I can’t believe it’s over and I must
  Resign myself to indifference
    While still I hold delight?
Tho faded my jacket and on my top sits dust
  If opened up my heart holds sense
    And still can bring delight.

Reflections on poetry hunting to compile a program of Savile poets. March 2019.


Poem: Clouds

I wish I could cherish 
The uncertainty. I wish 
I could float above 
The void like a cloud,
Happily ignorant 
Of the precipices
And chasms, and of 
The beautiful river plains 
As well – just drifting, 
Fulfilling the role 
Assigned to me 
By circumstance.

Looking ahead 
I would know that whatever 
I did was going to 
Turn out OK; not 
Because I knew 
What was coming,
But because I didn’t. 

Looking behind 
I could see no trace
Of where I’d been,
Or what I’d done.
But that wouldn’t matter 
Because I rained 
Or shaded 
Or evaporated
On cue. 

I had a shape on earth
But left no mark. 
I belonged but 
Never over-stayed. 
I made life possible 
For others without 
Colouring their minds. 
I removed myself 
For their celebrations;
Yet enfolded their doubts
With gloomy darkness. 
I had no need of companions
But never traveled alone. 

I was but was not. 
I became without form. 
I made no move but
encircled the earth. 
I was always 
The obedient servant
Of the sun.


Poem: The Big Bang

A long time ago a meteor struck the earth:
    Life is its echo.
A long time ago the paradox of life struck me:
    I am the echo.

Researchers are just beginning to find out about the one –
    I am just beginning to find out about the other.

Both were given shape by forces beyond their conception;
    Forces noone can unwind.

No dream can be undreamt:
    It can only be lived..

What all these things have in common is that we only discover
    Long after the event
    What they really meant.

Written in the night 0530. 5/2/19


Poem: The Trouble with Politics


The problem isn’t politicians, it’s us.
We don’t want to think about things:
We expect to be handed answers on a plate.
We want our whims to be catered for
Without cost. We resent taxes
Yet expect schools and hospitals
To spring up where we need them.

We moan at the state of the world,
Dismiss politicians as useless;
And expect things to get better
Without anyone rolling up their shirt sleeves
Or putting their shoulders to the wheel.

We look to politicians to give us a lead,
Yet we crush the poetry out their souls
And still expect them to sing in our key.
When something frivolous crosses our minds
We expect them to implement it without delay –
The big things we ignore, they’re too hard.
Migration? We’re against it.
Where should the desperate go?
– Answer came there none.
Is child poverty bad? Yes obviously ...
Unless tackling it involves higher taxes.
Is ‘small government’ good? Of course ...
Unless you want new motorways.
The arts? Can’t afford them. Yet casually
We wave through billions on nuclear arms –
which would destroy us if we used them.
Europe? Don’t even go there.

There is no solution to anything
Unless it involves We The People -
Not We The Businesses, not We 
The Tax-avoiding Trans-national,
Not We The Wealthy-who-don’t-use-public-services.
We The People demand that YOU
engage with US. Don’t expect us
To do anything.  It’s not our job.

It doesn’t make a great poetry does it –
Life so raw and lumpy?
        Where nowadays are noble thoughts,
    words that rhyme with climate change?
                       Or sentences that rearrange
              A world disordered, out of sorts?
 They’ve all been used and done no good.
              The simple truths we understood
     Now owned by cynics, whose one aim   
                        Is to make us all the same:
                  Mindless consumers, unaware
        That what we’ve lost is how to share
   The traits which confer on us humanity:
              Compassion, joy and equanimity.