Tag Archives: Writing

London Loves

London Loves is a blog about what London Loves from Josh Surtees. I have written a piece about one of the things I love about London. The Night. Here is how it starts…

“Beasts of prey and great cities alone in nature remain awake when darkness comes; the one in search of death, the other in search of an extra hour of life” HV Morton

London wears winter well. Why? London loves darkness is why. This sprawl of space and ideas comes to shuddering go when the sun packs up and heads south. In London the stars don’t come out at night in the sky, they come out down here – in the wonder of possibilities. We’ve given up our view of the heavens to look for them in this City. This city that can give or take a night’s sleep. London loves the night as it desires to extract just a little more from life than Nature intended.

The daylight hive of the capital, The Square Mile, dies a lonely nocturnal death – save a few bankers wasting electricity under motion-sensitive lights contemplating deficits/bonuses and probably China – as vitality courses into the surrounding streets of London. From the gaudy doorways of Soho, the thunder-dome of Camden, the meta-hip of Dalston, the unapologetic trash of Shoreditch to the celebs, paps and wannabe-papped of Mayfair, South Ken and Notting Hill, London is, in Ginsberg’s words, ‘’burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night’’.

Read the rest on London Loves


Dave Eggers, Newspaper Baron

‘The only thing that doesn’t work is a single-media strategy’. These are the words of Michael Stoll, an American reporter and a director of the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit web start-up that looks to fill gaps in local news coverage that have arisen with the contraction of the mainstream press.  Stoll extolls the virtues of a multi-platform approach to news, whereby Twitter or Web updates are used for breaking stories and print journalism becomes the outlet for analysis and commentary. Stoll was discussing his recent collaboration with Dave Eggers – the San Francisco-based publishers McSweeneys attempt to both celebrate and re-invigorate the medium of print journalism – the £10-a-copy newspaper Panorama.

Eggers, the editor-in-chief, has found his star rising recently due to his screenplay for cinema smash Where The Wild Things Are. For those unaware though, Eggers was already the literary wunderkind of the noughties. A champion of the short story Eggers revived the art-form with the creation of  independent publishing house McSweeneys back in 2000 with the proceeds from his delightful novel, ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’. The cornerstone publication, McSweeneys Quarterly Concern, is a boundary-pushing cult phenomenon which has carved out a niche of hipsterdom for new writing and spawned it’s own stereotypical reader – read a brief history of the publication and about the damage done to one blogger by the McSweeneys reference in the indie flick Juno here.

But Eggers is not one to kick back on his cool; McSweeneys love the writing cause. Added to the array of work the publishing house do with children’s & writing charities they decided to save the dying art of newspaper journalism. “Our hope,” Eggers notes in conversation with the LA Times, “is that readers will say, ‘I forgot all these things that newsprint can do.’ I think it’s life-affirming when you say, ‘Let’s just write it at the length it needs to be and not keep shrinking everything.’ ”

The 320-page broadsheet newspaper Panorama, issue no.33 of McSweeneys Quarterly Concern, was published in December last year and it’s first run of 25,000 has been completely gobbled up by awe-struck readers, “Panorama very nearly brought tears to my eyes. Everyone I know who has seen it has been similarly overwhelmed and overjoyed.”  said Allison Arieff, the New York Times “By Design” blogger. A further run has been announced. At the moment a second-hand copy will currently set you back over a hundred dollars on Amazon.com.

Among the centerpieces of the Panorama is an investigative piece by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Porterfield, looking into cost overruns in the renovation of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It’s an effort undertaken in conjunction with SF Public Press, “The Panorama is a perfect partner,” says Stoll, “they share the same love of the medium but haven’t joined the stampede that has given up print for dead.”

The Porterfield investigation will encompass more than 10,000 words and half a dozen graphic elements, split between a main piece and several sidebars. It’s the kind of thing, Eggers notes, that is hard to do online.

So print journalism as art appreciation? The medium itself celebrated for its depth and possibility? Well perhaps in the Eggers imagined future, ‘We started thinking, what if you offered the same sort of depth, analysis, literary value that you get in a magazine? When people sit down, they want to have an experience, and if you surprise them on every page, curate it in such a way that it’s constantly surprising and constantly delighting, I think you could keep them.”

Twittered over and highly desirable ten-quid broadsheets spanning hundreds of pages with local investigative journalism at heart? Welcome to the niche future of news.

p.s You can also try Five Dials, a free literary PDF subscription magazine from Hamish Hamilton. Issued via the web it beats with a heart of print as it instructs readers to print out and enjoy. Look out for the David Foster-Wallace special hitting the web-stands soon.

p.p.s Thanks to the LA Times for the quotes.


Tom Chivers – Penned In The Margins guru and all-round poetry mogul – has just launched the lovely looking Hand+Star website-come-blog. Tom describes the new project as follows…

Hand + Star is an online compendium of new writing and literary reviews. Taking its name from the Fleet Street workshop of Tudor printer Richard Tottell, Hand + Star offers intelligent, fresh perspectives, open to the interplay between text, technology and popular culture. Hand + Star combines the speed and energy of blogging with the authority of the traditional literary journal, and is committed to seeking out new, independent and lesser-known voices in poetry and fiction.

You can get literary and interactive here, you’ll spot that Julie Palmer-Hoffman, the contributing editor, has been blogging ferociously about literary/textual news.

You can read my own contribution – a review of Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing In America – here.

Finally for a little visual entertainment here is Aisle16’s Ross Sutherland – his début poetry collection Things To Do Before You Leave Town was published this year by Penned In The Margins – with his incredible poem The Love Conspiracy.

Things I Have Made and Done Pt.3

Yes, it is just some chairs.

They are chairs with a chess board in front of them though and a fire by their side.

This is how good life can be in New Zealand.

In more proof of my remarkable mastery of buttons and colour I have written about gadgets. After some work experience for at Stuff.tv this summer I have started writing for Electricpig.co.uk. In my spare time I embrace change.

Exhibit A, some Windows Mobile news for Stuff.tv.

Exhibit B, a review of The LG Pop for ElectricPig.co.uk.

Things I Have Made and Done Pt.2

This is a poem I wrote lying in a hammock, under a coconut tree, by a lagoon, in The Cook Islands. I tell you I work better in the sunshine.


Have you ever found yourself wanting to be Flash Gordon?

Not in essence super

just really well co-ordinated

like a swim-coach

who made the most of quite an ordinary name

simply adding such a prefix as to suggest

we could rise above playground subculture

your own personal Ming

oh flash,  loving love comes

as easy as humility amid your success in team sports

what did you have to go through?

Teach us Flash, Prefix us

The Honour of Being John?

You are a beacon for the vocations

The Gordon School of creative naps

Rigorous retrospection into the development of balance

and yoga, Flash definitely does yoga

Open Letter

This is an open letter that I wrote to May 2009.

Dear May

To be honest I feel like a written letter might be a little dramatic but I feel I have been pushed into a corner. Week in, week out, you are a no goodnik; You have ushered in such evenings as darts on ketamine. The online Hearts tournament on a sunny day was the last straw. Your wilful ham-fisted attempts at poignant wallowing have to stop. Sad Club? you invented Sad Club. Congrats Loser. This is not what I expect from you, you are not February. This behaviour is frankly below a calendar month of such standing. I know that April bagged Easter this year and June always has the longest day but you have two bank holiday weekends for Christ’s sake, have some dignity. Do you think the bankers are feeling sorry for themselves right now? No. They are back out there trying to make themselves money again.  Who could possibly begrudge them a day to kickback in tailored shorts, sunglasses on their well tended thatches? No one, that’s who, because it’s a three day party and we’re all invited. Does October have any three day parties? No. You don’t see October complaining do you? No, October gets on with things. October embraces loungewear out of necessity not indulgence.  I know folk expect  a lot from you, the dawn of summer and kind hearted youth; I understand that this can be a burden on one so delicate and tender but expectations are the very fabric of happiness and no month can escape them. I will not tolerate it. Buck up your ideas.

With (tough) Love


100 Poems in a Day!

One poem every 8 minutes from the marvellous Tim Clare. It’s one way to cure writer’s block. Tim today completed 100 poems in 24 hours. Congratulations Tim. Read his blog too.