Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.

Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:

My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:

Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:

Visit the writers' development service I co-run at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWritersShed/

About Me

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Leicester, East Midlands
As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring. In addition, I co-run The Writers' Shed, a service for writers, at: https://www.facebook.com/TheWritersShed/

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Shadows of Poetry & Politics

Home from another Saturday afternoon in the padded seats of the Cinema de Luxe. We thought we'd see what all the 3-D fuss was with Avatar. From the first moment of the Shrek trailer, I was thrilled. But actually, the eye and brain soon adjusts to the 3-D effect. I was reminded that Silent Movie spectators in the 20's gawped as trains seemed to roar straight at them out of the screen. In the end, what had me spellbound for two and a half hours was the old-fashioned quality of the storytelling.

Avatar seems to juxtapose the best and worst of human endeavours. This beautifully crafted film weaves imagination and visual dexterity with cutting-edge technology. And the human locked into the mercenary machine, waving its metallic arms, offers a heart-breaking and all too familiar image of American imperialism doing what it knows best. Scorched Earth. Slash and Burn. Shock and Awe.

More than once I was moved to tears by the narrative. Because the luminous fairytale with its light trickery is itself an avatar, a shadowing of our own world. It mirrors the slaughter of so many indigenous and colonised peoples over centuries, including this one. The rapacious, deadly looting of resources - grey rock, black oil, whatever you've got. And how the outnumbered, doomed people are always characterised as the 'savages'. As they gain ground in the inevitable guerilla war, I almost shook my head at the too-easy come-back. But then again, I remembered the Vietcong and others who have humiliated the military machine, if not in 160 minutes.

A review in Empire - well worth a look - said: 'Avatar is a hugely rewarding experience: rich, soulful and exciting in the way that only comes from seeing a master artist at work.' I had a little shock when I saw the name James Cameron in the end titles. Perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised that the director of Titanic and Aliens should have produced a box-office record-breaker that's also an intelligent and visceral film experience.

Anyway - if avatars are your thing - take a look at the series Caprica on Sky 1, the closest thing I've seen to TV poetry since its parent-series Battlestar Galactica. For years, Battlestar was the best kept secret on television and an outstanding example of what the genre can deliver. ('Better than The Wire' suggests the Guardian review: 'What really sets the show apart from the original, though, are its politics.' ) Dip your toe into Caprica and maybe you'll want the whole story. And for confirmed BG fans, the Cylon child does not disappoint.

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