Monday, September 25, 2006

my article of the week: chavez boosts chomsky sales

In summary, Chavez does an Oprah: he appears at the UN asking Americans to read Chomsky's book 'Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance' ("because their threat is right in their own house") and sales go through the roof. Full story at:,,1880226,00.html (Guardian Online)


Thursday, September 21, 2006

where in the world... Carmen Sandiego? OK, don't tell me I'm the only one who played that game; it was probably the first (and only) video game I played [ ] - Anyway, I feel like her right now because I haven't had a moment in one spot for ages. I'll be back though. The good thing about moving about it that it gives you great ideas for writing and loads of useful useless info. For example, I was 'punting' in Cambridge and the boat/barge/punt builder told me there was no fish in the water for years 'cos it was so polluted (the fish are jumping like summertime again, thanks to an EU grant to clean it up), and it makes you wonder - what exactly were those Cambridge kids doing to pollute the water so much?? Just kidding, it was industrial waste - or was it?

Next big event:
Bringing the House Down

Listening to:
Hugh Masekela

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


So, maybe we should get all the lit news out of the way then get to the mint? Well, as you gathered from my last offering I've been in NYC writing and stuff. I returned to the UK to a backlog of e-mail and all that lovely sour mash. The manuscript for my first novel has been doing the rounds and it hasn't found a home yet. I've had two lovely rejections from editors who had very different opinons of my work; one thought it didn't have a strong enough narrative thread, but loved my writing, the other thought the plot and story were fascinating and original but didn't like the language, which was described as 'solemn and brooding'. In any case, both editors were very nice about it and I'm glad for that because I respect them both BUT it leaves a writer thinking WHO'S RIGHT?? This is when you have to trust your own instincts. I mean how many books have we seen turned down that then became mega-sellers; my own agent turned down a manuscript that is now on the Booker longlist. Man, it's a beautiful world!! I do have good news though: a major excerpt from my second novel (in progess) is to be published in the British Council's New Writing anthology next year, and I'm on the verge of becoming a published children's writer - ha! No money, no problems...

Now, the mint. Basically fresh mint was on sale at Tesco so I bought a bunch. I put half up to dry to make tea with later, but I still have the rest of the fresh mint. Yesterday I made six mint teas - lovely! Then today I thought, let's make some interesting food. I had some left over tuna, some spring onions, parmesan cheese, a bit of lamb mince, a last thin slice of brown bread, a bit of double cream, and stuff. And then I spotted the large green pepper - so I thought pepper stuffing tuna/lamb competition. For the lamb the mix was lamb/chilli powder/double cream/half slice of brown bread (crumbed)/mint leaves (ha, ha, ha)/spring onions/salt&pepper and for the tuna it was tuna/mustard/half slice of brown bread (crumbed)/mint leaves (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha)/spring onions/salt&pepper/plus parmesan topping. In the end I had excess stuffing so (influenced by the recent visit of the mother of a Libyan friend of mine whose mom is the most amazing cook!) I dragged some left over rice from the fridge and made rice-stuffing parcels to go in the oven with the stuffed peppers. While they were in there I made a double cream/mustard & mint (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...) sauce and would you believe???? It was SOOOO FREAKING GOOD - and to my great surprise the tuna (from Ghana of course - all the big cans of Tesco tuna are from Ghana - dolphin friendly and all!) actually won the taste wars. Don't get me wrong, the lamb was good... but the tuna was poetry!! The rice parcels were yummy too with that crazy sauce. Another mad recipe for the book!! BTW if you want to try this stuff, the key to any mint sauce is to keep tasting because, trust me, you don't want to get too minted! Mo' money mo' problems!!

I'm listening to Stephanie Mills 'cos she has one of the best voices ever - none of this cheap trilling stuff we get fed these days. My girlfriend always laughs when I sing along to "Comfort of a Man" but it's worth it just to sing along to such dopeness...

what i'm reading/listening to

Stephanie Mills

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

missed stops

So i'm in NYC, we had a great book launch for Truth Thomas' Party of Black at the Bowery Poetry Club and I've been trying to relax and write. Verdict? I've still got the writing blues, but it's only affecting my prose, not the poetry. I guess I'll have to go with that. I cheered myself up today by doing what I often do when I'm with my Mom... Oh yeah, I've been hanging with my Mom for 8 days straight: nothing like riding a cross-state bus with your mother. It kind of tells you if you've been raised right or not. If you can't have a conversation, something went wrong between breast milk and moving out. I'm proud to say Mom & I have had a blast - laughing at people, debating post-natal depression (Mom's a retired midwife), and trying not to spend too much money, which has been surprisingly easy considering that my mother loves shoes the way she does... So, where was I? I googled myself (that's how I prove to her I haven't been wasting my time) and I am still tickled to find that a Manchester student rag saw me perform with Dead Prez and thought my set was the most moving of the night (link here) but the coolest link is my British Council/CalStateLa residency link YES, I HAVE ARRIVED! Now, who wants to take bets on how long it takes before I'm feeling low again?

Here's one of my poems:


The Greyhound is late. I’ve been fast
asleep too long to know why, but the man
beside me – Chinese – tells me what time it is.

He turns to the back-lit maze of his phone, taps
a geometry of buttons, gets lost in an exchange
about auditions and lost opportunities. I look

across the aisle: the big guy with the Yankees
cap has struck up a dialogue with the Polish
woman beside him. Her dark eyebrows arch –

an eager pair – in synch under her blond hail; I can
tell she’s open; so is he, but he’s fearful, hasn’t
yet learnt the curved asymmetry of lust. There is

already a lapse between her keenness, his lean
and the speed of his initiative. Somebody should
tell him that if the lapse grows any longer

the door of chance will close – snap in
his face. It’s already too late. The bus is
drifting into Harlem, Connecticut a distant memory:

I hear him say excuse me, he calls his Mom. A pink
rose blooms on the woman’s cheek, she looks
outside. I hang my head, exhale, and close

my eyes. The man beside me snaps his phone shut.