Photos from a Past Journey

As I mentioned back in December, one of the projects I’m working on this year is to re-publish a chapbook of poems I wrote back in 1993 about my first journey to Europe, a family journey as exciting and as fulfilling as I had always hoped.

The original chapbook was ‘published’ (read typed and photocopied) in a limited edition of twelve. It was mainly poems written on, or just after that trip, and some selected diary entries. It was printed originally in A4, twenty-two pages, individually numbered, two-sided photocopies, spiral bound with a postcard from the journey pasted on the opening page of each copy and given to friends.

The project this year has been to digitise that chapbook, trying to keep as much of the spirit of the original as possible, but making it more available in ebook and paperback format. I’m hoping to have that online by the end of April when I plan to return to Europe, not for the first time since then, but with that journey firmly in mind.

Meanwhile, here’s some of the photographs I took on the trip, some of which I’ll include in the new edition. There’s nothing spectacular about them, or distinctive. But they do, I think, have a certain feel of the ‘time’, obvious places, obvious holiday ‘snaps’ taken on film on my Minolta 303 (pictured below) that I lugged around with me all the way, along with a pasta maker for much of the journey! But that’s another story.

The mini-collection, Us, Falling for It, should be out next month.

The original cover, 1993
The light in Greece
Pont de Gard
Eiffel Tower
Tourists at the Parthenon
The British seaside at Hastings
Trusty Minolta SRT303

The Other World

I am happy to announce that my ‘new and selected’ poems, The Other World is now available as a Kindle book or as paperback via Amazon.

As I mentioned here in a recent post, this has been a long process of re-reading and selecting from my three previously published collections and adding some new poems as well to the mix.

I was conscious that my three previous collections are long out of print and limited copies are only available directly from me, something that some readers aren’t always comfortable with. I wanted the poems to be accessible again. As much as I admire the extra layer of editing and professional quality control that a external publisher can bring (see Brook Emery’s recent Sea Scale) I wanted to have control of the project and didn’t want to get into a lengthy submission process, so I made the decision to publish this collection myself Any errors here are all mine!

The paperback edition is 90 pages and both the hard copy and ebook versions are available HERE from Amazon. It’s a nice feeling to have this selection out at last and I’m looking forward to hearing what readers think. I’m also looking forward to getting stuck into some new poetry projects over the rest of this year.

Talking to Year 6’s about poetry

It was interesting today to do a poetry presentation, via Zoom, for a year 6 class just getting started in imaginative and poetic language.

It was intended really to be an introduction to poetry from a ‘real poet’ and to get them thinking more laterally about language. I haven’t done a poetry presentation for a while, and never to such a young group. It was my first contact with student for nearly nine months after finishing up teaching at the end of last year and I enjoyed re-connecting with them.

They are supposed to learn about poems of people, places and things and I chose to read and talk about shorter pieces that were image-heavy and visual in nature first, with a story around them that might interest them.

Their response, their questions and their sharing of their own stories, was lovely to hear. One of the poems I read was about my grandmother, ‘little’ Nana, who died in 1987, which I share below. It was nice to talk about her for a bit today. Thanks to their teachers for setting it up.

Edith Wynne (1898-1987)


She is smaller than ever;
though she says I am bigger,
and I have to stoop
to kiss her cheek
that is cold.
Here, in her shrinking unit,
it is always dusk.
The cars flicker outside
like mercury
and she is a shape in a room.

‘That’s a funny cup of tea’,
she says crossly,
though she must have seen most
of what cups of tea
are capable of.
The rich dark liquid
is honey-lit
as it uncoils like rope
from a silver teapot.

‘Yes’, she says,
‘she’s got your father’s hair’,
to my daughter,
who sleeps in the carry-basket,
six weeks old,
wrapped in crotched warmth
with all those cups of tea
to look forward to.

Hello iA Writer

One of the constant preoccupations of the procrastinating writer using technology, is finding he perfect writing program.

It’s been a long time since I gave up on the souped-up MS Word to be that tool, and moved to applications that focused on distraction-free, minimalist approaches.

I also didn’t want to end up with all my writing in a proprietary format, even one so seemingly ubiquitous as .docx. For example, I’ve had my poems all archived in a FileMaker Pro database for a long time, but it’s been crashing a bit lately and I began to worry again about having all that writing in a format I couldn’t access easily, and through a variety of software. Hence, the argument for plain .txt files for poems that can be opened by a wide variety of programs. Text is unlikely to go away.

For a while I was recommending the text editor Ulysses, but then it jumped the shark and wanted to start charging on a subscription basis (I’m even reluctant to use that model for huge,complex software bundles like Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office let alone a text editor), so I started looking around again for a writing tool that had to have the following essential qualities:

  • Writes and saves in plain text (.txt) format
  • Can use simple markdown text commands (I know it’s a bit esoteric, but great if you prefer keyboard command typing and hands off the mouse)
  • Can output to standard file types: PDF, Word, etc.
  • Can output to my standard blog system (
  • Can be used on iPad, Mac and iPhone using some sort of cloud-based architecture (iCloud, Dropbox) with the main aim being I want to be able to pick up my writing on any device and just take up where I left off.
  • Has a kind of distraction-free mode so that I can focus on just the text on the page and not tons of tool-bars, windows, pop-ups and buttons.

There’s a few that do most of these things, including Byword, but in the end I opted to go back to iA Writer, an app I’d enjoyed a while ago, and has come a long way since I last looked at it closely.

iA Writer is simple to use and good to look at. It doesn’t paralyse you with a thousand typographical choices and can be driven with some simple keyboard commands giving you access to other files and folders (Ctl-E) and a preview of the markdown (Ctl-R) It saves in plain text and you can use markdown commands. All your files are synced in the background and accessible via iCloud syncing that seems to just work. There is some syntax highlighting which I only find vaguely useful (highlight adverbs in the current document and delete them all!) and quickly outputs to Word, PDF, and WordPress.

For longer pieces, iA Writer isn’t perfect, and for those things, and particularly for the creation of Epub files, I’ve recommended Scrivener for a while now. Scrivener seems to be designed primarily for novelists and playwrights, and is a bit over-powered for writing individual poems, but ideal for putting together collections. I’ve used it to create ebook anthologies really successfully.

But for most of my daily writing: poetry especially, but articles and reviews and long prose as well, I’ve settled on iA Writer as that well designed application that does what you want it to do, then stays the background and doesn’t demand your attention.

Writing is always challenging, so anything that can help make the process more natural feeling, and more fluent, is welcome.

Goodbye Ulysses

Goodbye Ulysses

When some favourite turns on you it always seems worse somehow. So, very annoyed to learn that my favourite text editor, and go-to writing tool, Ulysses, has moved to a subscription model.

So, a product I’ve paid for on the iPad, iPhone and Mac, and tweeted about positively for ages, now wants to charge me monthly to keep using it. I pay subscriptions now for Apple Music and even software like Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Office 365, and they’re decisions I didn’t make lightly, but a monthly fee for a text editor, even if it’s probably the best text editor I’ve seen? No. When my favourite text shortcut utility Text Expander did the same thing a while ago, I gave up on it, and went to Type it for Me and haven’t looked back.

So, dont’ spurn me! Last night I dug back into some old favourites like Ia Writer and Byword looking for something that will allow me to write quickly, distraction-free on any device I have with me, and sync across the platforms in the background.

It took me about an hour but I’ve moved my writing out of Ulysses into iAWriter and I’ll keep that for poetry and creative stuff and use Byword for my blogging and work-related stuff. I’m hurt, but I’m bouncing back.

Goodbye Ulysses.


Remembering Liam Davison


My great friend Liam Davison (right) would have been 60 today. That’s us, in Vietnam I think.

I don’t want to talk about the senseless loss of life, that took him and his wife Francesca that was MH17, and one day I’ll be ready to write in a lot more detail about Liam and his writing, and what they both meant to me.  Liam was an extraordinary person and writer.

Today, I’m just remembering the friend I met at teacher’s college in 1975, who I taught with, wrote with,  travelled, socialised, rode and and talked with for nearly forty years.

Recently, Gavin Duffy, the graphics editor of Peninsula Writing, shared some photos he’d re-discovered of Gavin, Liam and myself on the radio set of Radio Port Phillip where we did a weekly radio show on local writing for a while, and also trying to sell our little magazine at a publisher’s event in the mid 1980s.  They were fun times, excited about writing and where it all might lead. I love our Peninsula Writing wind-cheaters and that sense that we were doing something fun and important.

I miss him pretty much every day.

Today, I’ll be celebrating his 60th with family and friends

Below: Promoting local writing on Radio Port Phillip. From left: Liam, Debbie Batt, me.


Below: On the Small Publishers stand at a book fair. From left: Liam, unknown, me.


Below: Liam, Gavin Duffy and unknown, Book Fair.