The sequence follows the invisible route of the deleted Glamorganshire canal, which begins in Merthyr Tydfil at the Cyfarthfa ironworks, where the remains of one of the blast furnaces still stand like a giant alchemical alembic at the head of the ghost canal. Other relics of industrial-scale alchemy are dotted along the wound of the canal through Aberfan, Quakers Yard, Abercynon, Pontypridd, Rhydyfelin, Nantgarw, Melingriffith. The canal then ends in Cardiff Bay where Canal Park shows the route of the canal towards Sea Lock which lies beneath the A4232 road bridge.
The poem sequence is linked to a walking collaborative performance series (see Readings).
Some poems from Canalchemy have appeared in the following publications:
The sections published here focus on the area of Nantgarw, where the itinerant porcelain producer, William Billingsley, ran a small disastrous pottery. I imagine Billingsley’s experiments as an echo of the German alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger’s initial attempts to replicate Chinese porcelain. It resonates for me with the transformative word-alchemy of poets like Maggie O’Sullivan and Lissa Wolsak, that energetic tension, coincidentia oppositorum, between words and phrases.
Zarf magazine calls it ‘industrial haibun’.
Allen Fisher – Ideas on the culture dreamed of
First published by Spanner Editions in 1983, Ideas on the culture dreamed of provides a glossary for the work Defamiliarising_____* and develops the list of jazz dances used as titles in Gravity as a consequence of shape. The book is composed of alphabetised entries on issues of perception, memory and the vocabularies of physics, many of which were included in the initial chapbook publications of Gravity…. Pulling together broad-ranging research in bitesized definitions of the project’s key terms, such as collage, chreod, acuity, plasma, quasars, red shift and singularity, the text complements and enhances the reading of Gravity as a consequence of shape, as well as Defamiliarising____* and other works underway when that project was initiated.
Available from Lulu.com
Giles Goodland – from The Masses
Selected prose blocks from a longer sequence about the insect kingdom. From the ‘tanglage’ of a cybernetic Hopkins or Joyce scrapmetal flies and robotic daddy-longlegses ‘whirlwing’, ‘stiltstand’ and ‘semiskim’ through cafes and bedrooms. Presented in a limbed shell of metallic card with flower-folds of pearlescent paper and insect collages by Rhys Trimble.
30 text messages sent between John Maher and Steven Hitchins during the winter of 2014-15. Printed on neon yellow slips housed in a blue accordion with pockets.
Watch reading at Free Verse: the Poetry Book Fair.
Collaborative zed-book with Rhys Trimble. Three sequences of experimental translations of Dr William Price’s eccentric visionary work Gwyllllis yn Nayd (1871), including a psychogeographical derive, a series of algorithmic transformations using Markov chains, visual poems, collages and photographs.
“The density of the Welsh-English collision relies on an extensive knowledge of both languages, yet the horizon of understanding escapes as the reader approaches on a wave of verbal intoxication.” – Sharon Morris, Poetry Wales 52.3, 2017
Watch reading of extracts from Yth.
Translating the Coal Forests
A Literary Pocket Book / Singing Apple Press collaboration by Camilla Nelson and Steven Hitchins.
Poetic strata retrieved from textual petrifaction of swamp-deteriorated coal text intersect and diverge in performative translation.
Pages of F.J. North’s Coal and the Coalfields in South Wales were left to deteriorate in a coalfield swamp. From time to time the specimens were suffused with mud and silt sufficient to cover up and seal the letters. Eventually we returned and remains were partially retrieved. OCR text recognition programs were used to take casts or moulds of the crumbs. These petrifactions preserve the external form of the page debris: tears in paper replicated in contours of stanzas. We each made an attempt to translate the fossil texts, perceived patterns in their carboniferous frottage, remaking the originals in an altered fern.
Printed on transparent pages housed in an accordion of Camilla’s home-baked mud-grass-coal paper.
“The whole thing is bound tissue-delicately, as if struggling to retain its wholeness, the previous lives of its material pressing it apart from within… Just as the thing falls to pieces with the touch involved in reading, the words and sentences of the text dissolve and reform themselves grammatically, metrically and narratively… Reading this, we get the uncomfortable feeling that it’s the coal forests – those huge, primeval forests turned to the fossil fuels we’re currently exploiting to burn down the world – talking… It’s strong, affecting stuff, harmonising form and content, text and object, meaning and implication – meaningfully together.” – Joey Connolly in Poetry Wales 52.1, Summer 2016
Watch reading at Enemies/Gelynion
Zuzana Husárová and Olga Pek – Amoeba
Eighth in the LPBmicro series is Zuzana Husárová and Olga Pek‘s Amoeba. When an amoeba divides in two, does it stop existing? This collaborative sequence explores individuality, binarity, generativity and affective force, mixing them in a cocktail of biological, philosophical, feminist and futuristic fragments that span antiquity to the present and beyond. Protean as an amoeba, it oscillates between technopoesis, sound manipulation and lyrical (t)hereness. Presented here as a ball-like book made of transparent vellum paper. Images by L’ubomír Panák.
My review of Olga Pek and Zuzana Husarova’s performance piece ‘Amoeba’ at the North Wales International Poetry Festival 2014 is in Wales Arts Review 3.24: The End of Year Special (Dec, 2014).
The White City (Aquifer Press, 2015)
The White City is a participatory sensing expedition that allows readers to explore the streets of Rhydyfelin, a suburb of Pontypridd in the South Wales valleys. The book comprises two dimensions: a guidebook or map towards a group expedition into the city and a book-based installation documenting the expedition that has yet to take place. Documentation as a starting point rather than an end result: before the work is finished, before the poem is begun. Thus prepared we enter the streets, in search of the White City.
“…a stripped-down stream of consciousness… poetry found in the everyday reality of a small town in South Wales with its concomitant economic difficulties and social issues… The overall tone of the piece fits the black and white production of the book; the vitality of past events cloaked by monochrome pictures and dry discourse, whilst the future for the inhabitants of The White City appears equally devoid of colour. What colour can be found is in the poetry of Hitchins…” – Adrian Osbourne in Poetry Wales 52.1, Summer 2016
Available now from Aquifer Press
Extracts from the White City are included in Poetry Wales Spring 2015 50.4
An audio guide and essay are included in The Goose
When Young Dodos Meet Young Dragons
My poem ‘5 poems’ is included in When Young Dodos Meet Young Dragons, an anthology of Mauritian and Welsh writing, edited by Alan Perry Sachita Samboo and Barlen Pyamootoo (L’Atelier d’ecriture, 2014).
Poetry Wales 50.2 edited by Nia Davies includes my essay ‘Towards a Relational Poetics: conceptual writing and alt lit’. Read the article here.
Red Poets 20
Issue 20 of Red Poets edited by Mike Jenkins includes my poem ‘Tin Cry’, a cut-up prose-poem about the Treforest Tin-plate Works.
Real Radio (Gwasg CAD Press, 2014)
It’s Jagger here on Real Radio with another feelgood flashback… Radio and conversation poems documenting a car journey from Pontypridd to Bangor for the Nomadic and Processual Poetics symposium in 2013. Published on Rhys Trimble‘s letterpress in a variety of colour options.
‘Mesmerising… the sheer banality and juxtaposition of some subterranean unspoken need with interfering text sounds and more – really kept me on my toes and fascinated.’ – David Greenslade
‘Song-length “poems” … track across the pages in a teeny-tiny lower-case font reminiscent of the marks of tyre treads. In places, the emotional (yet anonymous) inner world of the song lyrics combines with banal interpersonal exchanges to create collisions that are at once playful and touching… The results alert the reader as much to their own ability to make poetry out of the found and the accidental as to the theoretical questions behind the author’s decisions, making this a joy to read.’ – Rosie Breese in Poetry Wales (Spring 2015, 50.4)
Read the bonus track here.
For the performance piece at the North Wales International Poetry Festival in Bangor, I made a set of limited edition DVDs of my film Red Light Radio to accompany the book.
Watch the Red Light Radio film.
Watch the Bangor performance.
Nomadic and Processual Poetics: A Symposium
My conference report on the Nomadic and Processual Poetics Symposium with Allen Fisher and Pierre Joris at Bangor University (18/5/13) is published in Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry Vol 5 No 2 (Sept 2013)
I wrote this article for Wales Arts Review’s series on Great Welsh Novels. My choice is Welsh-born writer Iain Sinclair’s London novel Downriver. I consider it as a nomadic open-field novel that interrogates the neo-colonialist forces that tore apart communities in Wales in the 1980s through a psychogeographical examination of the economic and cultural centre, London. To understand globalised Wales through ‘the practice of outside’: the Welsh novel outside Wales.
David Berridge – Seventy Five Poems
Seventh in the LPBmicro series, David Berridge‘s Seventy Five Poems uses the accordion-fold format to explore the idea of a life=75 poems, whether the poems should all be written now or added one a year, and where in the poem reader breaks and arranges the poems and lines in reading the accordion book. Cover image by James Green.
My discussion of quantum mechanics with Allen Fisher, conducted via this blog in 2012, is now available as a PDF document on Allen Fisher’s website.
Box of 56 poems. Each poem is sealed in a C8-sized envelope. The poems were written on a Nokia 6700 mobile phone between October 2011 and November 2012. They are titled after the ringtones on the phone.
Listen to microtopias recording
Download PDF of performance leaflet: microtopias booklet
Download full PDF of the poems: microtopias-book
“Sometimes maybe you see ghosts on the underground with an empty Costcutters plastic bag, nowhere to go. They are smaller, about 70% smaller than a normal person, smaller than they were in life.” – Burial
Integral Scouser of Brixton and big key influence on my writing, John Maher has put together this websized compendium of all his phosphorescent solstice themesongs. I highly recommend these pocket-lyric miniatures and prose-epic lantern-shavings of urban ghostdub on a daily dosage. We will never be lonely again.
Ink Tongue Thirty
Assyrian Bull publications has printed up this limited thirtieth anniversary flashback edition of my rare 2005 poem ‘Ink Tongue’. Foreword by Bob Mint.
Red Light Radio in Junction Box 5
My film-poem Red Light Radio is in issue 5 of Junction Box, edited by Lyndon Davies.
Elisabeth Bletsoe – Birds of the Sherborne Missal X-XIII
Sixth in the LPBmicro series. Four haibun from Elisabeth Bletsoe‘s Birds of the Sherborne Missal sequence, accompanied by three illustrations by Frances Hatch. Printed on miniature fold-out squares of handmade parchment paper.
David Greenslade – Festival Cuisine
Third in the LPBmicro series. A sequence of 29 surrealist haiku by David Greenslade, derived from his longer project, Rarely Pretty Reasonable, a collaboration with around 30 visual artists. Printed as a landscape accordion fold with cover art work by James Green.
Rhys Trimble – ./fine
Fifth in the LPBmicro series. A 30-page plurilingual microsequence by Rhys Trimble. Printed as an accordion fold with cover image by James Green.
ctrl+alt+del, issue 5
Issue 5 of ctrl+alt+del edited by Rhys Trimble includes 5 of my text message poems. You can download the magazine from the ctrl+alt+del website.
Zones of the Coalfield Interior
Zones of the Coalfield Interior: Walking and Collage, Poetry Wales number 48.2, Autumn 2012
Zones of the Coalfield Interior 2: Poetries of Coal, Poetry Wales number 48.3, Winter 2012/13
Zones of the Coalfield Interior 3: alienation nostalgia, Poetry Wales 48.4, Spring 2013
Allen Fisher – Drawn Rooms
Fourth in the LPBmicro series. A series of 6 poem-images from Allen Fisher, from the ongoing project, Hazards. Printed as a concertina fold with two covers, one designed by Fisher and one by James Green.
Caroline Goodwin – Text Me, Ishmael
Second in the LPBmicro series. A sequence of 5 fourteen-line poems by California-based poet Caroline Goodwin, printed on fold out square pages. Cover image by James Green.
First in a series of miniature origami-fold booklets. Features poetry from Graham Hartill, Kelvin Corcoran, David Annwn, Jeremy Hilton, Steven Hitchins and Lyndon Davies. Cover image by James Green.
“A strong excavation, tight, intense and close worked. A powerful twist against territory and time.” – Iain Sinclair
“Bitch Dust succeeds by exposing [the] shiftiness in the nature of place…. decentered, polyphonic, compressed, and, like dust, aggregated from many sources.” – Giles Goodland, Poetry Wales
“Bitch Dust takes on the apparent disparities between lyrical presence and pressure, narrative contemplation and impetus and disrupted forms. There is a powerful attention to geological presence directly grabbed by aspects of industrial Wales and as a consequence its geography. This is attended to through the use of refrain and recurrence that lilts into and away from song, words from word sounds and meaning shifts, alliteration from charcoal to cold in the Cynon valley, crushed words, quarried words, clipped into short sentences, wonder words, invented words.” – Allen Fisher
Buy a copy on Lulu
Poetry Wales, 47.4, Spring 12
Poetry Wales number 47.4 edited by Zoë Skoulding. Includes my poems ‘skims’ and ‘The Dawn League’.
Also includes a review of books by Anamaria Crowe Serrano, Lars Palm, Rufo Quintavalle, George Vance and Dylan Harris published by the excellent Corrupt Press. Lars Palm has helpfully put a PDF of the article on his blog.
‘Poetry: Music: Space’, Junction Box, issue 2, 2011/12
Article about my interest in overlaps between poetry and music. Considers recent works by Zoë Skoulding, Susan Howe and Richard Skelton, which have combined music and poetry and are each concerned with ideas of place and space.
John Maher, rinse tundra special, 2011
Co-dreamer of the Literary Pocket Book, John Maher blasts out a smash narrative from his European tour of Krakow. Cat prose cut with drafty lyric snippets of Brixton, Liverpool, Sheffield, Brecon. A lot of what I write is trying to sound like Maher. But John speaks like this. He lives it. His epistles from the frontier singe my inbox almost weekly. To me he’s like a dubstep Paul Celan. All crackly and glacial. This book renewed my faith in dancing: ‘…to somehow grab a motherfucking spark‘.
Shantih to that.
Steven Hitchins, Palisade Winters
Miniature accordion-fold booklet. I saw this fold in a book; I had some horizontal cut-up narrative prose paragraphs and some vertical haiku/text-message poems and thought it would be a good way to present them. The fold-out pages can induce multi-directional readings.
Download pdf: Steven-Hitchins-Palisade-Winters
Steven Hitchins, The Basin
Sequence of poems about Abercynon, the former mining village in the South Wales valleys where I grew up. The poems use collage methods to explore borderzones of rural and urban, past and present.
Download pdf: Steven-Hitchins-The-Basin
Fire, nos. 33/34, 2011
Double issue 33/34 of Fire magazine edited by Jeremy Hilton.
Includes my poem ‘Sleep Soup’.
Poetry Wales, 46.3, Winter 10/11
Poetry Wales number 46.3 edited by Zoë Skoulding.
Includes my poems ‘Petrol Voices’ and ‘Charcophagus’.
The Literary Pocket Book, Number Three, 2009
Third issue of my little magazine, The Literary Pocket Book.
Includes work by me, John Maher, John Evans, Darren Coles and James Lloyd.
Illustrations by Marita Forss.
The Literary Pocket Book, Number Two, 2008
Second issue of my little magazine, The Literary Pocket Book.
Includes poetry by me, John Maher, John Evans, Jane Fox and Gavin Price.
Illustrations by Marita Forss.
The Literary Pocket Book, Number One, 2007
First issue of my little magazine, The Literary Pocket Book.
Includes poetry by me, John Maher, James Lloyd and John Evans.
Illustrations by Marita Forss.
Chimera, Number Six, 2007
Includes my poem ‘Lost Pint’.