Friday, November 11, 2016

Poetry reading at The Corner House

I'm reading at The Corner House Arts Centre this evening in Surbiton on the theme of remembrance. Doors open at 7.30 and the poetry readings begin at 8.00.

There is a £4.00 entry fee and I think that includes cheese and biscuits.


Leonard Cohen



Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2016

I was at The Troubadour for the announcement of The Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2016 last night. We heard the prize winning and commended poems as well as judges reports from Jane Yeh and Glyn Maxwell.

Some of the poems that really stood out for me in the evening included

Balloons by Betty Thompson, from Co. Wexford, Ireland

Ode to an Octopus by Catherine Temma Davidson, from London

Writing Him Out by Elizabeth Parker, from Bristol

and Flight,by Giles Goodland, also from London


You can read the Glyn Maxwell's and Jane Yeh's report and read the winning poems here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Music recital and poetry reading update


On Sunday 23 October we held a music recital and poetry reading at our local church. This was our main fundraising event to raise money for a specialist hand and foot pedal bike for me and raise money for the disabled cycling charity Wheels for All.

The event was an incredible success. We are now at a point where all the money we raise from now on will go to Wheels for All.

During the performance I realised that love bound us all together. Those giving - time and skill and money and those receiving - listener's, observers, musician and reader/poet and audience.



I'd like to say a very big thank you for the amazing - overwhelming support - practical, physical, material and loving - we received throughout this whole project.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Cybathlon 2016


So there I was this morning driving to hospital for an appointment with my usual companion Radio 4 keeping me company when I hear the words "Berkel Bike".

Click here for a link to today's programme of You and Yours. The article - about this year's Cybathlon that took place in Switzerland recently begins 19 minutes into the programme and lasts about 8 minutes. The bike section of the article begins 23 minutes and 20 seconds into the article and lasts about a minute.

Below is a photograph of Jonny Beer Tims part of team Imperial at the Cybathlon this year training for his event on a Berkel Bike.


Friday, October 07, 2016

Patches of Light - the booklet

I spent National Poetry Day - yesterday 6 October in Kent with friends. While Alex printed  out 250 copies of a short booklet of poetry I spent the day stapling and folding the booklets.

I've produced the booklet to help raise money for a hand and foot pedal bike. If you'd like a copy then send me an email to david[ ]loffman@conjuring[ ]sun[ ]light[.]com. I've presented my address here with brackets in an attempt at foiling any non human readers of this post. Don't forget to include a delivery address for the booklet. And don't forget to delete the brackets from the address. I've suggested £4.00 a copy.

You can pay for the booklet by donating to my just giving page here

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/david-loffman-1

or click on the photogragh of me test driving the bike.


Friday, September 09, 2016

Patches of Light - Music and poetry recital

Patches of Light

a music and poetry recital on the theme of place
to raise money for a hand and foot pedal bike

Piano: Simon Hancock      Poetry: David Loffman

At: Christ Church New Malden 91 Coombe Road KT3 4RE

On: Sunday 23 October

At: 3.00 pm, followed by tea at 4.00 pm

Entry: free, donations welcome

All Welcome!


Test driving the berkel bike August 2015

Click here to make a donation now!



Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Exhibition 2016


At the Summer Exhibition yesterday I found these four objects lying around - awe inspiring, terrifying and deeply disturbing


Big Black by David Nash
Bose Blumen by Anselm Kiefer


Self-portrait on Charcoal and Paper by Zatorski & Zatorski


Stormy Sea by Frederick Cuming


Monday, August 01, 2016

Man Booker Prize Long List 2016


The Man Booker Prize 2016 long list has just been published.

Click here for an article about them.

Which one shall I start with?

BBC Prom 2016 David Bowie Tribute



Click here for an extraordinary tribute to David Bowie at the BBC Prom 2016 given by the Stargaze Ensemble. It's available for about 27 days.

It was a fascinating performance to watch with some interesting re-imagining of Bowie's songs. It sometimes - I think at its best - felt experimental and bold. Sometimes it was conservative and restrained. Sometimes it felt like a karaoke and sometimes like a sing a long. The high points for me were Warszawa, The Man Who Sold the World - sung by Conor O'Brien and arranged by Michael van de Aa. This was a constrained and conservative re-interpretation but beautifully performed. Lady Grinning Soul - sung by Anna Calvi and arranged by Jherek Bischoff was genuinely bold and playful. Always Crashing in the Same Car- sung by Philippe Jaroussky arranged by David Lang. I loved Jaroussky's performance. His formal counter tenor voice contrasted with Bowie's lyrics and the spare accompaniment with a delta harp was beautiful. Black Star - sung by Anna Calvi and Amanda Palmer was chilling and dynamic. John Cale's arrangements and performances of Valentine's Day, Sorrow with Anna Calvi's searing guitar and vocal and then in Space Oddity Cale adds a gospel choir - not an anthem but it really did hit the spot.

Click here for a link to the Stargaze Ensemble

And click here for a link to a review of the performance from the Daily Telegraph.

BBC David Bowie Prom

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Changes



I've left Richmond upon Thames College and therefore left a 29 year old career in teaching in FE. It has been a traumatic and emotional time since I've made the decision to go. I've been dominated by grief and fear about the future. But sometimes I catch myself tingling with excitement and expectation. Here we go!!!

I have accepted an offer of voluntary redundancy.

I still have three years to go before I reach my normal pension age.

I do not intend to be employed in a full time capacity again.

I will live my life in a healthier, happier and sustainable way.

Here we go!!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Georgia O'Keeffe

Click here for a link to the Georgia O'Keeffe Tate Modern Exhibition.



We absolutely must go!!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beyond the Border 2016





Beyond the Border Wales International Storytelling 
Festival

is on this weekend
Friday 1st July to Sunday 3rd July

Come and be rescued, awe struck and amazed by this incredible experience.

Click here for a link to the festival website  


Maybe see you there!!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Reading at the Troubadour



I'm one of about 50 poets reading at the Troubadour in Earls Court tomorrow evening.

I'm really looking forward to it. Come and join us if you can.

Click here for a link to the listing. 




Monday, June 06, 2016

A Shake of the Dice by David Kynaston

I've just finished reading A Shake of the Dice - the second book that completes the third volume of Modernity Britain by David Kynaston. It's the third volume in his project - writing a popular social history of Britain from 1945 - 1979 titled Tales of the New Jerusalem. It marks the half way point in this compelling history.

All the familiar themes are here, although in this second book there is not the same intense focus on key themes like education or the sustained debate on the rise in youth culture.

This is a more rounded book that explored industrial relations in Britain between 1959 - 1962. It considered the negotiations between government, unions and industry of one specific industrial dispute.

It also touched on the acceleration of slum clearances and the development of sky scrappers in the north of England and Glasgow. Kynaston does consider the destruction of working class communities and the alienation experienced in the new sky towers. Again we looked at the impact on Salford in particular.

Another highlight for me was the section on Tony Hancock. It covers the end of 'Hancock's Half Hour, the split in the relationship with Sid James and the beginning of Hancock's solo work.

The diarists are also present. There seemed to me a more systematic approach to them. They seemed to be used on mass to comment on key events. Male diarists were also introduced including Kenneth Williams.

Click the book cover below to buy the book.



It was an enjoyable read.

And I'm looking forward to the next installment - opportunity Britain.  

Eddie Mair interviews David Nott on Radio 4's PM on 23 December 2014

Click here for an interview with David Nott broadcast on the 23 December 2014. We were driving to Anglesey for Christmas and then this interview happened while we were listening to PM on Radio 4 with Eddie Mair.

Be warned. This interview does contain some graphic and very disturbing commentary from the surgeon.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

David Nott on Desert Island Discs













Click here for a link to an extraordinary episode of Desert Island Discs in which the surgeon David Nott talks about his work in Syria and elsewhere.

Click here for a link to the David Nott Foundation a charity set up by David Nott - developing teams and supporting communities in war and disaster zones, providing training for local medical and nursing teams in these areas and focusing on conflict and natural disaster surgery.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Poetry Reading at the CornerHOUSE Community Arts Centre, Surbiton



I'm one of the poet's reading at the Corner House Arts and Community Centre in Surbiton on Friday 10 June at 7.30 pm.

The evening will be divided into themes that include relationships, stormy weather and food.

Admission is £4.00. 

There is a bar. 

And there will probably be more than one interval. Plus cheese and biscuits! 

Click here for a link to the event listing at the Corner House in Surbiton.

Do come along it would be great to see you.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

PRIDE

We watched a really good British film a month ago and I wanted to recommend it.

It's set during the miner's strike in 1984/5 and presents the true story of the alliance between a London based LGBT group and a south Wales mining village.

I tell you it was good film. Obviously events were conflated, edited out, adapted and fictionalised. But watching in church as part of our film club was a liberating and incredibly refreshing experience. 

I feel that we had been sleepwalking in an older 19th century theology for so long. But over the past 7 or 8 years we have been waking up. Screening this film is another step in our struggle for true consciousness appropriate to the 21st century here in London. NOW!

If you haven't seen it yet than watch it. It's a great film!






Click here for a link to the film's entry on IMDB

Click here for a link to a review of the film in the Guardian

Click here for one of my favourite clips from the film

Click here for a link to a featurette  about the film. Brilliant!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Forest, Field and Sky - a BBC 4 documentary

I watched a really interesting documentary on creating art out of the natural landscape. James Fox considers the work of 6 artists including David Nash's Ash Dome in Snowdonia, in Cumbria he visit's Andy Goldsworthy and his fragile work Tree Wall then to the Outer Hebrides to see a work by Julie Brook.  On Exmoor Fox travels Richard Long's straight line. Then a garden designed andcreated by Charles Jencks and finally a work by James Turrell. 

Click here for a link to Forest, Field and Sky

Monday, May 09, 2016

Intimate Cartography by Jon Clay

Here is a visual poem my friend and colleague Jon Clay. What follows are his words, photographs and videos.



Click here for a link to the poem

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Joe Boyd's A-Z

A friend recommended a weekly podcast. It's called Joe Boyd's A - Z. 

Joe Boyd is one of the most influential and significant record producer's in the UK since the 1960's. He's produced music by Eric Clapton, Fairport Convention and Pink Floyd. He's also been collecting records since the 1950's and has begun sharing his vast collection in weekly 10 minute podcasts. It is a real treasure trove and I just had to share it with you.

Each week Boyd chooses one song - in alphabetical order - from his collection for his podcast. He uses that one song to explore the song, the artist, musician's, the genre and historical context of the song.  It's really informed, entertaining and I'm really enjoying Joe Boyd's wide musical tastes. 

Click here for a link to the podcast.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

FOLK BRITANNIA - FOLK ROOTS & NEW ROUTES




I stumbled across this documentary - is it just one, perhaps it's two - on youtube - originally broadcast on BBC 4 - while I was looking for something else. But whatever this is it is completely brilliant. It's just incredible for so many reasons. It contains some fantastic historic film footage of England from the early 20th century. It tells the story of English politics and culture.It tells the story of Ewan MacColl. It tells the story of the American blues It has clips of some of my favorite folk heroes like Andy Irving and Davy Graham.

Anyway I really recommend it. Enjoy!



Joy of Living: A Tribute to Ewan MacColl

Have I mentioned Joy of Living to you at all?





















I think it's a truly remarkable CD. It's a tribute to Ewan MacColl the English folk singer song writer who was born in 1915. The double CD includes 21 covers of Ewan MacColl's songs - some iconic and others lesser known - at least to me. But they cover a wide range of his song writing skills. Some songs are political, some social observations, some songs celebrate working people, some autobiographical and others love songs. 

However not only do we have some of the most dynamic and exciting songs written in these islands of the 1960's and 70's, but Calumn and Neil - Ewan MacColl's oldest and youngest sons have brought together an amazing list of contemporary English folk singers - both young and old - to sing. Many of these recordings were made especially for the CD itself. It feels like a labour of love for the family,who also accompany and do the arrangements on some of the songs.

I was just trying to write a list of some of the highlights from the CD but I found myself jotting down from memory almost all of the songs. Each one of these recordings is filled with a spirit of respect for the writer and a genuine love for the music he created. Each singer owns the  song for themselves - it is both their's but still also Ewan MacColl's. 

I am still completely stunned by the music every time I put it on. I continue to be blown away by Seth Lakeman's The Shoals of Herring, Karine Polwart's The Terror Time, Martin Carthy and Martin Simpson, The Unthanks, Dick Gaughan, Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg, Rufus and Martha Wainwright and Christy Moore. But then there is Chaim Tannenbaun's My Old Man, Steve Earle's Dirty Old Town and Paul Buchanan's brave rendition of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

I think what made the present particularly special was that it was given to me at Christmas as I was recovering from a serious medical condition

Monday, February 29, 2016

Some books I've enjoyed recently


I've been reading quite a lot since August. So I thought I'd share one or two of the books I've particularly enjoyed. I've just finished reading 1606. It follows the year in Shakespeare's life in which King Lear, Macbeth and Anthony and Cleopatra were written and performed.



Shapiro links these three plays to there historical context by identifying them as Jacobean dramas that could only have been written during King James 1st reign rather than Elizabeth's. For example in King Lear, Shakespeare tackles a central issue of James's early reign as king, that of an act of union between England and Scotland. One of the main themes of the play is the problems of dividing a kingdom. This important policy that James was passionately advocating incurred huge opposition in parliament. Macbeth on the other hand draws directly from the attempt - only a few months earlier in November 1605 - by a radical faction of Roman Catholic noblemen who attempted to assassinate King James and destroy the houses of parliament and the democratic structures of England in an attempt to create a new type of government and to reinstate a Roman Catholic monarchy. I'm being incredibly simplistic in this summary. The book draws on a wide social and cultural range full of interesting historical and literary details. As well as Shakespeare's personal and public life is woven throughout the book. Also Shapiro is aware of the contemporary threats being made to our own institutions by Islamic extremists.



I don't feel I can really move on without a brief mention of Shapiro's fabulous earlier literary biography of another year in Shakespeare's life, that of 1599. this history tended to focus much more on the day to day details of Shakespeare's professional life. It is set after all at an earlier stage in his career during a period of extraordinary creative output. The later book in contrast focuses on his first Jacobean dramas much closer to the end of his career where Shakespeare found the transition of writing from the Elizabethan court to the new and establishing Jacobean court quite difficult. His creative output at this stage in his life had slowed down somewhat.






I've been reading this social history of Britain since the first volume - Austerity Britain was published in 2010. Part 1 of the third volume is as lively and exhilarating a read as that first volume. However it's a lighter less intense reading experience than the first two volumes. There isn't, for example, the intense and challenging chapters on town planning or government economic strategy that we find in Austerity Britain or Family Britain. And perhaps there seems more emphasis on the developing youth culture, the growing significance of television and the birth of a popular celebrity culture. Despite this absence though it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I don't know when I'll get round to the final part of volume three that will mark the midway point in this epic popular social history. But part one has left me eager for more. And that is another fabulous front cover photograph. Don't you think?















One of the features of this collection of Sappho's poetry that I've enjoyed is the commentary on each poem or fragment and the way this is laid out in the book.

I feel so removed and detached from her work that the commentary has become indispensable reading. It doesn't cover every aspect of the poem or fragment but rather concentrates on specific points of cultural and literary difficulty.

I started reading the collection when Iona told me she was studying Sappho for her degree and I wondered if I could help out at all. So I tried reading the poetry alongside her.
However I recall Iona talking about the poetry over lunch one day where she left me rather stumped with her insights and knowledge of the poetry and history of the time. 




I've also spent some time reading the T. S. Eliot prize 2015 short listed poetry collections. It was not particularly easy reading collection after collection in what was for me a rather too short period of time - about 3 weeks over Christmas. But I particularly enjoyed Don Paterson's 40 Sonnets and the winner's - Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade. I did read Citizen An American Lyric by Claudia Rankin practically in one sitting. It was a dazzling and powerful experience. But hoped the prize would go to someone less established.

I also read Clive James's translation of Dante's Inferno. I was going through quite a difficult time as I was reading it.  The children had returned to Nottingham after the new year, David Bowie had died and there were difficult personal circumstances we were having to deal with at the time. 

At times it felt like I was walking through my own hell. It's not an easy read at all. especially as so much of what Dante writes is bound up with 14th century Florentine politics and public life. Again what helped was Penguin's own edition of the poem that contains a commentary on each book. I used both books to help me. It did take a long time to read.



Each of the images I've posted here is a link to amazon. So if you felt like clicking through you can order copies of these books from this blog.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dinorwic quarry sunset






















I grew cold 
and weary in the embers of 
this sunset

Haiku by David Loffman
Photograph Sunset at Dinorwic Quarry by Katy Loffman used with kind permission

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sunset line





















sunset clouds like a golden fleece

iambic hexameter by David Loffman
Photograph Golden Clouds by Psyche Delia
reprinted under flicker's Creative Commons licence

T.S. Eliot Prize Reading 2015





This was an extraordinary evening. I sat - for three hours - for the most part transfixed by the most amazing group of current poets reading from their short listed collections of poetry.

I felt - sort of - privileged and honoured to be present at this occasion. At times it was as if what Ian McMillan said in his introduction, that despite an audience of over 2000, the readings were intimate and direct. The poetry filled the auditorium and ignited our imaginations.

I've been reading the poems on the short list for the last couple of weeks. It's been a rather frantic experience dipping in and out of collections. Sometimes the experience has been frustrating, always humbling and often a sheer delight.

I don't really have any clear idea of a winner - and already in a way - all the short listed poets are already winners. But I've particularly enjoyed Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade and Don Paterson's 40 Sonnets.

But we'll all know in about three hours time.

David Bowie


I wanted to find words - a song of his - to mark David Bowie's death today, but found myself reflecting on this piece of music. It seems to convey something of that lonely passage we will all encounter. There is something terrifying and comforting in it.

If I'd ever met him I'd want to thank him for the gift of words he passed on to me. And thank him for his life, growing up in a south London suburb. He was a just a lad growing up among the debris of war and yet touched our lives.

'Ziggy played guitar.'

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

New Year Iambic hexameter



















first light prizes open the year

Iambic hexameter by David Loffman
Photograph Richmond Park Sunshine by Steve Calcott
reprinted under flicker's creative commons licence

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Three Advent and Christmas haiku















outside
the trees dressed in hard
galactic light

Haiku by David Loffman
Photo milky way silhouette by Indigo Skies Photography reprinted under flickr's creative commons licence 












we fend off
the vast darkness with
candle light

Haiku by David Loffman
Untitled photograph by Ryan Martinl reprinted under flickr's creative commons licence 











the stable boy
stirs in straw and rags through his
first long night


Haiku by David Loffman
Untitled photograph by orientallizing reprinted under flickr's creative commons licence 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Wexford Carol

Click here for a beautiful Christmas carol.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November Haiku and Photograph
























suddenly 
the cold - dry and clean, sharp
like a blade

Haiku by David Loffman
Photograph The Frost is all Over by London Looks
published under flickr's Creative Commons licence