The Smarter Artist Manifesto


If you are a writer, a poet, a painter, a musician, or any other creative person, then this is for you.

The Smarter Artist Manifesto is courtesy of Sterling and Stone

You should check them out.


Thursday Thoughts – A Convenient Haiku


On visiting the church of St. Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square, I was struck how the only place where there was no talking whatsoever was the gents toilet.

I realise that a Haiku is possibly an unusual response.

Isis – My Favourite Dylan

  I married Isis on the fifth day of May

 But I could not hold on to her very long

 So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away

 For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong

So begins Isis, Bob Dylan’s sprawling Western ballad from his album ‘Desire’. It is a story of romance and grave robbing set to a pulsing backtrack of rhythmic guitar and eccentric violin.  Told in the first person, Dylan’s protagonist sets off to seek his fortune and falls in with a nameless stranger on a hunt for treasure.

  We set out that night for the cold in the North

 I gave him my blanket, he gave me his word

 I said, “Where are we goin’?” He said we’d be back by the fourth

 I said, “That’s the best news that I’ve ever heard”

 It’s only when he gets to their destination that the stranger reveals his unsavoury business. 

 We came to the pyramids all embedded in ice

 He said, “There’s a body I’m tryin’ to find

 If I carry it out it’ll bring a good price”

 ’Twas then that I knew what he had on his mind

But the plan doesn’t work out as intended. 

 The wind it was howlin’ and the snow was outrageous

 We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn

 When he died I was hopin’ that it wasn’t contagious

 But I made up my mind that I had to go on

Things go from bad to worse. The tomb is empty, so our hero decides to dispose of the body and head for home.

 I picked up his body and I dragged him inside

Threw him down in the hole and I put back the cover

 I said a quick prayer and I felt satisfied

 Then I rode back to find Isis just to tell her I love her

 Typically the reunion is less than romantic.

 She was there in the meadow where the creek used to rise

 Blinded by sleep and in need of a bed

 I came in from the East with the sun in my eyes

 I cursed her one time then I rode on ahead

And then the final reconciliation is a masterpiece of understatement.

 She said, “Where ya been?” I said, “No place special”

 She said, “You look different.” I said, “Well,I guess”

 She said, “You been gone.” I said, “That’s only natural”

 She said, “You gonna stay?” I said, “If you want me to, yes”

 It’s hard to pick your favourite Dylan track, but when I was doing a mix tape for my sister I put this one on which tells you something. It’s a great song. You can listen to it Here 

Congratulations Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize winner.

How do you know it’s a poem?

Sitting at a barbeque, at the weekend, a guest turned to me and said “I hear you’re a poet.” A conversation ensued which led to me showing her the Inside the Mind of Davy D blog. After a short while browsing on her phone, she turned to me and whispered, “That’s not poetry, it’s just […]

via What is Poetry? — Inside the Mind of Davy D

Just read this really thought provoking post on the ‘Inside the Mind of Davy D’ blog, which I strongly recommend by the way. The question is, how do you know it’s a poem?

of course there are some obvious clues: it rimes, it has verses, it has rythym, it’s in a book of poetry, but none of these are necessary, their absence does not mean the thing is not a poem.

the thing is, defining stuff can be very tricky. There was once a Psychology conference in the subject of intelligence, which brought together all the leading psychologists in this field. After two days they still couldn’t agree on a definition of Intelligence.

and you get this problem in art, music, writing, poetry…the list goes on. One of the best lectures I ever heard on this was one of Grayson Perry’s 2013 Reith Lectures called “Beating the Bounds” (available on the BBC radio 4 website  Here ) in which he examined the boundary between what is and what is not Art. He talked a lot about the Artist being someone who notices something and then draws someone’s attention to it. So an everyday object such as a bicycle is not in itself art, but if an artist notices something about the bicycle (shape, colour, texture, etc.) and then does something to draw attention to it (photographs it, paints it, or even just displays it in a gallery) then that is art.

writing is the same, whether poetry or prose. Something occurs to the writer, prompted by something seen, or heard or read, or even a thought or a dream, or the taste of a loved one’s earlobe, whatever. The writer responds, and the final result of that response is a piece of writing.

so to answer the question, if a writer goes through this process and produces what they consider to be a poem, then it is a poem, and they are a poet.

i’m now struggling to get thoughts about earlobes out of my head.

James Patterson – odi et amo


I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished. I’m very conscious of an audience. I’m very conscious that I’m an entertainer. Something like 73 percent of my readers are college graduates, so you can’t condescend to people. You’ve got to tell them a story that they will be willing to pay money to read. – James Patterson

Odi et amo is the first line of a poem by the Roman author Catullus. It means “I love and I hate”, which may seem a strange title for what is basically a book review, but then I’ve just read Sail by James Patterson.

I was given a set of three James Patterson books for Christmas. I read the first, Cross Country, some time ago and I quite liked it. It’s a twisty fast paced thriller which is what I felt like at the time. Sail is very similar in that it is also a twisty fast paced thriller. I actually thought it was the better book, particularly as there were a couple of twists, particularly at the end, that I really didn’t see coming and I like that.

And yet there is something that I don’t feel comfortable with and that is the writing method. I heard James Patterson being interviewed on the radio a few weeks ago and a lot of what he said made sense. I was actually really impressed by his passion to get kids reading and how much the parents have to take responsibility. But then he started talking about how his books are written, basically by him coming up with a framework and then having a team of writers to actually do the writing, and it just felt wrong.

I’ve got no problem with people working together. In fact Sail has another author’s name, Howard Roughan, on the front as well as James Patterson, although it’s actually quite hard to see being blue on a blue background:


I think what bothers me is that in many cases the other writers aren’t credited at all. It is impossible to know how much James Patterson has actually written. Of course ghost writers are nothing new, but it’s one thing with a celebrity autobiography and quite another for a novel.

You could say it’s just pulp fiction, mass produced for the mass market, so what does it matter? After all, Colonel Sanders doesn’t do all the cooking himself and neither does Ronald McDonald. But it does matter. I totally agree with Patterson’s passion for reading and libraries and bookshops, I think it is fantastic that someone so successful is standing up for those things. But I think he should write his own books.

So: odi et amo

Every Heart

Every heart sings a song,

incomplete, until another heart

whispers back. Those who wish to

sing always find a song. At the touch

of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”


I’ve reblogged this from the Eyes+Words blog because I thought it was just great.

It’s even more amazing when you think that Plato actually started out as a wrestler. In fact Plato wasn’t even his real name, it’s a nickname from his wrestling days which means ‘stocky’ or even, if you are feeling unkind, ‘fatso’.

So if a wrestler can:

a) become one of the greatest philosophers of all time


b) express the sentiments above


c) maybe there is hope for me yet!

Eyes + Words


“Every heart sings a song,

incomplete, until another heart

whispers back. Those who wish to

sing always find a song. At the touch

of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”


Artist Unknown

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