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SUFFOLK PUNCH is 14 years old this year. I'm sure there are blogs that have been going even longer, but there can't be many. As a form the blog seemed to go out of fashion when Facebook really started gaining traction, other than those that were linked to a specific institution like a university or a business. And how well read they are is anybody's guess, although I came across one from Keele University recently that was exceptional. Business blogs are almost always unreadably bland, presenting a picture of its activities and achievements so sunny and positive no one believes them.

Blogs by individuals probably aren't immediate or interactive enough for the modern audience. Unless my hits counter tells the story of one singularly unpopular blogger. My readership is considerably smaller than it used to be, and my profile as a poet and an editor is much higher. But still I write SP doggedly, stubborn as an old tree stump, determined not to give up. I write a private jour…
Recent posts


Yesterday we learned from the ONS that 66% of people with epilepsy in this country are unemployed. Since the majority of us with the condition can work, and the JobCentre insists that we must work, and since there is legislation which at least officially forbids disability discrimination, what is the explanation for this? Why are so many people living with epilepsy not also working with epilepsy?

It can only be discrimination that somehow goes under the radar. The discreet binning of applicant files. The 'more suitable candidate' at the interview stage. (Sometimes a candidate without epilepsy will be more suitable of course, but are we to believe that only 34% of people living with epilepsy are worth hiring? A candidate without a significant health condition has considerable advantages at job interviews anyway. Some companies recognise this; many don't.)

The terms and conditions of certain jobs also discriminate against epileptics. The policy warehouses like James & J…


Every year atSUFFOLK PUNCH, as its multitude of readers know, I give out an entirely meaningless and unprofitable award to the person who I think has distinguished himself or herself in the previous twelve months. Last year the winner was clear for me. It had to be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This year the choice is a little harder. There are two clear winners, each of whom have moved and inspired me tremendously in their way. So I have decided to declare 2019's Person of the Year award a tie and give out absolutely nothing except my thanks to two separate people.

Kate Tempest (above) has been around for a few years now but I only became aware of her at the end of last year. When I bought her album 'Let Them Eat Chaos' it had an effect on me emotionally like nothing had since 1982 when I first heard Bob Dylan sing 'The Ballad of Hollis Brown'. I actually cried real, hot tears. And I still feel that way every time I listen to her. The poems she recites over music are i…


Northampton band King's Gambit have announced a Kickstarter project to raise money for a new album. They need to raise £2,500 before December 17th (I think that's the date). Can anyone help? Clink the link below to see what special rewards different pledges will get you.And know that you will be adding to the general level of beauty in the universe.…/kin…/kings-gambit-studio-album
To whet your appetite, here's a poem I wrote after seeing the band one day last summer.


King’s Gambit are tuning up on stage as we shelter, cow-like, from the lashing rain. We’re under the tarp of a market stall, our coats zipped up. There’s a crowd of us. I’m grumpy. I came to watch the band, not drown. But over Jimmy’s End, some blue appears in the Stygian gloom. So maybe we will have our show. Meanwhile, a New Orleans-style jazz band marches through the deluge playing. The rain soaks through their clothes, but…

Review: Barry Tebb Collected Poems 1964 - 2016

This book represents 52 years of serious work by a poet of great skill and sensibility. Barry Tebb believes in the importance of his art in an age when cynical detachment is the requisite posture for a reputation, at least in the creative alleyways where I’ve made camp (more by accident than design). Elsewhere, it’s enough just to write increasingly insipid imitations of the generation that came before you these days. Maybe the readership no longer believes in poetry as a high and possibly holy work either:

Armitage, I name you, a blackguard and a knave,
Who knows no more of poetry than McGonagall the brave,
Yet tops the list of Faber’s ‘Best Poets of Our Age’.

Barry Tebb ‘James Simmons R.I.P.’

That’s from Barry’s poem ‘James Simmons R.I.P.’ It’s one of the great pieces in this collection, a paean to a poet largely erased from the histories because his style had become unfashionable and his personality difficult. Armitage challenges nobody; his demeanour and his poetry are radio friendly. …

Northampton News: The Bardic Picnic

This year's Bardic Picnic takes place on Sunday 15th September, that's this coming Sunday, on the Racecourse at the Umbrella Fair Pavilion. The Racecourse is a perfect place for the artists of the area to meet and engage in friendly song, dance and poetical competition. The Bardic tradition goes back to medieval times at least. And the Racecourse has been a place of communal activity in Northampton for centuries.

Unofficial race meetings were held there until 1681, at which point they were stopped because of the number of accidents. As much as I disapprove of horse racing, I can imagine the roaring, cheering (and probably at times dangerous) atmosphere at the meetings. The sense of freedom gained by hardworking people as they watched those marvellous wild creatures charge must have been exhilarating.

Between 1778 and 1882, apparently, the area now known as the Racecourse was called Freeman's Common and local freemen grazed their cattle there. That name has resonances in t…

Review: Once Upon a Nervous Breakdown

eBook from

ONCE UPON A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN is a new book of poetry by John Patrick Robbins, boss of Whiskey City Press. It's a strong book. Occasionally it's an outrageous book (for all the right reasons), linked, if not sequentially, then thematically:

     What would I write about if not for women and whisky?

     Who the fuck knows but I doubt you would be reading my work.

      ('We All Got Issues')

Not all of the poems are about women and whisky. Some are about loyalty. Some are about the trials of publishing. But they're all about the poet's responses (or the responses of one of his characters), to what he encounters: a life lived in the raw, retold in the raw.

And it's an interesting quote, the one above, from somebody who founded a poetry site dedicated to 'all things bar-room.' Is John Robbins admitting he's just an entertainer giving the audience what he thinks they want?

No. But he's partly right about reader …