A Wild & Precious Life – recovery anthology

October 10th brought a special writing acceptance for me: a prose poem, the first I’ve ever sent out, and one with a shed-load of meaning for me.

I spent the ten years between 2001 and 2011 working in homelessness and drug work, as a support/advice/advocacy worker, mostly with street homeless people.

I worked with some special people. Lots of them died. The average life expectancy of a homeless person in the UK is 47. For women, it’s 43. Some of the stories I couldn’t tell you, because they’re just too hard to hear. Maybe one day I’ll write them, if I can disguise the details enough to protect privacy. Sometimes, for some of them, it felt like it was only us who carried their memory. I don’t know if that was true. Maybe we were just presumptuous. I know that there are faces I will never forget.

A Wild & Precious Life anthology is a wonderful project bringing together prose and poetry written by people who have experience of recovery in many different forms. We have our own family story, which didn’t end in recovery, and that has reached into the future and touched everything, for us.

The prose poem I wrote, though, was a gathering up of the hope I tried to carry on behalf of the incredible humans I worked with out there – people with creativity, quirkiness, compassion, energy, ideas, intelligence, anarchy, morality, brokenness, the bleakest of pasts, humour, anger, hurt, kindness; a wild take on life, or a desperate need to fit in somewhere, anywhere. All of these and so much more.

There was always hope, for every one of the people we worked with, even if sometimes it was hard for them or us to catch a hold of it and keep it.

The poem is named for a special guy I had the privilege of keyworking for a while. Kind, shy, soft-spoken, intelligent, sensitive, full of respect for others, facing life with quiet courage and the gentlest of humour. Unassuming and undemanding.

Many of us still remember you, Matt. You were one of the good ones. Wish you were here.


Reflex Fiction Comp – First Prize

Reflex Fiction Comp – First Prize

I won a thing! I’m pretty happy about it (for which read super-delighted; might have jumped up and down in the street a bit).

The inspiration for this flash came from reading about the Apollo missions and the experience of the astronauts who first saw the ‘Earthrise’ over the horizon of the moon. One of them described their view of space as being entirely monochrome, and the Earth as an incredible, bright spot of colour. It was moving to read his reaction. I searched for some of the mission transcripts and they were fascinating. I couldn’t find a way into the story, though, until I was thinking over a prompt on an online Kathy Fish course (and if you haven’t done a Fast Flash course with Kathy, stop reading now and go and sign up for the waiting list. Then you can come back.)

I’m so grateful to Vanessa Gebbie for choosing this story.

You can read it here: Fly Away Home – Reflex Fiction


One In Twenty-Three Translated Into Vietnamese – Published in Hanoi Moi

1 in 23

Earlier in the year I received a message from the award-winning poet and translator, Nguyen Phan Que Mai . She had read the story that won the Bath Flash Award and been moved by it in ways that I can’t paraphrase because it’s a bit too raw. She wanted to translate it into Vietnamese and submit it to the national newspaper, Hanoi Moi. Ad-hoc Fiction, the Bath Flash Award publishers, kindly gave permission and Hanoi Moi accepted it immediately. It was published on 27th May 2017. The commission from it has gone to a scholarship programme that helps children from poorer backgrounds in Vietnam continue in education. Que Mai talks about the publication in an interview for the Bath Flash Award, here.

Bath Flash Fiction Festival 2017


reading 2

I was honoured and terrified in roughly equal measure to be asked to read Sleep Is A Beautiful Colour at the launch of the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology at the June 2017 Flash Fiction Festival in Bath. Several of my flash-writer heroes were in the audience of over 100 writers. Patient NFFD co-director Tino Prinzi helped calm my nerves, and in the event it was actually really fun. Lots of people laughed in the right places. I’d definitely do it again.


Sleep is a Beautiful Colour in Tino’s Top Ten List of Funny Flash for SmokeLong

sleep is a beautiful colour.jpgSleep Is A Beautiful Colour, my story chosen as the title for the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2017, was included in Tino Prinzi’s Top Ten Funny Flashes selected for this article at SmokeLong. This was all kinds of awesome. Thanks, Tino!  http://www.smokelong.com/flash-fiction-day-top-ten-santino-prinzis-favorite-funny-flashes/