Next 2010 blog, from Paris.


Wurmfest was a relative success. I’ve still to upload photos & recordings.

image: em on a chair

It was a team effort, although, being out of work, I did most of the organisation. Those months were extremely busy. Wurmfest took time away from poetry and photography. I still have poems to transcribe. I wasn’t relaxed enough to produce output as good as it should have been. Most annoyingly, I found myself out of emotional equilibrium.

Just to add to the complexity, in the two weeks before wurmfest, I found myself attending job interviews, including one abroad.

But, fortunately, most of the organisation worked out, so problems at wurmfest were resolved (mostly). The one problem beyond our control was the venue, which was a mistake: the promised toilets weren’t there, the place was colder than it could have been.

Before the weekend, we all promised none would ever run another poetry festival again. Afterwards, during the buzz, I thought perhaps I might reconsider. Now the buzz has faded, I doubt it. But, fortunately, it’s no longer my problem….


C++ and concepts

There’s a new revision of the C++ programming language being defined. It includes a good number of improvements, some of which have already made their way into contemporary compilers.

Concepts were the most interesting and powerful expansion of the language that dealt with the worst linguistic problem, the consequences of template errors. They introduced a new … er … concept … providing a very powerful mechanism to define … er … concepts. Ok, ok, I’ll stop playing; concepts allowed templates to be defined according to real world properties of types.

image: leaves in winter sun

But they were dropped.

I really do think this decision to drop concepts was a grave mistake. In my opinion, as a C++ practitioner, it would have been far more sensible to delay the new specification by a year to get concepts right than to drop them and reduce the new specification to a glorified bunch of (sometimes very powerful) tweaks.

Now, let’s be straight, they were not the most important enhancement: in my view, that gold star belongs to move semantics, which can potentially significantly increase the efficiency of an already highly efficient language. Other tweaks, such as lambda functions, are, so far as I can see, glorified semantic sugar; nothing wrong with that, they’re just not that important.

Concepts introduced a new dimension of linguistic expression which none of the other enhancements do; that’s why I describe the others as tweaks. They were seminal. I was looking forward to exploring the power of concepts in new projects.

The reason why they were dropped was because they had problems, which needed additional work and more time to resolve. Had such problems occurred for a minor enhancement to the language, then I’d have supported the decision; getting the specification out within the timescale is important. But getting the specification out within the timescale by castrating it’s seminal enhancement (sorry, can’t resist the biological definitions) is a mistake. It’s like releasing a music sequencer software without music editing.

Bring back concepts!

PS Posting a C++ comment on Friday 13th is not a coincidence.


again, word

image: graffiti and demolition

Set up a document, go to a specific page, hit paste, and watch Word 2007 paste the text to a quite different page. I have good reason to want the poem on Page 15, where I paste it, and I am extremely annoyed Word puts it on Page 14, where I don’t paste it. What’s the bloody point?

I have never had a version of Word that worked properly; there’s always something wrong. Yet this product doesn’t just sell, it dominates the market. I can only think monopolistic abuse.

It is so damned frustrating, trying to create a programme for a festival, to have all these damn products so completely fuck up. Open Office pastes the material in the right place, hooray, but destroys the formatting, so is as useless. Abiword screws up the fonts.

Are there any word processing products that can actually do what they pretend to do? Well, actually, yes, I think there might be. I’m going to download another sample copy of the old faithful, Word Perfect. If it can do this job without screwing up, it gets bought.



I’ve recently been complemented on my photographs. I particularly appreciate the comments from visual artists, including graphics designers.

But I have problems with photography.

I find that dratted rectangle a nasty constraint. Poetry does not have the same kind of enforced hard edged limit; poetic form is about the arrangement of words. The limits of the presentation technology do not limit the essential poem.

image: wet leaf on pavement

None of my photographs are original. Every image I’ve created is an image I’ve seen, remade. I’ve developed no original form. I’m not sure I can. I’m not even convinced it’s possible. Of course, standing back, new form will happen, someone somewhere will revolutionise photography: but I have no clue. This is ironic, perhaps, given the current revolutions in photographic technology.

I have created original form in poetry, or so I believe. That’s why I concentrate on poetry, and will continue to do so.

All the same, I am going to pursue my photography. Anyone who looks closely will see myriad technical flaws. I’ve often exploited those errors when creating images, but usually those flaws were unintentional. That is poor technique.

Photographic society members often produce technically superb images, and as such they can teach me a lot. However, their taste seem conservative, dull even. I witnessed a debate recently on photographing statues; it was entirely pre–1962, pre–Campbell’s Soup, pre–Warhol. That is archaically conservative. I shall avoid them, just as I avoid poetry workshops.

image: leaves reflected in water

If I’m going to develop my photography artistically, I need to find innovative photographers, the avant garde perhaps. This returns me to my second point above. I suppose all this only really reflects the deep lack of innovation in my own photography.

I have ideas on how to battle that damned rectangle. Perhaps I should pursue them aggressively, pin them down. I have used one stolen idea quite successfully, corrupting the horizon.

There should be startling things happening. New technologies are revolutionising photography, and I don’t mean digital cameras, as brilliant as they are. The real change is software, products such as Studio Artist, which vanish the line between photography and paint stick arts. If someone wants to create a specific image, whether (s)he does so using camera and software, or paint stick and software, the technology used to produce the image becomes unimportant compared to the image itself. The distinction is reducing, and I suspect the differences between the visual arts will eventually reduce to a continuous scale. It’s not there yet, you can’t print texture, for example. But eventually, perhaps, photography, painting, drawing, etc., will appear different forms of the same art.


image: building in canal


I’m hacked off with the language convolutions needed to separate you singular and you plural. It’s worse than using they instead of he or she to avoid gender sleights—at least you can write (s)he, even if you have to say the ugly he or she.

I’ve heard people use you singular, you plural, you all, you’ll, yous, many words to distinguish between the two meanings. All of them feel ugly and convoluted to me.

I’d prefer to restore the made for purpose word, thou.

I’ve been told people can’t get their head around thou, thee, thy and thine, even though they’ll happily use the rhyming I, me, my, and mine. But I do see their point; trying to work out which to use when can badly interrupt a conversation. However, all it needs is a little practise, and it’ll soon become automatic.

I’m not so sure about the various second person verb forms, though. In parts of Yorkshire, and no doubt other places in the world, thou never died, and you hear people saying “thou art”, “thou ist”, etc. (actually, you hear ”thou’rt“, ”thou’st“). To me, it’s all gloriously simple, it works, and I use them occasionally myself even though my entire time in South Yorkshire, beyond travelling through, adds up to about two weekends.

But I may grasp thou because I was schooled in Shakespeare; I learnt it in my childhood. I suspect those many peoples across the world who learn English as a second language don’t get introduced to Shakespeare, don’t get introduced to thou. Asking them to fully grasp all the second person verb forms might be optimistic. I don’t think this is such a problem, because just using thy, thee, thy, thine with the you verb form would still be clear, would restore a useful elegance.

And if thou returned, that’d create a good momentum to come up with a neutral word to mean he, she, or it, however the honoured being defines him / her / itself, and considers free of sleight. I think I’d plump for the old English word that carried that meaning, which still does in sibling languages such as Dutch: he. Hey, we could cheat, and literally swipe the Dutch for he, hij, pronounced hey (hehehe …).


image: pond in rain


Wurm im Apfel, the poetry series Kit Fryatt, Aaraon Copeland and myself set up at the end of last year, ran a fairly successful series of readings, or so I like to think. It has led to wurm press and wurmfest.

Wurm press has published a couple of chapbooks, with some very interesting ones coming, but we want to grow it into a small but solid publisher of innovative poetry books. The first book, the prototype, is mine: as such, it doesn’t matter so much if it all goes horribly wrong. It’s antwerp, and I’m ready to order the first big batch, including the half dozen that must be sent to the official libraries. I’m just waiting for the print–on–demand people to offer one of their occasional discounts. If this all works out, then we might have a significant publication to follow.

Wurmfest is coming along nicely, despite the panics and worries about poets, despite my fear that it’s a sandcastle and conference chaos is the high tide. I’m playing project manager, which is fun, something I haven’t done for 20 years. It seems to be going quite smoothly, which no doubt means I’ve not noticed chaos’s sea–alligators gleefully prancing ashore.

Wurm im apfel will be back in spring with more events, we hope.


image: bike at night


I spent most of September rebuilding arts & ego for songlight, the new design.

Songlight retains key design elements from expression not convention, its predecessor. I’m no designer, so I accept it’s amateur—without too much amateur horror, I hope. Even so, expect many anti–horrid tweaks as the design settles.

I’ve licensed songlight’s stylesheet under the GPL. Currently, it’s changing frequently. Once it’s stable, I’ll make it properly presentable.

Songlight’s core font is DejaVu, itself based on Bitstream Vera. There’s more information on all fonts used in about arts & ego.


image: glass in the porterhouse


i bought
unwatch DVDs


In Brugge
old hero can’t pay tower fee
penny under culture clash

but young hero admit meal
schadenfreude sans fun

Hot Fuzz
sharp photography detail
no In Brugge background

the hero’s relocate
all staff cliché scene
semi–circle party hat wait

why not see a face
try not to smile


image: scan of moldy slide

new fotos

My last few weeks scanning old negatives and slides had me reconstruct this site’s photography. There are 31 new galleries, 23 old material.

The scanning revealed a wee disaster: mold found my slides and had a jolly meal. Some wreckage is rather pretty. I’ve restored a few images digitally; many are irrecoverable. I’ve ordered specialist cleaner, but I’m not confident it can squomble so much ugh.

I’ve been out with the camera. Eight galleries are new material. I’m not back at my old best, but I’m getting better.


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