Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


Shirt (2017)

Sun comes goes like men
A cold haunting is on me
hanging like a shirt

that’s not been ironed
My justification is
I match the creases

I seldom really
acknowledge the dry clinging
but I know it’s there

It can be seen most
when I am sitting down or
caught in front of glass

I avoid looking
That shock recognition jolts me
like a steam flush burn


Editorial – The Haiku Diary

I have for some time been keeping an intermittent haiku diary. The aim is to write one haiku per day but I find that unsustainable as being forced into it produces a bland product rather than something fresh and spontaneous. They are pretty regular though and attempt to capture the essence of a moment.
One of my current projects is to curate them all in Scrivener from which I can produce a manuscript in date order of all the haiku written. That is ongoing.
I find it very valuable. Not only is it an accessible if sometimes cryptic diary, but has provided the springboard for longer pieces on many instances.
Here’s a couple of examples.

February 23 2007

‘we are all obese’
said the workman in the lift
‘from not using stairs’

September 30 2008

singapore noodles
for my birthday which means more
than gold or false cards

February 3 2017

crocodile rain falls
through the dark miles to find me
make me take it home

A Lost February (2008)

A charcoal scraped sky
pressed down over Alperton.
I could not reach to scrub
it so I just stood still.

Home was calling me
with the mouths of all of its books
and loving clutter
but the sounds sneaked on

buses sliding by
bouncing sunlight to my face.
A child wakes and cries.
Its wail rouses the

sleeping shuttered shops.
This brings a drowse upon me.
Heavy eyes droop as
old men float smiling

into their own past.
I’m going the other way
although I stand still.
The sun goes back in.

Apps for Poetry Geeks – Scrivener

As some of you may know I keep an intermittent haiku diary, inspired by the book ‘The Haiku Year‘ in which several friends decided to write a haiku every day and mail them to each other.
Thus for each day we get five or so random impressions of whatever part of the world they happen to be.
I began my daily haikus in about 2004, and no, there is no haiku for every single day. It seems in the main to be a series of almost complete sequences. Some years are more haikued than others, let’s say.
I am only now beginning the process of collating them all from various diaries and notebooks into a linear sequence.
Here’s one I discovered recently:-
June 9 2009
it were sainsburys.
slipped on a loose strawberry.
only i survived.
I am employing Scrivener for this project. If there was a God, it would be a godsend, although it wasn’t exactly sent in any case and I had to pay for it, but you get the gist.
Scrivener is a marvellous bit of kit.
I initially bought it with the intention of encouraging myself to finish one of the three novels I’ve been working on since the days of amstrad.
It’s made the whole thing a damn sight easier, but alas, one still has to do the writing.
It exhibits far more features than I can go into here but essentially one has folders, which are chapters, and documents within them which are sections of the chapter. The beauty of it is that you can tag each section with, for instance, the names of the characters that appear in it. Chapters and sections can be shifted around very easily and giving the tagging and search functions one can easily jump back to a point you need to check or amend.
There’s also a section for character notes which allows a photograph to be uploaded in case, one imagines, you see your character as being played by Johnny Depp or Kevin Webster from Coronation Street.
One can view one’s sections and chapters as lists or corkboard summaries which one can easily drag about to change the order of the narrative elements.
Once you’ve got used to the process it’s a beautiful programme to use. Another wonderful feature is that, at the click of a mouse you can export your properly formatted work into a ready-to-submit Word document.
It’s certainly made arranging my haikus into a proper linear order very easy.
I would also advise purchasing ‘Scrivener for Dummies’ which I found invaluable in accessing some of the more obscure features. One of my favourites is the character name generator which gives you options of a wide range of nationalities and cultures. These tend to be a tad dramatic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if one were writing a serious novel set in modern Wales, one would expect names to be generated such as Gareth Prydderch or Dafydd Hughes. Generating a list of male Welsh names I got the following
Drystan Trevor
Emlyn Bevans
Trevion Hovey
Llyweilun Mower
Kynan Prichett
Colwyn Charles
Uchdryd Morse
Amynedd Pritchett
Merry Lloyd
Arwystli Blood
Hailing from Wales myself, I can’t say I have encountered a great many Uchdryds or Trevions, but two or three of these names may be perfectly suitable. One can, in any case, generate a fresh list, or mix and match the names oneself. Having settled on a name and assigned it to your character you may decide, after several chapters, or indeed the whole novel, that a better name would do. This can be easily changed using a global replace function. I love it.
If you are unfamiliar with Scrivener and would like to check it out, you can download a trial version and/or read about the other features on the Scrivener website here. I was hooked after a couple of days, having imported my work in progress novels into it.
It works for any sort of writing and can, I’m thinking, be used for organising collections or writing or storing poetry, given that one can tag and filter sections which would give you the option to select poems on a certain theme for instance, or filter out one’s sonnets. There’s a lot I haven’t explored yet.
The only danger or drawback of Scrivener is that playing around with it can be far more fun than the actual writing.
It’s a worry.

The Selfie (2015)

There is the selfie
overexposed in the brash flash
of a voicebox.

Yes. I see that’s you,
The Shard over your shoulder
like the last wing of

a pair divided.
It makes you look unbalanced
all single sided.

but it’s a selfie,
so what if it looks as if
you’ve something missing?

It shouldn’t matter.
It’s not the Mona Lisa
with an i-phone six.

Excerpt from my Haiku Diary 4/10/08

October 4 2008

‘you like zombie films’
‘I never said I liked them’
‘I’m sure you do though’

summer (2013)

summer got up late
dozing under cloud’s duvet
missed his first morning

now sun, no warning
squeezing our heads for sweat drops
fat yellow bully

even in the night
the heat thief stalks us stealing
dreams at hot knifepoint

in evening’s relief
redeemed becomes an artist
stripes streets with long gold

the mating game (2012)

my focus on the
squares is lost. the sun. in my
eyes. diagonal.

my view distracted,
fractured by a clink of glass
as they kiss gently,

for the most part. this random
seating arrangement

is not so random.
jostling for position
is a social skill;

appears unconscious
for the most part. the sun had
blinded me to all this.

now in reflection
I catch swiftly concealed chinks
glint an opening

the glass pieces
form relationships on the board;
knight, rook, bishop, queen.

Excerpt From My Haiku Diary – 2 August 2004

wake up, wash, dress, drink
coffee, go to work, come home
tv. food. bed. sleep.

(repeat haiku till death)

Excerpt from my Haiku Diary 3/12/08

we are cold smokers
all three wise monkeys doing
‘pocket no evil’