Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


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.


Rufus (2007)

Hi Melinda!
It’s Rufus!
I’m on the mobile.
On the train.
As usual.
I might be in a tunnel soon.
As usual.
Just thought I’d say hi.
Can you speak?
As usual.
OK Melinda.
Youre breaking—-

My latest publication – Amaryllis

I’m very happy to report that one of my sonnets has been published today in the wonderful online mag Amaryllis.

Check it out HERE

atlantic road (2007)

if you’re asking me, then yes,
I’d call it vibrant,
frequency set at a blade’s tremble
not so clean, a touch of rust but
slashflashing in the sun that trips, slips, collapses
into the split belly of atlantic road,
has an edge
slicing past argos and the eyes
still as the town hall clock
watching from the
scaled dead laid out in oblongs
on icebling,
past yells, bawls, catcalls, pleas, cacophonies,
slits through the bustle of rustling carrier-bags
– froth on rocks, quick legged tides
of skin-wrapped suns disguised as women
proud, fierce as fire –
goes scraping along the paintwork of cars
fuzzed with distorted bass;
barry white through a kebab paper comb,
cuts through beats, through cobbled streets
that spread like christ arms either side
where crackheads sing like no one died.

The Datsun Bluebird (2007)

The emerald plumage clawed at my eye,
bright peacock green, the dent beside the door,
damaged migrant, back from its winter home
like cuckoos do, eyes peeled for likely nests.
Now my phone, buzzing like a robot crow
for attention. ‘I know. I’m on my way.’
although I am not moving, ‘Yes.. Chicken.’
It is! It is! It’s him behind the wheel!
‘OK. I have to go.’ Too late. The slam
is followed by ignition and… he’s flown…
leaving a churned wake of head silt settling
like a shroud of seed on a bluebird’s grave
as outraged pigeons scatter to the roofs.
‘No… Yes… I’m here… Just chicken then?… OK’

Fin (2006)

We had no garden
or words for this small scale event

We could only hold hands
touch the
glass wall of the world
guilty jailers made awkward
by the lack of conventions for
such a ceremony

We cried separately
in different rooms
in order
not to have to discuss it

Barry slipped out in the dark
with a trowel
glinting like a glimpse
of coy in a black pond
to a quiet verge

He may have said some words
as I did once I heard the door close
gently like a mouth

sugar baby (2017)

boy with the wave
you should lay off the sugar
you should
it’s not good
your mother would tell you
I tell you she would
she’d say ‘keep off the sugar
ya little fat bugger
you’ll die before christmas
of doughnuts and pies.
it’s sweet on the tongue
but goes straight to the thighs.’

I tell you she would
maybe that should be should

VP50 – Jamie McGarry (Ed.) (Valley Press 2016)

VP50: Fifty Poems from Valley Press

‘From humble, ‘student hobby’ beginnings in 2008, Valley Press has grown into a force to be reckoned with in UK poetry. Famed for its distinctive, no-two-the-same cover designs, plus writing that is frequently accessible and ambitious, the press is now home to some of the UK’s most exciting poetic talents.

This new anthology offers a valuable overview of VP’s poetry output so far. Here are fifty poems, one from each poetry title, selected by readers of the much-loved weekly newsletter; then ordered and organised by founding editor Jamie McGarry. In these pages, comedy sits alongside tragedy, the surreal finds itself alongside piercingly-accurate life writing, and the only thing you can expect is the unexpected.

Both a ‘greatest hits’ and an introduction to dozens of new poetic voices, VP50 is a tremendous starting point for any readers new to the press, and a must-buy for existing fans curious as to which poems ‘made the cut’…’

Blurb from the 2016 edition

This is one of the best anthologies of contemporary poetry I’ve come across, and one I feel I will return to since, unusually, it contains a number of poems that have stayed in my head and to which I feel I will come back.
As an overview, this is a great introduction to the books published by Valley Press being composed of one poem from each of the first fifty books they have published.
Highlights are for me Kate Fox’s ‘Billy Bragg’s Beard’ which is, as you may have imagined, an ode of love to the beard of the UK’s favourite singing socialist, Patrick Lodge’s ‘Yiannis in His Bar’, a beautifully observed portrait of a bar owner set against the backdrop of the bar itself, atmospheric and evocative, Di Slaney’s ‘How to Knit a Sheep’ and Oz Hardwicks’s ‘A Train and a Fox’.
A sublime collection

Incense – Claire Crowther (Flarestack Poets 2010)


This is a rather intense, though interesting, collection of fatrases, a composition in which the first two lines are repeated as the first and last of the next eleven lines. There seems to be no formal structure otherwise other than a paragraph break between the first two lines and the rest of the poem.
The poems themselves are very clever and vary in seriousness and tone but all focus on the subject of body fat, which is possibly why the format of the fatras was chosen.
It works because of the variety of ways in which the author has approached the subject and the limited number of pieces in a Flarestack pamphlet format. I suspect the concept would not stretch to a full collection.
Here, however, the combination of conformity and contrast has produced a small volume of gems, each distinct from its neighbour but related by length, theme and structure.…

Ode to Britney Spears

Britney Spears! Britney Spears!
You’ve screeched at me for years and years.
It vexes me. I get fed up
So would you kindly shut the fup!