Gnawa Festival at 20

The marvellous Gnawa Festival in Essaouria celebrated its 20th birthday this year, and I celebrated my 11th visit to the festival, armed with drawing books, brush pens and black pens, friends including writers Andy Morgan and Jane Cornwell, and musician, DJ and all-round magician of London-Moroccan culture, Moulay Youssef Knight. Here’s some of that image hoard.


Sam Lee and Song Encounters


I’ve a new review up on the mighty Arts Desk today, Sam Lee with a quartet of amazing musicians from Scotland and Norway, playing under the name Wind Eye.

It was the last of the Songlines Encounters for this year. Sadly, as the closing words and music of Linden Tree resounded around the hall, an Islamist death cult was exacting its own repulsive encounters just south of the river in the folklore-rich, song-rich, history-soaked zones of revelry and gathering that are London Bridge and Borough.

One love for the true citizens of London, one hate for the scum guard of a rotten death cult.

Here’s a link to the review:

A new poem, Earshot, at International Times

There’s a new poem up on the International Times website, and you can click  here at to read it. Or begin with an excerpt here…

and it is the movement of lovers
that concentrates him, the joy
and the collusion, how they sway
in the dark after the music stops,
when all is not quiet but straining
at itself, as if the self was a chain,
and the movements of sleep are grace
under pressure, the movements of one body
underneath another, the small
motions we recognise in a lover,
nerves, mouth, hands, the eyes,
skins pressed together like pages
of a book we can’t wait to prise apart
with opposable thumbs and rhythmic
movements that move things along
like music does, like West African Hi Life …

It’s the one poem written this year, the last one. Earshot. For many drafts, it was The Movement of Bodies. Started it out of the blue, listening to a new set of vintage Hi Life tunes from 60s Nigeria and Ghana from Soundways (with Analog Africa, the BEST reissue label for African/S American vintage vinyls), listening to the news about the migrations of refugees over the Eastern Mediterranean into Europe, before and after Alan, listening to the expectations of scientists as the accelerator was ramped up to higher levels at Cerne, listening to the sounds of the new Spanish neighbours moving in, the children, the news, the blood in the head and the silence, the heartbeat, the indifference, the silence, why bother, blinds down, fuck off the lot of yous, the singer of the next song, fingers on the strings, the sound of footsteps in the bathroom. I’m walking backwards shouting in a new t-shirt slogan reads How’s my sense of space, the wheel, the hoof, how’s my cum face, my driving, the typeface.

Particle physics meets international politics and West African Hi Life in one Earshot.

draft The movement of bodies001