Friday, 25 January 2013

Snow and Snot.

What should have been a busy week was wrecked by the weather and that special kind of evil for spoken word artists; the nasty, hanging-around, chesty, sore-throaty, snotty coldy sort of illness you can do without. In spite of a couple of cancelled gigs and a School Slam, I managed to get some admin and marketing done and managed to rebook most stuff.

So this weekend is the New Act of the Year final where I’ll be carrying the torch for Milton Keynes and Poetry so I’m looking forward to that with that specific mixture of excitement and fear that performers know only too well. Many thanks to the twenty of so friends that are coming down in support.

There is another high profile gig on the horizon and I’ll post details of that next week. I was also delighted to get a mention in the Chortle website weekly round up for a comedy tweet this week. See the bottom of Chortle's Round Up Page

Here’s a little poem about the weather and how we (don’t) cope with it! 

Best wishes, Keep writin’ and recitin’

Mark x

Big Freeze
I’ve had enough of the
Snow in this nation
It’s like we’re been placed in
Suspended animation
Gigs have been cancelled
Meetings postponed
I long for the face to face
Instead of laptops and phones
There’s been too much coffee
And too much coughing
Too many plans
Have come to nothing
I’m going stir crazy
I’ve got cabin fever
I’m drugged  up on Benylin
And let’s face it, we either
Learn how to function or hibernate
When weather turns nippy
They manage it in Canada
So how hard can it be?

Where’s the Dunkirk Spirit?
Our Stiff Upper Lip and cool head?
Give me a call in the Spring
I’m off back to bed.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Underground, not Overground today

So instead of  a nice busy day with PAID things, Mother nature has contrived  to cancel my lovely Poetry Slam at a local school and a paid gig in Gloucestershire. To be fair, I'm quite pleased to be at home instead of making the long return journey in distinctly iffy (official met office term) weather.

If we can just extend the Tube to the whole country, we wouldn't have these difficulties and I join with many in wishing the Underground a Happy 150th Birthday this week. Not even the Wombles would be overground today I fear. I always find the tube an inspiring method of travel as a poet. perhaps it's the close proximity we're forced to take to strangers and the frisson this creates. I love people watching and maybe it's the jumble of life stories that are represented by each person that you see. I sometimes play a game where I imagine the life, personality and current concerns of strangers on the tube: as if they appearance is an actual avatar that tells you their life story. Who they are, where they work, married, single, straight, gay, where are going right now. One day, I will be brave enough to pick someone at random and follow them to see if I'm right. NOT in a stalkerish way. In a brave, exploratory writery sort of a way.

Anyway, the tube has inspired a number of poems over the years and here's my latest one.

Keep writin' and recitin'


The Girl on the Jubilee Line.
It’s too early on the Jubilee line
and too many stations until mine.
The high voltage jolt of caffeine
from two hours ago
has dissipated like
sunburnt mist.
A girl with caramel for skin sits opposite
losing her fight with wakefulness.
Eyes melt, head wavers
Like harvest-ready corn in the gentlest of breeze.
With hair corralled by an Alice Band
she gives herself to the gods of sleep.
I’m dozing too by now, 
Subconsciously counting stops
instead of sheep when a savage,
panicking shudder jerks us awake.
The first thing we see
is the depth of each other’s eyes.
Her eyes ache to close again
which they do as
a warm, lazy smile crescents her lips.
We have shared a secret,
intimate as long-time friends
becoming one-time lovers.
Her breathing settles,
keeping rhythm with the universe;
wave in, wave out.
Later at Bond Street,
she scrums a path to the platform,
the last leg, I guess, of her job-bound journey.

An angular, scissor-faced women
with damp bird-nest hair takes the spare seat.
She is all edges, petty stresses, 
fuss and agitation and we do not connect at all.
I start to miss the girl
whose name I will never know.

Friday, 11 January 2013

New Year, New Book, New Opportunities

So, how is your 2013 so far? Fine, dandy and bursting with goodness I hope. If not, I hope it turns around and comes to heel soon. I have a fairly busy diary for January after a great Christmas experience as I unexpectedly was asked to be a guest speaker on a Cruise Ship. I’ll just let that sink in before adding….to Barbados! 

This was definitely the best unpaid gig I’ve ever done. In exchange for six 45 minutes talks, D and I left Southampton on 16 December and spent eleven days at sea cruising to Barbados. Sadly, almost as soon as we got there, we had to fly back but we enjoyed the trip immensely and I learned some important things:

1 The Bay of Biscay is a Grumpy sod in December

2 I do NOT get seasick! This was a relief as I was the first speaker on the first morning at sea and nothing disrupts a poetry talk and reading quite like projectile vomiting.

3 No books on cruising tell you how to put your pants on in  when the sea has a 15 metre  swell. This should be on page one dammit!

The guests were sweethearts and enjoyed my talks and even bought my new book.  I collated and had printed the book printed in super quick time to be ready for the Cruise. It’s called Somewhere South of Normal and please email me at for details  of how to get a copy with free Post and Packing to Uk addresses.  

So the end of last year was a good one and I feel as if I’m carrying some momentum into 2013. Gigs continue with The AntiPoet in the Rhythm Method Tour and I will be addressing two Rotary Clubs in MK this month. Poetry Slams in MK schools continue as I am working towards the final of the new Act of the Year Competition.
Article here

Keep writin’ and recitin’ 


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Mark Niel is a bad dog!

Mark Niel is a bad dog! Bad, bad dog. In your basket and don’t move for a fortnight!

I have neglected both blog and website so a long overdue review has now taken place. 2012 was a fantastic year in terms of artistic satisfaction and happiness. It’s only that fickle mistress money that has eluded me. So now, I am a proper poet!

The end of the year was busy and culminated in fantastic workshops and Slam in MK schools (for the MK Dons Sports and Educational Trust); a great gig (supporting Jenny Eclair); picking up an engagement as a speaker on a Cruise Ship over Christmas and then finding I have made the final of the New Act of the Year Competition at the Bloomsbury Theatre on 27 January! (As I believe the modern vernacular has it: Whoop, whoop! 
I'm thrilled to be representing Poetry on the big stage and I hope I don't let you down!
So I promise to be good and keep you better informed this year. Thanks to everyone who supported me. I hope you had a great Christmas and may you snog the face off 2013!


I should give more to charity.

I should walk and not drive the car.

I should really join Amnesty.

I should refrain from eating Foie Gras.


I should eat less cholesterol.

I should eat more greens.

I should drink less alcohol.

I really should avoid baked beans.


I should be better at recycling,

Use brown and green special bins.

I should pop less pills except for

Minerals and vitamins.


I should eat more fruit.

I should once visit the gym.

I should read more Proust

Well, at least one book by him.


I should watch more documentaries;

Listen to the Classics, not greatest hits.

I should visit more galleries

And try not to shout “But that’s shit”!


All these things I’ll try, my mind is set

To be the best I can.

Because, like Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets”,

You make me want to be a better man