The Cold Tap Sings

the p-word

Tag: London


Fantastic day at Camaradefest II last weekend. 100 poets in 50 pairs read new collaborations over the course of one day at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, London. Here’s mine and Sarah Dawson‘s. It was incredibly inspiring & humbling to be part of this unique event celebrating the breadth of contemporary [experimental] poetry in the uk. Watch the rest of the videos here.


Are you lost for words? Morten Søndergaard’s WordPharmacy can help. It’s at the Hardy Tree Gallery March 15th–31st.

Picture 1


Camden Lock Basin, London. Photo: louisberk

Camden Lock Basin, London. Photo: louisberk

Here’s a translation of mine of ‘The Bridges’, one of Arthur Rimbaud’s late poems. Taken from his posthumous collection Illuminations, this prose poem was written in London, and I can’t help thinking that’s it’s set on the Regent’s Canal in Camden. Rimbaud lived there briefly with Paul Verlaine, his partner in poetry and crime.


The Bridges

by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Robin Boothroyd

Grey crystal skies. A weird backdrop of bridges, some straight, some arched, others slanting down, or angled obliquely to the first, and these patterns reproduced in pools of light further along the canal, but all of them so long and slight that the banks, laden with domes, shrink and subside. Some bridges still foster hovels. Others support masts, signals, frail parapets. Minor chords intersect, dissolve. Ropes climb up from the banks. We make out a red coat, maybe some other costumes, and musical instruments. Are these popular tunes, fragments of stately recitals, remnants of public hymns? The water is grey and blue, wide as an arm of the sea. ––A ray of white light, falling from the top of the sky, obliterates this comedy.


You can read more of my Rimbaud translations here, and those from Illuminations here.


Earlier this week I took a short introductory class in letterpress printing at the London Centre for Book Arts, where I learnt the basics of typesetting and how to pull letterpress proofs by hand. I worked in a small group of seven. The LCBA teachers, Simon Goode and Mark Pavey, were there to guide us but, most of the time, they left us to it. This meant we were learning through using our hands, rather than watching, which is the best way when you’re trying to get the hang of machinery.

Our first task was to set a short phrase with metal type. It didn’t take me long to decide what to compose.

The Cold Tap Sings (form)

Notice the big stash of Es in the top left. It’s the most commonly used letter in the English language, so there are more Es in a type case than any other letter. Check out a poem which focuses on this vowel here.

Once we’d finished composing our phrases they were locked into a chase, a kind of picture frame, which created the ‘form’ that was carried over to the press. We each pulled a proof and, remarkably, what we’d composed turned out to be a wonderful found poem.

First Impressions

It works so well. I mean, it concludes with a Dylan Thomas quote! I particularly like the humour in the unlikely (likely?) quantity of cakes.

You’ll notice that my phrase didn’t print as crisply as some of the others. This is because the font (Gill Bold) had become worn, meaning that the ink couldn’t spread across the surface evenly. I used a different font, one with a drop shadow, and it came out much cleaner.

The Cold Tap Sings

The LCBA is located in Hackney Wick in London. Their website is here. Their Letterpress Nights course costs £35 and you can find out more information, and indeed book a place, here.