My Process

My poetry writing process is built on an unusual quirk which I thought be of interest. When I started writing the words as teenager, they were very much my attempt at lyrics for songs I one day hoped to sing. They didn’t have melodies and often didn’t rhyme but that didn’t seem to phase me. Once I had a few sets of words down, I instinctively wanted to group them together into ‘albums’ to see what the words would look like once collected together.

After I’d tried this a couple of times, it seemed like a good idea to try and write poems which would compliment each other when collected together and that I could write ten or eleven poems which would all tell a part of the story. I could then sequence the parts in order to tell a linear story or I could mix them up to make it more impressionistic. The collections also needed a name and I found that if I decided what the collection was going to be called it would help inspire some more poems. In the early days, I’d even design covers for the collections but I quickly learned I was not a graphic designer and had no talent for choosing fonts etc.

Sometimes, I’d spot gaps in the story and know I needed to write a particular poem and do so in a way I found really satisfying. Other times I’d fail to create the needed poem and the collection would feel unbalanced or faulty. I used to write 11 poems and then once I had all of those finished, I would know that my job was done and I could move on and start thinking about the next collection of 11 poems. Some some reason I increased this to 12 poems in 2014 and that has been my model ever since.

From very early on in my writing journey, the constraint of this framework gave me the ability to ‘finish’ things and let them be what they are. I think without this, I’d have struggled to let go of the poems or to ever really know when I was done with them. It also throws up ideas and gives me something to ruminate over in my quiet hours.

A good example of how this process has helped me occurred when I was writing the collection Let’s Disappear. I had 11 poems written about how someone can come into your life and really mix things up emotionally – I wanted to capture the excitement, frustration and confusion of one of those types of love affairs. I looked at the poems I’d written and read them through in order but was struck by the fact that which the mechanics of it all were laid out in the poems, there was no mention of exactly what was so magical about the person who had triggered all of this madness. So, I sat down and wrote Anatomy of Longing. This turned out to be a personal favourite of mine and it would have never come about without my ’12 poem collection’ methodology.

Here are the last ten years’ worth of ‘collections’ with links to the poems I’ve shared. Some of the collections are very loosely themed (For example, all the poems on Humbled By The Wonder contain the word ‘wonder’) and sometimes the theme is simply the time period in which they were created but others are much more tightly wound.

How do you write? If you have any interesting techniques or methods let me know as I find all this stuff fascinating!


  1. Looking Out
  2. Beguiling Sirens
  3. Holy Terror
  4. Mayor of Kabul
  5. Best In The Morning
  6. Tokyo Honeymoon
  7. If We Love It
  8. The Faintest Farewell
  9. Our Still Leaping Hearts
  10. Under The Old Whale Bones
  11. Ship In A Bottle
  12. The Wonder


  1. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Song
  2. Oxford In The Autumn
  3. The Window Box
  4. A Jealous Writer
  5. Headlights
  6. Chlorine
  7. Murmuration
  8. Old Poem
  9. In Real Life
  10. A New Constellation
  11. The Distant Lifeboat
  12. Beds, Hearts & Books


  1. A Most Comfortable Prison
  2. The Causeway Between Our Hearts
  3. Cairo On The Radio
  4. Step Change
  5. Ghost Café
  6. Marriage
  7. Holly Hagg
  8. Fracture, Fill
  9. Rooftop Reverie
  10. Song For Laura Lee
  11. Your Way Will Find You
  12. Bury Me At Sea


  1. Bonfires
  2. Lend Me Your Light
  3. Ocean’s Roar
  4. Tourist Trap
  5. Harm’s Arms
  6. The Essay
  7. Books of Blake
  8. High Tide, Low Life
  9. Strangeness & Experience
  10. Jetty Song
  11. Renee By A Thread
  12. Chalk-White Moonlight


  1. Across The Fields At Dusk
  2. The Flight Attendant’s Smile
  3. Wishing Well
  4. The Shipwrecked Boy
  5. I Can’t Save You
  6. You & I, Vampires


  1. Technique
  2. There Will Be Birds In The Morning
  3. Born To Muse
  4. Leave Yourself Behind
  5. Crooked Café
  6. Why Poems
  7. Get A Room
  8. Ride Twice
  9. Hyde Park Winter Rink
  10. House On The Edge of Town
  11. The Truth Is Sadness
  12. Small Victories


  1. As The Power Lines Crackle Overhead
  2. Don’t Look And It Won’t Hurt
  3. Contusion Blues
  4. My Prescription
  5. Shedding Skin
  6. Fingerprints
  7. New Memories
  8. The Upside Down Girl
  9. Songs From The Womb
  10. The Ropes Are Fraying And Soon I’ll Sail
  11. What Have You Done With The Daylight?
  12. The Winning Hand


  1. You Are My Priest
  2. Between A Blue Night And Dawn
  3. Great Destroyers
  4. Murmur Love
  5. The Smoky Night
  6. A Song Of The Wind
  7. How To Be Alone
  8. Traveling Song
  9. The Confident Child
  10. Pillars of Creation
  11. We Walked Along The Walls
  12. Love And Everything Else


  1. Souvenir
  2. Dark At The End of The Street
  3. The Wind Is Howling
  4. Come By My Window
  5. Wedding Undress
  6. For Jordan
  7. Necklace
  8. Silk & Scars
  9. Once For The Siren
  10. The Memory Man & I
  11. Waves Against The Lighthouse Door
  12. A Long Way Down


  1. Cabin To Cabin
  2. Let The Tide Decide
  3. My Body Gets In The Way
  4. Morning Mellow
  5. Swimming In The Lake
  6. Charlotte
  7. Gasholder Park
  8. The Grand Bazaar
  9. We Were Beautiful
  10. Behind The Waterfall
  11. Jewellery Ain’t Love
  12. Your Poem Goes On


  1. Moonlight
  2. Friday Night We Walked Along The Beach
  3. Reading Me The Tragedies
  4. A Jack-knifed Heart
  5. Your Light, Our Youth
  6. Tears and Memory
  7. Close The Loop
  8. Like Lovers
  9. A Place of Love
  10. The Few Times I Felt Beautiful
  11. The Waiting Boat
  12. Who Will We Have Been?


  1. Pocketful of Rain
  2. Remembering The Garden
  3. Where I Waited And You Swam
  4. I Was Young Once
  5. Like Ink
  6. In The Moment’s Mouth


  1. No Stranger To The Rodeo
  2. Everything’s Fine
  3. One of Us Will Pay For This
  4. That Old Sun
  5. Like Air
  6. Strangers


  1. The House Looks Like A Painting
  2. Houses Upon Hillsides
  3. Wow & Flutter
  4. I Used To Follow The River
  5. Cooling Towers
  6. Tan Hill Inn
  7. Trespassers
  8. The Hotel Life
  9. I’m Not Free
  10. The Clock At Gunpoint
  11. Love Has No Distance
  12. Death Is The Only Song (Good Version)


  1. Undertow
  2. This Dormant Prose
  3. Paper Home
  4. I Will Literally Pay You To Abduct Me
  5. Work Harder Hard Worker
  6. Painting With The Ashes
  7. Satellite Youth
  8. Read You Once More
  9. Goodbye Leonard
  10. All The Rage
  11. It’s Winter There Forever
  12. Death Is The Only Song (Shit version)


  1. Farewell Serpentine
  2. A Little Place I Know
  3. West Riding Sunrise
  4. Such Strange Light
  5. Breathe In
  6. Swimming
  7. Life Lines
  8. At Dream’s End
  9. Left With The Right
  10. A Field In Kreuzburg
  11. Goodnight To Trellick Tower
  12. Ashes In The Morning


  1. The Sea To Ourselves
  2. Ghosts On The Platform
  3. There Should Be Bookcases
  4. Mind Tides
  5. Frequency
  6. Puzzles To Speak After You
  7. On A Clear Day…
  8. Bullet Holes In Backyards
  9. Medicine & Medicine
  10. In The Light of The Evening
  11. A Love Experience
  12. Storm Chasers


  1. The Lighthouse
  2. Singing Along To All Those Torch Songs
  3. A Stranger On The Bridge
  4. We Kissed As The House Blew Away
  5. Blues Has Caught The Blues
  6. Heart Maps
  7. The Tailor
  8. Graveyards and Trains
  9. We Grieve
  10. Reflections of December
  11. Night Currents
  12. Lantern Lane


  1. Morphine
  2. A Dream About Leaving
  3. And So I See You Married Him
  4. A Single Finger Reaches For The Ship’s Wheel
  5. Like Snow
  6. Friday Night, Blackfriars Station


  1. Why Do You Not See Me Burning?
  2. Mandy And The Camera
  3. My Currency
  4. Letter From The Lake ’15
  5. Like Tears
  6. Burning


  1. Vicious Allure
  2. Breathless
  3. Free Line
  4. I’m Not Here
  5. Thrill of The Compass Spin
  6. San Tropez Skin
  7. Division Street
  8. Anatomy of Longing
  9. The Civil Wars
  10. This Fucking Drug
  11. The Jagged Edge of Love
  12. Lifted


  1. Artefacts
  2. Calligraphy
  3. Follow The Raindrops
  4. Caligula’s Nephew
  5. Nocturne
  6. This Infatuation
  7. I Haven’t Looked At My Hands For Years
  8. Character
  9. Take The Long Way Home
  10. Great Ocean Road
  11. The Family That We Are
  12. Windmill Hill


  1. Restless Sequel
  2. My Heart Is A Level Crossing
  3. The Hollow World
  4. Been Nowhere, Seen Nothing
  5. Buckfast Bastard
  6. A Prior Engagement
  7. The Hourglass
  8. Tennis
  9. Ocean Freeze
  10. London, I Miss You Already
  11. An October Bonfire
  12. Songs From Wood Lane


  1. The Lies We Tell Ourselves
  2. Notes From Underground
  3. Highbury Fields
  4. Kelvingrove Memories
  5. The Rain
  6. To Emily
  7. The Deep End
  8. You’re My Man
  9. Tiger Mountain
  10. Fire On The Shore
  11. Two Palms
  12. Walking Up Union Street


  1. Dawn
  2. Houses
  3. Learnings
  4. Forest
  5. Ruins
  6. Storms
  7. Ellipsis
  8. Lights
  9. Healing
  10. Accumulations
  11. Alighting
  12. River


  1. Burning Life (Building Fire)
  2. Moonlight Revealing
  3. It Feels So Far Away This Evening
  4. Wildness In Wild Light
  5. The Quiet Ones
  6. Safe Places
  7. Coasts
  8. Hands Match
  9. Song For Sam
  10. A Distancing
  11. Burning Love (The Warmth)


  1. Lost Letter, Found
  2. All of This Not Running
  3. Leaping Years
  4. Whatever Dose of Change Is Needed
  5. World In Bloom
  6. Fair-Weather Futures
  7. When She Looks At You…
  8. Year On The Lam
  9. Melted In The Sun
  10. An Exchange
  11. Whereabouts…


  1. Her Calming Arms
  2. Deep Blue Dream (Force Fields I)
  3. The Clouds of Witness
  4. Loose Eyes See All
  5. Swoon Benign
  6. Capabilities
  7. Fascinator Moon
  8. Sweet Preserve
  9. Torn Apart By Restless Fields
  10. Repellent Motion (Force Fields II)
  11. Rain At Sea


  1. Trouble Comes!
  2. The Divided Self
  3. Electricity of Certainty
  4. Plastic Arts
  5. Tears of a Bitter Man
  6. The Lion Drinks
  7. Heiress
  8. Great Warmth of The Curious Heart
  9. I Still Need Your Hand
  10. What Clay!
  11. A Quiet Night At The Telescope


  1. Conor’s Kid
  2. I Was Laid In The Sun
  3. Lucy’s Song
  4. Friday Night, Baker Street Station
  5. Where Do We Drop Anchor?
  6. The Ritual
  7. Maps
  8. A Waking Life
  9. Pay Day
  10. Little Death
  11. At Tunnel’s End…


  1. A Clearing of Throat
  2. Autumn on the Avenue
  3. Come Home
  4. Can You Hear The People Sing?
  5. O Frost
  6. Unfinished Landscapes
  7. Love, Don’t Choke Yourself
  8. Ancient Desire & All
  9. These Silent Songs
  10. New Year’s Promise
  11. Fulfilment


  1. The Train Is Waiting
  2. A Map of the World
  3. Blown Into The Ocean
  4. Wail Song
  5. The Glow
  6. This Leaving Feeling
  7. Things Half Said
  8. Come To London
  9. Love Is What You Need
  10. I’m Still Here
  11. These Are Very Fine Memories


  1. The Sigh Forever
  2. Rosabelle Believe
  3. No Safe House
  4. Only Moments
  5. Cohen’s Stones
  6. It’s The Way I Wear It
  7. Something
  8. Beyond The Drawn Line
  9. Between Two Hearts
  10. They Always Do
  11. Run Away


  1. Ashes Blow Over All Things
  2. This Solipsism
  3. The Hate Destroying You
  4. How To Live
  5. The Friend You Lost
  6. Sleight of Hand
  7. Orbit
  8. Comet
  9. The Anonymity of an Unfamiliar City
  10. If Your Mind Cannot Let Go
  11. 30 Steps


  1. Kept the Camera Rolling
  2. Meeting of Minds
  3. Dreamworld
  4. As We Entangle
  5. Buried Boy
  6. Shoot Me Down
  7. Winter’s Heart
  8. Treasure of Many
  9. Hush Little Nightmare
  10. Opaque Ambition
  11. I Fear Winter

  1. Restless
  2. The Sea At Night Does Not Rest
  3. We Should Be In Love
  4. Cursive Capitals
  5. House Arrest
  6. Deeper
  7. Two Thousand & Eight, Misguided
  8. I Am A Good Man, Now
  9. Sixty Shards of Photograph
  10. Kissed With An Honest Smile
  11. This Time Will Live On

  1. This Infinity
  2. Our Home May Not Be Here
  3. A Longing Less Refined
  4. Calling Wisdom
  5. Yellow Shoes
  6. Take Your Time
  7. You Would Have Died For Me
  8. Disorder of My Family
  9. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now
  10. Leaving Solves Nothing
  11. All My Love In Our Goodbye


  1. Keep the Camera Rolling
  2. A Thousand Lovers
  3. Fall A Little
  4. Perfume
  5. Those Silver Stars
  6. Spread Your Wings
  7. G.S.O.H
  8. The Clearing
  9. Hungry Words
  10. Hand Me Spring
  11. Twenty Nine

… and so it goes… right back to 1997…

Thanks for reading.