BOOKS (Click image for details)
Once upon a time, in another life, I was Chief Executive of a large local authority in the West Midlands, the climax of a thirty year career starting with a law degree and qualifying as a solicitor. During that time I was involved in writing or editing several public sector textbooks but everything else got put on hold. That’s the nature of the job. The privilege of early retirement changes everything. Now I play at management consultancy and only agree to do different and interesting work for people I enjoy working with – things as diverse as bio-fuel projects in far-flung places, helping dis-engaged young people with the Leaps & Bounds (Inspiring Change) Trust, acting as an adviser to Public Sector plc, being a trustee for Young Orchestras.com and for The Mariposa Trust (which organises the Saying Goodbye services for grieving parents) and running an Amazon trading business called Sparkys. And around it all I write constantly. Hence the reason for setting up this entire publishing project. (For more of my views on writing and publishing click on the radio interview at the foot of this page).
Exhibition of works of Kiejstut Bereźnicki (Sopot, Poland)
Since few people ever go there, the picture along the top of this site was taken at Vava’u, one of The Friendly Islands (otherwise known as Tonga), a place I’m desperate to revisit and about which there’s now a book in the ‘In Search Of…’series.
WILD VERSE is the brand under which I publish and perform poetry of a kind these days with Lee Benson, my so-called Incredible Fake Twin. Lee has also published several volumes of his verse and has his own page on this site.
FOUR STAR AMAZON REVIEW OF ‘BROKEN ENGLISH’ “…this debut collection…stands on its merits, needing no further endorsement than that of its content, which is honest, thoughtful and unpretentious. The disclaimer with which it opens makes this apparent with its offer of “something akin to poetry”, but there’s poetry here, though it might not readily satisfy the purists. That said, it will connect directly with many who’d never darken the poetry section of the bookshop, the simple reason being how familiar thoughts are given shape in these pieces.
The shapes are varied: lists, memorandums and sequences of prose feature beside the more obvious poems. These avoid the mechanical use of traditional metre, though – invariably – they find the natural rhythm for their content and operate within an effective underpinning structure. Unlike much of the poetry that’s offered these days, it’s wholly intelligible without losing the depth that encourages the reader back a second time or more. There’s an awareness, even so, that – at times – an image will “Say more than mere words ever will.” In the same poem (The Truest Picture), we sense the importance of getting the best angle: “Give me a camera I can use with one hand.” It is this selection of the right detail that affords this collection its originality and conveys something unique in its communication of experience. Often – indeed, more so than not – the thoughts concern the author’s significant other and are therefore highly personal, but anyone who’s been in love will identify with the emotions described in this context – the hopes, the fears, the anxieties. There are bold declarations (“Let me walk untouched/Though the city burn/To lie down at your side”) and expressions of near-despair (“If salvation is to come/It takes a damn long time”), but the two that, I think, affected me most were Choices with its “wish not for perfection/But the beloved face/Which always cares” and the admission in Freefall that “In truth it happened years before/…I was free/To know the portent/Of that flicker in my heart.”
The relational theme dominates, but around this epicentre are other compositions suggestive of the potential for diversification. These include observations about hereditary traits and characteristics (My Father’s Face and On Not Growing Up) and the names of places (Villages and Hamlets). Then there’s the feeling for history that’s betrayed almost incidentally in Somebody’s Sad Past, though history doesn’t impress the interesting woman encountered on this museum visit. Playful humour regularly surfaces in other people-watching sequences (Love Story and Those Legs.) If there’s an unembarrassed maleness about these and The Walk, it’s important to state that there’s no pretence of sainthood in the self-questioning Who Am I? where “Lawyer or sinner,/Worker or pensioner,/Father or son” are some of the alternatives considered. Anyone who knows Andrew Sparke will enjoy this collection and appreciate the inherent mix of confidence and vulnerability within it. However, it deserves the interest of a wider audience and the advent of publishing via Kindle and Internet marketing will hopefully secure this. In another context (Geography), Andrew expounds on the “heart [that] owns no boundaries or border crossings.” This might equally apply to these poems.” (NICK WARE)
Action research!(Soldeu, Andorra – January 2014)
Janek critiquing a humourous verse written for him (April 2015)
Working breakfast at Kasha and Fred’s near Gdansk (May 2015)
For completeness rather than because this stuff should be of any current interest, here’s where the published writing and editing career of Andrew Sparke started: