A Very Busy Blog

Click here for An Evening of Spoken Indulgence, at the Hydra Bookshop in Bristol, Friday 27/06/14. Matt Duggan’s regular night of varied readings and readers returns to combine coffee and tea with a syllable or three. I have decided (after much deliberation) to read my booklet Human Beings. In the future I will bring a tale featuring sex mad power hungry ducks and, and further in the future maybe my ‘rap parody of Catholicism’ featuring the Priestly Boys and God. Here’s a pic from my reading at the previous one of these monthly showcases:

Click here for Glasnost-Spoken Word where I and others (including Frank Thomas, Zaru Johnson, Simon L Read, Ceri De Stefano, Johnny Giles, Hannah Van Den Burgh and Mab Jones and perhaps any interlopers that can sneak onto the stage) will seek to move and amuse you. The event is part of the five day alternative to Glastonbury event starting today in Cardiff called Glasnost where music and comedy and more can be found going down (I’d have called the event GlasNOTbury to make a bigger gag of it not being Glastonbury, but Glasnost it is!) Here’s the poster

Note, the spoken word performers being so far down the poster reflects the fact we are on the last day, not any low opinion of spoken word. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!

Solve et Coagula is the bringing together of pieces of art with spoken word. I was one of many writers asked to respond to an image, then the images and the written responses became part of an exhibition/reading event. Thanks Modern Alchemists!

June 5th, read at the last ever Spoken Word event at Tommy’s Bar and here is a pic (taken by Dave Daggers. more pics by him here)


Rhyme And Real Ale returned to The Mackintosh on June 9th (Click for details and to see a ‘report’ on the doings of the night). Nick Lovell made merry with his camera, filming many readers (google youtube Rhyme and Real Ale for the spread of performances, mine is liked to below). Nick travelled from the Wilds of Swindon to read at and document the event. Good man! I was host for the first half and set the bar low with this nonsense CLICK HERE

And in the second half I did an unaccompanied song I had just finished that day, so first ever go at it was recorded (yikes), then warned people about dangerous pets and finally relayed what Catholicism sounds like to me CLICK HERE


Will’s Day at the Creative Bubble in a shop window in Swansea, June 11th, a group of performance artists took part in the multi-day event borne of the words of Ron Savory. The link is a set of pics of my day, here’s me in the shop window doing my thang, roasting behind the glass (pic by Iain Sewell aka Vollsanger). Thanks for the slot, Ron at your event Open…..All Ours 

Thanks, Ron, also for asking people to come up with artwork based on your words. I wouldn’t call myself an artist, but I was pleased to come up with these images which include these two


Last but not least in a very busy blog, I am one of many spoken words bods appearing during the running time of the Apples and Pears podcast described by what you see if you choose to CLICK

Going by these pics and vids, I may need to rest the Ace Of Spades shirt for a while 🙂




Reciting and Singing at the Bridgend Arts’ Christmas Festival.



Revealing Joseph’s true reaction to Mary’s impending Motherhood, the fact that people need a good stuffing at Christmas, Morrissey’s feelings about Santa, Booty, and other crucial public service announcements . Went pretty well and as a result I will be part of a comedy night in Bridgend at The Cotton Club in late January 2014. Yay 🙂


Disturbance Review

REVIEW by Will Ford (Published online by New Welsh Review, print version subscription details below)

NWR Issue 102


by Ivy Alvarez


Disturbance is a precisely constructed, unflinchingly observant, heartbreaking and terrifying novel of poems, a powerfully delivered and devastating firestorm of words. It portrays the build-up to and fallout from the murderous and suicidal conclusion to family life. This family has been bruised by domestic abuse, broken by divorce and ultimately obliterated by the words ‘you can’t keep my children from me… they’re mine’.

Beginning at the inquest into these tragic central events, Ivy Alvarez presents a story told in non-chronological kaleidoscopic fragments of minute detail and raw emotion. These include an emergency services operator helplessly hearing screams and shotgun blasts down the telephone line; a grandmother thinking of buying a carpet to cover bloodstains; the mistress of the murderer suffering scapegoat-hungry media coverage; Jane, scrabbling in vain to hide from a long feared fate, and Tony, a violent control freak, blaming his victims for his actions.

Over the course of forty-four poems, the reader is taken forwards and backwards in time, each poem helping to construct the wider story and often simultaneously offering a snapshot portrait of the principal character in their own words. This results in a provocative array of stylistic approaches, including a dark appropriation of the Ladybird Readers: ‘See Jane run. Watch Dick run. Watch Dick chase Jane. Watch Dick chase / Jane through their house. Dick has a gun. Run Jane run.’

Within this ‘verse novel’, Alvarez shows admirable artistic control and a remarkable capacity for empathy. She has crafted a range of voices that, even in the briefest of appearances, reveal another facet of the wider narrative and another example of just how far the hurtful consequences of terrible acts can travel. Telling the story in verse form creates just enough distance to prevent Disturbance becoming too emotionally overwhelming to read. This method also reveals a terrible beauty within the blackest shadows of human experience.

Disturbance is a fully ‘adult’ book which may require some readers to look themselves in the eye and ask if they would have acted differently from the neighbour who didn’t want to get involved or the policemen who didn’t rush towards the sound of a shot. So authentically self-protective are some of the characters that a childlike feeling can descend on the reader seeking the need for a hero.

Among the visceral responses Disturbance provokes is a sense of helplessness. In this harsh reality, apparently definitive signs of a tragedy waiting to happen become visible only in hindsight. Wisely, then, Alvarez does not seek the moral high ground of pointing out what people should have done or said. Rather, we are offered authentically painted human responses to the kind of events most of us will be lucky enough never to be caught up in. Alvarez does not seek to suggest how to prevent these kind of horrors. As comforting as it might be to tell ourselves otherwise, such terrible acts occur because one person chooses to commit them. Tony’s choice is his alone, whatever means he uses to justifying himself:

Better to be a brute
than be far less.

So common is the real-life scenario of a divorced father saying ‘You can’t keep my children from me’ that Disturbance could be justified solely as a humane parable and warning about the dark places such a statement may lead. But the skill and imagination with which Alvarez approaches her subject matter from so many perspectives also makes the book an adventure for the mind. This is achieved without ever engendering the feeling that it is exploitative of suffering, and Alvarez leaves plenty of room for readers to bring their own imaginations into play.

Each reader will have their own individual response, just as Alvarez’ characters react individually to these terrible events. The timeless value of storytelling is that it can transport us into the lives, experiences and minds of others, and hold up a mirror to our assumptions and moral certainties. Alvarez has taken a long, courageous look into such a mirror. The reflection we see may bring us close to weeping for humanity. But not to giving up on it.