Rob Bell and Graham Hamilton met during a performance of the Scottish play moons ago at the Marist (or was that Marxist) College in Hull – that home of maritime exits and entrances, of tigers and wild rovers, of massive skies and, as many have said, of poets. Years later, under the gas light of Nellies in Beverley the idea of pooling thoughts and notes on journeys became clear. Clearer as the night wore on.

It all seemed to fit with that parallel universe of song anchored below stairs in Oxford and set sail from Du Barrys, way back – Norman Porter and the West Coast of Clare; a Waltzing Matilda so haunting you could sense the heat of the sand in Gallipoli and, all of those towns we loved so well. Elsewhere, back in the Earl as parrots peered, sailors drank dry the bar before the tides pulled them back to sea and another place. But that’s me. Others have their journeys triggered elsewhere. Maybe with Brel’s pulsating Amsterdam or Van Morrison’s gotta go back. It could be Springsteen roaring down Thunder Road. Wherever. Countless times, for those of us who put their hopes in the boats on the horizon; the poets (or was it the readers) lay where they fell and the words fade into the night or return to the bookshelves.

One night back in Nellies, the inspirational and so much missed Michael Donaghy opened up that Chinese Palace of a memory of his and over a jar after the reading his tales of places had me spinning home to write things down. Over time, a file grew. Many friends suggested poems and thoughts that built momentum. Special thanks to Clare Brennan for all sorts of ideas; Masha Afanasieva’s reading one night of Pushkin and Akhmatova; Phil Brophy for an Irish literary travelogue and general inspiration; Fernando Ferrero and tales of Patagonia; and, John-Paul Nicholas’s e mails from a world trek. Then, there are those who are no longer around who had a sense of this place and many more. A personal memory is of Jim McComisky telling of Ecclesiastes in The Earl as parrots “Leared” and, later, Steve Reilly reading the same from Mahon one night in Madrid – with that delivery all his own.

It seemed time to pull things together. Then, Ben Dunn yelled from the shore that it was time to set keel to breakers. Forth to the Blog!

This blog is no more than a start… As Machado said, “The poet is a fisherman … of fish capable of staying alive after being hauled out.” So too this collection of words. It will be as fresh as those that are added and tastey as those that are read. Soon, we plan to launch a sister Blog of new writing on the RihlaJourney theme…

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3 Responses to “About us”

  1. polmangilog Says:

    Hi! I always enjoy visiting your blog, especially when I need to get inspired. Mind putting you on my blogroll? Cheers! -Pauline

  2. robjbell Says:

    Thanks for the comments. Do put the link on the Blog Roll. Any poets or poems that you would like to seee more of? Meanwhile, do have a look at http://rihlaraw.wordpress.com

  3. John Methuselah Says:

    Dear Rob

    It was like finding yourself in a garden of flowers brought from all over the world. You are a connosieur-florist of poems. Truly this blog is unique. Shall send the link to friends who are passionate about poetry. Please put me on link.

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