My name is Tom Fox.
It hasn’t always been Tom Fox. But that’s for another time.
Brought up in a council house in West Cumbria with a millionaire’s view across the Irish Sea towards the Isle of man. This one view – which was mostly experienced too early in the evening having been packed off to bed, has greatly influenced my writing. At the time I never thought Id be writing that sentence years later.
I didn’t read books, I looked out of the window and watched the colour changes over the seasons, the days the hours, the minutes. There are a lot of minutes in an elevated western view of a summer up there. I still do that, down here in Brighton – I watch – I look – I make things up.
In 1989 I decided to leave the pint I was halfway through drinking. Leave my friends in the middle of an anecdote and get away from conversations that always seemed to include, ‘going to’. I wanted to be able to say, ‘today I’ve written something.’ That’s what I did. Folks told me I should, but I had no idea what. The method was simple; get some paper, a couple of pens an empty desk, banish all excuses, and the drink, and start putting ink on paper. This method remains the same today, while allowing for a drink or two.
I’ve taken part in regular public readings of pieces from two [ as yet unpublished] novels. Passenger, and Under the Singer – And readings from, Letters from a Dishwasher. Set in Spain 1995. My short story, Symbiosis, was produced and broadcast on BBC radio 4.
I write long, then take away and it needs to be said that I often write with little regard for grammar. My language comes from people not books. [ I’m sure I can hear my editor friends saying I could have learnt the grammar].
I began to write poetry about three years ago, as an exercise in precision, concision. To my surprise I found that I could say something in a hundred words and sometimes as few as fifty. Initially there was too much navel gazing – then I remembered the watching, observing of my youth. Looking outside of self, while on occasions reflecting back, inwards. A lot of poetry never made it out of the, Magic Drawer. This didn’t worry me, as being a writer of fiction, I had regularly dumped thousands of words. At one time during the edits of Passenger I taped the word KILL onto the delete button. Try it – liberating.
Now I write haiku. I write to fix my head and because I can do this one small thing every day. Because it doesn’t matter – Because it does matter – Because it reminds me that beyond and before I was a dad, I am a writer. I don’t write for anyone else – I don’t write to please – I write.
This growing family of haiku writers have quietly kept me going through a few tough periods. Not so much in what they may say to me but in what they are getting done. Knowing that while I’m trying to put a haiku together at five in the morning, or even right now as I type this, someone is counting syllables, finding a new, better word, and relooking at their world, helps me to simply put down what I see. I see everything that I write. It can be tiring. Less so when you feel other folk working away.
The series of Cemetery walk Haiku in October came out of a clear decision to do one thing every day, rain hail or snow. To write without expectation and to walk knowing nothing may come of it. [ a mention of Clark Strand’s timely book, which I dipped in and out of – Seeds from a birch tree –]
Each day as I entered the Cemetery, I emptied my mind of self, and observed, looked, listened. I wrote what I heard, what I saw.
Being sent to bed far too early as a child has worked out well.
Two haiku: From 3 july, 2020
Sky, a broken bowl
Fixed with blood red thread and gold
Tipped to pour out dawn.
Cemetery , January 25 2021
The size of a speech bubble
Not much else
Sometimes there is room
for one more on the ghost bench
Not today. I walk on