Small Batch Poetry
Drunk With A Pen is a book of illustrated poems about drink and drinking. It is entirely produced, published and distributed by Joseph J Clark (with a little help from his friends).
A printed booklet is available, from pubs and cafes in and around Brighton & Hove, UK - but of course you can order online, too.
About The Poems
I love a good drink: but like so many of us, I have quite a complicated relationship with alcohol. That's something I've explored in this collection: often personal, occasionally funny, and frequently sad. I have fun running with the theme and the title, but this really is a serious, heartfelt collection.
As much as alcohol itself, these poems are largely inspired by music. I don't really consider myself a poet (although I suppose I have to now), but I do listen to a lot of music.
My largest inspiration is the "outlaw" country music scene, originating from the Southern US states in the '70s. It's full highly literate, expressive and emotional songwriting - where the songs are hard to discern from poetry. It is championed by writers including Hayes Carll, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Chris Stapleton, Elizabeth Cook, Margo Price - and so, so many more. Among the songs of trains, murders, broken hearts and unfaithful partners, there is is a regularly occuring theme. It is perhaps the most unreliable partner of all: alcohol.
This music inspires me every day - and although Drunk with a Pen doesn't really have a direct connection, I am convinced it wouldn't exist without those artists. Of course, I know many, many great drinking songs which don't come from this scene. But those writers produce poetry as often as song, and they're a huge influence.
The men they caused me problems, and the drinking caused me grief
I thought I'd found a friend, but I had only found a thief.
You can read three of the poems below. Keep an eye on the social media pages for previews and examples of the other pieces!
If you enjoy these, please consider buying a copy. You'll be supporting independent art and life-changing charities.
When beer goes down too easy
I find other rituals to amuse me.
I partook of Afternoon Tea
But that dram of Assam was measly,
And I only take my coffee Irishly;
So I instead I settled on the brandy.
I tried to play the twelve bar blues
By putting on my walking shoes.
But the third bar brought bad news
As it was happy hour for booze.
So as evitable inebriation ensues,
I drink with only time to lose.
I joined myself a gambling ring
To try a hand at poker while drinking
But whiskey slows your thinking
And I walked away on a shoe string.
Gin rummy was very disappointing
Without a drop in the offering.
The only game I can really play
Is to drink my every care away:
I can go all night and go all day,
From Sunday through to Saturday.
I don’t care what Dean Martin say:
This is what I call amore.
The streets are wide with swagger;
Raucous laughter is the fanfare
Of the soldiers of hedonism.
This perfumed infantry patrols the bars,
Watched by bouncers in doorways,
Former servicemen with guarded salutes.
Johnny’s dropping j-bombs;
Richie’s sinking the navy rum;
Stevo isn’t missing a shot.
The boys are out for blood tonight:
But real heroes befriend before fight.
Waging war with their wages,
Counting casualties in empty bottles,
They earn war stories under neon light.
Blue collars and white collars
But not a dog-tag in sight
For the bawdy heroes of Friday night.
Bobby ditched his bird at The Tap;
Gav glassed a geezer at the Geese;
Davey used a sink as a dunny.
The lads want trouble and won’t be denied
But real heroes aren’t born of pride.
These four wall blues
My Earthly ambitions
And I am collapsing
Beneath the weight
Of a heavy heart.
I seek escape velocity:
A way out of this
I want to travel
Beyond the mundane
And into the sublime.
I want to dance
Amongst indifferent stars
Carefree and careless.
So I pop another cork
And let this wine
Be my rocket ship.
Well there ain't no money in poetry
That's what keeps the poet free
And I've had all the freedom I can stand.
Drunk With A Pen is available to buy for £3 a copy.
You can buy a hardcopy of Drunk With A Pen from Etsy for £3 (plus shipping). Proceeds from sales go to charity: if you wish, you can buy a copy for £5 or £10 through Etsy, with any surplus going straight to charity.Drunk With A Pen
Drunk With A Pen was on sale at the following, most excellent, establishments in Sussex.
All profits from Drunk with a Pen are donated to charities in Brighton & Hove. Each book costs about £2 to produce and print - any surplus is donated.
Stay tuned here and on the Facebook page for updates and details.Clock Tower Sanctuary
Drunk With A Pen is proud to support the Clock Tower Sanctuary, helping homeless young people in Brighton & Hove. The vast majority of proceeds go to this most excellent organisation.
In December 2016, £529.61 was paid to the Clock Tower Sanctuary (mostly through donated artist fees and launch party). Thanks to everyone who contributed.
Drunk With A Pen has also contributed to the following charities:
Starfish Youth Music (via The Lamb)
Drink it like you mean it, like the serious people do
If you're down and broken-hearted and you've got good reason to
Since October 2016, Joseph J Clark has taken Drunk With A Pen on the road. From the launch party, to open mics, to opening for bands: the book has gone from the page to the stage in nearly 20 live performances.
Anyone who saw Joe's first open mic at the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham will be truly amazed that he got beyond two. It's amazing what the pressure of 500 unsold books on your coffee table will do for your confidence.
Drunk With My Friends
Brighton, July 10th 2017, Drunk With A Pen and Long Way Home Music are staging an evening of music and poetry at the legendary Latest Music Bar, Brighton.
With music from Hollie Rogers, Chuck SJ Hay, and Robin Coward, this promises to be a very special, intimate evening. Tickets are available from £6 (including a charity ticket for £8, with £2 donated to the Clock Tower Sanctuary).
Coming along? RSVP on Facebook.
Hove Grown 2017
In March 2017, Drunk With A Pen was proud to host two solo shows during Hove Grown festival.
Both shows will be held at Artista, tickets £5 advance or £7 on the door. Proceeds from the show will go to the Clock Tower Sanctuary.
In December 2016, a launch party was held at the Blue Man in Brighton. You can see pictures on the Facebook page (no sign-in required). There was poetry, music, drinking, and people actually turned up.
Drunk With A Pen regularly hits the Open Mic and Spoken Word circuit of Brighton & Hove. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for updates.
We'd sit out on the screen porch
White winos mom and me
We'd talk about her childhood
And recap my carer
When we got to my father
That was when I'd switch to beer
Each of the 13.5 poems of Drunk With A Pen has been illustrated by an artist with a close connection to the author: be they drinking buddy, writing cohort, videogame survivor or gig attender. Arists were given an (almost) free reign in their designs.
Each artist was offered offered fair payment to contribute to this project, although many of them donated their fee to charity.
Special thanks to Rosa Carbó-Mascarell and Carrie Leaver for their skills and wisdom in designing the book; Trudy at One Design for going the extra mile (time and again) on the print; Jules for the extra artwork; and Michael and Becs for the support (and elf-eyes). Thanks also to Hayes Carll for permission to use his lyric in the title.
But now I know that there's a time
And there's a place where I can choose
To walk that fine line between
Self-control and self-abuse
Tonight the bottle let me down
And let your memory come around
The one true friend I thought I’d found
Tonight, the bottle let me down