Featured post

Words on the table - A new book review

Friday, 18 February 2022

Words on the table - A new book review


                                 Words on the table, Jim Potts

A gratifying new review of my book, provided by Edmund Marsden in California. 

Thank you Edmund!

"You will enjoy this rich and stimulating collection of poems and in doing so get to appreciate and admire its author–his curiosity and commitments, his talent for friendship, and his gift for succinct and telling expression.  

Jim Potts has led a varied and much-travelled life. His generous sympathies encompass family and numerous friends, places, politics, literature and art, and music–especially jazz. He makes them all the subjects of his work. His gift lies in accurately capturing his states of mind as he responds with a clear eye to the kaleidoscope of encounters that have made up his life.  

He uses poems like diary entries to track his experiences of a wide range of countries, mostly in Europe and Africa, and to record his efforts to embrace their cultures. He was privileged through his work as a cultural diplomat to meet and befriend many scholars, artists and poets. His work chronicles the twists and turns in his emotional life, his political convictions and his encounters with an astonishingly rich variety of people and places, not least his joy and relief in returning to the freedom and security of home. 

Jim Potts always strives for clarity and directness of expression in his own in poetry and prose as well as in his many sympathetic translations from poets he has known and admired. 

The moving section he has called ‘Facing off the thought police’ contains poems which record Jim Potts’ responses to living and travelling in authoritarian regimes or those where freedoms were curtailed but writers and artists nevertheless found means to express themselves. The years that perhaps marked him more than any others were those spent working in the former Czechoslovakia between 1986 and 1989. Later he was able to examine the 1,400 banal pages of his Czechoslovak Secret Service file compiled in ironic counterpoint to his own poetic record. 

Above all, Jim Potts cares about his readers. He works hard to keep them close through his informative and enjoyable notes which provide background to his travels, explain references he thinks might be unfamiliar, and introduce you to the array of fascinating individuals he writes about".

Some of these review comments were used in this article by Karen Bate in West Dorset Magazine, February 25, 2022:

Monday, 7 February 2022

Australian Art Collection

Queenie McKenzie, "Juidi Juidi Jah"

Queenie McKenzie, "Argyle Diamond Mine Country"

Rosie Karedada, Wandjina Print

Rosie Karedada, Wandjina Print

Lily Karedada, Wandjina bark painting

Mithinarri Gurruwiwi, "Wititj - Olive Pythons"
 (or "Ancestral File Snakes") bark painting

Lily Kardedada and Mithinarri Gurruwiwi

Janice Murray, ochres on canvas

Aileen Henry, "Magpie Goose"

Peter Nabariambari, "Sugarbag Man (Dreaming Story", etching

Judy Watson, "Swimming in Blood", etching

Judy Watson, "Our Skin in Your Collection", etching

Harry Wedge, "You don't know nothing about us"

Harry Wedge

Harry Wedge text to accompany pair of paintings

Monday, 24 January 2022

Ukraine: International Tensions. Kyiv. Kiev. Cultural Relations

Thirty years ago I visited Kyiv, Ukraine, at the invitation of the Rector of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. I was given a warm, friendly welcome on a cold, snowy January day. I was there to negotiate the hosting and opening of a modest British cultural relations and English language teaching facility, which the Institute had requested.

The British Council started operations in Kyiv in 1992.

I have never liked the term 'soft power' but it is certainly preferable to 'hard power', to the international tensions created by unpredictable behaviour or aggressive use of the language of hard power. 

From Chatham House, February, 2021:


"Britain’s high-quality education, vibrant research institutions and diverse eco-system of culture are often cited as pillars of its ‘soft power’ appeal".

"The example of Ukraine demonstrates the UK’s soft power delivers. According to a survey conducted by IPSOS Mori in 2020, the UK government and its institutions rank first in terms of trust among young people in Ukraine. Among younger Ukrainians, 74 per cent say they believe the UK supports and encourages values important for the 21st century, such as environmental awareness, equality of rights, and world peace".

I was interested to read this FCDO blog posting from July 2019:


Saturday, 15 January 2022


A tame and friendly blackbird at our front door. 

We chatted for a while, until he lost interest. 

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Colin MacInnes, The Parthenon Marbles, 1957


"Greeks and Vandals", a controversial dialogue about the Parthenon Marbles, first published in Twentieth Century, July, 1957.

Republished by MacGibbon & Kee, 1961 and in Penguin Books,1966 (as England, Half English, A Polyphoto of the Fifties, with a new introduction by the author).

Saturday, 18 December 2021

Theodorakis, Britten and Bob Dylan: Poetry as Song

Just published: my illustrated article on Poetry and Song, Theodorakis, Britten and Bob Dylan:


From ISSUE no. 5 of C.20 - an international journal. 

"This issue commemorates the late Mikis Theodorakis with an essay "POETRY AS SONG" by Jim Potts, who attended many concerts by Theodorakis in the 1970s and has been professionally involved with the composer's works. He celebrates Theodorakis' compositions for voice in the context of Benjamin Britten and Bob Dylan".