Performance at Colourscape

One thing about poetry is that it certainly opens up horizons in more ways than you know, not just the words themselves but a whole journey. Poetry takes you to places, literally! On Sunday 13th September 2015 I was very lucky to be invited to read my poetry at the Colourscape Music Festival staged at Clapham Common in London. I performed in collaboration with Sound-artist David Stevens who, remarkably via the bespoke software he created, samples my words as I read them live and instantly creates an atmospheric background upon which my poetry is layered. David’s sampling is on the fly and the sound created  is influenced by my delivery and intonation. I feel very fortunate to have taken part in this festival which ran for a number of days and is in its twenty sixth year I believe. Definitely a big milestone in my poetry journey for sure and it follows my having a piece exhibited in the International Exhibition ‘Poems Places and Soundscapes’ held at The Cube Digital Gallery in Leicester last year.

Follow your dreams I say, and you never know what may happen next. I realise that lots of the enjoyment gained from poetry is from the process of it, the creation, the journey itself and not just the poem in itself, the whole thing is poetry. I performed readings of two different poems three times that afternoon, each one lasting ten to fifteen minutes. It was brilliant to be alongside fellow poets Bo Meeson, Cathy Broome and vocal innovator Jon Michel-Van Schouwberg and a privilege to work with David Stevens who is also a composer and freelance sound engineer. A wonderful experience altogether.

If you ever get the chance to experience Colourscape then I really recommend it, I have never seen anything quite like it and you can get lost in the myriad of chambers experiencing colour in a whole new way. The performances are all relayed by loudspeakers placed so that they are heard inside Colourscape wherever you are,even if you are not in the performance area itself. It makes for a unique audio-art and visual experience like nothing else. Below are some photos of it.

Preparing to read poetry

Preparing to read poetry


Vocal Improvisation set to music, itself performed in a spontaneous unrehearsed delivery to compliment the performer.


Inside the amazing Colourscape.


Again inside Colourscape


Waiting for a performance.


Currently Reading No 3

Every so often the world of poetry throws up something that little bit special which rises above  the crowd. So this proved to be when I recently attended  a reading of poetry by the Poet Joy Winkler who treated the attendees to readings from her most recent publication ‘Stolen Rowan Berries’, a collection of poems themed around the topic of flowers. I’ve only just started reading the poems so I am not going to attempt a walk-through of them but as I dip into it on my bedside table I am already enthralled by the subject matter and not least the skill too.

Although the central binding theme might be flowers this is not simply a book about flowers, rather it reaches out to you about relationships, journeys, memories, experiences and a host of other aspects of life that immediately strike chords and there is a relevance to her poetry that pertains to perhaps all of us. At least this is my experience so far  She allows us into her own world, her own life’s journey and there is something warming to encounter in ‘Mrs Hudson’s Garden’ when we can relish the child-like mischief of it, but also then tarry for a while upon the poking reality of an encounter with the loss of a young friend in ‘May Queen’.

I encounter many skilled poets on my own creative-writing journey but Joy Winkler writes in a way that involves me through poems that really are accessible in which I become involved as a reader very easily. Her poetry stimulates my own memories and I will be forever grateful for how this poet refreshed my childhood through the poem Morag’s Garden which had me cherishing my pets again, yet also cherishing and remembering other dear friends too.

So then, twenty four poems  to be enjoyed and the book also contains delightful illustrations by artist Karen Rossart.  I will enjoy this for a long time to come and it was a pleasure to hear Joy Winkler herself bring them to life. It is also worth a mention that in 2005 she was the Poet Laureate for Cheshire, England.

Stolen Rowan Berries by Joy Winkler. I.S.B.N 978-0-9930247-0-2

Publishers. Sharp Pencils Press. Macclesfield, Cheshire. U.K telephone 01625 612527

Currently reading no.2

I like to find time to pursue something akin to ‘Continued Professional Development’ with my interest in poetry. Hence this post, which is perhaps more of a ‘Continued Poetry Development’. The book I’m reading today is The Lost Works of William Carlos Williams by Robert J. Cirasa.(also subtitled as ‘The Volumes of Collected Poetry as Lyrical Sequences’). I’ve got two reasons for this, firstly anything that mentions lyrical and poetry grabs my attention because of my own creative leaning, and secondly, in his autobiography William Carlos Williams said, “The longer I lived in my place, among the details of my life, the more I realised that these isolated observations and experiences needed pulling together to gain profundity.”

There is, I think, poetry even inside that quote, I mean how gorgeous is the inward looking concept of living among the details of one’s life? The very way of thinking in those worded terms seems to negotiate to that ‘other layer’ which all good poetry seems to possess. It says a lot about him I think, especially how he wrote in a small-detail way. Profundity seems to be something I also occasionally try to negotiate almost without realising it. (the concept of trying to be profound seems saturated with ego somehow, oops!) Perhaps my efforts are more like a journey though through my own self awareness. Maybe my own attempts at profundity is a way of sharing myself, I think it is probably, a passing-on of something. It would be nice to think my kids read my ‘profundity’ one day, although I’d probably have to throw in a free holiday to get them to read my poetry.

I digress, what matters is that reading books like this puts me a bit closer to the man, the poet and what he gave out to the world, his “details of my life”, his way of seeing. And that can only help my own growth and love of writing and reading poetry. I’ll give the last word on this post to the man himself, a quote from the book:

“It is a flower through which the wind
combs the whitened grass and a black dog

with yellow legs stands eating from a
garbage barrel. One petal goes eight blocks.

That’s only an extracted few lines of course, but I just love that sentence “One petal goes eight blocks”. It subconsciously connects me to the concept of a journey, and all living things are on a journey and within each journey are many other journeys. I do find even that short sentence lyrical. The word ‘petal’ is the only two syllable word in that sentence and in a creative writing sense, and a musical one too, I seem to focus on that word, it seems to gain strength from itself sitting within the monosyllabic rest.

So, there we are, me and my book, a rare find in a second hand bookshop with a bell that tinkles when you open the door, another lyrical note on my poetry journey. Nine quid well spent I reckon.

Cheers all…Neil

Currently reading

Poems of the Second World War..
edited by Dennis Butts& Victor Selwyn.

In particular the poem The Shelter (extract) by Wilfrid Gibson.

I love the lyrical language that opens the poem and which continues to unravel the story contained therein, a cameo of life at that time.

‘In the air-raid shelter of the Underground
Stretched on the narrow wire racks ranged around
The walls, like corpses in a catacomb
With brows and cheeks cadaverous in the light…’

What follows in the poem is a lyrical narrative containing a story that is a hugely compassionate boy-meets-girl theme that rises above the ordinary due to the circumstances of it all. The poem is both a poem, a narrative prose and also a signpost to what may matter in life philosophically, all at the same time weaving a spell on me as a reader.

On the opposite page to the poem is a full page black and white photograph of people in the air-raid shelter right in keeping with the theme which strengthens my enjoyment and appreciation of the poem’s setting, but of course you don’t need it to enjoy this lovely poetry.

Enjoy…Neil William Holland aka Soloneili, the poet in the car.

International Exhibition

I’m very fortunate to have this poem ‘The Ghosts Of Who We Are’ included in an exhibition currently open in Leicester, UK at the Phoenix Art Centre in The Cube Digital Gallery located there. If you are interested in sound enhanced poetry, the whole thing is well worth exploring.

On the evening of 10th April 2014 I attended a discussion at the location where I met some amazing and talented people for which I will be ever grateful, and in particular to Curators Mark Goodwin and Brian Lewis of Longbarrow press. Here is a further link to more material

If you are interested in experiencing a truly international range of spoken word, poetry, video and sound then I highly recommend a visit. The facilities are excellent, parking is next door and a cafeteria is on hand. Marvellous.
Inspired by the exhibition and armed with my portable recorder I ventured into Leicester city centre that same day, made some field recordings and created this additional poem. Clicking on the title of the poem will bring up the words and some observations.
I hope you enjoy…



A New Poem

TREE OF DREAMS………… Neil William Holland a.k.a. Soloneili

The sway of the tip of the tall lime tree shows the way to the singer of the song.
Fine free notes play long and short from the tiniest bird the eye could see.
The sway of the tip of the tall lime tree conducts the melody.
I stand at the foot of the tall lime tree ear turned skyward wistfully
wishing I could sing from the tip of the tree such a warm and haunting melody.

When I am a fisherman away at sea I dream of such haunting melody.
The sway of the mast on the lilting sea is the tip of the tall lime tree.
As the sun goes down and the song grows loud I dream on the lilting sea
and hold on to the sound of the little bird I see on the tip of the tall lime tree.


This poem is actually based on a real and very tall Lime tree that grows by the River Dovey in Wales. After writing and aiming for a lyrical and melodic straight-poem I explored my interest in Celtic culture which attracts me due to its powerful mystical and spiritual connotations. Fascinated by the process of combining sound and words I experimented and began to pursue the poem rendered in a dream-like context. There is a strong ‘nature’ element in Celtic culture. I actually recorded a bird singing from the very tip of the lime tree before writing the poem and et voila, here is the collective result which I feel conveys what I set out to achieve conceptually, a slightly darkish but beguiling work that embraces the spirit. Hope you enjoy it too…….Neil.

ps, if the poem doesn’t play you can still listen by clicking on the word ‘soundcloud’ within the widget.

Whales, a Poetry Reading

There is a strange but compelling attraction to Whales for me. I don’t really know why only that it is there and very strong too. It feels like an emotional bond of some sort and I am struck by the way they do not set out to attack people, in spite of much persecution by people. It’s as though they are wiser. Maybe they are the custodians of something. I’m sure the scientist and biologist will give me the cold explanations of their presence, place and purpose, but it will never shake my belief that there is something very special about whales, something intangible. I hope you enjoy this poetry with sound. It is my own poem read by me and the music is my own playing and composition. What I’ve tried to do is impart to the piece something of what I feel. Enjoy and best wishes….Neil I’ve called the poem Thermoclines Thermoclines a poem by Neil William Holland. a.k.a. Soloneili What am I following, this pull call pull of something higher? Rising and bellowing thermoclines mellowing deep subsonic viscous noise, resonating through rib-cages, grasping aortas, whale song. Blues, Minkes, Orcas.

The Works Canteen


The Works Canteen………a poem by Neil William Holland

They’ve closed the works canteen,
replaced it with a vending machine.
Is that mean or what?
Antidisestablishmentarianism, that’s what we’ve got.
The canteen is the church of the people
where views and opinions tower like a steeple
above the mundane drudgery of conveyor belts
and packing cases, lathes and clocked-on faces
all churning and gurning their daily grind.
Never mind, the management say.
Well, we all know if they had their way
longer hours and less pay would be the norm,
and that’s how unions were born
by workers getting together, in canteens!
Workers fed up and at the end of their tether
who stood up to be counted, demanded to be seen
and the very heart of this movement beats in the works canteen.
Well, they’ve closed it
and now a Kit Kat is C4,
a packet of crisps the button before
and already it’s so worn you can’t make it out.
In this day and age no-one gives you nowt
and now you can’t even meet over a cuppa to talk about it.
So excuse me if I don’t wish the boss a Merry Christmas,
he’s unapproachable, distant and aloof
and I for one hope the reindeer miss his roof
but just in case Dear Santa,
give him a sour lemon,
and address the gift tag to Mr Mean.
He’s the Christmas pudding who’s closed the works canteen.



Nowadays we know better.
In those days it was simply the matter
of fact way in which we spent summer,
My older brother and his mates
taught me the ways,
although now I do know better.

In those days we would gather and hide
beneath trees at the sides
and in the corners of fields.
My older brother would climb up
disappearing into the leaves
then climb down with an egg.
Not in his hand nor in his pocket,
but cradled in his mouth.

Only one egg was ever taken from any nest,
and in its place a pebble laid to rest.
He would use hawthorn to make a hole
at each end of the egg, one larger than the other.
My brother would blow through the smaller hole
and the contents would be emptied.

The emptied egg was placed in a cardboard box
half full of cotton wool.
We would gather, secretive friends
partly wild in our ways,
marvelling at the marbling
on the shell.
Nowadays I do know better.

Blackbird, robin, thrush, wren, whatever?
My brother and his mates
knew their names in Latin to the letter.
We were all a natural part of the countryside,
but nowadays I’m sure we know we should know better.

A poem by Neil William Holland, a.k.a. Soloneili…thepoetinthecar

Hope you enjoy.


Hello, this is a poem I wrote and recorded about one of my grandchildren. I hope you enjoy.


In the hierarchy of sound
I place the ticking
of my late grandmother’s clock
as middle C.
The purring of Sooty
her black cat sits
somewhere below,
Its meow sits considerably higher,
as do all the sounds of Noah,
my grandson
now three months old.

Asleep on the smokey rag rug
the crackling pops and whistles
of the coal fire reassure,
as do the buttons, buckles, and RAF wings
I play with in their cream coloured tin.
I effortlessly slide from my childhood
to Noah’s as he lies listening.

I have no ticking clock for him.
Only my low grandfather voice,
and my burning desire to ensure
his life is full of music and me,
desperate to be his middle C,
wishing for him,
a world of beautiful polyphony.

poem by Neil William Holland. a.k.a. Soloneili