Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Wrote This For You: Just The Words. Now in print.

This is my horrible hand writing. 
This printed edition contains around 400 (I'm not sure, I haven't counted) entries from the I Wrote This For You project, including many from the first book, many entries that were written after the first book was published, and several things I wrote while I was away that only appear here in this book.

While it focuses on the words, it does feature some selected photography at the start of each chapter from my friend and traveling companion, Jon, the photographer.

I hope it means as much to you when you read it as it did to me when I wrote it.

My best,


PS. You can win a signed copy of the eBook, and make a donation to the Red Cross/MSF, here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Moments You Have

You are not what you think about doing tomorrow.

You are what you start to do, today.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I Wrote This For You: Just The Words - eBook

After a a traumatic year, it gives me no small sense of relief to know that as of today, the eBook for I Wrote This For You: Just The Words is available - here on amazon, here on Barnes & Noble, here on Kobo and it'll be available soon on iTunes

The print edition will also be out soon, if you'd prefer to hold it in your hands and draw on it with a pen.  

Here's what my publisher says about it (Thank you for all your hard work Michelle).

"The follow-up to the #1 bestseller, I Wrote This For You: Just The Words presents twice the number of entries with over 400 works from the internationally acclaimed poetry and photography project; including several new and never before seen poems. 

While focussing on the words from the project, new photography launches each section which portray everyone's journey through the world: Love Found, Being In Love, Love Lost, Hope, Despair, Living and Dying."

We made this to compliment the original book, not to replace it. 

The original book was published in 2011 and contains nearly 200 of what we considered to be the best photographs and entries from the project - and because of the nature of full colour printing, it costs around $25.00. 

This contains more than 400 entries (many from the original book, many never printed and quite a few that are completely new that were written while I was away) and only a few black and white photographs, at the start of each chapter - which will cost around $10.00 when it's printed. 

The book has also been divided up differently, as apposed to the story I tried to tell with the first book, this simply groups the entries into what they focus on; love, state of mind or living and dying. It's designed to be something that you find something in. 

The continued support of the amazing community that has sprung up around I Wrote This For You over all these years is what made the first book such a phenomenal success, please continue to spread the word about this book, repost this to your blogs and tell your friends about it too as the more successful it is, the more we can create. 

Thank you for everything you are. 

It's good to be back, 


PS. Here's the first page. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Shapes Left Behind

You should not look for me in the places I once was. Look for me in the places I am now. In soft rain.

On starlit oceans.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Ripple In The Clouds

The hardest thing to do when you go back underwater, is talk about what the sky was like.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The World Falls Away From Itself

If you promise that you'll save the world, people will believe you. And when you don't, people will forget what you promised.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Language Breaks

You've got such beautiful words but none I can eat, none which block the rain, none which bandage my wounds, none which build a home.

Nothing beautiful, which did not work, ever became anything more than pretty.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Wind Blew The Light Away

The world didn't end in fire. It just blew away in the rain. And who can say anything at all.

Maybe, if you are anywhere at all, you can say to someone in Italy, Indiana or the Philippines, "Don't worry, we are on our way."

I will say "Just for now, it's ok to believe in ghosts."

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Very Short And Dangerous Book - 25 Love Poems For The NSA


Every poem in this book has one or more words in
it that have been taken from the NSA’s watch list.

A full list of the words appears at the back of this

By transmitting this book via email or other means,
you are liable to be tracked by the NSA as a
potential terrorist threat.

This book is dedicated to how ridiculous that is.

You can click here to buy it here on amazon.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Truth About The Start And The End Of I Wrote This For You

Here's the text of what I read at my reading/signing in Cape Town the other night. It should explain my absence and a lot more than I've ever said. 

I’d like to ask that all of you forget about what you’re depressed about, that thing that happened so long ago, and forget about what you’re worrying about that might happen and focus on the fact that you’re in a book store, listening to a bald guy with a beard reading poetry. Life could be worse. So please, be here, now, with me.

I wrote all this yesterday at my dinner table. Usually, for a reading, I’ll have something written about a month in advance and rehearse it everyday for an hour. So I haven’t done that this time and I ask that you bear with me.

The reason for my last minute preparation is, I’ve been struggling for a while in terms of what I wanted to say tonight and the reason for that is this will probably be one of the last times, if not the last time, at least for a while, that I’ll be promoting I Wrote This For You and because of that, I’d like to tell the truth for once about where it came from, why I started it and more importantly, why I ended it. I started writing it in Cape Town and this is as good a place as any to do this.

For those of you who have been dragged here by your friends, girlfriends or boyfriends and have no idea who I am or why all these people are here, I Wrote This For You was a project I ran from 2007 to earlier this year. 5 days of the working week, an incredibly good friend, if not one of my best, in Japan, whom I’ve never met, would send me a picture and I’d write a short piece of prose or story below it. The prose would always have to have the word “You” somewhere in it and always start with the word “The.”

At the top of the page are written these words.


I know it doesn’t sound that exciting but it did become quite popular and on a good day, the only person in the world, living or dead, who sells more books of poetry than me, is William Shakespear. Which is a sentence I’ve often used in conversation to make myself feel less insecure but we’ll get to that later.

These could sometimes be quite short or quite long, here are some.


In 1993, just a few short months before Kurt Cobain bit down hard on a shotgun, I was 13 years old and a woman named Meryl was dying of cancer in the cottage that adjoined the house I lived in with my family. My mom and her had been friends since they were in university and as some kind of final courtesy, had allowed her to stay there rent free while she slowly passed. I didn’t really understand death at that point, except that when my hamster died, I knew I was sad but the sadness I felt for the hamster was nothing compared to the utter devastation wrought on my mother by slowly watching her best friend fade away, and I could see that even if I couldn’t really comprehend it.

Soon, time took her and our house was quiet. One afternoon, a week or two after she’d passed, my family was out and I was home alone and the phone rang and a man on the other end said hello.

And I said hello back, as is customary in these kinds of basic, human interactions. And he asked if my parents were there, and I said no, and then he was quiet. And then he asked if the Meryl he’d read the obituary about in the paper was a certain Meryl he was thinking of. And he mentioned some things about her and I said, yes, that’s her. And then he asked me what she was like. And what had happened. And as carefully as he could, he asked a 13 year old about the death of someone he knew, while trying to remain as controlled as he could. And I answered as best I could.

“Yes, I think she was happy.”

When my parents got home, I told my mother the name of the man that phoned and she told me, that it was the only man Merly had ever loved, having dedicated her entire life to the church, but that the man in question had lead quite a wayward life, for want of better words, and that things hadn’t worked out for them. And I thought that was the end of that.

Just so my publisher doesn’t give me a hard time, not that she would as she’s honestly quite awesome, I’m going to read some more poetry quickly before I get back to the story, in case I get accused of short changing anyone and someone yells “But you promised us poetry!”


The next year, I got into high school and it was one of those high schools were if you weren’t on the math’s Olympiad team or on the rugby team, you weren’t on any team. And I discovered that the man who’d phoned our house that day the year before to ask about the dying woman, was my art teacher. And to be blunt, he was quite possibly the only authority figure growing up in that place who actually gave a fuck about me, taking me aside and trying to help me remember dates for art theory tests, telling us stories about life in Europe in the 70’s and making me think for the first time that perhaps adults weren’t all assholes who desperately wanted to a reason to put you in detention for listening to Black Sabbath. And the memory of him stayed with me, after I left school.

If we fast forward to 2006, I was at the end of the beginning of a very awarded and successful career in advertising and I’d just bought my first new car, which I drove to Port Elizabeth to visit my family. On a whim one day, I drove past my old high school, more than vaguely tempted to drive onto the rugby field and do doughnuts until the caretaker chased me off but instead, I saw my old art teacher walking out of one of the buildings and this dissuaded me from my previous course of action, and so I drove after him, waiting for him to stop.
He eventually did next to his car, which was one of those cars where the doors are all different colours to the rest of it, rusting with no real sense of grace. And I stopped and got out and spoke to him. And he remembered me and we spoke about things. He told me what it felt like to be old, that he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to retire and how life was generally, without a single modicum of bitterness about the whole affair. And after we spoke for a while, we said our goodbyes and I started walking back to sit in the leather seats of my new car. Several things struck me at once.

That life was incredibly unfair. That my car and my award winning portfolio suddenly mattered a lot less to me than it did a few minutes before. And that I desperately wanted to help people like him who felt alone in the world and that the only real skill I could lay claim to in the world, was the ability to write.

And in that moment, like Venus rising, the entirety of I Wrote This For You appeared before me, the website and the book.

I think many people would prefer that the story was that my heart was once broken so badly that I spent the rest of my life writing love letters to the one that got away and pretending that that’s what happened probably wouldn’t hurt my book sales but that’s not the truth. I thought of it while walking away from a conversation with my old art teacher. And that’s how it started.

Here’s some more poetry.


And now I must talk about why I ended this.

What I think most people might not realise is that quite often, I was writing to myself. If I was feeling heart broken, or depressed, I’d say the things I wish people would say to me. I think really good art is a map away from an emotion or a map to an emotion and that creating art, allows that emotion to leave the body of the artist, and so this was an incredibly healthy project for quite a while. I got a lot of stuff out of my system.

But as the project became more and more popular and I started getting more and more fan mail from all over the world, letters from kids with brain cancer who told me that I’d help them through the most difficult time of their lives, kids who were just having trouble at school and people who’s hearts had been torn in two, it quickly became the most important thing in my life. And if you’re an insecure, introverted person, that kind of constant validation can become dangerous. You start to crave it. You start needing to know what anyone, anywhere in the world is saying about you at any point in time and if I look back on it now, checking my amazon sales ranking every single morning and constantly clicking on the refresh button on my twitter interactions tab reminds me of mice in a lab who know that pushing a certain button will give them a pellet of food.

Eventually, I started needing to recreate the sadness and longing within myself that had first inspired me to write many of the entries, so I could write from that place again. It’s like being addicted to painkillers, so to justify to the doctor why you need them, you start hurting yourself to prove your point. I started spending my time tearing open old wounds just so I could write about what the blood looked like when it came out.

There’s this horrible equation that creative people can sometimes buy into, which is “No one else has felt what I’ve felt, therefor no one else can do what I do.” Which isn’t true. What you feel doesn’t make you creative. Who you are makes you creative.

I fell in love, consciously or unconsciously with a story about myself, like I was David Foster Wallace, or Hunter S. Thompson, or Hemmingway or Sylvia Plath, all of whom scratched the itch at the back of their head with a shotgun or an oven, or cleared the frog in their throat, finally, with a rope.

It took me a long time to realise that the only story about me that was true, was the one I was writing. 

But it was hard. 

I poured all my romantic and spiritual energy into it and if at any point in time you were in a relationship with me, you got the leftovers. Imagine for a second you’re going out with me, and every day, when I come home, you’re left with the question

“If you’re so good at writing these things, how do I know what you say to me, is real?”


“Who did you write about today?”

Or worse

“Were you writing about me today?”

It took a near complete emotional break down to see any of this. But I did. And I’m sorry to anyone I hurt along the way.

Two or three days ago, the author Iain M Banks was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he released a statement saying that he was giving up writing to spend his remaining months on honeymoon with the girl he’s finally going to marry, and with his friends and family, doing the things he loves and going to the places he loves. And I’d like to ask a simple question here, why?

Because he knows he’s going to die?

Then let me ask this:

Who here doesn’t know they’re going to die?

There’s no book you can write, no amount of twitter followers, no award you can win that will ultimately make you happy. You will only be happy when you start to focus on the simple daily experiences that make you happy. And that might mean letting go, of other things.

As a short epilogue, earlier this year, I went back to Port Elizabeth to visit my family again and I went to my old school. The receptionist told me my art teacher had, in fact, retired and she gave me his address. She didn’t have a phone number. And I picked up a copy of my book, went past an ATM and drew all the money I could spare and put it in an envelope, much of which was money I’d made from book sales, then I drove to the address in the most run-down part of Port Elizabeth imaginable and found a house with the windows covered in cardboard. And there I found my art teacher, missing many of his teeth because dentistry is expensive. And I gave him a copy of my book and the envelope and said thank you and I told him this story.

Maybe one day, when I can approach I Wrote This For You from a healthy place again, I’ll go back there too. Until then, I’m going to try and focus on the things that make me happy. And that’s what happened. And that’s the truth.

I’ll spend a little less time on Intentional Dissonance, a science fiction book that, if I'm honest, is effectively a thinly disguised metaphor for my relationship with IWTFY. The main character is addicted to a drug called sadness, in a world that’s been drugged into being happy and people are trying to kill him. I envy writers who can write about the world outside their window, I seem unable to write about anything but the inside of my skull. This book was a way for me to comment on the world, on myself, on love, on sadness and the relationships I saw between these things. It’s what happens when someone who writes poetry tries to write a novel. In the end, it was a texture and a feeling, more than a story. Something as cryptic and inaccessible as IWTFY was inviting and accessible. And that's the truth about that. 


Hopefully this makes my absence a little clearer to everyone and adds some kind of clarity to what happened and why. The photographer I've never met and I are still the best of friends and with any luck, always will be. I will be back in some, way, shape or form but until then, I am spending my time pulling myself towards myself, sometimes here.

I wrote this in 2007. Someone re-wrote it on a memorial near the Boston bombing. It reminds me of who I once was and who I could be again. I let the world make me hard. I let the pain make me hate. I let the bitterness steal my sweetness. I lost my pride and I stopped believing the world could be a beautiful place. Nothing is more important than these things. And while I am away, I am finding these things again. One at a time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Am Sorry. I Will See You Soon.

Jon's Last Picture.

Dear You,

This is all going to be sad so I'm going to need you to be strong.

Thank you for reading everything I've written for the past few years. Remember when we first found each other? It was so long ago, it all seems like it happened to different people or like it was something from a TV show.

All I can remember are scenes.

Thank you for looking at every picture Jon took. I would never presume to speak for both of us but I assure you, he is grateful for your patronage.

Both Jon and I have things we want to pursue that don't involve I Wrote This For You right now. Most books, comics, songs, movies, all stories in fact, have endings. But this one doesn't.

If both Jon and I find our way back here, we'll pick up where we left off.

I will still be releasing the text-only edition of I Wrote This For You, which will contain the entries that I intended on putting here.

I am still planning on visiting the Philippines and other parts of the world too. I owe Cape Town a book reading and that's going to happen soon.

.. but why?

Because after writing more than 1200 entries since 2006, I feel like I've said what I wanted to say here. At least, right now. And after spending a year on every poetry bestseller list (and only being outsold by Shakespeare most days), this seems like a good time to stop. Even if the book didn't do as well as it has, both Jon and I would still feel like we did what we came here to do. To do something new that hadn't been done and to be able to hold it in our hands (Thank you Michelle).

Because there's a new book I want to write. There's a comic strip that doesn't look like a comic strip I want to write. Because my friends and I all have guitars and we want to write songs together. Because I want to scream the new poems I write into a microphone. Because I want to write a book of poems that isn't called I Wrote This For You.

And those are all things that will let me say new things.

I am eternally grateful for all the amazing experiences this has allowed me, to all the amazing people I met from all over the world, to everyone who chose to spend their time with us.

Thank you for making me feel less alone. Thank you for making each other feel less alone.

I will still be active on twitter, sharing my thoughts and any news, although it doesn't seem right to call it "I Wrote This For You" so I will be using my real name.

I will still post my favourite entries from I Wrote This For You (and any new work) on facebook.

If I have anything to add to I Wrote This For You, they will be written in those places.

If you make something inspired by I Wrote This For You (or Intentional Dissonance) on tumblr, I will still find it and share it.

I will still be here. If you leave me a comment, I will read it.

This is not the end. This is something far more exciting than that. It is going into the realm of the unknown, to see what can be known.

And then seeing if we can find our way back.

I'm sorry if this hurts. I know it hurts me.

I will always love you. I will always miss you.

- Me


Remember, you are a part of a beautiful story that did not start when you were born.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Bombs Destroy More Than Just Cities

If you want to make someone cry, make them think of every person who hurt them.

If you want to destroy someone, make them think of every person who they have hurt.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Nerve Endings Shatter Like Glass

It doesn't hurt because if you keep hurting the same part of you again and again and again, the nerve endings all die. And when that happens, that part of you goes numb. That's why it doesn't hurt. Don't be proud of it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Act Of Living Is Lethal

You forget that even the strongest person to ever live had a weakest day of their life.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Agony Of Being Other People

I keep wondering, how many people do you need to be, before you can become yourself.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Camera Is A Bag For Memories

And when someone takes my picture and they tell me to smile, I still think of you.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Turning Of The Sphere

"You need to spin the world again."

"Why bother? So what if a few more babies are born. So what if there's heartbreak, pain and pens and doughnuts and washing lines. Who cares if there's forgetfulness and a summer and wine and clouds with faces and shapes hidden in them. That's all that happens every time I spin the world. It's all just a bunch of things that happen. Why bother spinning the world again?"

"Because pens and babies are worth a little heartbreak and pain. Because everyone in the world deserves every chance they can get to find the things and experiences and people that make them happy. So give all of them another chance. Please, spin the world again."