3LIGHTS : Ben Barton

A few years ago I discovered HAIKU_TXT, a project that aimed to send poetry to subscribers via mobile phone text messages. Since then, SMS poetry has become more widespread, with many poets embracing its form and immediacy. The Guardian newspaper has even explored the form as a literary game, which is reminiscent, of course, of early Japanese haiku.

HAIKU_TXT’s existence was, unfortunately, fleeting. But its founder has gone on to become one of Britain’s most promising young poets.

Ben Barton, a gay poet and advertising copywriter, lives in Folkestone, England with his partner, Scott. His most recent collection of poetry, ‘The Red Book’, made the Amazon ‘Hot Books’ chart when it was released in 2006, becoming their biggest selling gay poetry book. It is about to be republished as an expanded edition by Leaf Books.

Ben’s flair for short, confessional poetry has spawned a host of haiku and senryu, each with their unique, often experimental style. His free, uninhibited, often conversational senryu is some of the best I’ve read in some time and it’s a joy to discover such captivating senryu written by a British poet. Some of his senryu was selected to feature in the 3LIGHTS Launch exhibition, and I’m delighted to present this solo exhibition of more of Ben Barton’s work.

Also featured in this exhibition is an exclusive interview with Ben on the subject of his short poetry.

– Liam Wilkinson, January 2007



The creaks of night
cry out in the midnight heat
as I lie stirring.
– 12.01am





Sunk in the depths
Colours glimmer from the glass
Fish; the tank their stage.





Pebbles and stars
are kissing in the twilight
across a blackened sea.





A dozen red vans this morning
But none of them
the Royal Mail.




Fool’s Gold

A golden nugget
glistens in my sweaty palm
Pure cod liver oil.




The Plath Years

Greenness, darkness
so pure
They freeze and are

the bright stupid confetti
caught in your vacuous
Black hair

The blood berries
lie still –
This bitter kiss

from the
The pistons hiss




From a Room

from a room
of silence

from a room
of pain

from a room
of hurting

by a room
of mazes

in a room
with you.





Beaming out of Cosmo
today, is a sparkling 14-tooth





Crackers snap
Crowned with paper
the Christmas dunces





Raining afternoon
cool marbles blossom and fall
the people scatter.





Plastic figures race the concrete
cold coffee and umbrellas




WALK/DON’T WALK : Ben Barton

Curated by Liam Wilkinson for 3LIGHTS Gallery
All poems © Ben Barton

Please do not republish any work presented here. If you would like to contact Ben Barton, please visit his website at http://www.benbarton.co.uk

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