Online internet courses by Call of the Page

Are you interested in a Call of the Page course? We run courses on haiku; tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email Karen or Alan at our joint email address:
We will let you know more about these courses.

Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Standing Up For Freedom, Matthew Hammond, the Stand Up Philosopher

Matthew Hammond, the Stand Up Philosopher, presents a unique show, following the course of the over-used concept of freedom. 

From ancient times to modern thinkers, the history of the idea is traced in a sequence of inspirational performances that unpick the concept that we think we know so well, and show it in a new and fascinating light.

Always powerful, sometimes hilarious and at times shocking, philosophies are shaken from their covers and brought vividly to life as Matthew Hammond jumps about, making theatre out of all those books you meant to read but never got around to...

"Dynamic, dangerous and highly original."
performance poet and Wondermentalist Liv Torc.

"When something special comes along, and you might not have the chance to witness it ever again, you've got to get your skates on, and catch it!"
 Alan Summers, With Words (Director)


At the Northcott Theatre Exeter as part of the Laugh Out Loud Festival:
Sun 3 February 2013
8pm in the Theatre Bar

Tickets: £7.50
Concs: £5 
Age: 12 yrs+
Running Time: 2hrs
Box Office: 01392 493493

And at the Bierkeller Theatre in Bristol on Monday 18th February:

Standard Seated      £8.50    
Concession Seated  £7.00
Doors & bar open: 19:30
Show starts: 20:00

Lots of cool quotes and weblinks and YouTube further below!

Matthew Hammond the Stand Up Philosopher is presenting a new show 
called Standing Up for Freedom. Matthew is an exceptional and one-of-a-
kind performer. Original yet historical, profound yet entertaining, he 
has built up an audience for Stand Up Philosophy at Taking the Mike at 
the Exeter Phoenix, has showcased it across the south including at 
Bristol's Acoustic Night, Oxford's Catweazle Club, and Covent Garden's 
Poetry Cafe, and has appeared at many festivals including sets at the 
HowTheLightGetsIn Festival of philosophy and music in Hay-on-Wye, and 
the PowWow LitFest in Birmingham.

This new full length show charts the concept of freedom from Ancient 
Greece to the present day. Ideas are shaken from their covers and 
brought alive. Each piece involves condensing a philosopher's main 
dilemma or a philosophical text's main tenet from the history of the 
philosophy, often with the idea or the philosopher personified with a 
mixture of theatre, storytelling, charismatic lecturing and dramatic 
monologue, all to illuminate the present in a devastating new light or 
sudden beautiful clarity.

Each piece is a unique adaptation / interpretation of an idea / 
original text performed by a professional storyteller (he is also one 
half of Widsith and Deor Storytelling Theatre who have performed at 
numerous festivals including Glastonbury, the Big Chill, Sunrise 
Celebration, Beautiful Days, etc.) inspirational lecturer (LSE Summer 
School, Exeter University, etc.) and writer (his most recent 
publication was a chapter in a Deleuze reader by Palgrave Macmillan) 
from memory as theatre.

Brochure copy reads * Matthew Hammond condenses and adapts ideas and 
books from the whole History of Philosophy, transforming them into 
powerful performance art. Accessible, startling, sometimes hilarious, 
often moving, and always inspirational, he jumps about the stage 
making theatre out of all those books you meant to read but never got 
around to.*

To see the show in action, the following link leads to a trailer on 
the website (and once finished, other videos from the YouTube channel);

The shows are unique, remarkable, theatrical, entertaining and 
powerful. Below are the coming dates with brochure copy, quotes, links 
and a performer bio.


At the Northcott Theatre Exeter as part of the Laugh Out Loud Festival;
Sun 3 February 2013
8pm in the Theatre Bar
Tickets from;

And at the Bierkeller Theatre in Bristol on Monday 18th February;
Tickets from;

Quotes on Matthew Hammond the Stand Up Philosopher:

*Dynamic, dangerous and highly original.* performance poet and 
Wondermentalist Liv Torc.

*Just wanted to say a big thank you for coming up and performing at LitFest. Your performance went down really well, and was a real  talking point.* Andy Killeen, novelist and organizer of the PowWow 

*…a very dangerous man…loads of ideas kept popping into my head…* 
James Turner, Poet and Author of the poetry collection ‘Forgeries’

*Incredible intensity.* Audience member at Poetry Unplugged at the 
Poetry Café Covent Garden,

*Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant!!!* Dan Stratford, viewer of Deleuze 
for Beginners video on YouTube

*It's the second time I've seen you perform and I probably understand about 5% or less, but it's FANTASTIC! It's not like anything else, but so entertaining.* Audience member, Taking the Mic, Exeter Phoenix


Stand-up Philosophy Facebook group;

Performer's Blog;

YouTube Channel - Stand Up Philosopher Playlist;

Matthew Hammond – the Stand Up Philosopher
Matthew Hammond studied Anthropology at Cambridge and after graduating realized that philosophy was what he actually wanted to do. Perplexed as to how to proceed, he then trained as a maths teacher at Keele University and became a certified mathematician, working as a maths tutor so that he could study philosophy from 5am until 12pm most days, and be full time carer for the partner he met as a student, an ME sufferer. At 27 he inherited a crumbling C15th rectory, and started running an artistic community with an environmental / recycling emphasis, where visual artists, musicians and thinkers could live and work in the same place more sustainably. This led to being effectively foster parents/siblings to some very disturbed folks and having a heap of bizarre experiences, some of them pretty unpleasant. Eventually some positive-minded artists who used the space as it was intended to be used turned up, and the recycling and environmentally-minded arts collective the Cartwheels Collective was born, named after the decaying agricultural artefacts surrounding the property.

   As well as teaching maths and making a difference to the lives of hundreds of school pupils giving them confidence in maths and better grades, Matthew collaborated on art projects, did historical cookery for heritage and arts events, held workshops in willow and leather, and ended up teaching philosophy at Exeter University and LSE Summer School, being called an inspirational lecturer by his students. Such was his popularity, he even ended up teaching informal classes in philosophy in café bars at the weekends! - but was never going to fit tidily into academia because no one could ever make up their minds about his work, as nothing he did could ever be neatly likened to anything or fitted into a box; before becoming one half of Widsith and Deor Storytelling Theatre when his partner finally recovered, and performing at all kinds of festivals and events such as Glastonbury, the Big Chill and the Festival of History, for which he has made huge bodymasks and figures. Two years ago he started performing solo as well, and combined at last his two passions of philosophy and theatre as the Stand Up Philosopher, and has been performing as festivals and venues large and small from the HowTheLightGetsIn Festival of Philosophy and Music at Hay and the PowWow LitFest in Birmingham to the Hatherleigh Festival in Devon and the Poetry Café in Covent Garden.

   He has delivered papers at conferences in philosophy and literature at venues such as Warwick University, Greenwich University and the University of London. His publications include a chapter in ‘Deleuze and the Fold – a Critical Reader’, (edited by Sjoerd van Tuinen and Niamh McDonnell) and published by Palgrave Macmillan, a number of chapbooks, and his book of essays ‘Not What One Was - A Brief History of the Concept of Justice’. He has written over half a million words of philosophy and philosophical literary criticism, some of it on the web, but much of it still undrafted, as he is profoundly dyslexic which has hampered the drafting his writings considerably, but which has also ensured a phenomenal memory and a startlingly rhetorical style in the traditions of the Ancient Greek philosophers and the C16th Ranters. There is a theory that he was dropped on his head as a baby as his shirts often unbutton themselves and he is on his fifth copy of Spinoza’s ‘Ethics’ as the pages always mysteriously fall out…but his mother claims it was the drugs she was on while pregnant! His other interests include history, cooking and making monsters ‘as it’s better for you than alcoholism’…and possibly slightly cheaper. He calls himself ‘Philosophy’s only tribute act’.

Radio Shows:

Matthew Hammond co-presents a fortnightly programme on Phonic FM 106.8 and online, covering poetry, philosophy, history, legend, culture and curiosities called ‘Widsith and Deor presents…’. Shows have included the History of Philosophy, the Origins of the Idea of Democracy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Dark Age Britain, The English Civil War, the Histories of the Saxon and the Norman Kings, Theatre, Cabaret and Circus, the novels of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, history through the lens of art at Kensington Palace, etc.. Currently the programmes are charting the Kings and Queens of England from 800AD onward, and forthcoming is a performance of Geoffrey Hill’s poetry sequence ‘Clavics’ for which Enitharmon Press have given permission.

He is also the host of the weekly ‘Phonic Drama Show’ which has included plays from playwrights all over the UK and his own solo dramatic interpretations of Euripedes’ ‘The Bacchae’, the ‘Oresteia’ trilogy and other Greek tragedies. He has also presented startlingly original and powerful tellings of tales from many sources including the 1,000 Arabian Nights to Viking Gods, often to techno beats and classical music. His most recent show was an adaptation of a part of the C12th Njal’s Saga.


Featured Video from the Stand Up Philosophy Playlist - Deleuze for Beginners; 

Stand-up Philosophy Facebook group;

Performer's Blog; 


Alan Summers reading at The Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Readathon at the Jane Austen Centre, City of Bath, England

Illustration by Hugh Thomson representing Mr Collins protesting that he never reads novels.

I am very excited to be reading an extract from Pride and Prejudice and urge many of you to enjoy the book yourselves. I've given links to Oxford World’s Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice, and the Jane Austen giftshop.

If you have never seen me read or give a talk before, you may enjoy this recording of a reading on another subject called Amazement of the ordinary, which was a TEDx talk I gave about haiku poetry:

The Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Readathon at the Jane Austen Centre this coming Monday (28th January) is from 11am to 11pm. when we celebrate 200 years of this most famous of all books.

“It has one of the most famous opening lines in literature, it turned Colin Firth into a heartthrob and it spawned a zombie spin-off. Now Pride and Prejudice has reached the venerable age of 200.”
Tim Masters Entertainment and arts correspondent, BBC News
Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen fans celebrate novel's 200th anniversary

Oxford World’s Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice:

Jane Austen giftshop:


An illustration from Pride and Prejudice by
Hugh Thomson (1 June 1860 - 7 May 1920)
This is a live event,  and The Readathon will be linking up with different Jane Austen Societies throughout America and elsewhere throughout the day.

All of us at the centre will be offered the opportunity to dress in Regency costume to get us in the mood.

There will be several spots where Austen experts discuss various aspects of the book.

Many events will also occur at the Jane Austen Centre (40 Gay Street, Bath, BA1 2NT) and is currently closed to the public – it reopens on the 30th January.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snow and winter haiku - in honour of the 2013 January snowy weather in the U.K.

Photograph of snow in Hull©Alan Summers 2010

snow flurry
a child thrusts his anorak
into it

Publications credits: Simply Haiku vol. 1 no. 3 (2003)

field of snow
the horses
back to back

Publications credits: Blithe Spirit vol. 19 no. 1 (2009); Haiku Friends Vol. 3 (Japan 2009)

snowed in
I watch the streetlamps
and dream of Narnia

Publications credits:
Blithe Spirit vol. 20 no. 4 (2010)

snowfall she takes her daffodils Underground

Publications credits:
Blithe Spirit vol. 19  no. 1 (2009); Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)

powdered snow -
a crow’s eyes above
the no parking sign

Publications credits: The Mie Times, Japan (1999); Haiku International magazine (Japan 1999); Watermark: A Poet’s Notebook - Crows (2004); The In-Between Season (With Words Pamphlet Series 2012); Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)

Award credit: Joint Winner, Haiku International Association 10th Anniversary Haiku Contest 1999

rook chatter
tracking each snowflake
to the end

Publications credits: Asahi Shimbun (2010)

solitary snowdrop
         in march snow

Publications credits: Azami Special Edition ed. Merrill Ann Gonzales (Japan 1995)

tilting at the world
the late morning finds
a smaller snowman

Publications credits: Blithe Spirit vol. 20 no. 4 (2010)

through the blizzard
particles of me

Publications credits:  The Haiku Calendar 2012 (Snapshot Press); The Humours of Haiku (Iron Press 2012) ; The In-Between Season (With Words Haiku Pamphlet Series 2012)

Award credits:
Winner, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2011 (Snapshot Press)

Gare du Nord
the slow change of snow
on fake fur

Publications credits: Blithe Spirit (Vol. 22 no. 2 May 2012)

snow globe-
we toast each galaxy
with margaritas

Publications credits: Prune Juice issue 9 July 15th 2012

thunder snow
the wind-shifting scent
of fox

Publications credits: fox dreams (April 2012) edited by Aubrie Cox


Saturday, January 05, 2013

Mindful Writing Challenge January 2013 and Celebrating Issa, the classic haikai poet

Mindful Writing Challenge January 2013 has started, and I wanted to remember Issa who was so mindful about the aspects of wildlife many of us despise including all kinds of biting insects.

My tribute haiku to him though is about the famous haikai verse about the impermanence and transient aspects of life he called the world of dew, which also related to the tragic deaths of members of his family, including children.

tonight's world of dew
if a moment Issa's shade
would walk beside me
memorial haiku by Alan Summers

About Issa:
Issa Day:

Although Issa Day is actually every November 19th in Japan, some celebrate today as well.

Here's an extra treat about Issa, including a wood carving of Issa, and a video by Robert Hass:

Issa Memorial Museum:


"A must-have book for any haiku fan": Amazon review of Does Fish-God Know, gendai haiku and experimental short verse collection by Alan Summers, published by Yet To Be Named Free Press


 Gratifying to see a review of my latest poetry collection (gendai haiku and experimental short verse) Does Fish-God Know at Amazon (UK).


" Beautiful and sometimes startling imagery is wrought throughout these thought-provoking pieces. Anti-pigeon spikes on cemetery gates and dirty moons inhabit the dark side of the soul, while tipsy/philosophical frames of mind are vividly conjured in haiku such as "vodka chilli cocktail" and "Sunday drunk".

So, Does Fish-God Know? Whether he/she does or doesn't, the quest to find out leads you on a compelling journey. A must-have book for any haiku fan."