Mightier than the sword

I do not just wear this protective leather gear because biker is where it's at for A/W 2007. No no, for a profane poetaster pioneering a path of pithy profundity through the monotonous mire of modern mediocrity, a HB holster, a quiver of quills, and a good tight black catsuit are the very minimum needed to combat the terrorists of trite treatise. Scribblin's a dangerous game. With insight as sharp as mine, laceration is a daily hazard. Surfing the waves of inspiration brings frequent fear of drowning by alliteration. On occasion, I have been temporarily blinded by my own wit.

This was all slightly put into perspective by Another Sky, English PEN's new compilation of pieces by writers who have faced prison for their work. It is a potent vindication of PEN and their fantastic campaigns to maintain freedom of speech around the world, not to mention an eclectic, discomforting, rousing read. Reza Baraheni's memoir of near-death in Iran's Evin Prison is proper goosebumps good.

You can hear extracts from both the Guardian Unlimited podcast of readings at the Port Eliot festival or some slightly more glam literati giving excerpts at the National Theatre launch (incuding Michael Palin, Fiona Shaw and Tim West).

Humble pie duly washed down with the cold custard of sheltered insignificance.

But the combat gear still looks hot.