Books about poetry: If How to be Well-Versed in Poetry (ed. E O Parrott) were still in print, I would not have written my own Verse Forms site. If you can find a second-hand copy, snap it up. I have now encountered various other books on the subject, and reviewed them here

For even more information about verse forms, see Arnaut & Karkaur's ultimate on-line prosody resource. This is authoritative, informative, witty, idiosyncratic, opinionated, irreverent, entertaining and generally admirable. One of the authors is an Italian living in Denmark; the other is Icelandic. Poetry Renewal gives recipes for a large number of verse forms, though not all come with examples. Jan Haag's Desolation Poems provide hundreds of examples, though without explaining the requirements of the forms.

The National Poetry Library in London (5th floor of the Royal Festival Hall, membership free) is an excellent institution (recently re-opened after rebuilding). Some of their archive of poetry magazines is available on the web. Individual magazines with websites include HQ Poetry Magazine, Manifold and Poetry Greece. (There's a National Poetry Library in Edinburgh too, by the way. I dare say it's equally good.)

For details of UK poetry events, and much else, see the Poetry Kit.

National poetic traditions: Some (recommended) sites devoted to the poetry of particular cultures:  Chinese  Icelandic Klingon Lithian Spanish Welsh

I wasn't going to include sites devoted to individual poets, but I'll make an exception for Mike McGuire. Mike is an eccentric genius (he ought to be British really!) whose speciality is palindromic poetry. Within the absurdly tight constraints of his chosen form, he works wonders. Please visit his site Red Nun Under. I'll make a second exception for Victor Hugo, who played an important part in the popularisation of the pantoum, and has a very good site devoted to him. And the third exception is Mike Reeves-McMillan, who has developed a verse form of his own based on one of mine, written an example, and has some other interesting pages too. 

Writing and Literature

Save our short story! Details here of current UK short story competitions, and much else.

Onomastikon – A dictionary of names from all parts of the world and all periods of history, originally developed as a resource for role-playing games but also useful to writers. If you need an authentic name for a Viking, or a seventeenth century Japanese woman, or a present-day Fijian, then this is the place to find it.

The children's books you need to read are The DivideBack to the Divide and Jinx on the Divide by Elizabeth Kay - tremendous entertainment for children up to the age of about 88. See my rondeau The Dividend.


The only crossword software you will ever need is TEA and Sympathy, from Bryson Ltd. Their site also tells you how to get your copy of Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword, by D S MacNutt - the only crossword "how-to" book you will ever need.


Read nius blong nau (the latest news) in Tok Pisin (pidgin). This admirable service from Radio Australia always cheers me up. 

For links to dictionaries of a bewildering number of languages, and a variety of other language resources, see For a selection of useless phrases in various languages, try here. And if all you want is the words for the numbers from 1 to 10 in 4500 different languages, here's a site that does that too.

The best on-line translation site I've found is Intertran. It has a fair stab at over two dozen languages, including Finnish, Japanese, Slovenian and Tagalog. Don't expect your automated translation to instantly make perfect sense, though. You'll need a dictionary to finish the job, and it may still be hard work!

Did you know you can Google in many languages other than English? As well as the more obvious possibilities (Basque, Gujurati, Uzbek, Zulu etc) they also support Pig Latin, Hacker, Klingon, Elmer Fudd and even Bork, bork, bork! They claim to be working on a proper English version too - i.e. "English (UK)" - but don't seem to have got very far with that. So I'm using Albanian for the time being.

Science and Nature

To help defend science against the loonies, please go worship at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

If you like such things as tessellations (I've done some here), and pretty patterns generally,  you'll find plenty of good stuff to scavenge in the Geometry Junkyard.

You will want to explore at least a few of the branches of the Tree of Life - a superb site with impeccable scientific credentials, as far as I can judge. I found a site full of fine insect photos; it helps to know a bit of German, but you should be able to manage without.

The World of Richard Dawkins is worth exploring too. Look out for the biomorphs and the "Social Text" affair, which is priceless! Logophiles and those with a sense of humour will enjoy a site devoted to Curosities of Biological Nomenclature.

The Friends of Abidjan Zoo (in the Ivory Coast/Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa) deserve your support. A baby chimpanzee called Fanta is guaranteed to persuade you!

The WebExhibits site contains well-presented and detailed information on an idiosyncratic selection of science-related topics, including colours and pigments, calendars, butter, and the Bush administration's misuse of science

The report into the Ariane disaster disappeared from the web for a while (I believe) but it's now back. It's a salutary lesson in the importance of software testing and the uselessness of committees. You could just have a peek at Wikipedia's summary.

I found a really good Periodic Table site at Los Alamos. Unfortunately they seem to be phasing it out in favour of a nasty flashy new site. Take your pick.

Anyone who has done any amount of computer programming should know Intercal. Go forth and learn about it here. And here are some other esoteric programming languages, including one designed for use by orang-utans. For serious SAS programming, visit Amadeus Software.

For other science topics, try the Wikipedia. I've often found it to have the best and clearest explanations.


That's pronounced "nonshense". Nevertheless, I did find rather a good site devoted to Dragons.


I found a terrific site devoted to the Battle of Hastings 1066. Tells you everything you could possibly want to know - except for the weather on the day of the battle, which unfortunately was what I was looking for. Oh well...

Web Technology and Graphics

I can recommend the on-line tutorials at w3schools. (None of the mistakes I've made on this site are their fault!)

The voles, and also some echidnas and owls for which I have plans, came from a superb collection of animal icons at the Icon Bazaar. (They do other stuff too.) I found the animated devil at Walpurgis 9's Hellish Graphics, and the ship's wheel and some quill icons that I intend to use soon at JOD's Genealogy Graphics. The Spirit CGM graphics used in Squaring the Square came from Kiyotei.  Thanks to all these sites - and to any others that I should have mentioned. I can also tell you where to find some nice watercolours of birds and toadstools.


I don't know much about art, but I know I like the rock paintings of  Geoff Archer.


Bizarrely, my page about metric feet (presumably) attracted a reciprocal link request from a foot fetishist website. I cannot find it in my heart to refuse them... so if that what turns you on, please go and visit madaboutfeet. Meanwhile, I'm hoping there are a significant number of foot fetishists who are interested in verse forms and tessellating polyominoes.

And if none of that interests you...

...try Internet Magazine's 100 Sites that will change your life.

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This page last edited 29/07/2007