Portrait of a poet: Dave Hubble

Portrait of a poet: Dave Hubble

by Anita Foxall.

If you are in touch with Southampton’s creative scene, Dave Hubble is a local artist and poet who you will almost certainly have heard of.

Dave is a wonderful wordsmith and a committed visual artist, who uses a variety of materials to create fantastic pieces of art with focus on lost and abandoned objects and materials. What’s more, he supports and promotes other visual artists as a curator for exhibitions at The Art House in Southampton, with the main aim of supporting local, or locally active, artists using a variety of media, and giving them somewhere to show and sell their work (something Dave tirelessly reiterates the city is short on).

Beetle expert

It might, then, come as a surprise to hear that this intensively creative person comes from a science background, ecology to be more precise, and ended up becoming a beetle specialist!

In fact, if you search his poetry publications online using his name, you will be presented with books about Leaf Beetles (AKA the Chrysomelidae), and yes, it is the same Dave Hubble.

Dave has told us he has always had a latent urge to be an artist and a few years ago in his mid-40s, a combination of events prompted him towards a major change of direction.

As an artist, he does work in traditional media (paintings, ink drawings), but he has lately developed a strong interest in installation work using found and waste material. 

Dave explains: “I am interested in humanity’s (over)use of resources and the idea that we’re living in the Anthropocene, a geological era characterised by the effects of human activity.” In fact, some of pieces of art include materials such as dolls’ eyes, buttons, cloth or even spent cartridges.


Russian installation artist Ilya Kabalov is one of his key influences, due to his view of economic systems, mainly the gap between capitalism and communism. Another of his influences is Cornelia Parker (best known for ‘Cold Dark Matter’ AKA The Exploding Shed) for her (ab)use of existing items. She crushes them under a steamroller or blows them up and reassembles them.

Dave, the poet, started around the same time he encountered events run by Artful Scribe, as they were looking to develop new writers. Along with a few friends who urged him to try, he braved performing his poetry at open mic events such as Moving Voices (again at The Art House) and Write a Note (now at Caskaway). This led onto bookings and publications (namely two books in print, plus a number of poems in literary journals). He is currently writing a chapter about ‘Style and Technique in Spoken Word’ for a book being published through Bath Spa University. 

Ghost river

Dave is also one of the founding members of Ghost River, a Southampton-based poetry collective. Their most recent event, a poetry trail around the city (commissioned by the NST), was his core idea/project that gave birth this collective.

Simon Armitage, Susan Richardson, Hannah Silva and Ross Sutherland are only a few of his influences. 

A satirical, observant poet, who writes superb little vignettes of life, as well as about the beauty in the mundane, who will delight you with his eloquent spoken word performances about abandoned pasties, pencils and fatbergs. 

Poet, painter, artist, curator, scientist, soulful human being. These are the many phases of Dave, which you can briefly taste here by reading the poems he has kindly sent us for publication.



Trans-Pennine Express

Hidden in the pages of The Devil and Miss Prym,

an untorn rail return in perforated orange,

suburb-to-airport on a Thursday 

sixteen years ago – seeing someone off 

or home again?

Maybe carrying a cardboard sign

to meet a visitor with a smile 

and Sharpied surname, or 

spotting aeroplanes,

collecting alphanumerics in a notebook –

unlikely as 06:10 is such an early start.

Work’s a possibility – check-in desk, shop,

other operations; 

surely cabin crew get taxis

and pilots drive. In any case,

they’d be off along Great Circles

too far for there-and-back in just one day

and like in airline ads, never lonely,

so would have no need to pass the time

with Coelho’s brand of novelised philosophy.

I look again

and see the spine’s unbent,

pages faintly yellowed but pristine –

this book’s been storage for another story,

its own words never read ‘til now.


The Hobbyist

Falco subbuteo flicks wingtips,

tilts with rapid twists,

catches dragonflies in flight

feeds without landing, dropping

legs and other chitinous appendages,

dry rain in her wake. Swifter than swallows,

she crosses savannah, desert and the Med,

dodges gunmen lurking on peninsulas

and at dusk, singles out

unwary flittermice, flies on; 

La Manche is gone in minutes,

blocks of dry heath calling out

like males. She picks

the best, an old crow’s nest,

spinney edge and ponds rich

with insects. They mate, hatch eggs,

tend young, then,

feeling autumn air,

uncouple and  depart,

a thousand miles and many more,

switching hemispheres

every winter, 

every spring,



Down the road

It’s a long time since I saw so many warning notices,

every other door sporting “Beware of the Dog”, 

“No Cold Callers”, “Shut the Bloody Gate.” One barks

in colloquial Alsatian, “I can reach the gate in five seconds, 

can you?” next to a cheery “Wilkommen” 

and welcome-mat.  The “Danger of Death” signs 

riveted to pylons, power cables, substations,

all feel more hospitable than these miniature front yards 

that stretch like disused branch lines 

along the quarter-mile of railway-siding cul-de-sac, 

little squares that try too hard to punch above their weight,

bantams breeding gnomes among the slate-chips,

where one great weathered slice of treetrunk states

in rough white-painted sanserif Gesegnet Ist,

though what is being blessed’s unclear.

As curtains twitch (and twitch they do), it seems 

the tinier the plot, the more fiercely it is guarded,

and as I read a thousand plaques that paraphrase as

“Go away, get off our patch!” I have to wonder how 

these smallest of small-island-dwellers

ever get their mail.


Four tapestries (#JHGRichter) 

Mouths go O

in univocal joy of wow

at warp and weft


from finest thread of

every Pantone;

fingers itch

to feel 

and stroke, to 


behind the Please Don’t

with inappropriate

investigations of construction,

“How are they attached?”

to curtain-twitch,

shine light upon black backing-fabric keeping 


Abdu Yusuf Iblan Musa 


safe from snags

or rubbing on the wall, 

four woven Mandelbrots

of abstract squeegee-smears,

peer close…



the fullest depth of detail

will elude your eye,

silk pixels reinstating edges

lost to oily drag;

step back, see

crowns emerge,

trees reflect in fjords,

and bats;

oh, most wondrous, complex Rorschachs,

we’re all now planning


thoughtcrimes made on neural looms –

which one each would take

and whether


inside job

or roll-it-up-and-run.



I am formed from ore, 

galena unborn in bedrock,

awaiting the point of an antler pick

to chip me free, drop me in the fire and 

smelt me, crucibled for pouring,

moulding in bone or soapstone, to seep

and settle into each carved detail – 

in my small disc, two beaded rings 

around a bird  pecking at a cross. 

I cool and set, am tapped 

onto an oakbench, soft alloy lugs

added with a pin. I’m worn on wool,

the tunic of a minor merchant, lead

against his chest, a poor adornment,

a lowly coin-like evocation of his faith. He

trades me to a shipwright, a man

of adze and timber, part-payment

for a mended spar, and then I’m lost,

snagged and dropped in silt. 

I wait.

I wait. I wait.

I wait. I wait.

I wait until

the scrape of steel on gritty soil

awakens me, I see

the first faint glimmering

of light for a thousand years;

I’m prised out, teased from mud,

brushed clean,

recorded, drawn and numbered –

item 31/1653, Context 5682,

diameter 20 mm. I am cooed over

for the state of my patina,

religious symbolism, uniqueness

of design. I’m boxed and stored,

catalogued and published in a book of

non-ferrous archaeology. It’s dark again,

like burial in sediment,

I wish so very much I could be worn,

to be seen once more on the streets

of Hamwic, the city I am made of,

where by a Saxon craftsman

I was born.