A Moment of Pause

For the past several weeks, my daily grind has been consumed with preparing for the launch of my debut poetry collection – final tweaks to the manuscript, meeting with the publisher, approving printed proofs, resolving technical issues at the printers, organising the launch, issuing invites, contacting media and interest groups, making a promo film poem, and plugging the book / launch on social media… It’s been non-stop, and all the while the butterflies jittering away – will the book look good, what poems will I read on the night, what if no-one comes?

It has all been about the energy and force of will required to put the book out into the world. Then, yesterday, I had a moment of pause and realised:

I’m not just putting a book out, I am letting the world in.

Years of work, of scribbling away in quiet moments, with no idea the words I write might someday be read, felt and understood. My feelings, my observations, my ideas, my experience – as of now, they no longer belong to me.

I bring the words to the page and let them go. It is someone else’s turn to claim them.

(Image via BBC News)


Why Read Poetry? Paxman, The Public & Fear of Uncertainty

Photo: Vagner Vidal/INS

Poetry came into the spotlight recently when Jeremy Paxman, chair and judge of the Forward Prize 2014 – one of the most prestigious poetry awards in the UK – suggested that poets be subjected to a public inquisition to explain what their poems mean. Paxman is a journalist, writer and television presenter, well known for his hard-nosed, interrogative political interviews and, in truth, the comments said more about Paxman than Poetry.

He criticised poets as writing for each other, rather than for public consumption, prompting much public and on-line debate about the relevance of poetry. Some of the furore arose from the fact that he issued two statements – the first in his official capacity as judge and the second, an interview in a national newspaper where he gave the inflammatory ‘inquisition’ quote. To my mind, the official Forward Prize judge’s statement is the more revealing.

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3 for Thursday: Michael Eastman

I’ve talked before about what makes a good book cover design and how the best covers do more than represent the text, they add another layer of understanding.

My poetry collection launch is fast approaching. I discovered this week the manuscript required only minor editing, so it’s full steam ahead and now design decisions have to be made.

I asked a few writer friends for their thoughts on cover design and it was poet and writing teacher, Yvonne Cullen, who most beautifully expressed what I hope for in my cover:

“The key in my mind… is a sense that image plus book equal more than the sum of their parts. The reader has to go somewhere, imaginatively… ideally, right into the emotional landscape of the book, to join image and title together.”

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3 for Thursday: Dream a Little Bigger

I’m currently on the second week of a 6 week online course taught by the amazing Megan Auman, designer, and creator of Designing an MBA – a business course for creative people, whose skills and goals don’t necessarily fit with traditional business models.

Part of my reason for taking a course with Megan is the fact that the poetry collection is being published this year and wanting to step up my game as ‘proper’ poet; part is about realising a long held ambition to create and deliver my own classes and workshops, drawing on my teaching experience, my training in design (transferring skills from one creative discipline to another) and what I’ve learned –  in writing and life – over the past few years.

Taking the next step, making the dream a little bigger.

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Spring Morning

The kitchen is steeped in the cool of Spring. Light from the east throws an angled shadow from the adjacent roof across the window blind, tells my subconscious mind it is still morning. Birds sing out in the garden, the way I want to sing out at the sight of the prodigal sun.

Later, if the clouds stay away, the shadow will disappear and the kitchen bathe in warm light – only now, this month, with the sun still low in the sky. By midsummer, it will be too high and the room basking in a lazy shade.

But it is mornings like this I love, before the light is turned and the day decided; cool and calm and everything still within grasp.

Featured Image: Pale Green Gray Birds (via)

3 for Thursday: World Book Day

Today is World Book Day (March 6) – designated by UNESCO to encourage children to discover and explore the world of the written word and for celebrating all things readsome, writerly and bookish. Hurrah!!

It’s also 3 for Thursday and there are so many ways I could go with this:

  • 3 favourite books from childhood or school or college etc;
  • 3 favourite books of all time;
  • 3 favourite genres / genre novels;
  • 3 favourite poetry collections…

I’ve decided to do a time warp mix – favourite books from childhood, from my teenage years and from adulthood (or my ongoing and, as yet undiscovered, imitation thereof).

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Poetry Competitions: Play by the Rules

Hoisted on my own petard!

Only last week, I was holding forth on the importance of proofreading work carefully, before making submissions or entering into competitions, and, this week, I receive a message from the organisers of one of the competitions I’d entered advising my entry was ineligible because it’s only open to UK residents…

Lesson of the Week: Check the poetry competition / submission rules carefully and abide by them!

If the organisers had simply bundled up my entry and chucked it in the bin, muttering, “Complete numpty”, I certainly wouldn’t have blamed them. Which is why what they actually did blew me away.

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