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)

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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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