March 2014

Tuesday next is launch day. Still not decided what, exactly, to read, but reasonably sure of most of them.

There’s going to be a decent crowd, I think – probably the biggest audience I’ve read to, and full of people who either know me, or know poetry, or both. Which makes it on the one hand a wonderfully convivial event and on the other, really terrifying.

I’ve had a few reactions to initial sight of the book. Everyone seems to like the look of it, which is a good start, and a couple of people who’ve had advance copies have found things to like in the poems themselves, which is reassuring. I think there are perhaps too many poems of similar tone and mood, which perhaps means the book as a whole may read a little “samey” to some people. On the other hand, I feel it can be good to have a consistent voice. And as the poems are, in essence, those I like best from four years of work, then whatever they offer as a collection is what I’ll have to live with.

So now I’ve begun looking for readings where I can promote it, and review opportunities. I’m a little lucky in this respect, insofar as I can pretty much guarantee a review in Orbis (but have to step back as reviews editor, to ensure an objective review process) and The North, with luck, will review, too. But beyond this, it seems it will either be pot luck.

As for readings, I’ve an opportunity in Leeds in a month, and there’s the Bank Street Sheffield Poetry Festival in June (more on this in a later post), so that’s a good start. But I’d really like to use the book as a means of reading more widely around the country, and have no idea how one goes about achieving that. Perhaps it’s merely down to whether the right people encounter the book, in which case, that’s going to be sporadic and rare.

No matter what, I’m really pleased with the book. Pleased to have it. Pleased to see that many of the poems seem to remain strong even now they’re a long way from home and making their own way in the world. Pleased that I can now be thinking of what comes next – and, I guess, I can go anywhere with my work now. It feels quite liberating, to have a collection out there, allowing me to consider a whole range of possibilities for the future.

Two weeks ago I read at the Wordsworth Trust. It was a great reading, shared with all my Writing School friends – some very different poets and poems, but all of them impressive. Everyone was very complimentary about my book.

A week ago I was living in a Roundhouse owned by the National Trust at Ickworth, Suffolk, in the heart of woodland, watching the first butterflies of Spring (the very first was a tortoiseshell, the others mainly brimstones), with startled deer in the garden and a visit to the tumuli at Sutton Hoo thrown in. We stayed with my oldest friends, friendships formed in undergraduate days, and I gave each a copy to each of the book, too. 

In less than two weeks, the book is launched. So far, over seventy people have said they want to be there. Even if they don’t all make it, it looks to be a great evening. (If you want to come: Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield, 6.30 to 8.00, March 25th). 

And today is the 39th anniversary of the second-greatest day of my life, my wedding with Carrol. (The greatest was May 22nd, the day we met).