Well, not quite that, in fact. I recently sent off another collection in manuscript for Indigo Dreams to consider. It went in their August reading window, so will be in competition with probably dozens of other worthy manuscripts, but, who knows, it may succeed. The problem for any decent poet these days is that there are simply so many of us hopeful, bright fish jostling in what is quite a small pool.

It was a bit difficult to put together in the final stages because my Mum died and, whilst I’d been expecting it for some time, and we’d in many ways lost her to dementia some while ago, it was still a shock and grief at her loss still has to be borne. In some ways, having a poetry project to focus on helps cope with emotional turmoil. In particular, the practical end of things gives you something to occupy your mind on – choosing which poems to included, sorting out an order, making sure the collection as a whole has decent structure or coherence. But in some ways the poems can make it more difficult, especially if (as some of these are) they’re drawn from the family life that your mind keeps flipping back to.

Anyway, I’m hoping that my weird mental state hasn’t led to some horrible error that mars the book, and keeping my fingers crossed that ID like it enough to want to take it forward. If so, and with luck, my plan will be to use it as a springboard to seeking as many readings as possible in 2019, going as far afield as I can find places where they’re willing to listen. I’ll perhaps write something about that collection if ID decide they want to take it.

Meanwhile, as I pick up a different set of practical issues in executing Mum’s Will, I’m about to look at the next full collection, the love poems I’ve been working on for over four years now. I’m still not satisfied with how they’ve gone, because they rarely touch what I actually feel, and instead tend to turn into wordplay or clever poetical standpoints rather than honest expression of feeling, but a fair number of them do seem to work as poems, some of them pretty authentically, I think. I’ve more than enough for a full collection – the question is, how will such a conventional set of poems sit in the contemporary poetry world? Would any contemporary press actually be interested in such a thing?

As with Point me at the stars, this is a project I felt I had to pursue. It’s enormously difficult to write of love without sounding cliched or trite, and to be honest about one’s own feelings is even harder, I think. I’ve written many love poems over the years, from adolescent self-pity to occasional poems for anniversaries and the like, and whilst almost all of these were deeply heartfelt at the time most of them are uninventive as poems, or occasionally so esoteric as to be almost meaningless. I wrote an Epithalamion for my wife on our marriage, for example, and I barely understand a line of it now. These poems didn’t really examine any complexity in my feelings, or attempt to capture anything other than the joy and delight of being with my beloved.

Love poems, also, tend to be happy. That can make them dull. In general, strong poems, and those best appreciated by audiences, tend to have some tension within them. Poems about war, social problems, death, private anguish and so on tend to resonate more strongly. Unless love is unrequited, or otherwise painful, they too readily fall into the “so what” basket. I wanted to avoid that.

In other words, I wanted poems that were interesting as poems, not merely love songs. There’s perhaps a conflict between “honesty of emotion” and “interesting poetic artefact”. At least, there seems to be a conflict for me. Getting the balance right in the collection as a whole – which often means curbing my imagination somewhat (as it is apt to run off along the most unpredictable side alleys) – has proved difficult. And, though it’s now nearing completion, I’m still feeling that there are gaps in it, that, as a set of poems, it nevertheless misrepresents what I ought to be saying.