It’s out! The Complete Electric Artisan has arrived – or rather, a small number of author copies are here, while Central Books (the distributor for Shoestring Press) gets the rest. As I will usually have a few copies in for sale, anyone who’d like one can contact me using the Shop Stop page on here, and I’ll get one in the post to you for the cover price of £8, which includes postage. If you’d like to know about Inspector Plank and his curious rural crimes, The Original Captain Boomerang, troubled office situations, and the main problem with being a single woman at work…. here’s a chance to find out. I sent an earlier version of this collection in for an East Midlands-based poetry award; and while I didn’t win, the judging chairman Kerry Featherstone sent me a lovely quote which I’ve used as advertising blurb. Here it is:
‘Brilliantly imaginative, with echoes of Victoriana and the uncanny, but also able to deliver hard-hitting reality,’
Thank you Mr Featherstone, it really helps. Anyone who works on their own material at production stage will know about the dreaded blurb and marketing USP, and how embarrassing it feels to be advertising your own wares like a street hawker back in Dickens’ time. With occasional help from the regions’ literary workers, we can all get to the finish line looking polished and ready.
I have a few copies of Candleshoe still available, and anyone who wants this longer collection and a copy of the Artisan can have both for £15, including postage. You’ll save £2. Meanwhile, I’ll be out on the platform at Lowdham Book Festival in June, and doing Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham, on May 11th. Think I’m teamed with Roy Marshall for the Lowdham; he’s got a great blog focussing on all aspects of poetry, which you can also find on WordPress.
An unexpected start to the year, with a brand new p/t day job… closely followed by a welcome acceptance for the next poetry collection, The Complete Electric Artisan, which I’d submitted during July last year. This will be published by Shoestring Press, hopefully in the Spring – although you never know with small-press schedules. I’m hoping to announce any readings on Twitter when the time comes; in the past I’ve had fantastic launch venues like Lowdham Book Festival and Leicester’s Shindig, or the States of Independence Press Fair which is normally held at DMU in March. So here I am battling through the early weeks of a new job, plus making the final adjustments to what will be my fourth for Shoestring, and a fifth collection overall.
Not only that…. in late 2016 I applied for an Arvon grant so I can have a go at musical theatre writing. I missed the course in November, and not being able to do it without a grant, I applied again and – hooray – was awarded one! So I’ll be heading for that old mill-owner’s house in Heptonstall instead of going on my summer hols. I know the area anyway because I’m from West Yorkshire; those folded valleys with long chimneys sticking up above the trees are part of my landscape. But I’m hoping the unique Arvon atmosphere helps me to write some song texts then I can devise a touring show in the future.
I suppose this entry illustrates one thing above all – no matter how much rejection you might have experienced in the past, sometimes the door opens and you can go roaring in. You have to prepare the ground in advance and not give up. It’s the only way. And, when you get a sudden upswing of interest for no apparent reason, you won’t go headless-chicken with the sheer enormity of it all, and what it really means to your deepest self.
Well, it’s the usual mix of frantic activity contrasted with empty periods when there’s not only a whole stack of rejection notices, but no poems coming from my end! Thankfully the pendulum swings on, and eventually there’s something to show for it all; a set of poems in an anthology, opportunities to pursue, the chance to participate in a festival.
Something Happens, Sometimes Here came out in late 2015, showcasing several of Lincolnshire’s poets – including the Carcanet authors Rory Waterman and Alison Brackenbury, fellow Shoestringers Robert Etty and Kathryn Daszkiewicz, Sam Gardiner (who got into the TLS, no less!) David Cooke and Mike Blackburn. You can obtain a copy of this fine representation of rural strangeness by contacting Five Leaves Press or the usual distributors, Inpress or Amazon.
As a result of the anthology, I was recently recorded for the special collections archives at Lincoln University. On a boiling day in a glass-walled room like a pressure cooker, yours truly performed into a small audio gizmo, avoiding the sounds of students dropping books and scraping chairs next door. It was a whole lot of fun; thanks to sound engineer Mark Mullen and archivist Claire Arrand. I’ve also signed up with Soundcloud, so if anyone hasn’t heard me read (and given the vast number of good performing poets out there, it’s quite likely you haven’t) a few audioclips can be found under my name with poems including ‘The Plaque, The Chandelier…’ and ‘My Tabloid Relationship Hell Scenario’.