Saturday 30 March 2013

Marketing and aftermath


I didn't really have a launch as such. I think anyone who would have come would have got the pamphlet anyway.

  • I've read from the pamphlet at Leicester, Cambridge, and Leamington Spa, selling some copies each time.
  • I've helped people who've written reviews and essays
  • I've done book swaps
  • I mention the pamphlet in bios that I send to magazines. I've made use of the network of poets connected to Cambridge Writers.
  • I've used a blog to keep the pamphlet in the public eye

My family was amused when it fell out of the top 2 million in the Amazon charts, but it's in the British Library

and the Poetry Library, which also has some press cuttings.

The aftermath

My poetic output dwindled around the time of the launch. I took several months to recover. I was hoping that the pamphlet would help me kick on - providing a confidence boost, rather than being a marketing tool. I somehow think it's helped me get more acceptances in magazines but I wanted to keep the momentum going in a bigger way - bigger magazines; a prize or 2. Perhaps I've been distracted by my story book, but I don't think so. Now, in March 2013, I feel I've recovered my spirit of adventure, absorbed new influences, and am ready to embarked on a new phase.

When I was putting a book-length collection together I wondered which poems from "Moving Parts" to include. I decided upon "Iron birds", "In the soul's darkroom", "Paradox", "He understands but doesn't love", "Poetry is the deification of reality", and "Crow’s Nest".

Thursday 28 March 2013

Repeated words

Helena mentioned that I use "ache" and "stare", so I thought I'd check on word frequencies -

  • Pronouns: you 82; I 49; he 38; she 35; we 34; they 29
  • Quantities: not/no/nothing 45; never 7; only 18; all 18
  • Sky: night 13; star 4; sky 4; moon 6; horizon 3
  • Vision: look 12; see 11; watch* 9; eyes 8; stare 5
  • Misc: first 11; still 10; fall* 9; old 7; love 7; bridge 6; touch 6; time 6; blue 6; poetry 3; ache/aching 2

I hadn't noticed that "you" was so much more common than "I". No other surprizes. Below are my aches and stares. Colours too, because they loom large.


The dustless silence is aching
to mean more
as waterlily-buds ache inches clear
of fixing fluids before opening
(In the soul’s darkroom)

"ache" seems more to do with desire than pain.


Don’t stare
because she’s beautiful
Don’t touch,
and the incubator dials will start moving
(Love at first sight)
the hurt stares of old anglers
Stare, and slowly pale visions will appear
(In the soul’s darkroom)
A merchant and his wife on the riverbank stare out at us.
I can see the legless man’s still staring through the gate
As his eyes half open they’re staring
straight at me
(Action at a distance)

Yep, there's quite a lot of staring, not all of it accusatory.


sunlight’s momentum
dragging colour from stained glass
onto marble;
Nile crocodiles are colourblind, they can’t see blue
Cities aren’t grown villages or underground maps
that lose their colours in the night
(Misreading the Signs)
their eyes the colour of your footprints.

Colour seems to be a detachable property. My favourite colour's blue.

Wednesday 27 March 2013


"the past a worshipped stillness, ..." - ah, here we go again - "... a forgotten pain" - see, I told you so! In this poem the reader's asked to imagine this, to view it as something locked away after childhood, caged while one's attention is distracted. The concept of "colour" figures here again. This time "Color makes things move./ Trapezistes and kingfishers move. Cages don’t". Nowadays imagination has a safety net - so safe it's routinely used at the end of the act.


The myth retold very selectively, focussing on secrets and assumed names. Some flashy phrases, e.g. - "his children's eyes are the colour of his footprints". It's not the only poem to mention bridges - they occur in "Misreading the Signs", "Estuary", "Thames" and "The fall". The poem won a minor prize.

It's nothing to do with the photo. It's of St Ives bridge which has a church on it.

Fossil expedition

I've only written one other poem from the point of view of a historical character. I think Custer did sometimes escort fossil-hunters. As a character portrait it's not too far off the truth (Custer had a problem with authority), though I made up the details. It wasn't meant to be a comment about lit profs. The ending's rather too pat for my current tastes.

Late night shopping

This won a minor prize in a competition judged by Fleur Adcock. A few readers assume it's autobiographical. Like Taking Mark this time it's all made up. Unlike that poem it doesn't aim directly at the heartstrings. It was carefully researched, reading rather like a list of researched observations.

Taking Mark this time

This won 150 pounds, but I'm not convinced by it - too manipulative. People like "you hold your breath as if straining to listen,/ a sentry on the red edge of eternity". By "doll eyes" I meant those eyes that open/close depending on the angle the doll is held at.