So my first full collection of poetry is out in the world. I’d thought I might have some kind of celebration – a glass of nice wine or some good ice cream – on the day it was officially out in the world but, as things turned out, I missed it. There was some doubt as to what the publication date was. One information sheet suggested 28th September while a couple of retailers had publication day down as 26th October. Early in October I checked and the retailers were saying it had already been published – and then it was a bit late to celebrate publication as a special day.
When my author copies arrived (I get six, free of charge and after that there’s a discount – poetry doesn’t actually pay) my partner was at the launderette. A postman knocked at the door and handed me an absurdly big box – the book itself is quite thin. I opened it nervously and was impressed at the cautious packaging which I’ve put aside for any parcels I need to send. I took a photo of the box with the books inside, since that seemed to be the right thing to do, but I didn’t dare open them. Later I gave my partner a copy. That night I dreamed that I opened my collection and, despite my careful proof-reading, the book contained spatters of ink and unfamiliar words. “I should be rejoicing,” I thought – but I wasn’t. Fortunately the ink spatters and changed text turned out to be the product of a nightmare rather than a printing error – I checked, just in case.
It’s a strange thing to send words out into the world when those words have been chosen with so much care through hours, days and sometimes months of revising and editing. Now they are subject to readers’ opinions and interpretations – if there are readers, because £10 is a lot to risk on a first full collection by a largely unknown poet. Do people really want to read poems about mediaeval spinsters and stage magic? Will they approve of the techniques and formal decisions I’ve made, or the voices adopted in the poems? I’d like to think a library or two would stock copies. I still check public libraries for their slim holdings of recent poetry and sometimes encounter new poets to read there – but when library budgets are under threat, poetry may not be the beleaguered librarian’s first – or even last – choice.
So there has been no celebration so far and as yet no launch. Covid makes poetry events tricky. I am joining two other poets at an online launch event for Do You Know How Kind I Am?, a pamphlet sequence of poems responding to lockdown that came out this Spring. That’s on Tuesday 2nd November at 7.30 and anyone who likes can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org In the meantime I’d welcome suggestions for how to celebrate (cheaply), how I might help launch my collection into the world and how to deal with the nervousness and anxiety of actually publishing so many poems in one small volume.
Please note: If you decide to buy, Amazon has a huge mark-up on both titles. Independent booksellers are best (try Five Leaves in Nottingham if you need to buy by post) and Leafe sells the pamphlet at a proper price through its website.