Being quite new on the poetry scene I didn’t feel confident that a solo launch for Communing would be well attended – I didn’t want it to be a big empty room containing me, my wife and a big pile of unsold books. Thankfully, Deborah Harvey, who I know from Poetry Can’s regular monthly Can Openers event, was happy to share a launch with me. Her collection, Breadcrumbs, is her third with Indigo Dreams, and she’s also published a novel, Dart, under IDP’s Tamar Books imprint. Deborah has a loyal following and I considered myself very fortunate to be her ‘warm-up act’.
We held the launch at Spike Island, which is an arts complex in Bristol. Its lovely café has recently been refurbished and was the perfect venue – stylish but intimate, it’s reasonably close to the city centre. Both Deb and I had been working quite hard in the run-up to promote the gig; as well as a Facebook event, we’d tweeted a fair bit and I got the Bristol Post to run a small article about it. We had a good crowd, considering the European Championships were kicking off in France that night, and they spread out comfortably throughout the café.
Colin Brown, who runs Poetry Can, was MC for the evening and gave me a nice introduction. The sound system was excellent so I was able to perform my poems without really worrying about volume and so on – there’s nothing worse than trying to deliver a more reflective or personal poem by shouting at the top of your voice over a rubbish PA. I read most of the poems in Communing and felt confident chatting about how the book and its poems came about. The audience were warm, friendly and responsive, and looking around I picked out quite a few people who I could tell were really enjoying the reading – what a great feeling. It was also lovely to be able to pitch specific lines from some of the poems directly at my wife, Natalie, who came along to support me. After I finished there was a lovely long round of applause as I went back to my seat. Wonderful.
Deborah’s reading was superb. It can’t be easy delivering a set which is so searingly intimate and which covers some incredibly painful times, but I know there were a lot of Deb’s closest friends in the audience and I think she really responded to that and relaxed into the performance. It’s a superb book and I hope it gets the attention, and readership, that it deserves.
Afterwards, it was lovely to meet and chat to audience members, some I’d heard read at Can Openers and a few who I already knew from Jo Bell’s 52 Group. I managed to sell more books than I expected and enjoyed the experience of signing them – I think my handwriting might actually be improving!
It was a really special evening and one which I will always remember fondly. And now of course I can’t wait for my next reading, which is back in Cheltenham at Poetry Café Refreshed on Wednesday 20th July.
Window Dressing, which is a creepy piece of flash fiction, has appeared in See Into the Dark: Volume 4 of Pankhearst’s Slim Volume series. The book is a great anthology of poetry and prose which has been put together by the seemingly tireless Kate Garrett, who also somehow finds time to run Three Drops Press, Picaroon Poetry as well as holding down a full time job and bringing up three children with another on the way!
Kate has also taken one of my poems for the third issue of her excellent Picaroon Poetry, which will be available to download in mid-July.
Issue 84 of Hedgerow, a lovely online journal which features short poems, will include one of my tiddlers.
Cake Magazine, issue 8 (‘Black Forest Gateau’) will be published in July, including one of my poems
I’ll be featured in The Fat Damsel’s ‘Thinking Man’ series (no laughing at the back…) in the next few days.
Finally, I’ll have two poems in an upcoming anthology of pub-themed work from OWF Press, which is due out in October.
By the way, if anyone’s interested, here are some stats about my submissions so far this year – out of 23 submissions to various journals, I’ve had 7 acceptances, 11 rejections and 5 I’m currently waiting on (6 if you count one that I sent out last July but which was mislaid by the editor…).