It’s been six months since my poetry pamphlet The Misplaced House was published by tall-lighthouse. Here’s what I’ve learned, so far:
- Just because a poem is published in a collection doesn’t mean it’s completely finished, never to be changed again. I think I agree with whoever it was who said “a poem is never finished.”* If I’m ever lucky enough to publish a full collection, some of the poems from The Misplaced House will require stitches. Some might not survive the operating table.
- But then again…. Different poems appeal to different people. One of the pleasures of the last six months has been receiving messages – often on Twitter and Facebook – from readers who have told me which poems they like best. There’s been a surprising variety. Even some of the poems which I now think require a little more attention have been appreciated. Which goes to show that acquiring a sense of your own poetry, of what’s ‘working’ and what isn’t, is an ongoing, not easily achievable, process.
- I wish I’d worked harder at my titles. I think some of my poems would benefit from a clue in the title to indicate what the poem might be about. At poetry readings, I’m able to give a little context for each poem and I’d like to find a way of incorporating that context into my titles. Definitely something for me to work on.
- And talking of readings….. I should have started to arrange them as soon as tall-lighthouse said they would publish The Misplaced House. Instead, I waited until I had the book in my hands and then started to make enquiries. Not surprisingly, many reading series are already booked for the rest of the year. I must confess that I didn’t give enough thought to the time, effort and energy needed to try to arrange readings! Again, something for me to work on.
- And, still on readings, I’ve learned that it’s not easy to read the same poems over and over again! How to stop feeling (and, worse, sounding) bored? I’ve had to find new and different ways of reading the same poem. Reading new work, in-between poems from The Misplaced House, helps. Just being aware of how I feel, and making an effort to sound alive, also helps!
- I’ve had really positive feedback about the production quality of the book. I keep calling it a ‘book’ when, technically, it’s a ‘pamphlet’ (a ‘pamphlet’ being anything up to 36 pages). However, it looks and feels like a book, albeit an exceedingly slim volume. I think Gareth Lewis, Editor at tall-lighthouse, does a brilliant job in producing such attractive products and he should be congratulated. My only regret is not asking for red end pages. Next time…
- Being on social media has helped sales. I wrote a bit about this here so I won’t go into it again other than to say, yes, it’s worth it.
- Hardly a soul, in fact, only one person outside my family, has commented that it’s ME on the cover of my book! Me and my younger brother, Andy. And a stray dog, of the kind that roamed the street in my childhood.
- Publishing a pamphlet is a wonderful feeling…
- but it’s only the beginning.
*(Thank you to Ian and Richard for informing me the quote was from Paul Valéry : “a poem is never finished, only ever abandoned.”)