It is with great pleasure and a healthy sense of pride that I am finally ready to announce the publication of my first full collection of poems, The Human Condition is a Terminal Illness. It’s been a while in the making and its realisation has gotten me into a rather reflective mood.
I remember the first short story I wrote, at junior school, about peg-legged pirates sailing the seven seas, forcing their captives to walk the plank, drinking rum and saying, “Arrrgh!”
I was so pleased with myself as I marched up to the front of the class, full of writer’s adrenalin, I slapped the story onto the teacher’s desk and awaited his reaction. He read it over, removed a red pen from his cheap, short-sleeved, button-up shirt and made his corrections.
“Now write it up neatly.” He said.
I couldn’t believe it; the incredulity of the man. I’d given him my soul and he’d scrawled all over it with a red Bic Biro. I took it back to my desk and in a fit of petulance, tore it to tiny pieces. I had a lot to learn about writing being rewriting.
I’m thinking about all the notebooks I filled in the years before I started writing with a view toward publication. Pages and pages, pads and pads of paper where I jotted down notes, stories, poems and songs for no other reason than to feel the words as they dirtied the page.
I’m thinking about drunken letters and pen pals. I’m thinking about the poem I wrote for my wife before we were married; a wordy affair called, The Mellifluous Language Of Love, which we printed onto bookmarks and gave out to our wedding guests as wedding favours.
I’m thinking about the half-dozen short stories I wrote five or six years ago when I decided to try to get something published. How I sent them off to magazines; my first literary submissions. Truly, there was nothing literary about those stories; too many words, ill-conceived and poorly executed. But I sent them all the same. While waiting to hear back, I wrote some poems and sent them off in a few different directions. The stories came back with a resounding, “thanks but no thanks.” But one of the poems landed on its feet and my first bit of writing was published; an oddly addictive experience. I sent out an average of three submissions a week, every week, and for a year, they were all rejected.
I’m not quite sure why, I guess it has something to do with humility and figuring out how to remain determined, but I have learnt more about writing from the constant rejection than I have from any other aspect of this strange compulsion. And it is a strange compulsion, of which I have dedicated the last half decade, yet I still feel like I’m only just getting started.
I’m thinking about lessons learnt, finding my voice and getting a somewhat steady stream of acceptances from anthologies and online literary ventures. The steady streams are usually followed by dry spells and that is just as well; plenty more to learn, and humility is an underestimated quality.
I’m thinking back to the day I learnt my submission for the Blood Pudding Press 2015 chapbook contest was selected and consequently published. The publication of Pigeons and Peace Doves, a beautifully hand crafted chapbook of thirteen poems, was a dream realised.
I’m thinking about SWB; all the books I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing on here.
Most of all, though, I’m thinking about this latest dream realised. Not only is my first full collection being published, it is being published by my favourite press. I have followed Bareback Press keenly since reading Peter Jelen’s, A Cure For Consciousness, and consequently discovered what have become several of my go-to poetry books. And now, I am proud to say that my book is in their number.
I hope you like it.
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