Well here it is. This has been simmering for around three years now and the poetry cauldron of trouble is about to bubble over. We’re cooked, done… and it’s over to you.
Scarecrow is published on Friday 17 March and is being launched at The Wivenhoe Bookshop, Wivenhoe, Essex, on the same day, at 6.30pm for 7pm. I’ll be reading some of the book’s poems and looking at their roots and the creative process involved in writing them.
Scarecrow is about place. It’s about London and Essex, and it’s about being between places too. Many of the poems were written on trains to and from the capital. It’s about trying to be somewhere and being nowhere – and about finding your place.
That’s the contradiction of the ‘scarecrow’, I suppose. S/he’s grounded, stuck, marooned, and also isolated, outcast, alone. It scares away rather than attracts. How can it feel ‘at home’, or ‘at one’, when it endures such penury of existence?
To be ‘home’ means to be accepted, and to accept. The scarecrow stands outside of such considerations, yet remains within our gaze, within our judgement.
The scarecrow could be described as ‘everyman’. I hope readers will feel that connection. But I think, at a deeper level, this modern monad is also the human who truly understands what it is to travel because travel is what is needed, or forced. To travel and enter, and yet remain always at the periphery, always being the outsider.
The previous book by Dunlin Press, who publish Scarecrow, and whom with I am indelibly attached, is The Migrant Waders, and I feel maybe some of the urgency and sorrow that marked that book, and which all migrants no doubt understand, has rubbed off here.
So there’s the contradiction again. To be present, and yet have no agency. To have to travel, and yet never to truly arrive.
If you’re in or around Wivenhoe on the 17th, or can be, come along to the bookshop – let them know you’re coming – and we’ll raise a glass to all scarecrows.
And do get in touch if you’d like me to come and read some of these poems at your own poetry event.
If you’d just like to get hold of a copy of the book, you can do so here, or ask your independent bookshop to order one from Dunlin Press.
If you’re a journalist who would like a review copy, drop me or the publisher a line and we’ll sort one out.