Readings: Poetry Cafe and Essex Book Festival

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I’ve mostly taken a break from social media during the start of this year. But I have been working/writing/editing. In fact, I’m almost finished with a new collection of poetry. All will start to be revealed soon.

So what happens during this late-stage writing process? Well, the manuscript has left the building and flown off to a poet-editor who can tell me whether I’ve completely lost the plot or not. And I’m basically taking each poem along to the gym to toughen them up and get them as lean as they can be.

It’s also a last chance to drop a few that somehow aren’t cutting it, and maybe add in something new, or previously overlooked, that better suits the shape of the collection as a whole. I really like this stage. I like being brave with the edits and making the most of a time when you stop wondering what you’ve got to say and asking, in no uncertain terms, whether you’ve really said it. And if you haven’t… chop.

The artwork for the book is also in progress. For me, the design is a part of the whole. I don’t think I could stand to have the book’s cover and design as something separate, something conceived of and executed elsewhere.

In fact, it’s often when the artwork starts to reveal itself that I know, ultimately, the final selection for the poems. That might be anathema to often-held views of poetic good practice. Except it’s not for me. It helps. The wider arts of painting, music and film (etc) have always guided my writing, sometimes more than the work of other writers.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to let you know that I’ll be previewing some new work in March.

First up I’ll be reading at The Poetry Cafe, Betterton Street, London, on 19 March. The event is the Patrician Press launch for Christine de Luca’s new book of Shetlandic poems, Northern Alchemy. I’ll be in support along with poet and editor Philip Terry, who’s fresh from editing The Penguin Book of Oulipo.

Then, on 21 March I’ll be in Manningtree, Essex, with Dunlin Press, alongside fellow Essex indie publishers Muscaliet Press and Patrician Press. A Celebration of Essex Indie Presses is an Essex Book Festival event, and apart from me there will be readings from Dunlin Press poet Alex Toms, plus Emma Kittle-Pey, Chris McCully, Suzy Norman and more TBC.

So, that’s me out of hibernation then. Hope to see you in March!

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