Almost at year’s end. Festivities over. Time to get back to my world of writing. My new book of poetry looks at me, waiting, It’s reminding me I’ll soon be entering my 60th year, and all those poems I wrote reflecting on life and love, wandering in and out of passion, hope, lust, desire, now need bringing out into the world. I don’t know about other writers, but marketing my wares is my least favourite activity. I don’t mean sharing, reading, performing. I mean the business of town crier, telling, organising launches, being business-like and hoping to sell some books.
I like to think I’ve done my bit, writing. I like to think I’ll just drop the books into a canoe and give them a rucksack and say, hey, go speak for yourself now, I’m done with you. I’ve done with all the pensiveness, the pain that causes their birth in the first place, the tripping back into memory lane or guttersnipe street, disappointing lovers, growing older, false hopes, little snatches of joy, the crafting. My head is already somewhere else, stories are tumbling up from the stones of Thanet as my next publication, In Margate by Lunchtime.
Stories are so much more difficult to write than poems, sometimes I think that being a poet has spoilt me. One can dawdle quite happily through the world of allusion, illusion, the layers of meaning. Many times I have no idea what I’m trying to say until I’ve said it. That doesn’t quite work for stories. You do need to be boss, or they sweep you down the river, all those characters jumping up and down wanting their say. Pinning them down to a place you might think would make it easier. But history and research have a habit of humbling any knowledge you think you have, always the unexpected, and the sheer weight of it all – the individual lost, swept away from all those certainties of the time – geographical, concrete, familial.
One has to be historian, philosopher, scientist, mathematician. So much of our history is to do with developing, building, planning, inventing. When I look at old photos of Margate in its heydey, it’s difficult to accept the new; but of course it’s always been so, change. And at heart I’m an old romantic fool that loves the idea of pleasure gardens and steam ships and old lions being taking for a walk at midnight along the seashore. But of course that masks the reality – a world without anesthetics, caged animals, peasantry.
Maybe if I had lived then, I might have been a town crier – then I would be loud and bold-faced and shout my wares instead of saying I’ll be launching my new book, Sixty Years of Loving, in the following places shortly – (oh and some of them are actually like, allright)
Feb 9th, Jolly Sailor, Canterbury
Feb 11th, The Chapel, Broadstairs
Feb 13th, Blue Gate Poets, Swindon
Feb 27th, Aberysthwyth Arts Centre Bookshop
March 28th, Cellar Bards, Cardigan
March 30th, Tongues ‘n Grooves, Southsea
Times later. Happy New Year.