Recent weeks have seen me snatching at the early hours of the morning and any other time I could salvage to get my new book of poems straightened out. In terms of length, this will be more of a pamphlet; comprising around 18 poems varying in theme, style, length and date of first composition. The title of the collection will be What Remains and, by self-publishing a small run of 50 copies, I hope to distribute the majority of these myself to pretty much anywhere that will take one (or more): libraries, colleges, charity book shops, workplaces, poetry readings (at which I’m reading) and of course to friends and family. I do intend to have plenty of copies left over and so will keep these to hand to be sold or given away to anyone else (that means you) who would like one. As I may have mentioned before, the main reason I’m having these printed and distributed, the raison d’être, is to add value. Of course, whomever those copies reach will be the true judge of whether I have been successful to that end; and so there’s only one way to find out. Thus, recognising my priority as being the straightforward distribution of the poems and their overall value, I felt it worthwhile to look into self-publishing electronically via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Having learnt a little more about this process and realising I could potentially reach thousands of people by simply uploading a file, I’m all for it; and I look forward to seeing the eventual result. But first, the print run.
I would say to the reader – and to myself – that What Remains is my debut book of poems. But in a way it is just my next debut. This may smack of amateurism – and that’s what I want to discuss. I would confidently say that it is an issue a lot of poets face at the beginning of their careers (careers for want of a better word): that is, the poet, if he is writing consistently enough, is consistently improving (learning from mistakes, learning from reading more poetry by more poets, etc.), and so that poet’s first collection, his debut, may in a year or two hence be looked upon by himself as an early, immature effort; the work of an unpractised poet; something he feels he could top in the coming months. And so, after continued writing, he has his next book of poems – and this is the one he would call his debut; this is the book from which he wants to spring into the thriving world of poetry. Of course, how long do you go on calling your next collection your true debut? Is a collection only a debut when it has been “properly” published by the old guard with all the money and marketing and experience and – they would have you believe – knowledge of what’s best for your book? I see my poetry and even the book the poems sit within as my art, which essentially means I can call it what the hell I like and do what the hell I want with it. For me that’s rather important: it means choosing the cover, fonts and overall design; things I’m passionate about and feel I want to and should be able to control if I’m to say this is my book.
So, yes, I would call this my debut, and though I’ve said that before the label doesn’t objectively come with the relevance we like to ascribe it; nor do I feel my book will be printed and sent out to you all with the need for any label. For now, I call it my debut. Next year I may write another debut. Or maybe next year will see me publish my second collection. I can’t know yet. All I know is what this one book is to me and what I have hopes for it being to so many other people.
In the coming weeks What Remains will be ready to fly out to whoever would let it land in their hands. As I’ve said, I’m not out to make money and so would be more than happy to send you a free copy. Of course, if I’m to do this by post and not (ideally) by hand, it will cost me, so for postal orders, I would only ask for the one or two pounds for shipping costs.
Please contact me if you have any questions about the book and/or if you would like a copy.