Since I last posted I have been super busy, as usual. I am continuing to work on the Stillbirth Commission, working on an arts funding application for a community project in Scarborough, I’ve written an article for a magazine, interviewed Helen Mort and Kate Fox (both incredible and a joy to interview) worked like a maniac to get enough abstracts written so that I can hand in a good chunk of invoices (which ensures that my mortgage and bills are paid and I get to eat food for the month) and had a productive PhD meeting with my new supervisors. The big news, though, is that my new collection, Gifts the Mole Gave Me is back from the printers and ready for me to go pick it up next Thursday, which is its official launch date. Between now and then I am frantically trying to get the marketing information that lovely Valley Press have asked me to put together for publicity purposes, trying to organise a nice launch, which will be in Scarborough and getting ready to get this out and get reading from it.
This is the point in the publication process where my nerve wavers a little. The book is now in physical form. I have received some terrific feedback and endorsements from Carole Bromley, Deborah Alma and Richard Skinner, but now this thing that I created, this book of thoughts and little doorways into my life and my personal life is up and away into people’s homes where they will read and either like or dislike it, or feel nothing about it whatsoever. The real worry is that, even though the book’s themes are about physical movement and how that is mirrored in psychological movement, walking, travelling, observing, and the search for belonging; the rooting for roots, I am still writing about still birth and miscarriage and these are things that I have written about before, in all of my collections. The fear is that people will think me a one trick pony. Why should I be bothered by this? I’m not sure. Rationally I want to say strongly: this is my story, these are the poems I have written at a time in my life when I was tunnelling out of my daughter’s death. I write what I write when the poems are there. I can only write when the poems are there. The poem-fishing process is a delicate trout tickling affair when it comes to catching the slippery little blighters, the poems will only be there when they are there. But then, I find I am justifying myself to…who? Myself? Do I think I have to justify writing about my daughter’s death because I’ve written about it before? If I was mentoring myself I’d tell myself that the poems speak for themselves, if they are strong poems then they are strong poems, I am not stuck here, I am not writing the same poem repeatedly, it is more like the poems are tracking my journey. Be proud, Wendy, you’re allowed to be proud of your work. It is not a loud collection, it does not shout, it does not stamp or crash into the lime light, this is a quiet, subterranean collection. The metaphorical mole is on a journey, always, underground, in the dark, until that moment when the earth is turned and the mole feels the light, suddenly, and can suddenly see how far its come (here biology messes with my metaphor as moles have ridiculously bad eye sight and probably cannot see where they have been or are going, they only exist in their own moment…which is another metaphor entirely)
I am moving like the mole, through and up to the light. I am disturbing the earth and turning up treasures I didn’t know existed.
My first reading from the new book is at Mark Conner’s Word club in Leeds on the 27th. I will admit to being a bit nervous. There are a fair few Yorkshire based poems in the collection, I shall probably read those. It’s nice to be around Yorkshire folk for the first reading. It’d be smashing to see you there.
Until next week