What a week. As the fates of the country and the planet whirl in the balance like fragile baubles on a Christmas tree for sale out in a blizzard . . . ADAMANTINE, my third poetry collection, is published today in the UK. While the United Kingdom still exists! Facebook friends know I’ve been quite exercised about the General Election, but even before I knew my British Publication Day would be swamped by the most important national poll of our lifetimes, I had decided to wait out the hectic Winterval season and line up some readings in the New Year. I wanted to make a little fuss though, so back in September I hired design wizard Sheila Urbanoski and her gaggle of elves at SheShe to help me refresh my website for the occasion. Given that I was also burning the midnight oil this autumn to help Waterloo Press revamp their website, not perhaps the greatest of timings . . . But SheShe’s gorgeous redesign – clean and bold, putting the books upfront – inspired me to keep honing my own dashboard skills. After three months of struggles with block editors, buggy plug-ins, obstructive hosts and obsolete URLs, I am thrilled to officially launch the new website and ADAMANTINE (UK) with a small blog party!
My guests of honour include the fabulous Sheila of SheShe – I raise my glass high to her superb good humour, prompt troubleshooting, wisecracks and wise advice. If you’re looking for a website guru I heartily recommend her. Please do take a nosey round my glamorous new dwelling, stroke the shiny tiles, scribble graffiti on the walls, and let me know if any of the plumbing or electrics isn’t working! I’m still figuring out Buttons, but those should be popping at a party, anyway!
I’d also like to toast poet and Charles Wallace Fellow, Linda Ashok, who conducted a wonderful interview with me about ADAMANTINE for Poetry & Poets, which I’m delighted to invite you to read. At least, Linda’s questions were wonderful. An astonishing new voice, whose recent collection WHORELIGHT comes highly recommended by George Szirtes, she’s illuminated ADAMANTINE’s concerns with a scintillating eloquence. I hope you enjoy my answers as well, which range over topics from concrete poetry and prose-poems to the ethics of writing poetry of witness from within the ‘ivory tower’. I also used the interview to bubble about some other poets I admire, including Adrianne Kalfopoulou, Fawzia Muradali Kane and Stephanie Norgate, who did me the honour of providing cover quotes for ADAMANTINE, and Merrie Joy Williams and Sea Sharp, whose respective collections OPEN WINDOWS and BLACK COTTON were published last month by LIT UP, Waterloo Press’s new mentoring and publishing scheme for emerging poets of colour. In the increasingly cold and hostile environment we find ourselves in, working as an editor for LIT UP this autumn has been a heartwarming experience. I greatly look forward to publishing the other seven poets in the scheme next year.
Party favours go as well to the marvellous eco-poet Helen Moore for writing the first review of ADAMANTINE, forthcoming in Tears in the Fence, a venerable journal that goes from strength to strength with its international reach. Enormous thanks also to the Canada Council for the Arts, for funding the Western Canada leg of this summer’s launch tour of the US edition, and to my hosts, the gloriously gifted poets Brenda Niskala, Bruce Rice and Miranda Pearson, and the venues McNally Robinson Saskatoon and Emily Carr House, for their generous support of my application. The deadline was the day before I left, so to hear later in the autumn that I was successful has really made a difference to my Christmas festivities – and to plans for bookish travels next year. Last but not least, I clink glasses with the fiercely talented and ambitious Kate Gale and Mark E Cull of Red Hen/Pighog Press, who along with the dedicated and ever-friendly staff, including Monica Fernandez, Natasha McClellan and Tobi Harper, have worked so hard to make ADAMANTINE a transatlantic success.
For now, finally, thank YOU for reading. You can order ADAMANTINE in any book shop in the UK, buy it from Amazon in the UK, Canada or US, or direct from me at readings. Events in Brighton, Chichester, London and New York will be announced soon!