Why is it so hard to do publicity?
I always thought the most difficult thing to write well was – a poem.
But there’s something else I find more difficult. And it’s writing the publicity material about the poems. It’s almost impossible.
Why should it be so hard to put into words how something you think is remarkable is . . . remarkable?
It may be something to do with fear, fear that the describing words turn into marketing clichés and disappear down the drain. It’s fear of letting the poets down. And beneath that, there’s something else – a kind of rage about the way the world works these days. So much hype, so many shiny, empty words. I’m scared mine will disappear with the rest of the dross.
But here I am again about to launch five new publications. Five! Five things to say about five different publications. How can they all be wonderful?
Well four of them are wonderful, and the fifth is funny. How do I know they’re wonderful?
No, wait. I don’t like ‘wonderful’. Please put it back. I’ll have ‘remarkable’ please, and yes, I do most certainly think they’re remarkable. They made me sit up and remark. They made me sit up and remark so much that I wanted to work with these writers. And work we did. It’s taken an age to make them. You have no idea of the time spent debating commas, accents, format, poems to go in, poems to come out, running order, titles that were okay, titles that were rubbish, where to put notes, what to say on the back jacket, which design worked best on the cover, which didn’t....
The books are done. Two are at the printer’s in Berwick-on-Tweed. Three are about to make their way to Dolphin Press tomorrow morning. They’re not in the HappenStance online shop yet because they don’t fully exist yet except electronically, though that is existence.
And yesterday I spent several hours finalising the flyers and the copy for the publications list. The publications list! What a nightmare. Each time I revise it I get something wrong.The words for the new publications either start to sound tinny or I find I’ve described two books in the same way. You can’t have TWO fresh and originals. And since each one is completely different from the rest, it can’t be that hard. Can it?
Take it from me, it’s hard. Even for a bard.
But here’s what it says about the new babes on the sweated-over publications list.
Number one: a whole book, a first book, no less.. And here’s what it says on the publications list:
Noir, Charlotte Gann
Troubled, troubling and fearless, Charlotte Gann’s first collection confronts manipulation and damage, and sails into the light. A book that can be read like a film.
You may think those italics emerged easily, just like turning on a tap. Wrong. I have never before read a collection of poems that resembled a film in its clarity of image and narrative thrust. But for me, Charlotte’s book is like this. Like a noir film. With shivers.
Then there are three pamphlets, described below in alphabetical order of writer’s surname (just in case you think it’s in order of remarkableness).
The Days that Followed Paris, Paul Stephenson.
During a night of co-ordinated terrorist attacks in November 2015, the poet was at home in Paris. He was unharmed but swept up (like the whole city) into a maelstrom of publicity and alarm. These poems, in many shapes and forms, offer a response to that unhinging experience.
Instructions for Making Me, Maria Taylor.
Poems of unfailing vitality and charm. You read them and immediately want to share them. Honestly, every poet and aspiring writer should read ‘The Horse’ ...
In the Glasshouse, Helen Tookey.
Haunting and evocative work that crosses the boundaries of form and feeling, searching, experimenting, feeling its way. Between truth and fable, intuition and enquiry, something magical and beautiful emerges.
Okay, what do you think? There’s so much more to be said, but in a publications list you have to whittle it down to the bare minimum.
You can’t read any of these yet, but soon you will be able to.
My slaved-over descriptive words have two purposes. They’re trying to make you want to read the poems – of course – but they’re also trying to evoke these publications as they are – entirely remarkable, but in different ways.
I’m not mentioning the fifth yet because it’s called Down with Poetry! That heretical book will look after itself.
More on heresy soon.