A week today, the poetry pamphlet Sarah James and I have collaborated on will be launched in a special reading at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. It is the first in a new series of Poetry Duets, to be published by Mother’s MIlk Books. Hearth is themed around the idea of using objects to write about family life, memory and how these affect the way we see the world.
Apart from the opening and closing poems, which are wholly collaborative, the rest of the poems are paired. Either I wrote a new poem to go with one Sarah sent me, or she wrote one in response to mine. It was uncanny how close we were at times in the objects which had significance, although we are from different regions and of different ages.
The collaboration culminated in a very enjoyable visit from Sarah. We worked for two days to go through all our poems, select the strongest for the book, and give each other much more intensive feedback than we had been able to do by email in the previous months. The poems are all new ones for both of us.
We were delighted to discover that ‘Crow LInes’, one of the joint poems, was highly commended in Cheltenham Poetry Festival’s Compound Poem competition, a fantastic idea which has encouraged poets all over the country to collaborate with one another. I am excited to hear the winning poems at an event the poetry festival is planning.
Please do consider attending the launch, which is on 26th April at The Playhouse in Cheltenham at 11 am. Our reading is followed by David Morley and Adam Horowitz, both of whom I admire, so if you are going to that, do think about coming a bit eariler and hearing the poems from Hearth get their first ever outing. .
Here is the stunning cover:
And here is a taster poem.
What became of the Black Piano
The piano is huge against the wall,
black and steadfast, polished shiny.
The lid is shut, heavy, sound.
Pedals are silenced tongues
put out for holy communion.
One day the piano left the room,
dragged outside for the burning,
sentenced to death for its unsharp sharps,
its dumb keys and broken ivory.
They had to take an axe to it first.