8 Jan 2013


My lovely friend Jude Cowan, http://judecowan.blogspot.co.uk/ who is a poet, musician, artist, academic and many other inspiring things, tagged me in this ‘The Next Big Thing’ blog. It’s for artists to blog about their next book, or play, or edition of their magazine, or whatever.

 I shall answer, as Jude has in her turn, these set questions about my 'Next Big Thing' project, before I tag four others. Details of those people at the end of this blog…so, first question...

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I have 2 books coming up and I’m not sure which one to write about because I’m immersed in both their processes right now. They are:

1.    A full collection of poetry, the title of which is Ladygardens, and ideas - if that is what they are - are just an abundant phenomena I have always been prone to. Some poems arise from poetry workshops or exercises I take part in, in order to hone the skill of capturing them in form; some of them appear as visual images that I am compelled to capture; some of them just arrive like sudden shocks. Sometimes the sound of some words leads off into a narrative, or I get a rhythm in my head on a repetitive loop and the only way to make it stop is to write it out.

2.    An un-named, creative book about my (father's side) Lepcha cultural heritage and Lepcha literature. I have just received an Arts Council grant to pursue research for this, in both the UK and in West Bengal, India.

What genre does your book fall under?

1.    Poetry.

2.    Multiples genres: life-writing, poetry, folklore, travel-writing, and so on.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

1.    My poetry characters, apart from myself (I do love Maxine Peake’s acting, what a thought that she could portray me!) would have to be a crowd of Extras from a Ken Loach movie – in an array of costumes; some CGI creatures and entities; some special effects by Spielberg; and an owl, I think.

2.    It would make a wonderful film (in my humble opinion), in which I would like to see currently unknown Lepcha actors given opportunities to play some of the parts.  I can imagine my Dad, if he were still alive, and my Uncle Percy, squabbling over which of them should be played by Jonny Depp. And Maxine Peake as me, of course.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

1.    Contemporary and traditional poetry forms representing a range of experiences and subject matter, in vivid, visual, language.

2.    An adventure that weaves across the divides of time, continents, cultures;representing many voices.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

1.    I have no idea where some of my poems began. Some have been through countless drafts. Some gave birth to themselves very quickly. I only hope that when they are published, I won’t have that dread realisation that any of them ‘aren’t finished yet’.

2.    I am still yet to do that.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

For both books: the compulsion to make unspoken truths and injustices known. Anger. Beauty. The love that is at the core of Socialism. Hallucinations. Feminists, past and present. The landscape, especially my local Dartmoor. Strange events and phenomenal people. Family. Humour.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

1.    Many of the poems have been enjoyed by audiences in a range of poetry, arts and literary venues; or have been published in journals and magazines; or are just hanging out in a book being rhythmic, visual, comic, fierce, or strange.

2.    Who can resist an adventure? Especially one that bites back at colonialism, tells tales of mountains and missing grandmothers, London’s underbelly and animal wisdom? And don’t you want to know what Arts Council England are giving their money to, these days?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

1.    Ladygardens will be published by Burning Eye Books, this spring 2013.

2.    I am currently looking for an agent for the other book. The Arts Council do not recognise self-publishing as an outcome that they will fund, so hopefully – no, I’m sure – someone will really, really want it. 

And the people I am going to tag, now, for their blogs to appear by January 16th, are:

1.    Clive Birnie; writer, performance poet, and publisher of Burning Eye Books

2.    Rebecca Tantony; performance poet, writer, and teller or travellers tales

3.    Rebecca Gethin; poet, novelist and writer who lives near to me in rural Devon, UK

4.    Jay Leeming; a prizewinning poet, and one of my favourite voices from across the pond