I write this post for two reasons; firstly, I am looking for help. Secondly as an act of deliberate vulnerability.
Almost everyone I know who ‘writes’ feels like an imposter. This is particularly true of poets. Partly this is because the value or quality of writing is very subjective. How do you judge one poem against another? How do we ever know that what we write is ‘good’? Frankly, friends are unreliabe witnesses and even if we get some wider exposure, praise can feel hard to accept.
This might always be true, even when we have been ‘published’. One of the wonderful things that I have done is to curate collections of poetry for Proost, which involved giving previously unpublished poets that delicious sense that someone else had read what they had produced (out of the depths of their being) and liked it so much that they wanted to put it in to print. Whilst I hope and believe that this may well have helped some people along their creative path, in my own experience, the boost that this kind of recognition gives can be fleeting.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not think that confidence and self belief are necessary for artistic expression. In a post about a decade ago I wrote this;
…I decided that great art does not require confidence (although as in all things, it may well help) but it does require tremendous courage. Because what we create, we create out of ourselves. And once created, it leaves some tender vulnerable part of ourselves out in the open where the wolves still range…
I have been gathering some work for a new project, which will be entitled something like ‘After the apocalypse’. It is a collection of poetry/meditation in three parts; before, during and after. If you have read my blog before you will already know the themes, but this project deliberately sets the pandemic as the backdrop for protest, hope, activism and change. The intention (when courage allows such a thing) is to take this project on the road somehow with a series of ‘conversation’ events- poetry readings/art/music/discussion – in which I hope we can start to dream together of a better way of being. Not that I have all that worked out yet of course…
I asked Si Smith if he was interested in collaborating, and he graciously said yes. If you don’t know Si’s work, then you should check out his blog here. He is fantastically talented artist, graphic novelist and illustrator. He is also a very generous bloke who has done a lot of curation/support of other artists and I often feel that I have simply asked too much of him. The imposter inside tells me that my work should not sit alongside his. This feeling was made keener when the publisher we were hoping to work with informed me that they were not interested after all. All the old doubts, which never went away, flood out in to the open once again.
Finding a publisher for any written material is very hard, particularly for poetry. I have quite a lot of experience in and around the edge of this world and know well that there are now many routes to market through self-publishing and using on-line resources, but still, a pubisher who knows his/her business is what I am hoping for. The problem of course is that so are thousands of others. How on earth do we cut through the noise and find someone who is willing to give this project a chance?
In the spirit of the sort of vulnerable courage described above, I decided to ask for help.
If you have read anything I have written and found it to have usefulness or value, then you already have my deepest thanks. However, if you also have any contacts or suggestions for a publisher, then I would also be very grateful.