Sunday, 14 April 2013

Launching The Sea Road

Reading from The Sea Road in London at the Poetry Cafe

I'm slowly recovering from a busy few weeks. The launch of my book of poems at the Aberystwyth Art Centre bookshop went better than I could have imagined, I'm pleased to say. None of the disastrous scenarios I'd envisaged came about :-) About 50 people turned up - the result of myself and Ken Jones (my co-launcher) having sent out invites and flyers to our friends and fellow-writers and Simon, the bookshop manager having done a wonderful job of advertising with a piece in the Cambrian News, on the website and posters everywhere. (It was rather unsettling having my face beaming down at me from pillars in the cafe, but eventually I got used to it and ignored them.) I've never read to so many people; it was a great privilege.

It's also the first time I've had such an opportunity to showcase my work (usually I'm part of a group or just reading one of my poems from a mixed anthology) and that was a good experience, giving me the chance to talk more about what the poems were about and what I was hoping to do in the collection. I'd found a poem by Wendell Berry, that morning which seemed to sum it up and so I started with that as a point of orientation:

A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

~ Wendell Berry ~

All the available copies of the book sold out as well as three I had in the car and Simon said he could have sold twice as many. I think my publisher's marketing officer (i.e. me with another hat on) had got the marketing strategy right. I'd planned to produce a pamphlet/small book and price it reasonably so that people would find it easier to give it a try and see if they liked it. 

The following week I was taking part in an event at the lovely Pen'rallt Bookshop in Machynlleth for World Book Day/International Women's Day. I was on a panel that included poet Chris Kinsey, from Newtown, Caroline Oakley, editor of Welsh Women's Press, Honno (and Ian Rankin's editor), Emily Trehair, editor of Planet and Manon Steffan Ros, Welsh language novelist. There was a full house and a full programme - which was interesting and inspiring as each woman talked about her work and read something of it and of another writer she admired. I'd chosen my poems for an audience of women as the event had been advertised under the International Women's Day banner elsewhere. I was aware that if there was a mixed audience I might have to revise that in hurry but in fact the audience was almost a hundred percent women so it worked out all right.

Afterwards there was tea and the most delicious cheese scones and delicate pieces of carrot cake and everyone mingled and made contacts and chatted - it was a great atmosphere. I hadn't had supper so a friend and I (Jane Whittle who will be reading from her inspiring books, along with Ken Jones, at the bookshop on May 2nd) went over to the Wynstay Hotel where they'd finished serving food but very kindly rustled up a leek and potato soup followed by apple tart. We nattered about writing and the time flew so it was 11.15pm before I drove back towards Aber.

The following week I was going up to Sheffield for my granddaughter's first birthday party/naming ceremony.  My son and daughter-in-law had invited me to read my poem to her which I was dead chuffed about. I hadn't been nervous about it at all as I was so delighted - until I walked into the public house were it was being held and suddenly thought, I'm going to have to think about how to introduce it, what shall I say! I took myself off to the Ladies and practised to the back of the door - as you do - and it all went ok. Afterwards, we ate the most amazing cake made by Leila's other grandmother. It was called a Red Velvet cake and the sponge was red. I told Dylan and his friends it was dinosaur blood which didn't seem to put them off...                                           
After a lovely weekend it was the long drive back to Wales but once I'd negotiated the motorway I listened to T S Eliot reading his Selected Poems and Four Quartets and could have gone on driving for ever. Well, maybe not for ever.


  1. Well done on all the readings and congratulations on such a lovely book of poetry.