Friday 17 December 2010

Making an e-book

My aim in publishing David Henschel's Heres and Nows was to let these poems live on.

I do this partly in memory of a dear friend, but I wouldn't have done it if I didn't believe in the the poems themselves.

My next step will be to format this book for eBook readers, such as Amazon Kindle Reading Device, the Sony Reader and others. I believe it is even possible to read books (with some limitations no doubt) on an iPhone, and few things could be more suitable for reading on an iPhone when stuck on a bus or a crowded train than a poem.

This is not the death of the traditional book but another way of reading. I have now got a Kindle device and it is going to be excellent to take as many books as I want on holiday without having to fill up my suitcase with them.

I am reading Steve Weber's eBook manual which is full of useful information about marketing eBooks, but the book itself appears to have been created by uploading the file to Amazon's Kindle converter with no subsequent proofing. For example, there is no contents page and there are still hyphens in the middle of lines where line breaks used to be.

When I uploaded a pdf of Heres and Nows to the Kindle converter the result, as I have mentioned before, was a horrible mess. Poetry needs much more care with formatting than plain text.

I see no reason why an eBook should not be as beautifully-presented as a paper book, and that will be my aim when preparing David Henschel's Heres and Nows in eBook format in the New Year.

So far I have converted my original word processing file into HTML and am patiently going through the code line by line, eliminating the bloated code that results from automated conversions, and putting in the simple tags that I hope Kindle will understand.

When I have succeeded, the link will be here.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Creating new things - 2

From David Henschel's Heres and Nows

The workshed

Please come - do tread upon my road.
Let pass,
Lay on its side the deadly glass
Here mark time running in my blood.
Your understanding may explain
And so release this joylike pain
We to time’s s top may do each other good.

This workshed is the place. Come in.
For this time’s being rout
All thoughts of what you’d be about;
I’ll lend my spirit’s eyes till yours begin
To be awake. I only want to show
The poetry of things which by hands grow
Out of the dead wood new life win.

Oh, no - it is not nothing I have done
As yet not much, but trust:
I only stay you since there must
Between us pass the sense of things begun
Of shapes and uses in the fingers bred
New living lovely - as though saws and chisels bled
Into the wood, making creation one.

Friday 3 December 2010

Creating new things

The next poem I shall post here from Heres and Nows is called The workshed.

I shall post the whole next week. If you like it, use the link top right of this page to order a copy of the book from Amazon, maybe for a present for a friend. Or put it on your own Amazon wish list.

The poem begins,
Please come – do tread upon my road.
Let pass,
Lay on its side the deadly glass
Here mark time running in my blood.

The deadly glass I take to be the hourglass marking our mechanical time.

It's an invitation to follow the poet David into his workshop. He made other things there, too – clay sculptures, paintings, wood carvings.

A workshed is a place where you go to be yourself, to think and make whatever you want. If we don't have a real shed we can still make one within – the sanctuary from where the comings and goings of the world do not affect us. Montaigne said one should always have a room where no-one else goes.

To be asked to follow into the workshed is therefore an invitation of the closest friendship, something not ordinarily risked.

Compare these lines from another of David's poems, A piece of the maine?:

Go to another man and show him –
"This I've just written, tell me what you think."
He'll say "Oh yes, how nice" and take the scrip
To use the eyes and hide the doubtful lip.

Later in The workshed is this line:
This workshed is the place. Come in.

and this:
...I only want to show
The poetry of things which by hands grow
Out of the dead wood new life win.

More next week.

Monday 22 November 2010

Perpetual motion

So, here is this month's poem, as promised. Things that we think move are still, if we can catch the stillness. Things that we think are still, move.
... a ballet girl frou-frou'd remain[s] in a brush stroke
Perpetually mobile

Bowl of white hyacinths

I swear that hyacinth dances, and I’m not alas drunk.

I’ve been sitting and watching that bowl’s green lances
Curving and swaying, the curled white heads prancing
Like foam in the breeze from the top of a wave.

You will say – they are still.
Does that stop them from moving?
Don’t you know how

The wind in the corn in a painting can ripple
And shadow with sunlight swing under the trees
Or a ballet girl frou-frou’d remain in a brush stroke
Perpetually mobile?
I say they are dancing, their stillness illusion

– That, drunken or sober, remains my conclusion.

Monday 15 November 2010

Seeing flowers move - 2

Gallileo said, 'It still moves.'


Bowl of white hyacinths

I swear that hyacinth dances, and I'm not alas drunk.

More later.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Seeing flowers move

In Ancient Greece just before the time of Socrates lived philosophers who were seers, not just intellectuals.

Heraclitus said that everything moves. Parmenides said that nothing moves. My guess is that they would have agreed with each other.

Heraclitus, fragment 41 (from Heraclitus, Fragments (Penguin Classics)): The river where you set your foot just now is gone – those waters giving way to this, now this.

Parmenides: One path only is left for us to speak of, namely, that It is. In it are very many tokens that what is, is uncreated and indestructible, alone, complete, immovable and without end.

So, for ordinary mind things move perpetually. Change is the only thing that is reliably the same. Yet seen from another viewpoint the choreography of all this ballet is written and immovable.

The next poem of David's that I shall publish here later this month will be Bowl of white hyacinths.

It's a fun poem, about how things that seem still to ordinary mind, nevertheless dance.

Copyright notice

David Henschel's 'Heres and Nows'

Please note that all the material published here is copyright, and subject to copyright law.

A modest proportion of the material here may be reproduced for the purpose of review or comment ('fair use') provided either a link back to this site is given or the title and author are named.

If you are in doubt about whether your use of this material will contravene copyright, I welcome enquiries. I am generally happy to have more people know about David's poetry.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Prospero bettered

We talked about what lives on.

David Henschel's poem Prospero bettered quoted a line, I believe from Shakespeare, every third thought was my grave.

I think the correct line is every third thought shall be my grave, from The Tempest. In searching the internet for the source I came across the strange claim that Shakespeare's contemporary, the playwright Christopher Marlowe, had a fake burial in St Nicholas's Church, Deptford, with the implication that he didn't after all die in a pub brawl.

I mention this apparently irrelevant claim because, coincidentally this morning, before coming across this curious claim, I was in conversation with my sister and for some reason the song Dem bones dem bones dem dry bones... came up. I told my sister something she didn't previously know, that the words of the song are derived from Ezekiel chapter 37 in the Old Testament. I went on to say that there is a rather crude carving depicting all the skeletons coming together set into the wall inside St Nicholas's Church, Deptford.

(The carving is attributed to Grinling Gibbons, but if that is true then I imagine he was six years old at the time and was trying out his first pen-knife, because it certainly didn't look like the work of Gibbons to me.)

I also mentioned associatively that Marlowe was supposed to have been buried somewhere in the churchyard but the grave is unmarked (I looked).

So there we are. Did Marlowe die or did he live on? What of us dies and what lives on? Or as the Bible says, can these bones live? (Ezekiel 37:3)

Prospero bettered

Father and son walked by
holding hands
the elder balding, face lined, yet
showing in the boy's clear face
spring hair and summer-coming feet
as once he was.

At first I smiled at this; then
saddened by time's evidence my
'third thought was my grave.'

But who would languish there –
the fourth was like the first and surer
for the sense of what lives on
despite the single death: perhaps
to better Prospero every fourth thought
should be brave.

Confirming worth
came sun with shadow patterning
the present path.

Monday 25 October 2010

Temporary hiatus

My computer is in for repair. There may be a slight gap in posts. I hope to resume within the next week.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Converting the book for Kindle

My main aim in publishing Heres and Nows is that David Henschel's poetry should persist in the world.

What is good should live on, and this theme recurs a number of times in the poems themselves.

To this end, I am working on making Heres and Nows available in an inexpensive edition for e-readers like Kindle, Sony Reader and iPad.

I have to start somewhere, so I am starting with the Amazon Kindle machine.

On uploading the electronic pdf file via the Amazon web site I found that all my beautiful formatting had gone and the poems were jammed together with their lines concatenated. The thing was an unreadable mess.

What I thought would be the work of a few minutes is going to take me many weeks of work, tinkering about with html tags, replacing accented characters with their ASCII-codes, and creating links (because Kindle books don't have page numbers). It's lucky I have some web knowledge or this would be a non-starter!

When it's ready, you'll read about it first here.

Monday 11 October 2010

The poet in you

The poet within was the other theme that emerged from the book launch of Heres and Nows.

Extracts from Each waking one of us:

I only know I rediscovered how
each waking one of us is poet
and may utter hope
as confidently as the Pope.

And you - whoever recognise
a kind of beauty, any place
in anything where eye or ear discerned
and touched with them in turn
your spirit with the laughing wand
have also waked, and passed beyond.

Thursday 7 October 2010

What lives on

The theme of what lives on emerged several times.

I hadn't planned it that way, but that's how it was.

Of course, at the book launch of Heres and Nows three poems were in memory of David Henschel, and it was natural that the question of persistence should arise there. But the question arose in some of David's poems too, in a way that I hadn't thought about when choosing them.

John Torrance, in his poem Dimensions of remembrance, asked,

Who knows the rules? If not
pegged down by place to a date,
can 'when' be large as time,
wandering early and late,
could you be with us even now?

and said:

your voice all letters, poems, now.

David's own poem Prospero bettered asks and perhaps answers the same question more indirectly. He watches a father and son walking by, contrasting the boy's clear face with the father's lined one, referring to time's evidence.

At first I smiled at this; then
saddened by time's evidence my
'third thought was my grave.'

But he has a fourth thought. More on this topic next week.

Later this month I shall post the whole of Prospero bettered.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Beer and poetry

Lovibonds provided a very special ambience for the book launch.

Here we were, people who love poetry, together with people who love and make beer.

It is always a pleasure to meet people who put attention into their craft, and Jason and David of Lovibonds made us feel very welcome.

The people who turned up for the poetry loved the beer - Lovibonds certainly seemed to be making a lot of sales - and I think that the people who came for the beer loved the poetry. Everyone was very attentive.

Afterwards a young couple who hadn't known the poetry event was on made a point of coming up to me to thank me. The young woman said "I haven't heard poetry before but I really enjoyed it."

It is my belief that good poetry properly read is a kind of magic. I think it reaches the parts even beer cannot reach.

Lovibonds have posted some photographs of the event on their Facebook page, here. Some of the photos are of a different event the previous day. This is me in this photo. It's a bit weird because it looks as though I am scratching my left ear, until you notice that both my hands are holding the book.

Sunday 3 October 2010

A happy event

The launch of David Henschel's Heres and Nows at Lovibond's Brewery in Henley-on-Thames was a lovely occasion.

A varied selection of David's poems from the book were read by myself (Martin Dace), Norah Henschel, and John Torrance, as well as some poems of our own (also in the book) remembering David.

Good though they are on the page, David's poems were made to be read out loud, and the event breathed them into life.

I realised how many of the poems encourage us to find and be the poet within - not necessarily that we shall all write, but that we can all live poetic lives. There was a recurring theme of what in us passes and what lives on, too.

It's late and I'm tired. I'll write more tomorrow.

Here once again is the Amazon link to David Henschel's Heres and Nows. (RRP £6.50).

Monday 27 September 2010

Book launch event this Saturday 2nd October!

At this point I have abandoned the idea of tickets - too complicated - just turn up!

Saturday 2nd October,
Lovibonds Brewery, Market Place,
(entrance off the car park).

Beer, poetry and good company in lovely Henley-on-Thames.

Here is the Amazon link to David Henschel's Heres and Nows. A limited number of copies will be for sale on the day at the special launch price of £5 (RRP £6.50).

And you – whoever recognise
a kind of beauty, any place
in anything where eye or ear discerned
and touched with them in turn
your spirit with the laughing wand
have also waked, and passed beyond.

- from Each waking one of us, David Henschel

Monday 20 September 2010

The beauty of accomplishment

As promised, here is the whole poem Old age.

As I wrote earlier this month, the beauty of accomplishment is the summation of the nobility, persistence and good humour with which we have met the ordinary challenges that come our way today.

If we are impatient and ill-tempered now, can we expect tranquillity later? I suspect not. I think the stillness that is to come must be won now. That is what we would wish to retain when everything else is lost or forgotten.

Old age

How often old age
Achieves the beauty of accomplishment.
In lines of clear enigma
Time’s translation writes down what was said
By tongues of passion, or of pain, or peace
In languages of longing, loving, learning,
Learning forgetting,
What was once done.

That it is done
Is so simple an idea to live with
It gives the face – time’s page, like paper –
And one may look through the eyes
Into stillness.

(Here is the Amazon link to David Henschel's Heres and Nows.)

Tuesday 14 September 2010

A new frontier

On Friday I shall be going to Henley to look at the venue for the launch of Heres and Nows. I feel sure it will be excellent.

Meanwhile I am still struggling to get the Search Inside function on Amazon to work. It seems I have to set up a new account with, as my password does not work. Nevertheless by following this blog you can get a good idea of the 111 pages of thought-provoking poetry you can buy for a mere £6.50.

Here is another fragment. Why panic and pain? Only, in my interpretation, because to accept the wonder of an opening reality we have to give up so much that is old.


Panic and pain

Of course lifelong I had been finding
thoughts, or they found me.
But suddenly
it seemed I crossed a frontier to a land
as rich as spring with newnesses and
no more frontiers.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Book launch event - venue confirmed

Photo adapted from Steven Depolo

We have a venue for the publication launch party for Heres and Nows.

The date: Saturday 2nd October, in the middle of Henley Literary Festival.
The location: the tasting room at Lovibonds Brewery in the heart of beautiful Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
The time: 4.30-6pm (time to be confirmed).

This event will suit poetry lovers and lovers of fine beer alike.

I need to know numbers as space is limited. If you would like to come, please contact me using the email address at the foot of the right-hand column of this blog, when you will receive a virtual ticket.

Please also click the 'follow' icon opposite to be kept up-to-date with postings and poems on this blog.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Old age and the beauty of accomplishment

We are what we have become.

Obvious, of course, tautological.

Yet if we could remember this, we should perhaps become better than we are. We shall become the result of what we do and are now. Then, when old age comes, we shall have something - made of the nobility, persistence and good humour with which we have met the ordinary challenges that come our way today.

David's poem Old age is optimistic in this respect. The poem begins:

How often old age
Achieves the beauty of accomplishment

and ends:

And one may look through the eyes
Into stillness.

I would suggest that it is how a person is at the end that measures the achievement of his or her life. And to find the stillness then, we have to be capable of finding the stillness now.

That at any rate is my opinion. I shall let the poem speak for itself when I publish the whole poem on this blog later this month.

Meanwhile check back each week for new updates.

David Henschel's Heres and Nows: Poems From A Life. is available on Amazon and at the Bell Bookshop, Henley-on-Thames.

Tuesday 31 August 2010

What fear stops us speaking?

Extract from 'Street passing'

Why did you look at me like that
Dark girl I passed in the wet street?
Was it the faintest of mockery
Returning my glance, or barely perceptible
Wrinkle of friendliness I saw
Never now discoverable?

While we often speak when silence would be better, sometimes we don't speak when we should.

In Street passing the writer passes a girl in the street. Some communication of faces occurs which is ambiguous and not followed up. What fear of what might happen stops us speaking when speaking would bring clarity?

Things linger in the mind that could so easily have been turned into day-lit certainty, one way or the other, and we might then move on. One wants to be the poet but change the script, yet we've been there and not done exactly the same thing.

The poem's setting is a wet street, which seems somehow appropriate.

And if we didn't have these painful uncertainties, maybe there would be fewer beautiful poems.

David Henschel's Heres and Nows: Poems From A Life. is now available on Amazon.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Bell Bookshop, Henley-on-Thames

The Bell Bookshop, 52 Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BL has copies of Heres and Nows for sale. This shop is indeed, as another reviewer has said, like a mini-Waterstones, in that it has a wide selection of really interesting books that you might not think about looking for on the internet.

In my youth in Henley I bought most of my books there. I still have the Penguin Ovid - Metamorphoses priced at 7/6 (seven shillings and sixpence, equivalent to thirty-seven and a half new pence in new money) and Boethius - The Consolation of Philosophy at a mere six shillings, as well as P. D. Ouspensky - Tertium Organum in hardback at a rather more substantial four pounds.

Personally I prefer the bookshop experience, so if you live near Henley-on-Thames, pop in. If you don't, here is the Amazon link to Heres and Nows: Poems From A Life.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Becoming a publisher

Title page
There are probably many people who have a book inside them, and a few seriously want to publish their work to the world. But if you are not a famous name or remarkably young and good-looking then your chances of getting a publisher are slim. This does not mean that your book is no good - those who read it will be the judge of that.

However, this is the internet age when anyone can publish a video on U-tube or make a blog. Then the public, not the publisher, decides what they want to see and read. With the new technology it can be the same with books, too. You decide what you want to publish, and a print-on-demand (POD) computer will print and bind a book every time someone orders one. No piles of unsold books in the garage (assuming you have a garage).

Books, however, are still a little tricky. You can use Lulu or Amazon Createspace but Lulu and Createspace take a fair slice of whatever revenues you get (albeit less than a traditional publisher). There are also some limitations regarding formats and distribution, which also differ between the these two providers. I wanted complete control of the book creation process.

When I came across David Henschel's poems and formed the idea to publish them, I realised that the only way I would get the book to look the way I wanted and to be distributed as widely as possible was to go direct to Lightning Source, who print for Lulu and many others.

However, Lightning Source does not design the book for you. There are plenty of help files, but all the layout, cover and industry-compatible file creation are the responsibility of the person who submits the book (in this case, me). Thus I embarked on a steep learning curve to becoming a publisher. More on this in future posts.

My grandfather worked in the book design department of Rich and Cowan and (I think) Jonathan Cape, so maybe it's in my blood that I enjoy the whole process of book creation, down to deciding the margins and typeface.

For 'Here's and Nows' I shall be using the 'look inside' facility on Amazon, and you can judge if I have done a good job. Or of course you could just order a copy of Heres and Nows: Poems From A Life..

- Martin

Friday 20 August 2010

So far so good

Interesting day in Henley yesterday in which I made some useful contacts. An event is looking possible but there are some hurdles to be overcome. Meanwhile here is another poem from the book. I said I would put up a whole poem a month from David Henschel's Heres and Nows but it seems opportune to be a little ahead of schedule today.

This poem is David's response to seeing the extraordinary modernist cathedral at Ronchamps (see picture at right).

Notre Dame du Haut

Has said only and exactly
What he wanted
Poem in concrete and glass.
May my words so.

Tricorne, concave, pyramidal
Shape to hold
Like a hand
And launch
Breathtaking falcon;
To catch and cut and colour
Shape shadow.

Solid in flight
Yet rooted and horizoned
Man’s, yet
God belonging:
Embracing, accepting, dismissing
A single universal gesture
Arm, palm, wings
One benison
High hill to hills, pilgrims, skies
And sun saluting.
One message


Wednesday 18 August 2010

Book launch

David Henschel in 1985

Getting a book in print is one thing, letting people know it exists is another.

Heres and Nows author David Henschel lived and taught in beautiful Henley-on-Thames, and so it is logical to have the official book launch there. It turns out that the publication date is right in the middle of the Henley-on-Thames literary festival. This I didn't know until Googling this morning.

Tomorrow I shall go to Henley to see what can be done. Needless to say followers of this blog will be invited to whatever lovely event can be arranged, so please click on the Follow link opposite right now.

More tomorrow.

Heres and Nows official publication date

Heres and Nows has the official publication date of 1 October 2010.

Monday 16 August 2010

Peace is in awakening

The extract at the end of this post is superficially about physical sleep and necessary rest. We sleep to rest and get peace from the day's turmoil.

Yet even in dreams the chaos of our tumbling thoughts disturbs us. Dreams caricature the random thoughts we have while supposedly awake.

Heraclitus, speaking about two and a half thousand years ago, said:
They no more see how they behave broad waking than remember clearly what they did asleep.

This is our state, and much of the time there is little we can do about it. But, David's poem reminds us, we can at least listen and be glad, until we truly awaken.

Am I over-interpreting? Maybe. But I think the swords are the efforts we make to listen, replacing with the real sounds outside the ghostly sounds in our heads. William Blake wrote: I shall not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand... .

And the songs?

From David Henschel’s Quantock Hills:

Listen, be glad, but
turn and sleep again
until the swords and songs both say
'now peace is in awakening.'

Monday 9 August 2010

The blackbird - the whole poem

As promised, a whole poem once a month:

The blackbird

I have remembered suddenly
A young morning when we met
And hand in hand upon the window sat
In the dew air before the sun was up
To hear a cool-throat blackbird sing.

Dawn no more than a grey scarf
Hung about the neck of night.
Light grew quietly, pearl
Between the breasts of morning.
The garden a green gown silver
Seeded with mist
Lay for the day to rise and wear
The lawn’s level velvet.
The world was cool as running water.

Dew like candles beaded all branches.
Save in our hearts where the bubble of joy
Burst in showers of silver
Only the light moved
And only the blackbird
Set it to music.

Friday 6 August 2010

Always check the proofs!

I am very excited because the new proof copy of Heres and Nows has come back from the printer, and the book looks lovely.

For those who are interested in the trials and tribulations of a first-time publisher, it was necessary to get a second proof (at some expense) because of numerous errors in the first proof. Not the least of the errors was the omission of an entire poem, and there were many typographical mistakes (all mine).

If any of my readers is contemplating publishing a book, print out the whole thing from your computer and read it properly, and give it to others to read as well.

Anyway, with the help of two excellent proof readers who gave their time unstintingly, all is now as it should be.

I am especially happy to have got the photograph of David Henschel a little lighter in tone, which is a huge improvement.

Next stop is the Amazon listing. Watch this space.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

To be kept up-to-date...

Please click on the Follow button on the top right of this page.

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The blackbird

Lines from The blackbird:

I have remembered suddenly
A young morning when we met
And hand in hand upon the window sat
In the dew air before the sun was up
To hear a cool-throat blackbird sing.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

From the foreword, and Sun in the morning kitchen

Our lives are made up mostly of ordinary things:

Sun in the morning kitchen
Rings the day’s bell clear and lively
Sings with the frying sizzle
The tap’s swish
The kettle’s hiss and bubble.

...and the poet, like a still-life painter, may bring us to what was already there.

(Extracted from the editor's foreword, lines from Sun in the morning kitchen.)

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Cover for Heres and Nows

There was a problem displaying the image of the front cover of the book as it caused some of my text to be obscured. Here is the cover image again, I hope problem-free this time. I am doing the final edits to correct errors spotted in the proof copy. Available on Amazon soon.

From All strangers who smile

Extract from a poem from Heres and Nows by David Henschel. No commentary necessary.

I know nothing more
Surely of the present
Than a stranger’s
Unexpected smile.

The past stays in
Future attends
Corner and antechamber
Of the mind

But the smile
From nowhere out of nothing
Flies like that sparrow from dark to dark

Tuesday 13 July 2010

New poetry from Narrow Gate Press

From Narrow Gate Press comes the first publication of poems by the late David Henschel.

Heres and Nows - poems from a life will be available from Amazon very soon. The link will be posted on this blog.

Meanwhile I shall publish here one poem or a significant extract once a month, and commentary on significant lines or thoughts arising from the book once a week. Please ask permission before reproducing these poems (other than brief extracts for review) as they are subject to copyright. My contact email is at the foot of the right hand column of this page.

Here is the title poem:

Here and Now

Enjoy, oh do enjoy
The hereness and the nowness of it.
Whatever is beyond, behind
Be, if you must, aware of
But not too much – no more than serves
To measure by, to savour by
To live by grace within
The here and now.

It is the clumsy man we too much are
That cannot delicately hold the time
Within his juggling mind
And commandeer the chasing heart
Softly to send the blood like fingers
To touch and know the living hour
And store it richly by.

One day we die.
They say we scan
In the last living moments all our span.
We’d wish, I think, to go to Death
Or God
Like guests with gifts
Remembered and collected from our store
Of heres and nows
And say:
This trust of life’s fulfilled,
This gift’s returned, with more I found:
I was not poor.