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.

You can also be kept informed of new posts and updates about the book on the Narrow Gate Press Facebook page. Click 'like' at the top of the Narrow Gate Facebook page to be added as a friend.

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.