29th September 2020
Every book is different, and although some are easier to prepare than others are, there isn't usually much in it. All the books are produced with the same amount of work, and always it is entirely pleasurable.
Lesley Storm's collection It's About Time has been a huge learning experience for me, even though it's my third collection of poetry as publisher, as editor.
I asked poet, professor and editor Jane Goldman for help, and together we helped the collection emerge.
Jane did a great service in organising the poetry thematically for Lesley and myself . . . it was something Lesley and I had been shy of doing, partly because we couldn't find the distance, partly because we both enjoyed (I think) the enormous guddle we had made of the book, as a random, scatter-gun type of entity.
But Jane brought form to the collection, simply by identifying the different types of poem Lesley had written. Lesley doesn't like to spend time with her poetry after it has been created, feeling I understand, that the impetus and the feeling might be damaged by continued interference. 'Interference' being to some minds editing.
Although, this collection has certainly been edited, and by one of the best editors in the business, the poems themselves needed very little work.
Jane Goldman's input was a huge deal for me. I had initially read over 600 poems in establishing what the final collection might look like. Jane has been studying poetry and lecturing in poetics for decades, and a meeting with her was for myself, a masterclass.
Jane established that the poems in It's About Time fell into these various types:
- Love poems, odes/praise poems, aubades, epithalamion
- Elegies on friends, other poets, past lives
- Poems on existential solitude
- Poems overtly on suicide
- Poems overtly ref trans (including poems by Lesley Stafford)
- A coda of autobiographical prose poems
- Poems/elegies on parents, poems referencing childhood
- 2 poems in scots – love/hell
Today, wonderful day, I placed every poem of Lesley's into these separate piles on the floor, and I will re-assemble the book from there. I can't wait to work more with Lesley, we've become good friends.
I don't like to spend a lot of time writing this diary, but I would like to spend some time talking about Lesley, our ups and downs, and what I've learned from her.
First though, I'll get her book finished . . . and in your hands I hope.