Poetry Emotion

I first released this collection soon after discovering self publishing in 2011. I had been researching agents and publishers for a ghost writer over the internet when I came across Lulu.com and Createspace.com. It was like a genie had granted me my longed for wishes right there and then. I knew I had pen-scribed paper manuscripts of songs and poetry dating back to my time in Art college during the 80's. I adapted them into every format denoted of the era from floppy disk to USB and CDs. Then as the fast paced advancements in technology careered into these platforms, it paved the way for me to save my work for prosperity. All at my finger tips with a little application - behold the possibilities... 

I jumped in straight away and decided that I would figure out the pitfalls as I went along. I set up the account surprised at the almost insurmountable anticipation. What no, gatekeepers?! The dropdown of the first template had me salivating where it said 'Book Title'. The entry under 'Author' was vacant for my nom deplume, the best bit, so I thought until emblazoned before me, ISBN generator. Those four letters blew my mind, they leaped off my desk top screen like fireworks. The dream of publishing my own book was becoming a reality and what is more, it was all free. At this point, I was fully aware that creating a book would be the most satisfying project I would ever under take. I signed a major record deal once-upon-a-time, which barely evoked a dim response by comparison.

I recall that elusive record deal came with obligations which interrupted the creative process. For instance take producers in the studio to the marketing teams. Add to that the photographers, graphic designers, art directors, make up artists and stylists, studio hire and copyrighters and promo videos. It added up to an awful lot of compromise. It's worth marvelling at what it takes to line up all those ducks in a row in order to have a hit record. Writing the song is only the beginning. The lone, lyrical journey that is poetry can easily lose its rawness by the time it comes to light. Here I was without constraint, at liberty to steer my work from inception to book - much to the appeasement of my megalomaniac leanings.

I scroll down the page to upload a pdf file and a jpeg book cover. The generic book template options were great guides too. Armed with beginners photoshop skills under my belt made this less of a daunting task. 

The poems had to be compiled into set pages. I thought I would start with publishing my earliest work. I had been writing about falling in and out of love, the morose and the joy of it above anything else. Which developed into life getting in the way of it and the over-thinking of it. Grammar permitting, I was at great pains to resist re-editing this work. At the time of writing, that was my truth, my outlook my ideals. I winced at the simplicity, patronising my younger self, reluctant in the acknowledgment that a diary is a diary. Hindsight must not be anywhere near it. Being objective was the most difficult thing to achieve. I would certainly advise getting a sub editor in. There is a responsibility for standards to be upheld for the sake of language with self publishing. Then again, language has always evolved and it finds a way to do so, which is why the importance of Hip-Hop and rap lyrics should not be underrated when it has fascinatingly catapulted language into orbit. From Chaucer to Shakespeare, Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five will eventually, sit comfortably side by side in language and literary history.

I experienced a strange feeling revisiting this work, trying to recall my muses. How a line here reminded me of the stark pain of rejection. Another line there and I re-lived the desperation to 'repair' the break ups. While learning the art of songwriting through poetry, the song themes were contrived about breaking up to make up, staying the night, setting me free - just leave, don't leave me this way, repeat, baby no, chorus out, ad lib. I studied popular music closely, all the genres, intensified closer still by my own emotional intelligence or the lack thereof. By merging the two areas, I crudely fleshed out this material. Like stitches Frankenstein would reject, the words were functional san finesse, soulless, with scant regard for the reader's interpretation, self indulgent. I might just as well had written my personal journal in rhyme and prose in vulnerable ink. 

Vintage was the most appropriate title for these old poems. I was reading Richard Yates's reissued works at the time because of the film adaptation 'Revolutionary Road', his work listed under 'vintage' reads. I also live near the Portobello Road area famous for antiques and all things vintage, which I am a collector of...The sub title Poe-ho Series came about conjoining Portobello and Poe - as in Edgar Allan, master of the macabre, short story and poetry. The 'ho' was a euphemism for hoarder or the whoring of words.

Titles decided, the hunt for the photograph that most depicted 'old school' me was on. I used to be a test model and the photographer, whose name escapes me, it has been a long time, was a very cool black dude with an afro and his Hendrixploitation image. It was a Monday, and I was off to the legendary Rum Runner Club, in Birmingham that summer's evening. It was taken by the bay windows of our front room. I wore a leather headband over my curly mullet hairstyle, a fashion nod to concurrent movements Punk and New Romantics influencing my Soul Head self. Individuality of self-expression through up-cycling was central to those times. 

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I looked at some old jazz funk album sleeves for inspiration and found one which was by a Japanese soul jazz artist released in the seventies. 

The content, the cover design and title completed, I ordered the first author copy to check through. As it baked in the Amazon oven, it was a matter of days before the first version arrived in the post - ISBN generated. Finally my work in black and white, in my hands and almost available for sale. Except I didn't want to sell them. It was an exercise in publishing my words, dismissing USBs, even cassettes,  copyrighting my creativity once and for all. That was one of the happiest days of my life. There were errors of course and I went back and forth a few weeks until the pages and the grammar were perfected. Almost. Like relationships, no such thing.

Once satisfied, I went on to publish the others straight after. Four chapbooks in all. 

During the first UK lockdown, with years of digital skills behind me, I thought it time to revisit and re-package these chapbooks. Embrace the brave new dystopian world and try to do more spokenword readings online. The zeitgeist of the pandemic was poetry, certainly out of fear and isolation and the desire  for mindfulness tantamount to that. It was no different for me. I baked banana bread too! 

The four chapbooks are available on Amazon in ebook/Kindle/paperback formats:


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