not just getting there, but there

Drumroll…
shades of blue will be published on the 24th of August!

Unfortunately because of The Current Situation launch events and parties have had to cancelled. I was so looking forward to having a bash, and had booked my friends Peter and Tony for a reunion gig of the Po Lauries. This was the name under which the three of us performed some of my songs-with-new-words-to-the-tune-of-a-well-known-song (there must be a word for that but it escapes me for the moment) in the year I was South Cumbria Poet Laureate. Peter was on keyboards and Tony shared the vocals with me. What larks we had, what larks… Alas, The Comeback Tour will not now be happening until some unforeseeable time in the future when something nearer to Normal Service is resumed for us all. So, until then, please do feel free to share this post and help get the word out.


Some of you have already been in touch to say you would like a copy and I shall be delighted to start posting them out next week. Have a look at the shades of blue page and let me know which version you’d like.


For those of you who write, too, have a look at the shades of blue page at the press’s site to see how you can get a copy of the book and a free competition entry at the same time.


And if for some reason the wondrous news of this slim volume has thus far passed you by, read about shades of blue, including some reviews, here.



This being my first experience of having a collection out, I’ve been kinda interested to notice what the process is like. There was the elation of winning the competition, and then a long pause where nothing happened and I had to keep checking the relevant email to make sure I hadn’t imagined it all. There was the process of choosing and arranging the poems and sending out proofs so people could provide us with some back-of-the-book blurbs, then the editing of page proofs and designing of the cover and all sorts of things which felt quite surreal. Now that my author’s copies are sitting in the cupboard awaiting release day, I do actually believe it’s happening; being listed on Amazon also helped with that. Mark (m’editor) tells me that the fact that Amazon had me on special offer before the book is even released is totally standard behaviour for that particular behemoth and should not be taken personally.

What I hadn’t expected was the way the time-lag in the publishing process means my creative energies are much more with the collection I’m working on at the moment, so that I feel oddly disconnected from shades of blue. I mean, I know I wrote it, and I’m proud of it, but it’s not “live” in the way that hungers is. Still, of course I hope that shades of blue is read and enjoyed.

In his 2017 essay ‘Letter to a Young Poet’, Clive James opens with the advice: ‘First of all, give it up if you can. Nobody who isn’t neurotically driven should be in the game because the chances of failure are too high, and the disappointments are too cruel’. I hear you, Clive. Later in the essay, he adds: ‘If even a few people remember a line or two in a poem you write, you’re not just getting there, you’re there. That’s it: and all the greater glory is mere vanity’. James’ generosity and wisdom in spelling this out brings me to tears every time I read it; because, though naturally I’d love a spot of glory, what matters at the deepest level is that my writing should enable people to connect—with themselves, others, life. The moment of recognition or realisation is what I’m after. So that’s my dream for shades of blue, as with anything I write: that a few people might remember a few words of it.

Here’s hoping.

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