Nothing to cry over
In a small, wood-clad kitchen with handmade, orange cabinets (glass fronted and also built from wood) I took some soft cheese, some digestive biscuits, cream, lots and lots of caster sugar, and I made a cheesecake.
The recipe came from the back of a bag of sugar and the kitchen was the one I grew up in. Mum after showing me how to measure, whisk and crush, left me to it.
I still have the recipe. I looked for it just now but the book I keep it safe in, a handy guide called How To Boil An Egg, has gone missing somewhere in the clutter of my life. It was simple and effective and it started me on a lifelong love of cake.
But much as I relish every creamy gob-full I don’t turn to it in times of either love or grief.
For that I have poetry.
Even before Mr Birch, my desperately optimistic A Level tutor at Xaverian Sixth Form in Manchester, introduced me to E E Cummings, I knew poetry. I’d written verses in high school and even indulged in nonsense rhymes at home. Together with Dr Adlard — a man who would one day sit by my bed eating Mum-made sandwiches as I took hours to sit my exams with all the home comforts, Mr Birch fanned the flames of the art form.
Since then I have sat at tables and stood beside bars discussing poetry with people I greatly admire. One time, whilst drinking coffee with Tony Walsh, I realised just how vast and flexible a form it is. With the simple words ‘I’m not that sort of poet,’ he ignited a question I still haven’t managed to answer.
What kind of poet am I?
I write poetry for all ages. Some of it is short, written to the beat of a tweet at 4am. Some of it is longer, designed to be read like a performance. Some of it has no verse structure and some of it is hidden in sentences, ready to trick you as you eat.
I watch other poets move like dancers through a routine of words which shapes the air and I look at the rag-tag fleet of poems inside me and wonder whether I’ll ever find a place I can call home.
So now I feel it’s time to pause on this journey. To collect what I’ve produced and look at it in a different way. Perhaps I’ll see a theme, or an approach, which can help guide me from here. As with Astro Poetica (my collection of poetry for children) I’m not going down the route of finding a publisher. I would leap at the chance to work with an editor but the effort of researching the right publisher is too much at this time. As such I can only present the raw me.
I have put together a collection of poetry (of sorts) from the past few years and it’s available in two places. There’s the free to download PDF, and a paid-for version on Kindle. Both contain exactly the same text. If you buy it then please write a review. Be honest. Bare your soul. But don’t worry about paying — really don’t. I’m only charging because I can’t set it to download for free. The 23p royalty is unlikely to change my life.
Whichever version you choose, it’s my hope you find something in it worth writing about.
And failing that, there’s always cake.
Download a free PDF of Love Grief Cake.
Buy (99p) the Kindle edition of Love Grief Cake.