On Monday 4th May, my first full collection, Safe Passage, was published by Oversteps Books. Not only did it have a brilliant editor in Alwyn Marriage, Managing Editor of Oversteps Books, but it was also hugely fortunate in the poets who offered to endorse it and thus send it not quite naked on its way. Martyn Crucefix, Duncan Forbes, Lesley Saunders and Linda Saunders – all highly accomplished poets and all very generous and thoughtful in their support.
Writing the acknowledgements, I realised that Safe Passage for me is not just a collection of poems, but a record of the five years of my writing life which followed the publication of Too Late for the Love Hotel by Smith/Doorstop in 2010. The acknowledgments page reads baldly, but every name represents a treasured part of the marvellous journey and the wonderful poetry friendships which have so enriched the way. So before I start posting about the poems, I want to reiterate those thanks:
“I am very grateful to the editors of Acumen, Magma, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg and The Rialto in which many of these poems first appeared and to Peter Sansom for publishing others in Too Late for the Love Hotel which was one of the prize-winners in The Poetry Business 2010 pamphlet competition judged by the Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion.
‘A Leisure Centre is Also a Temple of Learning’, first published in The Rialto, was selected by William Sieghart in 2011 for the Forward Poems of the Decade anthology. It also featured in Cerys Matthews’ Radio 4 programme With Great Pleasure in July 2012.
My writing has been greatly encouraged by Patricia Oxley; Anne-Marie Fyfe; the Ware Poets; Hilda Sheehan and the Bluegate Poets in Swindon; the Fire River Poets in Taunton; the Corsham Poetry Society; John Richardson; Dawn Gorman; A.F. Harrold; Ernie Burns and Jeremy Sallon who have all given me delightful opportunities to read as a guest at their events.
While I have been working on the poems in this collection, I have also had the privilege of organising the Bath Poetry Cafe and of collaborating with the many excellent poets from across the West Country who belong to it. I have been continually challenged and inspired by their talents and creative energy.
The Safe Passage poems have also benefited from the devoted attention of my Italian translators, Giorgio Piai and Giancarlo Caine from Sacile in North Italy. Working with such dear friends produced many new insights and editorial improvements as well as opportunities for joyful misunderstandings and convivial company. It is a great sadness that Giancarlo Caine did not live long enough to toast the publication of this book.”