I have had poems coerced into handmade paper via letterpress printing techniques, laser printed on broadsides sheets, and even hung like advertisements in shop windows. I am really excited, though, to have a poem on a tote bag.
Not just any tote bag — a concrete interpretation of my poem “Robin”, beautifully designed by Jane Commane, on a classy natural canvas bag. It comes free with a subscription to the Nine Arches Poetry Book Club — itself an excellent idea that gets you six fine single-author poetry collections hot off the press, discounts on other books, and special invitations. Gift wrap available. Really, I hope they made enough bags!
I also like the idea that using this tote instead of a plastic bag might help a scruffy robin survive the long winter of our global mass-consumption.
As they say in the UK: “Bagsy!” And in my native California: “Totes amazeballs!” You get the idea. I’m exited.
Bag your six books
What a pleasure it was to launch my debut full-length collection The Knowledge alongside Jo Bell, UK Canal Laureate, who launched her second collection Kith. Coincidence of timing brought us together, but complimentary styles and mutual respect has made touring together a delight.
We started in the small Shropshire village of Much Wenlock, birthplace of the Olympics, a place steeped in ancient Mercian history and happily overrun one weekend each year by poets. We read in a modern theatre space to an appreciative and full audience, many of whom were proud supporters of Jo’s excellent 52 project.
The next day we spoke on a panel with Jane Commane, our publisher at Nine Arches Press, and Simon Thirsk, her mentor from Bloodaxe Books. We dug into the details of editing a collection, peeling back the curtain on this sometimes hidden art. Re-living the past year of working on the manuscript with Jane only deepened my appreciation for her artful support.
We then drove down to Cheltenham for an evening reading in a warm, friendly pub. Again the audience was full and receptive, as well as keen to buy our new books. Several of us set the world to rights afterward over good Thai curry, reflecting on what a strange way around it is to get to know someone first by their poetry — that being often such a deeply intimate route — and then to get to know them socially afterward.
Valerie and I trundled back to North Hertfordshire today to draw breath, do laundry, and repack as we are off to New York tomorrow. I will be giving a workshop and reading at Walt Whitman’s birthplace this coming Saturday.
The book is launched. The book is launching. Houston, we have liftoff.
Robert Peake will launch his debut full-length collection The Knowledge alongside Jo Bell, who is launching her new collection Kith.
Introduced by Jonathan Davidson with Jane Commane, Nine Arches Press.
On Friday, I attended a small private London launch for the second edition of a book by my friend and former boss, David Allen. His methodology has been the key to creating the space in my life for poetry amidst a dynamic career in technology and management consulting, and a generally full trans-Atlantic life.
Having sold more than two million copies of his Getting Things Done book in nearly 30 languages, I jokingly asked over lunch for any tips on avoiding hand cramp when signing great numbers of books at once. Pre-orders for my debut full-length poetry collection The Knowledge have, after all, been rolling in.
That afternoon, I got the good news that books had arrived from the printer, and whizzed up to meet my publisher Jane in Milton Keynes, the preferred halfway point between where we both live. Despite the appearance of Milton in the name, I find Milton Keynes to be one of the least poetic cities in Britain — essentially England’s answer to Orange County. And so it was in a coffee chain store inside a glass-and-steel mall that I first laid hands on this beautiful book.
What can I say? It is a lovely object. Small but important details that I couldn’t have gleaned from the PDF galley — like the way in which facing-page poems interrelate thanks to expert pagination — surprised and impressed me. The entire experience of working with Jane has had a ring of rightness about it, and the finished product feels good in so many way, including tactilely — from the French flaps to the sturdy off-white pages to the matte-finish cover.
I am looking forward to my launch tour next week — Wenlock, Cheltenham, then New York. What a pleasure it will be to read from this lovingly-produced new book.
If you would like to hold a copy in your own hands, you can order it here.