Monday, 22 September 2014

3 brief questions: Ian Wedde

Ian Wedde's memoir, The Grass Catcher: A Digression About Home, is one of our new titles this month. For the past year Ian has been in Germany on the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer's Residency, but will return to home in Auckland at the end of September. He answered these short questions about his latest publication.

What prompted you to write memoir?
I never wanted to write ‘memoir’ and still am uneasy about the term. I wanted to write about home, what we mean by that, and how memory works around the conditions that we call ‘home'. Inevitably if you write about ‘home’ you’ll be remembering personal experiences, so what you write will be ‘memoir’ by default. But what I’ve written is very sketchy in terms of conventional memoir - I had no intention of going into the details of my personal or professional life, or of following any kind of comprehensive chronology.

What was the process of remembering like for you?
Remembering was fascinating. I used a kind of seance approach, in which specific objects or events ‘spoke to me’. The results tend not to follow a linear narrative chronology because the memory triggers were unpredictable and sometimes unreliable. I just went where they took me. My brother Dave has a great memory for detail, so our conversations were a lot of fun, with his exactness complementing but sometimes correcting my excursions.

Were there events that you skipped over for fear of giving too much of yourself away?
At one level the writing was very revealing for me in that I rediscovered experiences that I hadn’t thought about or even been aware of for a very long time. But I had (and have) no intention of writing an intimate account of my life – its relationships, work, contextual histories etc – so only ‘gave away’ as much of myself as I was prompted to by the method I’d adopted: following the grass catcher, if you like. I didn’t exclude anything that process revealed to me.

The writing which is to say the thinking – in this book keeps criss-crossing and doubling back: digressing. That’s how I think memory works. It’s not orderly in a conventional sense. But the kind of ordering memory does seems very rich to me, and it works across a rich territory in which factual, sensory, synaesthetic, fetishistic, dreamlike and documentary kinds of knowledge and experience get mashed up. I was at home in this kind of place.

The Grass Catcher, hardback, $40, available now.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Launch speech for Sleeping on Horseback

It was a warm crowd for the launch of Frances Samuel's Sleeping on Horseback last week. Editor Ashleigh Young launched the book. Herewith, her speech:
"It is my very deep pleasure to hold Frances Samuel’s debut collection of poems, Sleeping on Horseback, in my hand. It is an exhilarating, singular book that in some ways I am still reeling from having the privilege to work on. The obvious first thing to say is that it has been a good year for horses at Victoria University Press, what with Marty Smith’s poetry collection Horse With Hat published earlier this year. I went back through the VUP archives to see if there had been other books about horses too, to see if perhaps there was a secret horse-book publishing plot going on under my nose, and I got distracted when I found a book by the shellfish research scientist John Booth about a kind of lobster called the packhorse lobster that, as a juvenile, is tiny and leaflike and helpless but, as an adult, can be as long as two school rulers and very strong and hardy with it.
I couldn’t help thinking that it was exactly the kind of creature that might appear in a Frances Samuel poem: an everyday, workaday, load-bearing creature but also, somehow, a magical, delicate, otherworldly creature. And it wouldn’t just be a straightforward description of some funny crustacean; it would be a luminous moment in time, or a collision, or a memory, concerning that crustacean. Because Frances is the master as taking something strange and revealing its everyday inner life, its daily routine, and also at taking the everyday and revealing its inherent strangeness. In this way this book is always gently jolting you awake, and … awaker. And for me personally, just like when I saw that lobster, a few times I’ve been walking along and I’ve caught myself saying to myself, ‘That man should be in a Frances Samuel poem’ or ‘There’s something very Frances Samuel about that pigeon.’ Frances Samuel has become an adjective, absorbed into my lexicon at a rapid rate.
Frances has been writing for a long time. She completed an MA in Creative Writing in 2003 under Bill Manhire’s stewardship, and a few of these poems began to take shape back then, and earlier, but many of them have come about in the years since, as she worked in a bookshop, and at the Book Council, and most recently on the writing team at Te Papa. The first time I came across Frances’s work was more than ten years ago. She was a good friend of my brother JP’s, and he showed me some of her poems, and I was transfixed by their electricity, their braininess. I remember wishing I could be inside her head, visit the world as she visited it. So I always remembered Frances’s poems and from time to time I’d search for her book, in vain, thinking it can’t be far away, not realising that Frances was actually very much like me in her approach to writing – in the nicest possible way – in that she takes ages to get things finished. It has been a great privilege to work with her on this book, years later.
I should clarify: Frances’s book has no lobsters. But it does have escaped zoo animals, and pigeons, and doubles waiting to board the ark, and friendly dogs, an elephant, a caterpillar, stones that speak, long grass that argues and laughs like an extended family. The book bristles with diverse life forms, many of them in surreal scenarios. As James Brown, a poet and Frances’s colleague at Te Papa, said to me about this book the other day, ‘I like seeing realism get a poke in the eye with a sharp sponge.’ I like the way these poems resist telling us things about our immediate reality, the way they resist what has been called the scourge of relatability, whereby the ability to see our ordinary selves reflected is a measure of the work’s value – Frances pokes all that in the eye. But gently. With a sponge. And, of course, we are reflected in this book, because in reading we map a world using our own experience and imagination, but my sense is that Frances wants us to take the longer route there, towards the inn, towards the mirrory experiences of music, of loneliness, of travel, of waiting, of festivals, of wanting to be remembered.
Along the way Frances makes the simplest scene somehow profoundly beautiful and/or profoundly strange, such as a zookeeper deciding one day to let all the animals go, or an elderly man sitting on his roof observing the passersby, or the fact of snow covering the ground. I sometimes feel a bit dubious when a poet is praised for simplicity or meditativeness, as if we should be relieved that poetry is giving us a break and not being too difficult for once. But Frances’s poems redefine simplicity – there is always a deeper story running through them; time reaching out on either side, even when we begin with ‘Morning: he thought he did not deserve it’ or ‘It is not always winter’ or ‘There are so many ways to write about dying’. Frances is a poet of the shining line that you always want to grab, like a magpie, and keep with you.
There are often details inside those simple scenes that pull the poem back from reassuring you too heartily that everything is quite normal and OK. So you have the zookeeper ducking his head as he gets into a police car; you have the elderly man whispering ‘Beautiful is more possible from a distance’ when he gets a puncture on his way to the sea; you have cheese and butter and wool and socks turning to snow. We think we’re on safe ground and then suddenly we’re not; we’re on this whole other ground that we didn’t know it was possible to stand on.
Beyond the first section of this book, when we see Po riding towards the sanctuary of the inn, there are few actual horses. It’s not a horsey book. Instead, what we get is a sense of moving ever onwards, or of pause and waiting to move again, the pull of journey beneath us, even an impossible journey like walking to the moon. It’s what I imagine it’s like to sleep on horseback, where the journey unfolds almost despite ourselves, where even rest is continuation. There is a line in ‘Duckshooting’ when a character named Johnny rides toward the speaker on a horse. The speaker stays where he is; thinks, ‘If someone is via horse, exit on foot is futile.’ It is a moment of entrapment, by horse. As if trying to escape the ever-onward movement of the horse is futile. Without wanting to resort to terrible horseplay puns, this graceful, funny, deeply peculiar and wonderful book, too, picks you up and carries you.
Finally, I’d like to make mention of ‘the elusive blue’. No editorial process is a completely hiccup-free, and during the layout process we found that the perfect shade of blue, for the cover, kept eluding us. There was a conversion problem with the files from the illustrator. We went back and forth, searching for solutions, trying to recreate this perfect shade of blue for the printers. There was endless, what we call in the publishing business, tinkering, and/or tweaking. What was this elusive blue? Did it even exist? Had it ever really existed? Frances argued that her shade of blue was slightly less childlike, was the more serious, more thoughtfully muted blue; I could almost see what she meant but at the last second my eyes would fail and all the blues would look the same; meanwhile, as we tinkered and tweaked, Fergus turned a whole other shade of blue with exasperation. But finally, and I’m not sure how, we achieved the blue, and now it was Frances’s book. It struck me that Frances is the kind of writer who will always determinedly follow the elusive blue, the blue that others can’t easily see, the blue that really means something. Which is what all good writers do."

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Sleeping on Horseback

Tonight we launch Frances Samuel's debut poetry collection, Sleeping on Horseback. Here is a short Q&A with Frances, ahead of the launch.

How does it feel to be publishing your first book?
I’ve felt a spectrum of things – excitement, relief, anxiety – but where I’m at now is: curious. I’m interested to find out which poems particularly resonate with people. Sometimes I’ve found, after readings for example, that it’s the poems I’m most unsure about that receive the most comments.

What themes or feelings of urgency drove the poems in Sleeping on Horseback?
One of the (unexpectedly) great things about the publishing process was having the editor give me an overview of what she thought the book was about. It was a revelation. I didn’t have the distance to be able to see those themes myself. The urgency you mention – this is slightly off topic, but for me I think a lot of it has to do with whether the poem is even going to make it into existence. A line will sort of catch in my mind, and if I have some uninterrupted time, and I can grab a pen and paper and write it down, I’m away. I usually get the shape of the poems down fairly fast, and then there’s lots of revising of course. After that, I might sit on them for, well, years, before possibly changing something again. ‘Sleeping on horseback’, the title poem of my book, was different because it was slow to write: the stanzas came almost complete, one after the other at a steady midnight hoof pace.

There's a liminal space that some of your poems seem to inhabit – or is it better to describe it as a mythical space?
It’s definitely a tricky space to describe … Perhaps not entirely mythical, because the worlds or scenes in the poems are plausible in a sense, I think – vivid and precise rather than watercolour. When I’m writing the poems, there doesn’t feel to me to be a boundary between the ‘real’ world and imaginary. The poems just seem to need to be located in certain landscapes in order to say what they have to say.

You've been publishing work for a while now in journals – a long gestation?

My first published poems were in Sport in 2002. Actually, thinking about it now, one of those poems is in this book! So yep, luckily for me, sometimes if you sit on something for long enough, it hatches.

Sleeping on Horseback will be launched by editor Ashleigh Young tonight at The Guest Room, Southern Cross Garden Bar, 39 Abel Smith St, Te Aro. 5.30pm–7pm. 

Frances Samuel, photo by Grant Maiden

Thursday, 7 August 2014

A Blighted Fame

This is the speech made by retired judge James O'Donovan at the launch of Helen Riddiford's biography of George Evans, A Blighted Fame, at Novel in Auckland on Wednesday 30 July.

I am not going to say very much. This is Helen’s night and I do not want to steal her thunder. I feel privileged to be invited to introduce her and her book. I am not an historian – just what is called a ‘general reader’. I love books. This is a book to love.
When Helen first mentioned to me that she had written this book, I had to confess that I did not know who George Evans was. She briefly told me about him and mentioned that Evans Bay was in wellington is named for him. I had lived in Wellington for several years, first as a student at Victoria, and later as a fledgling Solicitor. I was familiar with Evans Bay – that’s the one on your left as you drive out to the airport – but I had no idea how it got its name. And really, that is a very sad state of affairs, because Evans was a great New Zealander who deserves to be remembered.
And Helen is to be congratulated for restoring his memory. He was no tonly an early colonist, but he was very prominent among those who shaped the post-contact development of this country. Even before he set foot in New Zealand in 1840 he had been most active in seeking the establishment of an English colony in the lower North Island and the upper South Island. Most people nowadays associate this part of our history with Edward Gibbon Wakefield, but it was Evans who tirelessly worked to fulfil the dream, giving up opportunities for personal advancement to ensure that the venture was a success.
He was a brilliant scholar, winning a scholarship to Oxford at the age of only thirteen, which, for religious reasons, he was unable to take up. Nevertheless, he pursued his studies elsewhere and attained a Doctorate in Law. At one stage he had considered a legal career in India, and for two years studied Sanskrit by way of preparation. He was a classical scholar of great repute, and surely would have risen to academic heights had he decided to remain in England. Before coming to New Zealand he had learned to speak Maori and had compiled a Maori Grammar. In New Zealand he was respected by Maori and enjoyed excellent relations with them at a time of rising tensions between the races.
More than anyone else, he might be said to have been responsible for the establishment of Wellington as we know it. But his influence in New Zealand was not limited to Wellington.
He was a brilliant advocate, not only in the Courtroom, but also in promoting the interests of the colonial settlers who, in turn, regarded him as a leader.
After leaving New Zealand he went to Victoria where he quickly became prominent in the politics of that colony, both as a Member of Parliament, and for a time, as a Member of Cabinet, holding important portfolios. While in Australia, he did much to promote trade and other relations between that country and New Zealand.
At the conclusion of his political life in Australia, he returned to New Zealand where, despite a lengthy absence from this country, he was warmly welcomed. He died here and is buried in Wellington.
This is a wonderful book, beautifully written and revealing a great wealth of research. It is a work of serious scholarship. Pop history it is not. At the same time it is a literary work of great power, at times very moving, as it plots the course of one man’s life.
Victoria University Press is to be congratulated for publishing this work, which is at once a great read, and at the same time a beautiful artefact.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Astonished Dice

In preparation for Geoff Cochrane's Astonished Dice, collected short fiction release, we gave him a list of questions to answer. He arrived for coffee one Tuesday morning with the below typed sheet. The questions became irrelevant. Herewith, the answers:

Less is more. Though Hemingway's brand of simplicity can be a bit of a con, less is always more. And my history of addiction to alcohol (my very own 'backstory') is a gift that just keeps on giving.
My work has been described as 'dirty and miraculous'. And Michael Morrissey had this to say: '(Cochrane's) prose frequently does what we hope drugs will do–present things in the now, in a different light.'
Anne Carson is mad or plays at being mad. Anne Carson does exactly what she likes, producing thus a radiant derangement. The youth at night would have himself driven around the scream. It lay in the middle of the city gazing back at him with its heat and rose-pools of flesh. Terrific lava shone on his soul. He would ride and stare.
Some books of short stories seem as substantial as Middlemarch. They're more than the sum of their parts, somehow. They have a heft out of all proportion to their actual size, and they leave one with an impression of coherent incoherence. I'm thinking here of Barthelme's Amateurs or Tobias Wolff's The Night in Question. E.L. Doctorow's Lives of the Poets would be another.
As to the business of getting started on a story, I'll probably begin with some small thing I feel I can do justice to. A line of dialogue, a certain sort of weather, the look of a certain person or thing, a fragment of language crying out for a context. I'm likely to have a little stack of notes, a scrappy little stack of bits and pieces, and then there'll come a moment when these tatty little notes achieve critical mass and I can see a story in them. Three or four wispy wee notions will suddenly seem replete with possibilities.
To put the above in a slightly different way, ONE NEEDS INGREDIENTS, AND THEY MUST BE GOOD INGREDIENTS.
In my late teens and early twenties, having decided to become a some sort of writer, I practised moving words around within sentences, and then progressed to moving sentences around within paragraphs. What effect did I want, and how could I best achieve it? And thus I learned to FINISH WHAT I STARTED and not leave myself with a hellish mess to clean up later, a task which always proves to be well nigh impossible. Those 'teachers' of creative writing who instruct their would-be novelists to write a long first draft willy-fucking-nilly SHOULD BE TAKEN OUT AND SHOT.

Astonished Dice is on sale now.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Red Queen

Damien Wilkins launched Gemma Bowker-Wright's debut collection of stories The Red Queen. We're grateful to be able to share his launch speech.

It really is my great privilege to say a few words about Gemma’s extremely fine first book.
Of course all books are hard to write, let’s face it. But I’ve always thought that a book of short stories comes with some unique and fairly punishing challenges for the writer. Novels, you know, work through accumulation, more of the same, another scene, another scene and so on. Novels are word-count and momentum, a distance event. After a while, if you’re lucky and good, you feel the thing rise up and it’s running and you’re running alongside it.
Set out to write a collection of stories and at first, if you’re lucky and good, it’s running, you’re running, maybe even quite fast—hell, you’re sprinting and a wonderful light comes on, you see everything—then a hole opens up and you’re back in the dark—oh, that’s the end of your story—your first story—and you need to climb out of the hole and start running again. You need to do this eleven more times, in Gemma’s case, before you have the book.
The short story is a kind of interrupted art form. It’s always stopping you in its tracks. The writer, as much as the reader, submits to a greedy world of beginnings and endings. Always starting again, books of stories work through periodically—about every 15 pages or so in Gemma’s case—aiming blows at the reader’s brain and heart. It’s best to read one and walk away; read more than two and you’ll need a concussion test. Because the best collections do feel like contact sport: bursts of feeling, incident, illumination, exchanges between people that look like one thing but somehow generate meaning far beyond those moments.
The Red Queen, Gemma’s book, is full of all of the above. It details a dozen different scenarios—and Gemma is brilliant at openings that state plainly where we are and what we should pay attention to; she’s a natural at getting us underway—and then in deft strokes, worlds are summoned: the world of university students, the world of couples, of scientists, trampers, radio announcers, broken families, recovering families, abandoned children, hesitant adults. And even though I said you have to take breaks between stories, you also start to feel the deep pleasure and often the productive disquiet of returning themes across the stories, of shared concerns, the lingering sense of unfinished business which marks the real writer.
Real writers, as we know, don’t have themes, just obsessions. In this public forum I won’t say what I think Gemma’s are—you need to buy the book and work those out for yourselves. But in one of the stories, the narrator observes of her relationships with others that ‘Something had changed between us—a slight repositioning that I couldn’t put my finger on.’ Gemma’s terrific achievement is to dramatise this ‘slight repositioning’, to communicate how change in our lives occurs on a sliding scale—there are massive movements but also the smaller shake-ups and who’s to say whether we might not register love or separation, beauty or terror in surprisingly minor ways.
Searching his memories for a full picture of the father who left the family years ago and now returns awkwardly and loudly for birthdays or holidays, the young man in the terrific story ‘Cowboy’ remembers the time when he was fifteen in a bar and his father tried to show him how to pick up women. The father fails and the son feels ‘intensely lonely and yet buoyant at the same time, as if he could float up off the stool. It seemed, then, as if he was watching his dad from a great distance, like he was up there suspended below the ceiling, looking down at his dad’s head, all that way below him, balding and unprotected.’
Gemma knows how to calibrate the pressure of her prose so that we always feel a finger is being put on some tender spot.
Sometimes these spots are great undercurrents of emotion; at other times, these spots are simple isolated images: I love lots of the noticing in this work, as say when a daughter during a funeral describes her father’s knee jiggling ‘throughout the service, like a dog running in a dream’; or when a woman sees that the back of a man’s knees are hairless, ‘the skin a silvery colour’. Turns out Gemma is a poet of knees.
The core of the collection was first written in 2011 during Gemma’s MA year and I haven’t read the work since—I was struck by how firmly their atmosphere, which frequently rests in a haunted version of our outdoors—hills, gardens, bush—had stayed with me. I only had to read a few sentences and I was back inside these worlds. That also makes me think these stories will stick around inside your heads.
One of my favourites here is an 8-page story called ‘The Takahē’ about two young women, students, on an island in the Sounds for a research project monitoring weta. But what they really want to do is see a takahē. There are two DOC rangers on the island and one of the students get obsessed about their lives, if they’re a couple, if they’re having sex. It becomes clear that the two students are out-of-their depth, unsuited to each other, consumed with an appetite for experience, poised on some terrible edge. But the fierceness of this longing is contained and compressed in the telling. Nothing much happens but the slight repositioning feels momentous. Amazing.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

An interview with Maria McMillan

We spoke to Maria McMillan about Tree Space, her first full collection of poetry which is launched next week, Tuesday 10 June.

Why do you write poetry?

Creating something is important to me. Maybe it's important to everyone. Because I have spent lots of emotional and intellectual energy over the years thinking about difficult stuff that's going on in the world, I've found poetry a way to not get too lost or sad about it all. Amidst destruction, there's an enormous and sustaining joy in building things that are all my own. It's like nose-thumbing at all the silencing and control that goes on. It's a rebellion and an answer of sorts to the things I hate.

And poetry, poetry just makes sense to me. I like words. That sounds trite but I really do like words. And I love a good poem - those full body experience poems that involve your heart and your head and make you tilt your head to one side to listen to their music. Poetry that you feel in your knees. I want to hear that and read that and do that.
There’s a lot of sea in your poems – the underwater world is very present – where does this come from?

The first time I went snorkeling was in choppy waters off Great Barrier Reef. I was astonished by it. That what I thought was the hub, the centre -  life on land  - was sort of insignificant to what was going on down there. The closest I can think of how to describe the sensation is Tina Makereti's line "when at night there was this — the pure thrilling sensation of it?" in Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings. I'm being overly earnest because she was talking about the astonishment of good sex in a world that carries on seemingly unmoved by it, but the same sort of deal, we're up here wandering around oblivious, and then down there, get this, luminous fish in colours I thought were entirely human made, soft coral that moves in time with your breath, those stiff brilliant landscapes and how movement, not stillness, governs that place. Much later I found a couple of ocean related science books that fed my fascination Killer Algae by Alexandre Meinesz and the wonderful Mapping the Deep by Robert Kunzig.
There’s also a lot of amazement in your poem – at the incredible things in the world, both natural and human-produced – and at the strange behavior of humans. Is it fair to say that amazement drives your poetry?

Yes I think that's fair. And poetry feels like a medium where I can, on good days, handle that amazement without my knee-jerk self consciousness kicking in. I'm torn because I find expressions of awe sort of cringey and want to snort contemptuously at them especially when I think awe is often played up as a out of the box spiritual experience - it's packaged and contrived. I feel like there are waves of books coming out where people got book deals to write about their incredible and unexpected life changing experience in a foreign country before they've actually had that experience. And there's that website which people tweet and share all the time where everything video is "Watch this video and you won't believe your eyes" and "What happens next is truly incredible". All of them. And some of them are of course amazing but it makes me so sad and cynical. On the other hand I am in awe of people, and the natural world, and the way some moments seem to bend time and become something entirely else. I want to find a way to live with that awe and enjoy it.

You use a distinctive syntax throughout the poems where you cut short your sentences with a full stop. It has a stop-start effect, like the flickering of images and sounds – can you talk about why you use this effect, what it does to your poems?

As I worked with others on my poems I often got feedback that I was being a bit overboard with adjectives or repeating the same thing in a number of different ways. I realised through this, that the guts of my poems were often in very plain pared back language. I guess I've explored that and pared back not just words within conventional syntax but the syntax itself. I think it probably started with figuring out I could often just say a single word or concept without having to explain it so I'd often find say Sky to be more parsimonious, to offer more to the reader than The blue sky or The expansive sky.

Later I was quite influenced by Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge who uses long unbroken streams of words and ideas contrasted with short sharp phrases. The music of it and the way it sensually loads a poem actually made me breathless when I first encountered it. It also does wonderful things to meaning. I think her work helped me understand how fracturing sense can add depth. Take a simple sentence like I am walking down the road and you get a single meaning. But what if we break it up? Say I am. Walking down the road. Or even I am. Walking. Down the road. Suddenly we get a metaphysical declaration. I am. A note like diary entry with Walking. And Down the Road which could be a situating statement, or temporal, or ambitious. And then by the end of the whole phrase you also get the meaning of a whole. This example is pretty cheesy and would be irritating if you encountered it in verse, but I like having multiple meanings going on. Poets often do this with line breaks, but using a full stop forces the reader to slow down and I hope to concentrate on each part. I love the idea of shifting time through syntax as well as sense.

You’ve been writing poetry for a number of years – and suddenly two books appear – your chapbook The Rope Walk last year, and now your first full collection – can you say a bit about the long process of getting to a published book?

Both manuscripts were produced over about 10 years. The Rope Walk poems are persona poems from many generations of a fictional family and I always knew when I was writing a poem that fitted into that set. So I had my Rope Walk poems and then I had everything else. I always wanted The Rope Walk to be a standalone things but on advice I tried to fit them into a wider manuscript, and then I took them out. I shuffled them and wrote a few more poems that belonged in there.

As for the other pile, over that time, my tastes changed and I would keep rejecting things I previously liked so the pile didn't grow very fast. Meanwhile I was having children and trying to fight water privatisation and working. I finally realised that if I didn't do something soon I would end up getting annoyed with myself and maybe with the world a bit. The Rope Walk felt finished and I had enough other poems for a full-length manuscript. In a burst of energy I summoned the courage to send, in the same week The Rope Walk to Seraph Press, because I knew they sometimes published shorter books and Tree Space to VUP.

Tree Space was the result of culling and sorting and culling and sorting. I almost re-sorted it all again before I sent it but I realised that was procrastination and if Fergus liked the poems and hated the order he'd come back to me. Tree Space went through various name changes as well, but other poetry books kept getting published which stole my key words. That's bound to happen over a decade. I am grateful now though, Tree Space is absolutely the right name for this collection. When we got closer to publication, about a  year after Fergus had said yes, I added three more poems to Tree Space and reordered it again and that order seemed to work for everyone. There's actually been no substantive changes to the manuscript. The whole thing, from giving a brief to the designer (Keely O'Shannessy) and getting back her glorious design, to various bits of proofing, to having the chance to reflect about it all, and getting some lovely feedback from a wider group of readers has been a very happy experience.

Tree Space is available for purchase now, pb, $25