Pulp Friction

August 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

A bit of a shock earlier in the summer.  Smokestack, who published my latest collection, Yoke and Arrows, in February 2014, contacted me to say that unfortunately they would have to pulp their stock of the book.  They are a small publisher with very little external funding, and the company which stores their books had doubled their costs.  It was a stark illustration of the state of the industry.

I forked out as much as I could for a bank of copies; and the editor assured me that he’d keep back a good number for sales in the medium term.  However, I have to admit it was something of a blow.  I want my poetry to be valued by other people.  Whether this is about a need to communicate or share something at a complex level, or for more egotistical reasons (I suggest that for most artists it is a bit of both), the idea of it being destroyed is difficult.  Sure, poetry is an oral as well as a textual form; but in a literate culture, each are necessary elements.  We speak poetry to ourselves as we create it; it settles with us – necessarily imperfectly – into the ciphers of writing; finally, it comes out of the page and lives again as we speak it.

So, I have my small box of books; Smokestack have theirs; and those people who have bought copies thus far – as well as the (now finite) group of people yet to buy what remains – will be the only people able to resurrect the poetry into the air.

Apart from those that buy copies second hand, or remaindered from libraries, or read them online, or on their phones…

So get over it, Hindle.  It’s out there, rarefied by the exigencies of modern economics.  200 copies or so – but most of them on people’s shelves instead of waiting like Mahon’s mushrooms in an industrial estate off the A1.

Save us.

(Oh, and if you want a copy of this now-rare book, let me know!)



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