It’s been a long time since I wrote here. It’s been a long time since I wrote anywhere, more than a biro scribble on the back of a receipt, usually a shopping list or the phone number of someone I should call about something that I can’t quite remember, probably something to do with the mighty Hedgespoken truck. I look back on long days of leisure with a laugh, not bitterly, but with amazement. My life is crammed to the gunnels, and then some. A surfeit of wonder, yes, and an over-full cup. Sometimes, in the rush and cram of it all, not everything smoothly survives the journey from between to becoming… But, last night, lying awake listening to the wind howl and buffet the tiny yurt we’re living in, words started to come again – not poetry, this time, but words for ‘The Falcon’s Child,’ the long-shelved novel that I’m hoping to edit (again) this winter. We’ll see where this goes – there’s so little time for writing at the moment, but the few words that make it through are going down in a small book… Perhaps they’ll have wings.
By now, you’ll surely know that the poem Sometimes a Wild God has become a book, wonderfully illustrated by my partner, Rima Staines. Hopefully, you’ll have bought a copy and then a few for your friends. No? Do it now – or wait until the end of this post, where you’ll find a voucher code for getting some money off… The first print-run of 1,000 copies sold out in just a few short weeks – we’re now into the second print-run and this is the first moment I’ve been able to carve out to reflect on what this means and write a few words of celebration and rumination.
Celebration is required – life is short and always full of struggles: we should mark our triumphs where we can, I believe, and if now is not a time in my life for whiskey and cigars, there has at least been a moment of hat-buying, and a book-launch in the planning as a public celebration. Hopefully it’ll be an opportunity to wear my hat – they’ve been thin on the ground, so far, and the wind and rain are not its best friends. But, I promised myself two things when we started planning the book – a new hat, once we’d sold 200 copies, and a new shirt if we ever managed to do a book launch. Actually, I promised myself a new guitar if we sold out the first print run, but I’ve forgone that for now and ploughed the money into the Hedgespoken lorry, but more about that in a moment…
So, what is there to celebrate?
- combining my poetry and Rima‘s art – this is always and undoubtedly a cause for celebration and I’ll raise my imaginary tankard of sparkling mushroom mead to that.
- getting a poem into print – seeing my words on the page, in a book, and as the centrepiece – if I could post this book back to myself starting out as a writer in 1994 in a grotty room in a grotty flat in Edinburgh’s South Side, I could. I’ve seen my words in magazines and periodicals, but not yet in a book of their own. For a writer, this is a big moment… Clink – that’s my fine porcelain cup of slivovitz against yours.
- making money from writing. Wait a minute… Making money from poetry. That’s meant to be impossible, isn’t it? Well, this is the first money I’ve ever made from writing, let alone poetry, and – as a father of an eight-month old child and as the partner of that child’s mother – this makes me proud. To make money from what you love – that’s something to celebrate…. Tink – my silver thimble of stout raised and a toast to the health of dreamers everywhere.
- saving our financial skins, by the skin of my teeth. This year has been tough. Most years are tough, but this one has been especially so – with Rima dedicating herself utterly and amazingly to motherhood, and with me not working for a large chunk of the year in order to support the two of them, we’ve been in danger of hitting very, very rocky waters. Selling the first 1,000 copies in such a short space of time has saved us. Phew… A yard of red wine, and a deep bow to the strength and wonder of mothers worldwide.
- launching our tiny publishing house, Hedgespoken Press. It’s a fledgling thing, but it’s something that Rima and I have dreamed of since we first met. We began plotting then, dreaming that we might put together an illustrated edition, perhaps one day have our own press… Well, we’re already planning our next offering – more about that another time… I salute our long-held dreams with a libation of imaginary Ardbeg and thank all who’ve helped us get here.
Sometimes a Wild God arrived almost fully-formed. There were two drafts, and countless minor tweaks, but the body of it arrived in one fell swoop, fuelled by Dakha Brakha and Guinness. I’d been carrying the first line around in my head for months, trying to find out what it was the beginning of. I thought it was somebody else’s poem. When I couldn’t find the poem that came after that line, I knew I had to write it. And so it was. The poem has opened doors for me, and continues to open them. Whatever spirit watches over this poem, let me thank them here.
If you don’t already know, Rima and I are in the last stages of overseeing the build of Hedgespoken, our travelling off-grid theatre and storytelling stage – and our new home. Since July, we’ve been living in a yurt near to the barn where the build is taking place, but we’re approaching the end (for now) of this journey – within the next six weeks, we’re hoping to settle into our truck-home and hunker down for the winter. Last year, we raised money through crowdfunding for the build – that money is all used up now and so all proceeds from the book are now going towards the final stages of the build. Which means that this house is being built on love, friendship, imagination… and poetry and art. All of which sound like necessary foundations for a good life, along with the steel and cedar and larch and the sweat and blood of hard work that have gone into it…
Money is tight and it’s a struggle, with us and a young boy in a yurt and winter coming in fast – if you’d like to help us finish the truck, there are a few ways you can do this:
- Buy books! To help you do this, we’ve just made postage free in the UK for orders over £25 – to give you an added incentive, here’s another bonus for you – enter the code POETRY-HOME at the checkout and you’ll get 10% off your order as well
- Take part in the Hedgespoken Winter Raffle – more details to come on the Hedgespoken website, newsletter and facebook page – buy tickets to have a chance to win books, prints, tickets to Hedgespoken performances, original artwork and loads of other goodies
- Buy the amazing and original and much-coveted Weed Wife by Rima – see here for more about that. We’re looking for the right home for it and a timely sale would push us over the finishing line for sure…
- Donate to the still-open Hedgespoken crowdfunder – there are many amazing perks still available…
- If you’d like to donate directly to the Hedgespoken Building Fund, you can do that here:
- Leave word. Encourage us. We’re tired and your words of enthusiasm for this undertaking can lift our hearts. Fuel us with your greetings.
The next time I write, I hope to have more news of The Falcon’s Child, and of the Hedgespoken build. For now, from me here to you there, I wish you well in the swirling dark of Autumn.