Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Three Poets, One Book

Jennie Fraine, Helen Patrice and I are old friends who like each other's poetry. In fact we all met through poetry.

Once upon a time (in the early eighties?) back home from a few years living in Africa, Jennie turned up to a poetry reading at a pub in Collingwood, Melbourne, organised by the Melbourne Branch of the Poets Union (as it was then). I was one of the organisers of the evening. We Union poets sat up and paid attention when this newcomer read. Hey, this is good stuff, this is really interesting! 

That was the beginning of our long and deep friendship. We even shared a house together for a while, when we both found ourselves surprisingly single after expecting to be partnered for life. We shared it with her young children too. (Mine were university students no longer living at home.) That was in 1992.

But before that, in the late eighties, Helen attended a poetry workshop Jennie was running. My first book, UNIVERSE CAT, was one of the teaching aids. Helen, a lover of cats as well as poetry, was impressed by my title poem and asked Jennie if she could have my address to write and tell me so. 

That was my very first fan letter for a poem. Of course I was thrilled. I wrote back to say thank you. Then I met Helen in person when I was a guest presenter at Jennie's workshop one night. Pretty soon we were great mates as well, and over the years have seen each other through all sorts of major life experiences.

(By a sweet coincidence, Jennie and Helen each have one son and one daughter, and I happen to be godmother to both their daughters.)

Jennie and Helen made their own connection, and after I moved away from Melbourne it was natural that, on my visits back there, I should sometimes meet with them both together.

Eventually facebook became a great way of staying in touch between times. And then a woman on facebook, Maggie Strongheart (what a wonderful name) got the idea of forming a group and inviting people to write about their relationship to the moon every day for a month and post the writings on the group page. This of course meant paying attention to the moon every night. She was interested to know if we would find reflections in our lives of what the moon was up to in the heavens.

Helen, Jennie and I, being poets, of course decided to do so in verse. We liked our own and each other's results so much that, at one of our Melbourne reunions, we decided to collaborate on a book. We all read each other's and our own moon poems and ticked those we thought good enough to be included – an easy way of arriving at consensus. 

The arrangement, the sequence, editorial suggestions to each other, the Foreword and 'About the Author' pages – all proved easy. Helen had a friend, John Davis, who had taken some wonderful moon photos and agreed to let us use one. We knew we needed a professional cover design, so we hired our friends at Content X Design whom Helen and I had worked with before. We were offered various options and all agreed on our preferences. We are very pleased with the resulting cover.

Then came questions of how and with whom to publish. The other two liked paper books. I persuaded them to try it as an ebook first. Smashwords seemed the best people to do it, because they're free, they offer some distribution, and they make the book available in a variety of formats to accommodate whatever device people are using

But formatting our manuscript according to Smashwords' preliminary requirements seemed like a major task when I looked at what it entailed. I had blithely told the others I would handle it, but after some procrastination I chickened out and we asked CXD to take care of that as well.

And so finally our book is in the Smashwords catalogue, available to buy for a mere $3.99 USD – which I think is a terrific price for something which is not a chapbook but a full-length collection by three different poets.

I read it through from start to finish today. It was months since I last did that, what with focusing on all the technical stuff, so it was almost like coming to it new. I tell you what – it's a really good book! We are all strong poets, with individual yet compatible voices. Although the poems originate with the moon, they encompass travels, love, memories, world events and personal adventures. They range over past and present, and sometimes foreshadow the future.

We say in our Foreword:

Helen and Rosemary are witches, so moon-consciousness was already part of their lives. Jennie, who describes herself as earth-bound and pragmatic, nevertheless lives her life open to possibility.

And yes, it did seem to me that my day-to-day life in some ways reflected what was going on with the moon. But perhaps that was natural, when I was so conscious of her every nuance.

For a sample viewing, or to give it to someone or buy it for yourself, click on this Smashwords link.