For years I have had a recurring dream about the post. In the middle of some other, more elaborate dream narrative, there is a knock on the door or a thud on the door mat. Through the letterbox comes an envelope, then another, a shower of mail that spreads out over the mat. Envelopes in different colors and sizes. Some with typed addresses but plenty are handwritten - old-fashioned letters like nobody writes anymore, crammed into fragrant pastel-coloured envelopes. And parcels in intriguing shapes packaged in Manilla and cardboard, some marked 'FRAGILE' in large red letters.
I was in bed this morning when I heard the knock. From my window I watched the postie hand something over. The box is a hefty weight, completely swathed in brown tape and Parcel Force stickers. But my name is handwritten on the top. Inside, the snap of duck tape and pop of bubblewrap. Nestled below are the first 50 copies of my book; cream covers the colour of eggshell.
No sign of stitching. But the cardboard cover feels substantial and the pages crinkle pleasingly on opening. My sister's black and white woodcuts look wonderful inside. It has minor blemishes - an extra blank page, the wrong ISBN number on the back. Mistakes are par for the course on the first print run, I'm told. But I am mesmerised. All is just like a real book. Its realness is startling, the multiple copies a fullness beyond the dream. I want to lug around the box to take in the weight of it.
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.