My new poetry book, Up in the Air, will be out later this month. I am sooo excited!
This book brings together 50 poems I’ve written over the past 25 years. I got into poetry properly in my twenties when studying an MSc in Environmental Management at Stirling University in Scotland.
I love the big outdoors, and it wasn’t long before I began climbing some of the legendary Scottish mountains. Ben Lomond was the first, done in thick snow and cloud after a late night out on the tiles. It was a struggle, but I remember an amazing moment near the summit when the fog lifted and there was half of Loch Lomond on dazzling display. I’d studied Wordsworth before – but it was in the Highlands that I really became inspired by his poetry:
‘Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven!‘
From there, it was a short step to writing my own poems. My first publication was in a regional anthology. It was really a clever piece of vanity publishing – everyone’s family and friends bought copies – but it boosted my confidence as a writer. Next, I had two poems accepted by a much more high profile magazine, Orbis International. One (Old Man) was inspired by a walk on the Old Man of Coniston, a mountain in the English Lake District.
After that, I began to write poems on nature, love, and all the other things that inspired me. Many got accepted in literary magazines, such as Poetry Ireland, The Rialto and The New Welsh Review. I did readings in places such as The Troubadour in Old Compton Street, London (in the cellar where Bob Dylan once performed!)
I always thought one day I would get them published – but along came work and other things. I stopped writing for a while, and when I came back to it I was bursting with ideas for my adventure series, The Secret of the Tirthas. Whilst I continued to write the odd poem, I focused on that for the next decade.
When I finished The Secret of the Tirthas this summer, I realised it was the ideal moment to get the poetry into shape for a collection. So now, after many hours of work, sifting through dozens of poems, whittling down the best, sorting everything into themes, designing a cover (always there in my mind’s eye, with the title decided upon years ago), I am finally there.
It was a revelation choosing the themes, as it showed me how almost unconsciously I kept returning to certain subjects. Birds and flight are a major inspiration, as are paintings, love, and water (particularly ice).
I hope you will consider buying and reading my first poetry collection. And remember, a poetry book makes a fantastic Christmas present for family and friends!