I recently received a lovely comment on my blog from American poet Sarah Russell and since then I've been following her blog where she publishes her own poetry and works by other authors. I've enjoyed the blog immensely and it got me wondering about publishing my own poetry on this blog.
I wouldn't publish work in progress or poems that haven't already been published, but it might be an interesting way to air out old poems that haven't seen the light of day in decades. I have had pieces published since 1998 and many of my early poems were published in my collection back in 2007 (which is out of print, but can be picked up second hand or I can sell you a copy if interested), so they've been quiet since then.
But then I feel a bit weird because it's a bit like vanity publishing. I didn't start this blog to flog my work, though hopefully it will be an added bonus, but it wouldn't be a bad thing to pull the occasional poem out of the moth balls and talk a bit about my experience writing it or getting it published.
I would of course give credit to the press or magazine that first published the work and I would have to look up the copyright rules as I've been out of publishing that long I have forgotten, but I think since I am the author the rights return to me after first publishing in magazines or journals. Poems from my collection would be different but as the publishing company has totally gone under, there's no one to really ask for republication rights, so I'm guessing it's not a bother.
I wouldn't publish poems that haven't been previously published because that usually negates the possibility to be used again as publishing work online counts as a use of their First Publication Rights. Most magazines don't want previously published work, though there are some who do, so it's best to stick to poems that have appeared on magazines or online journals.
So on that note, I might as well be brave as I've had a house guest this last week and not had much time to write or think about what to do here.
This poem was part of the first Hidden City pamphlet series, (Dancing Rabbit Publishing, Glasgow, 2006). The idea was to write about the unseen corners of Glasgow. In 2009 I was a part of the event at the Merchant City Festival that took the listeners to the hidden sites where the poets read their poems.
My poem was about the small cemetary around the Glasgow Cathedal, tucked behind walls and the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. It started out as a touching moment about a long, but difficult friendship, but in 2015 I returned to Glasgow to say good-bye to my friend who was dying of cancer and I needed to say more about the place and the moment, so the second half has been added more recently.
It was recently the anniversary of my friend's birthday, so it seems fitting to share this now.
Small Green Peace
one grave draws the eye,
a list of children each living
a few years longer than the one before.
The last had only thirty-nine years
to make his mark before he joined
the long line of his family.
A shower of white petals graces us
as you tell how
you found this silence as a child.
I wandered here on my arrival
through unfamiliar streets,
jet lag keeping me from sleep
as the city unfolded, embraced me.
Beneath the cathedral,
I watched the sky bleed
industrial orange to gray-green.
Years will pass and if we never meet again
in this quiet corner my words,
through letter or poem,
will chart the distances we have travelled.
Though you never move from this city
and I circle the globe, they will be the same.
Your final diagnosis
lingers between us,
raw and heavy.
You reveal the city
has removed the old stones,
cut down the blooming trees.
they tore apart
It doesn’t matter
because now you too
your own carved mark
You left me in awe
of your truthful strength,
riding out the pain
but not beaten.
Keeping us all in check
if our faces got too long.
Petals drifting past your face
as we decided
in the midst of stony death
what was needed
was a pint and a chat
that would last all afternoon.