'Instead of a card.'
I am sure many of you will already be aware of Candlestick Press and their poetry pamphlets with bookmark included, the range covering a wide range of subjects from knitting to cricket and everything in between. I have been a huge fan for many years and have been sending them to friends for just as long.
The latest batch of pamphlets arrived last week...
The Wood in Winter, an exquisite essay by John Lewis-Stempel with a poem by Jackie Kay.
'To get into the wood from the lane I climbed over the iron field gate; this had galvanized the cold of centuries into its bars. Some rooks flew overhead; not the usual ragged, weary flight to roost, but an oaring deep and strong with their wings. They flew as straight as crows.'
How many ice cold metal gates do I climb over without ever thinking about the 'galvanized cold of centuries.'
How often do I look at rooks, wonder if they are crows or jackdaws and wish I knew the difference, and miss the 'oaring deep and strong with their wings.'
Ten Poems about Friendship selected and introduced by Lorraine Mariner...
'I didn't want to deny that friendships aren't always perfect and that we go on being friends in spite of our shortcomings.'
and The Twelve Poems of Christmas Volume Eight selected and introduced by Carol Ann Duffy.
'2016. Not a year to be glossed over or sugar-coated but one in which the need to hang onto poetry, like a raft or life-boat, has perhaps rarely felt stronger...poetry goes on rising to the challenge of singing above the chaos.'
As I get older and wiser (maybe) thus has poetry increased in its importance to me as a means of expression, and of making sense of things that, despite that age and maybe-wisdom, I still need put into less words rather than more. I am loving Haiku at the moment and came across this wonderful poem posted on Twitter ...
Lost in Translation
It's easy enough
to blanket the surface
of a Basho haiku
with English snow.
The difficult thing
is to make it look as if it fell there
in the first place
and is still falling.
Is it not quietly, silently and so perfectly right.
Of the Candlestick pamphlets, Carol Ann Duffy suggests they are 'the most original way of delivering poetry since Poems on the Underground', and if you have ever been sent one 'instead of a card' I hope you will agree that they are timely and timeless and something to treasure and return to over and again.
In with this batch was a leaflet about a new project inviting enthusiasts to become founder members of the Candlestick Collective...
'We'd like to have around 10 groups (or 'Chapters') across the UK who will be the very first to receive copies of our new titles, to discuss them and provide feedback to us via social media. These Chapters will form the Candlestick Collective an interactive engaged and passionate group of readers who like to exchange ideas and opinion and aren't afraid to share them.'
Well that's us I thought, so I contacted Di Slaney to ask if there might be room for dovegreyreader scribbles Chapter and she has agreed that very much yes there would.
So here's the plan...
I am hoping there will be ten of you who would like to be part of our Candlestick Chapter. You would receive the pamphlets as they are issued and talk about them on here. I would do a blog post every so often and would ask that those who take part commit to adding their thoughts in comments on that post.
The good news is that I have agreed with Di Slaney not to limit this to the UK. We would like a broad selection of participants around the world within our ten members if we can manage it. I know you are out there because you e mail me for all over the place, so please don't be shy. As well as receiving the new pamphlets in the post, at the end of each year each Chapter member will also receive two more of their choice free.
It sounds like a win/win to me.
To help you decide whether to volunteer or not here are some of the guidance notes from Di Slaney on what you would be expected to contribute in comments...
We want to know all about:
Your first reactions – to the cover, to the concept or theme, to the contents, to the poets, to the poems, to the illustrations
The things you really like – particular poems, individual lines, the way the poems work together, different styles of poetry, different poets
The things you don’t like so much – and why; what could we do differently? What would YOU do differently?
Your thoughts on readership – who will really like this title and how might we reach them?
Your thoughts on range – what are your ideas for new titles and themes? What would YOU publish next?
And anything else you might consider or discuss, because it’s your unprompted feedback that we’re most interested in.
So there you have it poetry lovers.
If you are interested please e mail me at dovegreyreader at gmail dot com
I am off on my travels for a few days this week so I won't be able to reply immediately, and if I am inundated please don't be disappointed if you aren't selected. It could be that we will have a Chapter change at the end of each year, or if vacancies arise. Let's see how it goes.
Meanwhile maybe some suggestions for new titles and themes...
I'd love to see Ten Poems about Quilts, it would fly off the shelves because the quilting community is always on the look-out for quilt-related literary connections.