When I started writing the poems that became Smithereens, I didn't set out to write about male friendship but this seems to have been the end result. In fact, I didn't set out to write a collection at all. I wrote one, very short and jokey poem in my friend's lifetime and never showed it to him or sent it out to journals.
When he died, I wrote another poem attempting to capture the shock of what had happened. Then I wrote a poem about the inadequacy and denial of my first poem, and then I started to write poems that documented moments from our 40-year friendship, and then I started to want to fill in the gaps in the story...
What I felt was a personal, individual loss, but what people seem to have found different about it is that it reflects on the nature of a long-term friendship between men.
It was a bit of a surprise to find that I had addressed this subject. Though I have close male friends, ever since I left an all-boys school for what had, until a couple of years earlier, been an all-women Cambridge college, I have tended to feel more comfortable in female company. However, perhaps it was this that allowed me to look more closely at what was, for me, an atypical and enduring friendship.
Further reflection, though, made it clear that I write about such friendship more often than I originally realised. I experienced a much gentler loss when a friend moved away a couple of years ago and the poem I wrote about it at the time recently featured on the website of The Poetry Village.
Generally, I'm a bit reluctant to push my own poems, but I have been so gratified by the response to this pamphlet so far. The blurbs for the pamphlet all came from poets I respect and admire enormously:
Additionally, I was extremely pleased by the reader response, from which I give some samples:
"It is a tour de force. It is remarkably deep yet flows effortlessly."
"I have just finished a first reading of your poems and just wanted to say how much they impressed me. I found them almost unbearably moving and beautiful, not only because I recognized so much of the emotion... but also because they're formally highly accomplished, works of insight and precision."
"It’s a gorgeous book in and of itself, and the poems are wonderful. The charting of the disintegration of a friendship, and the disintegration of a friend."
I would love to see people at the launch, for which tickets are still available, and should you feel inclined to buy a copy, they can be obtained here.