Giving poems a new life
The rarest of occurrences from the Ardnamurchan peninsula – a blog from Scotland’s most reserved novelist and poet, Dominic Cooper.
I’d been staring at the folder of poems on my desk for a good long while. Little by little it had built up over the past decades and now I was beginning to wonder what, if anything, I should be doing about it.
In the end I came to the conclusion that if the poems were to be shown the sort of respect that any creator owes to his work, they shouldn’t just reside in that folder—or in its digital equivalent on the computer—but should perhaps be given a completely new life by being put together in a volume.
Being aware that I probably didn’t have the skills to set them out in a way that would look beautiful on the page, I found myself a designer. Over the weeks he and I worked together, a long-winded but very satisfying email dialogue, till we’d knocked them into the sort of shape that we felt was ready for a printer. The book was to contain 23 poems and was to be called Waymarking. Although the poems selected came from several different decades of my life, I decided that they didn’t need to appear in chronological order but were best ordered according to my current tastes, the only dictum being that each poem should sit easily with its neighbour.
Once the right printer was found, I was offered various levels of production; and seeing this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I somewhat inevitably went for the top, most expensive option. But, in fact, when the first copies of the book arrived, I knew that this had been the right decision. I see the book as a thing of beauty, a perfect format in which to house what I feel to be the best of my life.
The short introduction printed on the flyleaf reads:
From my very first endeavours in my mid-teens, late at night at the kitchen table, and on through the decades, the writing of a poem has always been for me like the creating of a waymark, the registering of a moment along the ever-changing way of my life. Poetry has been the only constant; and, more importantly, the way into an unknown and closed-off world in which the ferocity of darkness forever jostles with joy and the explosions of light.