20 October 2008

An Evening Out

I had the good fortune to meet the poet Jackie Kay this weekend. It was at an informal dinner at a writer-friend's home. She was a wonderfully warm and welcoming person -- quick to laugh and seeming completely at ease, even sitting in a stranger's kitchen surrounded by yet more strangers.

She read us some poems and listened to samples of our writing, and we talked about writing and ate and drank....

She said her work comes out of voices... If she can hear the voice, she can get the poem. For example, The Adoption Papers, for which she is probably best known -- are poems told in different voices.

She told a great story about an early rejection of that book (The Adoption Papers) by a big name publisher. I won't repeat it here, it is a bit blue. Later Bloodaxe wanted to include some of those poems in an anthology. But she knew that if she it happened like that, she would not be able to publish the complete work somewhere else. So she told them she would only approve the anthology poems if they also published the whole book.

Bloodaxe agreed and the book went on to win the Forward Prize.

Moral of the story: poets, stay strong!

Some poems, highly recommended, here. Thanks again, Jackie (and Martin, Godelieve, and Sue) for a wonderful evening!

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