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The Publishing Process - Reading, Learning, Editing, Cutting

Fast forward to the middle of June.

The publisher said he could go ahead with the manuscript as it was and it would have been alright. However, there was potential to make it something really impressive if I was willing to continue working on it. He gave the collection to an experienced poet who's been publishing and editing since the 1970s in order to get more detailed feedback. Plenty of encouragement to begin with. Out of the 49 pieces in the manuscript there were 21 that needed no revisions. Another 9 needed only minor changes (capital letters, missing words, commas, etc).

The other 19 were a mixed bag of challenges. It was an interesting exercise to see if I could keep my rhyming schemes in certain poems while still improving on imagery and word choices. And of course there were some suggestions that I just wanted to ignore altogether!

For example, there was an adjective flagged in one poem because it can be argued that it's not true in 100% of cases. I think it works nicel…

The Publishing Process - Early enthusiasm

I had a conversation early last winter with a publisher of creative writing. I was volunteering to help them with another project at the time, but it was casually mentioned that there might be an opportunity to get my first collection of poems published sometime soon. I mentioned that I'd read a collection by another local poet of a similar age-bracket to myself, and was told very firmly not to be too influenced by what they had produced. I also mentioned that I had nearly 250 poems to work with and was told to put together closer to 50, and we left it at that.

I didn't mention it again for several months so for a while I didn't know if the opportunity still stood. Even so, I took some time over the May Bank Holiday weekend to put together the first draft of a manuscript. It was a 40 page document with 47 poems in English, 2 in Irish, and 2 English translations. Some of the poems had scarcely changed since I wrote them as a teenager, and at the time I wanted to keep them…
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Hunter-Gatherer

The older cat leaps onto the soft leather
armrest of the two-seater couch, crouches
and sits and waits, surprisingly patient.
There was a time when he would cry any
occasion when he felt we'd kept him
waiting too long for his afternoon meal.

These days he's turned the tables on us,
conditioned us to respond, like the dogs
making Pavlov scribble in that Stivers comic.
We even open windows to let him in
when he climbs onto the house to hunt for birds,
arthritic limp ignored for rooftop thrills,
green flashes of emerald eyes gazing
up with echoes of something ancient, primal.