Poetry, unlike a novel, sometimes takes longer to evolve. When I first started penning verse at the ripe old age of 17, I thought the craft of writing poetry might take me some where. Turns out it didn't. Years later, the poems that were once published in poetry magazines and newspapers or recipients of school writing workshop awards were long forgotten. So what happened to the poetry I once loved?
Enter the digital age of eBook publishing, and thanks to a number of start up publishing platforms, people are able to sit at their kitchen table after tea, nut out a poem on their laptop and have it uploaded and published before bedtime. Its a bit like digital wonderment at its best, and instant authorship at its worst. Turns out most of it is free anyway. So I guess you do get what you pay for.
Being in the middle of promoting my first two novels and waiting for my third novel to be released with a publisher in the United States, I thought 2011 was as good a time as any to go through some of my old work and throw out any manuscripts or ideas that were no longer relevant. What I discovered was a stack of unsold photocopied booklets of my poetry from 1993 that I had compiled ahead of trying to establish myself on Brisbane's stand-up poetry circuit, along with newspaper clippings and a magazine in which one of my earlier poems had been published in. Too good to throw away? Definitely. So I uploaded them as a collection in a .pdf file accompanied by a cool photograph I had taken while on holiday in Victoria. Best of all, it was free.
I used the now defunct AuthorStand website along with Smashwords.com and between them had around 500 copies of my book downloaded which was cool. At least somebody was reading them. But the next two years saw me focus on another book tour and writing my fourth novel. By the time I next logged in to see how my free book was doing, AuthorStand had shut down, and Smashwords had this thing called Premium Status for titles wanting to be included on sites such as B&N, Scrib'd, Kobo and Apple. My book simply wasn't formatted for Premium Status inclusion. As I previously remarked, poetry is an evolving thing. So it was back to the drawing board again. This time to have the book formatted correctly for inclusion in Smashwords Premium Catalog alongside my other titles, and to redesign the cover.
Things We Once Loved is a collection of 24 of my earlier works dating back to 1989. It is a book that has evolved as much as the poems within. When you open a small poetry booklet from 20 years ago, it is impossible to not look at it and say; "I would have used this word here, or not included that." Which is exactly what I did, even down to tinkering with some of the poem titles. Readers may have noticed my obsession for the number four. Each of my books have four words in the title, and each of my novels uses four words for their chapter headings. So why not my poetry collections as well? You may notice that the poem Bottled Storm has become Storm in a Bottle, and so on. If you're going to create an interesting idiosyncrasy, you have to be consistent. Things We Once Loved is a great collection of traditional rhyme, non-rhyme and Australian bush verse offered up in a giant slice of nostalgia and sense of reflection. They are all poems that I did not want to part with, poems which I hope will still be enjoyed for many years to come.
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