During a discussion yesterday evening, I was reminded of the time a publisher had agreed to publish The Whens of Wittenoom if I would add a chapter condemning the companies, such as ABA or James Hardie. Having read all the material in the Bibliography, I had formed the opinion the insurance industry was the most reprehensible factor in the whole sorry saga. I did not accept the recommendation and the book was unpublished until being posted on Smashwords. Informally, it had floated around in forgotten groups and my stance was rewarded (my idea of reward) with an email requesting consent to be cited in the senders PhD thesis.
This morning I recalled a meeting with the then (1970) editor of the London Magazine to whom I had submitted three poems for his consideration. He was willing to publish Meekatharra on the condition I removed Roger McGough’s name from a poem I had written, and sent, to Roger in thanks for an evening at the Pentameters at the Freemasons Arms in Hampstead. This editor told me my work was good enough not to hang onto the coat-tails of the Liverpool poets. As the whole point of the poem was my thanks to Roger and referring to his poem which had me in stitches I was not prepared to do that. None of my poetry was published in print London.
About the same time, the BBC purchased several poems to be used within Playschool. (Under the name of Isabel Reeves). I forget whether I was paid five pounds for seven poems or seven pounds for five poems. Whichever, that thirty-five pounds came in very handy at that time of my life. I am sure there were many others whose works were sitting on the producer’s desk at that time, but, as luck would have it, her husband’s best friend was my then current lover and, knowing him, she felt a great deal of sympathy for me while, at the same time reassuring me my work could stand on its own merit.
Reggie Smith, of the BBC’s Poetry Now had booked me to read on his final radio slot. Over a drink, he explained (over a drink in the Rosslyn Arms) he knew I would understand in his replacing me with Stevie Smith who, for some reason, had decided to come out of seclusion. She’s old, I was young, of course I understood. Stevie Smith soon after appeared in basement of the Freemasons Arms for a reading at Pentameters.
My last reading for Pentameters was when heavily pregnant with my third son. It seems I had been invited with the expectation I would produce pregnancy poems. Instead I read a poem I had written in reaction to the Kent University killings. It did not go down well. I have read that poem to both right and left wing audiences and each assumes I speak for the other. When you hit a wall of deadly silence instead of polite applause…?
Anyway, these are my thought on this day. Now time I synced my Garmin bracelet, have another coffee, download emails and jut get on with the day.
Have a great one, whoever you are, wherever and whenever you be.