Busy busy busy. Along with the projects I’ve already written about – JAAM (which I’ve been typesetting), video poems, Ithaca Island Bay Leaves, my own poetry – I’ve also been working putting together a new Seraph Press publication. It's going to be a limited-edition hand-bound poetry chapbook by Helen Heath, called Watching for Smoke.
Helen is a poet and all-round crafty person from Paekakariki. Over the last few years I've been getting to know her and her poetry a bit better, not least through her blog Show your Workings, and I've done a few readings with her and other people. I've been finding her work more and more compelling, and earlier this year I had a chat with her about it being time for her to get a chapbook of her work out into the world. She's taken up the challenge.
I was given a lot of latitude with this. I had an idea of what I wanted this book to be, and she's let me build it with her poems. I knew I wanted the anchor to be her poem 'Spilt', which was in the latest issue of JAAM (26). I love this poem. It does so much. It's so physical, almost uncomfortably so (well, probably it is actually uncomfortable for some). And it's so personal, and yet really universal, like many of my favourite poems are. And it's both domestic and mythic. 'Spilt' has become both the anchor and the jumping-off point for the collection.
To me, the chapbook is tied together by all the different roles we have, especially in our families, such as mother, wife, lover, daughter, sister, and the tensions within and between them. It represents only an aspect of the work Helen is doing, but it's one of the aspects I really enjoy. I'm liking how the poems circle back and around in time, with connections to each other. You'll know what I'm talking about when you read it.
My schedule is to have this all done by the time Helen reads at Stand Up Poetry in Palmerston North - so a couple of months. It's already typeset, and we've both got some ideas for the cover design. It's going to be hand-bound, and may have knitting needles incorporated into some how! I'm going to try to make some demo versions in the next few days, see if what I'm imagining in my head is actually feasible. Such fun!