I have been wondering how I would answer if someone asked me what I was up to – in a literary sense, of course! In the broadest sense I think I am trying to build something, firstly in relation to my own writing, and secondly with Coverstory books.
In many respects the second is easier to define because the outcomes – and outputs – are tangible. This year, for example, I have already collaborated with various authors and poets to publish two books:
The nature of relationships dominates this international collection of contemporary short stories; not just relationships between people, but also between individuals and their pasts and, in consequence, their potential futures.
The British and Continental American authors of Making Marks in the Sand explore the nature of love, regret and loss, peeling back the veneer on everyday life.
Often gritty, this is a powerful and moving collection.
Valley of the Kings is both excavation of family history and an incantation of voices telling contemporary stories that startle. The grieving son and the street angel; the coke addict meeting Piers Plowman in the service-station; the singing nightingale on Universal Credit; the homeless person in Ancient Egypt; the famous sax player; the young lovers in their mythic hotel: all united in ‘the exquisite ache of the human day’.
Let ‘the weight of the wind on tide’ sing loud in this visionary debut which, in Graeme Ryan, introduces an exciting new voice to the UK poetry scene.
And there are two more due to be published in the next four or five weeks – and at least two more already in-train beyond that:
The Deadwing Generation is a second stand-out collection from Simon French. Perceptive and emotionally raw, French applies his poetry scalpel to the experience of living life in the modern world.
Praise for French’s Joyriding Down Utopia Avenuefrom Amazon readers:
“Powerful, surprising – shocking, sometimes funny, often poignant but always thought provoking.”
“surprising, subtle poetry”
“This is a stunning collection. Assured throughout, this is a poet who is a master of his game. The poems conjure a vividly imagined world, often skewering convention.”
Back in 2020, when the idea for New Contexts was first born, who would have thought that two years later we would be onto our third volume?
Achieving such a milestone seems proof enough that creative writing – in this case, poetry and short prose – is in rude health. It is also a tribute to our authors who continue to contribute a wide range of pieces in various styles and with the broadest of subject matter.
As previously, from the material submitted I have tried to pull together as representative a sample as possible, and whilst not every piece will be to everyone’s taste, hopefully there is enough in this eclectic mix to stimulate and entertain.
There are also the monthly Contextual virtual poetry events – a hour delighting in really top-notch contemporary poetry – plus the on-line poetry anthology, Line Breaks.
If all that effort is partly about ‘building a brand’ – and it is – then it also feels as if I am on the same journey with my own writing. Whilst busy on a number of projects during 2022 (a novel, a collection of short stories, and a volume of poetry), I have also started my fledgling career as a writing retreat mentor with my second engagement coming up in June. In an attempt to make my work available to a wider audience I have also started a podcast – Walking Thru Fire – and made this available via Spotify, Audible etc.
In the end, of course, this effort is about readership and recognition.
As I’ve already said elsewhere, 2022 is a big year – and you can see why!