In 2013 I won the inaugural Live Canon First Collection competition. My debut collection The Department of Emotional Projections was published in July 2014.
“The Department of Emotional Projections is both the collection title and a sonnet sequence that grew very slowly; at times, it felt like painting a series of miniatures, balancing washes of colour with details achieved by a fine camel’s hair brush.”
“I enjoy the challenge of formal constraints — it’s like swimming in a small, deep rock pool, or etching a world on an egg shell.”
(From Live Canon website, 2014)
Things people have said
Isabel Rogers, writing in Ink, Sweat and Tears, says:
… this collection wears its considerable learning very lightly indeed, to magical effect.
The Department of Emotional Projections is, refreshingly, a collection rather than a book of linked poems which seems in vogue today, and probably easier to sell. You can dip into a collection: most of the poems are independent beings that can answer your mood. I love its variety and scope, and the feeling of being well-travelled by the end. An impressive debut indeed.
A pamphlet version of this collection was highly commended in the Mslexia 2013 Poetry Pamphlet Competition. The judge, Amy Wack of Seren Press, said:
“‘The Department of Emotional Projections’ kept me intrigued, guessing and entertained. I often had to read the same poem several times as the ‘moral’ of the poem often announced itself subtly, with a consequent sting, after I’d been lured through a mysterious situation. I loved how the metaphors kept turning themselves inside out. There is a wonderful exuberance here, often underlined by fear or pain.”
Notes on the poems
- “The Department of Emotional Projections” is a phrase lifted from a long list of technical credits at the end of a film using extensive CGI. Or so I thought. But several film industry experts say they’ve never heard of such a thing … .
- A “wold” is an open, uncultivated piece of high land in Britain; it’s from the Old English “wald” and may be related to “wild”.
- When “Currents” first appeared in Popshot (the Power issue), there was a wonderful illustration by the artist Tim McDonaugh.
- The phrase “Health Tips For the Year Ahead” is the subject title of an email that flew into my mailbox hidden in a flock of spam.
- The artwork “Proyecto para un Memorial” is a haunting video installation by the Colombian artist, Óscar Muñoz, shown at the Venice Biennale 2007.
- According to Bill Jay, in 19th-century Europe it was commonly believed that “the last image image seen by the eyes of a person would be ‘fixed’ on the retina for a considerable period of time.” Some tried to photograph such images to aid criminal investigations. For many fascinating stories, see “In the Eyes of the Dead” in Cyanide & Spirits: An Inside-Out View of Early Photography by Bill Jay, 1991.
- The British Astronomical society has campaigned for darker skies since 1989, with the goal of preserving and restoring the beauty of the night sky; their fact sheet “for busy people” is clear, concise, and the source of the title for the poem.
- The artwork Aire/Air, by Mexican artist Teresa Margoles, was shown in the “Invisible Art” exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 2012. Her work evokes the many dead and disappeared in northern Mexico, victims of drug cartel related violence. For a description of the visceral effect of another Margolles piece using morgue water, read the first paragraph of this review in Frieze. In 2012 she received the ArtesMundi 5 International Prize; you can find a description of her winning work here, and see the artist in a video here.
- “Soundtrack” is written with thanks to George Foy and his search for the quietest place on earth.
- The Flat Earth Society, formed in the nineteenth century, is still alive and kicking on the internet.
- “Dear Mr — ” is not about my father.
- “On Wednesday” draws on events reported in The Whitby Gazette and other North Yorkshire newspapers during the spring of 2011. Here are a few links for the whale, the ferrets and the bouncy castle. Yes, bouncy castles can be dangerous.
- The great plains of the midwestern US are a well-known hub of UFO sightings. For North Dakota, UFOs, and the history of their special relationship, try this.