I was happy to receive the good news that Harbour Publishing has accepted a new collection of my poems, Out of the Ordinary, for publication in 2023 or, more likely, 2024. The book’s poems are direct or indirect responses to how life during the 21st century generally and the years of the pandemic lockdown specifically have felt anything but usual.
Out of the Ordinary gathers together poems in six sections, including one focused on odd ways of approaching everyday objects or events, and one probing metaphorically the unexpected interiors of commonplace things and happenings we encounter. Each section is prefaced by a prose introduction which aims to provide a context for the section’s poems. Other sections look at how we live now, transitions that move an existence from familiar to unfamiliar territory, the vicissitudes of the literary endeavour, and a series of elegies responding to the 2020 loss of my long-time friend, the California poet Dennis Saleh.
The title poem is about how something as dull-seeming as a Christmas cactus, with its leathery branches coloured a monotone, flat green, nevertheless produces once or twice a year an array of absolutely gorgeous, intricately textured, magenta-and-white blossoms. The photo of my cactus here was taken in November 2022 on the day I learned Harbour had accepted the new book. The plant has always seemed emblematic of how our simplest everyday acts create the astonishing and complicated society in which we exist: a world that, despite its sorrows, can—at times—be overwhelmingly beautiful.