Yesterday I pressed send on the final manuscript for my new collection, Bone House. The writing of this book formed part of the ACNI Major Artist Award which I received in late 2019.
I remember very well the day I heard word of that success. For some reason that I’ve never been able to figure out, my normally very reliable phone had stopped working. I wasn’t getting phone calls or texts. I couldn’t work out how to sort it. That evening I was sitting in a very cold indoor riding school with my older daughter and lots of other mad horsey people. We were wrapped in blankets against the freezing air, clutching tepid cups of coffee and watching a demo from an Olympic Event rider. Suddenly my phone, having decided of its own volition to work again, starting pinging with texts and recorded messages. I made my way out into the dark carpark to find out what I had been missing and there it was – news that I had received the award.
Bone House is not the book I had anticipated writing, last year changed the nature of the poems; at some points I didn’t think I could or would write anything, it would never be finished. But here it is, more fragmentary, less articulate than I had imagined when I wrote my proposal for it. I had wanted to make sense and it wasn’t until I gave up on that, that it began to take shape. It wasn’t until I accepted that I had to take what was coming, that the lines of poetry began to become poems.
Soon it will exist as a physical thing in the world. To some extent it gave me a focus in these grim months, though sometimes it also felt like a herculean task that I regretted ever taking on. Is it any good? Who knows. But I am happy with it, it feels worth the effort and that’s something.