Apparently during the pandemic Amazon has decided to cut down production of paperback books. Which explains why I won’t be getting the proof copy until Tuesday, a week after ordering it. Meanwhile I’ve been going it and making a few changes. The book is available on Amazon now. That last sentence should really be in bold and sound more exciting.
Although the events happened in 2004/05 I didn’t actually start writing it until 2013. I was dissatisfied with my writing and started thinking about inventing my own form. I thought about what I liked. Repetition “in word and phrase and in idea is the very essence of poetry,” Theodore Roethke. The structure of the haiku. Blues lyrics from Leadbelly to Muddy Waters. German grammar where all the verbs go at the end of the phrase. Michael Hamburger’s “The Truth of Poetry”. John Ashbery and repetition. Add some play and viola a form I was happy with. A poem consisting of 4 (don’t ask me why) 3 line stanzas. I thought of those poems I’d written at the time and recast them in the new form. They turned into about a dozen poems called “The Night Cafe” which I submitted to a Pighog Competition where it was shortlisted. It lacked depth. I put it aside for a few years and started adding and taking away poems till they seemed to tell a story. From first meeting, I never got to know his name, through to him telling me about his life, and me witnessing his suicide. It was much more real, more true now. The title, When Listening Isn’t Enough, came very, very late in the process. I’ve had something to do with the Samaritans for a number of years and remember their attempts to stop suicides on the railways. One of the recommendations if you see someone “at risk” was to engage them in small talk. Perhaps if I’d done that with “Steve” it would have turned out differently but I had my own problems back then, mainly to do with work.