When people ask me about this new book of poems, their first question is usually, ‘What’s it about?’ Which is fair enough, but the answer that rings around in my head is, ‘There are nearly fifty poems in it, and they’re all about different things, and I’ve no idea at all what some of them are about, and some of them are quite hard to talk about and…’
… and then I can’t think what to say.
One acquaintance, on hearing the book was called Take This One to Bed, asked, ‘In a good way, I hope?’ to which I really couldn’t think of an answer. The best I’ve come up with so far is that the question’s answered by looking at the cover photo, the title of the book and the poem ‘Take Off’ together. The word ‘bed’ is important – as a symbol for conception, marriage, sex, home, illness, injury and birth, all of which are in these poems, explicitly or implicitly. I’ve never counted, but a friend pointed out that the word ‘home’ appears with unusual frequency in my books, so that’s obviously important too.
(I piqued my own curiosity there, and counted – it appears thirteen times in Take This One to Bed, and eighteen in its predecessor, Bugs. Funny how it takes someone else to point these things out, isn’t it?)
The poems were written over seven years, as I was in my thirties and as I turned forty. I’ve never called this book autobiographical, but I hope it says something about me – and about men like me – in marriage, in family, in friendship. I hope it says something about the most complicated relationship each of us has – the one with our self. I hope you think the book’s got a sense of humour. I do. I hope these poems feel approachable. I’m not interested in writing opaque, academic puzzles. But I do like to think that they’re re-readable – that they give up more and more of themselves as you read them again. I like to think that they bounce off each other, too, becoming more than the sum of their parts.
But it’s not for me to say, is it? Over to you…