A New Book?

I have sometimes written in this blog (somewhat boastfully, perhaps) of how I managed to get a book of my poetry published in 2004. The book in question, though, sold very few copies (an embarrassingly low amount, if truth be told) and now the publishers have gone into liquidation, so the book, as far as I know, will, in the very near future, no longer be available for public consumption. And, the reason I haven't publicised my book more in this blog (by letting you know its title, for example) is that I have always felt an excruciating blend of pride and embarrassment at what I have written. While I am quite pleased with some of the book, there are parts of it which I now find particularly dark, and which perhaps reflect my mindset at that time. Written on the cusp of a psychotic episode, it deals with subjects and contains vocabulary which I can only say that many would find off-putting. So, I am often loath to have those I know read it, feeling that they may wonder what on earth was possessing me. But, as I say, soon I will no longer have to worry about such things.
Having said all that, I don't think it is the function of literature to supply us with cosy affirmations of our lives and what we might already think. As it is with art, perhaps literature should, as I said in the introductory biography in my book, sometimes "provoke and offend". I'm sure you can think of many examples of this, but two spring immediately to my mind. Baudelaire's collection of poetry, "Les Fleurs du Mal" ("The Flowers of Evil") dealt with subjects such as decadence and eroticism and became the subject of a trial in which the author and publisher were fined for insulting public decency. Later, of course, there was the infamous British trial regarding D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover", in which the publishers of the novel, Penguin, were tried under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act. In this instance, though, despite the novel's use of a certain "flowery" vocabulary and the fact that it had explicit sexual content, the verdict in the trial was not guilty due to the fact that the novel was said to have a certain artistic merit. Both these works are now considered classics. So, is it the case that any subject or content should not be considered unsuitable or inappropriate when it comes to art? And, I suppose, this would lead us into the question of the rights and wrongs of censorship, one which I do not wish to delve into here.
Anyway, all this leads me up to the point that, having once been through the process of having my writing published, and finding it a not altogether comfortable experience, I may be about to do it again. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have just been offered a contract to have more of my poems published. Again the poems were written a while back, but I think, this time, they are a little less controversial in their tone and content. Also, if truth be told, the publisher who has offered me this contract is one which specialises in work written by those with experience of mental ill health. So, it seems to me that the object of publishing my work this time may have less to do with its literary merit than it does with being an advocate for mental health related issues, something with which I am already familiar.
As I launch myself once more into the public sphere, then, I hope that this time I can feel more at home with what I am doing. The purpose this time seems clear: to show that those with even the most severe mental health diagnosis can and do function and contribute to our society. And in this, I'll surely feel that I am doing something worthwhile.
  

Comments

bazza said…
How intriguing! One of the purposes of literature must be to learn of another person's perspective. This surely qualifies you to publish your poetry. If things don't work out with this new publisher there is always 'Print on Demand' which is very different to Vanity Publishing. (See www.lulu.com )
Best regards, Barry
David said…
Dear bazza,
What you say must qualify anyone to publish their writing, and, I suppose, this is true, given the saying that everyone has at least one book in them. Not everyone, though, makes it into the realms of being either a rercognised or respected author, and, to be honest, I don't expect that from being published. I just hope that doing this will bring, perhaps, just a little awareness to some mental health issues.
And thanks for the bit of advice. Much appreciated.
Very Best Wishes,
David.
klahanie said…
Dear David,
Esteemed author and all round good guy. Although I know you look back on your previous published book of poetry with mixed emotions, it is indeed a fascinating insight to your mindset at that particular phase of your life.
I think this is a most positive situation to have some further poetry of yours published. I'm sure your work will be further evidence that your mental health concerns are merely a small part of who you are. This most certainly seems like a worthwhile venture. All the very best with this and if it helps reduce the misconceptions surrounding mental health issues, then that's a most rewarding outcome.
With very kind wishes, Gary
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for the support. Indeed, I do hope that it will help, in some small way, reduce some misconceptions, perticularly about my own diagnosis.
Anyway, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Your card is in the post!
Very Best Wishes,
David.

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