A few months ago I had two main pre-occupations with regard to my forthcoming book. The first was what to call the collection. Of course I had a few ideas, but wasn’t happy with any of them. And the second dilemma was what to have on the cover.
In Sheffield for my weekly attendance of the MA at Sheffield Hallam, I wondered up the steps of the public library and into the Graves Gallery on the top floor. There I found an exhibition of work by the Sheffield born artist Leonard Beaumont. I was very taken with the work on display, and went away with a couple of postcards, one of these being a 1932 linocut print ‘Sun Bathers’.
On my way back to Narborough on the train that evening, I wrote a poem inspired by this wonderful picture. At that time I was writing regularly and quickly (many poets have told me they work well on trains) and the poem ‘The Sun Bathers’ came together with relatively few revisions. Fairly soon after this trip I decided that the title ‘The Sun Bathers’ would be a good one for my book. I approached the curators of Sheffield Museum to see if the image was available.
After an anxious period when it looked as though there would be financial barriers to the use of the image, the gallery kindly contacted Leonard Beaumont’s family who, to my delight, agreed to its use in exchange for a copy of the book.
I won’t print or try to ‘explain’ the poem here- it is currently ‘out there’ somewhere in submissions land. But seeing as the book is due in a few months and the poem may not be published before then, I’d like to invite you to buy a copy when it’s published in November, or alternatively come and see me read it, as I’m sure you are intrigued to see and hear how the poem turned out! (Dates of publication and readings to be posted soon.)
The Leonard Beaumont exhibition is on at the Graves Gallery Sheffield until September.