richard pierce

richard pierce

30 March 2012

Knowing - Kara's 13th birthday poem

You fly out into the silence
Of your paint, of your words,
Up to the stars and the vacuum,
Down into the centre of your world,
Cut yourself adrift from what is around
You, to be you alone, the grounded
One, the strong, the knowing one,
Always a step ahead of others,
Always there to heal them.

Your beacon eyes shine
Through any darkness we fear,
Turn towards us when least expected,
To ask and to answer what we have not
Yet said nor thought, and lift us from
Our uncertainties and sadnesses,
Lift us to orbit with the stars.

the closer, 1912

flies in my gut
fire like a leech
in my face
the wind marching against me
in this dark half year
and everywhere is north

nothing left of
summer and winter
no between
a scattering of world
up there
outside the lonely tent
we pitched

crystals on the blade
but no food
snow so hot
sun so cold

for god's sake

29 March 2012

Scott's Last Diary Entry, Undated

One of our watches was wrong,
Changed by the weather’s ferocious gnaw
At the metal we trusted.
Did we forget to wind them
And lose track of our last days,
Count too many hours?

I can’t remember the blizzard,
Only the cold that embraced me,
That became wedded to me
Without ceremony or consummation
Until the very end when I flung it
Across the face of my sleeping companions.

Did we count the days?
I don’t know. Writing became a chore
To complete for posterity,
Something for them to remember us by,
To make us immortal.

Why didn’t we reach out for those last miles?
Why die half awake half asleep?
Would our frozen feet not have carried
Us just a little further, just that last
Step from death to disability?

We might have talked about it,
Might have readied ourselves, even,
But always fell back, just short
Of daring to confront that fear of
Getting lost, dragged into circles
By our useless feet and dying in the open alone,
Robbed of a last permanent place
To rest.

I remember nothing, not even
The colour of my snow-ridden dreams,
Nor the shape of the tent,
Nor the final rattle of breath
Through each frozen throat.

1 March 2012

Blog tour

This is the advantage we have over authors from even only twenty-five years ago; we have technology on our side, or so we think. I read an interesting article in I think it was The Observer, a few weeks ago, which said that Dickens, if he had had the technology, would have been blogging and tweeting and building his networks on facebook if he'd had the chance, because he was the consummate marketeer, because he knew his audience to a tee.

Well, many of us don't know our audience, don't have the same degree of self-belief that Dickens might have had, maybe don't have the drive the man had, because we're novices at this game, because we're first-time authors, struggling authors, to use that old, garret-laden cliche. Although most of us don't have to burn our furniture like Apollinaire or Hoelderlin or Valery had to, or any other of those poets who really couldn't get enough money together to live, or Roth who, according to a recently-published biography, borrowed from "every relative, publisher and waiter" to finance his nomadic life-style, his numerous mistresses, and all those he wanted to share his life with. We may think "chance would be a fine thing", but we don't mean it, not at all. We couldn't live like that, we wouldn't have the backbone, having grown up in a modern society where we have more than we can reasonably cope with, more than we actually really need.

I have decided to use technology, beyond twitter and facebook, to try to get the word out about my debut novel, Dead Men, not because I'm up my own backside, not because I'm an arrogant twit who thinks he's the best thing since sliced bread, but because I believe I have finally, after thirty years of trying, written a good book, a book worth reading, a book that says something not just to those interested in polar exploration, but to those obsessed with human relationships and love.

How have I decided to use technology, then? I have made my mind up to do the promo for the book, not just the hard, Shanks's Pony, way (I start a UK-wide book tour on 19th March which will lead me from London to Portsmouth to Doncaster to Diss, and then up to Dundee - exact timings to be confirmed), but also the potentially more embarrassing way of pitching myself to well-respected blogs as a potential guest contributor. Now there's an easy way for my already low typical writer's self-esteem to get even more damaged, but who cares? These are good blogs, and if they go for my pitch, I'll be flattered, relieved, enhanced as a human being.

So, the blog tour starts tomorrow, on Vivienne Tufnell's distinctive Zen And the Art of Tightrope Walking. Viv has been happy enough to let me write (excessively, some might say) about my formative writing experiences, about how my father encouraged my early writing. One thing I don't mention in that long post is that I didn't find out, until a week after Dad died in 1992, that he had tried himself as a writer, too, though he only had a few articles published in a works magazine. For me, that was one of the discoveries of my life, and my book just reinforces my gratitude to him for letting me get on with my life, no matter how many doubts or questions he had about me as a man. I am very grateful to Viv for letting me vent in her web space.

Some time soon, too, Alexander McNabb, whom I first met on authonomy, whom I've never met in real life, but whom I feel a type of affinity with, will be interviewing me on his blog, Fake Plastic Souks. I've, virtually, known Alexander since 2008, and never tire of his, often controversial, views of the publishing world. If there was ever a man who embodied Brecht's Verfremdungseffekt, it's Alexander, because he writes with a degree of irony and wit and insight which far exceeds mine. He'll drag you into a story with a wry sense of humour, just to rip you out of it again with savage, cutting cruelty. This is what great writers do.

I am talking to other writers, great in their own right, to ask them, beg them, to let me appear on their blogs. We will see what that brings. And that's good for me. Because, ever since my local village magazine decided to feature me on this month's front cover, folks I meet in the village have been calling me "that famous writer." I'm nothing of the sort. I'm just a bloke who has written a good book, a book that's not even out yet (not until 15th March), and who's hoping that some people he doesn't know might actually listen to his voice.