Brian Lewis describes the pleasure of collaboration

Nice piece by Brian Lewis on the heart-warming process of collaboration- in this instance with me and his dad! As a result of a discussion I had with him, detailed below,my poem ‘Vows’ was subtly but significantly improved, a similar thing happened recently when a fellow member of the Bewildering Stories review team suggested an alteration to one of my poems -My policy is always not to be precious, but to judge each intervention on its merit..anyway, take it away Brian.

The very best part of this experience hasn’t been a single moment, but the process of discovering that throughout the writing and publishing industries there are people who are just excited to work together. Outside of the public face of the Big Publishing Houses, the whole environment is more collaborative and less competitive than I would ever have imagined. From garnering support from established authors to working with the marketing staff at Writer’s Digest, I have run into one friendly and helpful person after another.

I was particularly delighted to work with the writers accepted into Volume I. When I have humbly proposed changes to their submissions to prepare for publication, they have been gracious and willing to work with me. Two examples of this: John Stocks, whose poetry has been published in many anthologies, submitted the poem Vows, which I loved. But there was one word I wasn’t quite sure I understood the use of, so I asked him about it—over the course of an afternoon, John and I discussed the poem at length and he ended up choosing another word that better conveyed his intent. Not only was John Stocks wonderful to work with, but the entire discussion took place with me in the western U.S. and John in the U.K

The second example is similar: James E. Lewis, who publishes poetry as j.lewis, took a simple play on words (“surgical mass”) and created from it a poem that explored the metaphor. I liked the piece a lot, and James spent time talking through the poem with me in a “collaborative workshop” type discussion until we both felt it was ready for publication. The best part for me? The similarity of our names is no coincidence: Mr. Lewis is my dad.

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Inspiration

This has been a reflective year for me so far. After many years of full unemployment, often working in a stressful environment and constantly under pressure to meet deadlines and get results, I have, since January been relatively stress free, working on my own terms and exploring various avenues of potential non contract employment.

In the context of my writing two main themes have emerged; a desire to revisit and explore the seminal moments of childhood and adolescence that facilitated the emergence of what I am going to grandly call, ‘my poetic consciousness’ a state of mind that my family consider to be an absent -minded, near autism and I consider the thing that defines me above all else else.

The opening of my poem, ‘Raw Material’ reflects this 

Raw Material

 

You begin where my beginning ends

 

Teaching me, a sense of place that blew in

 

With my consciousness, teaching me

 

Mischief Night, bonfires and Halloween

 

Obscure fag-ends of winter afternoons

 

Isherwoods chip shop, a seven penny mix

 

Steaming from the back copies of the Guardian

 

A stench of leaves from the old cut locks

 

Clogged with leaves and random detritus

 

Love in puddles, huddled in the bus stop.

As a child I can remember feeling a great empathy with Wordsworth’s drift into an altered state of conscious in the prelude-the deep calm he felt in the midst of a, ‘tumultuous throng.’

The second theme has been a desire to strive for more honesty in self expression. A difficult thing to do because, living in the real world, it is easy to cause emotional hurt with a sweep of the pen, but I have been paring things down-trying to secure the essence of experience. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘the truth is rarely pure and never simple’ It isn’t an easy think to know oneself or to recognise the emotions that are critical to emotional and psychological evolution-sometimes events impact at the deepest levels of invisible psychology and may take decades to emerge as a critical force.

This much i know-when i am drawn back to my childhood I find my little bubble of consciousness is filled simultaneously with the past, present and the vague but omnipresent future-primarily the sense of time passing and ever encroaching death-expressed most memorably in Larkin’s Aubade

 And so it stays just on the edge of vision, 
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill 
That slows each impulse down to indecision. 
Most things may never happen: this one will, 
And realisation of it rages out 
In furnace-fear when we are caught without 
People or drink. Courage is no good: 
It means not scaring others. Being brave 
Lets no one off the grave. 
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

 

 

Day jobs

Day jobs

It’s been a very busy couple of months. Like most poets I am forced to earn a crust, and in my case, I currently do so by surfing the outer fringes of the educational vortex-having resigned last October from a financially lucrative, Head of Media post, in order to give more time to my core poetic purpose, and, of course, smell the odd flower or two. 

I very pleased with, and have high expectations of my most recent crop of poetry, and I have received, during this relatively fallow period, a number of attractive contributor’s copies of magazines-most notably,’For Rhino in a Shrinking World’-a fine and passionate publication containing my poem, ‘Midsummer Night’s Eve’, and ‘Dove Tales’ a world peace anthology. I have also been engaged with poetry editorial work for, ‘Bewildering Stories’ magazine and finishing a collaborative first novel, ‘Beer Balls and the Belgian Mafia’