At a recent reading event, Ian Gouge was asked which of his collections was his ‘best book’. It was an innocent enough question, designed to aid a purchasing decision. It was also an unfair one. Any marginal preference he may have for one or the other is inevitably dwarfed by the knowledge that there are good pieces in all his volumes of poetry and that, in expressing a preference, a potential reader will always be in danger of missing out on something he would like to think ‘worthy’.
For a while he had been toying with the idea of pulling together a ‘selected works’, gathering all his favourite poems under a single cover. On the back of that ambition, the ‘best book’ question only added fuel to the fire.
So here it is, a ‘Greatest Hits’ from his seven collections published to-date – plus a small number of as yet unseen poems. This endeavour in no way diminishes the value of the individual books themselves; there are many more poems that might easily have found their way into this volume had size not been a consideration.