Coverstory books publications:
A Kind of Making – by Tom Furniss
Doomed Spanish poet Federico Lorca, ill-fated Tudor battleship the Mary Rose, a Ming dynasty porcelain flask, a sawing horse: in a collection spanning almost 40 years, Tom Furniss’s poetry ranges far and wide, forging connections between past and present, sculpting fresh images from the global and historical, and from the domestic and mundane. Several early poems, such as Chameleon and Break of Day, distil complex ideas into sharp, elliptical verse. Others are lyrical, expansive and digressive. Some are playful or political, or both. More recent poems, some inspired by memories of a Northamptonshire childhood, others by the joys of late fatherhood, display a muscular simplicity. Here and there are echoes of Wordsworth and Shelley, Bob Dylan and The Beatles, the writer’s first loves and avowed early influences. But each poem is deeply personal and individual. They ring true with an authentic voice.
Ripples Beyond the Pool – by Kathleen Swann
Kathleen was brought up in rural Cumbria and now lives in North Yorkshire. She spent her working life in the NHS and, since her retirement, is now able to concentrate on her family, gardening and studying and writing poetry. This collection embraces relationships with family and friends and reflects a love of rural life and characters. It also takes us on visits to other countries and cultures. Her poems have been published on-line and in several anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Kathleen worked with a young composer to produce a song which was performed at the International Leeds Lieder Festival.
Oak Tree Alchemy – an anthology
“Oak Tree Alchemy’, is a collection of work by a group of poets based in North Yorkshire, England.
It is an eclectic work featuring a variety of themes and styles, and a number of the contributors have been published in their own right elsewhere.
At Maunston Quay – by Ian Gouge
Life weaves its magic of triumphs and disappointments everywhere, and often those burdened with more than their fair share of tragedy can feel lost and alone. Even in a quiet backwater like Maunston Quay people struggle to come to terms with their personal suffering and grief – yet Maunston Quay may offer the kind of second chances that gives hope to everyone.
First-time Visions of Earth from Space – by Ian Gouge
When people escaped gravity and started to travel in space, astronauts were amazed by the view when they looked back at the Earth. There are many photographs of such individual moments of wonder – and captured alongside these images come anecdotes recording the difficulty the astronauts encountered in trying to describe what they were seeing. This fascinates me. Not just the inevitable challenge with language and expression, but also the compulsion to depict and interpret in the first place.
In a way, Poets face the same struggle. We strive to communicate that which is – and can only be – an intensely personal experience, and in so doing, make it accessible, universal. In attempting to understand something within ourselves, we hope our efforts may bring some element of enlightenment – and delight – to others.
An Infinity of Mirrors – by Ian Gouge
[Published 1st May 2018]
Given his profession as a Historian, it was inevitable that Mark would find himself one day writing the story of his late father, the acclaimed author Charles Packard. As his biographer, Mark is blessed with a wealth of material: first-hand experience, his father’s own work, testimonies of his Aunt, and Charles’ friends, colleagues and enemies.
Yet what he uncovers is unexpected, elements of his father’s life resonating with his own. These parallels begin to intrude in a very tangible way on Mark’s interpretation of own his life, his own history becoming more closely aligned to that of his father.
Instead of being the closing of a chapter, a sealing up of the past, the biography proves to be something far darker, unleashing personal daemons that Mark could never have anticipated.
Degrees of Separation – by Ian Gouge
We are all connected. There are links – like links in a chain – that join each of us, everyone to everyone else.
“Degrees of Separation” is a series of short stories, each tied to the next it through one of its two characters. The book’s invisible thread weaves its way across geography and time until the circle is made complete when a character from the first story appears again in the final one.
But each story is also a narrative about separation in its own right; a wife from a husband, a son from a father, a friend from a friend. “Degrees of Separation” explores what it means to be apart, and considers the things that can divide us – or potentially keep us together.
After the Rehearsals – by Ian Gouge
Having received praise for his recent work ‘Human Archaeology’ – “a compelling exploration of the meaning of memory and history”, “an interesting, special form of poetic plate-spinning” – Ian Gouge’s latest book is a shift into new territory. “After The Rehearsals” is a prose poem narrative in which the poems – although they stand on their own – are akin to chapters in a work of fiction. Reading them sequentially draws the reader into the lives of the book’s characters. Writing in this way, we get to the essence behind the narrative much more readily, and uncover a story told through a composite of sharp and memorable images.
The Big Frog Theory – by Ian Gouge
What do you most need when facing a complete disintegration of the life you have been leading? Where does the loss of your job, the betrayal of your wife, lead you?
Well, in Neville’s case to a small tea shop at the foot of the Malvern hills. But if he has gone there for some peace, some solitude, the chance to assess his situation and get his life back in order, then he is in for a shock. Is it madness that makes his coffee cup keep magically refilling, or the china geese on the wall try and fly away? And how could it be possible that a stale slice of Black Forest Gateaux would suddenly be able to offer him Agony Aunt advice?
Guided by Samuel, an aged coach driver (in his equally aged coach!), follow Neville as his travels take him to Paris, to the Derby at Epsom, dancing on a cruise ship, and into outrageous and dangerous adventures – and towards an unlikely romance that might just save his life…
Punctuations from History – by Ian Gouge
[Published 5th February 2018]
“Punctuations from History” is Ian Gouge’s latest collection of poems, a volume that in various ways explores our place in, and relation to, history. Whilst there are similarities in theme to his collection “Human Archaeology” (which debuted at the 2017 Ripon Poetry Festival), the threads tying these pieces together are looser, more fluid.
In an unusual departure, “Punctuations from History” contains brief ‘context commentaries’ that provide the reader with a foothold into the individual poems: “an attempt to offer up a literary trowel to allow the reader to get below the surface of the poem more readily”.
Overall, the collection tries to assist with unravelling notions of “how we were / or how we are now / or how we might yet be”; fragments or mirrors offered up from our ‘punctuated history’.
Losing Moby Dick and Other Stories – Ian Gouge
[Published 1st November 2017]
A collection of three novellas previously published as independent paperbacks (though still available as separate Kindle e-books).
LOSING MOBY DICK
Books are, for many people, precious things. They become host not only to the words within them, but to individual history and memory, thoughts and feelings. So when Jack finds he has lost his old copy of “Moby Dick” he is suddenly knocked off-balance. He knows that it should not really matter that much – but it had ‘associations’…
So Jack determines to replace it – and not with a pristine copy, but if he can, with an old second-hand volume from the very bookshop at which he acquired his original.
A simple enough proposition you might think. But then Jack discovers that in the intervening years many things have changed, and Twerton’s bookshop is not what it was. It is much, much different…
WRITING TO GISELLA
In many ways it was the perfect, idyllic summer break: unexpected, taken on impulse, filled with sun, culture, and the beauty of Tuscany. And it was also filled with love; the kind of love that changes a young man’s life forever.
And then, suddenly, the dream is killed and there is nothing but vacuum. For years.
Until her letter arrives unexpectedly, finding him – them both indeed – different people.
Rick’s choice is binary. Does he – after all this time, and after the pain of a broken heart – simply ignore her letter? Or does he respond? Does he risk opening old wounds in the search for the answers to all those questions that once ravaged him?
And if he does respond, where will her letters lead him?
RIDING THE ESCALATORS
What could possibly go wrong? After all, Mitch’s idea is quite a simple one. And innocent too. The shopping mall in his town is vast: five floors of bright lights, chrome, glass; acres of products from candles to candelabra, from jumpers to jackets, music to toys. It is also filled with escalators – they too are brightly lit, shinning. They cross-cross between the floors, gluing the whole place together, allowing it to function.
And that’s Mitch’s idea. Most people would take one or two escalators, just the ones they needed to get from A to B. But what if the escalators were made the most important thing in the mall? What if someone chose to go to the mall, ignoring the shops, just to ride them? Could you really ride them all in one session, just once each, no duplicates, no cheating, adhering to ‘the rules’?
That’s the goal. But what starts out as a challenge of one sort soon turns into something much more strange and sinister – and Mitch suddenly finds himself and his new-found friends Suzi and Mr Lee in all sorts of danger…
Secrets & Wisdom – Ian Gouge (2nd edition)
‘Secrets & Wisdom’ started life in 2016 as a project with a specific design. The idea was to write a series of short stories, each based on one of the traditional Olympian Gods and on one or more of their individual characteristics. In addition, each story would contain within it either a ‘secret’ held close by the protagonist, or the demonstration – or otherwise! – of ‘wisdom’ / self-knowledge in some form or other.
Over time, as the original project progressed, the reworking of some additional material – both modern and ancient – appeared to lend itself to the general theme, and so the notion was born to expand the brief of ‘Secrets & Wisdom’ and to create a slightly wider and more eclectic collection of short stories.
From the original project, “Angela”, “Anne”, “Hester”, “Hobart” and “Westminster” have made it into this volume (the remaining seven Gods currently lie dormant until they are awoken at some point in the future!).
So what is the genesis of the rest of material?
There is a considerable variety in the style and length of the stories here – in the latter, they range from 2 to 40 pages long!
Some pieces – such as “My Dear Polly” and “Vinno” – had seen many anniversaries prior to being dusted off and re-worked for inclusion. Inevitably, a number were, on first drafting, a little like the unwanted guest at a party whose presence makes one feel slightly awkward; however, after a few drinks and a make-over, they suddenly become best friends!
“How Does It Start?”, “Stanley Grice” and “A Strange Kind of Map” are reasonably recent stories. At over 13,00 words, “How Does It Start?” is the longest story in this collection, and quite possibly one of the ‘star turns’.